Roy Halladay was his usual Met-killer self tonight through five, with Daniel Murphy the only baserunner through those first five with a sharp single to right. Jon Niese was shaky at the outset again, allowing a double to Jimmy Rollins in the first, he advanced to third on Andres Torres’ bobbling of the ball, and then quickly scored on John Mayberry Jr.’s liner to center. Niese got out of the jam without further damage, but walked Carlos Ruiz to start the second, and he promptly scored on Placido Polanco’s RBI double.
Niese settled down nicely, allowing baserunners every inning, but left after five decent innings, with the Mets only down by two. After getting two weak popups to start the sixth, Halladay walked Torres, Kirk singled to left center, and David Wright had a huge double down the left field line which plated two after the hard grounder caromed off the wall in a decidedly Met-friendly fashion. Lucas Duda struck out to end the threat. The Mets put two on in the top of the seventh on singles by Ike and Thole, but Hairston struck out pinch hitting to end that chance.
The Phils had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh as Parnell followed Manny Acosta’s solid sixth inning with a shaky start. He walked pinch hitter Juan Pierre and gave up a single to Rollins, and after Mayberry Jr.’s flyout, Victorino hit a fortunately-placed infield single to Justin Turner’s right to load the bases. Hunter Pence hit a sharp grounder to Murphy which he bobbled, and for an instant it looked like Murph might be the goat, but after recovering quickly and gunning Victorino out at second, Turner fired a relay to Ike at first. While the umpire called Pence safe, as Terry Collins was racing out of the dugout, the second base umpire bravely and correctly called interference on Victorino, who was a good five or six feet from the bag when he slid at Turner. This nullified Pierre’s run and ended the inning.
After Torres and Wright walked in the top of the eighth, Duda grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the inning. Parnell put two on in the bottom of the eighth, but after falling down on Ruiz’s bunt right back to him, Parnell recovered and fielded Freddy Galvis’ grounder to throw Wigginton out at home, but the hard slide knocked Thole out of the game.
Murphy battled but struck out against new Phillie Jonathan Papelbon, and Ike worked out a walk. Following Turner’s K, Mike Nickeas blasted a double to left, and Jordany Valdespin came to the plate, and simply blasted a long shot to right for his first major league hit and it cleared the RF fence for a shocking, invigorating 5-2 lead.
Francisco set down the top of the Phils’ order 1-2-3 in the ninth for his eighth save.
A very taut, exciting, and truly memorable game, which ended in thrilling fashion.
Plays of the Game:
Clearly Valdespin’s incredible 3-run HR off of Papelbon.
Second base umpire Ron “Not Mea” Kulpa made a gutsy and correct call in declaring that Victorino interfered with Turner’s attempt to complete a double play in the bottom of the seventh. Pence hit a one out, bases loaded grounder to Murphy, who of course bobbled it long enough to prevent Turner from making the relay in time. But while players often slide right at the 2B/SS at second base even if he is off the bag to distract them when they are making the DP throw, Victorino was so far from the base that the ump made the call, ending the inning and saving a go-ahead Phillie run.
What’s to Like:
The resilience of this team…once again, after falling to .500 at 13-13, the team has come right back and won three in a row, battling their nemesis Halladay and beating Jonathan Papelbon…the Mets now are an MLB-best 11-3 in 1- and 2-run games, and all five runs tonight scored after two men were out…also, one has to like the fact that, barring a rainout rescheduled as a one game series, there’s no chance the Mets see Halladay more than four more times in the regular season…Niese’s adjustments and settling down despite a rough start—before getting the fourth out of the game in the bottom of the second, Niese had given up two runs on two doubles, a single, and a walk; had no control of his curve; had thrown a ton of pitches; and appeared to be headed for another early exit…but he settled down, finished off the second, and in five frames allowed just one more single and three more walks while striking out five and keeping the Mets very much in the game.
What’s Not to Like:
Victorino’s slide. This writer has been a regular defender of Victorino, who is in fact a charitable family man, but that slide was just way out of line, both literally and figuratively…Thole’s leaving the game…he held on and made a nice play to keep the game tied, but losing Thole for any length of time with what this team has in terms of catching depth is a truly horrific prospect.
What’s Going on in Hamels’ Head?:
Well, one has to appreciate the honesty, but on the other hand, saying less may have made sense. After deliberately hitting Nats’ rookie Bryce Harper, Harper stole home later in the inning, and Jordan Zimmerman plunked Hamels. The Phils salvaged the last game of the series behind Hamels’ continued excellence, but one has to wonder about Hamels’ actions. Harper was so shaken up that he followed the steal of home with a single and a double in his remaining at bats. These Nats are young and hungry, have a fantastic pitching staff, and are led by a manager known for encouraging tough, hard-nosed play. One must consider that this move may invigorate the already very good Nats even more in their many remaining games with the aging, offensively-challenged Phils.
What’s Trivial But Interesting:
Dating back to his Toronto days, Halladay had won his last eight starts against the Mets. Thanks to David “Clutch” Wright, that streak ended.
What Didn’t Happen Yesterday:
One of the most-read sports blogs in the region has repeatedly posted totally misleading and erroneous information regarding Ruben Tejada’s injury yesterday. Anyone who has seen a story or a comment suggesting that Ruben was injured “diving” into first base and/or criticizing him or the team for it, don’t believe it. As the replay most definitely and quite clearly shows, Ruben tripped and fell, landing hard on the bag and smashing his face into the ground. This is just a public service announcement in the spirit of accuracy and respectful support of a smart young player; it would be a shame if even one fan thought Ruben had made the generally idiotic decision to slide head-first into 1B and as a result wound up on the DL. He didn’t.
Tomorrow night at 7:05 the Mets and Phils play game two of the series, with the surprisingly good Joe Blanton squaring off with the not-so-surprisingly not-so-good Miguel Batista. Yes, it is too bad that we don’t have Pelf or Chris Young or a good minor leaguer pitching, but we don’t. So let’s be realistic and just hope that somehow the Metsies can outslug the Phils tomorrow. Batista has allowed at least 1 run in 5 of his 10 appearances this year, and as all but one of these outings have been 2.2 IP or less (the iron man game was a 3.2 IP start when he allowed 6 runs) one can be forgiven for looking ahead to Gee’s start.
This team continues to show serious fight. Sure it is still just 29 games, but the team is 11-5 in the division, and 7-3 in games with ATL and PHI. Injuries, tough losses, lack of power and speed, inconsistent bullpen performance-nothing is phasing this team. 11-3 in 1- and 2-run games and using the entire 25-man roster. It’s been a great ride for these 29 games, and let’s see them keep it going tomorrow.