The Mets surprised everyone last night by beating the Braves, 9-4, after falling behind, 4-0. And Oliver Perez was pitching, too. How about that?
The big news was the record-setting fourth inning, when the offense exploded for eight runs on a franchise-record 10 hits. It usually takes the Mets eight games to score eight runs. Perez (who was his usual self—five innings, four runs) was matched up against could-have-been-Met Derek Lowe.
The Braves’ ace was sweating and huffing-and-puffing so much, he looked like he was going to have a heart attack right there on the mound. His face was so red, I thought I was looking at Tom Coughlin out there.
The fourth inning lasted so long that my wife watched the Mets score four runs, put my daughter to bed, read her a story and was back in time to watch them score the last two (yes, I still subject my family to the trauma of watching the Mets).
The Mets sent 13 batters to the plate. Luis Castillo had two hits and two RBIs, and Gary Sheffield blasted two doubles and drove in a pair. Even Perez roped a line drive single to right. But poor Daniel Murphy made two of the outs in the inning (though one was a productive one, moving Sheffield to third on a ground out).
The Mets could have curled up into a ball and died after trailing 4-0. They had plenty of excuses: It was hot, any hopes of a playoff run left town long ago, the lineup they sent out last night might have trouble competing in the Little League Word Series, and if the game ended early enough, they could catch The Office on TBS at 10:00.
But they had some fight in them and went wild against Atlanta.
The game brought back memories of the June 30, 2000, contest against the Braves, when the Mets scored 10 runs in the bottom of the eighth to win, 11-8. That game was a little more dramatic because those rivals were the two best teams in the NL that year, making it one of the greatest wins in Mets history.
I was there, sitting in the upper deck behind home plate, and Shea shook so much, I thought the whole stadium would come crumbling down (but I didn’t spill a drop of beer—those things were expensive even back then; I was the second spitter, though, after the game, when I walked by John Rocker “Hey Scooby, this one’s for everyone who rides on the seven train”).
There were other similarities between last night’s big inning and the one in 2000. Mike Hampton had an Ollie-like performance—seven innings, five runs, six walks. Mike Piazza was the one with two hits in one inning that night, with the game-winning three-run homer and a single earlier in the inning. Robin Ventura was the Daniel Murphy of that game, grounding out twice in the eighth inning.
The Mets shortstop was out for the year that season also, with Melvin Mora playing in place of Rey Ordonez. The Mets, of course, went on to play in the World Series that year, so any similarities end with that one inning.
The next day at Shea, the good times kept on rolling, though, when the Mets knocked around Greg Maddux so much (scoring seven runs) that he left the game after two innings.
Last night was a brief respite from the awful goings on at Citi Field this season. And that’s why you have to keep watching—you never know what you’re going to see.