Saturday, April 12, 2008

How to Solve your Corner Outfield Woes: Go to Church and Seek the Help of Angels


Boy, has it ever been a while since we had a win streak...

My baseball week started on a very sour note, after waiting all April to see the Mets in person, I finally drove out to Turner Field, as I happened to be in Atlanta, last Friday, and what did we get? A rainout. Oh well, I thought, we'll get 'em on Saturday and Sunday. Not so much. 2 swings by Kelly Johnson and Mark Teixeira and it's Tomahawk Chops galore.

Oh well, I again think, I'll be back in Brooklyn tomorrow and on Tuesday we'll turn it around at Shea. And again, not so much with the second part of that arrangement. To be fair, I'll always be grateful to have been at the last opener at Shea, especially with my father close to his birthday, but on the baseball end of things the game was ugly and the second out #27 was recorded all the baseball Seventh-Day Adventists of the message board and talk radio world stuck their heads out and cried, "the end is near!" I'll admit, while the more rational and optimistic end of me was rife with self-reminders of the insignificance of week 1 records, they were accompanied with some foreboding.

And then the bats went off on Wednesday, led by, of course, Angel Pagan, with a good deal of help from the Philly defense, and Pelfrey gave us one of his better Major League showings. Eric Bruntlett is officially my all-time favorite Philly.

Thursday Maine looked very good, surrendering one run over six, and he had enough help to win it, but Heilman indulged himself in that one nasty habit of his, that is giving up bombs, and there were those phightins, right back in it. In extras the bats looked weak, they looked not so much with the clutch, and you were just waiting for the ball to drop with the bullpen.

As a side note, I understand completely why going in to Thursday night, any Met fan would have been sour on Scott Schoenweis, and why they would have booed him as he exited his prior appearance, but to me it seems counterintuitive to sit at a relatively important baseball game into extra innings and boo your own pitcher coming in in the 11th. I mean you want him to succeed, don't you? Boo him after he fails, or boo him if the situation doesn't matter, but in a tie game in the 11th, with 2 men on and Philly's best hitter at the plate, do you really want to shake Schoenweis' already shaky psyche?
And hey, he got the job done.

But the ball did not drop with the bullpen; the only ball that dropped was a line drive off the bat of the shortstop right in between Werth and Jenkins. Reyes stood at 2nd, and WHO ELSE BUT ANGEL PAGAN, 3 for 5 on the night overall, provided the winning base hit. Who knows if Reyes scored? It counted.

Friday, we had a feel-good story that will be hard to top. Brooklyn's own (And this time the player in question actually grew up here, rather than Paul LoDuca who quickly fled to AZ after birth) Nelson Figueroa pitched his ass off if you don't mind me saying, allowing 2 runs over 6, and the bullpen was nearly perfect behind him, Joe Smith allowing the only baserunner on a walk to Rickie Weeks. Delgado contributed to the runs, as he has been doing, Easley gave us one, even Raul Casanova managed to get away from the ladies for a moment to knock one in. And who roped a key, late RBI single? ANGEL F'IN PAGAN! Mets beat the Brewers, the Brooklyn boy shines, Heilman gives up no bombs, Wagner gets save numero uno, there's the first 3-game win streak of the year.

The bad news? Reyes leaves with a hammy strain, said not to be serious. There are many rumblings that perhaps it's more than they're letting on, but methinks something else might be brewing. What has been the single loudest whine about Reyes since last summer? "Someone needs to give him a good talkin' to!" I think Willie might have done just that. Physically he has looked fine, but his approach has stunk. He had the one highlight scoring the run on Thu. night, but otherwise he has swung early and made no good contact. He just hasn't gotten on base, and it seems to be a bad combination of simultaneous cockiness and subtle lack of confidence. That's a long, presumptuous way of saying he's pressing, and I really believe that with a lead in the game and the bullpen set to go according to the late-inning plan, Willie sat Jose down. I think he did this, and I think he figured that with Santana going on Sunday and some unlikely characters producing well, he could really make a point by giving Jose a day on the bench and a Monday off to think. Why not?

And why not bat Castillo 8th once him and Reyes are back? Let Pagan swing the bat, baby. Moises Alou is a distant memory. Here's to a fine discovery in left field. Right now I want no one else up in the big spot. Well, maybe that guy who plays third.

Tomorrow we get to see our Ace live and in person at Shea, and I can't sleep. Oh by the way, he's facing a pitcher in Ben Sheets who hasn't allowed a run this year in 15 1/3 IP. This is a good game waiting to happen. My hope is that Castillo can play tomorrow so he can bat leadoff with Pagan #2, but that may be unlikely. Pick a lineup, any lineup, if Castillo isn't ready.

One more sad note. I have made a business decision to move right in to the belly of the beast, to the town where a Larry Jones jersey is a common sight. As such, this homestand is my Shea Stadium farewell tour, sort of...
Hell, no I'm not giving up my seasons! My job in Atlanta will be right next to the airport and guess what ballpark's right next to LaGuardia? I could get off work at 5 and still see half of 7:00 game!
I'll miss NY, namely Brooklyn, my hometown and the greatest little big city in the world.

Let's Go Johan.

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