NLCS Game Seven

Game Seven. The importance needs no explanation, the drama no introduction. If the people on the LIRR with me an hour before game time were any indication, the crowd will certainly be raucous.
The Mets have played a double-elimination game (loser goes home) four times in their history, and won three, including both that have been played at Shea.
1973, NLCS Game Five, at Shea: The 1973 NLCS was a mirror image of this one, an 82-win Mets team against a Big Red Machine with a powerful and versatile offense and a suspect rotation. The deciding game pitted Tom Seaver against Jack Billingham. Ed Kranepool drove in two runs in the first, Cleon Jones had three hits and two RBI, and the Mets behind Seaver won 7-2.
UPDATE: Writing too fast, forgot Game Seven of the 1973 World Series, John Matlack vs. Ken Holtzman at the Oakland Coliseum, which the Mets lost.
1986, World Series Game Seven, at Shea: Even with a day’s rain giving Bruce Hurst the start against Ron Darling, a shell-shocked Red Sox team couldn’t hold a lead. Keith Hernandez had the big hit and Darryl Strawberry a famous insurance home run, but the hero was Sid Fernandez, pitching 2.1 electrifying innings of hitless relief, striking out 4 to hold the fort until the offense arrived. 8-5 Mets.
1988, NLCS Game Seven, at Dodger Stadium: Darling knocked out early again, this time fatally and with the help of a meltdown by the Mets’ infield defense, with errors by Wally Backman and Gregg Jefferies. Gooden, Leach and Aguilera pitched scoreless relief but the damage was done, as Orel Hershiser shut the Mets out. 6-0 Dodgers.
1999, One-Game Playoff, at Riverfront Stadium: The Reds again, after the Mets recovered dramatically from a September swoon to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. Al Leiter vs. Steve Parris; Edgardo Alfonzo homered and drove in three, but the key guy was Leiter, pitching as dominant a game as I have ever seen, a 2-hit shutout in which I believe the Reds got only one runner as far as second base. 5-0 Mets.
Obviously, while any number of players will be important tonight, the guy with potentially the biggest impact is Jeff Suppan. Oliver Perez is very unlikely to throw a dominating pitching performance here, especially on three days rest. But Suppan shut the Mets down the last time around, and despite his terrible road stats, he is a threat to a good start tonight.
Top One
Perez gets a fly out after falling behind Eckstein, then punches out Preston Wilson looking. A good start. But now Pujols is up. 0-1.
Ugh, Perez gets Pujols – Pujols! – to pop it up in the infield, but Delgado drops it and Pujols ends up on second.
Perez gets out of trouble. If my expectations for Game Four were low, this time it’s even lower – two scoreless innings is all I ask. Everyone is available.
Bottom One
Beltran barely legs out a 2-out double. Mets get started.
2-2 to Delgado. Mets need a base hit. 3-2.
Delgado walks, and Wright drops a single down the right field line. Slump over? 1-0 Mets.
Top Two, 1-0 Mets
Leadoff single for Edmonds. Let’s not see that graphic again about the Cards scoring to answer every Mets score.
Rolen flies out.
0-2 on Molina.
Edmonds goes to third on a bloop single to left; Chavez bobbles it but to no cost.
1-1 to Belliard. Strikeout would be good here; Perez isn’t a ground ball pitcher.
Belliard bunts the run home.
Suppan’s not likely to homer here, with Trachsel not pitching.
Suppan whiffs.
Bottom Two, 1-1
We’re hearing about Suppan in Game Seven in 2004 again.
1-2-3. Suppan hopefully is not getting into a groove.
Top Three, 1-1
Eckstein leadoff double. Typical of Eckstein, it was just blooped in front of Chavez.
Two strikes on Preston, the crowd smells blood.
Walking Pujols with 1 out. I guess you need to do this, but I hate to give Perez the chance to give up a 3-run homer.
A lineup with both Wilson and Encarnacion will really strike out a lot. 0-2 on Encarnacion.
Encarnacion shatters his bat and hits into the 5-4-3 double play. Perez has now exceeded expectations.
Bottom Three, 1-1
This is sad: Armed Forces Radio won’t cover the World Series for the first time in 60 yars due to lack of interest, as uniformed personnel prefer overhwelmingly to watch on TV (and in the military, unlike an office job, you can’t listen to the radio on duty).
It really hasn’t sunk in that the winner here starts the Series with just one travel day to Detroit.
Reyes and Lo Duca have been quiet so far tonight.
Another 1-2-3 inning. A pitchers’ duel is not what the Mets need tonight.
Top Four, 1-1
Perez really is throwing more strikes than usual, so far. Long as he does that, he will stay in the game, although of course the longball remains a risk.
Perez gets Edmonds. Gets ahead of Rolen 0-2 before throwing a ball.
3-2. This is still Perez, folks.
Perez gets Rolen on an infield popup. Strike one to Molina.
Perez gets Molina.
Bottom Four, 1-1
If Perez gets out of this game having allowed just 1 or 2 runs, that will be a huge confidence-builder. Of course, you generally don’t use these games for that purpose…
Leadoff walk for Delgado.
Weak grounder for Wright, at least he avoids the DP. Probably should not have swung at the first pitch.
Green whiffs again. I’ve perhaps been too hard on Green’s hitting, but he has struck out quite a bit in this series.
Suppan just winked twice – does he have a nervous twitch? That would explain the wink to Trachsel before his home run.
You always see something in baseball you never saw before – maybe I have seen this, but I don’t remember it – Valentin gets beaned by a pitch that bounces off the plate and hits him in the face.
Top Five, 1-1
Still 1-1? I’m nervous again. Perez can’t hold the fort that well. Suppan can.
Leadoff single for Belliard, just out of Reyes’ reach.
Game Seven in 1986 comes to mind, where the Mets struggled early to get good wood on the ball as they had before against Hurst.
Idiot Bartman-esque fans almost interfere with an Eckstein foul that Chavez misses. Eckstein then takes one for the team.
Perez is probably on his way out here, but Randolph likes him against Wilson. 0-2.
Make that 0-3. Wilson just can’t lay off Perez’ high hard stuff.
Randolph leaves in Perez to face Pujols. This is nuts.
Well, it worked. Perez gets Pujols to pop up to Reyes in short left. Amazin’
Bottom Five, 1-1
Wow, Perez is batting! Randolph is treating him like a real starting pitcher.
Reyes goes quickly again, Lo Duca is up. Last night’s heroes, quiet this time against the Soup Man.
The problem with letting Perez bat is that he is throwing on three days’ rest. He’s thrown just 76 pitches, though; he can probably go one more inning. But I’d have taken him out.
Collision between Edmonds and Wilson – not really that violent, but Edmonds looks a little shook up.
Top Six, 1-1
Edmonds is still in.
3-2 to Edmonds. Edmonds walks.
Perez issues his first walk, has thrown 87 pitches. This has to be it for him soon.
WOW WOW WOW! Chavez robs Rolen of a home run AND doubles Edmonds off first, Edmonds having rounded second.
Move over, Ron Swoboda. There’s a new best catch in Mets postseason history.
Bottom Six, 1-1
I actually feel bad for Rolen. Guy just can not catch a break.
Now, we need to capitalize on the momentum.
But Beltran grounds out. I think Wright needs another RBI this inning.
Delgado walks, here comes Wright.
I’m assuming that Perez really is done now.
Wright still up there hacking early.
Wright hits a very slow roller, Rolen throws the ball into the seats. This really is not his day. They’re walking Green to load the bases with one out for Valentin.
Cards are clearly banking on the DP here.
Hey, was that John Franco in the stands?
Perez, Chavez, – now Valentin? That would be your unlikely heroes.
1-0. Nowhere to put him.
Just get it out of the infield.
Another foul.
Rain is coming down something serious here.
Whiff. Looks like Endy Chavez has to do everything tonight.
Chavez flies out to center, a fly that would have been great news if Valentin had hit it.
Top Seven, 1-1
I want Heilman here, Heilman or Bradford.
Seventh game, seventh inning, still tied. Many hearts yet to be broken tonight. Until then, no, it does not get better than this.
Bradford’s in. Perez did everything you could possibly have asked of him. Now if we can be rid of Suppan, we go bullpen-to-bullpen. I’ll take those odds.
2-2 to Molina – Bradford is very good at getting even when he starts off behind in the count.
Good play by Valentin on yet another of those slow bouncers past the mound against Bradford.
Suppan stays in to hit. Grrrrr.
Bottom Seven, 1-1
Dare I breathe it: extra innings? I do not want to see Wagner except in a save situation, I know that.
Tucker pinch hitting. I guess he’s the best option to lead off.
OK, time for the top of the order to make something happen.
1-2-3 inning. Suppan still pitching like there is no tomorrow. He just threw his 100th pitch.
Top Eight, 1-1
Heilman is in. He’s the guy I want here, win or lose.
Gets Eckstein, 1-2 on Speizio, batting for Wilson. Pujols on deck.
Long at bat here. Heilman punches him out.
You pitch here to Pujols verrrrrry carefully.
Now, they make it intentional. Yes, I prefer Encarnacion with two outs and a man on first than Pujols with the bases empty, at least in a tie game.
0-2. I have a feeling Heilman’s going to spend a lot of time here trying to get Encarnacion to swing at a bad pitch.
Nope, just one in the dirt.
Bottom Eight, 1-1
Beltran, Delgado, Wright due up next. It’s go time.
Taguchi is in in left. La Russa must be expecting to see Wagner.
3-1 to Beltran. A leadoff walk would be good. Mets do not have a hit since the first. I hate Suppan.
Beltran walks. No Suppan for you! Tony goes to his bullpen, at last.
Randy Flores is in, probably just for Delgado.
Rain falling pretty visibly now. I wonder what it would take to stop the game. In 1925 they played Game Seven in a downpour and in the dark, with ugly results, lots of balls to the outfield that disappeared in the slop. Walter Johnson went the distance and set a record for total bases allowed in a World Series game.
Delgado strikes out on a check swing. Sure didn’t look like he swung, but there we are.
Wright takes the first pitch. Good, stay back, play within himself, like he usually does.
2-0, way outside. I think I am still breathing. If I stop typing you will know why.
2-1, check swing, at least that was a swing. Now 3-1. 3-2, Wright takes one inside.
Wright strikes out. It’s up to Green.
Green hits a shot to Pujols.
Top Nine, 1-1
Please, no Wagner. Tie game. Pitcher up in the next inning. Leave. In. Heilman.
Both teams have put on a tremendous struggle here, but this will be a tough one to lose.
Heilman still in.
Edmonds strikes out on another one in the dirt.
0-2 on Rolen. McCarver just called Endy “Eric Chavez”
Rolen takes a ball right down the middle.
Rolen is certainly battling here. Single to left. Molina is up, the designated bad hitter who kills us.
And he does. Home run, 3-1. Doom, defeat, ruination.
Molina smacked that ball into the LF bullpen. Now we need a miracle.
Adam Wainwright warming up. We will need him to be Calvin Schiraldi tonight.
No further damage. Three outs remain, and they belong to the bottom of the order.
Bottom Nine, 3-1 Cards.
The starters held the line, the last two games. How ironic.
Ball One to Valentin. Wait the kid out.
Three high pitches, two balls.
Bloop, very Game Six 1986-ish bloop, to right center. Chavez bats as the tying run. McCarver wants him to bunt for a hit????
Wainwright almost sails one to the backstop. It ain’t over till it’s over.
Cliff Floyd goes up looking for a GIDP longball.
1-1 to Kirk . . . Cliff Floyd.
With Floyd up there it feels like two outs. Molina tries to pick Chavez off first.
2-2. Floyd strikes out, it’s up to Reyes and maybe Lo Duca.
High ball, inside strike. 1-1 to Reyes. Foul, 1-2. Another foul. Reyes drills one to center, too close to Edmonds. All up to Lo Duca.
Gotta sit on the curve, Wainwright can’t get the fastball down into the zone.
Bases loaded for Beltran. Tying run in scoring position. An out ends it, a single ties, a double or HR wins it.
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Beltran strikes out looking. It’s over. It’s over. It’s over.
Yadier Bleeping Molina.

57 thoughts on “NLCS Game Seven”

  1. I was at game 6 otherwise I’d have been right back here last night. Going with what worked so well in game 4 and commenting my way though the game….

  2. Perez has already given the Mets all that I could expect, and he looks rather sharp. Be nice to grab a run or two here and give him some space…

  3. Oh thank God! Perez gets the popup on Pujols. Nice job by Perez. I’m guessing that is it for the night. If so, at least he saved Darren Oliver for extra innings.

  4. Just an outstanding job the Perez… Willies hunchs have paid off so far… but I think my heart stopped beating for at least one of those pitches…

  5. I would not have let Perez hit (then again, I also would not have let him face Pujols). Willie seems comfortable riding him a while longer.

  6. Willie’s been consistently reluctant to pinch hit in the postseason, mostly because the Mets bench is so thin.

  7. So my wife asks, “why didn’t he take him out”
    “Because I think he’s earned the right to face this batter.”
    Endy Chavez shouldn’t have to buy a beer in NYC for the rest of his life….
    I have other words, but none are PG….

  8. Hmm. Floyd is the best choice to pinch hit, but they’d have to run for him if he got on. Maybe Maine could run.

  9. The Mets need to get through this inning, and score in the bottom of the eighth. After that, things will get pretty unfavorable for them.

  10. With performances like that, I want Heilman to stay in the pen next year. He’s far more valuable in the 8th…
    Time for the MVPs to step it up….

  11. We need to go three and out in the eighth, keep Heilman in the top of the ninth, and then win it in last licks.
    NO WAGNER. Not now.
    Not ever.

  12. Unbelievable. Perez does everything you can expect to switch it to Mets advantage and then disaster strikes…
    Bah…Grew up a Mets fan thanks to the farm team in Jax MS where many of them developed. Switched to Nats now but this hurts. Love to see a Mets team filled with good guys win.

  13. Yadier Bleeping Molina
    Somehow that does not have the same ring to it as Bucky bleepin’ Dent or Aaron bleepin’ Boone.

  14. Difficult to say exactly what Beltran was looking for there, but apparently, it wasn’t a fat curve over the heart of the plate. It looked like a classic pitcher-pulls-the-string-with-a-breaking-ball-strikeout, which you see a few hundred times every season, but with the season on the line, you’d have though Beltran could at least get the bat off his shoulder. He just got frozen. I don’t know; maybe that would have happened to pretty much any hitter. Looked bad, though.

  15. And really, of all the flippin’ hitters to kill the Mets in this series. Molina goes through the season looking like…well, me, then channels Babe Ruth for the NLCS. Urgh.

  16. I think Crank cursed Beltran by writing “Gotta sit on the curve, Wainwright can’t get the fastball down into the zone” before Beltran came up. I’m pretty sure that by “sit” on the curve, Crank didn’t mean “sit there and watch the season go by” on the curve.

  17. First, thanks Mets for a great season. Thanks Omar and Willie for the will and the brains.
    Second, if guts and reasonable stuff counts, then Maine and Perez can be counted on when needed; so we have some young pitchers we KNOW have some ice flowing through.
    Third, it sometimes takes some head banging and losing to learn how to win. Reyes already proved it, Wright will learn to go to right when he slumps more and more, Beltran looks at a knee buckler, that can happen to anyone.
    So sign Suppan, and maybe Zito will be available for an unreasonable but do-able price if the Yankees go after than Japanese pitcher.
    Hey, they did us proud.

  18. First Bush wipes his @$$ with the Constitution by doing away with Habeus Corpus, then David Wright disappears, Beltran strikes out looking TWICE against Waynewright in games 5 and 7 in crucial situations on the curveball, and the Mets leave 11 runners on base in Game 7.
    Ugh…at least I’ll save money at the bar in beer and wings.

  19. Condolences Mets fans, it was a great series, but that is never solace when your team doesn’t win.
    Regrads From Boston,

  20. God, that was awful. Everybody in the world (including me) wanted Heilman to stay in there for at least another inning and, guess what, he blows it. ARGH!
    Amazingly, it wasn’t the starting pitching that really cost us this series. It was a lack of timely hitting and bad bullpen work! That is, the bullpen cost us two games and the other two games we lost, we scored zero runs and two runs. The two areas where we thought we had strengths cost us.
    I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the Series.

  21. Heil Heilman! Yadi yadi Yadier! Tremendous 9th inning! A darn good 6th inning also. Endy Chavez’ double play on Scott Rolen’s long drive was the best outfield play in post season since Game 1 of the 1954 World Series when Willie Mays robbed Vic Wertz.
    This will be the rubber match for the Tigers and Cardinals in the World Series. The Cards took the 1934 Series and the Tigs won in 1968. I foresee Detroit winning in 5 games.
    Outstanding play-by-play Crank! Disclaimer: I picked the Mets to win the NLCS but I was rooting for the Cardinals. I am an Angels/Dodgers fan in the regular season. I saw both the Cardinals (NLDS Game 2 @ San Diego) and Mets (NLDS Game 3 @ LA Dodgers) win this post season. Yes, I am surprised that an 83 win team defeated a 97 win team.

  22. Sorry guys. I was hoping for a Mets win. I think you guys are well positioned for next year with a nice team and some good looking young pitchers FWIW.
    Now at least I get to root for Detroit without reservation against the Cards. That was looming as a bit of a problem around here as my wife is from Detroit.
    Did anyone else think the Cards didn’t look like a team that was having fun or liked each other very much during this series? I thought they had it all over themselves like a cheap suit.
    I’ve gone from grudging respect for the Cards to disdain. Rolen makes me sick, I’m disgusted with multi-millionaire athletes having semi-public childish tantrums over who starts or whatever when a championship is on the line. Guys like that get what we called a “blanket party” when I was in the Marines – the rest of the unit would beat the crap out of them.
    It was obvious to me which was a better team, which group of guys was having more fun, like each other more, was more enthusiastic and talented. The Mets deserved to win this series.
    I’ll go ahead and predict a sweep for the Tigers. If not, the best the Cards will do is win one.

  23. It’s going to take a while for this to pass. I hate baseball at the moment. It was a great season.

  24. I will not gloat. I admit, I am a Cardinals fan as you all know. That being said, I don’t think the best team won.

  25. This series is case study for how the general public wrongly views the playoffs.
    And this is why we SHOULD NOT draw conclusions from series’ with such small sample sizes. The Mets were the better team this series, but their chances of winning it were slightly better than a coinflip. The Mets had better chemistry and looked like they were ‘having more fun’ (and as a Cards fan myself, they looked to be having much more fun than my team). But they, in the end, only played 7 games.
    Like, who in New York city is going to go out and call David Wright a choker? Should people in St. Louis do the same for Pujols, who had an ‘atrocious’ series?
    The media makes too many judgements about the abilities of players based on these very, very small samples, that it makes me sick when a FUTURE FIRST BALLOT HOFer like A-Rod gets lambasted by the media for going cold in a select 40 at bats.
    (fire joe morgan has a good post to this same effect)

  26. As I said on my blog, this could be a repeat of 1985, when we fell short to the Cards, but then made our big run the next year. With a rotation of Glavine, Zito (better than 50/50 we sign him), Maine, Perez (new and improved?), Pelfrey, and then by mid-season Piedro, the pitching should be better. The offense might take a step back if guys like Delgado and Lo Duca show their age, but I feel like this is just the beginning, not an ending.
    It’s still a tough loss to take, and this World Series will be wll nigh unwatchable. But pitcher and catchers report in just over 100 days. And 2007 just might be an even more special season.

  27. I feel so crestfallen this morning. I, too, am very optimistic for next season, and I know by late March I’ll be more excited than a little kid going to the circus, or . . . more appropriately, the first ballgame of the season.
    But right now, I’m just hurting. Like most Met fans, I really liked this team, and no matter how great thet are next year, it’ll be a different group, if only slightly. I still love my ’84 Mets, no matter what happened or what followed.
    And I’ll always love the ’06 Mets. What a ride.

  28. Best of luck to the Cards in the Series. But, Tommy Lasorda and his tux can go to Hell; I can’t bring myself to watch the Series after this.
    BTW, I’m a little surprised that Tim Wekle (sp?) has escaped blame entirely. He called a huge strike zone all night, which is fine, because he was pretty consistent with it, but with the count at 0-2 on Rolen, Heilman threw a curve at the knees and a touch inside. Welke was calling that a strike all night long. Should have been strike 3, and completely changes the dynamic of the inning. At worst, Molina hits a solo shot (assuming Heilman isn’t pitching differently), and Willie Randolph can play for one run, not two, in the bottom of the 9th; i.e. not sending Cliff Floyd up to try his poor Kirk Gibson impression.
    I accept that all this is sour grapes and the Mets squandered a TON of chances to win. Apart from that call, I thought Welke was pretty consistent in his strike zone, but still, it just adds to the frustration level.
    Mets in ’07? We’ll see. Personally, I think they blew their best chance. I hope I’m wrong and they bounce back from this catastrophe like the ’04 Red Sox.

  29. Crank–
    Yadier Bleeping Molina.
    I’ve only been bitching about “Francisco Fricking Cabrera” for 15 years now… :o)

  30. One last thought here. Willie did a great job as I said before. But it occurs to me that all a manager can do is put the right people in a situation where they can maximize what they do. Some is just luck, but in the end, the best player on the team was up with the bases loaded. The curves he saw were worthy of Gooden and Blyleven.
    Now we have to make sure that Fox never ever does baseball again. They were so awful it was insulting. Thank you Janet Jackson and Senator (Bridge to Nowhere) Stevens for seeing to the 7 second delay so we couldn’t listen on radio while wartching.

  31. Good points on Fox, Daryl.
    The worst announcing I’ve ever seen. Is it me, or wasn’t McCarver good when he did the Mets?

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