Archive for Friday, October 13, 2006

Dazzling defense gives lift to Mets

October 13, 2006


— The New York Mets kept catching breaks, mostly because David Wright, Endy Chavez and their teammates caught most every ball.

Dazzling defense was a key to the Mets' 2-0 victory over St. Louis in the NL championship series opener on Thursday night.

Right to the end, the Mets showed off glittering gloves.

"Defense was great, and obviously I needed it to be great," said Tom Glavine, who stretched his scoreless streak this postseason to 13 innings. "I'm relying on those guys a lot. They know that. And I think they accept that."

First baseman Carlos Delgado speared Albert Pujols' liner off Billy Wagner to start the ninth inning, prompting the St. Louis slugger to drop his bat in frustration. Juan Encarnacion followed with a hard grounder up the middle, and second baseman Jose Valentin backhanded the ball and made a leaping throw to first for the out.

Throw in a strong peg by center fielder Carlos Beltran for a double play, a fast reaction by Wright to catch a liner at third base and a sprawling grab by Chavez in left field, and the Mets cut off every Cardinals' chance.

"When we hit the ball, they seemed to have a guy there," Cardinals leadoff man David Eckstein said.

During the regular season, New York was in the middle of the pack defensively, eighth in the 16-team league. But the Mets were flawless against the Cardinals, making two inning-ending double plays and keeping the game scoreless until Beltran's two-run homer in the sixth off Jeff Weaver.

Wright started the good glove night in the third, after the bottom two hitters in the Cardinals' batting order, Yadier Molina and Weaver, singled with one out.

Eckstein hit a liner to Wright, who flipped to Valentin to end the inning. Wright easily could have tagged out Molina himself.

"It's a momentum changer, to be able to get a double play in a big situation," Wright said. "It's huge, especially in the postseason, because everything is so magnified and every out is so important."


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