Saturday, September 10, 2011

Game #144: Mets 5, Cubs 4

Mets 2B Justin Turner's ground-rule double beats the Cubs 5-4 at Citi Field Friday night. (
Back in May when he became the first Met to win Rookie of the Month, Justin Turner had a knack for clutch hitting. When he was up and there were runners in scoring position, he would find a way to get them across the plate. This September night, the Justin Turner of May made an encore appearance.

Turner's game-winning ground-rule double in the bottom of the 9th scored Jason Pridie and redeemed Manny Acosta. Most importantly, it gave the Mets a series-opening 5-4 win over the Cubs.

The Good Stuff:
  • Justin Turner's mini-renaissance wasn't limited to just the 9th inning. Back in the 2-hole for the night, the position where he so excelled in the springtime, Turner went 3-5 on the night with 2 doubles, a run, and 2 RBIs. His first RBI double came in the 5th and gave New York a 4-3 lead.
  • Jason Bay stayed hot, smashing 2 doubles and driving home a run.
  • Down 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th, it was Turner who sparked a rally, leading off with a single. Lucas Duda followed with a single that sent Justin to third and David Wright's fielder's choice plated Turner. Angel Pagan followed with a single, then Bay smashed the second of his 2 doubles to score Wright. Nick Evans brought home Pagan right after on an RBI groundout.
  • Mike Pelfrey wasn't great but wasn't awful either; he allowed 3 runs in the 3rd and 4th, but kept Chicago off the board for the rest of his 6 2/3 innings. Josh Stinson finished off the 7th cleanly, then Stinson, Tim Byrdak, and Bobby Parnell each got outs in the 8th.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Manny Acosta entered in the 9th to try to bolster his case for the closer's role. So what happened? He didn't. Acosta struck out a guy, walked another, got the second out on a lineout, gave up a single, then allowed Darwin Barney the single that tied the game.
    • Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Mets going into 2012 is who will close out games. While K-Rod's era was less than perfect, at least with him you always knew who would be out there in the 9th. New York has multiple options (Parnell, Acosta, Beato), but neither one of these guys has been able to consistently string together saves. So another question emerges: does Sandy Alderson try to shop around for a stopper? Would Heath Bell or Brian Wilson? Probably not El Beardo because, God love him, the only place a guy like that could be that much himself is San Francisco. So that leaves Bell. Would he be willing to leave San Diego for the Big Apple? Would the spotlight be too much for him, like it seemed to be for K-Rod? There's a mountain of questions Alderson needs to think about going into this offseason, and the closer situation may be the most important of them all.
Final Analysis:
A walk-off win, no matter the circumstances, always feels good. Especially for the guy who gave it to us. Justin Turner, a regular starter through most of the season, seemed to have become an afterthought. Tonight's performance was his way of saying, "Hey world, I'm still here. Don't forget about me for that second base spot." Way to go, Justin.

While the Mets have had their problems this year, I still wouldn't ever want to be the Cubs. Their financial situation is perhaps even worse than ours: they're paying $18 million a year for a .287 OBP (Alfonso Soriano), and another $18 million for a guy who can't get his anger issues under control (Carlos Zambrano). A book like that only leads one way: the 20 games under .500 way, which is where Chicago sits right now. If things go the way they should, the Cubs will lose Saturday and Sunday, and it won't mean much for them. But for the Mets, 2 more wins would be extremely significant: it would bring us back up to .500. Who would have thought that was even possible just two and a half weeks ago?


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