Oliver Perez was reborn Saturday as a control freak. May he remain obsessive, compulsive or whatever it takes to do repeatedly what he did today.
Six and two-third innings. Two runs. Nine strikeouts. No walks.
Barely any balls at all…in the literal sense, that is.
Whatever became of the human WALK sign? That fellow (41 of 73 pitches drifting every which way but over the plate on April 11) went into witness protection. This one (72 of 98 pitches delivered within the defined parameters of the strike zone) regulated traffic properly. The Braves nicked him here and there for singles and doubles, but the damage was minimal. His sluggers gave him a wide berth, but it was the meticulously trained Ollie-cum-Ali who threw the knockout punch at the Braves.
It wasn’t a Rumble in the Jungle. It was barely a Melee at Shea. But who the hell wants to lose two consecutive decisions to Atlanta in New York? Not Ollie. Not his trainer Rick who had his protégé throw all those “bullpens” (a new use for the noun, I think) since his last start a hundred years ago until he got whatever was wrong right. Not me and my 55,142 pals, minus the hundreds who always show up in Braves gear under the impression they still root for “America’s Team”.
No, it was too warm a day to ruin it with bad pitching. Perez and the pen were as pristine as they had to be. Beltran and Reyes flirted with the cycle. Ramon exploded. Damion Easley introduced his useful self. Every Brave was harassed, but Chris Woodward got an appreciative hand. I got to Shea early enough to stroll field level and purchase a salmon roll at the legendary, usually off-limits Daruma of Great Neck stand. Me and Joe broke our mutual six-game losing streak and then worked the ramps and turnstiles to efficient-commuting perfection.
Until 1:10 Sunday afternoon, who could ask for anything more?