Dillon Gee was given the task of silencing the Blue Jay offense so the Mets could leave the Rogers Centre on a high note before they headed to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates. Gee responded by erasing his last two starts from everyone’s memory for the moment (11 earned runs in 11 innings) and was able to limit the Toronto bats while the Met offense took charge right away in the top of the first inning.
Andres Torres led off the game with a walk, followed by the start of Mike Baxter‘s big day with a double to put runners on second and third. David Wright made his return to the lineup in the three-hole and it looked as if he had never left, roping a two-run double to center field, giving New York their first lead of the series. Later in the inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuiswould add to the score with a run
-scoring double of his own, plating Wright and giving the Mets an early 3-0 lead.
Mike Baxter was at it again in the top of the 2nd with an RBI triple, extending the New York lead to four runs, but the Blue Jays were able to break their silence in the bottom of the inning against Gee. After issuing two one-out walks, Yan Gomes singled in Ben Francisco to put Toronto on the board with their first run of the game. After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third by Henderson Alvarez, Jose Bautista launched his 11th home run of the season to lead off the bottom half, which left the deficit at two runs.
The fifth inning proved to be Alvarez’s last thanks to another Met rally; Baxter and Wright hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, then Daniel Murphy singled in the fifth run for New York. After a walk to Captain Kirk, Ike Davis hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing the sixth run to score, which proved to be a very important run. Dillon Gee ended up pitching 6.2 innings before giving way to Bobby Parnell. Even though he didn’t have his best command (5 hits and 4 walks allowed), he was able to minimize the damage by only giving up 3 runs and striking out 6 hitters.
Parnell got touched up for a couple runs in his one inning of work, but he was able to hold onto the lead as he handed the ball of to Tim Byrdak, who’s task was to retire Kelly Johnson, which he did in five pitches by way of a flyout to Lucas Duda. That brought in Frank Francisco, appearing for the first time in this series in front of his former home crowd, and the stadium of 40,000+ spectators let him know their displeasure in his leaving the Blue Jays via free agency over the winter. Francisco allowed the first two runners to reach base by allowing a hit and a walk, but after a pep talk from Rob Johnson, he pumped in three straight strikeouts to secure the one-run victory, and his 10th save of the season.
The victory helps the Mets avoid a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays and puts them back into a tie for third place with the Miami Marlins with a 22-19 record. Both teams are currently sitting 3.5 games out of first place, behind the streaking Atlanta Braves. The stars of the game were David Wright and Mike Baxter; Wright recorded two hits and two RBI in his return to the lineup, and rose his league-leading average to a robust .412.
On the other hand, Baxter only needed a home run to complete the cycle, while driving in a run of his own and scoring twice, raising his average to .390. Once again, the bullpen did bend, but did not break, which seems to be the theme when New York is able to get themselves into the win column. It was encouraging to see Francisco buckle down and get three outs in a row with a one-run lead. However, I would have preferred him to do so without allowing the first two hitters he faced to get on base. But, baby steps, I suppose.
Probable Pitchers today:
The Mets head to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates for the first time this year, with the top of their rotation set to face off against Clint Hurdle’s group. Johan Santana (1-2. 2.89 ERA) will be taking the mound, looking for his sixth straight consecutive start against Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.07 ERA), who has had a nice bounce back year so far with the Bucs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.