Blogger’s disclaimer: This recap will be full of sarcasm. I attended today’s game expecting to see a spirited effort by the Mets against their former teammate, Pedro Martinez. Instead I saw things on the field I never thought I’d see in person, things that pretty much sum up the 2009 season. Buckle up. The show’s about to start.
On a day that was supposed to be remembered for Pedro Martinez’s return to Flushing as a member of the Phillies, it was a series of events that made Pedro’s return an afterthought. The Mets’ ninth inning rally fell short when Jeff Francoeur lined into the first unassisted triple play in franchise history, as the Phillies held on to defeat the Mets by a final score of 9-7.
Oliver Perez started the game against Pedro Martinez and pitched more like the $0.36 man instead of the $36 million man the Mets expected him to be. He recorded only two outs and allowed two long three-run homers to Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz. The blast by Ruiz was his first hit against the Mets this season after an 0-for-23 start against them.
Fans who were expecting to give Pedro Martinez a standing ovation when he took the mound ended up seeing him a little earlier than expected, as his first turn at bat took place before he was able to toe the pitching rubber on the Citi Field mound.
Oliver Perez threw three pitches to Pedro, all of which were called balls. That was all Jerry Manuel could bear to watch. He was clearly not down with O.P.P. (Oliver Perez’s Problems) and did not let Ollie finish facing Pedro. Nelson Figueroa came in to relieve Perez and threw three straight strikes to prevent the Phillies from doing any more damage in the first inning.
Despite having the wind knocked out of them in the top of the first inning, the Mets did not let the early 6-0 deficit keep them down. They wasted no time coming back against Pedro Martinez in the bottom of the first inning. Centerfielder Angel Pagan led off with a long drive to left-center that temporarily got wedged underneath the left field wall. Shane “The Cryin’ Hawaiian” Victorino tried to pull a fast one on the umpires by throwing his hands up in the air, waving them around like he just didn’t care, hoping to get a ground-rule double called. In a season of botched calls by the umpires, today’s officials did not fall for the Beer Magnet’s chicanery, as they allowed the play to go on. Fortunately for the Mets, Pagan had a Red Bull before the game which gave him the wings he needed to fly around the bases for the first inside-the-park home run in Citi Field history. He scored without a throw as Raul Ibañez had to retrieve the ball and throw it back into the infield, but not before giving a tissue to the Cryin’ Hawaiian, which cost him valuable time in his efforts to prevent Pagan from scoring.
The Mets added another run in the inning when Luis Castillo singled and later scored on a Jeff Francoeur triple. More runs could have been scored in the inning, but Pedro was able to strike out Cory Sullivan and Fernando Tatis to end the threat and keep the score at 6-2.
The Phillies stretched their lead back up to six runs in the third inning on an RBI single to future batting champion Pedro Martinez and a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Rollins. Even with an 8-2 lead by the Phillies, the Mets showed some punch and continued to chip away at the deficit.
Pagan led off the bottom of the third inning with a 400-foot blast for his second home run of the game. Memories of legendary Met Tim Bogar danced through my head as Pagan circled the bases for a second time. After all, Bogar also hit an inside-the-park homer and outside-the-park homer in the same game against the Phillies in 1993. However, I stopped thinking about it once I remembered that Bogar broke his hand sliding into home plate on the inside-the-parker and was never effective again. That kind of fragility would have made him a perfect fit with this 2009 squad.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled recap, already in progress:
…and that brought us to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Mets still trailing the Phillies by the score of 9-6. Angel Pagan led off the inning with a sharp grounder to first. Ryan Howard paid homage to Bill Buckner by letting the ball go through his legs, allowing Pagan to make it to third base on the three-base error. Phillies’ second baseman Eric Bruntlett was feeling left out so he decided to make an error of his own when Luis Castillo hit a grounder to second. The bobble allowed Pagan to score to cut the Phillies’ lead to 9-7. Daniel Murphy then reached on an infield single that was again played with by Bruntlett, although no error was given on the play. That brought up Jeff Francoeur as the potential winning run with nobody out.
Jerry Manuel started the runners on what appeared to be either a hit-and-run play or a double steal. I couldn’t tell because I was up in the next-to-last row of the Promenade Level and from my vantage point, third base coach Razor Shines was either giving the double steal sign or picking his nose. With the runners going, Francoeur lined a ball that appeared to be headed into center field for a run-scoring hit. However, Mr. E-4 himself, Eric Bruntlett was running to cover second base and the ball found his glove for the first out. His next step put him over second base for the second out. After doing the cha-cha-cha with Daniel Murphy near second base, Bruntlett finally tagged him out for the game-ending unassisted triple play.
The play was only the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history, making it rarer than a perfect game. It was also the first time in National League history that a game ended on an unassisted triple play. My chicken nachos just didn’t taste the same after that bittersweet ending to what appeared to be a miraculous finish unfolding at Citi Field.
The Mets did their best to come back against the Phillies after Oliver Perez did his best to get himself sent back to Buffalo. However, a little TP caused a lot of heartbreak for myself and the 39,000+ fans in attendance.
There is still one more game left in this series. It will be played Monday at 1:10 PM. This year’s version of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, will be facing Bobby Parnell in the getaway game. I’m an optimist, but something tells me that this matchup will cause a lot of people to get away from their TV sets. On that note, Let’s Go Mets and have a great evening!