Saturday, August 14, 2010

Going Down

A friend and I got to see Johan Santana pitch a masterful, four-hit, complete game shut out of the Colorado Rockies on Thursday. He struck out the side in the first inning and ten total in a game lasting a brisk 2:18. The Rockies had men at the corners with two outs in the second but Climt Barmes (2B) popped out, ending the only threat. Santana also got a hit, but it didn't figure in the score. Jose Reyes (SS), Angel Pagan (RF) and Carlos Beltran (CF) put two runs on the board in the first. Reyes hit an RBI single in the seventh, then Fernando Martinez (LF) plated the fourth run with a sac fly. Replacement catcher Josh Thole, who is averaging almost 60 points higher than at Buffalo, got a hit. It was almost enough to make me think I've got the wrong title and image at the top.

Almost. The win got the team back to .500 (57-57). It was their first series win since July 29 and only their second in their last 12 (2-9-1), going back to late-June. The team hasn't won back-to-back games--Does two games constitute a "streak?"--since June 22/23. I do something in this paragraph that fans often do but I generally don't: use the first person plural when the team is winning, the third person when the team is down.

So let's remember the phrase coined by Mets closer Tug McGraw in 1973 as the Mets went from last place at the end of August to win the division and the National League Championship. (My ex-wife, a knowledgeable baseball and Mets fan, never pronounced the first word "yuh," but exactly like it's spelled only more so.) The Mets have 15 series and 48 games left to their 2010 season. One-third of those games are against the first place Braves and second place Phillies. Six of the nine games against Philadelphia are at CitiField, where the Mets not only swept the Phillies in May, but shut them out. Can the Mets prove Governor David A. Paterson (".500 team") and former Mets pitcher and current broadcaster Ron Darling ("85 wins") wrong? The most telling fact for me is management's decision to not make any trades before the waiver deadline. It says to me they don't believe.

R.A. Dickey pitched a one-hit, complete game shut-out of the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, the first back-to-back wins in over seven weeks. It was also back-to-back complete game shut-outs, and the fourth shut-out victory at home this season against the Phillies.

The Mets have had success the old-fashioned way, smart player acquisitions and good play, but it's the dramatic wins people remember. The 1986 Mets won the National League East by 21.5 games but Mookie Wilson's hit in Game 6 of the World Series defines the season. The "miracle" season of 1969, when an expansion team that never finished higher than ninth place in a ten team league became the world champions. The late-season comeback in 1973. The 1999 wild card play-in game against the Cincinnati Reds. Come on Mets; let's see some drama.

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