Overheard in the visitor’s locker room before today’s Mets-Nationals game at RFK Stadium in D.C.
Carlos Beltran: (Looking at starting lineup) So I see Victor Zambrano is pitching today…
Carlos Delgado: (Looking up from his pitcher’s chart book) Yup, his first start of the year.
Cliff Floyd: I wonder how it’s going to pan out? Z had some rough times for us at the end of last season.
David Wright: You know how we can make sure nobody notices how he pitches?
Wright: Let’s all hit home runs and score at least 10. Then he’ll be relaxed and the bullpen will have a nice lead to work with when they have to bail Victor out, because you know they will.
This first seven minutes of this 13-4 Mets win were beautiful to watch, as everyone took Wright’s advice to heart and hit the ball as if they were taking batting practice in Coors field. Beltran got it rolling with another huge blow, but our man David really got things rolling with his 2 run jack. So Wright’s 8 game hitting streak is intact, and now he’s got a new RBI streak to start. He’s got 12 ribbies already and is batting .469, putting him in the Top 5 in the NL in both categories. This 7-1 start ties the Mets best start since 1985 and is the best record in the major leagues, and this current six game winning streak matches last year’s best streak. But it’s not yet time to get excited--most of these wins have come at the expense of the Nationals, who seemed destined to battle Florida for last. The next six games at home are the first true test of the year--the much improved Brewers and the evil Braves will be at Shea, and they’re not going to be pushovers.
Okay, now for the first Wrong report of the year. The best thing that cane be said about Victor Zambrano’s start is, um, well, he kept the team in the game. No, that’s not it. How about, he lasted 5 innings, which set up the bullpen perfectly to hold the 7-3 lead? Yeah, perfect. Zambrano 2006 looked just like Zambrano 2005--breezing through an inning or two, teasing us with his talent. Next thing you know, I look up from my desk at work and he’s got two guys on and he’s doing what I like to call “The Victor Grimace.” It’s when Zambrano’s face scrunches up and he takes his hat off, wipes his brow, and wishes his buddy Rick Peterson would pay him a visit. We certainly can’t expect the Mets to score 13 runs in every one of his starts, so I expect Wednesday’s day game against the Braves to be filled with boos after 3 innings. Especially if Jorge “I gave up a home run in my one inning and my ERA still went down by 6” Julio pitches in the same game.
Just to end on a positive pitching note, Darren Oliver looked really good in his two innings--and he made the Nats pay with his bases-loaded single. This bullpen might be better than we could have hoped for.