Two days after LaTroy Hawkins earned the 100th save of his career, righthander Vic Black got a chance to close out last night’s 4-2 win over the Reds. The rookie reliever pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to register his first career save.
Black, who was one of the players acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates when the Mets traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck, struck out rightfielder Jay Bruce to start the inning. Then after striking out Todd Frazier on a wild pitch that allowed Frazier to reach first base. Black induced the game-ending doubleplay when Zack Cozart hit a comebacker to the mound.
Apparently, Black revealed a strong hatred for the Reds that goes back to his days with the Bucs. ”We never liked the Reds anyway,” he said with a smile. “This was just watering that flower of hatred.”
Manager Terry Collins later said that he was curious to see how Black would respond in that role and wanted to give Hawkins a breather.
“I was very curious,” said Collins. ”That’s the best he’s thrown. He pounded the strike zone. He challenged Jay Bruce, who I think is one of the best lefthanded hitters in the league.”
The Mets made sure to secure the game ball as a memento for Black and were having it authenticated for him. ”I walked off the mound clenching it,” said Black. ”I’d better get it back. I’ll go looking for it.”
Black entered the game with a 3.86 ERA in 12 appearances with the Mets. With some uncertainty surrounding regular closer Bobby Parnell, it was a good idea by Collins to give the kid the opportunity and see how he would respond. He passed his first test with flying colors.