Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 3 Braves 0

Willie used an unconventional lineup, batting Green second, moving Delgado to sixth and putting LoDuca ahead of him. I still think it's too early to demote Delgado because the team is still winning. And why didn't he bat LoDuca second and Green fifth? To avoid having lefties back to back?

Actually, I'd rather see Gomez bat second when he plays. Willie did the same thing with Wright in 2005. He thinks he's taking the pressure off the young guys by batting them 7th or 8th but in this lineup I think Gomez would actually feel less pressure in the 2 hole because Reyes is always on, and Beltran is up next so he'd get pitches to hit. Batting 8th, they can work around him to get to the pitcher. Plus he's come up in a lot of RBI situations, instead of table setting situations.

The action in this game didn't start until the third inning.

With one out Reyes walked and Green singled. The Mets tried a double steal and Saltalamacchia (14 letters, longest in the history of MLB) had Green nailed at second but Prado was late covering, the ball was dropped and Green was safe. On the error, Reyes scored and Green went to third.

Then Carlos Beltran struck out again with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs. In 17 at bats in that situation he has 7 strikeouts. And only 3 sacrifice flies (which don't count as official at bats). So with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs he's more than twice as likely to strike out than to hit a sac fly. That's a terrible ratio. He must do better. Wright made the third out and the Mets only got one run.

Perez didn't do much to help his cause in the bottom of the inning. He walked the pitcher (after an 0-2 count). Then advanced him to second on a wild pitch (after an 0-2 count). Green made a diving catch of a foul ball but the pitcher advanced to third. Then Perez walked Renteria, but got Chipper Jones out. He hit RBI machine Jeff Francoeur to load the bases. But he got out of it when Matt Diaz (DYE-az) flied out to end the inning.

The Mets started off the fourth with three straight singles. Gomez hit a sacrifice fly, Perez bunted (a strategy that makes no sense), then after the Braves smartly walked Reyes, Green grounded out, ending the threat.

David Wright hit his 8th home run of the season for the Mets third run. On May 23rd last year, Wright hit his 7th homer of the year. So maybe talk about his early season power production was overrated. Last year he slugged 10 in June, which earned him a place in the Home Run Derby. Right now, he's tied for 15th in NL in home runs but with another hot June maybe he could be asked to be in the Derby again.

David Wright, breaking out the home run trot for the fourth time four games

The rest of the game belonged to Perez. He was brilliant after his early game struggle and bounced back from that rough third inning by striking out the side in the fourth. Willie showed a lot of confidence in him, sending him back out to pitch the 7th after he'd already thrown 108 pitches. But Oliver didn't disappoint getting a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He finished with 5 Ks, those two in the 7th and the three in the fourth.

Oliver's third straight gem.  I want more!

Let's look at Perez by the numbers:
In his last three starts:
He's 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA plus 5 walks and 16 Ks in 23 innings.

I'd say he's picked up the slack for the recently slumping Maine quite nicely.

In 3 starts this season against the Braves:
He's 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA and zero walks, zero walks, I said zero walks, plus 20 Ks, (did I mention zero walks?) in 20 2/3 innings.

One other note that makes the above seem even more impressive: The Mets are 0-5 against the Braves this year in games started by anyone other than Perez.

And one last statistical breakdown:

This season in four starts against the Braves and the Yankees (the big games):
He's 4-0, with a 1.59 ERA and only two walks.
Against everyone else he is 2-3, with a 3.16 ERA and 15 walks (almost one walk every two innings).
Throw in his gem of a performance in Game 7 of the NLCS last year and I really love Oliver Perez right now, down the stretch in September, and in the playoffs in October.

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