By Mike Steffanos
Mets 1 - Diamondbacks 0 (13)
Pedro Martinez made six starts for the Mets in the month of May. He pitched to an ERA of just over 2.1. He had two games, including tonight, where he allowed no runs. Somehow, the Mets managed not to win one of those games for him. Needless to say, they owe him big-time.
Neither team mustered many scoring opportunities. In the top of the second, Martinez retired the first two batters and got Johnny Estrada to launch a soft liner to Lastings Milledge in right field that looked like the third out. Milledge played the ball one-handed, and closed his glove early for an embarrassing error. When Orlando Hudson followed with a single, it brought pitcher Brandon Webb up. Webb, who is a good hitting pitcher, laced a hard grounder to the right side of second base that looked like a hit, but Jose Valentin made a fabulous diving stop and tossed to Reyes covering a 2B for the final out. Pedro waited for Milledge to come in and gave him a nice pep talk, a classy move indeed.
In the bottom of the inning Delgado flied out to Byrnes right at the wall, that was as close as the Mets came to a run for quite a while. Pedro stayed with Webb pitch for pitch until the sixth, when Craig Counsell led off with a single. After Byrnes flied out, Chad Tracy singled hard to right field. Counsell, hustling all the way, looked like a sure bet to advance to third, but Milledge charged the ball hard and fired it on the fly to David Wright at third, and Counsell was out easily. Honestly, as perfect of a throw as I've ever seen.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets finally mustered a scoring opportunity against Webb. With two outs, David Wright singled to RF. Cliff Floyd followed with a pretty opposite field single to left, and Wright went to third against the non-existent arm of Luis Gonzalez. Webb quickly got ahead of Jose Valentin 0-2, but Valentin battled back, fouled a couple of pitches off, and worked the count full. Webb finally got him to pop out, but the at bat brought Webb up to 100 pitches, and he was through for the night. Pedro had one more inning left in his right arm, and finished his evening in style by striking out Craig Counsell and Psycho Byrnes.
The game settled into a battle of bullpens, Wagner pitched the ninth and tenth, while Bob Melvin made the curious choice of limiting most of his relievers to one inning each. Luis Vizcaino threw 15 pitches getting through the eighth and got lifted. Brandon Lyon struck out the side in the ninth and he was removed. Brandon Medders actually pitched 2 innings and got them through the eleventh. Then Julio came in to face his old mates in the twelfth, got them in order on 8 pitches, but Melvin pinch hits for Julio, and in comes Jason Grimsley for the thirteenth. We would have killed Willie for burning through his 'pen so quick.
Anyway, back to the Mets. Wagner has a 1-2-3 ninth and, with an off day tomorrow, comes back out for the tenth. Shawn Green leads off with a single, Estrada strikes out trying to bunt him over, but Green then steals second base. Orlando Hudson hits a grounder to Reyes, and Green, flushed with euphoria from his stolen base, wanders a hair too far off second, allowing Reyes to throw behind him for the out, erasing the runner in scoring position. Wagner then walks Conor Jackson on 4 pitches to put him back, but gets Counsell to tap back to him for the final out.
Sanchez comes into the game in the tenth and gets them in order. In the eleventh Tony Clark leads off with a single, but Sanchez induces a double play from Shawn Green and gets Estrada to pop out. Sanchez comes out for his third inning in the thirteenth and survives a 2-out double from Counsell when he gets Psycho to ground out to Wright at 3B.
This game seems like it might go on all night, but Melvin's strange use of his bullpen has the mediocre Jason Grimsley in for the thirteenth. Jose Valentin leads off with a nice opposite field double. Ramon Castro comes up to pinch hit, although the logical move would seem to have been Tom Glavine bunting him to third. Castro hit a soft grounder to Counsell at shortstop, but Valentin was savvy enough to advance to third. Now Chavez was up just needing a fly ball to win it. He did all that and then some, lining the second pitch into the right-centerfield gap for an easy game winning hit.
Thoughts on the Game
Well-pitched, great defense extra innings games are great to watch. However, enough already. I'm up for a nice run of standard nine inning blow-out wins.
I felt earlier in the year that the Mets bench was a concern -- specifically the hitting of Chavez and Valentin. I will not be taking any bows for that one.
The Mets are Duaner Sanchez' fourth organization. He started with the D-backs, who traded him to the Pirates for the immortal Mike Fetters in 2002, and the Dodgers picked him up off waivers the following year from the Pirates.
Off day tomorrow. We all need it.