Mets 5, Nationals 2 (NYM: 41-41, 9 GB; WAS: 50-32)
The Mets should be embarrassed that they didn't take two out of three from the Marlins this weekend, and they should be especially embarrassed about their performance on Saturday. They played uninspired baseball on Saturday, and it carried over into Sunday, when the deck was already stacked against them with Dontrelle Willis starting for the Marlins.
That said, the Mets should be very proud about their performance on Monday against Washington. This game was very boring. The Nationals pitchers took forever to throw a pitch, and the weather was (reportedly) unbearably hot. Top that off with the Nationals coming off an emotional win in extra innings on Sunday against the Cubs, with the Mets coming off their lackluster weekend, and the Nationals take an early 2-0 lead on Kaz Ishii. Sounds like the game's over, right?
Willie Randolph shook things up on the Fourth. He led off with Mike Cameron, hit Carlos Beltran* second, and slid THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, all the way down to the 7th spot in the order. The players responded. The Mets drew even at 2-2 in the seventh inning - Future Hall Of Famer David Wright delivered a big double to knock John Patterson out of the game, and sending Marlon Anderson to third. Reyes singled, bringing home Anderson, and was on third base when Cameron came up. Cameron broke a bat, and singled to center, tying the game.
Then in the top of the ninth, it was Reyes, ironically, setting up the big inning. He grounded a ball up the middle that Junior Spivey got to, but had no chance to throw out Reyes streaking down the line. Then Reyes stole second (it's moments like these why he is THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED). Jose Offerman, my nemesis, pinch hit, and actually did something right (I feel dirty writing bad things about Offerman...I feel....Shaughnessy-ish). Offerman singled past the shortstop, Reyes blazed in from second, and Offerman took second on the throw. Then Mike Cameron doubled home Offerman, and Carlos Beltran* brought home Cameron with a single, answering my prayers for insurance runs for Braden Looper.
Looper pitched a pretty good ninth. This win was huge for the Mets. After they finally strung together a few hits, it was like nothing could go wrong - you got the feeling that the Mets are about to start a big streak. I hope so, anyway. Three out of four is a must against Washington for the Mets to get back into the divisional race - a sweep would be outstanding. The good news is, the weakest link was strong today, with Kaz Ishii pitching five-and-a-third innings of five hit, two run ball. He didn't factor in the decision, but he was very good. Pedro Martinez* pitches on Tuesday, against the best the Nationals have to offer, Livan Hernandez. That should be a good one - too bad I'll be at work, only able to follow it on GameCast. But I'll do a write-up, that I can promise.
I watched another very exciting (actually, just an exciting game - not another one, because the Mets game wasn't exciting except for the top of the seventh and the top of the ninth innings) game Monday night - the Marlins and the Brewers. I started watching when it was 2-1 Marlins late, then saw the Brewers scratch out another run late in the game. 2-2, top of the ninth, Brewers have a runner on third, they ground it to shortstop. Alex Gonzalez makes a great play going to his right to snare the hard grounder. He gets up, throws a strike to Paul LoDuca, and Trent Durrington should be nailed at the plate. But Durrington slides, feet-first, and knocks the ball clean out of LoDuca's glove. The Brewers go on to beat the Marlins 3-2, earning Ben Sheets a win - he pitched a gem. Oh by the way, the last out of the game was a great sliding play by Rickie Weeks, fielding a ground ball in the hole at second, then getting the out at first.
But what I wanted to point out was the Brewers' hustle. First of all, Durrington pinch runs for the catcher, who got a hit, then steals second, so he can be bunted to third by Ben Sheets on a sacrifice. Then, he's off when the grounder is hit, and even though Gonzalez makes a great play, and has Durrington nailed at the plate, Durrington doesn't give up - he goes into the plate like he knows he's going to be safe. So you have players like Durrington, hard-nosed hustlers - and by the way, this is a category where you find players like Jose Reyes and David Wright, and then you have guys like Beltran* who don't run out pop-ups. At spring training, Beltran* would hold tutoring sessions with Reyes. I think they need to reverse roles. Reyes might have trouble getting on base lately, but when he's on base, the Mets are darn near guaranteed a run - except when Beltran* is messing things up on him.
The All-Star teams are set (barring injuries and/or dropouts), and Pedro Martinez* was selected to go as a pitcher, joining starters Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran*. Piazza we've talked about - good for him - this is probably the last time he'll go. Beltran* is a joke - Cliff Floyd deserves to be the first Mets outfielder to go to the All-Star Game since 1989. Pedro* still might not go - he is pitching the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and Mets management might not want to risk Pedro* getting hurt (as astutely pointed out by Dave from Brighton in this very space late last week), so he might not go. But then again, there's a part of Mets' management who want Pedro* representing the Mets in Detroit. So we'll see what happens there. Either way, he's the one part of the Mets' contingent who has earned his spot since Day 1 this season.
THE KID'S KIDS: After a 10-5 win over the Marlins on Monday, Hall of Famer Gary Carter's Gulf Coast League Mets lead their division by three games with a 7-2 record.