Mets 7 Padres 2
Wow … this game was a LOT closer than what the final score reads.
Coming off two consecutive losses against the Braves, in which they were only able to muster six total hits in the two games combined, the Mets had to travel to the West Coast and face Jake Peavy. Looking at the anemic hitting of the last two days, combined with the fact that Beltran and Floyd were returning rusty and at less than 100%, and having to face one of the top hurlers in the NL … well, let’s just say it wasn’t looking too good.
The concerns were realized through seven innings of Peavy mowing down the Mets hitters, seeming to get better as the game wore on. His hard sinkers and slippery sliders were eating up even the best of the Mets’ batsmen: both Carlos Delgado and David Wright had trouble getting good swings on Peavy’s downward-moving BBs. Only an inside-the-park home run by Kaz Matsui could mar Jake Peavy’s mastery of the Mets.
Then came the bottom of the seventh, when San Diego manager Bruce Bochy inexplicably pulled Peavy for a pinch-hitter in the midst of a bases-loaded, no-out rally. Although it was an opportunity to put the Mets away once and for all, I still was surprised to see Geoff Blum come in to hit. After all, Peavy was dominating, and really didn’t need more than a one-run lead going into the eighth. And with Trevor Hoffman ready in the bullpen, he didn’t have to worry about pitching a complete game — though he probably could have.
So Blum came up and popped out, then another pinch-hitter, Eric Young, grounded into an inning-ending double play (actually, he was probably safe at first, but David Wright made a great diving stop of the ground ball, and Kaz Matsui made such a beautiful turn that the ump HAD to make the out call). After that amazing escape, the Mets had momentum going into the Peavy-less eighth inning.
Then all hell broke loose. Xavier Nady smashed a double, and Kaz moved him to third. Julio Franco twirled his walking cane around and punched a line-drive homerun over the right field wall. Jose Reyes singles, steals second, and tags to third on a Paul LoDuca sacrifice fly to deep, deep center. Endy Chavez, in a rare acknowledgment of his meekness, drags a perfect bunt down the first base line, shocking everyone and scoring Reyes. Delgado follows with an absolute rocket that bounces on top of, and over, the right-centerfield wall. But the Mets are still not done. David Wright follows with a walk, and taking the lead from Reyes earlier in the inning, steals second. Cliff Floyd acknowledges that bit of strategy with a single, scoring Wright. Nady comes up for the second time in the inning, and too exhausted from all the excitement, strikes out to end the rally. And just like that, the Mets go from what looked to be another anemic loss to a pitcher throwing yet another complete game, to a 7-2 win.
And if the offensive explosion of the 8th was not enough to excite Mets fans, the game was capped off by JORGE JULIO pitching a perfect ninth to finish the game.
Hallelujah … this is definitely a new year!