More than a few Mets fans have hoped that the generous dimensions of the new Citi Field would help electrify the bats of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. So far, that has not been the case.
Utley’s second long ball of the game put the Phillies ahead 5-4 in the top of the 11th inning to draw the three-game series even and turn tomorrow’s event into a rubber match.
However, the fourth inning began with some promise that quickly evaporated.
With a one-all game in the fourth, the Mets began to hammer World Series MVP Cole Hamels with a carousel of base hits.
The scoring began with pitcher Mike Pelfrey at the plate. The bases were loaded and Pelfrey poked a shin-high fastball down the right field line for his second hit of the game, scoring David Wright. Luis Castillo and Alex Cora followed in similar fashion to plate Ryan Church and Omir Santos.
Carlos Beltran then hit a ground ball to third base that was turned for a double play. Beltran actually beat the throw rather easily, which should have continued the inning. Instead he was out, and the Phillies narrowly escaped more damage.
However, that does not absolve the Mets from blowing a late lead.
It began when Pelfrey pitched into trouble in the seventh. He had started to lose his composure the previous inning during an exchange with Utley while he was at the plate. It continued into the seventh when the Phillies' first three hitters all reached on singles. At that point, Pelfrey was pulled in favor of Sean Green, who allowed all three of those runs to score and tie the game.
The Mets left at least two men on in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Despite the team entering the game with a .282 average with runners in scoring position, leaving runners on has actually been a big problem for most of the season.
Wright nearly won it in the tenth. With Fernando Martinez at first, Wright sent a line shot to right field where Jayson Werth was playing. Werth took a big gamble going for the diving catch and probably should not have done so. However, the gamble paid off, and Werth made a spectacular stab to end the inning.
The second pitch Utley saw in the 11th from Bobby Parnell was launched over the right field wall for the win.
The series rubber match will feature 45-year-old Jamie Moyer vs. Tim Redding, who is still figuring himself out on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.
Mark Krulish is a contributor to HowBoutThemMets.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org