NY Sports Dog: August 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans!

There's something happening here,
What it is ain't exactly clear.
There's a man with a bat over there,
Telling the NL East they got to beware.

The latest tune from The Buffalo Beltran is a sure-fire smash hit. In fact, it was a Grand Slam.

There's something happening here:

Yes my friends, there is something happening. It's called team baseball. The Mets are playing exactly that--picking each other up, even on a night when things didn't look like they'd go the Mets way.

Ollie Perez pitched a heck of a ballgame. 6 innings in which he only allowed 1 earned run. He walked 5, but that was in part to the ever changing strike zone of homeplate umpire Jerry Layne.

Still, Ollie continued his mastery of the Marlins, but left after 6 innings on the wrong side of a 2-1 deficit.

Ollie has been terrific in July and August, going deep into games and sporting a 2.55 ERA over his last 11 games. He did his job and gave the Mets a chance to win.

What it is aint exactly clear:

The Mets bullpen continues to have its ups and downs. The ups last night were Brian Stokes and Joe Smith, each of whom tossed a scoreless frame.

Joe Smith hasn't allowed a run in his last 9 appearances and earned the win last night. At the tender age of 24, Smith has already appeared in 121 big league games and has a 5-5 record with a 3.71 ERA.

Brian Stokes has been terrific. He has come along and proven he is a 1 or 2 inning reliever and spot starter who can get righty's and lefty's out. It's my opinion that Stokes should get the start against the Brewers, not John Niese. Dan Warthen also seems leery about starting the Mets young southpaw against the Brew Crew.

"The Milwaukee matchup, for me, is better for a right-handed pitcher," Warthen said before last night's game against the Marlins. "That's something we've certainly looked into. We've looked at the numbers. If we need another spot starter against Philadelphia or possibly against this ballclub, he would be the type of guy we'd use."

And then there's Luis Ayala. Luis decided to give Mets fans heart palpitations by allowing 4 hits and 2 runs in the 9th after the club had just taken the lead. We learned later on that Ayala had a tight hammy, but he gamely pitched on.

In earning his third save as a Met, Ayala allowed a Mike Jacobs pinch-hit RBI single and then had a long battle with Jorge Cantu. Cantu almost hit the game winning homerun, but thankfully, it hooked foul. When he hit it I thought it was gone and so did Daniel Murphy.

"I was screaming at it," leftfielder Daniel Murphy said.

Cantu's double down the leftfield line almost tied the game. As Daniel Murphy chased after the ball, Alfredo Amezega, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner, was screaming around the basepaths. Murphy approached the ball and slipped--somehow he kept enough balance to grab the ball and fire a strong throw back to the infield. In my opinion it was a game saving play.

"I left a pretty nice divot out there," Murphy said.

"That was a very, very big play for us [by Murphy] - a very big play," Manuel said. "That will probably go unnoticed, but that might have been the thing that saved us."

Jerry Manuel stuck with Ayala, and he got Wes Helms to ground out to Reyes to end the game.

There's a man with a bat over there:

A man named Carlos Beltran, but we'll get to him in a moment.

How about Luis Castillo! 2 outs, 9th inning, 2 strikes, and bam, single up the middle to keep hope alive. Then there was David Wright--the same David Wright that is scuffling a bit--single, two men on. Carlos Delgado gets plunked, and suddenly the bases are juiced and the tying and go ahead runs are on base.

Now if I'm the Marlins manager there is no way I leave Kevin Gregg in the game. It wasn't the Castillo and Wright at bats that bothered me--those were not "scary, my closer has nothing" type hits. But when you plunk the next guy on the first pitch to load the bases, you have to think something is wrong.

Thankfully for Mets fans, Gregg was left in for Beltran, and Carlos delivered, oh how he ever delivered.

First pitch, hanging splitter, Beltran's eyes opened as big as saucers, a smooth slightly uppercut swing, pure power, the ball explodes off his bat and we watch as it soars to rightfield...deep, deep, deep and gone! Grand slam--a thunderbolt hit that lit up the Florida sky and sent tremors up and down the National League East all the way to Philadelphia.

"Oh, man," a relieved Jerry Manuel said afterward. "Oh, man."

"I wasn't looking for anything in particular," Beltran said. "I was just thinking I needed to come through right there with a hit and at least tie the ballgame. As soon as I saw it, I hit it and knew it was gone."

"That's baseball," Beltran added. "We've been in that situation before. We didn't score early, but we scored when the team needed it the most."

Telling the NL East they got to beware:

The Phillies lost a heartbreaker, so the Mets now stand 2 games up on their rivals and 7 up on the Marlins.

Don't think for a minute that the Mets aren't scoreboard watching.

"I was happy because of the situation we're in right now," Beltran said. "The Phillies lost today. These are the teams we really need to beat - the Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies - for us to move on."

The Mets win, the Mets win!!!

Big Pelf on the hill tonight--as you know, he's struggled with the Marlins this year, so a goos start by the Mets young star would provide and incredible boost right now....exciting times in Met Nation!

Enjoy your coffee!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Carlos Beltran: N.L. Player of the Day!

Congrats Carlos! National League Player of the Day!

N.Y. Mets (75-60) «100000004591
Florida (68-67)011000002481
Player of the Game
New York Mets

C. Beltran
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
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Mets Friday Ramblings

At what point do the Mets remove the interim tag from Jerry Manuel?

Billy Wagner will come back, but as long as the Mets are winning with Ayala at closer, I say let the man get a little more time than he really needs. Mark Sep 20th on your calenders.

The talk of Carlos Delgado for MVP is great, and if there was a second half MVP he'd win by a mile. That said, he is about a top 10 guy right now and won't win it.

Delgado is 6th in home runs and RBIs in the NL.

Anyone else feel like Tatis, Beltran and Church should get the outfield starts from here on out with just occasional starts by the kids? I know they are a feel good story and all, but the vets give me a lot more day to day confidence.

Mike Pelfrey may not have Joba Chamberlain's "stuff", but he is going to have a better career. His body type and arm slot lend itself to success and physical health. Joba? Not so much.

Mike Pelfrey vs Jon Lester is a good discussion---they were born one week apart.

I still can't decide if my favorite Met is David Wright or Jose Reyes.

Carlos Beltran is hitting .306 in August, and though he's been fairly steady all year production-wise, he hasn't had that great month. I think September is gonna be that month.

Our schedule after this road trip is very, very favorable...memo to the Mets, time to put the pedal down hard against the Fish and Brewers.

We won't see CC Sabathia next week--advantage Mets.

We're 1 game up on the Phils and there is a real chance we extend that lead this weekend.

If you can't wait until tonight's game, feel all antsy and excited and lack "work focus", then you are enjoying this pennant race.

Aren't you glad you're a Mets fan and not a Yankees fan?

Are Mets fans more inclined to be Giants or Jets fans? I really don't care, but someone asked me. I'm a diehard Giants fan.

Random stat of the day: Carlos Delgado has been hit by a pitch the 13th most times in the history of baseball. I bet you didn't know that.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans!

There are wins, and there are WINS!

Last night was a WIN!

The Mets demonstrated a huge amount of intestinal fortitude and resiliency in coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Phillies 6-3.

It was a breathtaking, exciting win that left no doubt that these 2008 Mets will fight and claw and work with every ounce of strength until the end.

"This was a huge, huge win for us simply because of the way we lost last night," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "We could've afforded to (lose), but the way we lost last night, you never know where that's going to lead you."

The unabashed star of the game, Carlos Delgado, swatted two long flies and drove in 3 runs to continue his amazing production since June.

Delgado has 57 RBIs in his last 56 games and a .303 batting average and .991 OPS since the all-star break.

"He's been amazing," said Mets Manager JerryManuel. "When he hits we simply win because he just carries us."

How good has Delgado been? Since June 27 he leads the NL lead in home runs (19) and RBI (58).

Moreover, Delgado is talking and acting like a leader, heaping praise on his teammates, going out to the mound, playing a solid first base, and being the rock his club needs him to be.

"It shows that we have a lot of character and a lot of guys with short-term memories," said Delgado, who continued his remarkable hitting turnaround since late June. "We were able to put [Tuesday] night behind us and come back and play. That's important."

Delgado wasn't alone in shining for the first-place Mets. Rookie Daniel Murphy, who had been in an 0-16 mini-slump, had a clutch double in the 8th to score Beltran. His hit gave the Mets the lead for good. That he hit the double off of closer Brad Lidge was particularly sweet for the hard working Murphy.

It was one of those moments that get lost a bit in a 162 game schedule. After Carlos Beltran stole second, the Phils intentionally walked Ryan Church to get to "the Kid".

Manager Jerry Manuel could easily have pinch-hit for Murphy there--tie game, one of the best closers in baseball on the mound, and Murphy in a slump. But Jerry stuck with Murphy and the young hitter paid his manager back in spades.

“I feel very confident in him,” Manuel said later. “He’s a good young hitter. I never thought about pinch hitting for him or anything like that. He's a big part of what we're doing."

Murphy has been leaning on Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley for advice--three pretty good role models. He spoke about Easley and some recent advice.

"'Murphy, come here,' " Murphy recalled Easley saying. "When you're scuffling, you just try to feel that swing, Easley told him. "Then what you do is you just try to unhook that train you've been dragging for along the whole time."

Consider the train unhooked.

Brian Schneider followed Murphy and promptly blooped a single to short leftfield to plate two more.

6-3 Mets and they never looked back.

The bullpen relieved starter Johan Santana and put zeros on the board--Brain Stokes, Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith and Luis Ayala combined for 1-hit ball over 3 innings. Stoked got the win and Ayala got the save.

Santana didn't have great stuff, but he did hold the hot hitting Phils to 3 runs in 6 innings.

The Mets now get a day off before heading to Florida. Another day in which they hold onto to first place in what has become an incredibly exciting season in Met Nation.

This is why they play the games--this is why we're Mets fans--this is what baseball is all about!

Enjoy your coffee!

N.Y. Mets (74-60) «1000010406130
Philadelphia (73-60)210000000360
Player of the Game
New York

C. Delgado
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 2
New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS5130000 .306
Luis Castillo, 2B4010001 .257
David Wright, 3B5000022 .291
Carlos Delgado, 1B4233100 .263
Carlos Beltran, CF5130003 .273
Ryan Church, RF2110211 .307
Daniel Murphy, LF4111014 .328
Endy Chavez, LF0000000 .270
Brian Schneider, C4012013 .254
Johan Santana, P2000001 .131
a- Nick Evans, PH1000010 .261
Brian Stokes, P0000000 .667
b- Damion Easley, PH1000001 .270
Pedro Feliciano, P0000000 .000
Joe Smith, P0000000 .000
Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000

a-struck out for Santana in the 7th
b-hit into fielder's choice for Stokes in the 8th
2B - Daniel Murphy (3, Lidge)
HR - Carlos Delgado 2 (30, Kendrick, Seanez)
SH - Luis Castillo (7)
RBI - Carlos Delgado 3 (93), Daniel Murphy (13), Brian Schneider 2 (31)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Delgado 2 (36), Daniel Murphy (6), Brian Schneider 2 (11)
SB - Carlos Beltran (19, 2nd base off Lidge/Coste), Ryan Church (2, 2nd base off Kendrick/Coste)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Castillo-Reyes-Delgado, Castillo-Reyes-Delgado
New York Mets
Johan Santana 6533362 2.70
Brian Stokes (W,1-0) 1100200 3.18
Pedro Feliciano (H,18) 0.2000000 3.94
Joe Smith (H,15) 0.1000000 4.01
Luis Ayala (S,2) 1000000 5.37
IBB - Utley by Brian Stokes
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 106-67, Brian Stokes 18-8, Pedro Feliciano 12-7, Joe Smith 1-1, Luis Ayala 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 5-6, Brian Stokes 2-0, Pedro Feliciano 1-1, Joe Smith 1-0, Luis Ayala 3-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 25, Brian Stokes 5, Pedro Feliciano 2, Joe Smith 1, Luis Ayala 3

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Morning Mike Pelfrey (Mets) Fans!

He did it again--24-year old Mike Pelfrey went out, in a game his club desperately needed, and pitched a complete game, 1 run, ballgame. He dominated, absolutely dominated, and put a spark back in a team that had lost their last two.

Mike Pelfrey gives Mets fans a reason to believe, and manager Jerry Manuel just might be his #1 cheerleader.

"He has tremendous, tremendous confidence right now when he takes the mound," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He's relaxed, under control, and he's throwing some filthy stuff."

Pelfrey is now 13-8 with a 3.70 ERA on the season. There was a lot of talk earlier in the week about limiting his innings going forward, but with John Maine on the DL with bone spurs, that is no longer part of the discussion.

"I think sometimes we get too caught up in that pitch-count thing, this thing, innings, what have you," Manuel said. "If you can go out there and take the ball with where we are now, complete games are huge for us."

Even though he pitched two complete games back to back, upping his innings count, he only needed 108 pitches in each game. Are we that far along in "protectionist" mode that a starter can't throw 108 pitches?

In my opinion any game in the 90-110 pitch range is fine, regardless of innings. Johan Santana can go 100-120 pitches, as can Ollie, and Pelfrey and Pedro are solid 90-110 pitch guys.

"I had some huge double plays tonight," Pelfrey said. "My sinker was very, very good tonight and the guys behind me played great defense. So anytime that you mix those two together, it's going to be good."

"He's throwing some filthy stuff out there right now," Manuel said. "When you see good major league hitters react the way they do when they see one of his pitches -- (it) is something to see."

Mike Pelfrey is now to 11-2 since June 1st. It's a streak as dominant as anyone in baseball over that span, including CC Sabathia. The Astros heaped plenty of praise on the Mets young star.

"The guy throws predominantly all fastballs," Wigginton said. "Not too many guys can go (with) fastballs against Major League teams."

The other star of the night was Carlos Delgado. The big slugger gave the Mets something they're quite used to--a first inning lead, by blasting a 3-run homerun in the first frame. But Carlos wasn't done yet, he added his second 3-run dinger in the 7th after Houston intentionally walked David Wright.

Carlos gladly took a curtain call for his monster night.

Jose Reyes had a solid game and hit his major league leading 15th triple.

The Mets now go on the road to face the Phils and Fish--a huge week of baseball is upon us.

Delgado's resurgence has been one of the better stories for Met Nation in 2008. His career looked over early on, he was frustrated, the fans were frustrated, and his failures far outweighed his successes.

That has all changed, and he is as big a threat as the Mets have in their lineup. He is seeing the ball well, using all fields, and his power stroke is the talk of the town.

"I hit some balls good tonight," Delgado said. "I got some good swings."

Delgado, who s known for keeping detailed notes on all pitchers and situations, got a tip of the cap from his former teammate Brian Moehler, who gave up of a Delgado bomb.

"A home run is a home run," said Moehler, "It's not a fluke. He's a great player. He's probably one of the most prepared guys as far as scouting pitchers. It was Delgado's 4th multi-HR game of the year, and the Shea faithful got what they wanted--a curtain call. As you'll recall, Delgado took some heat earlier in the year for not coming out of the dugout for a curtain call.

"I didn't think it was the right time," an upbeat Delgado said of the early-season decision. "Six RBI and a couple home runs, I think it's the right time. So I think I learned my lesson, and instead of talking about it for three weeks, we come out, appreciate it, and I guess it's water under the bridge."

I'm smiling as I type this: Carlos Delgado leads the team with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs.

"He's erupted for us," third baseman David Wright said.

So on to Philly tonight with Pedro on the hill. Pedro has had an excellent August and is about to pitch far and away the biggest game of the season. Johan tomorrow night, and all Mets fans will be tuned in for the showdown.

Enjoy your coffee!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Mike Pelfrey Dominates

Complete game for Big Pelf, his second complete game in a row.

Mike Pelfrey dominated from start to finish. He is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last 3 starts and has only given up 10 walks in his last 11 outings.

Pelf is now 10-2 since June 1st...incredible.

Ladies and gentleman, the Mets have another ace!

Houston (66-65)000000001160
N.Y. Mets (73-59) «30000132x990
Players of the Game
New York

M. Pelfrey
IP 9.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 0
K 6

New York

C. Delgado
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mets Sunday Story Time

As I perused the papers this morning, it struck me that there is a lot of great writing about the Mets going on.

If you'll allow me, I'd like to share some of the "Best of the Best" with you.

Adam Rubin of the NY Post has a nice piece on what the fans standing ovation upon his return meant to Ryan Church and his wife:

Church revealed that his wife Tina was driven to tears by the standing ovation the Shea faithful gave before his first at-bat in Friday's 1-for-3 return. The hard-nosed Church said the fans' embrace cemented his desire to spend the rest of his career in Flushing. He's even open to signing a long-term contract now to wipe away his arbitration years. Church won't be a free agent until after the 2011 season.

The always entertaining Mike Lupica writes about what David Wright means to the Mets:

Of course Wright is not the only one trying to write a better ending for the Mets in '08 than we got in '07. When you ask him about the way the Mets have come back over the past few months, he wants to talk about Carlos Delgado, who has made things easier for Wright the way he has made things easier for everybody in the lineup. Because if Delgado doesn't come back the way he does the Mets don't come back, it can't happen.

"There is a different dynamic to our lineup when (Delgado) is hot," Wright was saying Friday night before Johan Santana shut out the Astros. "By that I mean there's a different dynamic when he's Carlos Delgado. And a lot of that just has to do with confidence. When I watch him now, I see him up there with the confidence I used to see when I played against him in '05, and the way he was when I thought he carried us offensively in '06. It's not just that the guys in front of him get better pitches to hit and the guys behind him get better pitches to hit. When he's hot, pitchers always know where he is in the lineup."

My favorite piece of the day is Steve Serby's wonderful interview with Daniel Murphy. Read the article and watch the video. Serby is great, and he really let's us in to what Kid Murphy is feeling right now:

Q: Have any of your Mets teammates tangled with you yet?

A: No, I get the normal ribbing a rookie gets, which I welcome, cause I'd rather get made fun of in the big leagues than be The Man in the minor leagues.

Q: What kind of ribbing?

A: I think David Wright might have ran into my wallet that had seen better days, and he ripped it and tried to put it in the shredder. But he got me a new one. So, I thanked him for that.

Q: Was there money in the wallet?

A: He gave me all my stuff back. He just decided it was time for the wallet to retire.

Samantha Newman on Mets.Com talks about how Jerry Manuel plans to keep Fernando Tatis sharp:

"He was very huge for us," Manuel said. "Very huge in the sense that he got big hits, added on runs when we needed them. I think maybe right field might just be the place to play in our system right now. At least this season, everybody that's gone out there has done well, and Tatis was extremely impressive as a right fielder."

He may have been playing as a substitute, but Tatis went on an offensive tear in the middle of the season that earned his name a place in the starting lineup on a daily basis. He batted .397 with 18 RBIs in July, and was responsible for several game-winning hits. The veteran also slugged a combined nine home runs in July and August, compared to just one through the rest of the season.

Let's get a win today and keep the momentum going!
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans! Johan Santana!

What is an Ace?

In the military, an Ace is a pilot with 5 confirmed kills. In baseball, it's a dominant #1 starting pitcher--someone capable of shutting down an opponent, no matter how hot they are, and leading his team to victory.

I believe it's an overused term in today's game, and that there are only about a dozen in all of MLB.

Johan Santana is one of them. Johan Santana is an ace.

Though only 20th in MLB in Wins, thanks in part to a leaky bullpen in several of his starts, he is 4th in ERA, 3rd in Innings Pitched, 10th in WHIP, and 11th in Ks.

He is a gamer, a battler, a proud and dedicated craftsman, and yes my friends, he really is a New York Met.

After shutting out the Pirates in a complete game masterpiece in his last outing, Santana hurled another gem last night against a game and gritty Houston Astro club and their own star pitcher Roy Oswalt.

After 6 innings of shutout ball Johan had thrown over 100 pitches and immediately went to Jerry Manuel in the Mets dugout to make his case for a 7th inning.

"Johan had mentioned that the other guy was still out there," Manuel said with a laugh. "I thought that, for what he's done on the mound, I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought that was only fair to him."

“I told Jerry I felt good,” Santana said. “I was there. I was throwing strikes.”

Santana got his way and put up another zero in the 7th. All told he tossed a career high 121 pitches and further endeared himself to the Shea faithful, who rewarded the star with a well-deserved ovation as he walked back to the dugout, spent, but happy.

"Right now, we've got a great momentum going and everything is right there in front of us, so I know I need to do my part to help out," Santana said. "At this point in the season, you want to show you're able to go deep in the game. We need that now even more because we don't have Billy, so what happened tonight was very satisfying."

Santana was helped along by Jose Reyes, who led the game off with a single and scored on a David Wright bloop single, and Brian Schneider, who cracked his 3rd homerun in 5 games. His dinger plated Ryan Church, who got on base with a hustle single dribbled down the third base line.

It sure was good to see Ryan Church back--the fans rose to their collective feet when he came to bat for the first time--it was more evidence that this team, this group of hustling, gritty professionals, have endeared themselves to the fanatics that pack the house day after day. Any lingering affects of last year's collapse have been fully exorcised.

The bullpen threw another strong outing--Aaron Heilman and Luis Ayala combined for two scoreless, hitless, walkless innings that featured 3 strikeouts.

Both pitchers looked dominant, and Ayala was simply awesome.

Brian Schneider, who knows Ayala very well from their time together with the Nats, agrees. “Coming here has given him a little hope,” Schneider said. “Sometimes change is good.”

In other news Luis Castillo joins the club for today's game and has been given back his starting second base job.

It will be very interesting to see if the change in chemistry impacts the club. Bottom line is that even though Castillo's replacements performed admirably, Luis is a high OBP guy with speed, and if he's physically fit, he can be a more consistent offensive player than Argenis Reyes and allow Damion Easley to be part of an increasingly strong bench.

John Maine on the hill tonight--watch him closely and see if gets the zip back on his fastball.

Enjoy your coffee!

Houston (64-64)000000000080
N.Y. Mets (72-57) «12000000x340

New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS4110000 .300
Argenis Reyes, 2B2000000 .264
David Wright, 3B3011000 .295
Carlos Delgado, 1B3000011 .260
Carlos Beltran, CF3000011 .270
Daniel Murphy, LF3000010 .380
Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
Ryan Church, RF3110000 .308
Brian Schneider, C3112010 .257
Johan Santana, P2000020 .136
Endy Chavez, LF1000000 .272

HR - Brian Schneider (5, Oswalt)
SH - Argenis Reyes (4)
RBI - David Wright (99), Brian Schneider 2 (27)
Team LOB - 1
New York Mets
Johan Santana (W,12-7) 7800150 2.64
Aaron Heilman (H,14) 1000010 5.40
Luis Ayala (S,1) 1000020 5.49
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 121-86, Aaron Heilman 17-9, Luis Ayala 11-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 6-10, Aaron Heilman 2-0, Luis Ayala 1-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 30, Aaron Heilman 3, Luis Ayala 3

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Johan Santana: Superstar

12-7, 2.64 ERA (2nd in the NL), 3-0 in August with a 1.47 ERA.

He is 4-0 since the All-Star break and just keeps getting better and better as the long season wears on.

The Mets have a lot of really good players, but if you want to look at the one reason they should like their chances down the stretch, it's Johan Santana--he is a #1 Ace.

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Good Morning Mets Fans!

Momentum, momentum, momentum....the Mets have it in spades.

On a night when his very first pitch of the game was deposited over the leftfield fence by Yunel Escobar, Pedro Martinez settled in and gave the Mets another deep outing, 7+ innings.

In his last 4 starts, Pedro has thrown 26.1 innings and allowed 22 hits, 9 walks and 8 earned runs while striking out 16. His WHIP over that period is a stellar 1.177.

Not bad for a guy who is getting by on "trickology" according to manager Jerry Manuel (I've decided to drop the use of interim from my Mets lexicon).

"I think Pedro has the gift of instincts, probably the greatest instincts of any pitcher in our era," the manager said. "Knowing how, when and what to do outweighs talent at times, but eventually talent catches up.

"When Bobby Cox had Greg Maddux [in Atlanta], he'd throw 80-something pitches and go pretty deep, but then he didn't want to send him through the lineup another time. Pedro is getting there. At some point, where does his trickology go from there?"

So give Jerry a thumbs-up for trusting his starter and using the hook at the right time. Pedro is a key piece of this Mets pennant race, and the team is much, much better when he is on the field and in the clubhouse.

Pedro likes his team's chances, "We're in great shape right now," said Martinez, who allowed four earned runs on seven hits. "I keep asking myself since I came here, when are we going to get things going our way. I think that if we're going to get it this is the right time."

So with one piece of the winning puzzle in place--another solid outing by a starter--it was time for the other 3 pieces of the puzzle to work--hitting, fielding and relief pitching.

The much talked about relief pitching was outstanding. Pedro Feliciano came on in relief of Pedro in the 8th, one man on, no outs, and induced the play of the game.

Bobby Cox called for the bunt and Ramon Castro pounced on the ball, threw a laser beam to second that looked like it would've hit 90 on the radar gun, Reyes then fired his own strike to Damion Easley covering first, and the Mets completed the twin killing. It was an in-game dagger that setup the final finish.

Luis Ayala, who certainly enjoys throwing strikes and attacking hitters, pitched an inning and a third of beautiful relief. The Mets are thrilled with what he's brought to this bullpen--a killer mentality and the desire to work quickly and go right after hitters. Give Ayala an A+ for his work last night.

So the second and third parts of the puzzle--relief pitching and defense--were taken care of in fine fashion. The only thing left was a bit more offense, and the Mets didn't disappoint the 50,000 screaming fans that packed Shea with their walkoff heroics.

On this night David Wright and Carlos Delgado took care of much of the offense--they had 8 of the Mets 13 hits and drove in 4 of the Mets 5 runs. It was the same in the 9th.

David Wright continues his push toward NL MVP. The young superstar clubbed his 25th homerun of the year and added his 35th and 36th doubles. DW is easily on pace for his fourth consecutive 40+ double season and continues to be one of the best second half players in the game. When other players tire, David Wright gets better and stronger.

The other star of the night, Carlos Delgado, had a highlight game that featured 5 hits in 5 at-bats (thanks to some generous scoring), and the game winning, walkoff, RBI.

With the game tied 4-4 in the 9th Nick Evans came to the plate and flied out to right after working the count full. David Wright, who is oozing confidence at the plate, then cracked a double to the gap in right-center, and Bobby Cox decided to intentionally walk Carlos Beltran to setup the double play possibility.

In stepped Delgado--the guy who looked like his career might be over back in early June. His resurgence has coincided with the Mets resurgence. How good has he been? Over his last 48 games he has 49 RBIs and a .321 batting average.

Shea was rocking, Wright was dancing off second, the pitch was thrown. Delgado put a professional swing on the ball--not trying to do too much, he flicked his wrists and hit the ball to leftfield, on a line, and the Mets caught a break.

Braves leftfielder Omar Infante charged the ball but lost it in the lights and it bounced off his glove. David Wright, caught between second and third, first started retreating to second and then saw the ball bound away....he was off to the races, wheeled around third, flew toward home and bellyflopped on the plate. 10s all around and an 8.5 from the Russian judge.

The Mets mobbed their teammate and then they went after Delgado...pounded on him and swarmed him like the Alpha Wolf returning from the hunt.

What a game, what a turnaround for Delgado, and what a story this team has become.

"I didn't think he hit it as hard as he did," Wright said. "He was off his front foot and just kind of flicked it to left field. I thought it was going to get down. I was sort of stuck there between second and third."

"David was out there in no man's land," Jerry Manuel said. "I don't know where he was going. He just wanted to score so bad."

Jerry Manuel also heaped the praise on Delgado, "He's the head guy, so the investment he has made in his teammates says a lot about the leadership."

"I felt pretty good today," Delgado said. "I felt good and I was seeing the ball good."

Mets fans are feeling pretty good too, especially since both the Phils and Fish lost, allowing the Mets to extend their NL East lead to 2.5 and 6 games over their rivals.

Houston comes into town today, and Johan Santana is on the hill to keep this momentum going.

Enjoy your coffee!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

David Wright MVP Update

We'll keep tracking his numbers as the Mets keep winning and his stats climb to the top in almost every offensive category.

Here's where he currently stands:

3rd in Runs
3rd in RBIs
3rd in Doubles
4th in Walks
6th in Hits
13th in OBP
14th in HRs
15th in OPS
15th in Slg
22nd in SB
22nd in BA

David Wright
David Wright #5 3B

2008 Season Stats
Last 76225510133500.227.308.409.717

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Mets Sweep Braves, Extend Lead in the NL East

The Mets won again and swept the Braves. The red-hot team and extended their lead in the NL East to 2.5 games over the Phillies and 6 games over the floundering fish.

We'll have the full game report in the morning.

National League East
N.Y. Mets7157.551-38-2332-3428-2013-1620-158-2W 3
6859.53534-2834-3127-2221-1416-124-6L 1
35-3130-3227-2115-1718-153-7L 2
Atlanta5672.4411534-3122-4020-2611-2417-141-9L 4
4583.3522623-3922-4417-3014-236-201-9W 1

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The Mets Outfield "Situation"

Here's a great piece by my good friend and contributer Andy Wein.

Many Mets fans (myself included) were worried, to say the least, when Omar failed to land a corner outfielder at the trade deadline. And since the trade deadline both Ibanez and Winn have gone on uncharacteristic tears, further causing second-guessing.

But however the rest of the season plays out, it seems pretty likely that the lack of trading for a corner outfielder won't be the culprit. Take a look at the number the Mets corner outfielders have produced since Omar's non-deals on July 31:

Daniel Murphy has played roughly 2/3 of the games in left field in August. His dazzling numbers:

.419/.510/.651 for a 1.161 OPS with 2 HR, 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 9 RBI

Nick Evans has played roughly the other 1/3 of games in left field. While Nick struggled during his initial call-up, he's hit much better as of late:

.323/.353/.452 for a .805 OPS with 4 doubles and 2 RBI.

Fernando Tatis has been starting at a corner outfield spot for all but one game since the deadline (8/10). His numbers have dropped off since his hot start, but he's still produced some power, with:

.230/.338/.410 for a .748 OPS with 3 HR, 2 doubles, and 9 RBI

So since the all-star break, the Mets combined corner outfield production from both spots has been, in 135 at-bats:

.311/.396/.497 for an .893 OPS, with 5 HR, 8 doubles, 1 triple, and 20 RBI in 18 games.

If Omar had traded for two outfielders who combined for that type of production in August, he would have been praised. Furthermore, even if he had made a deal for one corner outfielder, the likely result would have been that Murphy and Evans, the two most effective outfielders, would have seen their playing time reduced to nothing, not Tatis - who was red-hot entering August (1.231 OPS in July).

In summary, thus far the decision not to dump prospects in a deal for a corner outfielder looks like a smart move.

It seems pretty clear its going to be the status of the bullpen (second to last in ERA in the NL as of today) that decides whether the Mets sink or swim this year, not the status of our corner outfielders.

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