Saturday, May 16, 2009
'WHAT'S GOTTEN INTO THE METS?': NEWLY INSPIRED PLAY, 'EDGE,' REMINISCENT OF '06
The question was perfectly timed, asked the moment after Gary Sheffield and David Wright successfully executed a double steal Thursday night, to put themselves in scoring position.
"What's gotten into these Mets?" SNY analyst Keith Hernandez asked.
Indeed, it's what everyone following the Mets wants to know and hopes the team maintains whatever "it" is, after enduring incompetent and uninspired ends to the 2008 and 2007 seasons.
On most west coast trips, the Mets have started out lethargic in the first game. But not Thursday night, when they stole a club record seven bases -- including Wright's record-tying individual tally of four -- and churned out clutch hit after clutch hit to beat the Giants, 7-4. John Maine overcame a miserable start, gutting it out for 6.2 innings before handing the baton to the bullpen, which stymied the Giants the rest of the way.
But that was just a warmup act for last night's 8-6 Giants-slaying, arguably the Mets' inspired win of the young season.
Admit it. Just two weeks ago, when the Mets seemed to wilt whenever behind by two runs or more and couldn't sustain a nine-inning offensive attack, you wouldn't have given them a chance if you were told they'd be down 5-1 on the road after two innings to last year's National League Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum.
But yet there they were, racking up 10 hits off of him despite striking out eight times and driving him from the game with two runs in the sixth inning, then three more in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6, just a half-inning after Lincecum burned lackluster reliever Sean Green for an RBI single.
There was Wright -- replacing the lookalike impostor who's been wearing his No. 5 since last September -- swatting a clutch, three-run double off reliever Merkin Valdez, making a visibly upset Lincecum pout from the Giants' dugout.
And there, too, was Omir Santos.
Twice, Lincecum had made him look utterly foolish while striking him out, yet he got a key run home off of him with a sacrifice fly. And in the ninth inning, there was Santos again, driving in a vital insurance run with another sacrifice fly off Giants' closer, Brian Wilson.
And the last two nights, the Mets have been making their magic without slugging injured first baseman Carlos Delgado and shortstop Jose Reyes.
Save Monday's dreadful 8-3 debacle at Citi Field against the Braves and the Mets have shown a resiliency in every game since, reminiscent of the magical 2006 season.
Tuesday, the Mets overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Braves 4-3 in 10 innings. Wednesday, the Mets rallied from behind three times and took the Braves to 12 innings before falling, 8-7 while pushing the tying run to third base with one out.
Just two weeks ago, Mets' General Manager Omar Minaya publicly questioned if his club had an "edge."
Now -- thankfully -- the more pertinent question is: How long will the Mets maintain it?
Posted by Gil Griffin at 12:20 PM