Miguel Batista was given the start to try and stabilize the rotation after Chris Schwinden‘s two poor starts were behind the team, but the Mets’ right-hander gave up four runs in the first two innings of the game, immediately putting New York in a hole. It was Captain Kirk, David Wright, and Lucas Duda who came to the rescue in a four-run seventh inning to take the lead, and the second game of this three-game set with the Phillies.
The game didn’t start off well for Batista, who gave up a two-run homer to Hunter Pence in the first, and then almost couldn’t make it out of the second inning when he gave up two more runs. After his rough start, he did settle down, until Terry Collins yanked him in the middle of a sixth inning jam, which he got bailed out of by Manny Acosta. The final line for Batista: 5.1 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 1 strikeout. Could have been better, but also could have been a lot worse. The bullpen shined, providing 3.2 innings of shutout relief, allowing the offense time to come back in the later innings. Acosta ended up getting the win, and Jon Rauch notched his first save of 2012.
Joe Blanton started off last night’s game how he finished the shutout in his previous start; Daniel Murphy broke up Blanton’s scoreless streak with an RBI single in the fourth, but he wouldn’t run into trouble again until the seventh. Jordany Valdespin led off with a walk, then with two outs, the fun was getting started. Andres Torres singled, then Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled in Valdespin to cut the deficit to three runs. David Wright singled to right field, scoring Torres, but it was Wright’s base running that made all the difference. After he rounded first, he wandered into no man’s land to draw a throw from the outfield; as he was in a rundown, Nieuwenhuis drew a throw from Pete Orr, but it went into left field, allowing Captain Kirk to score the tying run and Wright to advance to third. Then, Lucas Duda provided the cherry on top with the go-ahead RBI single to cap the four run inning.
In the ninth inning, Mike Baxter led it off with a walk, followed by another Torres single, allowing the Mets to add on some insurance runs with a Nieuwenhuis sacrifice fly and Duda single, extending the lead to 7-4. Rauch gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but that was it as the Mets wrapped up another victory, their fourth in a row, and pulling their record on the road back even to .500. On the season, New York is now 17-13, matching their high-water mark for the year; Washington has lost two in a row, allowing the Mets to now be within 1.5 games of first place.
The top of the order provided most of the punch last night, with Torres, Nieuwenhuis, Wright, and Duda all collecting two hits each, and Daniel Murphy’s single being the only hit coming from someone else in the Met lineup. Obviously, this team just doesn’t quit no matter what the score is in any game, and their ability to come back (10th comeback win in 30 games) is very encouraging. Also, the seventh and ninth inning have one thing in common: the rally began with a lead-off walk. Patience is a virtue…that’s the truth.
Another encouraging aspect from last night’s game was the effectiveness of the bullpen. After a strong first two weeks, they have been uneven at best, but they have stepped up to the plate in these last four games. In their 3.2 innings of work last night, only two hits and one walk was surrendered. The only negative from the game was Miguel Batista’s start. Granted, it could have been a lot worse, but it was far from effective. Now that he will get on the starting rotation schedule, hopefully his effectiveness and endurance will improve, taking the pressure off the bullpen a bit.
Probable Pitchers tonight:
The Mets have their second chance to sweep the Phillies at home this year; let’s hope they take advantage of it this time. New York is sending Dillon Gee to the mound, who is looking to go deep into the game, even though in two games against Philly last year, the opposition hit .347 against him. For Philadelphia, Cliff Lee is coming off the disabled list to make the start after straining his oblique. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.