Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oliver's Army, Revisited

Back in February when we were detailing the five key Mets for this season, we spent a lot of time talking about Oliver Perez being able to find consistency and pitch like the dominant pitcher we all knew he had the potential to be.

Although it has been a mostly uneven season for Oliver Perez, he has had the habit of throwing his best in big spots. Last night was a prime example of this. With the Braves coming in reeling, and the Mets ready to deliver a knockout blow, Oliver reached back and delivered a haymaker, tossing what may have been his most dominant effort of the season at the Braves.

Sure, there have been outings where he's given up fewer runs, or struck out more batters, or pitched deeper into the game. But at no point this season had Oliver given you the impression, from the first batter of the game when he battled back from 2-0 to strike out Yunel Escobar, that the opposition had little or no chance against him. He was throwing everything for strikes, hitting his spots, mixing in his breaking pitches and keeping the Braves off balance. But for one pitch, the 3-2 fastball to McCann in the 7th, he didn't allow a runner past second, and was able to get himself out of his only other jam in the 6th by picking off Tim Hudson at 2B, a nifty daylight play between him and Castillo. I don't think we have seen Perez more dominant than he was last night as he earned his 14th win.

Now, whether or not he can build on this remains to be seen.

Magic Number: 14.

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