What a relief for Mets fans tonight. After one of Mike Pelfrey's roughest career stretches, he bounced back with a gem to get the Mets off on the right foot.
Opening up a six-game home stand starting with the Colorado Rockies, Pelfrey was on the mound facing 17-game winner Ubaldo Jimenez.
The feeling was that it would be a lopsided Rockies victory. It turned out to be a classic pitchers' duel between two extremely talented pitchers.
There were a lot of similarities between the two tonight. They each pitched seven innings, each threw 122 pitches, and each gave up four hits. There was one difference—Jimenez gave up a run.
He didn't give up his first hit until the fourth inning—an infield hit by Fernando Martinez leading off. Martinez never scored.
The Rockies had a chance in the second inning, after Pelfrey walked a batter and allowed a hit. The Rockies stranded runners on the corners.
Both teams wasted leadoff hits in the fifth. Miguel Olivo singled and stole second for Colorado and was stranded. Chris Carter singled but was thrown out at second on a strike out-throw out double play.
Mike Pelfrey would allow a double to Carlos Gonzalez in the sixth but didn't allow him to score.
Both teams were stranding runners all over the place, and the Mets did the same in their sixth. Pelfrey lead off with an infield single and the Mets would load the bases. Ike Davis, though, struck out for a third time to end the rally.
The Mets would finally break the ice in the seventh against Jimenez. Carter led off with a walk and Josh Thole moved him to third with a double. Two batters later, Carlos Beltran was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in the game's first run.
In the eighth, Jerry Manuel went with a new wrinkle, bringing in Hisanori Takahashi to set up for Francisco Rodriguez. Takahashi rolled to a perfect inning, and Rodriguez would do the same in the ninth.
The Mets beat the Rockies, 1-0, for their Major League leading 16th shutout of the season.
Mike Pelfrey looked like his old April-June self, earning his 11th win of the season; Jimenez lost his third game.
After the game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Hisanori Takahashi will remain in the bullpen and not make his scheduled Saturday night start. Candidates to come up from Triple-A Buffalo to replace him are Pat Misch and Dillon Gee.
Tomorrow, the Mets will go for the series win with Jon Niese facing Jeff Francis. Expect to see Jeff Francoeur starting against the left-handed Francis; Beltran will be starting as well.
NL East standings (top three teams)
Philadelphia 62-49 (1 1/2)
NY Mets 56-56 (8)
NL Wild Card (Leader and Mets)
San Francisco 64-49
NY Mets 56-56 (7 1/2)
Series probable pitchers:
New York: Jon Niese (2010: 7-5, 3.63 ERA) vs. Colorado: Jeff Francis (2010: 4-4, 4.67 ERA)
New York: Johan Santana (2010: 9-6, 3.06 ERA) vs. Colorado: Jason Hammel (2010: 8-6, 4.38 ERA)
New York Mets:
August 11-12 vs. Colorado Rockies
August 13-15 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
August 11-12 @ New York Mets
August 13-15 vs. Milwaukee Brewers