Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Drive For Five

For the eighth time this season, the Mets entered a game with a chance to win what would be a season high five games in a row.

For the first time this season, the Mets managed to succeed in winning their fifth game in a row on Tuesday night in Cincinnati.

It's about damn time.

The game was not without its drama, as Perez seemed to unravel in the 4th and 5th, losing control, losing composure and almost losing the game completely. But tonight, the Mets would not be denied; not on a night where Paul LoDuca somehow managed to cram what for him is about a month's worth of HRs and RBIs into one magical night, as he smacked a pair of 3-run HRs in Cincinnati's tiny Great American Ballpark Steroid Park #3, where the Mets have plated 10+ runs for the second game in a row, against a team mostly devoid of Major League-quality pitchers.

Meanwhile, Atlanta and Philadelphia continue to beat up on each other, as they have swapped victories in the first two games of their three-game series. I'm not sure who exactly to root for more. Conventional wisdom says to root for Atlanta since they are further behind, however rooting for the Braves comes as easily to me as chewing on glass. This as compared to rooting for Philly which is as easy for me as drinking fermented Yak bile. So let the two of them beat each other up while the Mets keep winning. They can both eat themselves.

As the season continues to wind down, we have been hearing more and more about which pitchers the Mets will carry in the postseason. Gary, Ron and Keith were discussing it on SNY tonight and Howie and Fritz were talking about the same on WFAN. Even Homeboy and the Little Guy were discussing it this afternoon (on a rare day when I was coerced into subjecting myself to them).

Right now, with Pedro back, it would appear that the Mets would be wise to go with a rotation of Maine, ElDuque, Glavine and Pedro, start them as you will, and have Oliver Perez coming out of the bullpen. This being all fine and good assuming Perez can a) Deal with being the odd man out of the rotation after performing admirably well as a starter last October as well as all of this season, and b) Come out of the Bullpen and throw strikes and get people out. I have more faith in him to do this than several other members in the bullpen, but that's neither here nor there. It would appear that the battle would be between Perez and Maine for that final spot; certainly you wouldn't put Pedro, Glavine or ElDuque in the 'pen given their collective history in the Postseason. It could be that Maine might be more a more reliable choice from the bullpen, but then, both he and Ollie have had their moments with the strike zone over the course of the season. But then, Maine also performed admirably last October as well, and furthermore has had a better season overall than Perez has, despite their numbers being basically the same (Maine: 14-8, 3.57, 144 Ks in 27 games, 163.2IP; Perez: 13-9, 3.46, 149Ks, 25 games, 153.2IP). Both have had outings where they were completely dominant. Both have also had totally miserable starts as well. But the one thing that we have seen Maine do far more consistently that Ollie is display that little extra something, that one extra intangible to buckle down and get the big out to get himself out of a jam. We've seen Maine do this all season long, and in some pretty big games. Perez has done this less frequently. Moreover, he has a tendency to lose his composure when things go bad, and this has led to bad innings snowballing completely out of control. Now, this becomes equally frightening coming out of the bullpen in the Postseason, but then, I could easily see Perez come out of the bullpen and throw darts for an inning or two and be done before he ever had the opportunity to get into trouble.

My choice is Maine in the rotation and Perez in the 'pen. Also doesn't hurt to have that extra lefty out there to ease the burden on Feliciano and Schoeneweis. Then again, if the Mets play a team like Philadelphia in the NLCS, you might have to start Perez. It's a tough call.

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