Since his arrival in New York, I’ve suggested that Tom Glavine was a Braves mole, called him Tom Not-So Terrific, labelled him the Mets’ worst free agent signing since George Foster, wished he’d take more cab rides with John Franco, mocked his (supposedly) close relationship with the owner, implied that his brother Mike, was neither qualified to pitch for the Mets’ minor league teams, nor suited for chatting about them on cable television.
There’s also the matter of Ques-tec and pouting over Roger Cedeno’s shitty fielding.
While I’m not ready to withdraw my criticism of Mike Glavine, it should be pretty obvious by now that I harshly misjudged Mr. 290 Career Wins And Counting. Not only is he the closest thing the Mets have to an ace remaining in their makeshift playoff rotation, but last night’s performance against LA was a classic mix of guile and guts.
And he’s no slouch at bunting, either.
Nomar Garciaparra is supposedly unavailable for Game 3 with a strained quad. Without getting all Bob Ryan-whispery about it, either the former Boston shortstop is either the unluckiest guy on the planet, or he needs to visit Metal Mike’s old yoga guru. Regardless of what the clock or calendar says, you’re never more than a few minutes away from another Nomar injury.
The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman decries “Dodger Ineptitude”, perhaps discounting how the blazing speed of Julio Franco manages to leave the opposition discombobulated.
Hong-Chih Kuo showed that the six innings of shutout ball he pitched against the Mets last month weren’t a fluke. He was throwing nasty sliders after riding fastballs under the hands of the Mets hitters.The inside pitch is the Mets’ generally accepted weakness, and the strategy worked for awhile, as Kuo gave up nothing more than a bloop single through the first two innings. It was that second inning, though, that gave the game away ” the heart of the Mets order worked the rookie for 27 pitches, which is a lot to be throwing in one inning. It was clear then that the Dodgers were in trouble, and even clearer when, in the top of the fourth, David Wright and Cliff Floyd hammered line drives nearly over the fence. The Mets had adjusted to Kuo’s strategy; he didn’t adjust back.
While the blame always has to come back to the player, just as the credit does, it’s hard to put too much of the blame on the rookie or on his equally inexperienced catcher, Russell Martin. There’s a reason pitches are called from the bench by wizened old baseball men. Kuo pitched in the fifth just as he did in the first, and that’s much of why he left with the bases loaded and one out. (Managing to walk leadoff man Jose Valentin, who hits lefties about as well as you do, also played its part.)
Starting a rookie and watching him get into trouble his second time through the lineup for essentially preventable reasons is one thing, but the Dodgers still managed, a day after Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew were tagged out at home plate at the same time, to play more fundamentally ineptly. In the sixth, which saw the Mets extend a tight 2“0 lead to a relatively comfortable 4“0 margin, the Dodger defense was simply comical. With men on first and second and none out, Valentin tapped a beautiful bunt down the third line, which apparently warped spacetime as it slowly rolled, causing pitcher Brett Tomko and third baseman Wilson Betemit to simply stare at it, slackjawed. When Julio Franco, who’s been playing professional baseball longer than I’ve been alive, beat out the back end of a routine double play, it couldn’t have been more clear that the Dodgers just weren’t playing winning baseball.