If you're wondering, no, the 3-2 result picture with Johan Santana wasn't made just for this game. I made it for this game, a 3-2 loss to the Phillies last July 4. Same pitcher, different opponent, same result.
Tonight, as on the night the result pic was conceived, Santana pitched well enough to win most ballgames and the Mets' offense sputtered uselessly for nine innings, failing to put bat meaningfully to ball often enough to plate more than a scant two runs (and it took a late-inning pinch-hit by our hero to score the latter). Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami hadn't won a game in six starts since the All-Star break, but he looked like an in-his-prime Greg Maddux against the Mets withered lineup.
The big news of the night was the return of Billy Wagner, and for all of his blathering and pig-headedness I couldn't help but get excited when the PA rung out the opening notes of Enter Sandman. Wagner didn't fail to impress, either, hitting 96 MPH on the SNY gun and striking out two of the three batters he faced, both swinging, one apiece on his fastball and slider. Wagner will likely be gone next year (if not sooner), but I will fondly remember his days here. At his best, he was as dominant as anyone in the league, and I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that, even this early in Francisco Rodriguez's Met tenure, that Wagner was a better pitcher for the Mets than Rodriguez is likely to be. Wagner had an awful tendency to wear out at the end of seasons, and he gave up his share of disheartening homeruns, but he struck out many and walked very few, and I usually found his locker room rants more charming than obnoxious (when he wasn't slagging down his teammates).
Wagner won't pitch on back-to-back days and the Mets may even give him two days off between appearances in the coming weeks. In short, if any playoff contender has designs on trading for Wagner they're going to have to decide pretty quickly whether he's an acceptable risk. Wagner has already said he intends to close in 2010, so any chance of him returning to the Mets as a setup man is hopeless wish-casting. That doesn't mean the Mets should merely give Wagner away to any interested party, as he appears headed for Type A free agent status this offseason, and given his adamancy about closing the Mets would be foolish not to offer him arbitration. Then again, far be it from the Mets to pass up an obvious chance at foolishness.
If Johan can't win,
What chance has Pelfrey, Perez,
Parnell and (other)?
Big winners: Omir Santos, +12.9% WPA, Cory Sullivan, +8.4% WPA
Big losers: Anderson Hernandez, -21.3% WPA, Daniel Murphy, -15.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Santos RBI single in eighth, +12.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Hernandez groundout to end eighth, -12.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +5.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -55.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Brian McCann
Nice job by blueandorange4life; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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