The (Almost) Comeback Kings
I thought that the Mets would storm back and win today’s game in the ninth inning. Again. And without a doubt. Of course, it turned out there was some doubt as they couldn’t quite pull off three last-at-bat wins in a row. But the fact that we’re even thinking that way – that the 2010 Mets won’t just roll over and die – says something. They’re forging an identity for themselves, one based on resilience and grit. Last year’s identity was based on buffoonery; they invented ways to lose games and treated the season as if it were a tribute to the lovable-loser 1962 Mets.
There was a lot to like in the weekend series with the Giants, and a few things that didn’t turn out so well. They took two out three after losing the last two series, so let’s see if they can use this series win to springboard their way to another hot streak. And hey, at least they’re exciting to watch. And exciting in a good way. With the incredible game-winning home runs by catchers Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco (how many times has that happened in baseball history? Did Jerry Grote and Duffy Dyer ever pull that off?), who needs Bengie Molina anyway? Ike Davis’ performance on Friday was just as impressive as Barajas’ game. Two homers and an amazing diving catch into the dugout? Not bad. Gimpy Luis Castillo made an impressive and heads-up stop of a single up the middle to keep the go-ahead run from scoring late in Friday’s game. Jason Bay is coming out his slumber, driving in runs in every game this weekend. And Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana bounced back from their horribleness in Philadelphia with solid, if not spectacular, outings.
Now on to the bad. The bullpen blew leads in all three games. It looks like the relievers are all overworked and it’s starting to show. David Wright struck out about 100 times the last two days – and who would Jerry Manuel have put in to replace the ejected Wright if the Mets tied the game this afternoon? John Maine in right field? Could they have snuck Howard Johnson in to play third? And would Wright have donned a fake mustache and sat in the dugout? Today’s matchup of Tim Lincecum (with his throwback Ted Simmons hair) vs. Oliver Perez (with his throwback Victor Zambrano-like performance) looked for all the world like the Mets would have no chance to win. And Perez did his part by walking seven batters and hitting another one in only three-and-a-third innings.
But the 2010 Mets, while not a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination and not even a first-place team, are nobody’s fool anymore. They may lose, but it takes all 27 outs (and sometimes more than that) to beat them.
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