Mets Rumors & News
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The Mets were two games out of first and trying to recover from Monday’s bullpen debacle when they headed down to DC to take on the Nationals in a three-game divisional matchup. Jerry Manuel promised a bullpen shakeup and threatened to stab all his relievers if they didn’t start getting some damn outs. Washington’s anemic offense was the cure, as the ’pen threw 8.1 scoreless innings and the team took all three games. And what do you know? The Mets are back in first place. Here’s what happened in the series.

Tuesday, Mets 4-3: And the Win Goes to…Johan Santana 

If it takes Damion Easley getting hit in the head to win a game, so be it. With the bases loaded in the eighth, the Mets couldn’t get a hit (as usual―they were two for their last 32 with the sacks full at this point), but the second baseman took a glancing blow off the coconut to drive in the winning run. And yes, Johan Santana was the pitcher of record, picking up his 10th victory. He had a rocky start, then settled in, but gave up the tying run on a Ryan Langerhans pinch-hit homer in the seventh. In the eighth inning, when the bullpen door opened, who would it be? A starter? El Duque with new bionic feet (sans bunions)? Moises Alou? No, it was just Joe Smith. And, of course, the first pitch he threw resulted in a base hit. Uh-oh. But the side-armer got the next three Nationals out. And the mystery closer for this game turned out to be Pedro Feliciano. Three batters later, he notched his first save of the year (and third of his career). Carlos Delgado drove in two runs with a first-inning single. And Carlos Beltran had three hits, two doubles and an RBI. He’s back hitting cleanup against lefties, which is the right move, and is starting to heat up.

Wednesday, Mets 12-0: Dyn-O-Mite!

You don’t have to worry about a closer when you win 12-0. The Mets warmed up in the first two innings with a run apiece, and then just went crazy in the third. They scored eight runs (tying a season high), starting with a Daniel Murphy RBI single and ending with a Carlos Beltran two-run double. In between, there was a Fernando Tatis RBI single, John Maine walked with the bases juiced, Jose Reyes smashed a shot between Christian Guzman’s legs for two runs and Carlos Delgado drew a bases loaded walk. Is that fun to watch? Yes, it is. Murphy capped things off with a two-run dinger in the fifth. Is it too late for him to win the Rookie of the Year award? Maine returned to the rotation, and couldn’t have picked a better game. He got five innings of shutout work in against the league’s worst offense. The only blemish was that his hat was too big. Brian Stokes pitched the last four innings and didn’t give up a run. He’s got a strong arm, and looks like maybe he can help the beleaguered bullpen. And guess what? He actually earned a save.

Thursday, Mets 9-3: Brian Schneider Night

Brian Schneider came back to his old stomping grounds, and belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning. And those proved to be the winning runs. The Mets scored in multiple ways: a ground out, a sac fly, an error, two home runs and a pinch-hit single. Productive at-bats all around. Oliver Perez was dominant for the first six innings, then ran into trouble in the seventh and let in three runs. Joe Smith bailed him out, and then Duaner Sanchez bailed out Smith. Sanchez was hitting 90 on the radar gun and throwing strikes. Good signs, those. And Aaron Heilman got back on the mound in a non-pressurized situation and threw a perfect ninth.

Schneider was given a hero’s welcome in his return to DC. After leading the Nats to their historic fourth-place finish last season by hitting .235, the team held a special ceremony for him before the game. They gave him the torn T-shirt and old pair of sneakers he left in his locker last season. And in a touching moment, the catcher’s wife and children surprised him and presented him with the keys to his house (he had lost them earlier in the week). He broke down in tears as his wife told him they were in the couch cushions. He was overheard saying, “I never would have looked there.” The Nationals then announced they would retire his number, but unfortunately, couldn’t remember what it was.

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