Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Actually Looking Like a Real Team

...By guest blogger Jeff D...

I attended last night's game with the hope that Santana would step up and dominate a game for us when we were down. What surprised me was not Santana's performance, but the performance of the rest of the team. As soon as the line up was announced I started to feel a little better. Willie Randolph actually MANAGED. He inserted a righty loaded line up against a young, left handed, power pitcher. Normally, we wouldn't expect this from our manager. But not only was it insightful, it also paid off. All five runs batted in came from right-handed bench players. Easley had a nice piece of situational hitting to drive in the first run with a sacrifice fly. Fernando Tatis and Ramon Castro both had 2 runs batted in.

I must also give credit where it is due and commend Luis Castillo for a nice stop up the middle (nabbing the lead runner in what could have turned into a big inning for the Marlins). Although he still looks like a mess at the plate, it was a great stop and a huge out. Reyes started the Mets off early with a double to lead off the game, which extended his 12 game hitting streak and his streak of 27 straight games on base. Beltran made a terrific catch on a ball that may have changed the whole complexion of the game if it had dropped, but he still seems to be pressing at the plate - even in favorable counts.

All in all, the team played well. Aside from Reyes' gaffe and Johan's brief bout with wildness, it was a crisp performance. Johan pitched well even though he was behind in the count most of the time, coming up with a big strike out of Uggla to end the
seventh, after two wild pitches and an error by Reyes. He also
contributed offensively with a double, his 4th of the year - wow.
When we turned it over to the pen, it was like a flashback to
2006. Sanchez came in and did a great job, getting the last out on a K with a filthy change in his scoreless eighth. In the 9th, Wagner came in and was lights out -striking out two.

This was the definition of a team win. The bench players contributed with timely hits, and players who still aren't performing at the plate didn't bring those struggles out with them on defense. Aside from Beltran's nice catch and Castillo's diving stop, nothing was spectacular. It was a well played game from start to finish by a team that is more than capable of putting that exact same product on the field every night. One would hope that the team realizes this too. It's time for them to start hitting their stride and it's time to put together a nice streak. If the Mets can do that, the bitter taste from these early season struggles will be gone in a flash.


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