26 May

When Hisanori Takahashi pitches like he did last Friday and Wednesday night, keeping the Yankees and Phillies off the score board for 12 consecutive innings as a starter, he makes up for all of the Japanese imports who bombed in Queens.

From Kaz Matsui to Tsuyoshi Shinjo to Satoru Komiyama to Shingo Takatsu, the Mets have seen their share of Japanese stars struggle in New York.

Of course Matsui provided his yearly home run on Opening Day and Masato Yoshi played an important role in the 1999 postseason run, but the Mets never had their Hideo Nomo (in his prime),  Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui.

So when the Mets brought Takahashi, as well as Ryota Igarashi, to the big club this season, most of us first scratched our heads trying to understand why they made the club, followed by the expectation that they would under-achieve like so many failed stars from the East.

Takahashi  is not one of those disappointments.  He saved this team’s bullpen for most of April and early May, but he is now a critical piece in the Mets run to relevancy and possibly contention.

Takahashi is everything that Oliver Perez isn’t. He throws strikes and thus, fewer pitches.

He met the challenge of the defending American and National League Champions, shutting them all out, including some of the game’s best hitters. Takahashi was in control.

Now, Takahashi and the Mets find themselves three games out of first, over .500 and once again in the hunt for serious October baseball.

This team has found its groove once again. Like Jason bay, they are streaky and  they are probably still a .500 team.

However, with strong pitching from the most unlikely of players, plus the return of the real Jose Reyes, the Mets are alive with June around the corner.

It was only a week ago when this past statement was the most optimistic of hopes for a team falling fast into the cellar of the National League East.


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