By Mike Steffanos
Phillies 5 - Mets 4
The Mets made a nice late game comeback today, but it was all for naught as an Aaron Heilman throwing error lost them the opening game of the series against Philadelphia.
Pedro started for the Mets, and looked shaky in the first inning, walking both Utley and Abreu. He survived unscathed by getting Burrell to fly out and striking out Ryan Howard. He wasn't as lucky in the second, giving up all 4 hits and 3 runs he would surrender in one bad inning. The killer was a 2 run seeing-eye single by Rollins.
That looked like it would be plenty for Brett Myers, who had control of his curve and kept the Mets off-balance for 7 innings. He was aided by a bad baserunning play by Reyes in the third, who got picked off because he fell for the "fake to third, throw to first play" yet again. Jose has been nailed by that tired old chestnut too many times in his career. He needs to play like a veteran, and to his credit he is coming along.
In the eighth, with Meyers getting up in pitch count, Charlie Manuel tried to ride him for one more inning. Cliff Floyd led off with a single, then Xavier Nady followed with a line-shot home run to LCF that put the Mets on the board and got them back into the game, down 3-2. But Duaner Sanchez would get touched up for his first run of the year in the bottom of the frame. With 2 outs, Burrell singled. Ryan Howard followed with a double. A nice play by Nady and a decent relay by Kaz Matsui had Burrell with room to spare, but Lo Duca tried to rush the tag and missed the ball.
That looked like the ball game, as Tom Gordon came in to nail it down for the Phillies. The Mets had another comeback in them, however. Lo Duca led off with a single, and after Beltran lined out, Delgado homered to tie the game. The Mets had a chance to do more damage off the shaken Gordon. Wright singled, got wild-pitched to second, and then Gordon intentionally walked Cliff Floyd. But Nady grounded out to third for out #2, and then Matsui was called out on strikes on a 3-2 curveball that was clearly high. To add insult to injury, home plate umpire Doug Eddings tossed out on deck batter Julio Franco, appearing to go out of his way to take offense.
Heilman came into the game in the bottom of the ninth and got the first 2 outs, but then David Dellucci had a pinch-hit triple that just kicked up chalk in the RF corner. Heilman hit Rollins with a pitch, and walked Utley to load the bases. He fell behind Abreu, but came back and got him to tap a ball to the right side of the infield. Unfortunately for the Mets, it wound up between Lo Duca and Heilman. Lo Duca wanted it, and would have had a better chance of making the play, but Heilman picked it up and made a wild throw to first, and that was the ballgame.
Thoughts on the Game
Pedro looked so bad the first two innings, I figured he would be out of the game early. But he came back and held the Phillies to nothing for 5 more innings. He is an amazing man.
Ironic that the strength of the team, the bullpen -- specifically Sanchez and Heilman cost the Mets the game. More than them, though, was the failure to do some things right that the Mets have been doing so far: Nady's failure to make a play on what went as an Aaron Rowand triple in that second inning, Reyes' blunder on the bases, Lo Duca's poor play on the throw home, and the confusion between Heilman and Lo Duca on that final bleeder. Everyone is entitled to an off day, but the Mets are playing a hot team right now and it cost them.
The Mets second loss in a row dropped them to 21-11, 3 games ahead of the Phillies. The Braves were up big in Florida, and should close to 7 back. Tom Glavine goes to the mound tomorrow night looking for win #5, opposed by Cory Lidle.