I finally got my wish, which was the same wish as many others, and got to see Oliver Perez pitch as a Met. The result? Just about everyone got what they expected. An erratic pitcher who showed flashes of absolutely dominating batters. You do not have to be a scout to see that his mechanics are horrendous at times. As Ron Darling pointed out during the broadcast, the higher the leg kick, the harder it is to repeat. In pitching, repetition is key and a consistent release point it key. Those are two things that seem to elude Oliver Perez.
Let's go over what we saw from Oliver Perez through a stretch of batters.
- In the first inning with two outs, Perez worked a full count to Pat Burrel and struck him out. Burrel looked at three nice sliders in the inside corner.
- To start the second inning, Oliver then faced Jose Hernandez and struck him out in five pitches. Hernandez took three straight sliders. Looked at the first one, harmlessly waved at one and fouled it off and looked at the same pitch the third time as it hit LoDuca's mitt.
- Perez then got Chris Coste to fly out to center on an 0-2 count.
- Abraham Nunez then came up and Perez struck him out looking on an inside fastball on a 2-2 count.
- To start off the third inning, Perez then fell behind 2-0 to John Leiber before coming back with two straight fastballs. Perez then fell behind in the count to 3-2 and finally finished him off with another fastball. At this point, he struck out four of the last five batters.
- Jimmy Rollins then stepped up to the plate. He looked at two high 70's mph sliders to get him into an 0-2 hole and finally took a silly swing on a gorgeous slider that almost hit him on the shin on a 1-2 count. Perez had now struck out his last six of seven batters at this point.
- Perez then got Shane Victorino to pop up to right field for his eighth out in a row overall.
- In the fourth inning, Utley grounded out weekly to first on a 1-1 on a fastball after taking a fastball low and taking a really nice slider that started on the inside of the plate and came back to the middle.
- Ryan Howard then stepped up to the plate. He first took a breaking ball that he buckled a bit on and then took a 94 mph fastball on the outside part of the plate before popping out weakly to David Wright on an off speed pitch that he dropped his arm angle on. Howard got owned and was the tenth out in row.
- Pat Burrel then came to the plate an took a slider for strike one. He took a 94 mph fastball that was close to painting the black for ball, swung through 93 mph fastball that Perez moved in a tick back over the plate, took a fastball in close to the same spot as the previous pitch but a ball, took a back door breaking ball for a ball, and took ball four on an inside slider and was the fist baserunner since the 1st.
- Jose Hernandez then took a back door breaking ball that started off the plate and swept over to the inside corner. Perez then threw another high 70's slider, but this time got it an inch or two inside off the plate and Hernandez swung right through it. Oliver then threw two inside fastballs in the low 90's with the second one making Jose jump back. After burying to fastballs inside, he threw a backdoor slider similar to the one he started off Jose with and Hernandez just looked at it for strike three. At this point, Perez had 35 strikes to 30 balls and struck out six in the first four innings of play.
"I am pumped up about this guy," Minaya said. "He made good hitters look bad."
Though his start was a bit more Victor Zambrano than we would all like, it is tough not to draw a lot of positives from that start. He did not miss by much on a lot of those pitches and his stuff is clearly there. Similarly to Scott Kazmir and Randy Johnson, Oliver throws with a 3/4 arm slot that gives him a sweeping effect on his slider and his fastball. His pitches are always boring into the right side of the plate and he has the ability to nick the inside corner on righties and the outside corner on lefties making him unhittable when he is on with a devastating out pitch that is especially deadly to lefties. Perez also is very comfortable working on the inside corner to righties and loves to use his backdoor breaking ball.
You can say whatever you want and Rick Peterson's inability to help fix a damaged Victor Zambrano, but Peterson's specialty is mechanics. Perez still has a live arm. He can throw two different sliders in one that loops a bit more and looks like a slurve and a hard biting slider and spots them all over. Perez still is armed with a mid 90's fastball and I'm sure Peterson is salivating at the idea of getting his hands on him on the off season. When Perez did miss badly, it was when his mechanics fell apart and he looked horrible. Perez dominated the league in 2004 and completely dominated the Phillies for a stretch in his start on Saturday. He still has it in him and while it is clear that Perez will not help this season, a lot of our thoughts that the trade for Oliver Perez might turn into a steal for the Mets were only reinforced with his frustrating performance.
On Sunday, Alay Soler got jacked up in Norfolk's 9-0 loss to the Richmond Braves. Soler went five innings, gave up seven hits, five earned runs, and two walks while striking out seven.
On Saturday, Carlos Gomez went 2 for 3 with three runs scored, his 36th and 37th stolen bases of the year, one walk, one double, and one RBI in Binghamton's win over Eerie. What has been most impressive about this season for Gomez is his improvement on the basepaths. Gomez has only gotten caught nine times so far in 112 games after getting nabbed 24 times in 120 games on 2005.
St. Lucie lost 2-1 on Saturday to Daytona, but Fernando Martinez had a solid game with a 2 for 3 game in which he hit his fourth homerun of the year and walked twice.
If Soriano steals six more bases, he'll become only the fourth player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in one season, joining Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996) and Alex Rodriguez (1998). And if he makes a real push down the stretch, he might actually become the charter member of the 50-50 club.
"If I got off to a better start, maybe, but now it's too tough," he said. "There's one month left, and I know I cannot get 16 stolen bases in one month. If I get it, I'm going to be surprised."
After finishing the game - in which he allowed two runs in six innings - Pavano seemed okay, sources said. About 20 minutes after Columbus manager Dave Miley informed Pavano of the Yankees' plans, however, he mentioned that he had been feeling some pain in the lower chest and oblique area on his right side, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Now, it's unclear - again - when he'll be able to pitch.
"He's scared stiff," one Yankee official said.
Let us all point and laugh.
Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado homered in Saturday's 11-5 win, the franchise-record 10th time this season the teammates have gone deep in the same game. The mark of nine games was shared by three duos: Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry (1987), Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza (1999) and Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo (1999).
"...and Derek Jeter scored one more run yesterday to increase his lead in intangibles to 1,423. He would definitely get my vote for MVI (Most Valuable Intangible) this season."
Then some guy called up and said Jeter is the MVP or should be in the running for the MVP and Steve reminded him that Jeter already had his vote for MVI.
Then, he went after A-Rod. He played a clip of a game in which Rodriguez had already struck out three times and just needed to get the ball out of the infield to tie the game. A-Rod struck out and John Sterling with his crew were just dumfounded. You could hear the disappointment and disbelief in their voices. They sounded like someone just ran over their dog. I wish the clip was somewhere on the internet as it was pure gold.
At this point, A-Rod is the source of endless entertainment for people who enjoy laughing at his misfortune. He is whining, making excuses, and not getting any support from his teammates publicly. He should take note of how David Wright is handling his struggles.
"There's no excuses, I'm just not hitting well right now," he said. "It's as simple as that."
Unlike the other third baseman in town, Wright has not fallen into revelatory bouts of public self-pity, or mentioned vague injuries even his manager was unaware of, or feigned not caring when it was obvious that the whole thing was tearing him up. He has not ripped his shirt off in Central Park or jumped between a kid and a speeding truck. And his fielding, steady but never spectacular, is as steady and unspectacular as ever.
What is also rather comical is how their respective team's fan base treats the situation. The Yankee fans are relentless in their disdain for A-Rod while the Met fans are like a supportive girlfriend (yes, I know that is an oxymoron).
"When I open the letters of mail every day, there's people trying to give me motivational speeches, and there's people trying to let me know what I'm doing wrong. And that kind of support is what makes it great," Wright said after yesterday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies was rained out.
"I mean, they haven't been negative at all," Wright said. "It's almost like they have been the opposite. They are trying harder to get me more comfortable and make me feel right at home."
Cliff Floyd is scheduled to play in a rehab game today in Port St. Lucie, Fla. There's still no timetable for his return, but he will probably play in at least three or four games before he rejoins the team. Floyd could be back as early as this weekend in Houston.
John Maine learned quickly. It's generally foolish to ignore Paul Lo Duca.
"My first game," Maine said, "he wanted a curveball and I wanted a fastball. It turned into a base hit."
That was back in May, at home against Washington. Maine can't remember the pertinent details, like who got the hit, or what Lo Duca said to him when they huddled in the dugout and discussed where Maine had gone wrong. The other Mets pitchers could have told the rookie a given truth: Hardly anyone shakes off Lo Duca.
Chavez was at it again last night, going 4-for-4 with a two-run double in the Mets' 11-5 rout of the Phillies at Shea. It was his second four-hit game of the season and he's now hitting .435 on this home stand.
The team's fourth outfielder - a starter now in place of the injured Cliff Floyd - is batting .307 with 39 runs scored and 33RBI in 264 at-bats on the season.
"I told him (in spring training) to be ready to play all three outfield positions, and I told him I'd use him a lot," Willie Randolph said. "I'm proud of him as much as anybody on this team.
"I give him a lot of credit for making the adjustments he's had to make and I also think he's one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. He's a tough out, he gives us a lot of energy and he's one of the better backup outfielders in the game."