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Take Your Lumps

Billy Wagner tried to kill us all. But he came up big when he needed to.

And while you know the fans were breaking out the Tums and Pepto-Bismol, Wagner got it done.

There was a lot to dislike in this game. Trachsel failed to take advantage of an offensive outburst early, both by allowing a few longballs and by failing to get deep in this game.

The bullpen showed less of the success it had last night, while using pretty much the same group of guys. Bradford couldn't come up with the big out against Cabrera, although he looked a bit better than Shingo Takatsu did last year in the same situation. On an aside, this is like my fifth time invoking Zero-Man's name in the past few blog entries. I'm trying to quit.

The worst part was that Roberto Hernandez didn't look so good, as I had reluctantly forecasted. On another note, X-Man went 0-3 tonight, starting his second game in a row at first base. It's pretty sad, you know, because his former team cremated the Braves over the weekend, by scoring ridiculous outbursts of runs, while he, X-Man, and his band of Buccaneers have lost back to back close games to woeful Braves pitching. Still don't like the trade, because ERA is always going to be a crappy way to evaluate a reliever, yet every silly man around has used it to boost Bert.

But it is worth noting that Aaron Heilman was outstanding for the second straight night. I bet someone in that clubhouse told him to get his ass in gear and step up to the plate. Or maybe he gained some confidence when he had not been traded. It could easily upset a player, even one feeling trapped in the bullpen, if the team that drafted him was considering trading him away. Kudos, Aaron. Hopefully, Pedro will be money in the bank tomorrow and the Mets will tee off against Dontrelle Willis like they usually do. (Somewhere in that last sentence, I lied. Find it.)

Tonight's game at first seemed to be just one of those nights, where everything seems to go right for you. The Marlins looked like my former Little League team (the Wendy's White Sox, for those of you keeping score at home), where I was so bad at the dish that my highlight of the year was an outfield assist at second base. I was a one-tool player. For the record, my position was LCF. We played with four outfielders. The Marlins were throwing the ball around, seemingly indifferent about whether or not it got to its intended destination. The Miguel Cabrera play made it abundantly clear why most people would still take David Wright, who looked awful for what seems like the millionth over him if building a franchise. Cabrera is immature and seemingly lacks focus on the field. When you have to get talked down by a pitcher, especially one who has underperformed this year, it's not exactly a high point in one's career.

The offense was clicking on all cylinders early, as the Mets were driving Ricky Nolasco batty, as they had in his two prior appearances against them, as he saw his 22.24 ERA against the Mets actually fall with his 3 ER in 2 IP. But it seemed that the offense stopped working after the first three innings, as Renyel Pinto, a personal favorite of mine since I watched him shred opponents as a Cub in Spring Training 2004, shut the Mets down for five relief innings. I hope Darren Oliver hasn't been going behind enemy lines to coach him.

The Marlins are a bunch of players more talented and more successful than David Eckstein, but color commentators and analysts alike have started throwing Eckstein-esque superlatives on them, describing them as feisty, scrappy, and hustling. Let it be said in this space that David Eckstein sucks (read after the recap for more on that one).

For the Marlins, that's a pretty accurate description. They kept picking away at Steve Trachsel's lead, getting the best of the Mets' staff.

And they seemed to have some help from the esteemed umpiring crew. First they blew a bunch of those pitches Bradford made, giving them to Marlins pitchers Borowski and Tankersley later in the game. Eats at me.

Then they blew the Jose Valentin pickoff call at first base. Come on. The throw didn't even beat him. It's foolish for an umpire to give credit to the first baseman for an outstanding tag that didn't occur when a safe Valentin is far more likely. The Mets had a good shot at tacking on an insurance run there, but the umpires thought it best to bilk them and keep it interesting when Wagner got on the hill.

And it was interesting, but the fact that the Mets won makes that point moot. We were sweating in the ninth inning, but I'll lie and say it was because of the heat wave. Feel free to tell that one to Wagner when you see him next.

This kind of game is gonna happen to every team, but the fact that the Mets won it means a whole hell of a lot about this team. Sure, the umps screwed us over. But it was the resilience of this team, not the scrappy/feisty/Ecksteiny Marlins, that forced the outcome. Take your lumps in wins if you can.


In fact, while I was watching the ESPN Cardinals-Phillies game after the Mets game, Eckstein (shown at right... sitting on Michael Barrett) came up to the plate.

Dave O'Brien: Eckstein's having a great year with the bat, as you can see with his .296 batting average. But he's also a rock in the field.

At the risk of sounding like a Fire Joe Morgan dopplegänger, have you guys at ESPN just opted to ignore statistics other than the ever so meaningless batting average? He has one homer this year. One! He has only thirteen doubles. And one triple. So therefore he's slugging a robust .337, good for last place among NL shortstops with at least 375 plate appearances. That's awful. His VORP is a thoroughly unimpressive 6.9. So he's been worth almost one win over a replacement player at the plate.

And Mr. Rock In The Field has been worth 13 runs above a replacement player in the field! Nice! He therefore has a FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average) of zero. Nice work. What a player. He gets John Kruk's vote for MVP.

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