It is early in the season and it is tough to say any win is a big win. You want to get opening day andstart off on the right foot and you want to win every game obviously, but they are normally not defining moments or truly big wins. However, I think yesterday was. I cannot help but think this team will feed off that win and give them a nice confidence boost.
Coming into yesterday's game, Dontrelle has started eleven games against the Mets. He won eight of them and lost only one. He has a 1.85 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, a .224 BAA and a 3.82 K/BB during that time. Of all teams that he has thrown at least ten innings too, he has registered against the Mets the 2nd lowest ERA, the fourth lowest WHIP, the third highest K/BB ratio, the fourth lowest BAA out of fifteen teams, and the most wins.
Coming into the seventh inning yesterday, Willis had only given up three hits while walking no one. He had just completed an eight pitch sixth innings to bring his pitch count to sixty-six. It looked like he could go twelve innings. I was already conceding the loss since the Mets have never been able to beat Dontrelle.
I was at Shea the first time Dontrelle came into town to pitch against the Mets. It was back on June 26th in 2003 and he was set to take on Aaron Heilman, who was making his first and highly anticipated Major League start. Willis went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out seven. Willis gave up nine hits, but eight of them were singles. Heilman got no help from the defense and gave up five runs, only one was earned.
Ever since then, the Mets just have been no good against him giving me plenty of reason to start think that 3-2 was a pretty good record and I would still be happy about the way things were going. Enter Paul LoDuca. LoDuca worked out a great at-bat, saw a lot of pitches, and got a single. Carlos Beltran followed that up with similar at-bat that resulted in a single. Next up Carlos Delgado. With a little help from Dan Uggla and a missed double play opportunity, my choice for NL MVP in David Wright came to the plate with two in scoring position. With a little help from Jeremy Hermedia this time, Wright tripled in two runs. Tie game. Wright ended up hitting a sac fly to bring Beltran home and win the game capping off a great comeback against someone the Mets have had a lot of trouble with. Truly a big confidence boost on a day they could not get anything going. I think this win can spring board them into having the mindset that they can do anything.
Either way though, Victor Diaz might get sent down to AAA to make room for Kaz even if A Hern steps it up and some bench room is needed for Kaz. However, even if A Hern does not step it up, A Hern may be more valuable than Diaz on the bench to provide some defense later in the game.
- The Durham Bulls continued to own the Norfolk Tides on Sunday as the two teams went head to head in a double header. In game one the Tides were downed 9-3. Jason Scobie started the game for the Tides and after a solid season in 2005, his 2006 season got off to an inauspicious start. He went four innings and gave up eight hits, five earned runs, one walk, and a homer to earn the loss. Steve Schmoll got touched up in one inning of relief and gave up three runs for a tidy 27.00 ERA. Royce Ring went an inning and gave up one hit while striking out three. On the offensive end, Lastings Milledge went 2 for 4 with two singles, Jeff Keppinger went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, and Chase Lambin went 3 for 4 with a run scored, two doubles, and two RBIs. In game number two, the Tides lost 1-0. Pitching wise, it was a better game as John Maine went six innings for the loss while giving up three hits, one earned run, and two walks while striking out six. Definitely good to see him get off to a good start as he seems like the only hope for the Mets to get something meaningful from the Kris Benson trade. In relief, Heath Bell finished off the shortened game by striking out the side in the seventh. Offensively, it was rough. Norfolk only mustered one hit and one walk. They are now 0-4 on the season.
- Binghamton beat Akron 5-3 in fifteen innings. Carlos Gomez went 1 for 5 with a walk, Andy Wilson went 2 for 6 with a run scored, Brett Harper went 2 for 6 with one run scored, two doubles, and a walk, Bobby Malek went 2 for 6 with two runs scored, one walk, one RBI, and walk, and Jorge Padilla was the hero of the day by going 2 for 7 with a run scored, a triple, a homer, and four RBIs. Miguel Pinango started the game for the B-Mets impressively enough going five innings giving up four hits and no walks while striking out two to earn the no decision. Henry Owens won the game in relief by recording an astounding six strikeouts in two innings. So far Owens has thrown four innings and not given up a hit, walked one, registered a save and a win, and struck out ten. Not a bad start for someone who is on the big club's radar.
- Blake Eager got spanked around by Vero Beach as the St. Lucie Mets lost 6-0. Eager went 4.1 innings and gave up nine hits, six earned runs, two walks, and two homeruns. A forgettable game indeed. Ambiorix Concepcion went 1 for 4, Mike Carp went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Jamar Hill went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.
- Wrapping up a 1-4 day for the Mets affiliates, Hagerstown lost to Greensboro 3-0. Fernando Martinez went 0 for 4, Nick Evans went 1 for 4, and Hector Pellot went 0 for 4. Jeff Landing started the game and took the loss for the Suns as he went five innings and gave up five hits, one earned run, five walks, and one homerun while striking out seven.
"I'll face the nastiest righty over any lefty," Floyd said. "You've got a better chance. There are guys nowadays who make the team just to come in and get one lefty hitter out a week. As a hitter, it makes you want to puke."
Puke indeed Cliffy. Don't get me wrong. It makes a lot of sense to carry a left handed reliever or two for obvious reasons, but not if they are inferior to a righty reliever going for the same bullpen roster spot.
"We'd prefer to have a lefty, but we're not going to force it," said Tampa Bay executive VP Andrew Friedman. "If you're going to have one just to have one -- and the manager is going to go to him just so he can't be second-guessed -- that might not be the best approach."
Sadly enough, it seems as though some managers mangage to appease the media these days.
Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy concedes the obvious -- that it's tempting for managers to overdo matchups out of self-preservation. It's easy to make the knee-jerk, lefty vs. lefty move because you have a convenient answer for reporters during the postgame media session. But that can also be a crutch.
"I don't believe in building a staff so that it looks right and you can create that cosmetic left-on-left matchup," Tracy said. "Stuff gets big-league hitters out. Not service time. Not age. Not whether you're a right-hander or a left-hander. Stuff."
In the end, you take skill. The American League has more roster playroom due to the DH and the lack of double switches, however, the National League's roster spots are much more important. To build a deep bench and a deep bullpen, you need to utilize every spot intelligently and not waste it.
"I love the idea of a situational lefty, but finding guys who are reliable is not very easy," Francona said. "In a perfect world, I think you have a lefty specialist and a lefty reliever for balance. But it's not a perfect world. Not even close."
Maybe Toronto's lefty bullpen surplus will pay off this summer in the AL East, where Ortiz, Hideki Matsui et al pose a consistent threat from the left side. Then again, Ortiz batted .302 with 46 RBI in 205 at-bats against lefties last season. No matter which pitcher is standing on the mound against Big Papi, it's destined to be a bigger mismatch than Ryan Seacrest dating Teri Hatcher.
Unless you count Piniella, that is. The manager-in-waiting had an interview recently in Seattle that sounded suspiciously like campaigning. He spoke of wanting to manage a team that is "serious about winning." Who else could that be?
Um....a lot of teams. Would you rather Pinella have said he wanted to coach the suckiest bunch of sucks that have ever sucked? He's been there and done that with the Devil Rays and there are more teams than just the Yankees that are "serious about winning".