The lineup busted out with 21 hits (six for extra bases) and nine walks against talented starting pitcher Ryan Dempster and a cast of joker relievers. Ruben Tejada had the game of his career, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, a walk and five RBI. He raised his OPS from .494 to .527. Carlos Beltran and Ike Davis mashed today as well. Voltron went 2-for-3 with three walks, showing signs of (hopefully) a big final month. Ike crushed a two-run homer and went 4-for-6. Observe the busy top of the lineup in the boxscore:
Jon Niese was pedestrian (six innings, eight hits, five runs, four strikeouts) but induced three groundball double plays at crucial moments. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI. Niese has given up 15 earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 16.1 innings, but his K:BB ratio during that span is a respectable 18:9. Additionally, his velocity is still there. It's possible he's tiring but the peripherals don't suggest as much. He's on pace to throw ~185 innings, after throwing 120 last year and 178 in 2008. Let's not fret too much about limiting Niese's innings. Of course, if he comes out throwing 81 mph next start and lies to Dan Warthen about how he's feeling, I'll change my tune. Until then, leave him be.
Nick Evans sighting!
Nick pinch-hit for Lucas Duda in the sixth inning, striking out with the bases loaded. He popped out in his next at-bat and was in danger of never playing again this season. But he singled in the ninth inning, against a righthanded pitcher, finishing the day 1-for-3. No word if Jerry Manuel noticed.
I hate to put a damper on the festivities but the following is worth mentioning. The topic of race, specifically racism, is a touchy one, and I try to tread lightly there. Discussions about it often end up in a comments section flame-war. Hopefully this doesn't descend into that. Anyway, I want to compare some comments one of my favorite announcers, Keith Hernandez, made a couple years back about Jose Reyes with something he said today about Paul O'Neill.
Keith: Well, he's got to get over that. Enough babying going on now. He's a grown man. He's been around a long enough time. Take off the kid gloves.
Keith: When I was in the minor leagues Gary, you come out of high school hitting .500, first year I hit .256 in A-ball, next year in Double-A I hit .260. I was a water cooler breaker and a hothead. You get older, you learn to handle it.
Gary: Some guys do.
Keith: Nothing wrong with showing emotion.
Gary: Paul O'Neill was breaking water coolers when he was 38.
Keith: And I did not mind Paul O'Neill doing that. There was a passion to his game. And it's lacking in today's game.
To be clear -- I'm not accusing Keith Hernandez of overt racism. Maybe the differing perceptions of two players acting like babies has nothing to do with race. Maybe Keith's stance on player emotion has simply evolved over the years. Or he thinks water cooler bashing, an act performed by O'Neill countless times and almost always shown on Yankee broadcasts, is not as egregious a sin as throwing one's glove. Regardless, I have a sneaking suspicion that if Ruben Tejada slammed his glove down after making an error tomorrow afternoon, he wouldn't be afforded the "there's a passion to his game" treatment.
A torrent of runs, but let's be precise
Three five-spot innings, batting 'round thrice
The hitting was so unstoppably fecund
They got run production from a guy playing second
Is Met talent the reason for hitting so fertile?
Or due to Cubs, baseball's perpetual turtle?