This day belonged to Johan Santana. He almost singlehandedly beat the Marlins, as the Mets had one legit rally vs. the impressive Ricky Nolasco today. The final out of the game made my heart stop, and I thanked the baseball gods that the Mets play in a pitchers' park. That ball is gone in Philly, Houston, and any number of other stadiums. Brad Lidge nearly blew the save and the game for the Phils vs. the Nationals, but Jimmy Rollins started a game ending double play that clinched the NL East. That was a lost cause at this point for the Mets anyways. The Brewers couldn't beat the Cubs and their JV lineup, so the Mets and Brew Crew are tied for the Wild Card with only game 162 remaining. Here are your game thoughts:
- See my previous post about Johan. He was lights out, and only had one tough inning. Where would the Mets be without him??
- I'm confident the Mets will bust out tomorrow and put up some big runs. They haven't scored 2 runs or less 3 games in a row since that awful Padres series in early June. Plus, they're facing lefty Scott Olsen. The Mets have tattooed lefties this season (.792 OPS vs. lefties, .764 OPS overall). Also, Olsen has struggled vs. the Mets in 2008: 22 IP, 6.95 ERA, 1.55 WHIP.
- Ramon Martinez has been a revelation. He can cement his status as a Mets cult hero if he has a big game tomorrow and the Mets clinch the wild card. Then he will inevitably be signed by Omar Minaya to a 4 year, $25 million contract, and immediately become worthless.
- For all of his well documented defensive troubles (-35 FRAA in 3 full seasons, -22 in 2007 alone), Hanley Ramirez made 2 great plays. He saved a run in the 1st inning with his robbery of a potential Daniel Murphy single. Hanley is one of the top 5 most valuable players in baseball, and if he played in a bigger market everyone would know it.
Oliver Perez gets the nod tomorrow, confirming that Mets decision makers are reading this blog. My suggestion to pitch Johan on 3 days rest worked out well, so there's no reason Ollie on 3 days shouldn't either... right??! Ollie has pitched well against the Marlins this year (31 IP, 2.03 ERA) so I really do feel confident. Plus I will be attending the game, and I fear that I might be arrested for inciting a riot if the Mets lose and are eliminated from the playoffs.
I think Lou Piniella will start his Varsity lineup tomorrow, as a last tuneup for his big guns before the playoffs. He pitched Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood today, so I suspect they will be unavailable. C.C. Sabathia starts for the Brewers on 3 days rest for the 3rd time in a row, and is definitely not on a pitch count. A Sept. 1 callup named Angel Guzman (7.93 ERA in 2008) will start for the Cubs, which is somewhat bad news. Carlos Zambrano was originally tapped to start Sunday. The Brewers game starts an hour after the Mets', so it would be nice to watch the Shea closing ceremonies as the Cubs finish off a win. I can't believe the season is down to 1 game. It feels like yesterday that Johan was starting and dominating Opening Day on March 31 (my birthday). Now Ollie needs to do the same on September 28 (my brother's birthday).
Unrelated to baseball: RIP Paul Newman.