Hero of the day: Carlos Delgado - 2-for-5, hr, 3rbi
Okay, very nice. Well, the end result was very nice even if the circuitous route the Mets took to get there was riddled with potholes and land sharks. A glance at the current NL East standings would show the Mets atop the second-place Phillies by two and one half games, three games in the loss column. The Mets have seven games remaining in the season; the Phillies six. The Magic Number rests at five, any combination of Mets' wins and Phillies' losses to tally that number would give the Mets' their second consecutive division title. At all events, the Mets can breath a little easier than they could a day or two ago.
John Maine was unspectacular on Sunday. He struck out nine Marlins and walked two in five innings, but he also allowed three earned runs and left with his team trailing 3-2. Eight Met relievers would succeed Maine, some pitching well and some not so much. Their two best relievers -- Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner -- coughed up a three-run lead in the final two frames. Remarkably, Joe Smith returned to early-season form by hurling a pefect tenth inning and Aaron Sele teamed with Scott Schoeneweis to nail down a perfect eleventh for the save. Yup, just like they drew it up back in February.
The worst at-bat of the game goes to Carlos Gomez, who looks less and less like a top prospect with each swing of the bat. With runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the tenth, Paul Lo Duca was mysteriously called on to bunt both runners into scoring position. Now, normally I wouldn't be so upset about Lo Duca giving himself up for nothing; he isn't a terribly good hitter to begin with. However, he *has* been swinging the bat much better of late, and the aforementioned Gomez was anxiously waiting to deliver another clutch out to the baseball gods. So, Lo Duca "successfully" sacrificed and Gomez predictably popped out, the net gain for those two outs just the two measly bases. Endy Chavez then flied out to center to end the threat.
The Mets got another rally going in the eleventh and this time Mr. MVP drove in the go-ahead run with a single to give the Mets a 7-6 lead that the unhittable two-headed closer Scoron Seleweis would protect.
The Nationals finally did something nice for the Mets by beating the Phillies 5-3, and they have a chance to further impress us by laying down quietly for the next three games at Shea. Though it doesn't feel so, the Mets actually won four of seven ballgames in Washington and Florida over the past week. They very easily could have won six or seven and have had this whole division race wrapped up by now, but they were 1-3 before Friday rolled around and they actually have a modest three-game winning streak going now.