At game time, the Carlos Beltran trade was complete in every sense but the official one. That meant the Mets could obviously not insert him in the starting lineup, but they couldn't call up anyone to take his roster spot, either. As if to further emphasize the gaping hole Beltran will leave, the Mets were forced to play with only 24 men on Wednesday night.
But if anyone seemed unnerved by Beltran's departure, it was Bronson Arroyo. Mike Francesa's favorite pitcher, who routinely dominates the Mets at least once a year and who had not lost to the Amazins since 2007, looked shaky early on. Jose Reyes opened things up with an infield single. Two outs later, David Wright singled. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball, then scored on an Angel Pagan double into the right field corner, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Mike Pelfrey has been an enigma this season, to say the least. He's shown little effectiveness on the road and an infuriating propensity to extend at-bats no matter where he's pitching. In Cincinnati of all places, Pelfrey seemed to find a groove that eluded him all year. He not only pitched well, but efficiently, limiting baserunners, getting a good deal of groundouts, and not logging the endless, hair-pulling foul ball parades he is known for. Granted, the Reds are not exactly playing crisp baseball these days, if this series is any indication. Regardless, it was an encouraging performance from a pitcher in desperate need of one.
Through the first seven innings, the lone blemish on Pelfrey's record was a solo "homer" by Joey Votto in the bottom of the fourth, which looked like a harmless fly out to left when it came off his bat. A Great American Ball Park Special to be sure (not be confused with a Yankee Stadium Job or a Citizen's Bank Park Order), but Votto hits plenty of moonshots, so I will not bust his chops for this cheapie (even though I kinda just did).
Undaunted by this bit of bad luck, the Mets padded their lead immediately in the top of the fifth. Pelfrey of all people led things off with a single (usually, his futility at the plate reminds me of the bad old days of Al Leiter swinging a bat in vain). He was erased when Reyes bounced into a fielder's choice, but the speedy shortstop soon stole second and kept on going to third when Ryan Hanigan's throw scooted past the bag. After a walk to Willie Harris, Daniel Murphy sent a flare to right field that Jay Bruce dove for and missed, allowing Reyes to score and Harris to go to third. David Wright followed with a sac fly to right that scored Harris, giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.
The Mets tacked on further in the top of the sixth with line drive solo shot from Lucas Duda (much like Votto's, a homer that wouldn't have been one elsewhere), then blew the game open in the seventh. (I can't remember the last time I typed those words.) Reliever Jose Arredondo walked Harris to start the inning, then Murphy hit a hard shot to first that Votto could not backhand, and Wright followed with an old school Wright homer. Arredondo threw a low 1-0 fastball that Wright crouched to reach and lifted into straight-away center for a three-run bomb, putting the Mets up 8-1.
Pelfrey was victimized slightly in the bottom of the seventh when Duda misplayed a Bruce hit in the right-field corner into a triple. Bruce scored on a Chris Heisey sac fly to shave a run off the Mets' lead, but was of little consequence. Big Pelf got the third out, negotiated the eighth with little trouble, and worked around a leadoff double by Votto in the ninth, retiring the next three batters to log his second complete game of the season.
I'm sure there are many players in the Mets' clubhouse who feel just as down about the Beltran trade as fans do. No matter how much it will help the team in the future, the deal does bring with it a sense of defeat and resignation, for an era and a season. When the last out was made, you could see the on field congratulations were more subdued, almost solemn, like the hugs you'd exchange with family members after going to a wake. They were congratulating each other, more than anything, for getting through this. But it was good to see the team get down to business rather than get down on themselves.
Carlos goes to the Bay and probably the playoffs. The Mets go two games above .500 with two months left in the season. Life goes on.
Big winners: Mike Pelfrey, +21.5%, Angel Pagan, +14.9%
Big losers: Jason Bay, -6.3%, Ronnie Paulino, -3.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Angel Pagan two-run double, top first, +16.4%
Teh sux0rest play: Joey Votto solo homer, bottom fifth, -11.6%
Total pitcher WPA: +21.5%
Total batter WPA: +28.1.5%
GWRBI!:Daniel Murphy RBI double, top fifth
Nice job by NetsMets4Life; their effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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