some rejuvenation in the california sun

Funny how my ever-present Southern California nostalgia reared its pretty head concurrently with the Mets’ seven game road trip to San Diego (where I went to school) and Los Angeles (where I grew up). Also some good payback for the earlier nightmarish sweep in L.A. The Mets went 4-3 on this very difficult West Coast sojourn, facing two of the best teams in the NL, and I feel optimistic about this team’s turnaround when you think that those three losses were easily winnable games for the Mets.

Herewith, my lazy haphazard recap of all seven games, most of which I listened to on WFAN till very late at night. Goddam West Coast.

1. Padres d. Mets, 5-1: Good to have Jorge Sosa back, who pitched surprisingly well in his first appearance off the DL. Unfortunately, David Wells pitched just as good and also received some offensive support. Imagine that!

2. Mets d. Padres, 7-0: I mentioned this in the previous post, but it was an absolutely stellar offensive display by the Mets (HoJo workin’ his magic!), stringing together key hits in various innings. Tremendous 2-hit ball by El Duque, who also stole a base and scored a run, and RBIs by some guys we’d forgotten about since April. Even Guillermo Mota pitched well! Nice to beat up on Cy Young candidate Peavy too.

3. Padres d. Mets, 5-4: Ah, this one hurts. Looking to bounce back from his poor outing against Cincinnati (who’da thunk the Reds would win that one?), Johnny Maine once again proves that he is human, getting mildly spanked for four runs in six innings. The Mets then mount a comeback, culminating with a 3-run blast from BB#1 David Wright to tie the game in the top of the eight. Unfortunately BB#2 Joe Smith decides to prove his humanness as well, giving up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth, recording his first major league loss. Poor Joe Smith 😦

4. Mets d. Dodgers, 13-9: This one was a doozy, and had me pacing the room and collapsing on my bed and tossing and turning until 2 AM. I was actually at a movie, and when I got out I checked the Mets score and saw that it was 6-0 in the bottom of the first. I remarked to my friends, “The Mets really want Tommy to get #300 at Shea.” I get home and WHOOPS! The Mets rocked Derek Lowe, but the Dodgers in turn rocked Glavine, who left the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning. Luckily, the Mets kept on hitting and the Aarons managed to minimize the damage, though Mota nearly gave me seven heart attacks in the final two innings. Also: Hello, Marlon Anderson!

5. Mets d. Dodgers, 4-1: This one was a pitcher’s duel through and through, with Ollie and Brett Tomko each giving up one early run (Nomar Garciaparra home run and David Wright RBI single, respectively) until their bullpens took over. The Mets immediately jumped on Roberto Hernandez as Jose Reyes scored on a throwing error (God bless lousy Dodgers defense!), then Beltran hit a 2-run shot to put the game easily out of reach. Oh, and Jose Valentin breaks his leg. Of course. Everyone thinks, “Too bad, but yay for Gotay!” Let’s see about that one, huh?

6. Dodgers d. Mets, 8-6: This one also hurts. The Mets jumped to an early 4-0 lead against Brad Penny (why are they so good against Cy Young candidates but make novices and journeymen look like Nolan Ryan?) and Jorge Sosa seemed to be cruising up until that disastrous 5-run fourth, after which he was pulled. Oh, Sosa, what a meltdown. I instantly remembered that game he pitched in Atlanta, where everything was going fine until all hell broke loose. Still, it was only a 6-4 game, and Beltran would hit another two-run homer in the eighth. Oh, but the Dodgers’ sixth inning. I wish we could pretend that it never happened. Worst Show Ever loads the bases with one out (of course he does! DUH!), and Joe Smith is brought in. Joey then gets a perfect double-play ball out of Russell Martin. Davey throws it to Gotay at second and I think, “Good job, Joe Smith,” and how good that would be for his psyche considering what happened in SD only GOTAY THROWS IT AWAY OH NOES TWO RUNS SCORE. Smith gets the next guy out, but as it cuts to commercial you can see him cursing at himself as he walks off the mound. Poor Joe Smith 😦

7. Mets d. Dodgers, 5-4: Rafael Furcal starts off the bottom of the first by homering off El Duque, and I shake my head. James Loney gets an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth, and I go “GAHHHHH.” The Mets come back to tie in the sixth with RBIs from Milledge and Davey, and I pump my fist while going “Let’s keep this tight.” El Duque then gives the lead right back with a 2-run shot to Nomar. Hey Nomar, you’re playing for the Dodgers in 2007, not late 90s Red Sox, okay? I mean damn.

And then: more bad Dodgers defense! After getting a run in the eighth, Delgado gets an infield single (really?!), and is lifted for pinch-runner Marlon Anderson Anderson Hernandez, who moves to second on a wild pitch by Broxton. Lo Duca grounds out (of course), moving Anderson Hernandez to third. Shawn Green lofts a ball into shallow right and Matt Kemp I guess decided to do some kind of Shawn Green tribute, as he completely let the thing drop. I don’t know? It seems impossible that it fell, but fall it did, allowing Anderson Hernandez to score the tying run.

Extra innings capers! As it went on, I thought to myself, “The Mets win these.” Apparently the Dodgers–entering this one at 6-2 in extras–do too. Gulp. The Mets jumped in the top of the 10th after Reyes grounded out. Milledge singled, Beltran singled. Wright grounds to third but beats the double play with some nice hustle to first. Chip Ambres (yeah!) is the hero with a single past a diving Nomar–pretty much the only ball to get past Nomar yesterday–scoring Anderson Hernandez (yes I got confused! What’s with last names as first names? Honestly).

This being L.A. and all, the Mets decided to make it even more dramatic/slapsticky, depending on what you prefer. Billy Wagner comes in, and I think this shit is over finally and I can go get some dinner. He then walks Juan Pierre. Gulp. He manages to pick him off, then throws to Green, who had taken over first after Delgado was pulled. Green was all, “Pffft, why settle for Matt Kemp’s tribute when you can see the real thing?” and drops the ball. Pierre safe at second. Gah. Wags gets Martin to K, Kent with an IBB. Kemp, in his quest to make me love him, strikes out as well. Wags then throws a wild pitch to Nomar, negating the DP possibility as Pierre advances to third and Kent to second. Wags then freezes Nomar. Game over. Thank God.

All in all, a pretty good West Coast jaunt for just about everybody. Except Joe Smith, I guess (and possibly Sosa). Hey Joe, I should’ve given you the names of some nice spots to check out in San Diego and L.A.! At least you could’ve had some fun while playing a prominent part in two of the three losses. That second one wasn’t your fault, though! Aw, baby. It’s okay, I’m here.

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