It was a long, hard fight, and exactly the kind of game the Mets sorely needed to win.
Hard to say who the hero was in this game — the Mets’ bullpen, which shut out the Astros over ten innings, or Carlos Beltran, who had not only the game-winning hit but also the game-saving catch.
With two outs and a runner on third in the 14th, Beltran made an unbelievable, running basket catch up “Tal’s Hill” in deep centerfield on a drive off the bat of Luke Scott to end the inning and preserve the tie. Three innings later, the Mets finally scored — for the first time in ten innings — thanks to a basehit by Beltran that scored Jose Reyes with the go-ahead run.
The top of the 17th began with a walk to Reyes. Ruben Gotay fell behind 0-2, and Reyes took off for second on the pitch. Gotay slapped the ball into the hole left by shortstop Mark Loretta, who was covering second on the steal, sending Reyes to third. Beltran followed with a screaming line drive into right to score Reyes and land Gotay on third. David Wright then drove a ball through the drawn-in infield to score Gotay for an insurance run.
Billy Wagner came on in the bottom of the 17th to save the game for winning pitcher Aaron Sele.
The Astros had the winning run on second base with less than two out five times between the ninth and 17th, but were unable to push the run home.
Tom Glavine threw a fine game, allowing three runs on five hits and one walk in seven innings. Remarkably, Woody Williams matched him pitch for pitch and then some, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing just five hits himself — two of them homeruns. Unfortunately, the Mets were unable to score runs without hitting the ball over the fence (in regulation), as has been the case all too often this season.
Carlos Delgado continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-6 with his 14th homerun of the season. David Wright went 4-for-8 with a solo homer, two RBI, and two runs scored. Other than those two, the Mets’ lineup was pretty miserable — though both Gotay and Green each had three hits. As a team the Mets amassed 17 hits, but it was they were a quiet 17, with a bunch coming after two outs in an inning. Kind of hard to get anything going with that strategy.
Gotay’s slap through the hole on that 0-2 pitch was masterful. The pitch was off the outside part of the plate, and probably a ball, but he saw Loretta covering and simply put the bat in the way of the ball right toward the spot Loretta had vacated. Now that’s heads-up baseball.
In the top of the ninth, with Paul LoDuca on first with two out, Shawn Green hit a line drive single into center and LoDuca tried to make it to third but was thrown out to end the inning. It was a questionable move by LoDuca (don’t ever make the third out at third base), but he would have made it had he not looked back three times on his way there. Ocne he made the decision to go, he needed to put his head down and move forward.
In the bottom of the ninth, Pedro Feliciano bailed out Aaron Heilman with a huge strikeout of Lance Berkman, stranding men on first and second. Joe Smith had a similarly huge strikeout in the 12th, bailing out Scott Schoeneweis and leaving the bases loaded. Great performances all around by seven Mets relievers.
Paul LoDuca caught 16 innings, with both Ramon Castro and Sandy Alomar Jr. hanging around on the bench. Castro was finally brought in to catch the 17th. At that point, what was the difference?
Holy cow … Willie Randolph not only acknowledged Ruben Gotay’s presence in the game, but complimented him on his ability to have good at-bats and “grind it out”. Wow. What an epiphany! We may actually see Gotay play more than once every two blue moons now.
The final game of the four-game series takes place at 2:05 PM EST. The Mets offer Dave Williams as the sacrificial lamb to the Astros beast known as Roy Oswalt.