Monday, July 4, 2011

Always Great to Get the Best of the Great Mariano Rivera

Two years ago, Mariano Rivera closed out the Subway Series by walking with the bases loaded and getting his 500th save. I enjoyed Sunday's game a lot more. It was only the fourth time Mariano has failed to come through against the Mets.

In 2006, Mariano took the loss when David Wright got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth in a game in which the Mets had trailed Randy Johnson, 4-0.

In 2001, the Mets beat Mariano with three runs in the top of the tenth to break a scoreless tie. Mike Piazza, Timo Perez and Todd Zeile had consecutive run-scoring singles. As with Sunday's game, the Mets rallied with two out and nobody on.

In 1999, Mariano was charged with both a loss and a blown save when Matt Franco, pinch-hitting for Melvin Mora, singled home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth.

And now, in 2011, with two out and none on, the Mets rallied behind the unlikely combination of Jason Bay (walk), Lucas Duda (single) and pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino, who singled home the tying run.

Before the rally, it had been a pretty depressing day. The 52-run, four-game outburst earlier in the week looked more and more like a complete fluke, as the Mets were punchless for the fourth game in a row, and three of those were without anyone close to Justin Verlander on the mound.

Jose Reyes had his MRI in the morning, but the Mets kept putting off announcing the results. One would think if it were good news, they'd want people to know. What were they hiding?

R. A. Dickey did not allow a hit in the first four innings, with Squawker Lisa frequently mentioning he had a no-hitter in an attempt to jinx him. In the fifth, Dickey lost his no-hitter, his shutout, the lead, and soon was out of the game because of tightness in his buttocks (Squawker Lisa, insert Met joke here).

I sometimes forget that Dickey is going to be 37 in October. This is his second injury scare in a few weeks.

So as the storm clouds gathered over Citi Field, they seemed to be gathering over the Mets as well. I would not have predicted at the time that the Mets would rally against Mariano, win the game in extra innings, and both Jose and R.A. would appear to have minor injuries.

Five days after hitting the Mets' first grand slam in almost two years, Jason Bay was the hero. Great to see a Met getting a pie in the face for a change.

The Mets also got good news on the All-Star front, with Jose being named a starter and Carlos Beltran also making the team. Reyes obviously deserved to start, and while Beltran did not merit a starting slot, he is a worthy runner-up.

Squawker Lisa, here in the National League, we like to elect All-Stars who are having All-Star seasons. Albert Pujols is a perennial All-Star, the dominant player of the last decade, but even before he got hurt he wasn't having a year up to his usual standards. So he'll be staying home.

Granted, the American League did deny perennial All-Star Ichiro a spot on the team. But Josh Hamilton somehow ended up in the starting lineup. (At least the game is being played at night, since Hamilton claims to have trouble seeing during the day because his eyes are blue.)

But then there's the situation at shortstop. Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera is having an All-Star year. But Derek Jeter has five rings, while Asdrubal is one of five Cabreras in the majors - and he's only the second-best. (Lisa, I'm referring to Detroit's Miguel, not Kansas City's Melky.)

Otherwise Asdrubal leads Derek by substantial margins in batting average (.294-.260), homers (14-2), RBI (49-20), runs (53-39) and steals (12-7). Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci puts Asdrubal eighth on his top ten list for first-half AL MVP.

Jeter returns to action Monday night against Asdrubal's Indians, so we'll get to see the elected AL All-Star shortstop square off against the deserving AL All-Star shortstop.

The only good thing about Jeter making the All-Star team is that he's likely to get a taste of batting at the bottom of the order. The middle of the lineup (3-7) figures to be something like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. That leaves Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Alex Avila and Derek Jeter.

With his 14 steals, Granderson should lead off. And Cano should bat second. That leaves Avila and Jeter for the bottom of the order.

Joe Girardi's probably glad he's not managing the All-Stars this year. Imagine having to tell Cano he's batting eighth so Jeter can keep his rightful spot at the top of the lineup.


After Sunday's game, Mariano has a higher career ERA against the Mets (3.28) than every other team except the Angels (3.36).


Uncle Mike said...

"Here in the National League"... as if a fan of a team that hasn't won that League's Pennant in 11 years has any authority to speak of said League. And the last time you did win said Pennant... Did you guys really tear down Shea Stadium just so Yankee Fans could no longer say we won the World Series on your home field?

Anonymous said...

Mikey, you're an idiot. Let's focus on the most important statistic contained here:

"After Sunday's game, Mariano has a higher career ERA against the Mets (3.28) than every other team except the Angels (3.36)."

So Mr. Rivera chokes against the Mets and Angels? Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.......


Uncle Mike said...

Refresh my memory: The last time the Mets were in the World Series, what happened? Mike Piazza batted in the bottom of the 9th with the trying run out base, and Mariano Rivera got him out.

I rest my case. You have no case. Except maybe a mental case.

Anonymous said...

I think Piazza's concentration was just a little off, probably because he had a broken bat thrown at him by steroid-freak Clemens. Hey, when you're thinking about a razor sharp shard of broken bat flying at you, I think your concentration is going to be off just a little bit.

And not only that, anybody can get lucky now and then, "twinkle-toes" Rivera has consistently had the league's highest payroll to help him get lucky much more often than anyone else.

But how conveniently we forget that. Just like we conveniently forget about David Wright's game-winning hit, Luis Gonzalez's World Series-winning hit, and the list goes on and on and on......

Like Jon said, "twinkle-toes" Rivera's has had trouble against the Mets - case closed.

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