By Mike Steffanos
Mets 13 - Cubs 7
The wind was blowing out at Wrigley field today. It took the Mets a while to find it, but once they did, they managed to ride that jet stream to their largest inning in franchise history en route to a come from behind win and a series victory over the Cubs.
The game started out anything but promising for the Mets, as Orlando Hernandez struggled with his control and location. For the second time this season he failed to make it out of the second inning, allowing 5 runs on 2 walks and 7 hits, including a home run by the opposing pitcher, in 1-2/3 dismal innings. Meanwhile Cubs rookie Sean Marshall was cruising with a devastating breaking pitch and a comfortable 5-0 lead. But Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano kept the Cubs off the board through the fifth as the Mets slowly chipped back into the game with solo home runs by Chris Woodward and Cliff Floyd in the fourth and fifth. Then came the historic sixth inning.
It started inauspiciously enough as Woodward flied out to center and Beltran hit a grounder to second baseman Todd Walker. The tin-gloved Walker bobbled the ball for a second, and a hustling Beltran reached base on the error. Delgado and Wright followed with soft singles and Cliff Floyd came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. The left-handed Marshall got ahead of Floyd, but Cliff battled and managed to launch an outside pitch to left field that the wind carried for a grand slam that put the Mets up 6-5. Xavier Nady followed with a walk, and Marshall's night was over.
Roberto Novoa came in to face Ramon Castro, and induced a groundball to third that looked like a sure double play, but Walker made his second error of the inning, dropping the throw, and all hands were safe. Endy Chavez pinch hit for Pedro Feliciano and singled home Nady and moved Castro to third. Chavez stole second and Valentin followed with an infield single to load the bases. Woodward forced Castro at home for the second out, but Beltran followed with the Mets' second grand slam of the inning. Delgado's double and Wright's home run completed the scoring as the Mets hung an 11-spot on the Cubs and turned a 3-run deficit into a 13-5 rout.
Bradford gave the Mets a scoreless sixth. Aaron Heilman was touched up for a pair in the seventh, but Heath Bell and Duaner Sanchez got them home with no further damage.
Thoughts on the game
Let's add today's debacle to El Duque's chart of games pitched since the beginning of June:
In the words of my friend Shari from Take the "7" Train:
... you can either get brilliance or a garbage outing from Hernandez, the problem is you never know which one it will be.
I'll say. In his last 5 outings, El Duque has gone 7 innings in 3 terrific starts and 1-2/3 innings in two dismal starts. I'm going to hope that today had mostly to do with 11 days between starts and hope Hernandez comes back with a good one next time out.
Aaron Heilman continues his bafflingly bad pitching. After a nice 1-2-3 inning his first game back Friday night, Heilman retires the first 2 batters in the seventh, but then goes full on Ronny Cedeno and then walks him with an 8 run lead. Sure enough, he goes full again to pinch hitter Phil Nevin and gives up the 2-run blast. Juan Pierre then singles, but Heilman gets Walker for the final out.
Sanchez, on the other hand, was nasty in the ninth -- blowing them away with his fastball, getting them to chase his slider, and striking out the side.
The Mets will be off tomorrow before beginning their series in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Mike Pelfrey makes his second big league start.
This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.