Earlier today, Andy Martino of the Daily News pondered "[Chris] Carter can hit, but can he pinch-hit?" That question was answered tonight, as Carter hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI double in the 8th inning. It was a dream debut for man known as "The Animal", as he spurred the Mets to their most memorable victory so far this season. The lineup pounded out six runs on six hits in the 8th, and Frankie Rodriguez sent down the Nats 1-2-3 in the 9th to complete the comeback from down 6-1. Ike Davis made his third outstanding dugout catch of the season to seal it, linked here.
Carter has a great look -- he could be mistaken for an extra from Saving Private Ryan. This smashing entrance should make him a quick fan favorite, and hopefully earn him some more playing time. Jeff Francoeur is hitting just .209/.290/.419 vs. right-handed pitching. The Animal has historically hit better against righties than lefties. Perhaps he could get some work in? Like tomorrow, vs. righty Craig Stammen.
Some other game notes in lazy bullet-point format:
- Jon Niese just didn't have it tonight. He walked five in 4.1 innings of work and surrendered a three-run homer to The Big Donkey Adam Dunn in the 1st inning. He induced only six swinging-strikes out of 91 total pitches, a sign that batters weren't being fooled. In a rare reader e-mail, I was asked why we always cite swinging-strikes in recaps. It's because swinging-strike percentage correlates strongly with strikeout rate, which, obviously, correlates with runs allowed. Within the confines of one game, swinging-strike rate provides a cursory look at the pitcher's effectiveness. League average rate for starting pitchers is around 8%. Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander and Johan Santana were among the top ten in swinging-strike rate last season.
- The amount of literal and figurative ink spilled over David Wright's "struggles" the last 72 hours or so has been ridiculous. The man is a beast and has a team-leading .968 OPS after going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk tonight. Of course, those desperately trying to turn Wright into the Mets' version of A-Rod ("he's un-clutch!") will point to his 8th inning strikeout as a sign that he's a mess. Yes, I wish he was striking out less. However, as long as his production is stellar, which it is, there's no reason to freak out about him when so many other hitters are struggling. One of those hitters, Jason Bay, had his biggest night in quite some time, going 3-4 but with no extra-base hits.
- Brian Bruney is not a good pitcher. Career xFIP of 5.15 and walking 10+ per nine innings so far this season. Can't say this is a disappointing development.
- Credit where credit is due -- Alex Cora had a nice game off the bench. His crafty bunt single in the 8th came at a rare time when bunting is appropriate, and he also drew a walk. Don't look now, but his OPS is almost .600!
- Congrats to Raul Valdes, who earned his first major league win. Who knows how long it will last, but the Mexican League hero now has a 19:7 K:BB ratio in 17.1 innings of work.
The Mets will try to win the rubber game tomorrow at 1:10. Mike Pelfrey starts for the good guys.
Beer of the game: Wolaver's India Pale Ale from Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont.
"Great roasted malt character and beautiful deep copper color. Great hop flavor and aroma. A tad bit weak on the bitterness for my taste, but I’ve not yet found a beer that satisfies my craving for hops. Minimal head with some lacing. A fine IPA, and possibly a new favorite for me."-- RateBeer User Review
All Mets fans had seen this movie before
Sure they'd get hits; then fail to score
But down in the eighth, Mets found attack
Hit after hit, they came all the way back
And who gets the hit that gives them the lead?
The Animal, finally here to fill their bench need
Ike ends the game with a catch acrobatic
No shock; while somersaulting he's automatic
Big winners: Chris Carter +25.3%, Rod Barajas +19.8%
Big losers: Jon Niese -30.7%, Ike Davis -13.3%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Chris Carter RBI double +25.3%
Teh sux0rest play: Ike Davis double play -11.1%
Total pitcher WPA: -21.6%
Total batter WPA: +71.6%
GWRBI!: Chris Carter
Nice job by fxcarden; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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