Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies
Location: Philadelphia, Pa (Citizens Bank Park)
Pitchers of Record:
Glavine W (3-1): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 5 BB, 3 K, 0 HR
Garcia L (0-1): 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
Time of Game: 3:29 Attendance: 27,058
Fact: Tom picked up a single and scored a run in his second at bat of the game.
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The playing conditions at frosty Citizens Bank Park had rather different effects on the Mets and the Phillies. In the Mets’ case, it did not bother Moises Alou, who shunned batting gloves, as usual, and slammed two deep home runs into the wind. The Phillies? They had a brain freeze, forgetting that there are three outs in an inning.
It was, in other words, life as usual so far this season for division rivals heading in opposite directions. The Mets rolled to an 8-1 win Tuesday night behind a stellar all-around performance from Alou, while his teammates turned three double plays to help Tom Glavine record career victory No. 293.
The celebration was tempered briefly when catcher Paul Lo Duca left in the fourth inning after sustaining a bone bruise in his right index finger; he was hit by Chase Utley’s foul tip in the third.
Preliminary X-rays were negative. After the game Lo Duca, wearing a protective sleeve around the finger, said he was able to grip a bat but took himself out because he would have had trouble throwing. He said he would try to play Wednesday night in Miami against the Marlins.
“I wanted to go in a corner and cry,” Lo Duca said. “It hurt.”
Lo Duca’s replacement, Ramón Castro, went 2 for 2 and drove in two runs, and four other players rapped two hits in spoiling Freddy García’s Phillies debut. For the first time since Saturday, the Mets were not rained out, but the temperature was 46 degrees at first pitch, and the accompanying 20-mile-an-hour winds sent dozens of fans streaming for the exits as early as the fourth inning.
Since pitching in 72-degree weather on opening night in St. Louis, Glavine has made his last three starts in the following temperatures: 45, 44 and 46. It has taken a toll.
“When it’s that cold, that ugly, you’re basically just in survival mode,” Glavine said. “You can’t get a feel for anything. As much as you want to sequence pitches, you can’t if you can’t feel the ball.”
Glavine’s control has suffered. He has walked 11 batters over that stretch, including 5 on Tuesday. Yet Glavine is 3-1, and he said, “I can’t complain about that.”
Glavine is always his harshest critic, and he was not overly concerned about his early struggles. He left spring training feeling well, and he figures that life will return to normal whenever it gets warmer. He allowed six hits in six innings, and the Phillies’ run came in the third, shortly after he walked García on four pitches. A fielder’s choice, a hit batsman and a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Howard brought the Phillies within 2-1. Glavine said he would rather walk Howard than give him something meaty to hit.
When they squared off again in the third, with the Mets leading by 3-1, Glavine prepared to face the most challenging aspect of his night. After Jimmy Rollins ripped a leadoff double and Shane Victorino walked, Glavine readied to face the heart of the Phillies’ order with no outs. He froze Utley on an outside fastball for the first out.
He teased the next hitter, Howard, with breaking pitches before firing an 86-m.p.h. fastball past him. Howard swung, but Glavine had slowed down his bat so much that he could not get the bat head out quickly enough. Pat Burrell followed by grounding out to second, and Glavine had avoided trouble yet again.
The Phillies acquired García in a bold trade with the White Sox at the winter meetings in December that, on the surface, made their rotation as formidable as any in the National League. But all the excitement that accompanied the deal started dissipating when García’s velocity, which dropped toward the end of last season, did not return, and a bout with right biceps tendinitis sidelined him for a month.
No longer a power pitcher anyway, García depends on his superb changeup and his breaking pitches more than he did before. Several of the Mets who faced him in the American League — Carlos Beltrán, Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green — hit García well, but their success came before García’s evolution into a finesse pitcher.
The Mets did not need a lot of time to adjust to the new García, as they tagged him for eight hits in four and two-thirds innings. García’s changeup betrayed him in the second inning. After David Wright singled to left, extending his hitting streak to a franchise-record-tying 24 games, Alou bashed a first-pitch changeup deep into the left-field stands. It was Alou’s first home run as a Met, and the team’s first homer since Castro hit one in the second inning April 8 in Atlanta.
“I looked at Burrell to see if I hit it good enough to go out,” Alou said.
The Mets continued pressuring García, putting runners in scoring position in every inning but the fourth, and they finally chased him in the fifth. With two on and two out, Beltrán sliced a double into the left-field corner to score Glavine and extend the Mets’ lead to 3-1.
They added another run in the sixth, when Alou hit his second homer. Green doubled, and after José Valentín grounded out, Manager Willie Randolph let Glavine hit. But Glavine apparently missed a sign from the third-base coach Sandy Alomar and swung away with Green bolting toward home. Green got caught in a rundown and was tagged for the second out.
“Just a miscommunication,” Randolph said.
Glavine struck out a pitch later, but the Phillies stayed in their positions — too cold, perhaps, to move.
Alou's Two Homers Power Mets To Win