Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Delgado Redemption

I think we can officially put all the questions and criticisms of Carlos Delgado to rest. He's back.

I've been reticent to actually make this admission for a period of time, and he's still prone to going hot and cold, but hot or not, he's making his hits count, and they continue to get bigger and bigger.

Monday afternoon was just the latest chapter in the story of The Delgado Redemption. In a game that the Mets appeared to be primed to squander away, unable to cash in after Sheets left with a mysterious groin injury, squandering opportunity after opportunity, watching as David Wright looked silly and miserable on two strikeouts with men in scoring position, it would be Delgado, standing in the sunlight in that oddly-constructed ballpark in Milwaukee and coming through with the Mets biggest HR of the season to date.

The game played out as every bit the potential future matchup everyone was talking about. Sheets and Santana threw darts at each other for 5 innings, until Sheets left, suddenly, leaving the Brewers to go to their bullpen. And their bullpen appears to be in about as solid a shape as the Mets bullpen. It almost made me feel better about the whole affair. For 2 innings, the Brewers were barely able to cobble things together, eking out a second run on a rare Santana Balk in the 6th, as Carlos Villanueva, Brian Shouse, David Riske and Mitch Stetter did their best impression of Sanchez, Feliciano and Schoeneweis, only getting out of one jam when David Wright let his Ho-Jo "Let's go for that 6-run HR to left!" swing get the better of him, and giving up a run on a very wild pitch in the 7th inning.

Then came Gagne in the 8th. Then came Kid Serious coming up with the igniting hit, Wright looking like Ryan Howard and then Delgado. And suddenly, a game that appeared to be playing out in rather frustrating fashion for the Mets turned in their favor. Suddenly, they had the lead. Suddenly, they extended their lead. And energized efforts from Figueroa, Feliciano and Smith paved the way for Luis Ayala to close it out. And on this day, it was the Brewers beleagured bullpen who wore the dunce cap.

It's good to look at these things in perspective. As I mentioned, this would be a future matchup if things hold to form. Both of these teams have very good starting pitching, led by a pair of guys who can eat innings and get outs. But behind them lies a muddled mess, guys who will alternately look great one day and miserable the next, and you never know what the hell you're going to get. It's not so cut and dry that the Mets would get their clocks cleaned. It's not that the Mets in particular have this horrible bullpen that can't hold any leads. It's magnified, if only for us, because we watch them every day and have to go through the minutae. But we're not alone.

It's only somewhat of a comforting thought.

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