I have seen my fair share of memorable baseball games at the ballpark. In Baltimore I saw Lee Mazzilli throw bubblegum out onto the field after a Chris Gomez foul ball was correctly called a foul ball instead of a home run. I saw Nick Markakis hit three home runs in one game. I’ve seen Chris Capuano pitch an incredible game, one of the best pitched games of the 2011 season. I’ve seen Felipe Lopez hit a grand slam off of Aaron Heilman in relief of Oliver Perez in DC. I’ve seen the Mets hit into what felt like 21 ground ball double plays against the Nationals. My first game at Citi Field, my only Mets home game in 2009, was when the Mets hit into an unassisted triple play to end a baseball game for the second time in modern baseball history.
I have never seen an ending to a game like today’s.
A friend of mine from college invited me out to the game today (Hey Dan!, also Dan was at the game where Felipe Lopez hit the grand slam off of Heilman) and the ending was just wild. The crowd was uneasy as Francisco took to the mound to start off the ninth inning. He allowed a lead off hit to Posey but was able to bounce back and get Huff out. At that point he allowed a run to score and left the game with runners on the bases. Byrdak came in to get his out and Rauch came into get his out.
Except not. As four Mets converged in shallow right there was that nagging sensation that something was about to go terribly wrong. The ball fell, two runs scored. Brand new ball game.
At this point the mood in the crowd is disbelief. It looked like we were all about to go home, and well, now we have to face the possibility of extra innings. Cue the bottom of the ninth.
Duda got on base. Thole bunted him over. Tejada got on base. Baxter got on base. Bases loaded. One out.
Infield all the way in. Outfield shallow. Go time for Captain Kirk. A deep flyball, in or out of the ball park ends the game.
Kirk hits it down the first base line into a tailor made double play ball. The ball is thrown to Posey at Home Plate for the first out. Hairston slides in to disrupt the throw as the ball goes back to first for the probably inning ending double play. Instead Posey makes a bad throw, and the winning run comes across to score.
At this point the mood is joy, and utter confusion. Watching this live, without the benefit of replay on television or commentary meant having to recreate the entire set of events in our minds, and of course the talk about the “if” game as we left the ball park. What if Pelfrey stayed in to finish the game? What if Rauch came out in the first place? What if, in the bottom of the eighth, Davis doesn’t get picked off and Wright doesn’t get caught stealing?
And, as Dan’s Father pointed out, the incredible story line of how Tejada goes from being the goat with the pop up, to the hero scoring the run.
What a bizarre game. But hey, you never know what you are going to see when you go to the ball park.