A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Late Inning Antics

Todd Zeile is silencing all his critics that said Duquette made a mistake by signing him. He has been someone the Mets could count on all year and has provided that elusive veteran presence that the Mets love. Except, this time, the veteran presence is doing more good than evil. Last night he provided a few sparks and key plays to keep the Mets in it and get them ahead. With the Mets down 1-0 in the top of the 8th, Zeile smacked a homerun off of Rheal Cormier to tie the game up (for the record, after the Mets gave up the run off of a bad balk call, I must admit, I thought the game was over). Zeile could have stopped there and I’d have been happy with his effort for the day. However, without Piazza in the lineup, and the Mets having zero offense all day, It looked as though the Mets needed a miracle to pull this one out. Low and behold, Kaz lines a single to start the 10th inning. Hmmm, I was starting to think maybe something good was going to happen. With Pratt behind the plate, would Kaz attempt a steal I thought? Sure enough, Kaz took off. As he does, the Phillies pitch out. As Pratt steps up to receive the throw, Zeile disrupts his flow of things by taking a Cameron-like swing at a pitchout. Pratt is forced to alter his motion and throws it high and to the second base side of the bag. Matsui is sitting pretty with no outs and on second base. Now Fran and Ted start asking the question, does Art bunt him over? At that point, Art did what he should do most of the time he makes crappy decisions, nothing. He makes no such bunt call and Zeile singles up the middle for the winning run. Wilson poked an opposite field homer to score two more just for a little insurance.

Is that it you say? Heck no. Looper comes in to try and record a very rare save. After giving up a single to Thome, Looper pitches to Burrell, and lets a wild pitch loose. By now I am thanking the good lord that Wilson gave us the padding, and Burrell hits a chopper down the line. (take note Kaz) Zeile charges the ball, catches it on a short hop and throws Burrell out at first, which also held Thome at second. Instead of the tying run coming to the plate, it is one out and a guy on second. Looper then just throws some filthy stuff to retire the rest of the side relatively quietly.

This was a quality victory all around. After Weathers got that bogus balk call that allowed the Phillies to take the 1-0 lead, the Mets could have been deflated. Anytime you fight back in tough game, you start to believe you can win at any time. Howe would have been ridiculed for taking Piazza out for a defensive replacement if the Mets lost, especially since he was replaced by an outfielder who has had very limited time over the years at first (Phillips eventually took over first in the 10th). Luckily for him, they did not. When a coach is winning, no one cares what he does, when he makes the same switches when he loses, people want to see a public beheading. As I said a few days ago, Howe cannot get the big hit for the team. The players need to start performing in the clutch once in while. I personally do not like to watch in the late innings and the ball gets hit or thrown in Piazza's direction. Too bad at first base balls get thrown to you all the time, so I cannot argue with his late inning defensive replacement moves when it comes to Piazza.

Leiter was named the NYSE player of the game a bit prematurely, Zeile got the short end of the stick on that one and clearly deserved it.

Bottalico turned in another solid performance last night. I would rather not think what position our bullpen would be in if not for him.

Ryan Madson is just flat out nasty.

Jose Reyes must have spontaneously combusted and disappeared from the earth and now ceases to exist. After the cortisone shot, mum has been the word.

Minor Notes:
Lastings Milledge went 2 for 3 with another homerun yesterday bringing the tally up to three. He is now batting .340 and proving to be the five tool prospect the Mets hoped they were getting. He is creating a bit of excitement in our system that is relatively devoid of top tier outfield talent. He is looking like the real deal, and they were worried about him making the transition from aluminum bats to wood bats.

Victor Diaz continues his quest towards .300. He was 2 for 4 and is now batting .288. Victor is making a push to steal David Wright’s Mr. Tabasco crown.

Bobby Keppel got smacked up in his second AAA start, but went six innings which is something positive to take out of it. It was only his 4th start back since he got hurt in spring training.

Tyler Yates got touched up for two runs in two innings yesterday as well.

Not to be outdone by Victor Diaz’s hot streak, Wright makes a statement to keep his Mr. Tabasco crown by going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs to bring his season average to .349.

Neal Musser is seemingly regaining the form that made him the first pick for the Mets in 1999. He is now 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA and stuck out six in seven innings yesterday. Good to see he is getting some attention and like Peterson, is pushing for a bid to get called up to AAA. Norfolk is going to have some solid starting pitching by the year’s end.

Here is a joke I thought was funny (from Maxim magazine):

A fan seeking a pro golfer’s autograph waits for him by the clubhouse after a tournament. The golfer finally shows up with scratches all over his face.

“Hey, what happed?” asks the fan.
“Ahh,” says the golfer, “I blew an eagle on the 18th.”


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