Copyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
The world ended with a whimper not a bang, as Carlos, lovely Carlos Beltran, stood there on the street corner, watching the curves go by. One, two, three, and the magnificent season of our great content, was over. I went into shock and had to be rushed to Metropolitan Hospital of the Mind, and pulled out of writers’ block equivalent to an intellectual coma. That’s why my posting is late, in case you were wondering.
Early the next day, I was taking a walk with a fellow baseball fan, talking about the series. “Where did we go wrong as Mets fans?” I implored. I kept asking that question out loud. “Oy Gevalt! (I’m not Jewish, but Shawn Green is, so it just sounds right). Why did we lose? We had the title in our hands and we let it slip. Yes, we lost no less than three veteran starters to injuries, which is like having three flat tires on the Major Deegan, yes, but in fact Darren Oliver, and Oliver Perez and John Maine all pitched better games than Pedro or Traschel were likely to pitch, and better perhaps than the game Glavine, the new Tom Terrific, himself threw in game six.”
Then it started to sprinkle. I said the Mets personal angels are starting to cry. I know how they feel.
“Maybe the rain made that curve ball curve more wildly due to atmospheric conditions. You know that when its really dry at Coors Field in Denver, the ball doesn’t curve. It just sits there. Maybe this was the opposite. The ball curved too much. Maybe that’s why Beltran didn’t swing with the bases loaded. It didn’t look like a strike coming in.”
As we walked along the path, that same rain storm that made that curve ball go crazy finally reached us, and a great wind blew from the south, and all the yellow and red leaves darted across our view in a great shower of confetti color. I said, “There, look at that. Its’ the ticker tape parade the 2006 Mets will never have!”
One score and zero years ago, our nine fathers set forth upon a ballfield to win a game. It was the 1986 playoffs, and they won, they got scrappy and kept going, and everyone remembers what they accomplished there. And they went on to win the World Series for God and country. And a great ticker tape parade was staged to honor the heroes. Now all we have is falling leaves, blowing across our path, looking for a place to die with dignity.
What went wrong this time? Is it something we said? Did I walk on that crack in the sidewalk? Did I brush the wrong way? I left my bright blue Mets ballcap lying on the table in front of me the whole game, which I can assure you usually makes them win. I did my job. Something went wrong. Maybe I should have had the embroidered NY pointing towards me. Or maybe towards the TV. The TV guide did cover it over for a while, but I moved it right away. What did we do?
Triumph is a little TRY and a lot of UMPH. The 1986 Mets didn’t just try, they also had a lot of umph, the Cardinals didn’t just try, they had a lot of UMPH too. I guess you have to look at David Wright. He certainly tried, but where was that usual UMPH? He got a single and a force and struck out in the 8th. That’s a .333 batting average! Green had an unimpressive seventh game, and I don’t care if Pujols says it. I agree. I love to watch Valentin play, he had UMPH on the field, but try as he might, he could not stay on base. I heard that Heilman stood up to the firing squad, puffed once on a cigarette and took the blame. What a guy! But it was only one bad pitch. Just like Branca. Now the bloodthirsty birds are singing Jose Jose. Our song. Our city has been sacked by barbarians, who don’t understand the Zen of Game. Heartless Champions from the heart of the Midwest. You know what? The Cards are not even from New York! What do they know about triumph?
I predicted this possibility in my now-prophetic article, METS AMAZINGLY SIMILAR TO 1951 BROOKLYN DODGERS, but I didn’t really think it would happen. A freak home run in the ninth by the usual 8th spot batter, not a big home run hitter, A. Somebody Molina, to break a tie. It was just like Bobby Thompson, the weak bat good glove 8th spot batter for the Giants, who hit a freak homer in the 9th to take the pennant away from the 1951 Dodgers, one of the greatest teams in baseball history. They got over-confident. I wrote and posted that article so that a Mets player would accidentally read it and remember to tell his teammates not to get overconfident.
Were they overconfident? Not with three injured starters. But on the other hand, the way Perez was going, perhaps they did get overconfident. To me, when half the lineup hits routine fly balls trying to get a home run and not getting close, that’s overconfidence. Leaving the bases loaded twice in late innings, that’s not will power and determination. That’s not placing the ball, that’s not hit and run or bunting to get on. That’s not thinking, that’s just boring.
Here’s the play by play for game seven, in all its gloriously painful and gory detail. Maybe you will see the overconfidence. I don’t know. The fact is, someone has to win and someone has to lose. We hold these truths to be self-evident: there are no ties in baseball.
THE SEVENTH GAME AT THE END OF TIME
The crowd was so boisterous at Shea Stadium that neither team could hear themselves think, and couldn’t hear each other call their neighbor off the ball. In baseball, good acoustics make good neighbors. The wind was wild and doing tricks with the pop-ups, so right away it looked like another collision would take place. But they managed to avoid the Head-Bangers’ Ball this time, perhaps at a great cost.
Eckstien started with a popup to center, we could see the wind coming in by the way Beltran wandered uncertainly. He nabbed it, a last minute flash of the glove to cover for his shaky location. Perez struck out Wilson and it looked like maybe our gleeful songs of “Oliver, Oliver, consider yourself one of us” had given him some confidence after all. Then one ghastly error made our hearts stand still, as Delgado made a rare gaff on a pop up that started over first then ended up in front of home plate. He dropped it right out of his glove, and Pujols (Pronounced poo-holz, as in The Cards can stick it up their Pujols) got to second without having impressed anyone. Sorry, do you hear some sour grapes being mashed in the background? Yeah, that’s me. I’m making vintage memories from the grapes of wrath that are piled up here in my storehouse. Glory Halellujah, but my Mets truth is marching on, how about yours? Encarnacion, not exactly a born-again clean up hitter, flied to right to end the so-called threat. It seemed like Green’s hat blew off every time he ran for the ball. I guess we can’t say he had a big head.
Then the Mets came up, more applause, thank you very much. Reyes grounded to short, LoDuca grounded to third, and then Beltran got a double to left. Delgado walked to fill in first base, and after such a strong series, why not walk him? Then Wright hit a clutch RBI single to right. Beltran came roaring around third like the little train that could, and with the throw coming in on target to home plate, he made the most amazing slide, and touched the corner of the plate with one finger at the end of a long extended arm as he slid by, totally out of range of the tag, but clearly a run, the first run, first blood. Lucky it wasn’t his middle finger, but it did produce a similar sense of satisfaction as regards our collective Mets feelings for the Cardinals. Green ended the frame with a line drive. 1 to 0 Mets.
Top of the second, Edmonds started things off with a single just past the dashing short stop in left. Then Rolen, the amazing elderly cripple, flied to center. Then Molina popped a fly to left that dropped in for a Texas Leaguer. Belliard made a sac bunt in a safety squeeze and Edmonds scored to tie the game and Suppan struck out to end it. 1-1.
Now again, we Meet the Mets, but they go down one-two-three with two routine fly balls and a grounder to first. Where’s the umph I say? And not the one behind home plate.
Top of the third, and Eckstien singled, Wilson made an out, but Pujols walked, and two were on where none were before, but Encarnacion ended the threat with a 6-4-3 double play. Bottom of the third, and we expect big things from the top of our order, but the Great Disappointment is foreshadowed; Reyes, LoDuca and Beltran all out quickly. No umph here either.
Top of the fourth, Edmonds, Rolen and Molina all skied out harmlessly against the increasingly impressive Perez. It started to rain. Bottom of the fourth, Delgado walked, Wright hit into a force, Suppan got his first strikeout of the game out of Green, who was hired to play in this game above all other games and was not delivering us to the promised land, or even Corona Park, and then Suppan hit Valentin with a pitch to put two on. It was a veiled threat. But Chavez flied a routine fly to left to end it.
Top of the fifth, Eckstine Belliard hit a single to left, then Suppan made a nice sac bunt back to the pitcher’s mound, then Eckstine was hit by a pitch, to put two on, then Wilson wiffed, then Pujols popped out like a fool. Bottom of the fifth, Perez flied lazily to left, Reyes flied lazily to center, and LoDuca made a routine fly to center. Where is all this chutzpah, this dynamic energy we are supposed to see from the Mets? They looked like a Weight-loss League men’s Sunday morning softball team—women’s softball is much more bloodthirsty! (Where do you think Bradford learned to be so competitive? He went in drag and infiltrated girls fast pitch teams to sharpen his major league fangs)
Top of the sixth, by far the most exciting moment of the game, and perhaps the series, arrives. Encarnacion grounds to third, then Edmonds walks. At this point, Willie Randolph senses Perez’ Energizer Bunny Batteries have run down, and comes out to talk. He does not take him out, but lets him fact the dangerous cripple Scott Rolen. A homer would put the Cards ahead by two. On the very next pitch, Scott Rolen hits a long fly ball to left. Even though it was starting to rain a bit harder, the ball takes wing and keeps on going. Chavez goes back, back, to the wall. Its OUTTA HERE….but…no, Chavez leaps up in the air like a Detroit Pistons center and lifts his glove far above the ten foot wall, and snags the ball from the abyss. His back bangs against the wall, the glove bangs and flips backwards then forwards on the top of the fence as it comes down, but the horsehide snow cone that represents at this point a possible several million dollars in World Series income and residuals fails to become dislodged as Chavez is back down to earth and once again becomes mortal.
He looks up right away and alertly notices Edmonds making his home run trot past second, and fires a crisp one-bounce strike to first base to double up the Cards. Edmonds is out by a mile. Instead of two runs, its two more outs. End of the inning. You should have seen the look on Perez’ face. He looked truly amazed, and humbled, like he’d seen an angel save his life! Endy the Angel. The Mets have plucked a Cardinals’ feather from out of the air and placed it in their cap. In between the halves of the inning, Chavez took a bow, tipped his cap, or waved to the crowd.
The feather in his cap wasn’t showing, but it didn’t need to. No one will ever forget that play. And I’m sure we’ll see it a million times. I hope the Cards are watching. Of course, Willie looked like a genius for keeping Perez in the game. He knew Chavez would catch it…..it was that Flubber experiment the Mets had taken part in. It HAD to work!
Then we come to the bottom of the sixth. Still tied 1-1. Beltran grounds back to the pitcher, but Delgado gets on with a walk, then Rolen, still ticked off by having a home run surgically removed from his statbook, throws an airball to first that ends up going far away bye bye after making a nice scoop on a grounder by Wright. Green gets the intentional pass to load ‘em up with only one out. In retro, and 20-20, this was the Mets best and brightest chance to lock up the series. Any team that really wanted to win, that really refused to lose, would have found a way to score runs at this moment; by hook or crook. The homer stolen from Rolen, and then his big embarrassing and humiliating error. You have to make them pay for stuff like that. Rub it in thy neighbor’s face before he rubs it in yours. Remember that La Russa was a lawyer, probably an ambulance chaser. Valentino, the man of destiny was at the plate, and yet somehow he strikes out. But wait, there’s Chavez. In the smokey back-lot plot room of baseball, surely they had planned this. Chavez Hits Slam After Stealing Homer From Rolen, the headlines will say. That will sell papers! That would win the series. But no, Chavez hits a routine fly to center and its bedtime for Bonzo, at least for now. We should have known then, perhaps its overconfidence.
Top of the seventh, and Willie starts to thinking, worrying, “That was close out there! I’ve got to take this guy out.” He brought in Chad Bradford, the only man in baseball history to rub dirt on the ball while throwing it. Molina flied to left, harmlessly this time at least, then Belliard grounded to second then Suppan grounded to short. Bottom of the seventh, Tucker hit a routine fly to center, then Reyes a routine ground ball to first, then LoDuca a routine ground ball to short. Do you see a pattern here? The problem is, this is not a routine game. This is the biggest game in five years as far as the Mets are concerned.
Top of the eighth, Heilman came in to pitch as expected. Eckstein out, and Spiezio came in for Wilson but struck out, whiff! Pujols got an intentional walk but then Heilman got Encarnacion to strike out, and Heilman had that dispassioned baby-faced killer look on his face, and so Willie kept him in for the ninth. Hmmm….
Bottom of the eighth, Beltran walked, Delgado and Wright both struck out, then the big Green machine who on this day couldn’t shoot a pickle in a pickle barrel, grounded to first.
Top of the ninth, and Heilman came in to pitch a second inning, even though the bull pen was roaring and snuffing with hooved and stamping talent, some of it named Wagner. Edmonds struck out, but Scott Rolen singled to left. We all thought, “Oh, no, Heilman’s lost his stuff!” Yadier Molina, the Cardinals’ equivalent of Bobby Thompson, batting a rare seventh, came in to swing his bat. Surely Aaron can get him out. The runt of the litter. Heilman delivered one bad pitch, and Molina hit that freak homer to left that rain and the twisting winds of fate could not stop. It just kept rising up in the air and sailed over that blue fence in left like a bad dream. You know that drowning dream you used to have? The dream where you’re lost in the forest and it keeps raining? The dream where you go over the waterfall in a canoe and there’s no bottom? That was it. Belliard and the pinch hitter grounded out, but it didn’t matter. The gun had misfired, Heilman didn’t know it was loaded. The dead body lay on the carpet. The police heard the shot and stopped by. There was no hiding it.
Bottom of the ninth, surely the Mets could get two runs. Someone named Adam Wainwright came in to pitch for St. Louis. Not even a closer. Valentin made up for his shrinking violet imitation in the sixth when he wilted with the bases loaded and the hot lights shining on him and got a lead off single to right this time. Chavez followed with another single to right, two on no out. It was a dramatic moment all right, but the Mets needed to continue to play small ball. The Cards had a two run lead and they were bearing down, getting serious, getting tough. Instead of getting tough and playing small ball, Willie went for the big wide-screen cinematic thrill. He sent in Cliff Floyd, our version of Kirk Gibson, to hobble in on one leg and hit a home run to send everyone home happy. It was a great idea, but that only works in movies. Willie later said he did NOT want a home run, just some clutch hitting. But Cliff Floyd could not resist the Kirk Gibson thing, swung big, swung for the fences, and struck out, and it didn’t take long. LaRussa is not romantic about such things, and had yelled at the players before the game. Wainwright was getting tougher and tougher out there. Then Reyes came up, mister clutch, but the curve of the ball seemed wild, and yet always landed over the plate. He made a routine fly to center. Not his forte, that. Now instead of no outs there were two. Lo Duca looked pretty tense, not very happy. By this time it was really pouring and the ball seemed to be all over the place. The mud was getting pretty deep. Somehow he hung in there and fouled off a lot and got his walk, just as good as a hit in this case, to load the bases for the Mickey Mantle of the Mets Carlos Beltran.
Shea Stadium looked like Mudville, but there was still plenty of joy. The Mets had been lucky all season, everything went their way. Maybe there would be joy in Metville after all. What more could you ask for than to have Mighty Mouse Beltran, Casey Beltran come to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the NLCS? Well, you couldn’t. He was the Cardinal Killer, he was the monster of the LCS, Mister October II. The Ricky Ricardo of Ribbies.
For a moment it all became clear, we’d found our storybook ending to a storybook year. He’d hit a granny and all the chickens would come home and we’d have our come from behind walk off win, Beltran would make some kind of NLCS home run record, and a boost into the Series against the Tigers. It will be the play that little boys all over America will be narrating in their play-by-plays as they bounce the ball against the steps all alone in a big field. “Beltran at the plate, seventh game of the series, bases loaded, two out, bottom of the ninth…
Here’s the pitch! And its OUTTA HERE!”
Think how Shea stadium would go wild! Would he even get to second base with all the jumping and slapping and hugging? I don’t think so. It would be another grand slam single, this time to clinch the whole thing. A National League pennant like no other. The Team the Time……the Tension was Killing ME!!
But something went wrong. Suddenly a bad feeling came over me. I felt tense, sick. He didn’t look confident. He looked out of focus. Our Heaven on the Number Seven suddenly became a cold, watery Metropolitan ****. The pitches from Wainwright came in, curving and darting in crazy ways not seen before at Shea, and Beltran just stood there. He didn’t even protect the plate. He just looked and looked and looked, like he’d been injected with a poison dart from a blowgun and it was slowly taking effect. I thought he was going to cry, but he didn’t. He just stood there in the drenching rain like a rejected lover. Strike one, strike two, strike three. Sit down. Go home. Go away.
The Mets fans in the stands were as devastated as I was, only more visibly. I was so glad I hadn’t bought one of those tickets after all, $300 to have an unforgettably bad experience in the farthest reaches of the upper deck watching helpless little ants get washed down a flood drain in a rain storm.
But that’s just more sour grapes. After all, it was a great game, between two well-matched teams, and someone had to win and someone had to lose.
Say to yourself, over and over……there are no ties in baseball. There are no ties in baseball. There are no ties…….
Mets Get Jammed Up on Righty Jeff Weaver’s Curve and Lose Game 5 of NLCS
Copyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
You’d think the Mets could beat the Cardinals with Tom Glavine on the mound versus Jeff Weaver, a righty who was kicked off the Angels earlier this year to make room for his kid brother Jerred. But they couldn’t. Instead they lost a big one 4-2, in a sea of pop-ups and fly balls. They got under it, and all we can do as Mets fans is get over it.
The Mets started off the first in a good way with two singles, and threatened but could not score, ending the frame with two left, with Wright striking out. Glavine gave up a lead off single to Eckstine but made Wilson and Pujols pop out and got Encarnacion to ground back to the pitcher.
In the second, Valentin popped out to center after Green grounded out. Chavez doubled and again the Mets threatened but did not score as Glavine failed to help his own cause at the plate. In the bottom of the inning, the Cards got Roland to first with a single, but after Edmonds struck out, Belliard got into a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play as LoDuca nabbed Roland trying to steal second.
In the third, Reyes popped out to short, and LoDuca and Beltran flied to center. Weaver was jamming them inside for the most part, and getting them to swing under the ball and make easy outs. Glavine was doing the opposite at least at first, and in the bottom of the inning got three ground balls.
In the top of the fourth there was a bag delay as the field technicians tried to stick the NLCS first base bag stem into its hole to no avail. A regular bag was found and it worked perfectly. That delay rattled Weaver just a bit. Delgado walked then Wright popped to left. Green got a ground rule double to right, as a fan touched the ball, saving a run. But then Valentin doubled near the same spot and drove in two. The next two batters grounded out to end the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Wilson flied to center, then as Glavine was pitching to his worst critic, Pujols, I sensed that Glavine was thinking about those insulting comments Pujols made about him earlier, and sure enough, Glavine spoon fed him a big fat pitch, and Pujols pounded it to left for a home run. Although the Mets still held the lead, that was the turning point of the game. From there, Glavine was humiliated, and everything got worse.
Encarnacion walked and Edmonds and Belliard both singled to right, scoring Encarnacion. Molina walked to reload the bases, but then Weaver failed to help his own cause as Glavine did earlier. It was 2-2.
Top of the fifth, Reyes again got under it, for a fly to center. LoDuca singled to right, then Beltran got a rare line drive that was caught in right, but Delgado popped to third base to end the inning. In the Cardinal half, Eckstein led off with a single, then Wilson doubled. Glavine was looking uncharacteristically beaten, and Randolph came out to see how he was doing. Badly! He told him to walk Pujols and take his time about it. It was Pujols, so I believe, that had shaken him up, rattled his cage. 16 consecutive scoreless innings, (not that Pujols was impressed) and now this! Encarnation came up with bases loaded, the pond full of Cardinals as it were. He singled to right and scored Eckstein. Bases loaded no outs. Roland struck out and then Pedro Feliciano got Edmonds to blast a ground ball to the deft-fingered Delgado who grabbed it barehanded and threw to the plate for a force play, one of the more inspired moments in the game. What swift reflexes, both mentally and physically! Belliard flied to left to end the inning.
Top of the sixth, the Mets behind 3-2, Wright flied out, Green grounded out, Valentin walked, and Chavez grounded to second, a disappointing inning. Weaver was using more tricks and getting ground balls as well as pop ups. Molina was out, so Duncan, the son of the team pitching coach Dave Duncan, came up to pinch hit for Jeff Weaver and hit a home run to put the Cards ahead 4-2 and the final score. Eckstine and Wilson went out quickly. Weaver had pitched six innings on only 95 pitches, many of them 91 mph.
Top of the seventh, Tucker pinch hit for Glavine facing Josh Kenney, and struck out. Reyes struck out too, and then LoDuca grounded to second. Kenney looked dominant and the Mets looked beat. Bottom of the frame, the Cards got two walks and a wild pitch off of Willie’s secret Ace in the Hole, Roberto Hernandez, who was throwing smoke, at 95 or better, and they threatened but failed to score.
In the eighth, Delgado got a one out single, followed by (at last!) a double from Wright into left, (who likes the movie Braveheart, so we learned on Fox TV) and then Flores was brought in to pitch to Green who flied to center. Wainwright came in to pitch to Valentin and got a strike out. Much ado about not much? Or brilliant strategy by the manager? Mota came in for the bottom of the eighth and got Molina on a ground ball to short, but then Miles, pinch hitting for Wainwright, got a triple. He was stranded when Eckstien popped to second and Wilson grounded to short.
The Mets went down easily in the ninth with two ground outs and then a strikeout by Reyes. Reyes had earned twice the walks in 2006 as ’05, but tonight he was unable to walk at all in five at-bats. One of the main factors in the game had to be the crazy strike zone, which kept changing on every throw. It hurt both pitching staves, but more clearly the Mets. There were pitches called strikes that were way outside or inside the zone. And then again some balls right over the plate that were called balls. I think that shook Glavine up as well as the batters. It was a tough night for people from Queens. The Mets went behind 3 games to 2. In fact, teams that go behind 3-2, win the League Championship Series more often than the opponent.
We Knew He Could Do It! Premier Mets Starter Oliver Perez (who?) Mows Down MVPs, All Stars and Hot Hitters in His Usual Fashion (Until He Had an 11 to 3 Lead, and Then Felt Merciful in his Omnipotence) Oliver, Consider Yourself One of Us!
With their backs up against the new brick wall at Cardinal Stadium, of sorts, the Mets turned to their new pitching ace Oliver Perez (1-3 with the Mets since purchased for $5 from Pittsburgh after Dwayner Sanchez got injured) and he came through with a show-stopping performance just as we all knew he would. He tap-danced on the graves of the immortal Cardinals Dizzy and Dazzy Dean, Stan Musial and Frankie Frisch, and his curve ball danced its way into our Metfilled hearts as well as we sang, “Consider yourself…at home…consider yourself..part of the family…”
In fact, he is so famous that the morning of his start in St. Louis, Newsday, a hometown paper, mixed him up with another Mets’ Oliver, Darren Oliver, a reliever, and gave Oliver Perez credit for Darren Oliver’s gutsy performance the night before, when he pitched five scoreless innings out of the pen. That must have inspired Oliver P. to do the same, or a close approximation, to confuse Newsday even more. The Mets have certainly had good luck these last two days with people named Oliver.
What an ironic TWIST after all the times we thought about sending both of these Dickenzian characters to the poor house for their poor performances in games past.
They should have turned Sunday’s game into a musical, with Reyes dancing around, doing the Makarena on the bases, Wright full of high fives and body jive, and Delgado practically sinking the riverboats past the outfield stands in his jubilation over being in the post-season. Beltran the Papgeno-like Cardinal Hunter, bagging two different Cardinal pitchers, was singing Salsa, and Valentin was doing Balanchine leaps at second base to snag popups that were over his head. LoDuca declined to sing a baritone aria from Verdi, but he has my standing invitation to try. That hit and run duo in two part counterpoint with Reyes in the 6th was the most perfectly tuned of any of their duets this year, and it sparked a cavalcade of song called Meet Me In St. Louiee!! Or maybe we should have just called it OLIVER!!!
A Play By Play of OLIVER!! the New Musical By Willie Randolph
The first inning, the Mets threatened but did not score. Reyes facing Reyes struck out. Beltran got a walk and Delgado got on base too, but Wright flied out to center to end the inning. In the bottom of the first, Oliver Perez came out and blew his no hitter with practically the first pitch to Eckstein, then survived an amazing error, in which Wright leaped horizontally and got the glove on the ball which deflected it to Reyes, who threw to first at the top of his pirouette, and on target, only to be dropped out of Delgado’s glove for an error. I think that Reyes’ move was above and beyond the call of duty and should erase the error somehow, since it should have gone past Wright for a hit anyway. Perez ended the inning by making Encarnation ground out to Valentin.
In the second, the Mets threatened again, with a single by Chavez to left and a walk to hero Oliver Perez, but could not score as Reyes popped to short.
The Cards went ahead in the bottom of the second 1-0 with singles by Rolen, Belliard and Molina, but when pitcher Reyes grounded to first, Molina was thrown out at third to end the inning.
In the third, LoDuca grounded out but then Beltran followed with his 6th Cardinal Killing homer of his post-season career, that just made it over the left field stands to tie the score. It was the first Met run in 14 consecutive innings. Not that we’re braggin’. Delgado tried for the same but just made a long fly to center. Then Wright, who was O for Everything (O for Oliver?) hit a longer home run to put the Mets ahead 2-1. The Mets had come back to life. Green struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Perez got Eckstein out then gave up a walk to Spiezio. Pujols lined to Jose Reyes, who caught the line drive and then placed it on the ground and threw to get Speizio at second to start a brilliant double play, but it was not to be. The humorless stick-in-the-mud umpires didn’t like the looks of that and claimed that he never dropped the line drive, but only pretended to. How can you trust a man who stole 64 bases in one year and never paid for them? The umpire’s decision cost the Mets as Encarnation followed with a triple, scoring Speizio to make it 2-2. Rolen flied to center to end the inning.
The Mets got a walk from leadoff man, Valentin, but did not threaten in the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, Perez got Edmonds out on a long fly to left, but then Belliard got a single to center that dropped in, then he stole second on a close play. Molina hit a scorching ground ball in the hole on the shortstop side of second, as Reyes was shifted to the left, but Valentin came out of nowhere and leaped into the shortstop hole and threw off balance a perfect strike to Delgado for the second out. Is that 4-3 or 6-3? Hard to say. Valentin should get triple-time pay this year for playing understudy to the right fielder, the shortstop, and the first baseman, and of course, for playing second. Then pitcher Reyes struck out.
In the top of the fifth, LoDuca grounded to short but the shortstop blew the play, and Mets fans said, “Woe be unto those teams who allow the leadoff Mets runner a free base on an error.” The win-hungry Mets fans smelled bird blood and went in for the kill. Beltran then singled to right, and then Delgado did what we were screaming at the TV for him to do, he bashed a three run homer, and the Mets went out ahead 5-2. The Mets like to rally after big homers, and score one more for a little denouement. Green got a single to right after Wright’s K, which knocked out Reyes, and Valentin singled to center off Hancock the new reliever. Chavez grounded into a force at second, and then Perez batted for himself and struck out. That at-bat ended the rally and messed up the denouement, but it was a big vote of confidence for Perez, who would live to pitch again, so to speak. I think if Chavez had gotten a walk, he would have been yanked for Ol Man River, Julio Franco, but that’s just my opinion. Willie’s always right.
In the bottom of the fifth, the resurrected Perez came out and gave up a home run to Eckstien on a pitch with lots of heat, but right in the blast zone, and it went a mile. Perez then calmed down and struck out Spiezio and Pujols with some of the best pitching of his career, and got Encarnation on an easy fly to center. It was 5-3, but Perez was doing what we suggested would be strongly advisable, as I posted in the previous article, pitch the game of his life. In fact, the Fox announcer on TV said, “He may be pitching the game of his life!” He must have read my Valley Forge article. It really was, and he gave us give five great innings, the last of which, in spite of the homer, was fantastic. In 20-20 hindsight, Willie Randolph should have pulled him then, just for the poetic beauty of that last inning, but what happened next was much more fun and exciting, and makes us glad to be alive as Mets fans in October, as opposed to those other fans in New York who have to wait for next year.
Because Randolph let Perez bat in the bottom of the fifth to end the inning, we got to start off the sixth with the top of the lineup as if it were a whole new ballgame, and the fireworks went off from Valley Forge on the Mississippi in a big way. It was a long time before there were any outs on the board this time. Reyes singled to right, and then went to third on a hit and run single by LoDuca through the shortstop-third base hole after a lot of foul balls, and all executed perfectly. Beltran walked, and then Delgado came up with the bases loaded. He looked like he was ready to hit the grand slam of his life, he had that look in his eyes, the way Piazza used to look before hitting it out of the park, but the ball fell short of the fence and bounced out of the park as a ground rule double instead. Make it 7-3. Then Wright walked to load them up again. Johnson came in to relieve, but did not get an out right away either. He game up a single to center to Green to score another one to make it 8-3. Then Valentin, who had been 2 for 19 came through with a big single to clear the bases and earn three big rbis, to make it 11-3, still with no outs. Then Johnson got serious and struck out Chavez and Perez, the latter still getting the vote of confidence to swing, and then got Reyes out on a fly to center in his second appearance of the inning.
Oliver Perez, having already batted four times, striking out three times, got to pitch in the bottom of the sixth with an 11-3 lead. Obviously, Randolph was thinking “This guy can save our bullpen for when the exhausted old-timer Tom Glavine starts tomorrow on three days rest. I don’t care how bad he is. We have an 8 run lead.” But Perez was pretty bad in the sixth and Randolph was quick to drop that idea. Oliver Perez got All Star Scott Rolen to fly out but then came apart with homers to Edmonds and Molina to make it 11-5. Was he being merciful? Or was he tired after all that hitting? Randolph said “Heck with resting the bullpen. This guy is fried.” And moving right along, folks, he put in Chad Bradford, the only pitcher in major league history to rub dirt on the ball WHILE HE IS THROWING IT! Bradford quickly ended the inning with a grounder to 2nd.
Beltran the Cardinal Killer wasn’t through yet, and hit a solo shot in the seventh, his second of the day and seventh post-season blast against the Cards, and that was the final score, 12-5. Los Dos Carlos had an all-time RBI day, so many we lost count. We got our 5 and two thirds from Oliver Perez, and some of it wasn’t pretty, but the worst of it didn’t matter anyway. The Mets had a new premiere starter. Who knew? Before the game it was announced that Perez had the worst ERA of any post-season starter in major league history, and that the other Reyes was second. You knew right then there were going to be fireworks. And there were, and it was great. The Mets and Cards and now 2 and 2 on the series, and meet again in St. Louis this evening to sing and dance around the base-paths like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in times gone by. But Mets fans in the mean time will be singing Oliver! Oliver! Consider yourself at home! Consider yourself…part of the family…its clear..we’re..going to get along…consider yourself…one of us!
We’re begging you, Oliver, please pitch well the rest of the post-season!
Mets Face Darkest Hour in St. Louis; Willie Randolph’s Valley Forge and Private Hellcopyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
Down two games to one in a series they were supposed to walk away with, the Mets tonight face a fierce enemy, a plethora of key injuries that would cripple most teams, and freezing cold weather. Team commander in chief Willie Randolph must be looking to George Wasington for inspiration right now, and the history of Valley Forge, a turning point in the American Revolution for a sign as to what to do.
It is supposed to get down to freezing here in the New York area tonight. We can only imagine how cold it will feel in St. Louis, surrounded by the enemy and a big cannon named Pujols. Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, and now Steve Traschel, all with crippled legs, lie in the medic’s tent, staring at the ceiling, or bent over, playing harmonica. The Mets big guns have been pretty silent of late, and no reinforcements in sight. Randolph has penned the orders for Oliver Perez to take charge tonight, a pitcher who has lost 13 battles so far this year, winning only three, and after that, the exhausted Tom Glavine. It doesn’t get any less better than this.
The Mets position players look like The Spirit of ’76 as well, by the looks of Floyd, Beltran, and others. Our guys are pretty beat up, hoisting that orange and blue flag over their shoulders, limping along. Oliver Perez must have the pitching performance of his career, or the Mets must come to life in a fourth-of-July explosion of power, if we are going to continue as a Mets Fan Nation and attack Detroit by surprise.
Perez’ ERA is 6.38 so far with the Mets this year. He has 41 strikeouts in 36.2 Met innings, and only 17 bases on balls. Our optimism is on shaky ground, but certainly not delusional. He has one complete game this year. The best news is that he has not made an error this season with the Mets.
Just before New Years, 1776, Washington was in Pennsylvania and needed to attack the Red Coats at Princeton near the banks of the Delaware. He was outnumbered and his team was having trouble getting on base. It was freezing cold. Washington hid his numbers from the Red Coats, waiting for an opportunity to surprise them. According to Met fan and historian Kenneth Gale, Washington had his men leave a broken wagon in the center of town, piled with full kegs of rum and then ran away, not leaving a note, but sure that the British would not be able to pass up the opportunity so close to the holidays. Eventually, the British found the kegs, passed them around, and soon were roaring drunk. Lets’ say they got over confident. It was then that Washington crossed the Delaware, attacked, and took them all prisoner without losing a man. That’s the legend of Valley Forge. The Shotglass Heard Round the World.
Perhaps Willie Randolph cleverly had Traschel give up all those runs on Saturday on purpose (5 in one inning plus); to make the Red Coats from St. Louis over confident and drunk with a feeling of long ball power. I’m sure they are partying around the Arch and drinking lots of Anheiser-Busch products. And now he is hiding his numbers by announcing Oliver Perez as the starter, when actually he has the reincarnations of Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson warming up under the stands.
Perhaps Perez will go back to his 2004 Pittsburgh form, where he went 12-10 with a terrible team, with a 2.98 ERA with 239 strikeouts on the year. I can imagine him pitching a no-hitter tonight, blasted by wind, frozen snot on his uniform, his fingers bleeding from the cold, and then falling down after the last out in a fetal position on the grass, revived by medics rubbing his hands and feet, saying “We won we won!”
You remember how Valley Forge turned out; that’s when Corporal Tug McGraw said the immortal words “You Gotta Believe,” just before keeling over into some shoe leather stew, and our guys took his words to heart and stayed alive long enough to regroup and renew their contracts. Thus it will be for our beleaguered Mets this time. It is our manifest destiny as Mets fans to win games and spread across the face of North America with our unique brand of Chutzpah! This is it! We must win tonight. We are the Miracle Mets! We are the Amazins! This is our Valley Forge, our time to convince the unbelievers! We will be victorious!
And if we’re not, there’s Glavine and Maine and pray for rain, but better timed rain this time, please!
And if we are swept up by the exigisies of fate in St. Louis, and lose all three, there’s always next year, when our pitching staff will return from their respective well-padded graves. And we’ll look back and say…..
WASN’T THAT A TIME!
Cards and Mets Have A Long Historycopyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
The Mets beat the Cardinals 2-0 on a Beltran-battered blast that crashed against the upper part of the scoreboard in distant right center field with Lo Duca on base. That was all the offense they needed with Tom Glavine on the mound, who needed only 89 pitches in his 34th post-season start to sail past the Cards in his 7 brilliant innings. It was a good thing the 40 year old hurler’s pitch count was low as he will have to come back on only three days rest, as it stands now. There is only so much Ben *** that you can put on an arm like that.
The Cardinals were the Mets’ first opponents in April of 1962, and have met in many a post season game since the division of the National League, and the Mets have won all of them in recent years. (The Mets last lost an NLCS game since 1988, not a bad streak, and have won eight in a row now, counting the series versus the Nationals to close out September.) In recent years, Tony La Russa has been the manager of the thwarted Cards, and one of the best in baseball. Tony, a former lawyer, is a brilliant strategest who is not afraid to shuffle the deck (of Cards, no pun intended) to squeeze one more run out of his team; however he also has used body-mind techniques such as deep relaxation and auto suggestion to increase team performance. He must have used one of Emmitt Miller’s deep relaxation tapes on Jeff Weaver Thursday before the game, because Weaver pitched much better than his ERA. Carpenter is up next for Friday’s game and he is a man who needs no introduction, and needs no sacro-cranial therapy!
Glavine is one of the great post season pitchers as well, as can be determined ironically by the fact that he has lost more post-season games than anyone else, 15. You have to be good to lose that many and still get the nod. Last night was his 14th post season victory.
Beltran’s homer was his sixth post season dinger off Cardinal pitching; the first 5 came in his brilliant playoff appearance in Houston which got him a position in New York. During that series he came to the plate 28 times and hit 5 homers, with 10 hits 12 runs scored and 7 ribbies. That’s a batting average of .357, but a runs scored average of .428, an rbi average of .250 and a home run average of .178, which is the kind of numbers we associate with……forgive me for saying it…..Mickey Mantle. It was one of six hits for the Mets off Jeff Weaver and Co, Inc, but it was enough. Glavine was joined by the hot throwing Mota and Wagner for a four hit shutout. All three were in top form for the windswept evening’s contest of skill.
Though hitless against Weaver and crew, Valentin made two great plays in the ninth to help Billy Wagner and his 99 mile an hour projectiles close the deal on the day.
When Julio Franco started playing in the majors in 1982, Pujols was only 2. When you combine Wright’s age and Reyes’ age together, both 23, you get 46 years, both together are younger than Franco.
Mota had an excellent outing. He was acquired from the Indians for cash and a player to be named later after the Dwayner Sanchez accident.
Former Met Preston Wilson has had 8 homers in just 32 games with the Cards. His step father, Mookie Wilson, was the Met who hit that ground ball to Bill Buckner that I wrote about in my Red Sox Health Alert article.
On the post game interviews of fans there was a sign that said how Mets fans felt after this win:
CARDINALS TASTE JUST LIKE CHICKEN!!!
The Mets have always fared well against La Russa. It must be that tough minded New Yorker attitude. We’re all lawyers in this city.
More updates as we go along. EP
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METS LOSE SECOND GAME TO CARDS AS CLOSER WAGNER CAN’T FIND THE HANDLE
coyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
The Mets lost the second game of the NLCS versus the Cardinals in spite of some decent pitching by Maine and handy relief from the bull pen. It was 6-6 in the ninth when Billy Wagner blew the tie. Some speculated that it would have been better if Willie Randolph had not brought in Wagner for a non-save situation. But they needed good pitching and he was the best on the other end of the telephone so he went in. The final score was 8-6.
In the top of the first, John Maine retired the side in order. In the home half of the first, the Mets came on like gangbusters; Reyes doubled to start, LoDuca was out but Beltran walked and then Delgado hit what was not to be his last three run homer of the series. Wright walked to extend the rally, but the Green and Valentin were retired to end the inning. The score was 3-0 Mets.
The Cards came right back with a big inning; Edmonds got a walk off Maine, then Spiezio made an out, then Encarnation and Belliard got on to load up the bases for Molina. Ben came through with a double to score two to make it 3-2 Mets, but pitcher Carpenter struck out and then Eckstien popped to Valentin.
The Mets scored again in the bottom of the second. Chavez led off with a double to left, then Maine made a nice sacrifice bunt to move up the runner. Reyes knocked in Chavez from third with a single to center. It was 4-2. Then LoDuca grounded out to third and Beltran struck out to end the rally.
Top of the third and the Cards were determined to tie it up. Chris Duncan struck out but Pujols walked and then Jim Edmonds blasted a two run homer off Maine to tie up the game, 4-4. Speizio walked but Encarnation and Belliard both flied out to end the rally.
Bottom of the third, the Mets threatened but did not break the tie. Delgado grounded to short then Wright and Green both walked and it looked like a rally, but Valentin killed the rally with a short to second to first double play.
Top of the fourth, still 4-4. Molina flied to center, Carpenter flied to left and then Eckstine walked and stole a base, but Duncan struck out for the second straight time.
Bottom of the fourth, Chavez grounded to second, and then Maine was hit by a pitch. Reyes forced Maine at second and LoDuca grounded to short to end the inning. It was the first scoreless inning of the game.
Top of the fifth, Pedro Feliciano came in to pitch to Pujols and got him to ground to short. Edmonds lined to center for an out and then Spiezio flied to center.
Bottom of the fifth, Beltran grounded to first, but then Delgado hit his second homer of the night, a solo shot and it put the Mets in the lead 5-4. The Mets continued the rally, with hits from Wright and Green but it was to no avail. Valentin continued his cold streak and flied to center and Chavez grounded out to third.
Top of the sixth, the Cards went quietly with a strike out by Encarnation, a grounder to second by Belliard, a single to left by Molina and a popup to third by pinchhitter Rodriquez on one pitch.
Bottom of the sixth, still 5-4 Mets. Anderson Hernandez, pinch-hitting for the pitcher, struck out but then Reyes walked and LoDuca hit a double to left to score the 6th Met run. It was 6-4. Beltran and Delgado both grounded to second to end the inning.
Top of the seventh, Mota came in to pitch and he was throwing fireballs and getting them to fly at 99 and almost 100 miles an hour. Eckstein and Duncan both flied out. Pujols ripped a single to left and Edmonds walked to put the tying runs on. Then Spiezio, subbing for Rolan, smashed a huge triple to right field which scored those tying runs, and it was all tied up at 6 all. Hielman came in to pitch and Encarnation grounded out to end the rally.
Bottom of the seventh, the Mets went quietly; a fly to center by Wright, and grounder to first by Green a single by Valentin, a rare hit for him, and then Chavez ended the inning with a grounder to 2nd.
Top of the eighth, still with Heilman pitching, Belliard grounded to second, then Molina singled to left, then the pitcher struck out and Eckstien ended the rally without a run by grounding to second.
Bottom of the eighth, Julio Franco struck out, but Reyes got on base and then LoDuca walked and it looked like the Mets with speed at second had a good chance to go ahead, but Beltran grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and it was over. The score remained tied. If they had gotten even one run, some would say, it would have put Wagner more at ease and he would have done better in the ninth to get a post-season save. As it turned out, once again, Wagner was not his best entering a tie game. It was only the second scoreless inning in the high-scoring game.
Top of the ninth, Wagner pitching and Taquero, batting for Chris Duncan, hit a hugely important home run to put the Cards ahead 7-6. Pujols followed with a double and although Edmonds grounded to 2nd, Spiezio doubled to score Pujols to make it 8-6. Encarnation singled to right but then Wagner got Belliard to ground to second and Molina to ground to third. Spiezio was caught in a rundown between third and second, and Wright and Reyes chased Spiezio back and forth several times before finally putting the squeeze on him; in fact Wright did squeeze him and it looked like he tickled him under the arms before letting him go. I kid you not. They were laughing, partly because the rundown went for such a long time, sort of like monkey in the middle for millionaires, as we can now call Wright and Reyes.
Unfortunately the damage was done, and the Mets were not able to come back from the two run deficit. The Mets had been 78-4 this season when leading after six innings, until tonight. They left the sixth leading 6-4, but the Cards got 4 runs off the Mets bullpen, and the St. Louis pen did not give up anything, and thereby hangs the tale.
Carpenter gave up five earned runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. It was Tony LaRussa’s 2298th win in the majors, which is one of the highest, but does not give him even a franchise record, as Frankie Frisch had more wins in his day with the old Cardinals. It was the first really big blown lead by Billy Wagner since May 20th, when he blew a lead to the Yankees, covered by this blog (click on May archives)
This loss evened the series 1-1 for the Mets, starting out the series with two games in front of the home town fans. They learned that the Cardinals are not to be easily captured, even when flying far from home.
In this space, look for a recount of Mets-Dodgers playoff games.Amazine is recovering from technical difficulties at this time. Thanks for your patience. EP
Mets Reach Round-Number Plateaus in Many Categories, Fall Short in Others, But What the Hey…They Are In the Post Season
copyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
The Mets ended the season with the third most runs scored in the NL, 834. 5th in triples in the MLB with 41, 7th in homers in the MLB and 4th in the NL with 200, 6th in the MLB in ribbies with 800, which is 3rd in the NL. They were second in major league baseball with 146 stolen bases, which first in the National League. Their .445 slugging percentage was third in the NL.
The Mets ended the season with a scoring efficiency average of 1.76 hits per run, just eeking out the major league Scoring Efficiency Average title from the Braves who ended the year with 1.77 hits per run. The Indians ended up with 1.81 hits per run scored. The Rangers ended the season with 1.88 hits per run scored. The Cardinals ended with a 1.90 hits per run scored average.
The Mets ended with the third best ERA in the NL with 4.14, behind the Astros and the Padres. The Mets led the NL in shoutouts with 12 (tied with Astros) in strikeouts with 1161, and were second in saves in the NL with 43, behind the Padres. They were third in the NL in innings pitched with 1461. They gave up only 1402 hits on the year, bested only by those pesky Padres. They were third in runs allowed with 731 and earned runs with 673.
Reyes led the team with 647 at bats, 17 triples, 64 stolen bases, 315 total bases, and 194 hits. He was second on the team in runs scored with 122 and fourth in batting average with .300.
Beltran led the team in homers with 41 (tying a franchise record) in bases on balls with 95, tied Wright for first in rbis with 116, and led in runs scored with 127. His 38 doubles were third on the team, as was his 18 stolen bases.
Wright led the team in doubles with 40 and rbis with 116. He was second on the team with 20 stolen bases and second in hits with 181. He was second in triples with 5, second in total bases with 309, second in batting average with .311, and third in homers with 26.
Delgado had a great year but did not lead the team in any major category, such was his competition. he was second in homers on the team with 38, third in ribbies with 114, second in walks with 74, and fourth in runs scored with 89, and those are impressive numbers.
Paul LoDuca led the team in batting average with .318. He was fourth in runs scored with 80, 3rd in hits with 163, second in doubles with 39, 6th in rbis with 49.
Jose Valentin was 5th in homers with 18, 7th in doubles with 24,
Endy Chavez was third in batting with .306 and second on the team with 5 triples. He was fourth with 12 stolen bases.
Cliff Floyd was 7th on the team with 11 homers.
Julio Franco was 10th on the team with 26 rbis, 4th with 6 stolen bases. He was sixth in batting average with .273, behind Beltran (.275) and Green (.277)
Glavine and Traschel tied for the team lead in wins with 15. Glavine went 15-7 while Traschel went 15-8. Glavine led the team in innings pitched with 198, hits allowed with 202, runs allowed with 94 (but not earned runs!) He led the team in game starts with 32.
John Maine led starters with a 3.60 ERA.
Orlando Hernandez led the team in strikeouts with 164. Pedro Martinez was second with 137, Glavine third with 131. Pedro led the team in strikeout to walk ratio, with 137 strikeouts and 39 walks; 3.1 strikeouts per walk. Orlando Hernandez had the second best strikeout to walk ratio with 164 strikeouts and 61 walks (2.68 strikeouts per walk)
While G. Mota led the team in ERA with 1.00 in 18 innings, Pedro Feliciano was the most impressive reliever with a 2.09 ERA in 64 games, 60 1/3 innings. He had a 7-2 record with 54 strikeouts against only 20 walks.
Wagner ended the year 3-2 but with a personal best 40 saves in a team-leading 70 games (tied with Bradford at 70–all these round numbers!) and a nice 2.24 ERA. He pitched 72 1/3 innings getting 94 strikeouts to only 21 walks.
Aaron Heilman led the relievers in innings pitched with 87, getting 73 strikeouts against only 28 walks and sporting a 3.62 ERA through 74 appearances.
Chad Bradford led the team in least home runs per inning pitched, one homer in 62 innings over 70 appearances.
Heilman gave up only 5 home runs in his 87 innings, while Pelfry gave up one in his 21 1/3 innings.
Billy Wagner had the second lowest era (for pitchers with over 20 innings) with a 2.24 ERA.
Duaner Sanchez had the third lowest era (for pitchers with over 20 innings) with a 2.60 ERA.
Team Reaches 97 wins, (almost .600) 200 Homers, 800 ribbies, 50 wins at home 47 on the road.lead MLB in scoring efficiency, 3rd best ERA in NL, fall 2 short of MLB team stolen base record,
The Mets finished the season with a flourish, winning four in a row including a sweep of the retiring Frank Robinson’s Nationals, to end with a 97 and 65 record, identical to the Yankees finishing record. In fact both New York ball teams have the same home record, 50-31 and away record, 47-34. The Mets had been in the .600 club on and off all year, but ended up with a .599 win-loss percentage, one point below that goal. On Thursday, September 28th, the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 7-4. On Friday September 29th, they beat the Nationals 4-3, allowing Wagner to earn his 40th save–his career high. On Saturday September 30th, they beat the Nationals 13-0.; On Sunday, October 1st, they beat the Nationals again 6-2. The Runs Margin Index for the four games was 30 and 9. That means they scored .770 % of all runs in those four games.
On Saturday, they started off with a bang in the top of the first; Reyes grounded out, Chavez homered, Beltran walked, Wright struck out, but then Green walked and then Franco hit a three run homer, his second on the year. In the third, Beltran singled then Wright popped out, but Green singled to center and then Franco doubled to right field scoring two more, making it 6-0.
In the Fourth, Chavez and Beltran walked, then Wright made an out, and then Green hit a three run homer to put the Mets ahead 9-0. Castro homered in the 7th to make it an even 10.
But the Mets were not finished yet. In the Eighth, Chavez singled then Beltran walked, setting the stage for Wright’s 26th and final homer of the season, giving Wright 116 ribbies for the year, tying him with Guerrero and teammate Beltran for 13th in the major leagues in RBIs, and 7th in the NL. What was yet more appropriate is that Wright’s three run blast was the 200th and final home run for the Mets this year, the fifth of the afternoon.
It was the 290th career regular-season win for Tom Glavine, although one could argue, pointlessly perhaps that Glavine’s 13 post-season victories puts him over the top on the quest for 300 wins. Glavine gave up only three hits and got 3 strikeouts, while allowing no walks. He is 15-7 on the year.
The final score was 13-0, a belated celebration of their pennant clinching ways over the NL east.
On Sunday, they began in almost the same way off Ramon Ortiz, batting around to score 6 runs in the second inning, and leaving the bases loaded, amassing 9 hits in the inning, tying a team record. There were two hits by David Wright, two by Shawn Green a two run triple by Anderson Hernandez and a double by Cliff Floyd. That was their final scoring flourish for the year, ending up with a 6-2 win.
EVEN WITHOUT PEDRO! You’ll Be Amazed at Which New York Mets Excelled in Previous Postseasons– And which Mets Didn’t! Another Amazine Exclusive!
Copyright © 2006 by Evan Pritchard
I bet you’ll be surprised—very surprised, at which players on the current New York roster were in post-season games in the past, and which were not. You will also be surprised to find out which of those did well in those post-season match-ups and which were not so great.
The Mets will meet the Dodgers at 4 PM on Wednesday, October 4th, for their first playoff encounter since 2000, and will not have the pleasure of introducing the Dodgers to Pedro Martinez, a man we all associate with the post-season. This is a real tragedy for baseball, as Pedro is one of the more colorful pitchers in the history of the game, but there are some things we need to talk about…
MYTHS ABOUT PEDRO MARTINEZ
Myth: The Mets have little chance of going all the way without Pedro.
Fact: The Mets can win without Pedro, and have been doing so all year.
Myth: Pedro has a long and glorious World Series career.
Fact: Pedro has only appeared in one World Series game, that was in 2004. He was excellent and pitched 7 scoreless innings for the Red Sox.
Myth: Pedro has a sub-zero ERA in the post-season.
Fact: Pedro’s lifetime post-season ERA is a so-so 3.40.
(To his credit, he is 6-2 with the Red Sox in post-season games, with 80 strikeouts in 79+ innings.)
Myth: Pedro doesn’t give up many runs in League Championship Series.
Fact: Pedro has one win and two losses in his three ALCS seasons, posting a run-of-the-mill 4.72 ERA in 6 games. Not including his great 1999 showing, he has a 6.00 ERA in League Championships.
Myth: Pedro carried the Red Sox through many divisional series contests.
Fact: Pedro went 1-0 each ALDS,; 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004. That’s not bad, but not enough to carry a team. Except for 1999, when he really was “Pedro,” (no runs in 17 post-season innings) he had a 3.86 ERA through 28 ALDS innings.
Now that we’ve got that mythological roadblock out of the road, let’s look at who on the Mets was great, who was mediocre, and who didn’t get to play, in post-season games in years past.
Carlos Delgado: Never played in a post-season game.
Steve Traschel: Although he pitched an important tie-breaker for the Cubs at the end of the 1998 season, to give the Cubs the wild card berth, he did not get to pitch in the playoff series that followed.
Paul LoDuca: Through all those years with the Dodgers, including 2004 when they went to the post-season, he never played in a post-season game.
Reyes, Wright, A. Hernandez, Castro, Chavez, all too young to have been in previous post-season games. Hard to say how they will react.
THEY WERE GREAT
Chad Bradford has appeared in no less than ten ALDS post-season games, for the White Sox in 2000, the A’s in 2001, 2002, and 2003; and for the Red Sox in 2004. Talk about your post-season experience! In those ten games he pitched 9.2 scoreless innings of relief, giving up 8 hits and getting 8 strikeouts.
Duaner Sanchez will not be appearing in this post-season due to an arm injury, however he has sterling post-season credentials. He appeared in two games in the 2004 NLDS, gave up one hit, no runs, one base on balls, and got three strikeouts in two innings, for an ERA of 0.00.
Jose Lima of all people, was in three NLDS post-season games in three different seasons, with a nice cool 2.16 total ERA. In 1997 he toiled for the Astros, one inning, one strike out, one base on balls, no runs. In 1999 he appeared again with the Astros, starting and losing a game with 4 runs in 6 2/3 innings, and two bases on balls, but 4 strikeouts, for a 5.40 ERA that year. In 2004, he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, starting and winning a complete game shutout in the NLDS, on five hits, four strikeouts and one bases on balls. Again, a total 2.16 post-season ERA, but he has not been able to convince Randolph that he still has the stuff.
Orlando Hernandez (El Duque) is one of the better post-season pitchers around. His lifetime record in the AL Divisional playoffs(in five seasons four with the Yankees, one with the White Sox) is 3-1 with an ERA of 1.78 with 25 strikeouts in 30+ innings. His AL Championship Series numbers are a little plumper, 4-1, with a 3.26 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 47 innings. But what is really impressive is his World Series stats: 2-1 in 4 starts with one appearance in relief, with a total World Series ERA of 2.20 with 36 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.
All told, his totals in six post-seasons are 9-3, with a 2.55 ERA. He has appeared in 19 post-season games with no less than 14 starts and 107 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched. In 1998, he was 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA. In 1999, he was 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA. In 2000 he was 3-1. In 2002 he had a 2.84 ERA and in 2005 he was scoreless in relief for Chicago in two appearances.
Tom Glavine has the most post-season experience of any Met in recent history, with a total of 201 1/3 innings pitched in post-season play. He’s given up 77 earned runs and 20 homers, but has 137 strikeouts through 32 games. He has a 12-15 win-loss record and a 3.44 ERA through 11 consecutive years of post-season play from 1991 to 2002. Some say these are not great stats, but his World Series stats are quite remarkable, and fairly consistent except for 1999. Let’s look at those World Series stats.
In the 1991 World Series he was 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 8 strikeouts. (one complete game)
In the 1992 World Series he was 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 8 strikeouts. (two complete games)
In the 1995 World Series he was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
In the 1996 World Series, he was 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 8 strikeouts.
In the 1999 World Series he was 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA with 3 strikeouts and 3 homers.
All told, Glavine has 58 1/3 innings of World Series experience under his belt, a total that few pitchers in history have reached, in fact an inning more than Sandy Kofax pitched. His total World Series ERA of 2.16 is hard to complain about, except that it was for the Braves.
THEY WERE GREAT
Carlos Beltran played in the 2004 post season for the Houston Astros and was out of this world. As they say in Brooklyn, “he went nuts.” In 22 at bats in the NLDS, he hit four balls out of the park, with two doubles and 10 total hits for a .455 batting average and a terrifying slugging percentage of 1.091. His on-base percentage was .500 and he also stole two bases. He scored nine runs and batted in nine as well.
In the 2004 NL Championship series, he struck again, with 4 homers, one double, and again 10 total hits, for a .417 batting average. His slugging slacked off to .958 but his on-base percentage went up to .563. In that series, he stole 4 bases, earned 8 base on balls, and got 5 ribbies with 12 runs scored.
His cumulative batting average for post-season play is .435 with 8 homers and 14 rbis and a 1.022 slugging percentage.
Jose Valentin played for the White Sox in the 2000 post-season. In three ALDS games he came to the plate 10 times scoring 2 runs on three hits, two of which were doubles, for a .300 batting average. He knocked in one rbi. He stole 3 bases, and had a .500 slugging percentage.
Ricky Ledee did okay in his one divisional series (1999) and his two league championship series with the Yankees (1998 and 1999) batting .273 in the divisional playoffs with two doubles and two ribbies, and batting .250 in the 1999 championship series, going 2 for 8 with two runs scored and 4 ribbies.
However, Ricky Ledee really came alive in the 1998 World Series with the Yankees gong 6 for 10, with three doubles and 4 ribbies for a .600 batting average. That was offset by his 1999 World Series the following year, which was more down to earth, showing a .200 average in 8 plate appearances with one home run and four ribbies. His career post-season total batting average is .295.
Shawn Green played in the 2004 NLDS for the LA Dodgers, and hit no less than 3 solo homers in 4 games for 3 rbis and a .250 BA. Pretty good!
THEY WERE NOT SO GREAT
Billy Wagner pitched in no less than four NLDS seasons with the Astros. In the 1997 post-season, he posted a 18.00 ERA; three hits and 2 runs in one inning. (To give him credit, he had 2 strikeouts.) In the 1998 NLDS he won a game but again posted a 18.00 ERA with four hits (including a home run!) and 2 runs in one inning. In 1999, he had his best NLDS with one scoreless inning and one strikeout. In 2001, he posted a 5.40 ERA in 1 2/3 innings with one run, a home run, and one hit batter. To his credit he got 3 strikeouts that year in relief. His post-season totals, all NLDS appearances, is a not-so-stunning 9.64 ERA, with 8 hits and 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Roberto Hernandez has pitched in no less than three post season series; two NLDS, and one ALCS. Unfortunately, he was not very lucky in one of those years; 1997. In 1997, he lost a game for the Giants in the NLDS. In three short appearances in relief, he gave up 5 hits and 3 runs, three bases on balls and only one strike out, for a total ERA of 20.25.
Other than that, he was pretty good. In the 1993 ALCS pitching for the White Sox, he appeared in 4 games, and pitched 4 scoreless innings, with a total of 4 hits for a 0.00 ERA. In the 2003 NLDS, he pitched one scoreless inning for the Atlanta Braves for a 0.00 ERA. In spite of all those scoreless years, his total ERA in the post-season is a so-so 4.26 in 8 appearances.
Darren Oliver has an okay post-season record, but it’s not unbelievably good. In the 1996 ALDS, pitching for the Texas Rangers, he started a game and lost after giving up three runs in 8 innings for a 3.38 ERA. That’s actually lower than Pedro’s lifetime post-season ERA.
THEY WERE NOT SO GREAT
Cliff Floyd played in the 1997 World Series for the Marlins. He came to the plate only two times, plus one base on balls. He scored one run and struck out once, with no hits.
Julio Franco is a great player with no less than six years in the post-season, but they were, with the exception of 2003, somewhat so-so. He appeared in the divisional series with the 1996 Cleveland Indians, and the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Braves. He reached the NL Championship series in 2001 and never played in a World Series.
In the 2001 NL Championship Series he batted .261 with one home run and two ribbies in 23 at bats.
His totals for the six divisional series was one homer and 3 ribbies in 71 at bats for a .225 batting average. His best post season was 2003. In the 2003 NLDS he went 4 for 8 with 2 walks and one run scored for a .500 batting average. Let’s hope his 2006 numbers are like 2003… or better.
Eli Marrero, did you know, was in three NLDS and two NLCS, but no World Series. In 18 at bats in those three years in the divisional playoffs, he only got one hit, for a .056 batting average; And in those two NLCS years, with 20 at bats, he also only got one hit, for a .150 batting average. His career post-season batting average is .105, which is not what we hope for this year, but he certainly has lots of post-season experience.
Michael Tucker was with Atlanta in 1997 and 1998, and played in both the divisional and championship series, but unfortunately, was weak in the 1997 post-season, which off-set his strong numbers the following year.
In 1997, Tucker was 1 for 6 in the divisional, and 1 for 5 in the championship series, including a homer, for a total .125 batting average. However, in 1998, he was 2 for 8 in the divisional with 2 ribbies, for a .250 average, and was 5 for 13 in the championship series with one homer and five ribbies for a .385 average. His post-season total batting average is a respectable .243. I bet you didn’t even know Michael Tucker had a post-season career.
So there you have a complete picture of the Mets total post-season experience in the clubhouse, and its nothing to sneeze at. I hope you were as surprised as I was to find how many October resumes there are on this talented team.. It is not quite so important how great these players performed in past championships, as it is that they were there and got acclimated to the “altitude” being at the top of the heap. They learned from their mistakes and will do better this time. And anyway, they’ll all be too busy chasing Jose Reyes around the bases, a youngster with no post-season expereince at all, but will some day probably hold a few records for October excellence and I don’t mean raking leaves for $9 an hour.