While the second-newest Met has certainly been embraced, this is a get-it-done town, and funny stories about Shawn Green salsa dancing at Carlos Delgado's wedding or Delgado taping a yarmulke onto his scalp at Green's wedding were only going to do the trick for so long. A two-run double over the glove of the hapless Pat the Bat to turn a 5-5 tie into a 7-5 lead? That's the stuff. Add in some heroics from the Carloses, the Joses and the Endy and it was a bad night for the Phillies.
And how about that Oliver Perez? Sure, we saw things get better down in the Norfolk box scores. But how seriously to take a modest run of success, particularly after those ghastly numbers with the Pirates? Well, Oliver walked off with even uglier numbers and had to be taken off the hook, but he no longer looks like a throw-in, does he? He's got three pretty good pitches, even if he sometimes doesn't seem to know exactly where they're going. It's tough to give up five earned runs on just two hits, but hanging a slider to Ryan Howard on an 0-2 pitch sure makes it easier. One of the better games I've seen that ended with a guy sporting a 9.00 ERA, that's for sure.
Emily and I left the kid with the babysitter and started an evening of successfully calling audibles by walking over the Manhattan Bridge. We tuned in after stuffing ourselves at Dumpling House on Eldridge Street (extraordinarily satisfying dinner for two: $8), then split headphones to see how our boys were doing. The first words over the airwaves, from Howie Rose: “…and has now retired seven in a row.” Normally I would have assumed the missing subject was “Lieber,” but a certain warmth in Howie's voice made me think good things were afoot. As they were, for a while.
My new strategy for Met no-hitters is to talk about them openly (don't tell me it's a jinx — no other strategy has worked), and so that's what we did as we made our way west on Grand Street in search of a bar where we could catch a few innings. We learned of Beltran's heroism somewhere around Lafayette, then rolled into Toad Hall after spying two TV screens full of Mets and nary a Yankee in sight. I guess the visuals weren't lucky: By the end of our first round Victorino had broken up the no-hitter and the shutout and Howard had done a lot more than that. But the staff of Toad Hall were obviously Met fans, so we hung in there until the seventh-inning stretch, then walked south with the forces of good down by a measly run and optimism in the air. Show a little faith, there's magic numbers in the night!
It didn't take long. By Chambers Street it was a rout; as we hit the halfway point on the Brooklyn Bridge it was in the books. The magic number's 20. Zero hour coming into view.