Mets Game 2: Win Over Marlins
Mets 6 Marlins 4
It’s games like this that keep me watching baseball.
It was a pitchers’ duel of sorts, with Jon Niese matching Ricky Nolasco pitch-for-pitch through seven strong innings. When both starters left the game, it was a 2-2 tie. The Mets were the first to go ahead in the top of the ninth thanks to a clutch single by Josh “Don’t Remove Me for a Pinch-hitter Late in the Game” Thole, and had their multi-gazillion-dollar closer Francisco Rodriguez enter in the bottom of the frame to save the win.
However, K-Rod allowed 3 hits, a walk, and the tying run in a 27-pitch effort, sending the game into extra innings.
In the top of the tenth, the Mets exploded for three runs to go ahead 6-3, highlighted by David Wright’s single up the middle that scored the go-ahead run and a two-run double by Willie Harris that put the game away. But, the win wasn’t a win until after Blaine Boyer allowed the Fish to rally and score a run, so my attention was retained.
In short, it was an entertaining ballgame — and in the end, the Mets won!
Niese pitched well and was incredibly efficient, tossing only 87 pitches in his 7 innings of work — 60 of those for strikes. He walked just one and allowed only 4 hits, and did not allow a run after the initial inning. At one point he retired 10 Fish in a row. What I liked in particular was that he stayed on top of the ball, using a delivery that was more between three-quarters and overhand, rather than three-quarters and sidearm. Last year, he was inconsistent with that delivery, and when his arm angle dropped, his pitches flattened out and he had no bite on the curveball — I’m still convinced the dropped arm angle had something to do with the cutter that he fell in love with. When Jon stays more toward overhand as he did in this ballgame, he gets a good 11-5 / 12-6 bite on his curve — and that is the pitch that makes him special. Additionally, he gets more downward movement on the fastball. If he can mix in that change-up a bit more, and stay at that arm angle on all three pitches, he could emerge as the ace of the rotation — even if he ditches the cutter. In short, it was a great outing to start the season right.
Nice to see David Wright get the base hit up the middle to score Jose Reyes with the go-ahead run. D-Wright gets too much criticism for not being “clutch” — even though, with that RBI, he tied Mike Piazza for most game-winning RBI in Mets history (89). Hat tip to my blogger / twitter buddy Ceetar — a.k.a. “Optimistic Mets Fan” — for that one.
Immediately before that clutch single, Wright hit a foul fly ball down the right field line that Scott Cousins could have caught, but he let it drop about three feet in front of him. I think he was unsure of where the wall was and either he lost track of the ball by looking for the wall or maybe he was afraid of running into the wall. The SNY booth suggested that he might have allowed the ball to drop so that Reyes wouldn’t tag and go to third, but if that’s the truth, it makes absolutely no sense — you always go for the out, UNLESS the runner can score (and even then, it’s questionable).
Also nice to see Jose Reyes get his first hit of the season; always good to get the monkey off your back quickly.
Wright, by the way, hit the Mets first homer of the year and committed the team’s first error.
And speaking of firsts, Brad Emaus collected his first MLB hit in the fifth inning — though, it was a hard bouncer that glanced off Hanley Ramirez’s glove and could have been scored as an error. Heck, he’ll take it.
After K-Rod allowed the tying run, a sinister thought came into my head: financially speaking, he’d be motivated to allow the go-ahead run to end the game and give him a “game finished” toward the 55 he needs for his $17M option to vest. I know that K-Rod is way too competitive to ever have such a thought, but what if it were late in the season, and he had, say, 53 or 54 games finished? 17.5 million dollars is 17.5 million dollars, after all, and though a true competitor in theory would never “throw” a ballgame, that’s a tremendous amount of money to ignore.
Speaking of, K-Rod has only 160 more chances to finish 55 games. And yes, I’ll be keeping count after every game.
Next Mets Game
The Mets look to take the rubber match from the Fish in game 3 on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PM. R.A. Dickey goes against Javier Vazquez.