Those commercials in which Tom Glavine and Duaner Sanchez awkwardly and unconvincingly invite us to Discover Queens must be rubbing off on the Mets. No longer mercenaries, they and their teammates are playing like genuine homeboys.
Take Wednesday night when the Mets (no doubt sufficiently loosened by the unifying presence of Jose Lima) plated five runs in their half of the first and then, in the best tradition of the playgrounds of New York, told the Pirates to go ahead and take your ups. Sure enough, the Pirates essentially batted for 24 straight outs and never produced a thing.
This was high-priced stickball — the overmatched team extended the courtesy/insult of being told to stay at bat and try to hit it if you can. Don't bother pitching to us. We've scored all we're gonna need.
Yes, five in the first held up quite nicely. The story would be perfect if the Mets hadn't actually gone through the motions of taking their own ups. We were no-hit from the second through the eighth, mostly by Kip Wells, the same rehabbing chap who was so utterly clueless in the first. Perhaps The Kipper was suddenly a helluva hurler. Perhaps the Mets were conserving their excess thunder for Trachsel (they usually do). Perhaps Travelocity was featuring great fares for Sunday evening, cracking our lineup's concentration a few days before the break. Whatever it was, I was a little disturbed at how effectively we shut down our own attack.
Not to be lost amid discerning this silver cloud's dark lining was the rendering irrelevant of Buc ups by Orlando Hernandez. If he's gonna be as effective as he was over seven shutout innings, call him El Duque if you must. Call him “Chief” like the countermen in any good deli would and include a sour pickle with his corned beef sandwich. He already knows about pitching in New York and against the Pirates, he was the toast of the town.
Duque, Chad and Duaner — we can be familiar with them since they're now so woven into the fabric of the neighborhood — combined to give the Mets their first second-consecutive win over the same opponent since we swept Philly. Neat trick that a team that's been so darn mediocre for almost three weeks still maintains a luxurious double-digit lead (11-1/2 sewers) over everybody in its own division. It's nice to live in the penthouse when everybody else is confined to a basement flat.
Take Pittsburgh. The Pirates were awesome Monday night. They were feisty Tuesday afternoon. They were what their record says they are Wednesday. Their record indicates a success rate of 33.7%. The record of the entire National League is abysmal. We're the only team that is as many as eight games over .500 — twice that many, actually. I note this to counteract any suggestion that there's nothing impressive about beating the team with the worst winning percentage in baseball. There are a lot of Pittsburghs who will be coming onto our playground between now and the end of the season. We have to beat them all. Some nights it might even take more than one inning.