“Balkin” Bob Davidson made his impact felt Tuesday night at Shea, more than Ben Johnson’s debut did. Johnson wen 0-2 as a late inning replacement, whereas Davidson raised the ire of Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca on a called swinging strike 2 during an at bat on which it appeared neither the Giants nor home plate umpire Randy Marsh seemed to believe warranted an appeal an inning before his true effect on the game could be felt, as the Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in 12 innings to improve to 33-17 on the season.
The game was actually quite a spectacle is you like young pitchers with electric stuff. Tim Lincecum made his 5th career start and looked everybit the stud roto geeks have been cheering about since the spring. With a quirky delivery, a mid-upper 90’s fastball that explodes in the zone, and change up that comes at you sometimes 20mph slower than his fastball…he has the goods. He also shows no fear to go at hitters and works at a frantic pace. For the Mets, they sent Oliver Perez to the mound for the 10th time this season, Ollie was coming off a tremendous outing in Atlanta and having won 4 of his last 5 games.
The game didn’t start pretty for Perez, as he gave up a lead off Home Run to Randy Winn and then 2 batters later gave up another solo shot, this time to one of the hated Molina’s, Benji. After the second home run though, something impressive happened. Not only did Perez not allow another hit until the 6th inning, he didn’t allow a base runner…in other words, no walks.
Lincecum was simply awesome, not allowing a base runner until there were two out in the 4th when Carlos Beltran took his 36th walk of the season (later he got his 37th) and then served up a long bomb to Carlos Delgado off the base of the RF scoreboard to tie the game at 2. Lincecum would then strike out 4 of the next 5 batters he faced though, and held the game at 2-2 until Jose Reyes led off the 6th with a single and then, on a play only a handful of players can do, went from 1st to home on a double down the right field line by Beltran with out a hitch or a single doubt not only that he would try t do it, but that he would.
If you want to hang anything bad on Perez from this start, it would be that he have up the long ball. Two in the first, and then another one in the bottom of the 7th, the latter to Giants left fielder Dan Ortmeier, tying the game back up, 3-3. It would have been nice to see Perez not give up the lead a half inning after his team got him the lead. However, he was composed on the mound an never once did he fall into a situation where he couldn’t find the plate. That’s Both Perez and Lincecum would go 7 innings and both would strike out 8 and allow 3 runs. Perez wouldn’t be in line for a decision, but his past 4 outings, he has pitched 30 innings allowed 6 ER 24 Ks and 6 BBs. I’m not saying this is now “who” Oliver Perez is, he has had two implosions this season, but it’s getting harder and harder to say, “eventually we’ll see the real Oliver Perez.” …That might be who was are seeing.
Back to the game, it would remain 3-3 and would head to extra innings thanks to an outstanding diving stop of a Julio Franco line drive up the middle by perennial gold glover Omar Vizquel. Earlier in the inning, David Wright had thought he hit a walk off HR, but the ball hit off near the top of the wall and came back onto the field of play. The 10th inning would lead to a scare, as once again Scott Scheoenweis would not do his job, allowing a walk to some guy pinch hitting named Bonds and a ground rule double to 2B Kevin Frandsen to make it 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Aaron Heilman, another guy I have no confidence in, came in and got a line out to Damion Easley at second. Heilman would then pitch a perfect 11th inning as the Mets were held at bay on offense in both the 10th and 11th. Joe Smith came on for the 12th and just did not have it. He had no control with his slider darting every which way. He walked Vizquel, the Vizquel advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then, following a sacrifice, and hitting pinch hitter Mark Sweeney, the Giants had 1st and 3rd and one out. With the infield in, Randy Winn hit a hard ground ball to 1st and Delgado snagged. He decided to take an extra step and step on the first base bag to get the out before throwing home, and by that time it was too late as Vizquel slid just under Lo Duca’s tag. I personally have no problem with what Delgado did. He had to spin towards first base anyway from the way I saw it and I don’t know how much of a difference the extra second would have made. However, had he thrown home w/o getting the out at first, and Vizquel still got in safely, then you have a potential for a big inning. As it was, Smith would get Frandsen on a check swing (which looked to me like a make up call by Davidson for the Lo Duca call the previous half inning) strike 3, to bring the Mets up for their last licks.
If I were a Lit major, I would type something as silly as, “It looked very bleak for the Metropolitans, as the fans that remained, who had rooted so hard for their team, started preparing for a late night trek back to the homes when all of the sudden, a ray of light appeared from the outfield wall…” Instead, I will put it this way…ARRRMAAAANDO! BENITEZ!!! It is games like this that I need to remind myself of when Billy Wagner gives up a hit or two or a walk or two in the 9th inning of games, “AT LEAST IT’S NOT BENITEZ.” Jose Reyes would lead off the inning, and instantly was up there the annoy. After getting 2 pitches out of the strike zone, Reyes almost in jest showed bunt on ball three. He would then take 2 strikes, the second very questionable, before fouling the 6th pitch off and taking the 7th for ball four clapping all the way to meet HoJo at the 1B bag. Enter “Balkin” Bob. With Endy Chavez at the plate trying to sacrifice Reyes over to 2nd, Benitez would be called for a balk, sending Reyes freely to second base. What Benitez did, I have no idea. Crew Chief Randy Marsh said after the game, speaking for the crew, “he started and stopped.” Hey, I’ll take it. Chavez would get the job done and move Reyes over to third. Once at third, with Benitez on the mound, I was sure Reyes would find away to get to that plate. It would not be immediately though, as Beltran came up with a RISP and grounded sharply to the drawn infield for an out. So with 2 away and down to their last out, Benitez, now was out to prove he could implode with the best of them. I was surpirsed Reyes haddn’t been jumpy at 3rd with Beltran was up, but apparently he decided that he would save his patented “fake a steal of home” move for Carlos Delgado’s at bat (you’ll remember it was Delgado last year who was actually a bit annoyed at Reyes’ antics when he debuted his 3rd base shenanigans. This year, using it more sparingly, it finally worked. Before even throwing a single pitch to Delgado, after Reyes sprinted halfway down the line when Bentiez was coming to his stretch, Armando clearly flinched and a second balk of the inning was called, this time seemingly by multiple umpires (3B ump Hunter Wendelstendt was the original caller), forcing Reyes home to tie the game, 4-4. Come on Mets fans, you all know how this one ends…Once you start pulling on that thread, Armando Bentiez completly unravels, and this was no exception. A few pitches later, Delgado would deposit his second home run over the right center field fence, his thrid walk off RBI of the season, to “Put it in the books;” a 12 inning, come from behind 5-4 victory.
The win combined with a Braves loss in Milwaukee to the Brewers, gives the Mets a 5 game lead in the NL East. They will play the second of this three game set Wednesday night at Shea, as would-be Met Barry Zito hauls his absurd contract to the mound and will counter Tom Glavine. Game time is 7:10 ET
The day started out like most have for the Mets the past few weeks, with uncertainty. By mid afternoon, Shawn Green was on his way to the DL for the first time in his career. Green broke a bone in his right foot in the series against the Marlins over the weekend. He wanted to try and take another day or two off, saying he was starting to feel better, but doctors warned that playing on the foot could further injure it and the team chose to send him to the DL. Green will be eligible to come off the DL on June 10th in Detroit, however doctors have said it will take almost 6 weeks to completely heal, so don’t expect him back immediately unless the Mets desperately need him.
Because of the open spot on the roster, and Moises Alou not ready to come back just yet, the Mets activated Ben Johnson who had traveled with the team from Miami in case he would be needed.
Also, Tuesday was the Mets’ 50th game of the season. With that, Guillermo Mota’s 50 game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs has come to an end. Mota, who has not been allowed to play all season, was immediately re-called follow Tuesday’s game. In 7 games with New Orleans this season, Mota has a poor 7.02 ERA with 7 Ks and 5 BBs in 7.2 innings. To make room for Mota, the Mets optioned Ambiorix Burgos to AAA. Not that Burgos has been anything to be excited about, but after re-signing Mota to a 2 year deal worth 5 million dollars even AFTER the suspension was announced, Omar may not need to come out looking smart here, but it wouldn’t hurt, because the baseball world will keep a close eye on Mota early on.
Pink Panther Mustache will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday in Class A St. Lucie.