Saturday, July 21, 2007

One More Night In Hollywood...

With the Slugfest of Thursday Night secured away (and thank God for that), the Mets resumed normal operations on Friday evening, out in Chavez Ravine, with a sharp victory that was won on the merits of Jose Reyes' speed, Marlon Anderson's skill and, most importantly, Oliver Perez's left arm.

Ollie proved he was back from his ailing back, tossing 1-run ball into the 8th, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks mixed in with his 8 strikeouts. Joe Smith, who has been rather frustrating of late, didn't get the job done, but Feliciano and Wagner did as the Mets were able to cobble together a late rally to salt away a 4-1 victory and give the Mets two sorely needed victories over the Sad Dodgers.

The Mets won on Thursday by simply beating the Dodgers into submission, then holding them off as Glavine faltered and Heilman and Mota were shaky. Sele earned a much-deserved victory for his 3 emergency innings. On Friday, the Mets relied on the shaky LA middle relief, ripping into familiar face Roberto Hernandez in a lightning fast 3-run rally that lasted the course of 3 pitches.

First, it was Reyes, using his speed and nailing a double into the left field corner. Next, it was the recently reacquired Marlon Anderson laying down a picture perfect sacrifice bunt, which was subsequently thrown away by 'Berto, allowing Reyes to score. Then, it was Beltran icing it all by nailing a HR into the All-You-Can-Eat seats in RF. Just like that, a tense pitchers duel had swung decisively in the Mets favor, the kind of game that showcased the killer instinct of the club, and, more importantly, a game that the Mets had really been lacking in of late. With Atlanta having lost earlier in the evening, the Mets needed to capitalize on an opportunity that they hadn't capitalized on very much, and they did.

Lost in all the hubbub was the return to the Mets of Marlon Anderson, who had a rather successful stay with the Mets as the key lefty bat off the bench in the 2005 season. Anderson is, of course, remembered for a couple of HRs he'd hit, one with the Mets, and one against the Mets, but what we took away from his 2005 season (where he hit .264 with 7 HRs, but suffered when pressed into everyday play with injuries to Matsui and Mientkiewicz) was that he was a heady player who could come off the bench and provide some intangible, solid play as needed. Last season, the Mets went into the Playoffs with Endy Chavez in the key player off the bench role, but he was pressed into starting with Floyd's injury. This left the Mets with Michael Tucker as their key lefty bat. Now, with Anderson, the Mets could boast a bench of Chavez, Anderson and Milledge depending on who's starting or who needs to start, and provides depth that is much more dependable than guys like Tucker, Jose Offerman or Ricky Ledee are or could ever hope to be. And that's something that should bode well.

On the other side of this, there's the case of Jose Valentin, who suffered a fractured leg after fouling a pitch off it in the 4th inning on Friday night. Valentin is most likely done for the season now, and of course, you hate to see players go down, but as I had mentioned of Valentin a couple of weeks ago, he hasn't been anywhere near the player he had been expected to be. He hadn't hit much, if at all (.236 with 3 HRs), and his defense had been compromised by his freight train-sized knee brace. And the public sentiment was that he was basically stealing playing time from Gotay purely on reputation, even though Gotay was probably going to slump and come back to earth at some point. But now, the job is Gotay's, and Marlon has plenty of experience at 2B as it is, so it could conceivably be that the solution to this injury problem is already in place. I'm not saying that if a better option should present itself to the team at the imminently approaching trading deadline that the Mets shouldn't go for it. But what I am saying is that Valentin's injury could very likely solve more problems for the Mets than it creates.

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