26.4.06

Late Inning Madness Gives Mets 9-7 Win

It took either alot of guts or alot of stupidity to pitch to Barry Bonds when he represented the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning and first base wide open, waving her arms frantically and alluringly.

Then again, Billy Wagner was on the mound, and pitching out of a situation like this to preserve a two run win is precisely why he was hired. Not to mention the fact Bonds had been only 2 for 12 against him in the past.


Steroid Beats Sandman

Result aside, it's the type of classic baseball theatre you yearn for: fireballing closer against beleaguered homerun king, mano a mano, no cowardly intentional walks in the making. Wagner pumped fastballs of 97, 96 and 96 miles an hour whilst the crowd chanted Bonds' name, the atmosphere pregnant with hope and anticipation before Wagner threw one high and outside at 99 m.p.h. and Bonds yanked it out for the game-tying homer. Classic all the way.

"My strength is his strength," Wagner said afterwards. "I can't worry about what-ifs."

Bonds' two-run pinch-hit homer in previous seasons would have demoralised the Mets, would have virtually sealed the loss but in this season, it merely postponed the inevitable 9-7 Met victory, the victory which sees them end their 7 game Western road trip with a winning record, all in a game chockablock with excitement and twists.

For not only did the Mets have to scratch out what seemed to be an insurmountable 3 run lead in the 8th on the 48 year old Julio Franco's pinch hit two-run single, they had to come back after what should have been a demoralising 9th inning pinch hit homer by Bonds and still scratch out the victory.


Julio The "I don't believe in age," Wonder smacks should have been the game-winning single in the 8th. (not to mention the second-auldest man in baseball to steal a base...)

And not only did they come back in the 11th inning to score two more runs, one on a Chris Woodward RBI double and the other on a Jose Reyes RBI single that followed, but the bullpen, without their closer and improbably led by Darren Oliver, shut the Giants down for the final two innings to preserve the victory. And the best part? Guess who made the final out for the Giants. Barry Bonds, that's who. Poetic justice.

Wagner can't really be faulted for extending this game unnecessarily, nor can Willie. Wagner had the Giants on the ropes in the 9th after striking out the first two Giants he faced before David Wright's unfortunately timed throwing error put Moises Alou, who absolutely killed the Mets with a 7 for 12 series and 7 RBIs to boot, on first base and gave Barry Bonds the opportunity to pinch hit in the first place.

Wright's mistake also cost Julio Franco his deserved laurels for the clutch pinch hit and the second oldest base stealer in history but the error wasn't as costly as the three against the Braves so although it's lamentable, there's no reason to hang the goat's head on Wright.


BB rests his strained hammy at the plate.

Brian Bannister started the game for the Mets and although batters had been hitting just .181 against him going into last night's game, perhaps ominously Felipe Alou had commented on his team looking for Bannister's fastball and suddenly, Bannister seemed hittable. 7 hits in 5 innings worth hittable. But we learn that Bannister is not merely a budding starter, he is also a hitter, now hitting .400 and unfortunately, by virtue of his double in the 6th, finding himself as the go-ahead run, stumbling around third with a strained right hamstring and the first thought is who the hell will take his place?

Why not Lima for comic relief? Because we already have the Zambranocoaster, that's why. What about digging up Maine or giving Oliver a shot for a start or two? This week will tell how it pans out, once the degree of injury is learned and we can all speculate on the wisdom of the next step taken.

*****

Cliff Floyd can't be entirely faulted for his slow start. He's hitting the ball well, just isn't getting the breaks yet. Robbed onced by Randy Winn of extra bases, he finished 0 for 4 with a pair of walks and is hitting .188 on the season.

But for every disappointment, an equal surprise. Who would have imagined Ramon Castro hitting .429 after going 3 for 6 at the plate?

And what about Matsui's outstanding sliding catch to end rally making you wonder if he's overcome his Mets-long slump both in the field and at the plate. Is he really hitting .320 so far?!

And how odd that Reyes earns a rare walk to start the game and then gets picked off first. D'oh! Not odd that he made up for it later with two more stolen bases, giving him 10 on the season and leading the Majors.

*****

In spite of Bannister's uncertainty, Steve Trachsel will pitch Sunday in his place against the Braves at Turner Field, with Pedro Martinez (Friday) and Tom Glavine (Saturday) taking the first two games.

Yes, the Braves. Pedro v. Smoltz to start it off. The excitement is just beginning.

2 comments:

itsmetsforme said...

where do you get your pictures? i take it you're in the UK.
the one of piazza below is my favorite.
and what of the ridiculous GI Joe costumes the Padres wear?

GO KAZ!!

Imfm

Jaap said...

get the pics from all over the internet, mostly deep in the pages of obscure newspaper websites. But yes, the Piazza-as-dandy is a good one indeed.