The Mets' inability to finish off the Giants in the bottom of the ninth inning tonight proved costly when the Giants took the lead for good in the tenth. Josh Thole singled home Jason Bay in the ninth to tie the game 3-3, putting runners on first and third with one out. Mike Baxter came up to bat as a pinch hitter and had the chance to be not only the toast of Whitestone, but the toast of any establishment in which Mets fans can be found. However, he hit a ground ball to first baseman Brandon Belt, who gunned down Kirk Nieuwenhuis trying to score from third base. Ruben Tejada then struck out to end the inning.
Frank Francisco came on to pitch in the tenth inning, a smart move, as the Giants were running low on relievers and it was a high leverage spot. Unfortunately, Francisco had trouble finding the strike zone, throwing just 10 strikes out of 24 total pitches. He walked Melky Cabrera on four pitches to start the inning, a frustrating gift to a Giants team which has trouble scoring. After striking out Pablo Sandoval, Francisco slowly delivered a pitchout, allowing Cabrera to steal second base ahead of Thole's throw. Gregor Blanco then flew out to center field, making the situation a runner on second base with two outs. Nate Schierholtz, he of the decidedly average career 97 OPS+, came up to the plate. In a questionable move -- I'm questioning it -- Terry Collins called for an intentional walk. I say let your relief ace go after the unimpressive Schierholtz. The free pass brought up light-hitting young catcher Hector Sanchez, who singled home Cabrera to provide the decisive run. Collins probably overmanaged, but Francisco is the real goat.
Hope returned briefly in the bottom of the tenth when Daniel Murphy and David Wright hit back-to-back singles to start things off. However, Ike Davis grounded out, Bay struck out, and Lucas Duda flied out to center to end both the rally and the game. Ike had a rough go tonight, finishing 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and two popouts. Some of his swings were darn ugly. Bay went 2-for-5, including a solo home run in the fourth inning off Barry Zito. Nieuwenhuis added a solo shot of his own in the fifth inning. He also drew a walk in that exciting ninth and made a terrific catch to rob Sanchez of an extra-base hit in the top of the eighth. Over/under date on first appearance of a Nieuwenhuis jersey at Citi Field? April 23?
Angel Pagan said before the game that he was "shocked" when the Mets traded him to the Giants last December. He also said he holds no ill will towards his former team, understanding that it's part of the game. Still, his solo home run in the third inning to start the scoring had to feel good. His subtle bat flip right after contact hinted at some extra satisfaction. Pagan went 0-for-4 in his next four plate appearances but his homer kicked off a three-run third inning against Jon Niese.
Niese finished with a respectable line -- six innings, three runs, five strikeouts, and two walks. But he looked headed for the showers in that third inning, which would've meant the third straight early exit for a Mets starter. The Giants had four well-struck hits in the inning, scoring runs on a Buster Posey RBI double and Niese wild pitch in addition to the Pagan home run. Niese settled down after the third inning though, managing to preserve the bullpen until the seventh.
Some bullet thoughts:
- The Andres Torres, Nieuwenhuis, and Bay trio is brewing the most highly anticipated outfielder playing time controversy since Carlos Beltran, Pagan, and Jeff Francoeur in 2010. Let's wait until Torres' return from the disabled list is imminent before going too crazy about it.
- Eric Simon, killjoy:
- Pagan and Nieuwenhuis hit New Citi Field home runs (would not have been gone at Old Citi Field). Bay hit an Old Citi Field home run.
- For some reason, it was mildly shocking to see Guillermo Mota pitch for the Giants tonight. Like, "I can't believe that guy is still in the league" surprising. He was so dreadful so many years ago -- how is he still hanging around, striking guys out (he notched two in his scoreless inning), and winning World Series rings? Anyway, click here to read the "Conflict with Mike Piazza" sub-heading on Mota's Wikipedia page.
Mike Nickeas is on the board! He tallied his first hit of the season, a single off Zito in the fifth inning. It snapped an 0-for-20 streak dating back to last season.
- If there is ever an update to the Gary, Keith & Ron Drinking Game, any reference to David Cone breaking his finger attempting to bunt against Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker will mean three sips of your beverage. It's been a go-to GKR story over the years. I think they just like saying "Atlee Hammaker."
Game two of the four-game set is tomorrow at 1:10 pm. The pitching matchup is Mike Pelfrey vs. Ryan Vogelsong. A loss sends the Mets' record back to .500. Go Big Pelf.
Big winners: Josh Thole +44.7%, David Wright +19.8%
Big losers: Lucas Duda -36.0%, Frank Francisco -30.8%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Josh Thole RBI single in the ninth inning +49.5%
Teh sux0rest play: Hector Sanchez RBI single in the tenth inning -36.9%
Total pitcher WPA: -23.7%
Total batter WPA: -26.3%
GWRBI!: Hector Sanchez
Nice job by astromets; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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