Nothing like sending the defending National League Cy Young award-winner to the showers or to his video game or wherever Tim Lincecum goes once he leaves the mound, eh?
OK, so we didn't technically beat Lincecum Friday night, but how satisfying it is to not lay down and die against one of the premier pitchers in the game? For five innings he was as impressive as his hype, but sometimes the Mets are, too. While I struggled to stay awake and cool (my fever was soaring like Lincecum's pitch count), the Mets bided their time, waiting until just after Tim helped his own cause in the sixth to foil his ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, some Mets just keep hitting, some Mets just keep walking and all Mets just keep running. They're finally fast (dot com) even without Jose Reyes. Reyes wasn't in the lineup three years ago the night they scored eleven runs in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. He hasn't been playing as the Mets have stolen eleven bases in two games at Phone Company Park. Obviously Jose Reyes is a drag on the Mets' offense.
The other statistical oddity that has grabbed my attention between cold compresses and the like — your blogger's temperature circa 3 AM was 103.4, which was scary but still well south of Sean Green's ERA — is the nugget that the Mets hadn't won the first game of a road trip that started in San Francisco since 1988. We were 0-10 entering such situations heading into Thursday. Think about that. Think about how these West Coast trips work, how you look forward all day and then for three extra hours at night to first pitch. Ten times out of ten we were completely let down for all our anticipation and sleepiness. But we weren't let down Thursday night.
And we weren't let down last night. The Mets found all kinds of holes at gaps (the most egregious of them in the Giants' bullpen) at AT&T, making me think not hitting home runs at Citi Field is great practice for these visits. While the boxscore lines on the hitting side reveals all kinds of delights — 4 RBI for white-hot Mr. Wright, 2 sac flies for Mr. Santos, three runs for the kid Sheffield, a slumpbuster for Ryan Church, another pinch-hit for Le Grande Murph — I like what we keep getting out of Liván Hernandez. This is two starts in a row where he wobbled and didn't fall down. The Liván Hernandez diet is usually innings, innings and more innings. He must be watching his point total a little closely since he only went five, but the last three were almost perfect. The man knows how to pitch.
And Sheffield knows how to hit. I'm getting the same sensation watching him as I got from Pedro Martinez and T#m Gl@v!ne a few years ago. Those guys were master craftsmen, both past their physical peak, neither capable of dominating hitters the way they did when they were putting up the career numbers that earned them their lucrative Met contracts, but it was thrilling on an intellectual level to watch them think and throw their way out of jams. That, to a certain degree, is Sheffield right now. You still see the quickness and the determination. You know he knows what to do. When he's able to do it, it, like his batting average of late, is all the better.
Lincecum's got nothing to be ashamed of, either, even if he is in wrongful possession of Johan Santana's third Cy Young award. I tip my cap to any pitcher who can produce a tack-on run batting for himself when others in his position would be called back for a pinch-hitter. But just as my fever eventually broke — I'm normal now, if I can ever be said to be that — his grip on the Mets' bats and psyches loosened and it was all good from there.
There was a lot of talk before the Mets headed west that they were staring at an abyss: the Giants, the Dodgers, the Red Sox for ten games in their parks. We shouldn't expect too much, they said.
And we don't listen to that.
Listen to this: Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.