Perez stellar as Mets take out Marlins
Southpaw fans season-high 10; Wright continues to heat up
NEW YORK -- Rarely does everything happen according to plan. Dream up any scenario, and reality quickly has its way of veering off the charted course.
The Mets are no strangers to that truth, but instead of accepting it, they choose to battle it, to salvage what they can. And in some cases, that salvage job may just be enough to eke out a win.
So it was on Wednesday afternoon for the Mets, who mined for the silver lining in a series of less-than-perfect scenarios, and in doing so, managed to salvage the last third of their series against the Marlins, 6-3.
"We won the game, that's the most important thing," said outfielder Shawn Green. "There's going to be times when you're cashing in on everything and times when it's a little more sporadic, but we scored six runs and had a good game and a good win."
That take-what-you-can mentality became clear after the Mets cruised through the first five innings -- and then promptly hit a wall. Starter Oliver Perez was again sharp, settling down after allowing a first-inning run to strike out 10 Marlins and allow just one more hit the rest of the way.
But his outing was cut short in the sixth after he loaded the bases on a hit and two walks. Manager Willie Randolph trotted to the mound for a quick pep talk, willing his lefty to escape from the inning. But a Joe Borchard liner to third base popped in and out of David Wright's glove, allowing two runs to score and knocking Perez out off the game.
And that's where the salvaging began. Rookie Joe Smith came in to douse the fire, and had the favor returned two innings later when Scott Schoeneweis cleaned up the submariner's mess with an inning-ending double play. Both were perfectly-timed pick-me-ups, and both saved their recipients from an airplane ride full of headaches.
Not that Perez couldn't salvage his own afternoon. The lefty did so with his bat, rapping out two rally-starting hits and scoring twice to make his day more memorable.
In the fourth inning, Perez hit a leadoff single that paved the way for RBI hits by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. And an inning later, Perez's one-out single sparked a rally that Endy Chavez and Wright capped with run-scoring hits of their own.
"He's taking tips from Tommy [Glavine]," joked Wright, alluding to the veteran lefty's prowess at the plate. "Our pitchers are swinging the bats. Hopefully it continues, because then we have nine tough outs in the lineup."
Perez, though, wasn't quite as enamored with his own offensive skills.
|"You've still got to go out and be consistent, that's really the key. Just because you have a nice little run, it's nice to see them succeed and progress, but no one's got it all figured out yet."|
|-- Mets manager Willie Randolph|
"I'm just trying to make contact," the lefty said. "It's hard for me to hit the ball because I don't see too many pitches."
Smith attempted his best Perez impression in the sixth, taking his first hacks at the plate since high school as Randolph tried to stretch out the rookie's arm. But that at-bat may have been the only completely unsalvageable thing in the whole game -- three pitches, the last of which whizzed right by a dumbstruck Smith.
"I couldn't believe I struck out looking," Smith said. "I thought he was going to throw me a curveball."
Luckily, the rest of the offense had much better luck. Green mashed another two hits to stay hot, Wright came up with his fourth and fifth knocks of May after a dreadful April, and second baseman Ruben Gotay earned his first hit and RBI as a Met.
The Mets did leave 12 runners on base through the first five innings, but kept pounding out hits with such frequency that it didn't seem to matter. With all those baserunners -- 18 in all, on 11 hits and seven walks -- it would be near impossible for each one to touch home.
"We scored six runs. Usually, six runs is going to win a game," Wright said. "Sometimes, it is a little deceiving because we have so many runners on base that we're probably going to leave a lot of runners on base. It's just the nature of the game."
The nature of the game is a popular scapegoat for any wrongdoing -- errors, slumps, even losses. So it was refreshing for this team to escape the feisty Marlins with a win -- the ultimate salvage job in a day full of them.
And though the word "salvage" implies a far cry from perfection, it can also mark the start of something good. So it was with the Mets, who now have plenty on which to build. Wright's bat, Perez's left arm, the bullpen's ability in the clutch -- they're all on the uptick, giving the Mets some clear goals as they embark on their first long road trip of the season.
"Everyone's a work in progress," Randolph said. "You've still got to go out and be consistent, that's really the key. Just because you have a nice little run, it's nice to see them succeed and progress, but no one's got it all figured out yet."
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.