2006 NEWS

2006 News > 5/5/06

GLAVINE LOOKING REBORN AT 40

By Mark Herrmann, Newsday

The whole key to Tom Glavine's revival is changing speeds. And it has nothing to do with the radar gun. What he has altered are the clock, the calendar and the way the Mets' world turns. What seemed like the sunset of his career when he first came here really is a sunrise.

What he showed again last night in his seven innings of a 6-0 win over the Pirates at Shea Stadium is that he is better at 40 than he ever was. "It's a good year," he said. "A good age."

There was a stretch early last night when he looked as if he were going to alter history, throwing four perfect innings that were so dominant that Shea stirred with dreams of the first-ever Mets no-hitter. That didn't happen, but it didn't matter.

Glavine, seemingly all but done three years ago on a team that was all but dead, had another standup, standout game for a club that is 10 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the World Series-bound 2000 season. It seems worlds away from the gloomy 66-95 Mets of 2003, when Glavine seemed like a past-his-prime veteran playing out the string.

"My first year here, we were just hoping to win some games," he said. "I was probably pitching more to avoid losing games than I was to win games. Last year, it got better when we were on some rolls some times when we were taking the field to win. But to get to that next level, you've got to do that every day. And right now, the way we're playing, we're taking the field every day expecting to win. As a starting pitcher, that's a nice feeling."

Now he is 4-2 with a 1.94 earned run average. He has had two consecutive outings of seven shutout innings. This time, he allowed only three hits and struck out 10. He was absolutely brilliant when he had to be - with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth of a 1-0 game. Glavine got behind in the count to Craig Wilson, 3-and-0, then rallied back to 3-and-2 before retiring him on a fly to rightfield.

Glavine kept doing what has been working for nearly a year: Moving the ball inside and out, and throwing a spectrum of speeds from the high 60 miles-per-hour range to the high 80s.

"If you can cover all those numbers in between," he said, "you can make it hard for the hitters to sit on anything."

When he was asked if he ever has had a run like this in a distinguished 279-win career, he said, "Probably not." Imagine that, a pitcher hitting his stride at 40.

"It's impressive," teammate Xavier Nady said. "That's a tip of the cap to how hard he has worked, the dedication he has put into pitching and into the game. It's fun to watch."

This time, the whole team kept pace with Glavine. David Wright snapped out of his doldrums with a double and three singles, including a run-scoring hit in the five-run seventh.

Nady worked a bases-loaded walk against Paul Maholm in the third. To make sure Glavine didn't have to sweat out another close decision like his 1-0 win in Atlanta Saturday, Nady drilled a seventh-inning pitch from Salomon Torres over the centerfield fence - an estimated 430 feet from the plate. It was a three-run shot that gave the Mets a 5-0 lead.

"When your team doesn't score three runs, you're more surprised than when it does," Glavine said, being kind to an offense that has been struggling a little.

Seeing Glavine look so young is no longer any surprise to the Mets. Pitching coach Rick Peterson promised the pitcher this sort of roll was coming when he finally got him to change his approach last year. "I said, 'It's going to take three or four years before people are going to catch up to what you're doing.' "

The 40-year-old is way ahead right now. It seems as if he's just getting started.

"I feel good physically, I feel good about what I'm doing right now and everything is comfortable," Glavine said.

"And when that's the case, you should go out there and pitch well."