The Mets never trailed in their eleven-inning victory over the Rockies, but it sure felt like the game was about to slip away on more than one occasion. Before the bullpen got involved and blew a couple of late leads, things mostly went well over the course of the first seven innings of the game.
The Mets scored three runs in the first inning to take the early lead against Jamie Moyer. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada singled, and David Wright doubled one out later to score plate them both. Lucas Duda walked, Wright proceeded to steal third, and Scott Hairston singled to put the Mets ahead by three. Ike Davis singled to load the bases, but Josh Thole struck out and Johan Santana lined out to end the inning.
Santana may not have been quite as good as he was in his last outing, but he struck out five and walked three in six scoreless innings. He also got some help from Nieuwenhuis, who made a spectacular catch to prevent a run from scoring with one out and a runner on second base in the fifth. Five starts into the year, Santana has a 2.25 ERA and 10.9 K/9.
Josh Thole had tacked on a run with a solo shot in the fifth inning, but the Mets' bullpen could have used a larger lead. Miguel Batista pitched a scoreless seventh, but Jon Rauch loaded the bases in the eighth. With two outs and Todd Helton pinch hitting, Terry Collins called upon Tim Byrdak. Unfortunately, Helton hit a game-tying grand slam to right field. Bobby Parnell came after the slam and notched a strikeout to end the inning.
The Mets threatened in the ninth inning with Wright on third base and one out but couldn't score. Parnell recorded three straight groundball outs in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extras, and the Mets regained the lead in the tenth. Mike Baxter hit a one-out, pinch-hit single and scored from first on a double by Nieuwenhuis. The Mets couldn't add to the lead, thanks largely to Nieuwenhuis' baserunning blunder on a grounder to Troy Tulowitzki. He was thrown out easily at third base for the second out of the inning.
Frank Francisco coughed up the lead in the bottom of the tenth on a solo laser bomb by Carlos Gonzalez, and he put a couple more Rockies on base before getting out of the inning.
Wright and Duda each singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out in the eleventh. Hairston grounded into a fielder's choice on which Wright could not advance, but Ike Davis grounded a single through the left side to bring Wright home. It was the only run the Mets scored in the inning, and the bullpen was once again entrusted with a slim lead.
Ramon Ramirez's one-two-three inning was about as gut-wrenching as it gets, particularly on Marco Scutaro's very long fly ball to left field that was almost another game-tying home run. The ball stayed in the yard, though, and the Mets had finally won the game and taken two of three from the Rockies.
The fact that Frank Francisco got the win in the game and Johan Santana took home a no decision is a perfect example of the uselessness of pitchers' wins in judging performance.
The Nationals lost this afternoon and are now tied for first place with the Braves, but the Mets are just one game behind both teams. New York travels to Houston tomorrow for a game at 8:05 pm. R.A. Dickey and Bud Norris are scheduled to start.
Big winners: David Wright, +41.8% WPA, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, +33.2% WPA, Johan Santana, +30.9% WPA, Ramon Ramirez, +23.3 % WPA, Bobby Parnell, +18.6% WPA
Big losers: Tim Byrdak, -44.4% WPA, Scott Hairston, -27.0% WPA, Frank Francisco, -26.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Captain Kirk's go-ahead double in the tenth, +33.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Carlos Gonzalez's game-tying home run in the tenth, -46.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +3.2% WPA
Total batter WPA: +46.8% WPA
GWRBI!: Ike Davis
Nice job by ScottfromPeekskill; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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