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Monday, April 30, 2007

Minimizing the damage while slumping

Apr 30, 2007 11:19 AM

Teams slump. This is a known fact; the season is 162 games long and no one stays hot for that entire time. Some immortals come close, but as a team it's hard to always string together hits, always pitch well and always play well. They're only human after all.

Good teams still win. The Mets are a good team, and despite the lackluster hitting this weekend they won two out of three. Obviously the Washington Nationals aren't the cream of the crop, but they're still professionals. They're still going to win at least 50 times this year. Saturday night, even down 2-1 in the ninth against a closer that has previous been great against them, they managed to scratch out a run to tie it. Even after Moises Alou erased David Wright by grounding into a double play; a rally killer if I ever saw one, and with Cordero only needing one out to seal the deal, the Mets get that run across. Once they pushed it to extra innings, even being on the road you just had the feeling that the Mets weren't letting this game get away. They didn't, they put up the best offense of the whole series in that 12th inning to win 6-2, with Billy Wagner closing it out, probably silently wishing they could've scored one less so he could have a save.

The Mets helped him out the next day, or more precisely, John Maine helped him out by keeping the Nationals from scoring. A brilliant performance by Maine highlights what just may be the most reassuring part of the Mets this season. Everyone that thinks, or thought the Mets weren't going as far this year as last cited the starting pitching as the reason. John Maine is putting them to shame with the way he is pitching, and putting Baltimore to shame too, for letting him get away.

The baseball season is a grind, and what makes champions is being able to minimize the damage when you're down, and capitalize when you're up. So far this year the Mets seem to be doing that. Despite the minuses from this weekend, namely Jose Valentin, Aaron Heilman and Orlando Hernandez, the Mets showed me plenty to be optimistic about.

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