Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pocketed Aces

Today's battle of transplanted aces was supposed to go a little bit differently than it did. And the heart of the Mets batting order couldn't take advantage of Jose Reyes' 5th walk of the season and the Cardinals held on for a 7-6 victory at Shea today.

Reyes worked out a 6 pitch walk without swinging at a single pitch against closer and former Met Jason Isringhausen, who made his first appearance after a stint on the disabled list. After Miguel Cairo's sac bunt, Carlos Beltran just missed a hanging breaking ball as he flew out to left for the second out. And after an intentional pass to Cliff Floyd, Mike Cameron struck out on high cheese to end it.

Even with the extra rest due to a flip flop in the rotation, Pedro Martinez had his shakiest outing of the season, giving up 5 hits and 5 runs in 6 innings while walking two and striking out an un-Pedro like 4 batters. But the Mets' rally in the 6th took him off the hook for the loss.

Pedro would have got the win except for a rare shaky outing by Roberto Hernandez, who took the loss. A leadoff walk in the 8th to Abraham Nunez was his waterloo, as Hernandez then gave up a bloop single to Albert Pujols (who practically hit it off the ground) and a looping RBI double to Jim Edmonds, who Hernandez struck out last night. A walk to Mark Grudzielanek and a sac fly to Larry Walker gave the Cardinals the lead for good.

Kaz Matsui, who was almost the big goat last night with 2 errors, started healing the open wounds with the Mets fans in a big 6th inning with his bases clearing triple to tie the game and knock out Cardinals' ace Mark Mulder. Mulder's pitch count was driven up by three great at-bats by, of all people, Ramon Castro. Castro worked at bats of 6, 8, and 10 pitches for two singles, one for an RBI, and a ten pitch walk which set up Matsui's big hit. Mike Cameron and David "Winky" Wright started the inning with singles off of Mulder. Victor Diaz gave the Mets the lead by driving in Matsui with a single.

Met killer: Bidding to be the new Pat Burrell is Cardinals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek. Grudzielanek, in addition to being as hard to spell as Mientkiewicz, has had a history of success against the Mets; a lifetime .329 hitter against the Amazins coming in. Today, it didn't matter if it was Pedro Martinez on the hill, the script "Mets" on the front of the uniform was enough. Grudzielanek drove in 4 of the 5 Cardinal runs today, with a two run HR in the second, an RBI single in the fourth, and a sac fly in the 6th. Abraham Nunez touched up Pedro for the other run, a first pitch solo HR in the 6th to give the Cards a 4-2 lead.

Who says right field is tough?: Mike Cameron had the defensive gem of the day in his new position, making a headlong diving catch on Einar Diaz's check swing pop up to shallow right field. So far, a seamless transition for Cameron, and the way he's going it looks increasingly likely that he's not going to San Diego, Baltimore, or anywhere else for that matter.

Fluff: Ramon "Fluff" Castro is back to being the caddy for Pedro Martinez, although you can throw out the theory that Pedro is a significantly better pitcher while pitching to Castro. Yes, day game after a night game is a legitimate explanation, but you know the wolves will be back at the Mets door on the matter. For those interested, this makes the count 5 Castro-Pedro batteries to 3 Piazza-Pedro batteries on the season.

Chalupas for everyone: Heath "Taco" Bell is starting to earn Willie Randolph's trust in big situations. Bell worked a scoreless 7th inning while holding a tenous 6-5 lead. If this keeps up, Bell will earn Chalupa status in the Mets' pen.

Seismic shift: Kaz Ishii is reportedly close to returning from his injury, and he may start Tuesday against the Reds in Victor Zambrano's slot. For those calling for Victor Zambrano's head this is good news. But Ishii has been known to walk in the ballpark as well.

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