Jerry Manuel had his choice of either Johan Santana or Pedro Martinez to open tonight’s series against Atlanta. It was a no-brainer.
He’s the guy if you want to open a series,” Manuel said. “If you had a choice, you would choose, at this point in their careers, Johan.”
In a six-game winless stretch from June 6-July 4, the Mets gave Santana 11 runs. And, with the bullpen coughing up the lead in six of his games, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that with a little support he could be going after his 20th win tonight. His 2.70 ERA, not 13-7 record is indicative of how well he’s pitched.
Santana prevented the Mets from being swept by Philadelphia last Sunday, easily his most important victory of the season. That game is why they got him.
Seventeen games remain on the Mets’ schedule. Yes, we’re at the same point when they started to make history last year. Up seven games with 17 remaining, the Mets went into a free fall and kicked away the National League East, losing on the season’s final day when Tom Glavine couldn’t get out of the first inning.
“I don’t think anybody is thinking about last year,’’ David Wright said. “When you go through what we went through last year you learn from it.’’
The Mets’ pitching makes them vulnerable, but they don’t seem to fall into those funks where they lose focus and go through the motions as they did last September.
“We think we are as good as anybody,” Carlos Delgado said. “We think we are the team to beat. We think what happened last year is not going to happen again, and we’re very confident that we can get this done. It’s definitely a different atmosphere here, a different feeling than it was last year.”
The Braves are in town tonight to start a three-game series. I might be in the minority on this but I still believe the Braves to be relevant. Afterall, they do have a winning record against the Mets this season. Of course, that was when the season was young, but it would be a mistake to discount them or take them lightly.
Hell, the Mets were fortunate to hang on against the Nationals, and they are far worse than Atlanta.
David Wright said the other day that the Mets have been finding ways to win, “which is the mark of a championship team.” True enough. But, another mark is putting away teams with losing records. These are teams they must get to early and take away their will to win. If you let a team like that hang around and let it think it could win, that’s dangerous.
How many times must it be said? The Washington Nationals trail the Mets by 25 1/2 games in the NL East. There’s a reason for that. They aren’t good. The Mets had their hands full last night because Oliver Perez couldn’t put them away.
The Mets can’t count on two homers from Carlos Delgado and ten runs every night. This division will be won by pitching and Mike Pelfrey is the story tonight. Then again, that’s not a bulletin.