This game began in a surprisingly light mood. Both the radio and TV announcing teams spoke of the Mets being fired up after their thrilling comeback on Monday, and so one assumed they would come out firing on all cylinders on Tuesday. There was, of course, also talk on SNY of the absence of Chase Headley from the Padres lineup, just to allow Keith Hernandez to say "Headley!" in his best Harvey Korman impersonation.
Maybe it was the light attendance, dampened by torrential rain, and maybe it was the oppressive humidity, but the Mets certainly didn't appear fired up in the early going of this one. Then again, neither did the Padres. The early innings looked to be not so much a pitchers' duel as an offensive nap time. Chris Capuano allowed a leadoff bunt single by Cameron Maybin and walked TK in the second, but otherwise was flawless through the first three innings as the Padres batters could only manage weak grounders and flyouts. His opposite number, Wade LeBlanc, did much the same to the Mets lineup over the first three while striking out three batters looking. There was nary a hard hit ball among the bunch.
Then the patented Capuano Swoon made an early appearance in the top of the fourth. Jesus Gomez led off the inning with a long double off the Great Wall of Flushing. Orlando Hudson followed with his own double over the head of Angel Pagan in center to plate Guzman. One out later, Aaron Cunningham singled to left to drive in Hudson. Capuano managed a groundball double play to escape further damage, but the Padres now had a 2-0 lead.
However, LeBlanc decided he'd keep this game's delicate symmetry intact and suddenly looked vulnerable against the Mets hitters. Lucas Duda knocked a single to start things off, and Jason Bay hit a dribbler up the third base line that LeBlanc could not handle, allowing Bay to reach safely. Scott Hairston blasted a double off the Great Wall, Ronnie Paulino followed with a sac fly, and just like that the Mets had tied things up at 2.
The Padres roared back with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth. After retiring the first two batters easily, Capuano allowed a single to Maybin. Jason Bartlett then hit a long double off the bullpen window in right-center, allowing Maybin to score all the way from first. Jesus Guzman played HORSE by smacking his own double to almost the same spot to put the Padres up, 4-2.
The Mets could not manage an immediate response in the bottom half, as David Wright worked a two-out walk but was caught stealing by LeBlanc's deft pickoff move. LeBlanc retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth, and reliever Luke Gregerson did the same in bottom of the seventh.
Capuano worked around a leadoff single by Kyle Blanks in the sixth to escape unscathed, but he surrendered another single to pinch hitter Logan Forsythe in the seventh and was replaced by Manny Acosta. The newly de-fro-ed Acosta pitched a scoreless inning, but was felled by the first batter in the eighth, Alberto Gonzalez (inserted for the injured Hudson), who knocked a single off of Acosta's pitching hand and bloodied his pinky. DJ Carrasco took his place and somehow kept San Diego off the board, though not for lack of trying otherwise.
After several quiet innings, the Mets finally awoke in the bottom of the eighth. Angel Pagan led off by blasting a solo shot to the bullpen off of new reliever Chad Qualls, shaving the Padres' lead to one run. Justin Turner looped a single into shallow left, and David Wright lined a single just past the third baseman. Qualls was swapped for Josh Spence to face cleanup hitter Lucas Duda, who laid down a sac bunt like cleanup hitters do all the time. With first base open, San Diego opted to intentionally walk Jason Bay and face a nameless human who may or may not have been Nick Evans. This anonymous baseballer hit a ball far enough to center field to allow Turner to tag up and score the tying run.
A walk to Ronnie Paulino (balls three and four coming on some fortunate calls) loaded the bases for Jose Reyes' caddy, Ruben Tejada. He managed to crawl out of a 1-2 hole and work a walk of his own, which gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. In his first save chance since last week against the Marlins (LET US NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN), Jason Isringhausen kept the drama at a minimum with a 1-2-3 inning, notching his 299th save in the process. Congrats, Izzy. Here's to at least one more.
This wasn't the most thrilling game you ever saw (at least I hope it wasn't). Even the Mets' three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth was decidedly low key. But this team has proven its resilience by following crushing lows with, if not dizzying highs like last night, at least creamy middles like this game. Take that, New York Times.
Big winners: Scott Hairston, +16.2%, Ruben Tejada, +15.0%
Big losers: Chris Capuano, -31.0%, Mike Baxter, -4.8%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ruben Tejada's bases loaded walk, bottom eighth, +26.0%
Teh sux0rest play: Orlando Hudson RBI double, top fourth, -12.4%
Total pitcher WPA: -9.6%
Total batter WPA: +59.6%
GWRBI!: Ruben Tejada's bases loaded walk, bottom eighth
Nice job by fxcarden; their effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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