And a very good morning it is.
The Mets did their job against the Diamondbacks, going to Phoenix and winning 2 of 3 from the hottest team in baseball. The ultra-talented, and young, Diamondbacks certainly look like the real deal, with great starting pitching, a hustling attitude, and enough offense to make them a legitimate contender.
But the Mets flexed their muscles and did exactly what they had to do against the snakes.
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In what was one of the more intriguing pitching matchups of the young season, neither the Diamondbacks Dan Haren nor the Mets Johan Santana had their 1A stuff, but both were reasonably effective.
When both starters exited after 6, Santana had a skinny 2-1 lead on the strength of a David Wright homerun in the 4th, and it was "game on".
Joe Smith relieved Santana in the 7th and quickly got two outs, but the DBacks pieced together a run to tie the game.
In the 8th Pedro Feliciano came in and the game became exciting. Chris Burke led off the inning and dropped a bunt that Feliciano fielded and threw wildly past first base.
Burke began running in earnest for his destination--third base, while the game Ryan Church hustled like a madman after the errant Feliciano throw. Church grabbed the ball and fired a bullet to David Wright, who snared it and, in one sweeping motion, dove at Burke to nail him with about one inch to spare.
It was a game changer that seemed to sap the life out of the Diamondbacks. A professional, major league play that we haven't seen in rightfield for some time.
"He's got a great arm, but for him to get to the ball as quickly as he did with a lot of room out there, he didn't have a chance to set his feet and get a nice crow-hop like he normally would," Wright said. "To get to the ball quickly, release it quickly and have that much on it, it's pretty impressive. We all know he has a strong arm, but he didn't have a lot of time."
"The biggest thing is just getting a grip of it and letting it go," Church said. "Just basically chuck it."
As the Bergen Record said, Church has been the most valuable player on the team through the first month, with his bat and his arm.
Church has been a star for the Mets in all facets of his play. He is hitting .318 and the Mets are now 7-1 with him in the 2 hole in the lineup.
We reported earlier that Church is one of the more underrated outfielders in the game. He gets a great jump on the ball, has a rifle arm (he was a pitcher in college), and has a career .993 fielding percentage. He is now tied for the major league lead with four outfield assists and hasn't made an error all season.
Before the throw he also hustled in to grab a shallow bloop by Chris Young with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning and Santana struggling to get through the inning. That one, Church joked, "I had that all the way."
Still, he seemed surprised that anyone wanted to talk to him after the game.
"I guess it was huge because of the situation," he said. "Anytime you can help the team win a ballgame. That guy could have been on third with nobody out. Whatever helps, just chip in. I didn't get it done with the bat. Just do it with defense."
In the top of the 9th, with the DBacks on their heels, the Mets pounced. Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou singled to start the frame, then Carlos Delgado grounded to Jackson, who overthrew shortstop Augie Ojeda to allow Beltran to score.
"Any time a team makes mistakes on you, you make sure you make them pay for it," New York manager Willie Randolph said. "It was kind of a weird game. A few crazy things happened out there, but we scored early and late and got the job done."
New York went on to load the bases and get an RBI single by pinch hitter Marlon Anderson and an RBI sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes.
Billy Wagner came in to close with another perfect inning to give the Mets the win.
All in all a great game. The top of the lineup: Jose Reyes, Ryan Church and David Wright, continue to get it done. Willie Randolph, who likes a set lineup, seems to have fully come around on Church in the 2 hole and the results speak for themselves.
In other news, the NY Post comments on Rick Peterson's silence this year.
The Daily News has a nice piece on the return of Brian Schneider.
Enjoy your coffee!