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Boring But Effective

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It's funny. Despite the outcome, tonight's game was actually pretty frustrating. The Mets had at least one baserunner in six of the first seven innings, but only managed to plate some of those runners in the first two frames, scoring two runs apiece in the first and second innings. They collected ten hits and two walks batting against Matt Cain, but Cain got the proverbial outs when he needed them the most, limiting the damage for the most part. Unfortunately for Cain and the Giants, Orlando Hernandez was unhittable -- literally -- for six of his seven innings of work.

El Duque got off to a pretty rough start in the first, allowing his only two hits and a couple of runs before settling down and otherwise stifling the Giants before giving way to Mighty Joe Smith to start the eighth inning. Smith allowed just a single in an inning of work and Billy Wagner picked up his thirteenth save of the year with a perfect ninth. It was an impressive pitching effort on the Mets' part, as the Hernandez-Smith-Wagner troika faced just three batters over the minimum. I don't mean to take anything away from their collective performance, but the Giants' lineup right now is pretty dismal. Outside of Bonds, who did very little against the Mets in this entire series, the Giants really have a pathetic collection of hitters. Have a look:
         |  AVG  OBP  SLG
-------- | --------------
Winn     | .305/.340/.455
Vizquel  | .228/.271/.272
Aurilia  | .238/.282/.357
Molina   | .306/.333/.465
Lewis    | .258/.329/.409
Feliz    | .251/.289/.433
Frandsen | .236/.276/.309
Ortmeier | .314/.351/.486
Dan Ortmeier started the first two games of the series and appeared as a pinch hitter tonight. His numbers have been pretty solid in a limited sample, and Randy Winn and Bengie Molina are both hitting pretty well. However, notice that Ortmeier is the only bat on that list with an on-base percentage north of .350, and just barely at that. The Giants have four batters appearing regularly in their lineup who haven't been getting on base even 29% of the time. Even Ray Durham, who has missed the last few games with a strained abdominal muscle, is only hitting .261/.320/.399. Pretty shabby, especially by Durham's standards, but still far better than what Kevin Frandsen has been trotting out there.

Here's a bit of perspective for you: In 123 at-bats this season Barry Bonds has drawn 54 walks (19 intentional). The other seven position players for tonights game have drawn a total of 53 walks in 982 at-bats.

It doesn't really matter, though. The Mets were stymied by Barry Zito on Wednesday, but ultimately they won the series the way good teams do. Given their walkoff victory in the first game and their inability to get runners in to score tonight, they could very easily have lost the series if not been swept entirely. But they didn't. Their pitching staff was aces, they did what they needed to do to win and to keep rolling in the right direction. It was a kind of boring game to me, but when you're the class of the league you are going to have a fair number of boring victories. Better to be mundane in victory than exciting in defeat.

The bad news of the night came via Carlos Beltran's collision with Rich Aurilia at first (pictured above). For a smaller guy, Aurilia is one clumsy doofus over there at first base. For a former shortstop and third-baseman, the guy has just lousy footwork around the bag. Beltran would leave the game in the next inning with a bruised knee and is scheduled to get an MRI on it on Friday.

Losing Beltran for any extended period of time will be brutal, as much because he is one of the best players in baseball as the looming possibility of seeing Carlos Gomez struggle to hit his way out of a paper bag for weeks to come. I don't doubt that Gomez has the "tools" to become a very good offensive player, but right now those tools need plenty of honing. With Moises Alou and Shawn Green still on the shelf, the Mets may threaten to play the underwhelming outfield combination of Gomez, Endy Chavez and Ben Johnson, evoking memories of the Darryl Hamilton, Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton outfields of the early aughts.

If it's just a bruise I wouldn't expect Beltran to miss much time; strains, pulls, tears, those are the bad ones. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.