Mets 10 Reds 4
Perhaps more important than the final score of this game was the status of Pedro Martinez. And though he may not have been dominating, he was masterful — and apparently healthy.
Pedro went five innings and 76 pitches before tiring, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out four. He relied almost exclusively on an assortment of changeups, including a hard sinking version, but did reach 90 MPH on the gun with his fastball. His backward strategy of using a bevy of off-speed pitches to set up the speedball was successful, and led to eight fly ball outs.
And though he allowed three runs, two of them came via bad luck in the first and the third was due to a rare error by Carlos Beltran in the fourth. To lead off the game, Josh Hamilton hit a swinging bunt that the Mets hoped would roll foul but stopped dead on the line for a cheap single. Alex Gonzalez then hit a liner to left that Moises Alou grossly misjudged by coming in for it, and the ball flew over his head for a double to put men on second and third. A sac fly by Junior Griffey drove in the first run of the game and single by Brandon Phillips scored the second.
A few minutes later, Alou made up for the gaffe by blasting a solo homer, making the score 2-1. An inning later, Luis Castillo bunted his way on and David Wright ripped a ball over the rightfield wall to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The Mets scored for the third straight inning when Paul LoDuca lifted a deep fly to the leftfield fence that scored Alou with a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Adam Dunn walked and Scott Hatteberg hit a routine single up the middle with Dunn running on the pitch. Beltran charged hard for the ball and it skipped off him, allowing Dunn to score and pulling the Reds to within a run. Meantime, both Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo were asleep on the play, with neither covering second as Beltran’s throw sailed over the bag and was eventually stopped by Pedro backing up the play. Hatteberg took second on the overthrow but was stranded there when Pedro struck out Aaron Harang fort he second time of the day.
After Pedro left the game, the Mets busted it open. After Carlos Delgado led off the sixth with a strikeout, Alou hit a popup that landed between Griffey and Phillips in shallow right — Alou alertly hustled to second by the time the ball hit the ground. Shawn Green — who was robbed of an RBI single in the first thanks to a diving play by Hatteberg — drove a double to left to score Alou. Green moved to third on a grounder by LoDuca, and scored on yet another pinch-hit single by Ruben Gotay. That made the score 6-3 and chased Harang from the game. Gary Majewski came on to retire Reyes with a fly ball to center.
The Mets tacked on two more runs in the 7th when Beltran singled in Luis Castillo, then scored himself on an infield chopper by Green. The ninth run came in the 8th after Reyes chopped an infield single and scored on a double by Castillo. Carlos Delgado blasted his 22nd homer of the season in the top of the ninth for the tenth Mets run.
If there was anything about Pedro’s outing that had me concerned, it was his arm angle — which seems to be a shade below where it should be. This is a concern on two fronts; first, it means the ball will tend to be flat, and secondly, the angle could put a strain on his elbow (just ask Aaron Heilman). That arm angle was part of his problem with the curveball — he wasn’t getting on top of it. After coming all the way back from a shoulder injury, it would really stink to suffer an elbow problem next.
When Pedro struck out Aaron Harang in the second, it was his 3000th career strikeout. The classy Cincinnati crowd respectfully gave him an appropriate ovation.
David Wright had three hits including the homerun and is now around .320 for the year. If he keeps up this late-season tirade on NL pitching, he’ll have built a strong case for the MVP.
Alou also had three hits — all for extra bases and all against Harang — and scored three runs.
Carlos Beltran had a somewhat frustrating game early on, and expressed his frustration. After booting the ball in centerfield in the bottom of the fourth, allowing Adam Dunn to score all the way from first, he struck out swinging in the top of the fifth. In a rare expression of anger, he reared the bat behind his right shoulder and slammed it down hard onto home plate after the K.
I feel bad for Reds reliever Jon Coutlangus, who must endure a substantial amount of abuse for that last name — it sounds a lot like a bedroom favor.
The Braves beat the Phillies, sending Philadelphia down to five back and the magic number to 22.
The Mets and Reds do it again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Oliver Perez pitches for the Mets against Matt Belisle.