The Mets are hot, and they have both their pitching and hitting to thank. Let's start with the pitching.
Hisanori Takahashi is a big league starter...there is no question that he does what every manager wants his pitcher to do--throw strikes and keep hitters off balance.
In his second big league start Taktor K threw six innings of shutout ball and led the Mets to a shutout victory over the Phillies for the second straight game.
"He's a great pitcher with great instincts," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He had great command of his pitches."Manuel went on to add that Takahashi is now firmly entrenched in the rotation.
"It'd be tough to get him out.... I think his command is among the top pitchers in the league," said Manuel, who compared him to the White Sox's Mark Buehrle. "That means at any time in the count he can throw any pitch, and that's a huge advantage for a pitcher."Takahashi is now 4-1 on the season with a sparkling 2.13 ERA and an astounding 44 Ks in only 38 innings. Last night he gave up five hits without walking a batter and struck out six.
"I can do it," Takahashi said through a translator. "As a reliever or starter, I don't change much. I'm happy to be in the starting rotation here."
"To have a performance such as that especially against two very good teams, elite teams, it lengthens the opportunity for him," Manuel said about Takahashi's continuing presence in the rotation.Takahashi may have been facing a struggling Philly club, but he certainly added to their misery with his array of pitches and pinpoint control. He and Barajs were in perfect synch, and it was really fun to watch them work the hitters all night like a chess match. I actually thought his fastball, which sat at 89-90 mph, was his best pitch of the night. He relied on it early, and when the big spots came up later in the game he had the hitters set-up perfectly for his changeup and slider. He struck out Ryan Howard in a huge spot with men on base.
"I know he's one of the biggest hitters in the game, and [Rod] Barajas had a good plan to get him out," Takashi said of Howard. "I stuck to the plan."The offense was working as well. Jose Reyes is now officially in super hot mode, with 5 multi-hit games in his last 6. He hit his first homerun of the season, and it really lifted the entire club.
The New and Improved Rod Barajas "Now with even more A-Ha's!" had a two-run double and a sac fly in a three RBI effort and Jose Reyes had his fourth straight multihit game, with his first homer of the season for New York. Luis Castillo chipped in with two walks and two stolen bases, and Angel Pagan had two hits.
The "Strawberry Effect"???
Maybe the Strawberry talk had its desired effect after all? It's been reported that some players didn't care for his comments, and it may be pure coincidence that the team has gelled, but it is interesting timing. Whatever the spark is, the Mets are playing very, very good baseball. They are a hustling team, a very good defensive team, and they have removed some of the trouble spots from playing time.
Think about it--first base is now stabilized, centerfield is now stabilized, and with the addition of Takahashi to the rotation, it certainly appears more stable that it had been previously. They have found something in Dickey as a wonderful rubber armed change of pace guy as well.
There are still issues--that is a given--but when you have professionals doing their jobs in key roles, the stars will help lift you the rest of the way.
Enjoy your coffee!
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Players of the Game