The Mets' very modest two-game winning streak came to an end in the third of four games against the Padres at Citi Field, a pretty ugly game to watch if you're a Mets fan or just like well-played baseball. After two nights of thrilling comeback victories, it would have been bordering on absurd if the Mets had won this game, too.
For the first three innings of the game, R.A. Dickey struggled mightily, beginning with Will Venable line drive into the infamous Mo's Zone that Mike Baxter, who probably never saw a baseball fence like that in his life until this week, helped play into a triple. Jason Bartlett followed up with a sacrifice fly, and it was one-nothing Padres. Dickey retired the next two batters, and the small deficit didn't seem so bad at the time.
The Mets' lineup, however, seemed pretty bad right from the beginning as they faced Aaron Harang. In the first inning, they had runners on first and second with nobody out and couldn't score as David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Jason Bay all made outs to put an end to the team's early threat.
The second inning was particularly tough for Dickey, who gave up a single to Kyle Blanks to begin the inning and then got a hard ground ball back to the mound that he fielded rather quickly with his glove but threw into the dirt in the vicinity of second base. Dickey's error allowed Blanks to move to third and Logan Forsythe, the batter, to reach first safely.
One out later, Luis Martinez, the catcher whose name may still sound unfamiliar, single to bring home Blanks. Harang then bunted, but the runner on third base was easily thrown out at the plate by Dickey. The Mets had been given an out, but Venable came up next and singled to bring home another run and make it 3-0 San Diego. Angel Pagan made the first of several mind-numbing mistakes on the play as he threw the ball to nobody again, allowing both runners to advance. Luckily, Dickey got the next out to put an end to the inning.
Yet again, the Mets had a shot to get right back in the game in the bottom of the second. Baxter walked, and Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada each singled to load the bases. Tejada's single was actually hit much too hard for Baxter to score. Dickey flew out, which isn't the worst case scenario for a pitcher with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Pagan struck out and Justin Turner grounded out. Another opportunity for a big inning resulted in a big fat zero.
With one out in the third inning, Dickey allowed a single, a walk, and a double, giving the Padres a four-run lead. After that, he surrendered another sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. It certainly looked like Dickey's start was going to end prematurely, but he went on to pitch six innings in total, the last three of which were perfect. Including the final two outs of the third inning, R.A. retired the final eleven batters he faced.
As for the Mets' bats, they went quietly in the third but started to make some noise in the fourth. Josh Thole singled with one out, and Tejada doubled over the head of Kyle Blanks in left field to put two men in scoring position. R.A. Dickey singled in the Mets' first run of the game, and it sure seemed the Mets were going to cut the Padres' lead even further.
Jason Pridie was announced as a pinch-hitter for Pagan, who we later learned was having back spasms, and hit a fly ball to left field. Tejada tagged up but awkwardly didn't slide when he got to home plate, allowing for an easy tag that ended the inning. It was ugly.
Both starting pitchers cruised until the bottom of the sixth, when the Mets finally made it a ballgame. With two outs and Thole on second, Nick Evans pinch hit for Dickey and doubled to make it 5-2. Pridie then singled to make it 5-3. The Mets had a shot to win the game, at least temporarily.
Pedro Beato came in to pitch the seventh, beginning the LOLpen phase of the evening, allowing a run to score on yet another sacrifice fly by the Padres. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets had runners on the corners with two outs but couldn't score.
Beato kept the Padres from padding their lead in the eighth, and the Mets drew within two runs on a pinch-hit, run-scoring single by Willie Harris off Luke Gregerson. With Harris on first an no one out, Pridie almost hit into a double play, and then Turner did hit into a double play to send the game to the ninth. Oh, the ninth.
If you knew what was coming in the top of the ninth, you would have turned off your tv or radio or shielded your eyes if you were at Citi Field. Bobby Parnell was the Mets' pitcher, and he began the inning by giving up a single to James Darnell in a matchup of similar-sounding last names. Venable doubled, and San Diego had runners at second and third. Parnell struck out Bartlett, and then he got a grounder to short from Cameron Maybin.
Ruben Tejada could have easily tagged out the runner from second base standing in front of him, very nearly out of the baseline, but he didn't. He could have thrown home, but he didn't do that, either. He did throw to first to get an out, but the crowd was groaning at Tejada's second little big mistake. So the Padres were up 7-4, and they quickly added another run on a single by the Jesus.
With pinch-hitter Aaron Cunningham at the plate, Guzman stole second base. Cunningham hit a dribbler to Duda at first base, but Bobby Parnell was a step late in getting to the bag. The runner was safe at first, but Guzman was in no-man's land between third and home plate. Parnell couldn't decide what to do with the ball and ultimately threw to third base far too late to get the out. Mets fans were losing their minds. It might have seemed things couldn't get any worse, but they did. Cunningham broke for second base during the next at-bat, and Thole threw to second, allowing Guzman to break for home. Both runners were safe by a mile, and the Padres had a five-run lead.
There was a tiny glimmer of hope in the bottom of the inning when Heath Bell came into the game. The Mets loaded the bases for Tejada, whose grounder was botched by Logan Forsythe at second base, allowing a run to score and the game to continue. Willie Harris smoked a line drive, but Forsythe made a leaping grab to end the game.
Big winners: Ruben Tejada, +20.3% WPA (WPA fail)
Big losers: R.A. Dickey, -29.2% WPA, Justin Turner, -17.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ruben Tejada single in the second, +8.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Will Venable triple to begin the game, -9.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -39.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: -10.5% WPA
GWRBI!: Cameron Maybin
Nice job by Brooklyn Dodgers Mets Fan; his effort in the game thread truly embiggens us all.
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