Rising Apple’s Sam Maxwell will choose a game each week from Mets history to focus on. If anyone has certain games they would like remembered, please feel free to send suggestions our way on twitter.
Two years ago today, the Mets played a game that just wouldn’t end. After Jaime Garcia and Johan Santana squared off on FOX at 4:00 that afternoon, many people watching either pushed their evening plans to the nighttime or canceled them all together as they stayed glued to their televisions, unable to tear themselves away from the scoreless affair that was unfolding in front of them. In the end, the Mets edged the Cardinals by a score of 2-1. It only took 20 innings and a combined 35 runners left on base to arrive at that conclusion.
Leading into this game, the Mets were struggling with a 3-7 record, needing a big start from their ace, Johan Santana. They certainly got that, with a 7-inning, 4-hit, 1 walk, 9 strike-out performance. Jaime Garcia, on the Cardinals side, was just as good, if not better, going 7 innings as well, only giving up 1 hit, 2 walks and striking out 5 Mets.
With the pitching going strong, the 10th inning arrived before anyone knew what had happened. As the game went further and further into extra innings, Jerry Manuel and Tony LaRussa began to play chess: a pitching change here, a double switch there… Tony LaRussa actually double-switched Matt Holliday out of the game in the 11th inning, guaranteeing that the Mets would be able to pitch around Albert Pujols at any point thereafter. The Cardinals had the bases loaded in the 14th inning, runners on first and third in the 15th, and runners on first and second in the 16th, but kept sending up relief pitchers to bat, unwilling to use their closer, Ryan Franklin, until Tony deemed appropriate. This allowed Mets pitchers such as Fernando Nieve, Hisanori Takahashi and Raul Valdes to wiggle out of trouble. Jeff Francouer desperately wanted to show off his arm on the mound, but Jerry thought otherwise.
Tony didn’t think otherwise, and by the 18th inning third baseman Felipe Lopez was pitching with the Redbirds’ relief corps all dried up. By the time the 19th rolled around, the Mets were staring right back at Joe Mather, who had been playing third base after Lopez began pitching but was now called to the mound, sending Felipe back to third. The Orange and Blue hardly hit the position player soundly, but managed to squeak out the first run of the game: Jose Reyes walked. He was then bunted over to second by our favorite player ever, Luis Castillo. They intentionally walked David Wright to get to Jason Bay, who was promptly hit by Joe Mather’s “pitch”, moving Reyes over to third and loading the bases. Francouer was able to make solid contact, hitting a sac fly to the left fielder. They scored the first run of the game without even getting a hit off the man impersonating a pitcher.
Frankie Rodriguez had gotten up so many times in the Mets bullpen throughout the game that he had apparently thrown 100 pitches by the time he entered in the bottom of the 19th. Naturally, he struggled with his command. Pujols hit a double and found his way over to third with two outs. If Rodriguez could only get through every Met Fan’s nemesis, Yadier Molina, we would have a 19-inning 1-0 win in our hands and could move on with our lives. Clearly, that was not to happen, and Molina singled home Pujols to tie the game at 1. Frankie then struck out Allen Craig to keep the game intact. Off to the 20th we went.
Joe Mather stayed in the game to see if he could hold it down, but he could not. Angel Pagan and Mike Jacobs (remember when somebody thought it was a good idea to start the year off with him at first?) opened the inning up with singles. Pagan got all the way to third on Jacobs’ hit. All we needed from Jose Reyes was for him to hit the ball to the outfield and we could take the lead on a sac fly once again. And that’s exactly what happened. Angel Pagan trotted in and the Mets took a 2-1 lead. Luis Castillo and David Wright went quietly after that, and the bottom of the 20th began with no insurance and another 1-run lead for Frankie to protect…wait…what’s goin’ on?
In the first relief appearance of his career, Mike Pelfrey entered the game to try and save it for the Mets. Apparently, Jerry Manuel told him, “You don’t have to do this.” To which Mike Pelfrey responded, “Give me the ball.” Every fan out there who had ruined friendships, all for a measly 6 hours and 53 minutes of 2010 New York Met baseball, held their breath, hoping they could run out of their houses to mend those broken branches.
Mike Pelfrey got two quick outs, the first one on a groundout and the second on a fly ball. One more out, and we would all be free from the clutches of this game….
Single to Left. Ugh.
A Walk. Ugh!!!
But then, on a 1-2 count, Mike Pelfrey brought his arm back and threw the last pitch of the ball game. Ryan Ludvick grounded out to Luis Castillo, and with that, the Mets held on to win, 2 runs to 1.
46 players and 158 plate appearances later, the game was finally over.
I was at a play for the majority of the marathon, monitoring it via gamecast on my phone. I remember living and dying by every refresh, desperately wanting the Mets to pull this one off. I had heard from some friends that they were supposed to meet people but ended up cancelling as they stayed on their couches, the game unable to let them go.
So…where were some of you during the game that didn’t want to end?