It took until the fifth series of the season for the Mets to finally emerge from one as the victor, but, well, they weren't going to lose them all, right? It was longer than most of us imagined, I'm sure, but their win on Thursday night against the Cubs secured a 3-1 series win just in time for the Braves' arrival in Queens for a three-game set this weekend. The Braves have sputtered a bit to this point, but their 8-7 record is still stronger than the Mets' 7-9 mark. After the Braves we'll see the Dodgers in their only visit to Citi Field, and then April closes (and May begins) with a three-game stopover in
Gomorrah Philly. Barf bags optional for that one
It may seem a funny thing to say, but despite losing those first four series -- to the Marlins, Nationals, Rockies, and Cardinals -- the Mets did manage to avoid being swept in any of them. Small consolation, perhaps, but the upshot is that, so early in the season, simply treading water has kept them within shouting distance of the Phillies, and despite a generally unsatisfactory first three weeks of the season the Mets are just two games under .500 and just 3.5 games out of first place. If we consider how much has gone horribly wrong so far -- zippo from Jason Bay, the whole team struggling with runners in scoring position, the pitching staff walking everyone in sight, Carlos Beltran still uncleared for baseball activities -- let's at least concur on this point: things could be a whole lot worse.
But enough about that; on to the game! Johan Santana looked like, if not vintage Johan Santana, at least vintage Mets Johan Santana. He struck out five Cubs in 6.1 innings, walked none, and recorded twice as many fly ball outs as grounders. With one out in the seventh, he gave way to Everyday Fernando Nieve, who gave up a hit to the only batter he faced before ceding the mound to Pedro Feliciano, who retired three batters across two innings, cleaning up Nieve's and Santana's mess in the seventh but leaving behind his own when he departed with one out and runners on first and second in the eighth. Jenrry "Should be in Double-A" Mejia walked Geovany Soto on a borderline ball call to load the bases, and Jerry Manuel called on Francisco Rodriguez (aka One-Inning McGee) to attempt the five-out save. McGee retired all five batters he faced -- one was a sacrifice fly to Mike Fontenot -- and whiffed three of the last four, retiring Derrek Lee on a fly ball to Francoeur to end the game. It was Rodriguez's first five-out save since 2005.
Apart from Ike Davis (3-for-4 with a double), the Mets' offense wasn't anything special tonight (apparently in keeping with their season so far). They scored five runs in all, but two came home on an error in the bottom of the sixth on a ground ball to second by Angel Pagan that Fontenot lost track of whilst being distracted by the vastness of Rod Barajas's derrière (assist to Barajas, or to his derrière?). David Wright did come up with a crucial RBI double in the sixth that put the Mets on the board, and he struck out thrice more to bring his season total to 21 in 54 at-bats. Win some, lose some, I guess.
Wright breaks tie with a double
K-Rod: Five-out save
Big winners: Johan Santana, +30.1% WPA, Francisco Rodriguez, +17.0% WPA
Big losers: Jason Bay, -8.9% WPA, Jenrry Mejia, -8.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wright RBI double in sixth, +16.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Soto walk in eighth, -8.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +38.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: +11.1% WPA
GWRBI!: None (error)
Nice job by fxcarden; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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