Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 15, 2006
BASEBALL: NLCS Game Four

Anthony Reyes' 5.06 ERA this season makes him the easy favorite in tonight's pitching matchup...the goal for Oliver Perez tonight is twelve outs. If Perez gets through four innings with one or even two runs allowed, everything else will be gravy; any shorter leash and he would not be a starter at all.

A few things appeared in nthe cold light of morning today. One is something I should have noted before the series, since I had seen it in the numbers: Suppan had a great second half, such that the Cards should be regarded as a team with a 1-2 punch, rather than Carpenter's one man band.

Another is that the loss of Floyd and Valentin looking largely out of gas means that the Mets aren't really the same offensive team, let alone the same pitching rotation.

A third is that, at least once Game One was rained out, my assessment of the dynamics should have been the reverse of the Dodger series - the Mets were much better served putting this one away early rather than getting into a war of attrition.

Top One

I really would have liked a run to stake Perez with in the top of the first.

Bottom One

Ugh, Wright and Delgado both butcher that play. Perez is not the guy you want to see errors behind.

Double play; redemption for the defense.

My kids have nearly all the regular ads committed to memory by this point. An occupational hazard of watching playoff TV in baseball or basketball.

Perez...seriously, this is like the '86 Mets starting Bruce Berenyi in the NLCS.

Top Two

Jim Edmonds is keeping very busy tonight.

Oliver Perez walks! Yes it's still 0-0 and yes these are two talented pitchers, but you can see them both playing with fire. A wise man will wait Reyes out.

You know what? Ugly as this has been between the ending of Game Two, the beginning of Game Three, and the innings of mutual ennui since then, all the Mets really need to do is get a lead in this game and my faith and optimism will be restored. I'm easy that way.

Bottom Two

As much as I have griped about the condition of the Mets starting rotation, it should be borne in mind that the collapse of the Cards down the stretch was caused as much as anything by the injury/fadeout of Rolen and Edmonds, and neither guy has really been himself yet.

How many balls have been trapped or gone off the fingers by the Mets outfielders in this series?

Chavez throwing out Belliard at third was huge - the Cardinals get a run, but the difference between man on first two outs and first and third one out is... well, Perez has to work to make this a big inning now; he should get out of this.

And he does.

Top Three

Man, Lo Duca is slow. The play that captured this was in Game Two when Speizio and Pujols both bobbled the ball and he was still thrown out by 10 feet. In fact, I suspect Lo Duca is distinctly slower now than he was three or four months ago.

I would not like Beltran so much, were I a Cardinals fan. Line shot homer to right, 1-1.

Wright homers into the left field bullpen. Hope has returned.

Bottom Three

Six outs down for Perez, six to go with no more than one more run and he will have exceeded expectations.

They just replayed the two homers. Wright's swing was the big power swing, looked like a home run. Beltran just sort of reached out and golfed his.

Nice try by Jose Reyes to fake dropping a line drive by Pujols to get a double play. Reyes needs to spend some time with Vlade Divac.

Well, the Cards tie it back up on the 2-out triple to right bobbled by Shawn Green. Green is not having a good series in the field.

Three outs to go with no runs scoring for Perez to cover the spread. Then we're playing with the house's money.

Top Four, 2-2.

It's 8:20 pm in St. Louis. The lights are on. And Tony La Russa is wearing sunglasses. What does he think this is, the World Series of Poker?

You get a real sense of scale of major league players when you see Endy Chavez listed at 195 pounds.

Maybe I missed him but I don't believe there has been a Stan Musial sighting yet. Is he waiting for the Series? Or is Stan the Man finally getting too old to show up for events like this?

Wow, Reyes has thrown 84 pitches after striking out Perez. Perez, who is hardly economical with his pitches, has thrown 49 to get just two fewer outs.

Bottom Four, 2-2

New Busch is definitely tough on long fly balls - not like the old 80s-era Busch, but a bandbox this is not.

If you look at the transactions, La Russa in his short major league career was employed by the A's, White Sox and Cardinals. Interesting coincidence.

Belliard steals second as Molina strikes out. The throw beat him, but Valentin just didn't quite get the tag down. As McCarver points out, this is partly due to Molina obstructing Lo Duca. But no harm done, due to some outstanding defense by Valentin on the next play.

Perez has done his job now; if he gets in any more trouble he can be bailed out without disaster.

Top Five, 2-2.

3-run homer for Delgado! It is now actually imaginable that Perez could get the win in this game. A lot of baseball still to play, but that's a major lift. I had to run upstairs and tell my 9-year-old son, who just got sent to bed under protest.

Momentum is such a fickle thing, almost as fickle as Fox announcers - suddenly the flairs dropping in and botched grounders are going against the Cardinals.

Perez is batting with two on and two outs in the top of the fifth. And you know what? I'm fine with that. What a turn of events.

And he's ahead in the count again. You really would not want to walk him to face Reyes with the bases juiced. I mean really.

But he whiffs. On to...

Bottom Five, 5-2

Eckstein goes waaaaay deep, and yes, Virginia, this is still a tight October ballgame. I get Perez out if anybody gets on ahead of Pujols.

Willie Randolph calls both Perez and Darren Oliver "Ollie." Perez, if he ever does recapture his 2004 form, could use an intimidating nickname.

And whiffing Pujols with a pitch at his eyes is a reminder that this is still a possibility for this guy.

Top Six, 5-3 Mets.

Reyes singles to right - the ball just jumps off his bat.

To answer a question in the comments, yes those in-game interviews are idiotic, uncomfortable and risk giving away too much information to boot. But at least Tony took his shades off.

First and (Reyes on) third, nobody out. This is at least one run you need to add.

Beltran walks, bases loaded for Charlie the Cat. Hancock is having a tough series.

Deep fly for Delgado, which is what you wanted there. Ground rule double, two runs in, 7-3.

Buck is busting on Speizio for missing that, but let's face it, Speizio is an aging infielder playing out of position.

Hancock walks Wright on four pitches. Cards fans are unhappy, and it takes a lot to get them restive.

Ron Livingston, action hero? Not sure I am buying that.

Bases loaded, nobody out, up 7-3 - at this point you just want to keep bleeding in runs, even if with outs.

Green singles - only one run in, but we're still bases loaded, nobody out. 8-3.

Valentin drills one down the left field line for a double, empties the bases, 11-3. Now, I feel good. Heck, we may see Perez go 8 innings tonight.

Chavez strikes out on a pitch in the dirt. Really, you have to wonder if he takes that cut if they didn't just get an 8-run lead. Perez bats again.

In a normal postseason, you try to battle against getting too high or too low, which is a powerful temptation. I thought it would be different now that I'm older. But it's been awful hard to avoid, given how precarious is the state of the Mets rotation - everything turns on avoiding situations where you need a well-pitched game.

Edmonds hits the fence to catch the third out trailing by 8 runs. That's why he's Jim Edmonds.

Bottom Six, 11-3 Mets.

Perez goes right after Rolen and Edmonds, gets a popup and a home run. Hey, that's how you pitch with a big lead - don't fool around, don't worry about solo homers. (Beltran hits the fence trying to rope it back, too, but more smoothly).

Home run Molina. Well, maybe after this inning you get Perez out of there, if not sooner. You don't want to damage his confidence, and you don't want to turn this into a game again.

11-5, Bradford's coming in. The end was ugly but only because of the big lead did Perez go that last inning. And yes, to answer another comment, the Mets would really like to see a rainout tomorrow so Glavine can get back on his regular rest. In 1986, we didn't care if it rained (as it did twice), at least for the Mets' staff (it did matter that rain let Bruce Hurst start Game 7 rather than Oil Can Boyd.)

Preston Wilson being another reminder of 1986.

Top 7, 11-5 Mets.

Beltran goes deep; that's the Braden Looper we know and love. Nice twist of the knife there, needed or not.

Bottom Seven, 12-5.

Cards need seven runs, Mets need six outs. I like those odds.

Delgado's favorite actor is Morgan Freeman. If he were 10 years older it would be Lou Gosset jr.

Bradford still in; I'm feeling like a Roberto Hernandez sighting is in order soon, but Wagner (?!?) is warming up. OK, never mind that, he's not; they just mentioned him while I had my head down typing between pitches.

Top Eight, 12-5 Mets

It's 10:11pm in St. Louis, and LaRussa is still wearing sunglasses.

Buck is asking if you start Perez or Trachsel in Game 7. This, you see, is why a Game 7 is not a hopeful prospect. I'd rather start Heilman and see if he can go 4, if he hasn't been burned by then. In 1986, Roger McDowell went 5 in NLCS Game 6 (and had surgery the next spring)

Bottom 8, 12-5 Mets.

They are saying they will ask Randolph before tomorrow who will start Game 7. I predict they will not get an answer.

Top 9, 12-5 Mets

I can hear the Mets fans in the stadium now, doing the "Jose, Jose Jose Jose" chant.

The Braden Looper Face is in the house.

Somewhere, an Astros fan is throwing things at the screen after a gratuitous shot of Jesse Orosco celebrating the 1986 NLCS Game Six clinching strikeout.

And there's Mookie in the stands!

La Russa is warming up his closer down 7 runs. You can't fault the man for lacking optimism.

Reyes gets doubled off first for running on contact on a ball in the air with one out. Granted, Reyes doesn't do the space cadet bit in a close game, but that still should not happen.

Bottom Nine, 12-5

Needless to say, you need to put this one away. In the books, as Howie Rose would say. Mota is in; what ever did happen to Hernandez? Is he tired from pitching last night?

One on, one out. The Mets really did need the 12 runs tonight, even if they win by seven.

It's over. What can I say? Amazin'

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:08 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

What a great time for David Wright to remember how to hit Home Runs. I was beginning to wonder if the Mets were shutting it down, Yankees-style.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 9:02 PM

So far, so good for Perez. He's not great, but LaRussa goes to the pen first. I think that's a good thing.

Posted by: Jerry at October 15, 2006 9:43 PM

If Carlos Delgado had played for, say, the Braves or the Yankees during his career, he'd be a man of legend already. Wow, is he wearing it out this postseason.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 9:49 PM

Also, I think Perez has earned the right to get run out there, at least for the fifth.

I'd have the bullpen ready, though.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 9:51 PM

Ah, the Alphonse-Gaston play.

Posted by: Jerry at October 15, 2006 9:52 PM

What a pain in the backside David Eckstein is. Seriously.

Smart move by the Cards to pick up the two Angels who personified their World Series team.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 10:01 PM

This was a first guess, made even worse by the fact that they started someone in the pen as the inning started. You have a chance to put your foot down on the throat of the Cards and you let Perez bat??


Arrrrgggg

Posted by: Rory at October 15, 2006 10:01 PM

Rory -

I can understand it - you've still gotta win two games after this one, and Randolph has been burning through the 'pen like crazy. If he can get six or sven out of Perez, that would be huge.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 10:05 PM

Eckstein homers, and yet Pujols strikes out? Welcome to the twilight zone, my friends.

BTW, I am in no way superstitious, but the Mets have scored five runs and given up only one with me sitting by the computer. That couch looks comfy, but . . .

Posted by: paul zummo at October 15, 2006 10:05 PM

Off Topic: what do you think of the in-game interviews with the managers? If I were managing, the last thing I would want to do is to have a conversation with some announcer.

It's not just baseball - I cannot stand it in football, either - when at halftime some dunce sticks a mike in the face of the coach and says something to the effect of "coach, you're getting your ass kicked. What are you going to tell your team in the locker room?"

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2006 10:06 PM

Mark -

I only like it when it's Jim Leyland, 'cause you get the feeling that he's about two seconds from snapping off several F-bombs on his interviewer.

Posted by: Leon H Wolf at October 15, 2006 10:12 PM

Leon: If the Mets loose here, its game over anyway. Darren did a great job taking the burden off the pen last night. As Crank said, anything past 4 innings is gravy...

Do you think Delgado was waiting his whole life for this postseason or what???

Posted by: Rory at October 15, 2006 10:17 PM

http://www.weather.com/outlook/events/mlb/gameforecast/63102?eventid=195327&epc=be

not to get ahead of myself, but start your rain dances now!

Posted by: Rory at October 15, 2006 10:38 PM

Someone named Oliver starts game seven, be it Darren or Perez. Forget Trax.

I must say my good feeling going into this one was rewarded. I haven't felt that calm in such a huge spot since the OT in game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. I just knew the Rangers would win that, and I just had a feeling about this one.

As for the rest of the series . . . feeling optimistic.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 15, 2006 11:46 PM

I agree, Paul. Trax is done, relegated to garbage time if there's any left in the season. Did anyone catch this in yesterday's paper: http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/ny-splarussa154934378oct15,0,2978003.story?coll=ny-mets-print
More small time from La Russa, basically don't ask my player real questions or I will not let him do interviews. Beyond a shadow of a doubt this guy out sells Costanza at the Jerk Store.

Posted by: abe at October 16, 2006 7:40 AM

/agree with Mark on the in game interviews. Its dumb.

Man you guys are making me sweat in this series. I hope Glavine can put one in the W column tonight so you can go back to NY with 2 shots at finishing it off.

Posted by: Dwilkers at October 16, 2006 8:13 AM

Nice job by the Met to come back and even the series.

Mike - You have to admit Reyes was just as good a start as Perez in this game. Both pitched well.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 16, 2006 9:45 AM

What has struck me is the tight strike zone the umps are calling. They seem a bit off on the edges of the plate, but not egregiously so, and are clearly going bottom of knees, while the letter high pitch is borderline. However, they are staying with the pitch, and Reyes especially is adjusting well as the game goes on.

A few comments on Reyes: Yes, he is the most exciting player in the game, everyone knows that. What few seem to harp on is his obvious (to me anyway) adaptive intelligence. I haven't looked at the number comparables to Raines and Rickey early in their careers (I am a big Tim Raines fan, no publicity out of a magnificent career, drugs are death), but there isn't much talk about his not walking much anymore. He's exciting to me because he channels his enthusiasm and (very high) baseball IQ with an arm like Ripken's and speed like Mantle's. My guess is someone points out that Mickey was a great bunter, and what a terrifying weapon in his arsenal it owuld be.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 16, 2006 9:58 AM

Darryl:

Absolutely agree on the strike zone. It's just been all over the place. Pitches barely off the ground have been called strikes, but pitches seemingly down the pike have been called balls. And then some have been calling the inside strike but calling ball on the outside corner for balls, and others have been doing the complete opposite. It's really been a big problem.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 16, 2006 10:12 AM

I would not say that Anthony Reyes pitched well; I would say that both he and Perez pitched acceptably, given the low expectations, as neither got his team knocked out of the game.

Posted by: The Crank at October 16, 2006 10:38 AM

Mad (& Crank)-

Reyes was fine, but 4 innings is 4 innings. Perez's numbers look worse because he gave up (solo) homers when his job was to throw strikes.

Mets hitters are better than Cardinal hitters. Expectable to see them pile on more runs against and bad starter, and the middle relief guys.

Posted by: Mike at October 16, 2006 12:26 PM

I was at work listening to the game...immediately after one of the Mets' announcers (interchangeable dummies, I don't know the name) said Edmonds was "overrated" he made a great catch in center, and shortly thereafter he hit a homer. Doesn't prove he's not overrated, of course...

I think they're mistaking playing a shallow center (as most fine CF's do or have done, other than Curt Flood) with, as the guy said, "setting up" great plays.

The Mets' announcers are possibly the worst in baseball, other than the morons who do Nationals' games. The Braves may have had the best broadcast team around-at least until they decided to dump Don Sutton.

Posted by: John Salmon at October 16, 2006 1:50 PM

John:

With all due respect, are you insane? Maybe it's a matter of perspective, but the Mets announcers are one of the few tandems that doesn't make me fall instantly asleep. Granted, McCarthy isn't as quite as good as Cohen, but he can hold his own. And unlike so many of the announce teams in other cities coughCubscough they don't act as though their job is to be cheerleaders for the other team.

And as for the Braves announcers - yes they are the best. If you need a cure for insomnia.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 16, 2006 2:41 PM

Check that. they don't act as though their job is to be cheerleaders for their team.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 16, 2006 2:42 PM

Jim Edmonds reminds me of Paul O'Neill. Maybe it's simply because they look a bit similar, but they always seem to come up big when you need them to.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 16, 2006 3:39 PM

Paul-With all due respect, I am not insane. At least my shrink, therapist, priest, and pharmacist all say I'm perfectly sane. I only hear the voices when I'm in a bad mood or have to listen to Tim McCarver.

Seriously, if you like those guys more power to you, but from my (admittedly limited exposure) they come across as none too knowledgable.

I'm a Phillies' fan. The team's play may be indifferent at times, but we have the the finest play by play guy, one Harry Kalas.

Posted by: John Salmon at October 16, 2006 3:46 PM

Well, we had Bob Murphy for 40+ years. It takes a long time to replace a guy like that.

Personally I like the current Mets radio announcing crew. Although I would not agree with the idea that Edmonds is overrated as a defensive player, I do think they are well-informed and not excessively deferential to the organization.

Posted by: The Crank at October 16, 2006 3:51 PM

John, I'll take your (and your therapists, priests, etc) word on your sanity, but then again you are a Phillies fan, and that can do strange things to one's pysche. :)

It's all a matter of taste. But my big thing is that the Met announcers aren't overly homerific, and they don't beat you over the head with the same thing over and over (a la mcCarver and Morgan, and so many others).

And Kalas is very good.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 16, 2006 4:04 PM

Has anyone thought about the fact that the Tigers have at least 3 pitchers that can matchup with the best the Mets or Cards can send out?

I personally think the Mets have the better offensive team in the NL, but neither is a LOT better than the Tigers on offense and the Tigers rotation and bullpen are significantly better than either NL team.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 16, 2006 4:23 PM

I'm not looking ahead to the Tigers other than to observe that nobody's going to want to face Verlander and Zumaya in 30 degree temperature in Detroit. And that it now looks like we will get El Duque back.

Posted by: The Crank at October 16, 2006 4:28 PM

I find the contrast between El Duque working his butt off to be ready if his team needs him and Trachsel asking out of Game 3 with a thigh bruise...illuminating, to say the least.

Posted by: mikeski at October 16, 2006 5:13 PM

White Singles

Where single white females and single white males of European ancestry go to hit it off.

Posted by: White Singles at October 20, 2006 6:03 PM
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