April 8, 2009. Francisco Rodriguez comes into the game against the Cincinnati Reds in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Mets have a two run lead, and need their stud closer to come in and shut the door to close out the win. In true Mets-fashion, Frankie gives us all reason to keep our eyes wide open. Rodriguez loaded the bases in part due to a shrunken strike zone, but also due to some erratic pitches. Frankie got Alex Gonzalez to strike out on a 3-2 fastball. Then, with the bases still juiced, Laynce Nix came up to the plate with an 0 for 3 history against Rodriguez. Being a Mets fan, my initial thought was that Mr. Nix was going to be breaking that 0-fer in dramatic fashion. It wasn’t meant to be though, as the long fly ball to center that looked like trouble landed safely in Carlos Beltran’s glove.
A few thousand miles West, it was another story for Los Angeles Angels’ closer Brian Fuentes. While Fuentes had a slimmer, one-run margin, his results were not as successful. Fuentes gave up the tying and ultimate winning runs to spoil a good effort from rookie starter Nick Adenhart. The rookie went six scoreless innings before handing the ball off to their (apparently) shaky pen. Brian Fuentes put the nail in the Angels’ coffin by giving up three runs on a walk and four hits. Oh, and needless to say, a blown save.
A tough break for Fuentes as one of the hits he gave up was a swinging bunt by the A’s Kurt Suzuki that would have been tough for anyone to field. In the end, though, it was a blown save, a concept Mets fans are all too familiar with.
This past offseason, it was Omar Minaya’s mission to stabilize the New York Mets bullpen. There were a few closers on the market, but the big boys were JJ Putz, Francisco Rodriguez, and Brian Fuentes (the focus mainly on Fuentes and Rodriguez, if I recall correctly). On December 10, 2008, the New York Mets announced that Francisco Rodriguez would be the closer for the Mets. Just a day later, it was announced that Frankie would be set up by JJ Putz. I would say Omar did a fine job of stabilizing the pen.
On the morning of Thursday, April 9, 2009, I am happy with the decision that was made to make Francisco Rodriguez our closer. It’s possible that on Sunday, October 4, 2009 after the last game of the season, we might look back at this save with the same happiness as we Mets fans know how much one game means.