|David Wright dives for a ball as the Mets come back to beat the Cardinals 8-6 Thursday. (NYDailyNews.com)|
Ruben Tejada and Willie Harris punctuated a 6-run 9th in which the team picked up 4 of their 8 walks, and the Mets pulled one out of the fire to salvage an 8-6 win over the Cardinals.
The Good Stuff:
- Down 6-1 in the 8th, Ruben Tejada created his own luck, slashing a single and going to second on an error. He then came third on a wild pitch, and finally came home on a passed ball, all with Angel Pagan.
- Then in the 9th, Willie Harris started things off with a walk. Nick Evans reached on an error (St. Louis's second of three of the day), then after Josh Thole flew out, Jason Pridie drew another walk. Up came a pinch-hitting Justin Turner, who fought back from an early 1-2 count to pick up a 10-pitch walk, forcing in a run to make it 6-3. After a pitching change, Jose Reyes blooped a broken-bat single over a diving Ryan Theriot at second to score another. Up came Tejada, already known as a force at the plate with the bags full. Mr. Bases Loaded outdid himself, fighting back from 0-2 and tagging a 3-2 fastball to the left field corner, tying the game at 6. Pagan was walked and David Wright struck out, bringing up the man who started this whole rally: Willie Harris. With a 2-2 count, Harris was looking for a changeup. He got it, and sent the ball into right field, plating 2 more runs and giving the Mets a stunning victory.
- Mr. Bases Loaded has earned that nickname: with men at every base, Tejada is 6-11 with 3 walks (including another one in the 5th that put New York on the board in this game). It's clutch hitting like that that gives Tejada a strong case for the starting job at second base, should Jose Reyes resign with the team. Trouble is...Justin Turner has that same clutch-hitting ability. So what to do? As much as I love Le Grand Orange Jr., Mr. Bases Loaded will probably be the man to win out. Turner started off hot, but his average has dwindled to .263, while Tejada's average has been trending up, and now sits at .280. Tejada is also just 21 years old to Turner's 26, which gives him a tremendous upside. Of course, if Reyes is gone in 2012, you've got no problems: Tejada is at short and Turner at second. But if Jose stays a Met, Tejada should be the one to take the spot at second base.
- Back to the game at hand. Manny Acosta soared through the 8th to pick up the win, and Bobby Parnell registered a save with a 1-2-3 9th, aided by an incredible diving catch by Jason Pridie in right to retire the Cardinal catcher (his name is cursed in the Met-averse) and end the game.
- David Wright had a dreadful game at the plate, going 0-5 with 3 Ks, including with the bases loaded just before Harris's heroics.
- Chris Capuano struggled on the hill once again, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He gave up 2 home runs, including Albert Pujols's 37th of the year.
Holy cow, these guys know how to make things exciting. It's been wins like these throughout this season that have made it a fun one to watch, in spite of the fact the team will finish under .500 again. But if these Mets can fix their problems (mainly pitching) and still keep this fighting spirit, they will be a real force to be reckoned with in 2012.
This was New York's final road game of the 2011 campaign. After this, they'll have a 3-game set against the already-clinched Phillies over the weekend and will finish out the year against the Cincinnati Reds, whom the Mets swept in 4 games in July. Going 5-1 will put us at 79-83, just like last year. It'll be tough to do so, but if the team that showed up in the 8th and 9th today returns home to Citi Field, anything is possible.