In the bottom of the ninth, David Wright blasted a Heath Bell slider just over the left field wall at Shea to give the Mets a five to three win.
After making a costly error in the field and two terrible baserunning mistakes in the first two games of the series, there was much talk of the slumping Wright getting a day off. However, Wright talked manager Jerry Manuel into letting him play and he responded with three hits including the game winning home run.
After a 1-19 slump, Wright has recovered in the past two games with five hits in ten at-bats.
Despite two more poor showings from the bullpen, the Mets managed to take two of three games in the series from the San Diego Padres.
Wright rescued the Mets bullpen, which spoiled yet another outstanding start from Johan Santana. Entering the eighth inning, Santana had allowed just two hits and one run, a Chase Headley solo homer, while striking out seven Padres. The Mets had a three to one lead.
After allowing two seeing-eye singles to start the inning, Santana was removed from the game after he had tossed 104 pitches. I thought this was a poor move on Manuel's part considering the recent bullpen troubles and the fact Santana was capable of getting out of the jam himself.
Nevertheless, in trotted Duaner Sanchez, who promptly hit Scott Hairston with his first pitch. With lefty Brian Giles pinch hitting, out came Manuel again and Sanchez was lifted for lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano.
With the bases loaded, Feliciano got Giles to hit a groundball to second baseman Argenis Reyes who fired home to record the first out of the inning. An Adrian Gonzalez single pulled the Padres within one run, and Joe Smith came on to become the fourth Mets pitcher of the inning.
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a grounder up the middle and Argenis Reyes made an excellent diving stop, and from the ground flipped to shortstop Jose Reyes. First baseman Nick Evans made an excellent stretch to his right to nab Reyes' throw and complete the double play to end the inning. Look for this one on Web Gems.
In the ninth, Manuel gave Scott Schoeneweis a chance to pick up his second save of the week. It didn't happen, as Schoeneweis served up Jody Gerut's third home run of the series. Aaron Heilman came on to record the final two outs of the inning and he picked up the win when Wright hit the walk-off jack.
Despite posting a 2.28 ERA in his last seven starts, Santana has just two wins to show for it. If it were not for poor run support and bullpen troubles, Santana would likely have 15 wins at this point rather than the nine he actually has. Santana said all the right things while being interviewed after the game, stating that all that mattered was the team getting the win, and he's just doing whatever he can to put the Mets in position to win games.
The big story for the Mets was the performance of their rookies. The "Binghamton Bunch"—Dan Murphy, Nick Evans, and Argenis Reyes were an integral part of today's win.
Reyes didn't get on base, but did make several good defensive plays, most notably starting the double play in the eighth inning.
Murphy went two for four with a run scored and an RBI, and is now hitting .467 in four starts since being recalled from Double-A on Saturday.
Evans came up with a key RBI single in the fourth that gave the Mets the lead, and added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Apparently Jerry Manuel will continue to go with the closer by committee plan for the time being. I would like to see Eddie Kunz, who has a closer's mentality, be given the nod for some save opportunities.
With the Marlins defeating the Phillies, the Mets sit in third place in the NL East, two games behind Philadelphia and a half game behind second place Florida. The Marlins come to Shea tomorrow for a huge three game series.
In game one tomorrow, Oliver Perez (7-7, 4.12 ERA) will face Florida's Ricky Nolasco (11-6, 3.91). The Mets faced Nolasco in Miami last week, and he turned in a quality start, going six innings and allowing two runs while striking out eight in a no-decision.
Perez defeated the Marlins last week, allowing one run in six innings. Perez has posted a 1.97 ERA in his last seven starts dating back to June 29.