We probably should have saw all this coming when in the third inning on Saturday, Angel Pagan held at first base on a line drive to shortstop with two outs. Let me make this absolutely clear: Ramon Ramirez could be a complete bust, and Andres Torres could have his legs amputated next week. I’m glad the Mets made this trade. Note to Angel Pagan: Major League Baseball stadiums cost a lot of money to build these days … in part because they all come equipped with big f***ing scoreboards that tell you how many outs there are. If Pagan was an actor, he’d be the one on stage who every thirty seconds says “line?”
It was a mere prelude to the eighth inning, where Daniel Murphy singled, David Wright grounded to first where Aubrey Huff decided he was allergic to the baseball, and Ike Davis hit a 75-foot single to the shortstop to drive home Murphy. Then, after the Giants changed pitchers, came Hilarity Part One. With Jason Bay at bat, Davis gets picked off first base. Then Wright gets thrown out at third. And to complete the hat trick from hell Bay, clearly rattled enough to revert to what feels familiar and comfortable to him, grounds out to shortstop. Mission accomplished. (At this hour, the official scorer is trying to find precedent to change the scoring to reflect Bay hitting into a triple play.)
Then came the top of the ninth. Now, Mike Pelfrey pitched the first eight innings, and dare I say he was better than adequate. Eight innings, six hits, one walk, 102 pitches. So the question becomes: Leave him in, or go to your closer to hold a three run lead, something he should be able to do? I didn’t have a problem going to Francisco. Still don’t. He’s coming off a loss, get him back in there with the opportunity to get the easiest save possible. If you’re a closer, and you can’t get three outs before you get three runs, then maybe you aren’t going to finish the season as the closer, and I don’t think Francisco will.
So Francisco gives up a single to Buster Posey, gets an out, then walks Nate Schierholtz on four pitches. Most managers would live and die with their closer in this spot, but Terry Collins yanked him and put in Tim Byrdak. I love it. Francisco clearly didn’t have it, so Collins managed to win the game there. Maybe he felt that he screwed up yanking Pelfrey and didn’t want to compound the mistake by leaving Francisco in. Whatever the case, going to Byrdak and then going to Rauch (who I think will be the closer before the season is out) was the right play. And it should have been enough. But then …
When Brandon Belt popped that ball up, and I saw Ruben Tejada shuffling his feet and looking like Browning Nagle under a modest pass rush, I got Luis Castillo flashbacks. And that was before the ball even came down. Then Kirk Nieuwenhuis flies into my screen a little too fast and I knew the Mets were sunk. The ball then comes and hits a fresh spraying of liquid fertilizer, and it was 4-4. (Why hello, Mr. Castillo. Fancy meeting you here.) But more importantly, this game had the potential to cause the universe to collapse upon itself as for the first time in recorded history, Met fans would be complaining about a loss that where the turning point was Mike Pelfrey leaving it. I don’t know if I could live in such a universe.
But much like the Red Sox blew a big lead on Saturday, the Mets would blow the big lead they had in stupidity. First off, the Giants put Huff at second base for the first time in his career. This is the same Huff that approached a grounder to first as if the ball was pierced with multiple hypodermic needles. That’s the guy that was assigned second base. Though Huff didn’t affect the outcome of the game while at second by having a ground ball hit to him (though his positioning certainly wasn’t a strong point over there), no major league baseball team should ever be allowed to get away with that. This move alone closed the gap of stupidity to a razor’s edge. Even Daniel Murphy was like … “dude, really?”
And then the Mets loaded the bases to set up Nieuwenhuis’ redemption. But the way it ended was so much more fitting than Nieuwenhuis scorching a line drive into the gap. Instead he hits a ground ball to first base, where Belt comes home to Posey for the second out, but the throw goes into right field to score Ruben Tejada from second to end the game and cut the Mets’ lead in stupidity to nothing. It was part bad throw, part a click of the heels … Scott Hairston’s heel against Posey’s heel. Had to be a big part of it, because Posey and Bruce Bochy argued that it was interference, which it wasn’t as Hairston was still able to touch the plate (which is why I still think Marlon Anderson got robbed, but there are some things I’ll just never let go.) The only ending that would have been more fitting would have been for Nieuwenhuis to hit the ball to Huff so he can do his own Castillo impression and have everybody LOL all the way to Queensboro Plaza. So when you wake up tomorrow, and you hear the wind howling along with the rain that’ll almost certainly wash out Sunday’s game, listen closely. You might hear Tom Emanski rolling over in his grave.
(Editor’s note: Tom Emanski is still alive. He just saw the Giants and Mets set baseball back 100 years and rented a time share in a cemetary so he can roll over until this nonsense stops.)