I really can't believe that it's come down to this, but here we are. John Maine stepped up big-time on Saturday, going 7-and-two-thirds no-hit innings, before giving up only a dribbler to third base...one infield hit (along with a career-high 14 strikeouts), as the Mets beat the Marlins, 13-0. Talk about sending a message...although I would have much rather had those 13 runs spread out over some of these other games.
Later on Saturday, the Washington Nationals held on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2, to force a tie once again atop the National League East standings. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Nationals franchise, deep down, because of the Expos roots and the affiliation with Hall of Famer Gary Carter. With Saturday's win, and if they can pull out a win on Sunday against the Phillies, I will forever root for them whenever they are not playing the Mets.
So on Sunday it will be Tom Glavine versus Dontrelle Willis in New York, while in Philadelphia, the Mets will be hoping Jamie Moyer continues his season-long struggles against Jason Bergmann.
On Saturday, the Mets earned for themselves a chance to play themselves in to the post-season. All they have to do is win, and they will either go straight to an NLDS series, or play a playoff game on Monday against the Phillies. I don't even want to think about the scenarios if they lose...but there is potential that they will still have a one-game playoff with a loss.
John Maine showed us his big-game ability in the post-season last year. He proved he's a big-game pitcher again on Saturday - stepping up big-time when the Mets needed him. Now, facing another seemingly elimination game on Sunday, the Mets have Tom Glavine on the mound - they can't do much better than that.
The Southern Bureau sent me a message on Friday night saying his dad was at Friday night's game, and the Mets showed no emotion. It showed on television too...the Mets looked awful. Because of blackout restrictions for the Saturday national game, I couldn't watch Saturday's game, but I was able to catch some of the radio broadcast, and it seemed like the Mets fixed whatever their problem had been. Then, there was more fire added when Jose Reyes got into it with Miguel Olivo, the Marlins' catcher. The benches emptied, the only punch thrown was Olivo trying to get at Reyes, but there was a spark. More signs of life out of the Mets than we've seen in about a month. (Dave in Brighton was at this game - almost seeing in person his second career no-hitter. Lucky guy - he saw the benches clear. Don't think I've ever seen that. He's just lucky that way.)
Also, completing what's been a good season for him, Lastings Milledge had two home runs. He has shown a lot of maturity this year (his recent suspension for arguing a strikeout call notwithstanding), and it was nice to see him contribute in such a big game - because I still think the Mets have to get someone of value for him - I just don't see how he fits into their future plans.
So it comes down to Sunday - Mets need a win, and hopefully a Phillies loss. I have to figure out a way to watch the Mets and Jets simultaneously...but I guess that should be the worst of my problems. Hopefully there will be good news to write about on Sunday night.