Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The Missing Ingridient
With the pregame news that Billy Wagner's elbow is beginning to resemble the physical structure of a bowl of oatmeal, the Mets took the field knowing that if they were going to remain afloat, they needed to help out their starters. Not so much by the bullpen getting key outs, but by the team getting clutch hits, something that the Mets only seem to be able to do in fits and starts.
Which is why it was particularly gratifying when Carlos Delgado clanged one off the window box with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning. Not only was it a hit that gave the Mets the lead in a most important game (and let's face it, every game is most important at this point), it was a hit with the bases loaded, something that has not been the Mets specialty. After a 6-game winning streak that saw the Mets offense post a mighty 2 for 23 with men in scoring position (and we already discussed the real reason for said streak), it was pretty easy to feel ominous when Atlanta took a late 3-2 lead on Tuesday night. It appeared to be the kind of game that the Mets played earlier this season. You know, the kind of game where the starter throws well, gives up 3 runs in 7 innings, leaves trailing 3-2, the Mets get men on base in the 7th, 8th and 9th, maybe even men on 3rd with less than 2 outs, and then Damion Easley hits into a DP, or Carlos Beltran pops up, or Carlos Delgado strikes out. Then, Aaron Heilman goes and gives up a 2-run HR in the top of the 9th and the game, for all intents and purposes, is out of reach.
But, sometimes, the Mets manage to get these things right. Through all the flaws, and the by-the-book nature of Jerry Manuel, the Mets do sometimes come through when they have to, and last night was one such situation. After they got a pair of walks and Beltran reached on an infield single, the stage was ripe for Delgado to pull the ball right into the shift for a 6-5-3 DP to end the inning. But nooooooooooo! Instead, Delgado cracked it off the wall, scoring Chavez and Wright to give the Mets the lead! Miracle of Miracles! Cue the Benny Agbayani song!
If that wasn't enough, the Mets then proceeded to pile it on. Rather than hitting into his requisite 6-4-3 DP, Easley instead singled home another 2 runs to put the game out of reach. Even Scott Schoeneweis couldn't blow this one, and with things being what they are, Scott Schoeneweis may very well have more opportunities to close out games over the next couple of months. Tonight, he succeeded in a non-save situation, closing out a steely 7-3 win with relative ease.
At least for tonight, the moves all worked. The Bullpen kept the game in reach, and the bats came up with the necessary hits. It often seems like the planets have to align in order for that to happen.