By Mike Steffanos
Mets 8 - Braves 7 (14)
Please forgive your exhausted blogger if he doesn't give you a detailed recap of Friday night's marathon victory. Suffice to say, this was a game the Mets refused to lose, but seemed unable to win. The Mets left 19 men on base, and always seemed to come short of that one hit that would turn the game their way. The final score reflects the only time in the game the Mets were ahead, but it was the only time that mattered.
The game started ugly for the Mets, with Trachsel falling behind batters and coughing up runs in the first two frames. Coming into this game, with Zambrano and probably Jose Lima lined up for the next two starts, it seemed essential for Trachsel to be at his best. He needed to come up big for the Mets, but he came up rather small -- looking every bit the bottom of the rotation starter that he resents being labeled as. Still he managed to keep the Mets in the game until some really bad pitching put the Braves up 4-2 in the sixth. Trachsel's night was over, and it looked like he would be taking a loss. When Chad Bradford got touched up for a pair of runs to put Atlanta up 4 in the seventh, it looked like it was time to stick a fork in the hometown heroes.
And then, just when it all looked rosy for the Tomahawk crew, the game turned in a way eerily reminiscent of Mets losses at Turner Field. Kyle Davies, who had settled down after being repeatedly let off the hook early, gave up a single to Reyes and a ground rule double to Lo Duca, and Cox lifted him for lefty Macay McBride. Beltran hit a ground ball to Renteria that drove in Reyes, and Beltran wound up safe at first when Renteria booted it. Delgado followed with a single that plated Lo Duca, and suddenly 2 runs were in with the tying runs on base. Rightie Ken Ray came in to pitch to Wright, and got him on a fly ball to RF that advanced Beltran to third. Cliff Floyd finally came up with a big hit, singling home Beltran and cutting the lead to one. After a passed ball advanced both runners, an intentional walk to Nady loaded them for Kaz Matsui. Matsui's soft single to center tied the game, but pinch-hitter Julio Franco grounded into a double play to kill the rally. Still, it was a deflating failure by Atlanta's shaky bullpen.
At this point, two dominant themes took over the game. The Mets received outstanding bullpen work, and wasted one opportunity after another to take this game. Heilman put up zeros in the eighth and ninth, then Wagner pitched a scoreless tenth. In the top of the eleventh Wagner gave up a leadoff home run to pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit that seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Mets. Closer Chris Reitsma came in to nail it down, but gave up a home run to Cliff Floyd as the Mets once again refused to be beaten. And so it went on...
Duaner Sanchez blanked the Braves in the 12th and 13th. The Mets couldn't score. Jorge Julio came into the tie game in the top of the 14th to face the heart of the Braves order. Larry Jones greeted him with a single to RF. Julio struck out Andruw Jones, making him look bad. With Francoeur up, Larry caught Julio napping and managed to steal second, putting the go-ahead run into scoring position. But Julio popped Francoeur up, and got Adam LaRoche on a soft grounder to Matsui.
In the bottom of the 14th, with Keith and Gary wearing rally caps in the booth, Beltran drew a one out walk. Carlos Delgado popped out for the second out, bringing up David Wright. Catcher Brian McCann had an ugly passed ball that allowed an alert Carlos Beltran to go to second. That would prove to be a key play, as Wright followed with a monster shot over Andruw Jones in center that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Because he was on second, Beltran was able to cross the plate with the winning run, and the Braves were left to ponder a game they were poised to win twice, but was snatched away from them by the ghosts of Shea stadium.
Thoughts on the game
Forgive me if I leave anything out, I'm almost out of gas.
That was an impressive outing by Jorge Julio, who faced the heart of the Braves order in a tie game and prevailed. A well-deserved win by a guy who has overcome an ugly introduction to some of the toughest fans in the world.
The fans booed Wagner as he walked off the field after giving up the homer.
Trachsel pitched like a rookie in the sixth inning, I was really disappointed in him.
Reyes went 5-7 with 2 runs scored. Beltran 2-6 with a homer and 3 runs scored. Matsui was only 1-5, but had 2 perfect sacrifices and played flawless defense again. He also drove in the tying run in the seventh with his one hit. Wright was 3-5 and had the game winner.
The Mets are 20-9, 11 games over .500. They maintain a 5 game lead on the Phillies, and the third place Braves are 8 off the pace.
Tim Hudson faces Victor Zambrano Saturday afternoon at 1:10.