It seems fitting that on Build-A-Bear Night at Citi Field, the Mets would come out of their two-game hibernation. Their 12-hit attack on the Diamondbacks’ pitchers, capped by Angel Pagan’s eighth-inning grand slam, fueled the Mets to a 9-6 victory Saturday night over Arizona.
Pagan picked a perfect time to hit the first home run of his Mets career, as his shot into the left field seats broke a 5-5 tie. Angel had been one of the most consistent hitters on the Mets since becoming an everyday player and was hitting long doubles and triples, so it was only a matter of time before he would launch his first homer.
Before Pagan’s heroics in the eighth inning, the game had been a back-and-forth affair. Arizona put the first two runs up on the board on a first inning home run into the second deck by Justin Upton and a fourth-inning RBI single by Augie Ojeda. The D-Backs might have scored more if not for a brilliant Houdini act pulled by Oliver Perez in the third inning. Arizona loaded the bases with nobody out when Perez struck out Mark Reynolds and induced an inning-ending double play by Chris Snyder. Daniel Murphy scooped the ball out of the dirt to complete the twin killing after he had practiced the play before the game. On WFAN, Howie Rose and Wayne Hagin reported that Mets coach Sandy Alomar was throwing balls in the dirt to Murphy from second base to teach him how to properly scoop poor throws from the second baseman. What a great day to practice that drill!
The Mets stormed back in the bottom of the fourth inning and Angel Pagan was crucial in that four-run rally as well. Daniel Murphy, Jeff Francoeur and Cory Sullivan all singled to produce the first run of the inning. Alex Cora then tied the game with a groundout to second base. The Mets took their first lead of the game when Brian Schneider hit a long double to center field, scoring Cory Sullivan from third base. After Oliver Perez delivered a line-drive single to right, advancing Schneider to third, Pagan drove in his first run of the game with a sacrifice fly.
The D-Backs pulled to within one run on a passed ball by Brian Schneider in the fifth inning, but the lead became two again on Jeff Francoeur’s millionth RBI as a Met. This time, he drove in David Wright on a groundout in the bottom of the fifth.
Oliver Perez was pulled after five workmanlike innings but the Mets could not give him the victory. Bobby Parnell coughed up the lead in the sixth inning, allowing Arizona to tie the game at 5 on an RBI groundout by Gerardo Parra and an RBI single by Justin Upton.
The score remained tied at 5 until the the Angel Pagan Show went back on the air in the eighth inning. The 7-8-9 hitters for the Mets all reached base on a walk and two singles, setting up Pagan’s grand moment.
I’d like to thank Brian Stokes for allowing a run and putting another runner on base. That allowed Francisco Rodriguez to pick up his first save in three weeks, as he got Miguel Montero to pop up to Luis Castillo to end the game. Castillo made sure to catch Frankie’s last pitch of the game with two hands.
With tonight’s victory, the Mets upped their record to 50-53, making Tuesday the earliest possible day they will be shaving. For those not in the know, the Mets have vowed to grow their beards out until they reach the .500 mark. They remained 6½ games out of the wild-card spot.
Build-A-Bear Night proved to be a winning formula for the Mets and their fans. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the game and I must say, Angel Pagan definitely made the fur fly at Citi Field. Let’s hope the good vibes spill over into Sunday’s game.