April 21, 2007

Who Are You, And What Have You Done With Mariano Rivera?

Oof. It was not a good night for New York baseball teams.

Tim Hudson pitched a fantastic game for the Braves; the Mets lineup, hardly slumping with 27 runs in its last three games, couldn't do a thing with him. With Hudson gone in the ninth, they revived a bit and made it 7-3 on Shawn Green's home run (somewhere in New Orleans, Lastings Milledge is cursing under his breath), but it was never that close. Mike Pelfrey got knocked around and the bullpen, uncharacteristically, let it get out of hand: you hate to see a run walked in. You REALLY hate to see two runs walked it. And after that, the last thing you need is a run scoring on a wild pitch. A Mets fan sitting near me at the bar, in agonies watching Ambiorix Burgos's coy avoidance of the strike zone, kept yelling "Just groove one down the middle! For fuck's sake! A grand slam is much better than this! Please! Just let him get the gland slam!!!" Yeah, that seventh inning didn't go so well.

Adding insult to injury, bases loaded walks against the Braves are an automatic Kenny Rogers '99 flashback. It's starting to look like Philly was just a decoy -- the Braves are still the issue, and if Hudson continues pitching like that, they're going to be much stronger than they were last season. I'm going to the game at Shea tomorrow, so let's hope the Mets come out swinging, and the Dr. Jekyll version of Oliver Perez shows up.

I see no reason the Mets can't take the next two games from the Braves, though; the Yankees are in a tougher situation.With rookies going over the weekend and a potentially worn-out bullpen, tonight was their best bet for a win against the Sox.

Andy Pettitte held up his end of the deal, only allowing two runs on a Jason Varitek homer. (You know, I think Varitek is a terrific catcher and I respect him for it, but I'll never understand why he didn't take more crap for leaving his face mask on when he went after A-Rod a few years ago.) Schilling wasn't bad tonight either, and it would have been a pitcher's duel if not for the fact that Alex Rodriguez is fucking scalding hot right now. Yep: he hit two more homers, providing 5 of the Yanks' 6 runs, and generally continuing to be incomprehensibly awesome at the plate. Normally, that's all the Yanks would need, but Vizcaino was a bit shaky, Mariano Rivera came into the 8th inning with runners on, and... well... he blew the lead. His first time out after Sunday's Marco Scutaro debacle. There are no words for how much I hate watching Mariano Rivera lose -- or rather, there are words, but I already used them Sunday. Small, cold, helpless sort of feeling.

Two other things made this loss especially galling: the Sox's green uniforms -- I honestly have no rational explanation for why this bothered me, it just did -- and the fact that nearly half the bar was composed of Red Sox fans. In Brooklyn! Why? I mean, I don't begrudge anyone the right to watch a baseball game wherever they please; but there should not have been this many. I may need to find a new local sports bar.

Anyway, a lot of people are blaming Torre on this one, and I do question some of his moves -- pinch running for Giambi, not bunting with Nieves, etc. -- but the bottom line, for me, is that if you hand Mariano Rivera a three-run lead, that's a win 95% of the time. You'd take that every day. So I suppose it's possible that better managing might have won the game despite Rivera's ineffectiveness, but I don't think you can really say that Torre's mistakes lost it.

Also, I've decided that I will not freak out after only two bad outings from Rivera. If he gets lit up his next time out, I'll become somewhat concerned. If it happens a fourth time, please call and talk me off the edge of my fire escape.

1 comment:

LAS said...

Watching the Yanks in a NY sports bars is always a crap shoot in terms of how many Yankee haters are gonna be in the place on any given night. I was in a Brooklyn bar last night, in which a supposed pro-Sox bartender changed the channel from the Yankee game during the bottom of the 8th (!!) to the foregone conclusion Mets game. I was so shocked it took me a couple of minutes to protest.