10/06/06 1:00 AM ET
Mets throwing Dodgers different looks
Injuries and subsequent shuffles also work in New York's favor
For two days, the Mets have emptied their arsenal against the Dodgers. That includes big weapons, as well as the baseball version of water torture.A night after pulling out the big home runs and big doubles, the Mets wore down the Dodgers with sharp fielding. And the speed of Endy Chavez and Julio Franco, who between them average 38 years. "We can win a lot of different ways," said Jose Reyes, whose sixth-inning single to center drove in the Mets' final run. "It doesn't always have to be with power." "We're that type of club -- great power, but also great speed," Floyd said. "We understand that we still have to execute. When we play that way, we're hard to beat. And we did that tonight." Even a little small ball was too much for the Dodgers. Because even a lot of tape is too little for Garciaparra. The valiant warhorse's picture is used by now as an illustration in medical journals to pinpoint various injuries. When the simple act of hustling up the line to beat out an infield single strained Garciaparra's quad injury to the quitting point, the Dodgers sagged. Jeff Kent moved from second to replace Garciaparra at first, necessitating Julio Lugo to switch from third to second and for Wilson Betemit to enter the game at third. This transpired in the bottom of the sixth of a 2-0 game, and the Mets immediately, if inadvertently, benefited.
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Following singles by David Wright and Floyd, Jose Valentin laid down a bunt at about a 45-degree angle between third base and the mound. Instincts abandoned Betemit, who laid back for a possible force at third that really wasn't possible. Reliever Brett Tomko was slow enough off the mound to hurry an errant throw to first.One out later, Franco pinch-hit and sent a roller to short. Maybe Rafael Furcal allowed the ball one hop too many. More than likely, Lugo's pivot was a beat slow. Either way, Franco's 48-year-old legs beat the relay to first. This became a two-run play when Reyes followed with his single. "We misplayed a couple of balls and a good team took advantage," Little said. "After you hit the ball, you have to become a runner," Franco said. "That kept the inning alive, and we got two runs out of that play. When we play like that, we can compete with anybody." Or the way the Mets manufactured their first run. Chavez bunted for a single to lead off the third, went to second on a wild pitch -- after Glavine was twice unable to bunt him over -- took third as Glavine hit a grounder the other way and scored on Reyes' slow groundout. "That's part of my game -- speed. If I put the ball in play, it makes it tough on them," Chavez said. Little must have had a premonition, because one pitch into the game, he appealed to home-plate umpire Ted Barrett that his lineup card had Shawn Green, rather than Chavez, in right field. Nice try, Grady. Barrett convinced him that the wrong lineup had wound up in his hands. Chavez stayed. The Dodgers became frayed. And they were left wondering if, in a season made by comebacks, they had one more notable rally left in them. "We're in a tight spot, you know?" Little said. "That pretty much sums it up. We've been there before." But there is a difference between losing 13 of 14 coming out of the All-Star break and losing two of two in October. In July, you can look forward to the rest of summer. Now, time is not on your side, and winter threatens.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.