Saturday, April 21, 2012

Game #14: Mets 5, Giants 4

Kirk Nieuwenhuis can’t come up with a fly ball in the ninth as the Giants rally for three runs to tie the game. (
Some wins go down like a steak dinner at a 5-star restaurant, others go down like bad roadside McDonalds. This was one of those McDonalds endings to a game, but it all ends up the same in the W-L column.

A bad blunder in the 9th cost Mike Pelfrey the win, but the Giants evened it up blunder-wise in the bottom of the frame, resulting in a "what just happened?" 5-4 win for the Mets.

The Pre-9th Good Stuff
  • Today's 9th inning deserves a category of its own, so we'll get to that later on. Let's start Good Stuff with what we can actually understand, shall we?
  • Mike Pelfrey was ordained the team's Ace last year, but with the pressure of that label off his back, Big Pelf has been pitching like a real Ace in 2012. Pelfrey went 8 innings and allowed only 1 run on 6 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3, all in just 102 pitches. His ERA in 3 starts this season is an outstanding 2.29, and he earned the W he would've gotten today.
  • In his first game batting 8th since Opening Day, Ruben Tejada tied the game in the 5th on a fielder's choice. Then after Jason Bay's leadoff single, Lucas Duda's walk, and Josh Thole's first sac bunt in the 7th, Tejada laced a double down the third base line to score both and make it 3-1. It was Mr. Clutch's 7th double of the year and would've served as game-winning hit.
  • New York added one more in the 8th after Daniel Murphy's infield hit (he went 3-4 with a double), David Wright's reaching first on an error (sending Murph to third), and Ike Davis's nubber of the bat for an RBI infield single.
The Pre-9th Bad Stuff
  • Of the Mets' 13 RISP at-bats, 11 came in the first 8 innings, and they were only able to convert on 2 of those at-bats.
  • David Wright's hitting streak and reaching base twice streak came to and end today with an 0-4, 2 K showing. His batting average was knocked down to "only" .439.
  • It could have been more than just 4-1 after the 8th, as the Mets had none out, runners on first and second, and Jason Bay at the plate. But Ike Davis was picked off and David Wright caught stealing third, so Bay's groundout to short resulted in the third out of the inning instead of the first (and probably second...but you never assume the double play).
  • After an eye-popping game last night, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was spent this afternoon, going 0-5 total (0-4 before the 9th) with a couple strikeouts. But his biggest blunder would come in...
 The 9th Inning Bad Stuff (or: "Holy Luis Castillo")
  • Despite pitching strong and a 3-run lead, Terry Collins elected to send Frank Francisco out to get the save. Buster Posey led off with a single and Aubrey Huff grounded him over to second. After Nate Schierholtz walked, Emmanuel Burriss singled home the first run. Collins came out and gave Frank the hook, electing to send Tim Byrdak out to turn Hector Sanchez, a better lefty hitter than righty, around. Byrdak struck him out swinging and Jon Rauch was brought on to get the 27th out. He appeared to get it, too, forcing Brandon Belt to pop up to shallow center. But a combination of the ball's placement, the outfield's prevent positioning, and the ghost of Luis Castillo haunting both Tejada and Nieuwenhuis resulted in Kirk overrunning the ball, which dropped harmlessly beyond his reach and allowed San Francisco to tie the game at 4.
  • So it appeared that New York had choked away a sure win and made a new A-Rod out of B-Belt. It seems like that sort of thing happens every year, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. Fortunately, the Mets gave the Giants their W, and San Fran being the happy place it is decided to say, "Nah, you keep it."
The 9th Inning Good Stuff (or: "Some Kind of Redemption, I Guess?")
  • Lucas Duda singled to lead off against Clay Hensley and Josh Thole sent him to scoring position with his second sac bunt of the day. Ruben Tejada drew a walk and Jeremy Affeldt was brought on to face lefty Mike Baxter, who was quickly pulled for Justin Turner. Le Grand Orange Jr. hit a groundball to short that should've been the inning-ending double play, but Aubrey Huff, displaced to second base for the first time of his career, forgot to cover the bag, and Emmanuel Burriss was forced to go to first with the throw, which got there late.
  • Up came Kirk Nieuwenhuis, looking to redeem himself for the blunder in the top of the 9th with his first walk-off. He got it, but not the way he expected. Captain Kirk hit a soft groundball to first which Brandon Belt sent home for the second out. Buster Posey was about to throw to first for the Giants' second inning-ending double play of the inning, but Scott Hairston, the lead-pinch-runner, stuck out his leg on the slide and clipped Posey's right ankle and caused the throw to go into right field. The desperation throw home was late, and Ruben Tejada was in with the winning run on the Giants' 3rd error of the afternoon.
Final Analysis:
Um...okay. In the span of about 20 minutes, the Mets went from cruising along to flailing and failing to celebrating the end of their 3-game losing streak. It's the kind of win you've probably never seen before (the first-ever Met win on an error by the opposing catcher) and may never see again. What do you take from that? I'd say you take all the good from the first 8 innings and see the 9th as an even balance of mistakes that gave the W to the team that had earned it in the first 8 frames. Since the Mets were ahead, they get that W. But the fact that they could make a blunder like that and still end up winning is the most Amazin' accident of them all.


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