There was a whole lot of impersonation going on last night. First, Carlos Delgado continuing to imitate his old form. Then, Johan Santana begins to look like the dominant pitcher we hoped for and expected when we traded the farm for him. Ramon Castro impersonating an honest-to-God starter, rendering Brian Schneider completely irrelevant (he seems like a nice guy?). Those three had this guy laughing in the aisles.
Not as funny, though, was everything else. Making up for Send ‘Em Sandy’s lack of windmilling as third base coach was Luis Aguayo, sending Endy Chavez home TWICE where he would record the first out of the inning. TWICE. Two times. Those two non-runs, we’d find out, would prove to be important. And considering Billy Wagner’s lack of availability, Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano (I’ll give Joe Smith a pass, since he got a needed ground ball with which Jose Reyes did absolutely nothing) decided to pretend to be the All Star closer, except they based their impressions on Wagner completely blowing it against the Phillies as opposed to dominating teams like the Reds. And then of course there were the Phillies, resembling the Mets team that scored five runs in the top of the ninth to beat Cincinnati on Friday, or maybe we should more accurately say that that Mets team resembled the Phillies.
That stuff? Not as funny. But more true, somehow.
I don’t recall the last easy game against the Phillies. I don’t remember the last no-doubter; that last game in Philly where they lead 10-1 seemed like one, only then it reverted to form and the Mets held on for a 10-9 win. It always seems like every game is a knock-down drag-out fight, which is fun in its way, but I like crisp wins. Last night seemed like a crisp win. Almost too crisp. Because from the time Johan gave up back-to-back-to-back two-out singles in the first inning through Shane Victorino’s home run, Santana looked dominant, getting quick outs and pop-ups and boring old lazy grounders to third, ho hum. Truly spectacular. And Delgado and Castro’s joint two-run blasts looked like the sufficient offensive production they’d need. But through that whole duration of glorious easy middle innings, a current of dread began to sink me further into my couch.
It seems like the Phillies are always coming back. It always seems like the Mets have a lead, or are tied, and the Phillies somehow are able to wake up late (in the game or season), their backs to the wall, and break out for the win. Usually it’s Wagner who blows it. This time we can look at Sanchez and Feliciano. I know everyone today is going to jump on Wagner for being unavailable, which is fairly understandable considering this fanbase’s love of expletives and hyperbole, but deal with the fact that his shoulder wasn’t up to snuff and he needed a day (and again, he always blows it against the Phillies anyway…see what I did there?!). Deal with what you’ve got. Funnily, I felt queasy with the decision to pitch Sanchez. I know it makes sense, considering he’s your set-up man, but as Howie Rose said last night, there’s a difference between pitching the eighth inning and pitching in a save situation. I would have rather seen Smith, who’d thrown two and a third scoreless against this very team two weeks ago, gone out for the ninth, matchups be damned. Because not only did he get some lefties out last time, but part of closer is not just stuff, but gumption. That kid has ice water in his veins. Sanchez, considering how soon he’s been thrust into these situations after being away for so long, maybe doesn’t have it yet. And let’s not talk about Feliciano. I’ve gone on record as saying he’s been shaky all season, and last night was just another example.
It wouldn’t be a Mets-Phillies game without trauma and drama. Last night’s impersonations attempted a bit of comedy, but I didn’t feel too much like laughing at the end of it.