A New Focus, A Come-From-Behind Win, and Only 5.5 Games Out of First
Jerry Manuel's first win as the manager of the Mets was a landmark one. Not only did his team fight for a win against one of the AL's top clubs, they did it by coming from behind.
In the 32 previous games where the Mets were behind after the eighth inning, they only tasted victory one time. That's right, they were 1-31 in games where they were behind after eight innings.
Are you still questioning Willie Randolph's dismissal?
Manuel has stepped right in and asserted his authority. In his first game as manager on Monday night, he pulled Jose Reyes after Reyes twinged his leg running out a hit. Reyes protested like a spoiled child, but Manuel would have none of it.
"Really, the behavior is pretty much unacceptable," Manuel said of Reyes' tantrum. "But the attitude is something that can help us win ballgames."
Reyes eventually saw the light. "I want to play, but Jerry was just trying to take care of me," Reyes said. "He made the right decision, because it's a long season and I need to stay healthy the whole season."
Just like Filip Bondy wrote in his article in today's Daily News: HE WANTED TO PLAY! After all the talk of a lack of desire in this Mets' dugout, finally some indication of life....
This is a good start for Manuel and a new start for the Mets. David Wright tied the game in the ninth inning, singling home Reyes off the previously invincible Anaheim closer, Francisco Rodriguez. Damion Easley jacked a solo HR off Justin Speier in the 10th to give Manuel his 501st career victory as a manager.
Let me also give kudos to the bullpen, which did not let the Angels pull away after leading 4-3 after the fifth inning. The 'pen held the Angels to one baserunner after the sixth inning. Billy Wagner had a one-two-three 10th to register his 16th save.
But the key message to take away from Southern California is that these Mets may be on the right track now. They took two of three in New York off the MLB's best offensive club (Texas) and two of three from the Angels.
The team also knows that the clubhouse dynamic has changed. First, by the presence of Manuel, a no-nonsense straight shooter who is not afraid to call out players who are not applying themselves to his satisfaction.
Second, by the subtraction of Tony Bernazard, the assistant GM who many feel undermined the authority of Willie Randolph.
Going forward, Manuel asks that his players simply play hard. I think that will happen, and I think the future may not be as bad as we thought. They will have to work hard—harder than they worked under Randolph—to get back into the race.
Jerry Manuel will see to it that they do.
• New pitching coach Dan Warthen has no problem letting RHP Pedro Martinez work with LHP Oliver Perez. “I’ve heard that Pedro has been in his ear a little bit,” Warthen said. “If that works, let’s go. I don’t have an ego that way.”
• SS Jose Reyes was back in the lineup Wednesday night at Anaheim. Reyes was pulled in the first inning the previous night with tightness in his left hamstring. Reyes’ speed factored in the Mets’ first two runs when he beat out an infield hit, stole a base, and scored on a grounder in the first, and he tripled and scored in the fourth.
• Manager Jerry Manuel said he would like to develop a rest rotation for 3B David Wright, SS Jose Reyes, and CF Carlos Beltran. Manuel said he’d be more inclined to rest them on the road and play them at home.
• RHP John Maine (6-5, 3.87 ERA) will make his 15th start of the season Friday at Colorado. Maine lost on May 25 at Coors Field, giving up four runs on three hits in six innings.
• Former Mets manager Willie Randolph, 53, said he’s not ready to call it a career. “Once you get a taste of managing, it’s kind of cool,” Randolph said.
By The Numbers: 440—Career homers by 1B Carlos Delgado, through June 16.
Quote To Note: “As the GM, I leave myself room to evaluate things. I think we’re not playing to our potential. I always leave room to evaluate things.”—General manager Omar Minaya, on the status of manager Willie Randolph. Randolph was fired after a road win over the Angels on June 16.