In game one of their three-game series in Pittsburgh, the Mets fielded a lineup of has-beens, never-weres, might-bes, and probably-won’ts. Oh, and David Wright. With three starters in sick bay, Terry Collins had to get creative with his lineup.
But Terry’s band of misfits couldn’t get the job done against the Pirates, as Pittsburgh defeated the Mets by a score of 5-4 (Box Score).
They got off to a good start, staking Johan Santana to a 4 run lead in the 2nd inning. But Johan couldn’t put the Pirates away, and sloppy defense cost the Mets the game in the 8th.
Mets jump out early
Pirates’ LHP Erik Bedard fell behind Mets hitters early and often. The Mets capitalized on his wildness, scoring 4 runs in the 2nd inning. After an RBI double by Ronny Cedeno, Bedard walked Mike Nickeas, who wouldn’t be able to hit the water if he fell out of a boat. Then, after a sacrifice bunt by Johan Santana, walked ice-cold Andres Torres to load the bases. With two out, Justin Turner came through with a bases-loaded, 2-run single to put the Mets up 3-0. Wright followed up with an RBI single of his own, and the Mets were off and running, 4-0.
Bedard would last only 5 innings, throwing 97 pitches.
Santana gets run support, but can’t hold the lead
Johan Santana was cruising until the bottom of the 4th. He gave up back-to-back-to-back doubles to Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez, giving the Pirates 2 runs back. Johan got out of a bases loaded jam by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to Michael McKenry.
The Pirates’ bullpen held the Mets scoreless long enough for McKenry to swat a game-tying 2-run home run against Santana in the 7th. Johan appeared to tire that inning, and after a 4-pitch walk to Jose Tabata, on pitches that were not even close, he departed for Bobby Parnell.
Parnell and Byrdak combined to strike out McCutchen and Alvarez, respectively, and the Mets were out of the inning. As for Byrdak, you know the expression, “A batter a day keeps the doctor away.”
For once, the Mets scored more than one run for Santana, but Johan couldn’t hold the 4-0 lead.
Rally in the 8th falls short
In the 8th, with Nickeas on deck, Kirk Nieuwenhus at first, and none out, Terry Collins opted to bunt with Cedeno. Cedeno couldn’t get the bunt down. With much of his bench already used, Collins should have had Cedeno swing ahead of the rolled-up newspaper wielding Nickeas. Cedeno ended up advancing Kirk on a groundout to third – a diving play by Alvarez.
But, Nickeas predictably struck out, pinch-hitter Mike Baxter was intentionally walked, and Torres grounded into a 4-6 force play.
The Mets give it away
Neil Walker led off the bottom of the 8th inning with a routine fly ball to left-center off of Jon Rauch (L, 3-3). Baxter, playing left field, inexcusably interfered with Nieuwenhuis, and caused Kirk to drop the ball. Walker ended up on third on what would be an error charged to Nieuwenhuis. Clearly, the play belonged to the center fielder. Kirk called for it all the way, but Baxter went for the ball anyway.
One batter later, Clint Barmes hit a sac fly to right to give the Pirates the lead.
Just another routine crushing defeat for the Mets. They’re used to this by now, right?
The Mets continue their series against the Pirates on Tuesday at 7:05 EDT at PNC Park.