Things were a little tense at Citizen's Bank Park tonight. Perhaps the earthquake made everyone skittish, or perhaps it was just the jagged, damaged collective psyche of the Mets. Even the announcer's booth seemed uncharacteristically bugged, as Gary, Keith, and Ron sounded positively angry at the level of play they were witnessing. It only begs the question: What exactly were they expecting?
The Mets themselves must have expected to take an early lead when Angel Pagan singled, and Ruben Tejada (batting second even though he does not play second base--INSANITY!) hit a ball off of Vance Worley that went for an infield single and allowed Pagan to go to third. How did the Mets choose not to score? This time it was via a David Wright grounder to third, which Placido Polanco threw home. Pagan declined to slide or plow into ex-teammate Brian Schneider, opting instead to jog helpfully right into his glove. Lucas Duda struck looking, and after a walk to Jason Bay, Nick Evans did the same on a called strike three that Tom Glavine would have envied.
The second inning brought more of the same. Josh Thole led off with a single, and Justin Turner followed with a double to present the Mets with another golden scoring opportunity. They turned this one back to lead when Jon Niese, Pagan, and Tejada all struck out looking. At this point, Worley was so used to getting called strikes that he looked personally offended at each pitch he threw that did not meet the ump's approval.
Jon Niese was not quite as flashy or mohawked as Worley, but he did look sharp early, setting down the first five Phillies to face him, two on strikeouts. He gave up a two-out single to Ben Francisco and a double down the line to Wilson Valdez in the bottom of the second, but struck out Schneider on a high fastball to escape danger.
After the Mets found a more conventional way to put up a goose egg in the top of the third (i.e., go down in order), the Phillies broke through against Niese. Shane Victorino belted a one-out solo homer to deep left field, the rare CBP longball that also would have gone out at CitiField. Niese seemed unnerved after that, giving up a single to Polanco and plunking the eminently plunkable Chase Utley on his first pitch to the second baseman. He managed to strike out Hunter Pence, but he then gave up his second bomb of the inning, a three-run shot to John Mayberry, putting the Phils on top, 4-0.
The carnage continued In the fourth, when Worley blooped a one-out single into shallow right. He moved to second on a Victorino grounder, despite going into the base with an awkward, upright approach, then scored on a Polanco single just barely out of the reach of Bay, padding the Phils' lead to 5-0. But the wheels really came off in the bottom of the fifth, when Niese ceded back-to-back singles and walked a batter to load the bases with nobody. You could practically see the squiggly punctuation marks over Terry Collins' head as he stalked from the dugout to the mound to relieve him. While Niese has been pretty good for the most part this season, it's probably best for your sanity to forget that he started to crater right around this time last year.
Pedro Beato took his place and gave up a sac fly to Valdez and a sharp RBI single up the middle to Worley. The next batter, Victorino, hit a ball to center that should have been the third out, but which Pagan misplayed into a two-run triple. When the smoke cleared, the Phillies were up by the score of 9-0. That is the same score given when one team forfeits to another, which is basically what the Mets did in this game.
The Mets put a bit of lipstick on the pig of this game when they finally scored in the top of the seventh. Nick Evans hit a leadoff double and eventually crossed the plate after two groundouts, making him the first Met to do so since Sunday, In the top of the eighth, they made it look slightly more respectable when Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer to make the score 9-3.
The Mets added some more window dressing in the top of the ninth. Evans also led off with a long triple to left-center, then scored on a Thole grounder. Justin Turner hit a long double, giving the most insane of the die-hards hope that they might be able to shave the lead to grand-slam distance. 'Twas not to be. Two fly outs and that was all she wrote for this debacle.
And to think, we get 34 more of these!
Big winners: Justin Turner, +10.7%, Ruben Tejada, +2.5%
Big losers: Jon Niese, -27.7%, David Wright, -11.4%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Josh Thole RBI groundout, +0.4%
Teh sux0rest play: John Mayberry 3-run homer, bottom third, -22.1%
Total pitcher WPA: -28.9%
Total batter WPA: -21.1%
GWRBI!: Placido Polanco RBI single, bottom fifth
Nice job by Brooklyn Dodgers Mets Fan; their effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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