One word to describe Mike Pelfrey's performance last night? Splendiferous. That makes two straight extremely encouraging starts from the former number-nine overall pick. Last week he looked very good against the Phillies, burying that sinker to the tune of a 14-to-2 groundball-to-flyball ratio. Against the Nationals he had the sinker working again, only better this time. He sawed off bats and induced one groundball after another. He allowed four flyball outs overall, but two were pop-ups (statistically-speaking, automatic outs) and a third came in his seventh -- and last -- inning of work.
Pelfrey also struck out four batters, and his game score of 69 was the second-best of his big league career, trailing only the 70 he racked up against the Braves last September. In many ways, last night's start was even better than the one against the Braves. He recorded more groundball outs (12 to 8), pitched an extra inning (7 to 6) and allowed one fewer walk (3 to 2).
I mentioned it in my writeup for yesterday's game thread, but given the injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez the Mets really need Pelfrey to figure things out this year, and through two starts he certainly seems to be on the right track. I love what I have seen from him so far; if he can be consistent with that sinker, show decent command of his slider and be relaxed and confident in his stuff he is going to be hugely successful. I had serious doubts about him in spring training, not because I didn't think he had the talent, but because he showed a reluctance -- presumably an unintentional one -- to harness his talent towards the ultimate goal of getting big league hitters out. Two nice starts doesn't change all of that, but those butterflies are definitely flying in formation towards the catcher's mitt right now.
Hooray for Willie!
Whatever his reasoning, I give Willie Randolph credit for demoting Proven Veteran™ and Bona Fide Gamer™ Luis Castillo to eighth in the lineup. The move may be short-lived, but I will enjoy it while I can. Despite a slow start, Castillo still has strong on-base skills. He has zippo in the power department, and I kind of like that he'll help turn the lineup over as it gets down to the dregs. I have no objective evidence to this point, but it seems feasible that Castillo's getting on base gives the pitcher something useful to do, namely bunt him over. I normally don't espouse a game plan of sacrificing, but lousy-hitting pitchers are certainly an exception to that rule.
WTF of the night
Ryan Church with the sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the third with Jose Reyes on second and nobody out. I'm guessing he was bunting on his own and with the intention of winding up with a hit, but the play went in the books as a sacrifice and a fairly prepoculous one at that. Seriously, Ryan: WTF?
I love walks
Carlos Beltran has zero homeruns but twelve walks through the season's first dozen games. David Wright has nine walks to go along with fifteen ribs and ten extra-base hits. He's hitting .311/.418/.711. He is teh awes0me.
I kinda screwed the pooch on last night's game form. There were two questions that had you choose who would reach base more: Ryan Church vs Lastings Milledge and Brian Schneider vs Paul Lo Duca. Well, (a) Paul Lo Duca didn't play. I used Johnny Estrada instead, and he had one HBP to Schneider's bupkis, so those of you who picked Paulie Walnuts will get credit for that question. Church and Milledge each reached base twice, and since I didn't provide a "Same" response, everyone gets it wrong. Sorry!
Per various requests, I will try to get the game forms up earlier in the day. Like, by noon, work permitting. I'm not really an early-riser on the weekends, so I will try to post those the night before for Saturday/Sunday afternoon games.