Trachsel hopes to make difference
Member of Mets since 2001 seeks first postseason victory
NEW YORK -- It took 14 seasons for Mets right-hander Steve Trachsel to make his first postseason start, which he did in Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.He'll have an opportunity to notch his first playoff win when he faces Cardinals right-hander Jeff Suppan in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night at Busch Stadium. Trachsel can also help the Mets get back on top after the Cardinals evened the series at 1 on Friday night. Trachsel has been through the good times and plenty of bad times with the Mets and the Cubs. His arrival in New York came the season after the Mets lost to the Yankees in the 2000 Subway World Series. So it's been a long struggle to get to the postseason since then. "It's about time," Trachsel said about the Mets finally making it back to the playoffs. "When I first came to New York, they had just been to the World Series in 2000, and that's the main reason I wanted to come here. ... I expected to be in the postseason a number of times already. Unfortunately it never happened, but that's why I'm trying to really enjoy this one as much as possible." Trachsel had started 380 big-league games before his shot came against the Dodgers. He didn't make it out of the fourth inning as Mets manager Willie Randolph liberally used his bullpen to win the non-Tom Glavine pitched games in the first round. The Mets prevailed, 9-5, in that one to sweep the first-round series. In a contrast of numbers and related experience, Glavine hasn't allowed a run in his 13 playoff innings this October, winning both games, and is tied with Andy Pettitte for the Major League lead with 34 postseason starts. The other three Mets starters in the NLCS -- John Maine, Trachsel and Oliver Perez -- came into the postseason without having made any. But as injuries racked the Mets' starting rotation during the regular season, Trachsel became Randolph's stalwart, finishing with a 15-8 record in 30 starts, although his ERA was 4.97, the highest for a Mets starter with 15 or more victories. He was 13-4 with a 5.16 ERA in his last 17 starts. This after Trachsel missed most of the 2005 season because of surgery during Spring Training to removed a herniated disc from his back. "He's been pretty consistent for us all year -- as a matter of fact, one of our most consistent starters," Randolph said about the 35-year-old Trachsel. "Obviously he's a guy who knows how to pitch, and his veteran presence is very comforting because we have a good offensive ballclub that's going to keep you in ballgames.
"To me, it doesn't matter that we score a lot of runs for him. I always talk about the fact that we score a lot of runs for him, but he kept us in a lot of games, too. That's why when it's time to give him the ball, I don't hesitate."The Mets scored 165 runs in Trachsel's 30 starts -- 5.5 per start -- which is one reason why Trachsel had his best season since he registered an identical 15-8 record with the Cubs in 1998, the year he also started and won a play-in game over the Giants. Trachsel had allowed only one hit that day at Wrigley Field and left with one out in the seventh inning and the Cubs leading, 4-0, en route to a 5-3 victory. But Trachsel didn't pitch in the NLDS as the Braves swept the best-of-five series.
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The play-in game is considered the final game of the regular season, but it gave a window into how Trachsel can pitch in a pressure situation."I remember lots of things about that game," Trachsel said. "Obviously, it was a big year for the Cubs. It was the year Harry Caray passed away, so the fans were really emotional about that. I remember the big Harry Caray balloon hanging over left field. And when I struck out Barry Bonds to end the first inning, just the roar from the crowd. I remember all that. "That's the only thing I have to really use as [playoff] motivation and to think about. It definitely helped."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.