NY Sports Dog: This is Why We Play the Games

Friday, September 5, 2008

This is Why We Play the Games

For Mets fans it doesn't get a lot better than this.

It's been a tale of two seasons, and the second season--the one that matters--has been an amazing and joyful ride.

Fresh off a spectacular 8 game road streak, the Mets are 3 games up on the Phillies with 22 games remaining.

15 of those games are home and 7 on the road.

The biggest three of those remaining games are this weekend, against the Phillies, at home, with everything at stake.

Firs the pitching matchups:

Tonight -- RHP Brett Myers (8-10, 4.40) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (13-8, 3.66), 7:10 p.m., CW11.
Saturday -- LHP Jamie Moyer (12-7, 3.80) vs. RHP Pedro Martinez (5-3, 5.07), 3:55 p.m., Fox.
Sunday -- LHP Cole Hamels (12-8, 3.01) vs. LHP Johan Santana (12-7, 2.71), 8:07 p.m., ESPN.

Three terrific matchups. The Mets have an advantage in game 1, but games 2 and 3 are all even. Once again it looks like the games will come down to tests of will.

Offensively the Mets are hitting their stride, with several key players hot at the right time.

Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Brian Schneider and Daniel Murphy are all stroking the ball well.

If David Wright and Ryan Church join in that mix the Mets have the most potent lineup in the NL, perhaps in all of baseball.

The Mets pitching, especially the starters, have been dominant of late, going 11-1 in their last 19 games. Many of those have been deep games, 7, 8, 9 inning affairs.

The bullpen, who seem to play hero or goat each game, have settled in to a nice rhythm and pitched 15 1/3 consecutive innings of scoreless ball. Thank you Luis Ayala, Joe Smith and Brian Stokes.

This weekend's scenario is somewhat reminiscent of 2007, but there is also a much different feel. The Phils were chasing the Mets, and eventually overtook them--this we know.

The differences are many--last September the Mets were a banged up and tired team. In 2008 there are some key injuries--John Maine and Billy Wagner--but the majority of the team is healthy and fresh, even after the dog days of August.

In 2007 the team looked flat and lacked leadership. In 2008 Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana, Jerry Manuel and others have kept the ship on a straight and true course.

Jerry Manuel, above all, deserves praise for his lineups, his communication, the way he's kept everyone engaged and fresh, and for his ability to judge a situation and manage a ballgame.

Thus far he has passed every test with flying colors, but as we all know, there is one major regular season test remaining--win the NL East--this weekend is part of the final section of his exam.

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