Mets Power Up Early, Walk-Off Late Against the Padres

After Sunday’s crushing defeat to the Braves, a defeat in which the Mets also lost two players to the DL, a dejected feeling floated around the clubhouse.  While they were not mathematically eliminated from the wild card, they looked like a team that felt finished.

But even though the last opportunity for October baseball might have went awry, Terry Collins insisted that his players play hard for the remainder of the season.  He fired a warning shot to players back in July after Carlos Beltran was traded.  He told them that other players were playing for jobs next year, and that if they give up, they will not have one with the Mets.

With Daniel Murphy out for 2011 and Jose Reyes sidelined indefinitely with that bum hamstring of his, the Mets certainly have every reason to thrown in the towel.  But they are still fighting.  Despite everything that is going on, they are still finding ways to remain competitive in games.

Last night against the Padres, despite collapses from Mike Pelfrey and the bullpen, they found a way to win.

[caption id="attachment_606" align="aligncenter" width="660" caption="Lucas Duda and the Mets celebrate a walk-off 9-8 win after Duda's single two run single in the bottom of the ninth off of Heath Bell ends it. (Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)"][/caption]

The Mets powered over the Padres and their starter, Tim Stauffer early on.  Angel Pagan, David Wright, and Jason Bay each homered in the first three innings to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.  For Bay, it was his 200th career homerun.

Pelfrey carried this lead until the sixth, where it appeared he was running on fumes.  He allowed the first three Padres to reach base with a double sandwiched in between two singles, yielding one run.  Another scored when Orlando Hudson lofted a sacrafice fly, and the Padres tied the game with Kyle Blanks RBI double.  Pelfrey escaped the inning by getting Stauffer to stare at strike three, but the damage was done.

Pelfrey came on to pitch the top of the seventh and got one out before walking Jason Bartlett.  He departed and gave way to Pedro Beato, who induced two groundballs to shortstop to end the inning.  Pelfrey was done after 6.1 innings in which he lost a 4-1 lead with his four earned runs allowed on nine hits.

But after Pelfrey, the real trouble began for the Mets.  Beato stayed on to pitch the eighth and immediately allowed the first two he faced to reach base with a walk and a hit batsman.  He was lifted for Ryota Igarashi, who handed San Diego a lead after a sacrafice bunt and an RBI single.  He retired a pinch-hitter on strikes before walking Will Venable to load the bases.  Bartlett cleared the bases with a double, before being thrown out trying to stretch a triple.

After the bullpen meltdown, San Diego had an 8-4 lead but the pesky Mets just would not roll over.  There were two men on in the bottom in the eighth when Mike Baxter, a Queens native who was called up to take Murphy’s roster spot, hit a run-scoring double off the glove of a turned around Kyle Blanks in left field.  Ronny Paulino closed the gap to 8-6 with a sacrifice fly that scored Bay two pitches later.

Jason Isringhausen pitched a perfect top of the ninth, but received a little help from his defense for the third out.  Hudson made contact with the pitch and hit a very short fly ball in foul territory.  The ball seemed to be turning away from Wright as he chased it down, but he laid himself out and made a spectacular diving catch to end the frame.

David Wright flashing a little leather seemed to energize the Mets.  They had a daunting task down 8-6 against All-Star closer Heath Bell.  And Bell always saves his best stuff for the team that traded him away in 2005.

But with one out, the Mets had runners on second and third with David Wright at the plate, who hit a two-run bomb earlier in the game.  He kept this one in the park, but scored Jason Pridie from third with an RBI single up the middle.  The Mets again had runners on second and third, this time for Lucas Duda, after a wild pitch.  The Dude ended the game with a perfectly placed two-run single up the middle, shortly before being mobbed rounding first base in the walk-off celebration.

The win brings the Mets back to the .500 mark on the season.  Duda’s walk-off RBI’s were his first game-winning RBI’s of his career.  The walk-off runs also gave Isringhausen his third win of the season.  The Mets will battle the Padres again later tonight.  Chris Capuano will be gunning for his first double-digit win season since 2006.


Player Moves:

The Mets made two roster moves to compensate for injuries to Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy.  Filling in for Jose Reyes is Ruben Tejada, who previously filled in for Reyes when he was injured earlier this season.  Tejada has a .250 batting average with 19 RBI and 13 runs scored in 53 games in the majors this season.  New York native, Mike Baxter takes Murphy’s spot on the roster.  Last night was his first game in the majors all season.

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