Yes, perfect. Let's lull the Braves into a sense of vitality. Let Chuck James retire almost everybody he faces. Aim balls to fall just barely into the gloves of Matt Diaz, Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur. Allow bunts to become hits and mishandle anything around first base. Kudos all around, but save your heartiest “attaboy!” for Steve Trachsel.
What's that? You don't think Trax's game plan included walking seven Atlanta Braves? I beg to differ. Trachsel's been a Met longer than anybody else. He's been suffering at the hands of the Atlanta Braves since 2001. Most of the Mets have never suffered against this fourth-place fringe contender. Our first-place juggernauters generally chew up the Braves and use their bones as toothpicks. But for one nostalgic evening, Steve arranged for an informal Turn Back The Clock Night.
It wasn't sentiment that spurred Steve. He desired payback. He wanted the Braves to inch into September with a prayer of winning the Wild Card. He wanted to string them along. Hey, the Braves were thinking, as long as we're within shouting distance of the pack, we can still make the playoffs.
Steve's no dullard. He checked the out-of-town scoreboard. The Phillies won. The Marlins won. It was going to be tough to keep Atlanta's faint hope alive. He was going to have do it himself.
So he walked the ballpark. Inspirational figure that he is, he inspired his teammates to provide shoddy defense behind him and inept offense in support of him. Thanks to Steve's foresight, the Braves remain remotely plausible for the postseason, in seventh place for the Wild Card, five games behind the Padres while trailing the Phils, Fish, Giants, Reds and Astros.
They have no chance. But thanks to Steve Trachsel, they are deluding themselves that they do. When they discover they don't, it will be all the more disappointing to them and their dozens of loyal followers. It's up to the Mets to decide whether they want to create more twisted fantasy for Braves Nation tonight or if they want to start letting them down hard. Perhaps they'll turn to their sage ace for advice.
Steve Trachsel usually pitches just well enough to win. Monday night he did all he had to do lose. It's not for nothing that the man who leads the best team in baseball in victories also has one of his league's worst earned run averages.