“The Mets improved to 52-51 and got their second straight victory in a week that has at times been defined by the looming trade deadline and, more important, where Carlos Beltran might end up. For another day, though, Beltran remained a Met.”
The 2011 New York Mets are clearly a team in transition. New General Manager Sandy Alderson is in evaluation mode, with a roster littered with veterans out to justify their monetary worth, terrible contracts left over by the last regime, and young talent, slightly proven or less so. The “Moneyball” front office, along with new Manager Terry Collins, are a breath of fresh air as accountability becomes a main focus. Bad contracts are cut or traded and less than average performances are weeded out. When injuries decimate the team, the replacements are expected to perform. Some perform admirably well, and with the help of a rejuvenated Carlos Beltran, they have the Mets at exactly .500 after 102 games going into #103, 7:11PM at The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
On the mound for the Reds is Johnny Cueto, the 25-year-old, 5’10” right-hander from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Cueto is having a great year, though a slightly injured one. He is 6-3, with a 1.98 ERA. He will be facing the Mets lead-off hitter, Jose Reyes, having a career year, and a possible last one, in the Orange and Blue. Cueto looks in, sets and pitches a ball to get things started. Jose runs the count 2-2 and flies out down the left field line. That brings up Justin Turner, having a solid rookie campaign. He takes a strike, then hits a double to deep left-center. The Mets have something going in the 1st. Beltran walks up to the plate, looking to add to his 65 RBI. On the 1st pitch he sees, he hits it hard down the 1st base line. It goes off Joey Votto‘s glove for an E3, allowing Justin Turner to reach 3rd base. With runners at the corners and 1 out, David Wright walks to the plate, having an uneven season while working through a back injury that kept him out from late-April to mid-July. The Reds play back on the infield. On a 2-2 pitch, Wright grounds it weakly to shortstop. Beltran reaches 2nd and Edgar Renteria throws to 1st. JT comes home to score the 1st Mets run as David Wright is the 2nd out. Up next is 1st baseman Daniel Murphy, really showing what he can do in 2011 (with the bat.) On an 0-1 pitch, he singles to right center and Beltran comes home for the 2nd Mets run. Aaaaaaand then there’s Jason Bay. And Cueto strikes him out swinging.
On the mound for the Mets is Jonathon Niese, the 24-year-old (born on October 27, 1986), 6’4″ southpaw out of Defiance, OH. He is having a fairly good season, standing at 9-8 with a 3.76 ERA. He will 1st face center fielder Drew Stubbs. On the 1st pitch he sees, Drew grounds it to Jose, who throws across to Murph for the 1st out of the inning. Renteria is up next, and on the 5th pitch he sees, Edgar grounds it to Jose. Niese walks Joey Votto, but 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips strikes out swinging for the final out of the inning. Some Met fans somewhere ponder if this could finally be the night.
The Mets go quietly in the 2nd, as well do the Reds. In the top of the 3rd, Jose Reyes grounds one to Phillips at 2nd. He bobbles it and has no play on the speedy Reyes. Keeping Reyes off of 2nd, Cueto throws his 6th pitch on a 3-2 count to Turner, who singles to left-center, sending Reyes to 3rd. Now, Johnny has to face Beltran, one of the hottest hitters in the league. Carlos singles on a 1-1 count, scoring Jose for the 4th run of the game. David Wright then has an 8-pitch at-bat, finishing it off with an infield single to short. Beltran goes to 2nd. Daniel Murphy is hit by the pitch, moving everyone over and setting up a bases loaded situation for Jason Bay. Oh. Yay. Jason Bay got an RBI on a sacrifice. How lovely. Mets up 4-0. David Wright goes to 3rd on the throw. Catcher Ronny Paulino grounds out weakly to 3rd, and the Mets are done in the inning.
Jon Niese has a quiet 3rd (which did include the Reds’ 1st hit), and the Mets go gently in the top of the 4th. In the bottom of the 4th, however, he hits a little bit of a speed bump. After Votto flies out, Phillips singles to right. Right fielder Jay Bruce strikes out swinging, but Phillips steals 2nd. Left fielder Chris Heisey singles to left, scoring Phillips for the Reds’ 1st run. 3rd baseman Miguel Cairo grounds out, and the Mets keep the Reds at 1.
While the Mets can’t tack on in the top of the 5th, the bottom half sees Jon Niese step on the gas and vroom off a cliff. After a walk, the Reds bunt the runner over to 2nd. Jon Niese keeps everything up, and the Reds single, double and blast their way to a 5-4 lead, the final blow coming at the hands of Joey Votto. Phillips and Bruce both ground out, and Niese keeps the new deficit at 1.
The Mets immiately respond in the top of the 6th. After a (sigh) Jason Bay walk, Ronny Paulino grounds out to 3rd, but Cairo throws away the baseball going to 2nd. Bay gets to 3rd and Paulino goes to 2nd. Jason Pridie, playing center field this evening, doubles to right and the Mets take a 6-5 lead. They have scored 6 runs off Cueto and not one of them has been earned. Manager Dusty Baker can’t stand the bad luck anymore and signals for the Cuban Southpaw, Aroldis Chapman. Cueto walks off the field to a thunderous ovation, none of them blaming him for the deficit. Lucas Duda pinch-hits for Niese, hoping he can catch up to the young pitcher’s wild but nasty moves.
- Called Strike
- Strike Swinging
- Strike Swinging
Reyes flies out, Justin Turner strikes out swinging, and The Reds keep the deficit at 1.
Manny Acosta relieves Niese in the bottom of the 6th, and while he gives up a single and double with 2 out to Catcher Ramon Hernandez and pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso, respectively, he strikes out Stubbs to remove himself from the jam.
Now, it’s time to tack on in the 7th. After a Beltran walk and a David Wright single, Daniel Murphy singles in Carlos for the 7th run of the game. Later in the inning (which includes a Jason Bay Strikeout), pinch-hitter Angel Pagan singles in Murph for the 8th run of the game. Jose Reyes flies out, and the Mets are done in the top half.
The Reds get 1 more run in the bottom half, off Ryota Igarashi, but Pedro Beato has his back and gets out of the inning. Cincy puts 2 on in the 9th, but Tim Byrdak bails Pedro out, striking Jay Bruce out and locking down the win, 8-6. It was The Byrd’s 1st save since 2007.
“I just shake my head every night. These guys don’t ever stop to amaze me. That’s what they do…Due to all the injuries and all the other things, these guys have really pulled together to try to make this a successful season as best they can.”
–Terry Collins, New York Times
The very next day, Carlos Beltran is shipped off to the Giants for prized prospect Zack Wheeler. In his last game as a Met, Number 15 reached base 4 times and scored 3. The Mets go on to win 5 in a row…and then lose 5 in a row. They more or less do that for the rest of the year, winding up 7 games under .500 at 77-85. They were fun to watch, though. While ownership still has their problems, and they let Reyes walk for an outrageous contract, a general sense exists in the fanbase that things are heading in the right direction.
The 2011 New York Mets.
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