In the battle of the bullpens, the Giants come up short as their bullpen allowed the Mets to score three times in the ninth giving the Mets a 5-2 victory in the series opener.
[caption id="attachment_136" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Scott Hairston (r.) celebrates with Angel Pagan (l.) after leading off the ninth with his pinch-hit go-ahead blast off of Brian Wilson"][/caption]
Scott Hairston led off the top of the ninth with a pinch-hit, go-ahead homerun off of Brian Wilson with the game tied at two. Carlos Beltran and Nick Evans added RBI singles off of Jeremy Affeldt and Ramon Ramirez respectively to give the Mets the insurance they needed to lock their late victory down.
Before the Mets exploded in the ninth, the Mets only managed to tag All-Star pitcher Ryan Vogelsong for two runs in his seven innings of work.
One of the Mets biggest missed opportunities came in the top of the fourth with the game scoreless. Beltran led off the inning with his 27th double of the year. Instead of trying to drive him in, Daniel Murphy bunted to move the National League’s doubles leader to third, a questionable decision to say the least considering it was only the fourth inning and Murphy was the cleanup hitter.
But it looked like if the Mets were in position to capitalize anyway, when Jason Bay and Lucas Duda walked consecutively. It was up to the slap shot hitting catcher Josh Thole to try and break a scoreless game with the bases loaded and one out. But he smacked a ground ball to Miguel Tejada to start a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
The Giants responded off of R.A. Dickey in their half of the fourth, seeming to show the Mets how to score a run when you hit a leadoff double. Pablo Sandoval led off with a double of his own to deep left field. He advanced to third when cleanup-hitting Aubrey Huff grounded out to second. Nate Schierholtz flied out to center field and Sandoval broke the scoreless game tagging up on the sacrifice fly.
The Mets however responded off of Vogelsong in the top of the fifth with Ruben Tejada standing on second after being bunted over following his leadoff single. Angel Pagan poked one over the high right field wall for a two-run homer, his third round-tripper of the year. This gave the Mets a 2-1 advantage.
The Mets could not hold the lead for long though. In the bottom of the sixth and no one aboard, Schierholtz outdoes Pagan by hitting a first pitch hanging knuckleball into McCovey Cove. His seventh homer of 2011 tied the game at two.
Even with the two blemishes on their line, Dickey and Vogelsong matched each other by picking up no-decisions after their seven innings of work. Dickey’s effort was very special because despite tightness in his left glute, he was able to work deep into the ballgame and keep the Mets competitive with his 10th quality start of the year.
Both teams’ bullpens were able to keep the game tied until the ninth. In the Mets effort, lefty Tim Byrdak opened the bottom of the eighth to face two left-handed hitters in Huff and Schierholtz. He got Huff to ground out to second but walked Schierholtz. With Terry Collins playing the match-up, Byrdak was lifted for Rule 5 right-hander Pedro Beato, who promptly got Aaron Rowand to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Mets bested the Giant ‘pen in the ninth as they scored three combined runs off of three Giant pitchers. The domination continued when Francisco Rodriguez came in to the ninth and retired the Giants 1-2-3 to close the game and register his 23rd save.
This 5-2 victory for the Mets is critical because they will be up against Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in the remainder of the series. With a battle atop the NL East in the Phillies vs. Braves series, the Mets have a good opportunity to make up ground in either the division or the wild-card race, depending on how that series turns out.
Game Notes & Injury Updates:
Pedro Beato has been terrific as of late. In his last 13.2 innings, he has only given up 2 runs.
Nick Evans’ RBI single in the ninth inning gave him his first hit and RBI of the season. Prior to the game he had been hitless in 15 at-bats.
Francisco Rodriguez’s 23rd save of the season puts him one away from trying Roger McDowell for sixth place in franchise history with 84 saves as a Met.
In a Daily News Report, Mets GM said, “It’s very unlikely that Jose [Reyes] will be traded this season, and that is without regard to his injury.
The Mets website is reporting that first baseman Ike Davis’ sprained left ankle is responding well to pressure reducing treadmill workouts. Next week Davis will run on solid ground to determine if season-ending surgery is necessary.
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