By Mike Steffanos
Game 8: Mets 7 - Padres 2
It wasn't the most electric stuff I've ever seen from Oliver Perez, but he pitched intelligently and under control.
During the game both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were very complimentary of the split finger pitch that Perez was using as a changeup to right-handed batters. It was sinking nicely and Perez used it a lot. Given Perez' dominance against lefties, developing that changeup as an effective weapon against right-handed batters would be a big lift to Perez' game.
The ballpark atmosphere seemed lighter tonight than it did Monday, even when the Mets didn't execute. It probably didn't hurt that the Mets were never behind, but the game was close until the Padres defense betrayed them in the seventh.
Gary Sheffield had a fairly lousy game at the plate with a strikeout and a double play in key at bats. It was hard to get a read on him -- his bat speed looked all right to me, but he looked rusty at the plate. I suspect that Church will continue to get the lion's share of the playing time, particularly if he continues to hit well, but I suspect Sheffield will get more opportunities. I saw nothing conclusive in today's effort.
It wasn't a perfect game for the Mets. They only managed 7 hits and Daniel Murphy continues to struggle in the outfield. They did take advantage of some Padres mistakes, though, and a win is a win -- especially when a team is scuffling somewhat.
The Mets play the rubber game tonight with John Maine facing Jake Peavy.