2005 NEWS

2005 News > 9/18/05

GLAVINE BRILLIANT IN BEATING FORMER TEAMMATES IN FINALE

By Marty Noble, MLB.com
Original Article HERE.

NEW YORK -- We're all pretty sure we know the numbers that define Tom Glavine at this stage of his career: 2, the number of Cy Young Awards he has won; 5, the number of times he has won 20 or more games; 273, his career victory total; 39, his age; and 300, his objective.

Now these two define where Glavine is at this stage in his season: 5 and 30.

"I wish I'd made five starts," he says, "and had 30 more."

All of which is to say that Glavine is seeking an extension, not of the three-year contract the Mets bestowed on him between the 2002 and '03 seasons, but of the 2005 Mets season.

As a central figure in their season, he has found it to be uplifting and disappointing, trying and satisfying, stressful and enjoyable, irksome and then some. And now that it has merely two weeks -- and probably two starts -- remaining, he finds it to be too short.

Not since the last time his Braves were bounced from the postseason has Glavine experienced the feelings that flooded his mind and made him little-boy giddy Sunday afternoon. Like the kid who wants to stay up later, he wants more-more-more.

"I've wanted seasons to go on for team reasons, of course," he said Sunday. "We were in the playoffs or World Series. But as far as being excited and feeling good physically and wanting to go on for those reasons ... i t's been a long time. ... Maybe I'll go to winter ball."

Glavine had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous Sunday, from shutting down the Braves in the Mets' 4-1 victory, to reveling in his nearly unprecedented success against his former team, to putting himself on a mound in the San Juan in December.

"I'm pretty happy," he said more than once.

Not much that happens on a Major League field in September has much effect come April. The case of Glavine versus the Braves may be an exception. Now that he has pitched well and, in the same game, beaten his former team, he can cross another entry off his shrinking big-league to-do-list. Now he can get on with other parts of what he hopes will be a Hall of Fame resume -- i.e., winning 27 more games and, thereby, removing any doubt of his Cooperstown worthiness.

Now he can see the Braves as he sees other opponents -- faceless, nameless men with large chards of wood standing 60 feet, 6 inches away to the West, trying to do him harm.

Glavine had beaten the Braves, though only once in 11 tries during his nearly three-season tour with the Mets, and he had pitched well against them, too -- twice this summer, in fact. But not until Sunday at Shea had he done both in the same game. Never had he been the primary element in a Mets victory against the team they seldom beat.

But Glavine was precisely that against the perennial division champions. He shut them down -- and almost out -- to gain his 11th victory of the season and gain a sense of satisfaction. Glavine pitched a complete game, his first since in 54 starts and allowed them merely six hits -- one a home run by Marcus Giles -- and two walks, one intentional, and struck out three. The complete game was the 54th of his career, his first since May 23 last year when he threw a one-hitter against the Rockies.

Glavine had beaten them in his first start last season, allowing two runs in six innings in a 7-2 game, but that victory was largely a function of early offense and a veteran knowing how to protect a 6-2 lead. The Mets were held scoreless for five innings before they scored -- four times on three pitches -- Sunday, and Glavine was in arrears, 1-0, when Giles struck in the top of the sixth.

He had to deal with the negative déjà vu of it, a heavy dose of "Oh no! Not this again." Glavine had allowed the Braves one run in seven innings at Shea on July 15 and come away with a no-decision in a Mets loss. And he and the Mets endured the same fate in Turner Field on Sept. 7 when he surrendered one run in 7 1/3 innings.

But now, finally, Glavine has beaten them his way -- his new way, actually, with sliders, cutters and curves to go a long with his normal fastball-changeup mix, with pitches on the inside half of the plate to lefthanded and righthanded batters.

"It's the most comfortable I ever felt, using all my pitches," he said. "It's probably as balanced a spread of pitches as I've had in my career. Everything came together for the first time."

His record against the Braves still is unbecoming at 2-8, but he appears to be moving in the proper direction. "Now I think I have a real good chance to pitch well against them -- or anybody else."

And that allows him to speak of next season and beyond and winning 300 games without the "ifs" that had qualified his thoughts of post-2005 in April and May. Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson told him, "Every team has a game plan on how to beat Tom Glavine, we have to erase them." The plan that allowed the Braves to score 11 runs in 11 innings in his first two starts against him this season doesn't work now.

Other teams have faltered as well since Glavine first applied the eraser Peterson had provided. His ERA in his past 13 starts is 2.44. That his record in that sequence of starts is 5-6 is a reflection on his support. In eight of the 13 games, the Mets scored three or fewer runs.

And that's what made the Mets' "two-minute" offense so surprising. They scored four times against losing pitcher John Thomson in, essentially, a four-pitch sequence. The fourth pitch of a leadoff walk to Jose Reyes was followed in immediate succession by run-scoring doubles by Victor Diaz and Carlos Beltran and the career-high 32nd home run of Cliff Floyd's rekindled season. The home run was the 200th of Floyd's career.

But the victory was mostly Glavine's doing. It was clearly Glavine's day. And all he's asking for is a few more -- this year.