The series is even, and no matter what happens, the Mets are coming back to New York alive.
You saw it. We all saw it. Really, this rebound began last night, when Darren Oliver saved the bullpen from having to put in overtime. It continued tonight, with the other Oliver (young Mr. Perez) pitching bravely and effectively. Never mind his numbers, which got a little blemished late as he was trading potential runs for outs — he did exactly what we needed him to do, exactly what Steve Trachsel was utterly incapable of doing, and now things are different.
Did the worm turn tonight? Only the baseball gods can say. But diving into baseball phrenology, it should be noted that since the seventh inning of Game 2 the Cardinals have most certainly had The Look — big hits from the guys you tend to look past (Encarnacion, Spiezio and Molina), homers from unlikely sources (Taguchi and Eckstein), pitchers hitting homers, young relievers coming up big, two-run triples everywhere, and lots of balls eluding Met gloves by inches (Green in Game 2, Green and Chavez in Game 3, Beltran and Wright early tonight).
But tonight was different: Those young relievers weren’t so good and the Cards’ fielding fell apart. And, of course, the Met bats erupted. This was no “save some of that for tomorrow night” — this was wanting hitting to get contagious, for everyone in the lineup to leave with a knock, for all concerned to freaking relax already. Mission accomplished — the nicest sight for me wasn’t Jose Valentin’s casket-closing double, but the way he raised his fist and grinned afterwards. When the Mets took the field, the wolf was at the door. Three and a half hours later, he’d fled into the woods yelping that the monsters were out of the cage.
Now, time to keep the furry little blighter there.
My fondest hope for tomorrow night? It has nothing to do with baseball. It’s that we spend tomorrow watching “Prison Break” or “Justice” or whatever it is Fox has as a backup plan. (I’d be catching up with “The Wire” on TiVo, but you get the idea.) The weather report for Monday night is apocalyptic, and that’s just fine with me. If it rains, Glavine pitches Tuesday night on normal rest. Same for Jeff Weaver, but short rest is more dangerous for a touch-and-feel guy like Glavine than for a winger-flinger like Weaver.
After that? Well — and this is a case where you do need to look ahead — if Glavine prevails in Game 5 (on normal rest or not), the Cardinals need Carpenter to beat Maine and Suppan to beat [Oliver or Oliver or Trachsel] at Shea. If Game 5 goes to St. Louis, we need our rotation’s soft underbelly to put together two good games against the Cardinals’ ace and a guy who shut us down Saturday. Or for the hopefully still-uncaged monsters to run wild, eating wolves and birds and anything else that gets within reach, of course. But solid pitching from unexpected sources would sure help, and that could well be too much to ask down 3-2, Shea or no Shea.
Funny thing, hoping to spend Monday night doing whatever the hell I do when there isn’t baseball.