The last time the Mets were in Pittsburgh, I wrote a piece about PNC Park having similar effects to the Mets as Atlanta’s Turner Field once had, and to an effect, still has. Over the past few years, PNC Park had become a house of horrors for the Mets. They failed to clinch the division title there in 2006, they suffered repeated late-inning setbacks there and earlier this season, the Pirates won all three games played there, with a fourth game being rained out and made up today.
Before today’s game, the Mets were 6-10 in Pittsburgh since 2005. Early on, today’s game appeared to be the latest in a long string of losses at PNC Park, as the Mets fell behind 5-0 after three innings of play. Tim Redding was ineffective, being charged with all five runs in only 2 1/3 innings of work, raising his ERA to a bloated 6.99. The final blow came when Pirates catcher Robinzon Diaz launched a double off the left field wall in the deepest part of the ballpark. Pat Misch was called in to relieve Redding and all seemed lost for the Mets. But then, the Ghostbusters were called in. Although they hadn’t done so in quite a while, the Mets players crossed streams with their bats and put together a rally. They scored eight runs over the next three innings to take an 8-5 lead and the day appeared to be saved. Unfortunately, not even Frankie could make them relax today.
The Pirates had chipped away at the Mets’ lead by scoring a run in the seventh inning to make the score 8-6. That was still the score when Frankie Rodriguez entered the game in the ninth inning. An infield hit by pinch hitter Freddy Sanchez brought up the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam LaRoche. He proceeded to tie the game with a long bomb to right field, sliming Frankie and the Mets and appearing to perpetuate the notion that the Mets were cursed at PNC Park. After two more hits put the winning run 90 feet away, Frankie settled down and retired Brandon Moss on a liner to Luis Castillo.
In came the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in the form of Matt Capps. He was looking tough, throwing strikes and retiring the first two batters. He had two strikes on a member of the Three Fernandos (Tatis) before drilling him near his left kidney. (Ouchie!) Tatis shook away the pain and stole second base, setting up another RBI situation for Ryan Church. As he was supposed to do, Church defeated the demons of PNC Park by lining a base hit to center field, scoring Tatis when the ball was overthrown by centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
With only Bobby Parnell available to him, Jerry Manuel opted to stay with Frankie Rodriguez to pitch the tenth inning. His confidence in his closer was rewarded when Frankie pitched a 1-2-3 tenth inning, giving the Mets a thrilling 9-8 victory before trekking across the state of Pennsylvania to Philadelphia for their crucial three-game series with the Phillies this holiday weekend. Coupled with the Phillies’ 5-2 loss to the Braves tonight, the Mets now find themselves only one game behind the first place Phillies and Marlins, who are tied atop the National League East.
The Ghostbusters were able to save the day today. The bats came alive and although he suffered a small setback in the ninth inning, Frankie recovered quickly and made short work of the Pirates in the tenth. The PNC Park Poltergeists were vanquished for today. All good movies end up with sequels made. Let’s hope this sequel involves exorcising the Phillies next.