The Mets survived a ninth-inning scare and outslugged the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 9-6 (Box Score), completing a 3-game sweep of the AL East powerhouse in St. Pete.
Frank Francisco (S, 16) entered in what was then a save situation. He induced a ground ball to Omar Quintanilla, playing out of position in the infield shift. Quintanilla tried to take the ball to second base himself, but arrived late, and another run scored. Francisco then blew away B.J. Upton on 3 pitches for the second out. Then he walked Hideki Matsui to load the bases, but he K-ed Ben Zobrist on a check swing to nail down the save. Frankie did a tremendous job under pressure.
Bats Remain Hot
The Mets’ offensive explosion against the Rays continued on Thursday afternoon, as they racked up 9 runs on 12 hits. Some of their production came from unexpected sources. Jason Bay hit his 4th home run of the year, and Ike Davis went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI. Davis is now 8 for his last 14 with a homer and 7 RBI. It’s Ike’s first sustained hot streak of the season, and might be a sign of things to come.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the game with his 4th bomb of the year, then added a 2-run opposite field shot in the fourth. Lucas Duda knocked in 3 runs (he now has a team-leading 40 RBI), and David Wright added 3 hits. In fact, the only Met to go hitless was Daniel Murphy.
In all, they tagged starter Jeremy Hellickson (L, 4-3) for 8 earned runs on 9 hits in 3.2 innings. The Mets did not strike out against Hellickson, who came into the game with a 2.65 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Yesterday, the Mets scored 7 earned runs on 9 hits against David Price, who had a 2.40 ERA going in. 15 total runs against two of the top pitchers in the American League is an unqualified success for an offense that had been struggling of late.
Rauch Lifts Santana
Mets starter Johan Santana (W, 4-3) had trouble with his command once again, walking 4 batters, and leaving his changeup up in the zone too often. He danced through the raindrops, allowing 6 hits and 4 runs (all earned) in 5+ innings pitched. But the results could have been much worse.
In the sixth, Santana loaded the bases with nobody out. In from the bullpen came the embattled Jon Rauch. The other day, Dan Warthen said Rauch needs to throw his fastball more. Today, Rauch threw 8 fastballs and 6 sliders, which turned out to be a successful combination. He struck out Sean Rodriguez and Jose Lobaton, then got Elliot Johnson to ground out to third to end the inning. Rauch got the Mets out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation without allowing a run.
The Mets begin a 3-game set with the Cincinnati Reds at home on Friday night at 7:10 PM.