The Mets played their last six games against division rivals Philadelphia and Atlanta and won five of them. The one loss was the 2.1 inning masterpiece by Oliver Perez, and it took 10 innings for the Mets to lose; which was almost like a victory in and of itself. They always seem to lose in Atlanta but swept the Braves in the mini-series, and defeated the Phils in three out of four games. They have a four-game winning streak going, and are a half game out of first now.
Things are starting to come together for the Mets, and they’re playing much better ball, with a few exceptions. The Carlos Delgado dropped ball in Atlanta, which followed the Luis Castillo butchering of an easy ground ball the inning before, were both egregious errors that highlight the lack of concentration and focus the Mets often have (and the complete casualness of Delgado’s overall attitude and effort, though he did chug it around the bases with the game-winning run on Wednesday—it just goes to show he tries when he feels like it).
Every player, no matter how good, is going to make an error now and then, but those were both inexcusable. Not sliding, hustling whenever the mood strikes them, along with these kinds of misplays consistently plague them, and then they wonder why they miss making the playoffs by one game.
Enough of the negativity, though—now on to the good stuff. The starting rotation is beginning to settle down. Johan Santana is on an amazing run, but the rest of the staff is turning a corner. Mike Pelfrey is now 4-0 and has pitched three pretty good games since missing a start. John Maine has thrown two quality starts in a row. And Livan Hernandez has followed his disaster in St. Louis with two decent outings. They’ve all lowered their ERA’s to under 6.00!
Thankfully Perez has been placed on the DL with what the Mets are calling “an inflamed ERA.” Ken Takahashi (or as Omar Minaya says, “Takashi”—at least he didn’t call him ”Cartwright”) will stay in the bullpen, and instead, Jon Niese will make his season debut tonight. He can’t be any worse than Ollie, can he?
Frankie Rodriguez is everything he’s cracked up to be. He saved three games against Philly, and they could only manage two walks against him without getting a hit. It’s good to see K-Rod not having trouble against them because if he would have failed, or even not have had such an easy time of it, then the psychological impact of facing them may have become an extra burden every time he pitched against the Phillies.
Unlike his predecessor, he wasn’t rattled in the least. And he saved a lot of embarrassment for Delgado with his second save vs. the Braves. The rest of the bullpen are doing their jobs, with the exception of seemingly banished Sean Green. And it would be nice if Pedro Feliciano would stop giving up home runs every night.
The big bats are catching fire. Carlos Beltran’s been on a tear all season (and hit three two-run dingers this week), and now David Wright is right behind him, and he’s cutting down on his strikeouts. They hit home runs in the same inning twice this week. The Mets offense has come from behind, tacked on insurance runs and had some actual offensive explosions lately. They scored 29 runs in the last six games. Even Ramon Castro has his average up over .300.
There have been some nice surprises for the Mets so far this season. Bobby Parnell has been outstanding. He has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. He only has one pitch—a blazing fastball—but that seems to be enough, at least for know. What helps with his success is the fact that he constantly throws strikes. Alex Cora (.290 average, .395 OBP) has filled in nicely for Castillo when needed and is a veteran leader. And Omir Santos has come out of nowhere to get some big hits, and Jerry Manuel seems to be in love with him.
So “rivalry week” was a success for the Mets. Now all they have to do is keep it up for another 135 games.