The offensive firepower continued on Friday evening in Washington and the pitching was good enough to hang on, as the Mets beat the Nationals 8-5. Dillon Gee wasn't at his greatest but the righty battled through 6.2 innings to pick up his 10th victory. Former Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang made his first start in over two years (albeit in the new uniform of the Nats) but was smacked around by the streaking Mets' bats for six runs. Subsequently, Wang was yanked after four disappointing innings (and yes, I am obligated by law to throw in at least one Wang double entendre).
Bobby Parnell came on in the 8th inning and immediately made this one more interesting than it should've been and Tim Byrdak was no help, as he allowed both lefties he faced to single. With the bases loaded and one out, the Mets turned to D.J. Carrasco who miraculously struck out both batters he faced to snuff out the rally. Carrasco's had a rough season but this was easily his best performance of the year and it came in a crucial situation. Let's hope this leads to Carrasco becoming a useful part of the pen down the stretch.
Game two of this series takes place on Saturday evening at 7:05, as Ulnar Collateral Ligament-less Deity R.A. Dickey squares off against Staten Island's own Jason Marquis. This game came be seen on PIX 11 as opposed to SNY.
Remember back in February and March when every talking head in the media told you that the Mets would be awful in 2011? Maybe you remember when some unnamed scout said that the 2011 team could challenge 1962 level futility? Perhaps you remember when it was time to have a firesale before Memorial Day? Or how about when one beat writer's post-game recap featured a lede to a Mets' loss that just said "blah blah blah blah"? Well, those days seem to be long gone because suddenly, the fickle New York media has decided that the Mets are wild card contenders. As many of the realistic, level-headed fans predicted before the season began, this isn't a bad club and the media seems to have finally latched on with this recent winning streak. The issue here is whether these new expectations are realistic, considering this team is now without one of their best hitters in Carlos Beltran and how good the Braves have been all year. It certainly doesn't hurt to dream, though.
Speaking of Beltran, the appreciation pieces keep on coming. It's nice to see Carlos finally get the praise that he's always deserved. On Friday, the media spoke to Zack Wheeler, the 21 year old righty acquired for Beltran. Looks like he wants to work with Johan Santana while Johan is in Port St. Lucie. Supposedly that Santana guy is pretty good at throwing a changeup.
The day after his first rehab start in Port St. Lucie, Santana declared that he felt "better than he thought he would feel". Just imagine if Johan could come dealing in late August. At the least, he seems to be on a much faster track than Chien-Ming Wang, who took two years to return despite having the same surgery as Johan.
The Mets bullpen has been a rollercoaster all season and it could be time to replace somebody out there. Perhaps the Mets should take a look at 27 year old righty John Lujan, a 2009 minor league Rule V pick out of the White Sox organization. Lujan saw some action in spring training and has averaged over a strikeout per inning in 50 innings between Binghamton and Buffalo. After that home run he allowed to Miguel Cairo on Thursday, I'd imagine that almost anybody would be an improvement over the Acostalypse.
Finally in off the field news, New York City is losing $30 million dollars in annual fees because of the New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Wonderful.
Around the NL East
Roy Halladay beat his clone Charlie Morton, as the Phillies manhandled the Pirates 10-3 on Friday. In bigger news, the Phillies reacted to the Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran by pulling the trigger on a trade for Astros RF Hunter Pence. In exchange, the Phillies will deal minor league pitcher Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF Jonathan Singleton, pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be name later for Pence and $1 million. This looks like an extreme "win-now" move for the Phils, especially considering that Pence isn't a huge upgrade over Domonic Brown.
Brandon Beachy threw 7.1 scoreless innings and Dan Uggla (HIS NAME IS...) stayed hot by hitting a game breaking three run homer as the Braves beat the Marlins 5-0. With the Giants and Phils stocking up on offense the last couple of days, it looks as if it's the Braves move next. However, they're planning on not letting injuries dictate their moves.
Around the Majors
After the fallout of the Pence deal, it looks like the Astros will continue to deal up until Sunday's 4 PM deadline. Ed Wade hinted that Wandy Rodriguez, Michael Bourn and Brett Myers among others could be on the move. This would be better news for the 'Stros if it weren't Ed Wade making the moves.
It's gut-check time for contenders, as the trade deadline is looming (wait...I thought gut-check time was in June...?). The Dodgers are preparing to move solid starter Hiroki Kuroda in the next few days. The Pirates are keying in on Twins RF/DH Jason Kubel, who would immediately become quite an adventure in the Pirate outfield. The Tigers are said to be looking for a starter before the deadline. That pitcher could potentially be top prospect Jacob Turner, who will supposedly be called up on Saturday. For more, check out MLB.com's trade deadline section.
Two hitting streaks ended on Friday night: Emilio Bonifacio's hit streak ended at 26 games, while Dustin Pedroia's was snapped at 25 games. Meanwhile, the ghost of Joltin' Joe Dimaggio is likely sitting in the Dinky Donuts in the sky, dunking his donut and laughing at these schlubs who try but never get close to his 56 game hitting streak.
You want to talk about great hitters? Well, there's a likely all-time great playing first base in St. Louis right now who got his 2,000th career hit last night.
Finally, the Texas Rangers are unofficially taking a stand against the wave at their ballpark. Could the Mets do this?