I can’t let my personal disappointment of the A’s being knocked out cloud the performance of Jeff Suppan in the NLCS last night.
To blank this Mets lineup is no small feat, particularly in game three with the series tied at 1-1. To give up only three hits over eight innings, while walking just one, is a fantastic start in anyone’s books. To sock a solo homer in the second inning as well? That’s doing your bit for the team and then some.
Tonight’s match-up should be fascinating, with two starting pitchers in unchartered territory.
Oliver Perez is an enigma looking to prove that his 2004 performance wasn’t a fluke. I doubt Willie Randolph has much of a clue what sort of start he is going to get from Perez. Darren Oliver pitched six good innings in relief of Steve Trachsel last night and the Mets bullpen could do with at least a six inning start from Perez in the fourth of five straight days of action. Now is the time for Perez to translate his good stuff into a good outing.
As for the Cards, they are sending twenty-five year old rookie Anthony Reyes to the mound for his first play-off appearance. Just as importantly, Reyes has never faced the Mets. Whoever takes advantage of this lack of familiarity could determine the result. This situation would generally favour the pitcher as no amount of film can totally prepare the batter for facing a pitcher for the first time. The Mets will be looking to take advantage of any nerves Reyes may have by trying to get to him early.
The beauty of the play-offs is that they throw up unexpected heroes. It will be fascinating to see whether it is Perez or Reyes who follows Jeff Suppan’s lead tonight.