Last time Dillon Gee and Cole Hamels faced each other, the Mets looked lost at the plate, unsure of themselves and their place in the world. Despite Hamels' historic struggles against the Mets, he simply dominated them that night and left Mets fans everywhere confused and distressed. If the Mets could not beat Cole Hamels, one of the few pitchers the they consistently do well against, who were they?
Tonight's contest, coming only two weeks after that abysmal showing, represented an opportunity for redemption. For vengeance. For justice.
The bad news: the Mets still failed to accomplish much offensively against Hamels. The good news: the Mets managed to emerge with a 2-1 victory against the Phillies—also known as the MLB 2K9 All-Stars—at Citizens Bank Park.
After the start of the game was delayed by almost forty-five minutes by Charlie Manuel's Wall of Fame ceremony, Hamels took to the bump and promptly set the Mets down in order. He did the same in the second, and though he hit Juan Lagares to leadoff the third, Wilmer Flores grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Dillon Gee struck out to end the first third of the game with no Mets runs on the board.
For his own part, the only serious trouble Gee ran into early on came in the second after issuing a one-out walk to Domonic Brown, who then advanced to second on a Carlos Ruiz single. The Mets starter got out of it, though, as Cody Ashce flied out to left and Hamels struck out swinging to strand the runners. Though Gee allowed another one out single in the third, this time to Jimmy Rollins, he retired the next thirteen batters he saw without any issue.
The Mets had a chance against Hamels in the fourth. Curtis Granderson recorded the Mets first hit with a hard bunt up the third base line that elicited much anger from the hometown crowd. Grandy was eliminated on a Daniel Murphy groundball to Jimmy Rollins, but Murph managed to beat out the throw to first to prevent a double play. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch to David Wright, the latter of whom walked to put runners on first and second with one out. If you put your ear to the ground, you might have thought you heard the gentle rumblings of a big inning. You would have been mistaken. The Mets attempted a double steal, and Murph was thrown out at third, while Eric Campbell flew out to Marlon Byrd to end the inning.
To start the fifth, though, a minor miracle occurred. Lucas Duda—who came into the game hitting .077 for his career against Hamels—put a soft line drive into center for a base hit. Duda then advanced on a Carlos Ruiz passed ball, and Hamels walked Travis d’Arnaud to put men on first and second with nobody out. Domonic Brown generously allowed a Juan Lagares fly ball to drop in for a hit to load the bases for Wilmer Flores. Flores smacked a hard groundball to Asche that the Phillies third baseman threw to second to get Lagares. Duda scored on the play, however, and the Mets were up 1-0 with one out and men on first and third for the eternally-dangerous-with-a-bat Dillon Gee, who popped out to Carlos Ruiz on a failed bunt attempt. With that charade over, Granderson flew out to Brown to end the Mets threat.
Hamels ran into trouble again in the sixth. After getting Daniel Murphy to ground out to second, the Phillies starterwalked Wright for the second time in the game. Campbell advanced Wright to third on a single. Though Lucas Duda made solid contact next, the end result was a 4-6-3 double play that ended the inning. In the seventh, after getting d’Arnaud to ground out to Rollins, Hamels coughed up a one-out double to Juan Lagares, but Wilmer Flores flew out to Ben Revere and Gee struck out swinging. All in all, the Mets were 2-11 with runners in scoring position tonight.
Those missed opportunities came back to bite the Mets in the bottom half of the seventh when Gee made his only mistake of the night. With two outs, he served up a 2-0 fastball to Carlos Ruiz that the Phillies catcher mashed into left field to tie the game at one. Gee then walked Cody Asche, but he struck out pinch hitter Grady Sizemore to escape the inning without any further damage.
Both teams relied heavily on their bullpens from this point on, with the Mets using four different pitchers in relief of Gee and the Phillies using five hurlers after Hamels' exit. Though Josh Edgin almost gave up a two out, two-run homer to Ryan Howard in the eighth, Juan Lagares caught the ball on the warning track. This represented a small bit of redemption for Edgin as his last performance in a Gee vs. Hamels match-up ended in him giving up a grand slam to Chase Utley to add three earned runs to Gee's stat line. Vic Black and Dana Eveland also pitched 1-2-3 innings in the ninth and tenth respectively to keep the Mets in the game.
Mercifully, the Amazins finally broke through in the top of the eleventh. Curtis Granderson started things off by singling to center off new Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo. After Daniel Murphy lined out to Brown, David Wright extended his hitting streak to eight games by lining a single into left that advanced Granderson to third. Eric Campbell came up and after a seven pitch at-bat drew a walk to load the bases, bringing Lucas Duda to the plate. Duda pulled the first pitch he saw into right to drive in Granderson and give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Bastardo got pulled after this, and left the game with the bases loaded and one out. The Mets got nothing more though, as Justin De Fratus came on to get d’Arnaud to fly out to Asche in foul territory and struck Lagares out swinging to inspire a collective groan from Mets fans everywhere.
With Jenrry Meija unavailable, Terry Collins turned to Jeurys Familia—who had only one save this season—to protect the Mets' lead against the heart of the Phillies order. Familia initially seemed like he would accomplish that easily, as Rollins flew out to Granderson and Ultley hit a soft grounder that d'Arnaud threw to first for the second out. Then Ryan Howard singled, and Marlon Byrd walked to put the go-ahead run on first.
Dan Warthen came out to talk to Familia, and whatever the old soothsayer whispered did the trick, as Familia induced a ground out to short that Wilmer Flores made a nice play on to end the game and give the Mets a hard fought win.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Dillon Gee, 22.9; David Wright, 20.0
Big losers: Daniel Murphy, -24.0; Wilmer Flores, -16.1
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda single, top of the eleventh
Teh sux0rest play: Carlos Ruiz homer, bottom of the seventh
Total pitcher WPA: 80.0
Total batter WPA: -30.0
GWRBI!: Lucas Duda single, top of the eleventh