Thursday, April 06, 2006


Wagner blows it

With the Mets 3 outs from a 2-0 start to the 2006 season, ace closer Billy Wagner (one of the Mets high-profile free agent pickups in the off-season) served up a game-tying HR to Nationals' rookie 3B Ryan Zimmerman in the 9th on Wednesday night at Shea. The Nationals went on to win 9-5 in 10 innings. It was a particularly ugly loss.

Staked to a 4-0 lead - thanks to first-ever Met homers by newcomers 1B Carlos Delgado (a towering 2-run blast) and RF Xavier Nady - rookie starter Brian Bannister was wild (he plunked 2 batters - Alfonso Soriano on the helmet) and gave up up a 3-run HR to 1B Nick Johnson in the 6th. After scoreless innings in relief by Duaner Sanchez (traded for Jay Seo) and Aaron Heilman, Wagner blew the save on a 3-2 meatball to Zimmerman, who'd never HR-ed before in the big leagues.

The Mets closer problems date back to Armando Benitez and Braden Looper. Wagner's supposed to be the solution. He only blew three saves last years, and now already has one.

Further bad pitching news for the Mets was Jorge Julio's debut in the 10th. He allowed a 2-run shot by RF Jose Guillen, then three more runs. The Julio-for-Kris Benson trade's not looking very good right now. Nor is the Wagner pickup. My brother, Barry Bloom, who covers baseball for and has written two books about Larry Bowa, claims Padres' closer Trevor Hoffman would've been a better free-agent acquisition than Wagner.

Besides the Met HRs and 3B David Wright's RBI single in the 1st, 2B Anderson Henderson provided several highlight-reel fielding plays, expecially his diving catch in the 8th. He looks like a keeper.

I have to question one move by MGR Willie Randolph. With runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out inthe 10th, he intentionally walked Zimmerman. SS Royce Clayton followed with a 2-run bases-loaded single, blowing the game open. First, it was a righty-righty match-up; second, the open base was at 2B, not 1B; third, just because Zimmerman had hit a HR in his last AB doesn't make him all of a sudden a feared slugger. It was an unnecessary move that backfired. The second-guessing has begun.

Next game: Thursday, April 6 @ Shea, 7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN, Pedro Martinez vs. Ramon Ortiz

For more on the Mets: CLICK HERE


* Phils SS Jimmy Rollins extended his consecutive-game hitting streak to 38, passing Tommy Holmes; the streak is now the 6th-best ever; he can tie Paul Molitor for 5th place tonight vs. the Cards.
* Ex-Met C Mike Piazza hit a HR in his first AB with the Padres; he's 2 shy of the 400 mark.
* Cincy CF Ken Griffey surpassed Mickey Mantle on all-time HR list with his 537th last night vs. the Cubs; he's now 12th on the list; next to catch is Mick Schmidt at 546.
* Barry Bonds has gone HR-less in his first 2 games; he's stuck on 708 HRs.

I had a bad case of deja vu watching this one-is it still 2005? Wagner blew it, the Metallica didn't help him any, and maybe we should have been prepared from the first game when Vidro hit what might have been a homer in another park.
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