Mets Game 110: Win Over Phillies

Mets 1 Phillies 0

The Mets played the role of spoiler, beating the Phillies and knocking the reigning NL East champions a game further from the Braves, who also won on Saturday evening.

Game Notes

Johan Santana was brilliant, shutting out the Phillies through 7 1/3 and allowing only 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6.

The hero of the game was none other than the oft-maligned Jeff Francoeur, who blasted a solo homerun to create the only score of the ballgame.

Interestingly, a “rocket” was requested of Francoeur when Alex Cora exited the clubhouse and the team. Per the Associated Press:

When popular and well-respected infielder Alex Cora was released by the team on Saturday afternoon he told Francoeur to “hit a rocket” that night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I didn’t promise him a home run. I don’t do that,” Francoeur said, with a laugh. “I’m not Babe Ruth, but I promised him I’d try.”

For one swing, Francoeur got his Ruthian result, and it traveled just over the right-field wall. It came on a day when he was told by manager Jerry Manuel that he would platoon with Fernando Martinez, who was called up with second baseman Ruben Tejada. Francoeur also hit a game-winning home run on Aug. 3 off Atlanta’s Billy Wagner.

“If my name is in the lineup, I’ll play,” Francoeur said. “That’s all I can do.”

Cole Hamels was tough on the Mets, allowing only 6 hits, no walks, and striking out 11 in 7 innings. The Francoeur homer was the only blemish of Hamels’ performance.

Francisco Rodriguez miraculously converted a 5-out save, working out of a stressful bases-loaded jam in the 8th. I have to admit my faith was waning when he took the mound — even if he is paid very handsomely to do this type of thing. It took him 34 pitches to earn his 24th save — could that make him unavailable on Sunday? I’m guessing no.

Speaking of the Santana removal, my wife asked me four times why Johan was taken out, and I had no plausible answer. In hindsight, it’s easy to provide an explanation — after all, it worked out fine. But at the time, well, as Jerry Manuel might say, “that’s a good question”.

This was the first 1-0, 9-inning win for the Mets this season. They won a rain-shortened 1-0 game earlier in the year but that was it.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match occurs at 1:35 PM on Sunday afternoon. R.A. Dickey faces Roy Halladay. Now you tell me: if it was April, would you feel nearly as confident as you do right now about that matchup? Baseball is a funny game — and good for R.A. for rising to this level. He has reached a point where we will be mildly surprised if he doesn’t give the Mets an excellent chance to win against a superior team with possibly the best pitcher in baseball on the mound.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.