Miguel Batista did little to solve the problem that is Mike Pelfrey’s absence from the rotation, but the Mets overcame a slow start tonight to defeat the Phillies once again 7-4.
Trailing 4-1 entering the seventh, New York got to work when last night’s hero Jordany Valdespin got on base with a lead-off walk against Phillies starter Joe Blanton. However, Blanton would get catcher Mike Nickeas and pinch hitter Scott Hairston out to put the Mets rally on hold.
This season, however, the Mets have been no stranger to two-out rallies and the seventh inning tonight was where they chose to erupt. The next batter, Andres Torres, hit a single to right field to bring Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the plate as the tying run. The rookie outfielder responded with a line drive single to score Valdespin and make the score 4-2.
Chad Qualls came into the game to pitch to David Wright, but the Mets captain just lobbed a loft liner into right field. Torres came home from second, and Wright gaffed by getting caught in a rundown on his way to second base. In an effort to bail Wright out, Nieuwenhuis jumped off of third to draw a throw from second baseman Pete Orr. Although Orr’s intentions were good, his throw went awry, and Nieuwenhuis was free to scamper home with the tying run. Wright got to third base and scored when the next batter, Lucas Duda, ripped a single into right field off of lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Suddenly, the Mets had a 5-4 lead in a game that earlier looked like a Phillies blowout.
Batista got off to a bad start when Juan Pierre singled in the first inning and scored on a Hunter Pence home run to center field. Things got worse in the second when John Mayberry reached on a throwing error by Jordany Valdespin. Orr made the score 3-0 on an RBI single up the middle, and later came in to score himself on a Shane Victorino two-out RBI double.
Meanwhile, the Mets went the first three innings without getting a hit, and it looked like Blanton might be on his way to another complete game. Things started to turn in the fourth when Nieuwenhuis led off with a double and came around to score the first Mets run on a Daniel Murphy single.
It also helped that Batista settled down after a disastrous first two innings. From the third through the fifth, the veteran faced just one plus the minimum while getting an abundance of ground outs. In the sixth, Batists was in trouble again when Orr’s double put runners on second and third with one out. However, Manny Acosta came in to save the day and got two outs in a row without surrendering a run.
That set the stage for the seventh, when the Mets took the lead. In the ninth, the Mets added a pair of runs on a Nieuwenhuis sac fly and another Lucas Duda RBI single. That made the score 7-4 and allowed for an easy save by Jon Rauch, who gave Frank Francisco a break tonight.
Mets defense: In the bottom of the seventh, Wright made a splendid play by diving to his left to take a base hit away from Hunter Pence. The next inning, Murphy snagged a John Mayberry line drive to help Ramon Ramirez pitched around a Placido Polanco single and a pair of wild pitches.
Turning Point: Certainly Wright’s RBI single and the subsequent error by Pete Orr was the big play in this game. What looked like an horrible baserunning error by Wright turned out well for New York, and the Phillies appeared to become unhinged.
Game Ball: It’s hard to pick out one offensive player. Torres, Nieuwenhuis, Wright and Duda all had two hits a piece, and all had big hits in the victory. I’m going to give the game ball to the Mets bullpen, which has been much maligned this season. Tonight, Acosta, Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Rauch combined to pitch 3.2 scoreless innings.
Next game: The Mets get another shot at a sweep in Philly. It won’t be easy, as Cliff Lee will be pitching for Philadelphia. Dillon Gee takes the mound for New York.