Mike Baxter drew five walks tonight. He did it against five different Padres pitchers. No one from Baxter's former team wanted a piece of him. He saw 25 pitches and just 5 went for strikes. This will grow the legend of Mike Baxter, which was already robust following his fantastic catch to preserve Johan Santana's no-hitter. Here is a giddy Ronny Cedeno saluting Baxter after walk #5:
And yet Baxter's memorable achievement probably wasn't as important to the Mets winning tonight as Jeremy Hefner's performance on the mound.
Hefner allowed one run in six innings, turning in his best outing since joining the rotation when Santana hit the disabled list. He struck out just two but did not walk anyone. Control has been his biggest strength; his walk rate is the best of anyone on the current roster, relievers included. Without going too nuts over a guy with a 5.04 ERA, I'll say that Hefner could have some usefulness going forward, especially if he can maintain an above-average groundball rate. Santana is scheduled to return next Saturday, meaning Hefner's time in the rotation is likely coming to an end for the time being.
Padres starter Edinson Volquez did not fare as well as Hefner, not even close. He lasted just 1.2 innings due to issues with finding the strike zone; he walked four in the second inning alone. Just 17 of the 42 pitches he threw in that second inning went for strikes. Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada drew bases-loaded walks. Then Jordany Valdespin delivered the death blow, a two-run double. It was an early night for the Padres' bullpen.
The Mets added two runs over the next 7.1 innings against five Padres relievers, none of whom I've heard of except for Dale Thayer. Speaking of Thayer, his moustache has been making moves since his stint with the Mets last season. Compare then and now:
Mike Baxter's five-walk performance overshadowed a big night from Daniel Murphy. Murph went 4-for-4 with a double and a walk, and also started two 4-6-3 double plays. In total, the Mets drew ten walks. The only starting position player who failed to reach base was Andres Torres. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, continuing his struggles against righthanded pitching.
Josh "Fire Time" Edgin has impressed since being called up. And with Tim Byrdak on the disabled list, Edgin is the only lefty in the bullpen. He threw two scoreless innings tonight, striking out one without issuing a walk. His K/BB ratio is now 19/4. Let's hope Terry Collins resists the urge to use Edgin every stinkin' night like he did earlier this season with Byrdak.
Collins indicated before the game that Frank Francisco would pitch tonight, regardless of the score. When Bobby Parnell came out of the 'pen to start the ninth inning with the Mets winning 6-1, it looked like Collins changed his mind. Parnell struggled mightily though, allowing a home run, a double, and a walk while notching just one out. Francisco was summoned because it was a save situation, or so Collins said after the game. Regardless, Francisco needed just two pitches to end it, as John Baker grounded into a double play. Welcome back!
The Mets will try to win the rubber game Sunday afternoon at 4:05 pm. Matt Harvey faces Staten Island's own Jason Marquis. Go Mets, beat the Padres.
Big winners: Jeremy Hefner +16.0% (as pitcher), Jordany Valdespin +11.0%, Mike Baxter +11.0%
Big losers: Andres Torres -11.7%, Bobby Parnell -2.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jordany Valdespin two-run double in the second inning +13.3%
Teh sux0rest play: Andres Torres strikeout with the bases loaded in the second inning -7.5%
Total pitcher WPA: +19.4%
Total batter WPA: +30.6%
GWRBI!: Jordany Valdespin two-run double in the second inning