Mets 5 Pirates 4
The reason the Mets signed Moises Alou was to drive in runs — bottom line. And in the top of the 8th, that’s exactly what he did.
Alou’s base hit to center with the bases drunk in the top of the eighth scored two runs, putting the Mets ahead — for the first time in the game — 5-3. And it was a lead they did not relinquish.
The Pirates jumped ahead 2-0 in the first frame when Nate McClouth led off with a walk, Freddy Sanchez doubled, Adam LaRoche singled, and Jose Castillo hit a second double. The score stayed that way until the third, when Lastings Milledge hit a leadoff single and scored on a double by — of all people — Mike DiFelice. The Mets tied the game the next inning (the 4th) via a Carlos Beltran homer, but McClouth popped a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the inning. Once again Beltran tied the game, in the sixth, this time on a fielder’s choice grounder that scored Luis Castillo from third base. The game remained tied until Alou’s big hit in the 8th.
Luckily, Alou’s hit scored two, because the Bucs added a run in the bottom of the 8th. Things started off poorly when David Wright misplayed a slow bouncer off the bat of Jose Castillo leading off the inning. Instead of charging aggressively, he stayed back on the ball, and Castillo beat out his throw to reach first safely. One pitch later, men stood on first and second as Ronny Paulino bounced a second ball through the infield. A minute after that, it was men on second and third and one out after a successful sacrifice by Jack Wilson. Xavier Nady then pinch hit and hit a soft grounder to Luis Castillo for the second out, scoring Castillo. Strangely, Willie Randolph then chose to bring in Scott Schoeneweis to face Nate McClouth; Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy countered with pinch-hitter Josh Phelps, who drove a ball to rightfield that Lastings Milledge should have caught fairly easily, but chose instead to turn it into a nail-biting web gem.
Billy “Automatic” Wagner came on in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning to earn his 27th save of the season.
Orlando Hernandez threw six fairly solid innings, striking out 8, walking 5, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs. A lot of baserunners, to be sure, but he did a good job of stranding them. It was REALLY nice to see Randolph leave him in to throw 130 pitches — something I wish he’d let Tom Glavine do on occasion. I don’t care what any doctor or trainer says, a grown man in MLB shape who has efficient mechanics can throw up to 150 pitches in a game without causing any damage. And guys like El Duque and Glavine, who do not put tremendous strain on their arms, should be allowed and expected to go far beyond the ridiculous 100-pitch limit.
Not to be ignored was the relief work by Jorge Sosa, whose 1 2/3 innings kept the Mets in the game. Yeah, things are bad when you’re happy about a pitcher allowing “only” one run in less than two innings of work, but we’ve got to find our silver linings in the Fahrenheit 451 firehouse also known as the Mets bullpen (am I overdoing the Fahrenheit 451 thing lately? Sorry, but it just seems so fitting).
John Maine goes against Matt Morris in another 7:05 PM start at PNC Park. Let’s hope that Morris curveball is hanging.