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Do you believe in magic?

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The Mets Machine just keeps on rolling, cutting their Magic Number by three games yesterday alone. Dave Williams started the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader and went six strong, allowing five hits and a run while striking out four and walking none. Williams has generally been terrific in his four starts with the Mets:

 IP     H    R   ER   HR   BB   SO    ERA
-----------------------------------------
25.0   27    9    9    3    2   15   3.24
When you watch Williams pitch, you get the sense that he's going to give up his hits. And he has, allowing more than one per inning with the Mets. What we can see from his stats, even though we're only talking about four starts, is that, even though he doesn't strike out too many hitters, he isn't killing himself with walks, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is phenomenal (small sample size caveats notwithstanding). He has put up game scores of 47, 54, 51 and now 62, and, perhaps most importantly, the Mets have won all four games he has started.

In the "night cap", which actually began around 4pm, Mets fans got to see why I was so excited when the Mets traded for Oliver Perez. His first two starts with the Mets were a mixed bag (one so-so, one disaster), but yesterday he was brilliant. Perez faced just four batters over the minimum, allowing five hits (one double) and a walk for his second career shutout. Here's a window into Perez's success, juxtaposed with his struggles from the previous two starts:

Date   Pitches   Strikes   %Strikes   GameScore
-----------------------------------------------
8/26     95        50         53%         45
8/31     95        59         62%          7
9/6     107        75         70%         82
That second game came in Colorado and, despite certain evidence to the contrary, I'm not quite ready to proclaim it a pitchers park after all these years of cartoonish mile-high offense. Yesterday, Perez threw 70% of his pitches for strikes, which is a terrific ratio (53% is not so good). There isn't always a direct correlation between Strike% and success, and certainly the degree of correlation can vary from pitcher to pitcher. Perez has filthy stuff, but his problem (when he has had one) has been with his control. If he can avoid killing himself with walks, he has enough talent to take care of the rest, much more often than not.

Yesterday was also a breakout day for Shawn Green, who went 6-for-8 in the double-header, collecting a double and a pair of homers (one to the opposite field and one a bomb to right), driving in three and scoring four runs. The Mets bombed the Braves 8-0 using a makeshift lineup that featured:

Player               AVG   OBP   SLG
------------------------------------
Anderson Hernandez  .120  .120  .120
Mike DiFelice       .053  .182  .053
Chris Woodward      .217  .290  .315
Oliver Perez        .097  .125  .097
The Mets' Magic Number for the Braves stands at four.