Funny that in the same game for which I provided a poll asking if you would rather have Oliver Perez or Darrell Rasner pitching for the Mets, Ollie turns in his best performance of the season and the second-best start of any Met this year by game score. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was the only start this season in which Perez didn't walk a batter and just the fifth time as a Met that he has pitched at least seven innings without walking anybody. For the purpose of comparison, Johan Santana has already pitched at least seven innings without allowing a walk three times in a half-season with the Mets.
However you slice it, this game was tremendously important for Ollie as well as the Mets. Ollie has had a number of terrific singular performances with the Mets that were followed by long stretches of frustrating ineptitude, and there's nothing particularly telling about this one that might have us believe he's turned a corner and will now be consistently good the rest of the way.
Yet, Brian Schneider's post-game comments did intimate that new pitching coach Dan Warthen had spent some time over the past week working on Ollie's footwork and general mechanics, and his body language and mannerisms on the mound did seem a bit different than those we had become accustomed to seeing. He was especially aggressive within the strike zone -- that fourth-inning confrontation with Alex Rodriguez was a great example of this -- and his motion as he approached the wind-up seemed a bit more crouched than usual. Whatever it was, it worked, and he kept a pretty good Yankee lineup in check for most of his seven innings.
Perhaps most importantly, the Mets finish the first half of the season on a positive note. They split the series with the Yankees, but thanks to a two-game sweep of the Bombers at Yankee Stadium earlier in the season the Mets take the Subway Series 4-2. Eighty-one games into the season the Mets are one game worse than they started back at the end of March, but despite some crappy play and a managerial soap opera, the Mets stand just three games back of the Phillies as they embark on an eight-game road trip against the Cardinals and those same Phillies. They have a chance over the next week-plus to make some proverbial hay against two of the better teams in the National League, but they could just as easily have their hay made (?!?) and return to Shea in worse shape than they left.
Big winners: Oliver Perez (the pitcher), +34.0% WPA, Luis Castillo, +11.4% WPA
Big losers: Oliver Perez (the hitter), -7.4% WPA, David Wright, -7.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Delgado Del-gettin-it, +10.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jetes single in the 9th, -7.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +49.6%
Total batter WPA: +0.4%%
Pardon my zinger...
- Perez's eight strikeouts tied him for the Mets' season-high for a starter not named Santana. Add another three popups -- just about as good as strikeouts in terms of frequency of which they are turned into outs -- and 11 of his 21 outs recorded were dominant ones.
- Ryan Church returned to the lineup and looked sharp, picking up a couple of hits and playing the solid right field defense we're used to. From the "Them's The Breaks" department: his first at-bat was a screaming liner that Jorge Posada snared for an out. His second at-bat was a dinky bloop that landed in between Jetes and the Melkman for a single.
- Carlos Delgado was Mr. All-Or-Nothing this series, knocking four extra-base hits (three bombs) and basically nothing else (he did walk twice in Friday's nitecap).
- To make room for Church, the Mets placed Trot Nixon on the disabled list with a strained groin. Just like what your mammy did to me last night. Hi-yo!