If anybody doubted the potential of the New York Mets, Willie Randolph’s club probably erased those uncertainties last night. The Mets faced the National League’s best team—San Diego—which sent their best pitcher to the mound—Jake Peavy—and New York still clobbered them 7-0. The forever-youthful Orlando Hernández spun a seven-inning gem, allowing no runs and scattering just two hits while striking out four. El Duque also helped his own cause, singling in the fifth before stealing second base and scoring on a Jose Valentín single.
And the Mets received some much-welcomed contributions from key hitters, including two doubles, an RBI and a run from slumping centerfielder Carlos Beltran, two hits and two RBIs from first baseman Carlos Delgado and two RBIs from catcher Paul Lo Duca. New hitting coach Howard Johnson forced the struggling Beltrán, Lo Duca, Valentín and others to take extra batting practice four and a half hours before the game, and the work clearly paid off.
It was especially nice for Beltrán, who has batted a putrid .213 (52 for 244) since May 1. Only four regular MLB starters had lower averages during that time, and in that group only Atlanta’s Andruw Jones is anywhere near the perceived caliber of Beltrán. Of course, if he doesn’t come out of the slump, at least New York only has seven years and $119 million invested in him.