This should have been a routine 2-1 win. A chance to praise Livan Hernandez for pitching scoreless ball into the seventh, but also to poke fun at the Braves for batting Garrett Anderson cleanup. Anderson, who is almost 37 and was just coming off the DL, is now hitting .172 in 29 at bats with no homers and no RBI. What team would put an aging AL castoff hitting below the Mendoza line in the cleanup spot? Oh, that's right, the Mets, with Gary Sheffield last week.
The Braves also started Kenshin Kawakami, who continued to struggle in his first MLB season. After five starts, Kawakami now has an ERA of 6.41. Yet the Braves gave Kawakami three years and $23M. Imagine being stuck with an unreliable starter at the beginning of a pricey three-year deal. (Though in this case, I'd prefer Oliver Perez, who at least has shown he can win in MLB. Kawakami could turn out to be the next Kei Igawa.)
Yes, it should have been a routine 2-1 win, before Delgado turned the ninth inning into his own personal show. First, he drove in two insurance runs in the top of the inning. He could have stopped there, reassuring everyone that the Mets were actually capable of tacking on runs.
But no, Delgado had to go and demonstrate the importance of insurance runs - by dropping a routine pop that should have ended the game. Instead, the Braves would go on to cut the score to 4-3 and have the tying run on third and winning run on first - with Chipper Jones coming up.
The Mets seem to make a blooper play every game these days. In fact, they made one the previous inning, when Luis Castillo let a ball go through his legs. But Delgado's might have been the worst of all. Most of the outfield miscues might have had some mitigating factor - wind, sun, new Citi Field, Daniel Murphy is not an outfielder, Gary Sheffield is really a DH, etc.
But there was no sun, no wind, just a routine pop to a veteran third baseman. And while one of Murphy's muffs ultimately helped cost Johan Santana a game, it took place in the second inning, when it was far from clear that the game was on the line. Not the case tonight.
Fortunately for the Mets, while some of their starters, notably Ollie, but he hasn't been the only one, have gotten rattled at miscues in the field, Francisco Rodriguez was able to keep his cool and put the game away.
So the story has a happy ending. But it's hard to get too excited, because while it was a nice win, it would have been the worst loss of the year, and it makes you wonder about a team when two veterans make embarrassing errors in the late innings.