2007 NEWS

2007 News > 7/21/07

ONE TO FORGET AND STILL TWO TO GO

By Ben Shpigel, NY Times
Original Article HERE.

LOS ANGELES — He had to be thinking, of all the nights. Of all the times in his storied career, Tom Glavine had to be saying to himself, “This had to happen now?” as he trudged off the mound in the third inning Thursday, a seemingly certain 299th victory yanked from his grasp by his own ineffectiveness.

Glavine greeted the cluster of reporters that surrounded him after the Mets defeated the Dodgers, 13-9, with a big smile — well, big for someone who gave up 6 runs and 10 hits and did not record an out in the third — and said with a laugh, “Fun night, huh?”

It is easy to say that Glavine was merely staying in character, that he was really bugged beyond belief by the fact that, given a six-run lead before he even threw a pitch, he could not do what he had done in all but two of his starts this season: pitch at least five innings. This is the same person who, after a late rally last Saturday against Cincinnati gave him a victory to show for his eight brilliant innings, joked after the game that if he had gotten a no-decision, there would have been some “psychological repercussions.”

“Tommy is human, you know,” Scott Schoeneweis said. “I think we’d all be a little worried if he didn’t consider last night a missed opportunity.”

Throughout this season, which for Glavine began with three victories in his first four starts before a series of no-decisions, Glavine has mostly directed his frustration at how his performance has affected the team’s. In June, when he allowed the most runs (16) he ever had over two consecutive starts, he said that he was looking forward to winning his 300th game because, among other reasons, it meant two more victories for the team.

If he pitches poorly and wins, “it’s a whole lot easier to deal with,” Glavine said.

As Glavine knows, there is a delicate balance between pursuing an individual achievement and doing his job, which is to win games for the Mets. He cannot be totally selfless because he is on the verge of accomplishing one of the rarest feats in baseball.

Schoeneweis said he was a “wreck” every time Glavine pitched because he wanted his friend and teammate to succeed.

“I obviously want us to win every game, but I want Tom to win every time he goes out there, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” Schoeneweis said. “This guy’s doing something that none of us may ever see happen again.”

On Thursday night, Glavine gave up two runs in the first inning. It would have been worse if Shawn Green had not thrown out Jeff Kent at third base. Glavine allowed two more runs in the second and another in the third before he was replaced by Aaron Sele after loading the bases with no outs.

It served as a reminder that Glavine is not a dominating ace anymore. He can, on occasion, pitch like one, and he has a few times in the past month. But Glavine said Thursday’s game reminded him of the last time he pitched at Dodger Stadium, on June 7, 2006, when he gave away leads of 4-0 and 5-1 before getting the decision in a 9-7 Mets victory.

“Anytime your team goes out there and gives you six runs, then three innings into it gives you nine runs, and you’re struggling to win the game, that’s frustrating,” Glavine said. “I appreciate those guys going out there and scoring me runs. When I don’t do anything to protect that, it’s frustrating. It’s embarrassing. It’s all those things. I feel awful when we score that many runs that early in the game and we’re having to scrape and claw to win it.”

Glavine said he did not care where he won No. 300. This is not mid-September, when only a few starts remain. He has plenty of time. If Glavine wins his next start, scheduled for Wednesday against Pittsburgh at Shea Stadium, his first two tries for 300 would come on the road, in Milwaukee and Chicago.

“I’m just focused on pitching the game at hand and getting ready for the next start,” Glavine said. “I’m not worrying about all the other stuff.”