It took long enough, but finally the Mets executed the “big hit”.
With one out in the top of the 12th, bases loaded, tie game and the infield in, Carlos Beltran bounced a ball down the first base line, past Robert Fick, and into the right field corner, scoring two runs. Carlos Delgado was intentionally walked to re-load the bases, and David Wright ripped a line drive into left field to score two more.
However, it never should have gone that far.
Tom Glavine threw a masterful game, allowing one run on three hits and a walk over six innings and 84 pitches of work. He likely would have remained in the game had the Mets once-powerful lineup not been shut down by Jerome Williams. Why the Mets made Williams look like Bob Gibson is anybody’s guess; his stuff was mediocre at best, and he walked five batters in his six scoreless innings. My guess is the Nats’ visiting clubhouse attendant drugged the Mets’ Gatorade.
Ronny Belliard was nearly the hero of the game, as he drove in both the tying and go-ahead runs with doubles in the sixth and eighth innings. Both shots were in nearly the exact same spots, down the line and into the corner — well out of the reach of Moises Alou.
But if you watched the game, then you know that Belliard’s doubles shouldn’t have meant anything, and the Mets might have scored more runs earlier in the game — specifically, the fifth inning — when first base umpire Anthony Randazzo began to nearly take the game away. Randazzo got caught up in the excitement of two fantastic, diving stops by Ryan Zimmerman in the fifth, and called out both Damion Easley and Jose Reyes on those plays — when in fact they were safe. So instead of the Mets having two men on and one out, the inning was over. Then in the seventh, Tom Glavine worked out of a difficult situation by inducing a ground-ball double play — except, Randazzo failed to call the batter-runner out at first (he was out by a half-step), and the inning went on. Willie Randolph was justifiably ticked off, and a vehement argument with Randazzo resulted in his being ejected from the game. Moments later, Belliard mashed his first double of the game to the left-field corner on a hit-and-run that scored Felipe Lopez. Had Randazzo made the right call, Glavine would have been out of the inning without a scar; as it turned out, he returned to the dugout down 1-zip.
The Nationals stayed on top, and appeared to have the game won after closer Chad Cordero got Moises Alou to bounce into a double play. However, Shawn Green managed to drill a low inside fastball into right field for his second hit of the game, to keep the inning alive. Endy Chavez came on to pinch-run for Green, and Damion Easley followed with an infield single. Julio Franco then delivered a huge pinch-hit single to chase Chavez home — though the play at the plate was very close. Had catcher Jesus Flores let the ball come into him, Chavez likely would have been a dead duck. But the young backstop leaned out to receive the throw from rightfielder Austin Kearns, then had to lunge back after the diving Chavez, who escaped the tag by inches.
The game remained tied until the twelfth, when the Mets finally chose to bring their bats to the plate. The lumber worked much better than the flimsy asparagus sticks they were using in the first 11 innings.
Just hours after I proclaimed you wouldn’t see Aaron Heilman pitch a complete inning, the Mets had him go one and two-thirds before giving up the go-ahead double to Belliard in the 8th. Without being too high on my horse, I wish Mets officials would read MetsToday — because it’s clear that Heilman is not the pitcher he was in 2005 – 2006, and there is something not right with him. Someone else needs to step up — at least until June, when Guillermo Mota returns — or the Mets are going to lose a lot of games in the late innings.
Pedro Feliciano is certainly not the answer, unless you enjoy heart attacks. His inability to retire hitters who refuse to swing is gut-wrenching. Though he didn’t give up any runs in his inning and two-thirds, he was constantly picking around the plate with breaking pitches, hoping the hitters would swing at something out of the zone. This strategy can work, at times, particularly when facing one hitter, but is a frighteningly dangerous approach when pitching full innings. At some point, every pitcher — other than a knuckleballer — must establish the fastball in order to be effective. It’s been this way for 125 years, and isn’t going to change. Feliciano’s swing-and-miss approach is fine in his role as a LOOGY, but will get him into trouble as a setup man.
In HIS LOOGY role, Scott Schoeneweis retired the one batter he faced. Mighty Joe Smith did the same in his ROOGY role. Aaron Sele pitched a fine one and a third to earn the win.
Shawn Green had two more hits, and is now batting .365.
Jose Valentin left the game in the fourth with a tweaked ankle. Damion Easley went 2-4 with a double in his place.
Ryan Church must have been wearing his Barry Bonds Halloween costume, as he walked four times. Why else would anyone pitch around him?
The rubber match takes place at 1:35 PM Sunday afternoon, with John Maine going against Rutgers alum Jason Bergmann. Maine must continue to roll and the Mets bats must wake up — Carlos Delgado’s in particular.