A 3-run 1st gave Dillon Gee an early lead and he and the bullpen held off a Blue Jays' offensive assault as the Mets salvaged the series finale, 6-5.
The Good Stuff:
- The Mets got to Henderson Alvarez early: Andres Torres led off with a walk and Mike Baxter stretched a single into a double (this time without incident). David Wright drove them both home with a double and came home two batters later on Kirk Nieuwenhuis's double, which bounced out of Colby Rasmus's glove at the last second in center.
- A red-hot Baxter brought home another in the 2nd on an RBI triple and finished the day a home run shy of the cycle.
- New York scored 2 more in the 5th on RBIs by Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis to make it an even total of 6 runs on the day...
- ...All of which they would need. But Dillon Gee got his job done in 6.2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits (one was a solo home run to Jose Bautista, but that guy's going to hit his against anyone; best to limit the damage and allow a 1-run shot).
- 2 more runs came in on Bobby Parnell's watch, but Tim Byrdak got his man once again to send it to the 9th. In came Frank Francisco, who has built up a reputation even more so than K-Rod as the ultimate "tightrope closer" (Howie Rose even went so far as to say they should hand out top hats whenever he takes the mound because it's a real circus). Frank-Frank issued a leadoff walk and an opposite-field single to Bautista, but buckled down to get the next three Toronto hitters, all of them with the potential to be big boppers, to big-bop their way back to the dugout with swinging strikeouts. Eric Thames was the last to go and the Mets got out of town avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Canadians.
- In a rare "high-leverage" situation, Bobby Parnell folded under the pressure in the 8th inning, giving up 2 runs and raising the blood pressure of Met fans from Long Island to Long Beach. One will remember last year when Parnell was given an audition at closer and couldn't get it done; it makes you wonder whether he's got the nerve to be a 9th inning guy. I'm in favor of giving him another chance if Francisco remains inconsistent, but if he fails again he may be doomed to the earlier innings for the rest of his career.
- New York kept this game unnecessarily close with more than a few missed chances, leaving 11 men on and coming up short with a prime opportunity in the 8th: Ike Davis led off with a double, went to third on a passed ball, and was thrown out at the plate trying to advance on another one. Ronny Cedeno hit what would've been an RBI single a couple pitches later, and Rob Johnson followed with a base knock of his own. After Andres Torres struck out (he's cold as ice, right now hitting .200 on the dot for the year), Mike Baxter walked to set up David Wright with a prime bases-loaded opportunity. Baseball's a funny game, let me tell you: we all gawk at David's .412 batting average through this year but we forget that the best to play the game still got hits in well less than half their at-bats. Even getting hits 41% of the time, Wright's getting outs 59% of the time. This was one of those 59% times: David struck out swinging to end the threat and complete the rare 0-run, 3-hit, 3-left-on inning.
Whew! The Mets almost gave this one away, but at the last second took the offer off the table and pocketed it for themselves. They will lick their wounds going back south of the border tonight and head into Pittsburgh for the last leg of this road trip looking to take a couple games and even things out. Simply put: if they can play like they did for most of today, they'll win. If they play like they did on Friday, Saturday, and at times today, they'll lose. The question for this inconsistent bunch is which team will show up to the beautiful PNC Park tomorrow night?