Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Game #41: Marlins 2, Mets 1 (11)

Omar Infante was doubled off second to end the fifth after Carlos Beltran made a catch in right field and threw to Jose Reyes. (NYTimes.com)
A jaw-dropping double play and two pinch-hitting pitchers later, the result is familiar for Mets fans: disappointment.

In his first at-bat of the season, Burke Badenhop knocked in the go-ahead run for the Marlins, who delivered the Mets a heartbreaking 2-1, 11 inning loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Four letters: R.I.S.P. 2-12 were the Mets with runners in scoring position, and they only managed one run (the other was an infield hit). Biggest black marks?
    • 5th inning: runners on the corners and one out, Jason Bay strikes out, Daniel Murphy flies out.
    • 9th inning: first & second with one out. After a Fernando Martinez fielder's choice to advance the runner to third and an intentional walk to Jose Reyes, Chin-lung Hu grounds out (and I was SO looking forward to a "Hu's on First?" joke!)
    • 10th inning: not so much Bad Stuff as Freaky Stuff. First & second with one out, Justin Turner sends a ground ball to shortstop. It bounces off Hanley Ramirez right to second baseman Omar Infante, who steps on second and fires to first to pull off an unlikely 6-4-3 double play. Ouch.
  • On to the 11th. With 2 on and 2 out, the pitcher's spot is up for Florida. They're out of position players, so who do they send up? Pitcher Burke Badenhop, for his first at bat of the year. Naturally, he came through: a base hit to center that brought home the eventual winning run. Yes, that just happened.
  • Remarkably, that wasn't the end of it: in the bottom of the 11th, the Mets were also out of position players, so they sent pitcher Jon Niese to the plate with two outs. Of course, Niese blasts a triple off the glove of center fielder Emilio Bonifacio. Yes, two pinch-hitting pitchers have come up with the biggest hits of the game. So all Jose Reyes needs to do is poke a single and we go to the 12th. Easier said than done: five Leo Nunez changeups later, Reyes is retired on strikes. Game over, freak show over, Mets lose.
The Good Stuff:
  • What makes this loss even more painful is that Mike Pelfrey pitched his heart out and did well enough to beat Marlins' ace Josh Johnson. Pelf continued his spring renaissance, going 7 frames, allowing just 1 run and 6 hits. His only mistake was a 7th-inning slider that Mike Stanton drove all the way to La Guardia.
  • Willie Harris & Carlos Beltran get nods for great defensive plays. In the 4th, Harris laid out and snagged a line drive that saved a run. Then in the 5th, Beltran made a slip-n-slide catch and fired the ball to second to double off the runner and get out of the jam.
  • In the bottom of the 4th, the Mets got on the board when Justin Turner sliced an RBI double to right-center to score Daniel Murphy. Turner finished 2-5, bringing his batting average up to .318.
The "What If?" Play of the Game
  • One play from that 4th still stands out as the difference. Jason Bay led off with an infield hit, then was thrown out stealing second; apparently he misread the wet infield and started his slide too early. One pitch later, Murphy sliced a single into right. One Josh Johnson wild pitch later, Murphy was on second, and then Turner brought him home. Had Jason held up from stealing for just one more pitch, he would have scored on Turner's double, and New York would have been up 2-0 instead of just 1-0. When it happened, I thought to myself, "That's gonna be big." Unfortunately, I was right.
Final Analysis:
This game had everything thrown in but the kitchen sink. Unfortunately for the Mets, all those ingredients came together to bury them underneath the moist evening dirt of Citi Field. Most heartbreaking loss so far, because we had a chance to steal one from Josh Johnson, the NL's ERA leader, to show that we could survive David Wright's back stress fracture, and couldn't get it done. The only plus to this? We still have our kitchen sink.


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