Did I hold my breath when Beltran stepped to the plate? Hell yes. Did I hold it when he raced toward home and it looked like there might be a play at the plate? Double hell yes.
I was proud to see that Met fans suspended their half-season of hazing to give Beltran a standing O. (Not to turn this into a discourse on booing, but Carlos has tried his hardest, played hurt earlier in the year– admirable even if perhaps not wise — and his stats haven't been Rich Rodriguez-level hideous, so enough was enough long ago.) But I was prouder to see that he turned in an absolutely terrific game — one that purists and small-ball lovers ought to clutch to their hearts. Over at MetsGeek, Matt Gelb has a great article using CBS Sportsline Game Charts to show how disciplined Beltran was on a night when just showing up was worthy of applause. Jose Reyes and Victor Diaz would do well to take a look at that final diagram.
Oddly, I also felt a bit sorry for Mike Gonzalez in the eighth — knowing he was pitching to a man with a broken cheekbone in the first game back in his home park meant he had to cede the inner half of the plate or risk facing 25 Mets and a crowd turned into a mob. This pitching thing, it's hard enough as it is.
On the subject of redemption, that was a heck of a game for Aaron Heilman, and not just because I never want to see Braden Looper face the Pirates again. One of baseball's many joys and terrors is the way situations repeat, and like every other Met fan I flashed back to L.A. and Heilman coming into to relieve Zambrano last week. That turned into a disaster; this turned into a triumph. A little late for poor Victor, but critically important for Heilman's confidence, Willie's confidence in him, and (getting ahead of ourselves just a bit) Heilman's career arc going forward. Heilman may never develop a gunfighter stare and would probably look silly if he tried — he always looks like a junior-high-school kid about to fail a German final — but his tricky mix of pitches and their late movement can glower for themselves.
Oh, and we won the game. That was nice too.
* From the sublime to the trivial: Mike Jacobs, incidentally, won the Cyclones' inaugural game in Brooklyn on June 25, 2001, before a packed house of dignitaries and a borough full of ghosts. Good game, too: With two out in the ninth, Edgar Rodriguez smacked a two-run homer to tie it; in the 10th, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers walked Robert McIntyre intentionally to get to Jacobs, who'd struck out four times. Sac fly, ball game.
Hopefully Jacobs doesn't get Hietpas'd and gets an at-bat. And maybe gets some other '01 Cyclones for company — Angel Pagan, Blake McGinley and Jason Scobie were all fairly significant members of that team, and some or all might get a look in September. Danny Garcia, an '01 Cyclone for a moment, has already come and gone, and a couple of other first-year Cyclones have at least had big-league cups of coffee elsewhere. Not a bad haul for a New York-Penn League roster.