2007 NEWS

2007 News > 9/9/07

By Steve Popper, The Record

NEW YORK -- Behind the plate, Paul Lo Duca began to wonder. In the stands, the buzz began to mount, each out garnering a little more applause.

But as Tom Glavine took the mound for the sixth inning having set down 15 straight Houston Astro batters, he might have been the only person in Shea Stadium who wasn't thinking about a no-hitter or a perfect game.

"No," he said, laughing. "Not with my stuff and not with the stuff I had today."

Glavine was right, the flirtations going out the window when Cody Ransom led off the sixth inning with a clean single floated into left-center field. But he was good enough to pitch the Mets to a 3-1 win and earn a standing ovation when the no-hit bid ended.

It was the fourth time in his career that Glavine has been perfect through five innings -- a point he's gotten past just once in his 21 seasons. While this win improved his record to 13-6 on the season and gave him 303 victories for his career, he has never had a no-hitter, and with a fastball that topped out at 84 miles per hour, isn't waiting on pins and needles for one to come.

"I don't think I ever think about a no-hitter until I get to the seventh or eighth inning and I've only been there once," Glavine said. "I wasn't too concerned with it today."

"His fastball was moving a lot," Lo Duca said, a lot more enthusiastic about the chance than Glavine. "He had great control of his change-up. He was dominant. On the way in [after the fifth] I thought he had a shot."

Glavine breezed through those first five innings. The only chance the Astros had was a line drive to the track in right field by Carlos Lee in the second inning that Lastings Milledge got a bad read on and nearly got over his head, and then a hard grounder to third base by Ty Wigginton to end the fifth that bounced off David Wright's chest, but he scooped it up and fired to first in time.

"It's hard to say Tommy is dominant because he doesn't strike you as that," manager Willie Randolph said. "But when he's throwing his change-up and moving pitches around, that's exactly what he is."

After he gave up the single to Ransom, he got Eric Munson to ground into a 4-6-3 double play on the next pitch. One pitch later he ended the inning by getting Astros pitcher Woody Williams to line out to shortstop. At that point, Glavine had needed just 69 pitches to get through six innings. He retired the side in order in the seventh, but when he gave up two singles to start the eighth inning, he was done.

Aaron Heilman came on and gave up a bloop single to Wigginton to score one run, but then struck out Luke Scott, Munson and Mike Lamb to end the inning. Billy Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for the save.

The victory never seemed to be in doubt, even as the Astros threatened in the eighth inning.

Wright provided the first run with an opposite-field home run -- his 27th of the season to match his career high -- and the Mets added single runs in the fourth and fifth on a Lo Duca RBI double and a wild pitch that plated Luis Castillo.

Glavine has not lost a decision since July 2 -- he's 6-0 with a 3.30 ERA since then. And in his last three starts as the Mets have pushed themselves forward in the pennant race, he has allowed just two earned runs in 20 innings.

"It's always nice to hit your stride in the most important part of the year," Glavine said. "From my standpoint, I'm just trying to go out there and provide our guys an opportunity to win the game every time I go out there. I feel good about how I've been able to do that.

"It certainly is important this time of year. I've been through this. I understand what it's about. I'm one of the veteran guys they rely on to go out there and do what you're supposed to do this time of year, so I'm happy I've been able to go out there and do it."

The Mets will follow Glavine with Pedro Martinez today. Martinez joked, "Don't worry about my velocity," after watching Glavine get the results he did.

Glavine would agree.

"I'm not a guy that goes out there and obviously relies on velocity or anything like that," he said. "Today I topped out at 82, 84, and normally it's 86, 87. I just didn't feel like I had that extra zip I have sometimes on my fastball. That doesn't bother me.

"I've pitched enough games where something is missing -- good velocity, location, movement -- and you go out there and work with what you have. If I had my druthers I'd rather not have what I consider my best velocity, but have good location and movement. That's what I had today."