For the first time all season, I have no complaints about the New York Mets.
For some reason, the Mets are in first place. By a strange coincidence, Carlos Delgado is hitting as well as he did in 2006. As it turns out, Oliver Perez may be the Mets’ best starting pitcher right now. And, by an act of Providence, the decision to replace Willie Randolph with Jerry Manuel actually paid off.
Two days ago, I gave up on the season. It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. But today, the Mets are what we thought they were going to be. The starting pitching has been solid, and has gobbled way more innings than they used to. The bullpen has at least been effective every now and then, as opposed to never. Billy Wagner is back to being automatic in the ninth. And the lineup is producing runs.
Carlos Delgado is the difference maker in this lineup. Yes, Jose Reyes needs to get on base, which he has to a tune of a .360 OBP. Yes, David Wright has to be the Mets’ best hitter. But when Delgado is producing, the Mets suddenly have a legitimate cleanup hitter. That takes pressure off both Wright and Carlos Beltran.
So, on July 24th, the Mets are in first place. Be sure to expect a horse race the rest of the way between the Mets, Phillies, and maybe the Marlins, if their starting pitching can hold up. The Mets need to fend off both teams, and Father Time, if they want to be in it until the end.
So what happens on a day when your ace gives you 8 solid innings of 2-run ball against your fiercest divisional opponent and leaves with a three-run lead? Why, your bullpen blows the game in the ninth, of course. And in spectacular fashion. It wasn’t just a failure, it was a failure of EPIC proportions.
Maybe Jerry Manuel should have left Johan Santana in, but I agree with his decision. Santana’s outs in the eighth inning were hard outs. A line drive, a deep fly ball to Beltran, not to mention the line-drive double (following a foul line drive) by Pat Burrell.
In any event, teams do not recover from losses like this. I’ve given up on this season before, only to see the Mets battle back into contention. But they won’t overcome this loss. Time to think about 2009.
And yes, I am ripping off Mets Blog with the Charlie Brown pic.