When we reminisce on our death beds years from now about Fernando Martinez's big league debut, few of us will likely remember that he went 0-for-3 with an RBI-groundout and a hit-by-pitch. He didn't homer off Nolan Ryan in his first at-bat like Will Clark. He didn't launch a pinch-hit three-run bomb off Esteban Loaiza like Mike Jacobs. Yet, unlike most of his Met teammate, Fernando Martinez wasn't injured tonight, and perhaps that's what we'll remember most. He played and he didn't get hurt, which is certainly a victory of sorts considering the way this season has gone so far. He didn't look especially uncomfortable at the plate and he handled a couple of flyballs without incident. The debut wasn't as auspicious as we might have hoped, nor was it as bad as it could have been. It was just another big league debut, after all, but F! is here, and it was still good.
Evidently there were some other baseball players involved in this game. I don't remember them myself, but the boxscore says otherwise so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
The non-F! story tonight was Livan Hernandez, who chucked 127 pitches en route to a complete game nine-hitter against the Nationals who, lest we underestimate them, came into the game having scored the third-most runs in the National League. Their pitching staff may be woefully inept but their lineup is anything but. Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson are all having terrific seasons; Cristian Guzman has hit well so far (just two walks, though). Heck, Anderson Hernandez has a .369 on-base percentage, and don't you think he'd look nice playing shortstop right now instead of Ramon Martinez? I won't bemoan that trade because I thought Hernandez was a fair price to pay for Luis Ayala last year and I suspect Hernandez will revert to his sub-.650 OPS self sometime soon. Nevertheless, Ramon Martinez: woof!
[Livan] Hernandez did a fine job keeping the ball in the strike zone (one walk) and on the ground (fourteen groundball outs to just six flyball outs). He served up three double-play grounders and, perhaps above all else, gave the bullpen a night off. Yes sir, he did all of the things a
fifth fourth starter is supposed to do.
Gary Sheffield hit another homerun and reached base three times overall, improving his slash line to .291/.430/.535. He has coaxed 20 walks in 107 plate appearances, good for a walk rate of 18.7% which would be third in the majors if Sheffield had enough plate-apps to qualify. I don't have his up-to-date line drive rate, but it was 13.2% prior to the game (up from 11.1% a week ago), so he's slowly improving in that area, too. I think most of us considered Sheffield a decent pickup at the time, figuring he would pitch in some walks and the occasional homerun. He looked terrible early on and out of shape to boot, but he has been nothing short of terrific over the past month or so and the Mets could very well be in dire straits (the bad kind) without him.
And finally, I suppose I'll get angry letters if I don't mention that, with his 1-for-4 night, Ramon Martinez raised his average to .100. Go get 'em, champ!
Big winners: Livan Hernandez, +31.9% WPA, Ramon Martinez, +8.6% WPA
Big losers: Omir Santos, -2.6% WPA, Fernando Martinez, -.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Harris GIDP in second, +10.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dunn homerun in seventh, -7.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +31.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: +18.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Fernando Tatis
Nice job by MetsGeek; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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