It takes a lot to overshadow Roger Clemens, but Oliver Perez managed to do just that last night. The Mets beat their New York rivals 2-0 and Perez pitched extremely well. Not that Clemens performed badly: far from it. The Rocket struck out eight in 6.1 innings and gave up just two earned runs. With the Yankees batting line-up behind him (even if it’s not firing on all cylinders, it must seem like a goldmine compared to the Astros bunch of the previous couple of years), performances like this will translate into a healthy number of wins for Clemens. Anyone who thinks the Yanks are dead and buried could be in for a big shock. They will be in the mix for a play-off spot in September.
That Clemens pitched so well last night only goes to show what a great job Perez did. He held the Yankees scoreless for 7.1 innings, giving up just five hits in the process. It’s amazing to think that Perez was basically thrown away by the Pirates last year. It could be argued that the Pirates had given Perez plenty of chances to succeed and that he eventually needed a change of scenery to kick-start his career. Maybe that’s true, but it is difficult to look at the situation and not conclude that it typifies why the Buccos have had so little success in recent years. Of course, it also shows the different ways in which different organisations can approach roster-building. The Mets can afford to take a flyer on a guy like Perez because if it doesn’t work out they still have plenty more resources (both players and money) to win with. Other teams don’t have that luxury.
Still, that’s the law of the jungle. It’s up to each organisation to assess their situation and find a way to win. The Mets have faced a lot of criticism for trading Scott Kazmir, and rightfully so, but ultimately they have still been able to put together very competitive teams. The Pirates cannot afford to make such mistakes. Despite their crop of promising players, it’s hard to envisage Pittsburgh challenging either New York team in the play-offs in the near future as a result.