Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spelling Lesson At Wrigley

Here's your ironic twist of the day: Doug Mientkiewicz has double the home runs of Carlos Delgado so far this season.

Oh sure, Carlos' average is about 70 points higher and he has a few more RBI's as Mientkiewicz, but Delgado was supposedly the number one off-season option at first base because of his power. Not only does Mientkiewicz has double the HR output as Delgado, his homers have been coming at opportune times. First he hits the winner on Saturday against the Brewers in the HR derby game, now he hits the winner in the 8th on a first pitch fastball against former teammate and embattled Cub reliever LaTroy Hawkins to give the Mets a 7-4 victory. The Mets (18-15) have now won 7 of their last 9 games.

Mientkiewicz said after the game that it was the most guilty he's ever felt hitting a HR. But while mindful of the struggles that Hawkins is going through, he noted that his batting average isn't the highest, and that Hawkins isn't the only one out there struggling. He also said that the fact that they were teammates definitely helped him out on that at bat.

The resurgent Mike Piazza started the fun in the first with a three run HR, his 6th of the year off of last minute starter Jon Leicester. Leicester started in place of new closer Ryan Dempster, who had his own problems tonight. Then in the second, in between two rain delays which lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, Kaz Matsui had his first extra base hit since April 6th, a home run to left field in a driving rainstorm. It was the last pitch before the second rain delay.

Mets starter Aaron Heilman pitched through the delays and was brilliant for 5 and 1/3 innings. The seminal moment came after Neifi Perez worked out a 13 pitch walk in the third to set up Derrek Lee with two runners on down by 4 runs. Heilman, conjuring the spirit (not to mention the arm angle) of Don Drysdale, came back to strike out Lee to end the threat. It was tapes of the former Dodger Drysdale which helped Heilman find the right arm angle and make him the dominant pitcher that he's becoming.

The bullpen failed Heilman's bid for a win, as Dae Sung Koo inherited two runners in the bottom of the sixth. He let one score on a Jeromy Burnitz single, and then let them all score on Michael Barrett's 4th HR of the year, a three run shot to left field. If looks killed, then Heilman would be in central booking for murder right now because he had murder in his eyes as Barrett rounded the bases.

From then on the bullpen held the Cubs at bay, with Koo and Mike DeJean keeping the game tied to set up Mientkiewicz's winner in the 8th. DeJean goes to 2-1 with the victory, just a day after taking his first loss against the Brewers in the ninth. Piazza and Mientkiewicz added insurance in the 9th off of new closer Dempster with RBI singles. The two hitters had a combined 6 RBI's tonight.

Yo quiero Heath Bell: Heath Bell, beginning his pitch to become the new Taco Bell spokesperson, pitched a solid 8th to earn a hold.

Where'd the picture go? Fox Sports' first televised game for Time Warner Cable customers was almost a disaster in that bottom of the 8th, as a block of commercials interrupted the live feed for about 90 seconds. Mets fans wondered if the blackout had returned, but the signal came back without any significant action missed.

Looper saves the day: Braden Looper gave up a leadoff double to Jose Macias, and surely, there was hand wringing. But it may be an issue of concentration for Looper. Looper's opposing batters have an average of .276 with the bases empty. But in late inning pressure with runners on, Looper has an OAV of .227. That means you should keep the Tums handy. Looper retired the next three batters for his 8th save of the season.

Bartman lives: The Cubs disappointing 2004 and their shaky 2005 start has made sure that Cub fans remember the Steve Bartman debacle from the 2003 NLCS. The Wrigley faithful booed any and all foul balls that were remotely near that row, including one line drive caught by a fan who sat near the spot of the Bartman incident. No Cubs player was remotely near the foul ball, but that was of no importance to an increasingly bitter Cub fan base. It was bad enough the offending ball was blown up...then it was eaten. But now every foul ball in a certain section gets booed, and somehow Alex S. Gonzalez gets off without a scratch. Interesting...

No comments: