By Mike Steffanos
Mets 7 - Rockies 4
On the night the Mets honored their 1986 World Champions, the 2006 Mets pulled off a very '86-like come from behind victory over the Colorado Rockies. Emergency starter Dave Williams pitched a very strong game, and Lastings Milledge woke up and demonstrated the talent that makes him one of the top prospects in the game. All in all, it was a very good night in Flushing.
Dave Williams, filling in for Pedro, had a very strong performance tonight. Remember, this was as guy who Cincinnati designated for assignment earlier in the year. He matched zeroes with Colorado starter Jeff Francis through the first 4 innings of the game, getting ahead of hitters and pitching both quickly and aggressively. Consequently, the Mets played solid defense behind him. Williams helped his own cause by picking off a runner in the fourth.
The Rockies finally got to Williams on Yorvit Torrealba's solo home run in the fifth, while the Mets were still looking for their first hit of the ball game. Lastings Milledge finally broke the ice in the bottom of the fifth with a sharp opposite field single.
Williams ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. Jose Reyes got a glove on leadoff hitter Jamey Carroll's bloop single, but couldn't hold it. Ryan Spilborghs tried to bunt Carroll over, but popped out on a terrific diving catch by Carlos Delgado. Williams got Helton to pop out to Wright for the second out, but Matt Holliday followed with a line drive that Reyes again got a glove on but couldn't hold. The ball was hit to Jose's left, and he took one quick step to his right before reacting to it. It was just enough of a misstep to be the difference between a hit and the third out.
At that point Williams had to exit the game with cramps in both legs. Roberto Hernandez came in and gave up an opposite field 3-run homer to Garrett Atkins that Milledge just missed taking away. Torrealba followed with a single, but got thrown out at second by Lo Duca when he tried to advance on a pitch in the dirt that didn't roll very far from the Mets catcher.
It looked bad with the Mets down 4-0 and Francis working on a 5 inning 1-hitter, but the Mets had worked long at-bats against him in the fifth, making him throw 29 pitches to Wright, Woodward, Milledge and Chavez. He didn't look quite as sharp in the sixth. Michael Tucker, in on a double switch for Chavez in the top of the frame, worked Francis for an 8-pitch at bat before singling up the middle. Reyes followed with a long fly out to left that he just missed hitting out. Lo Duca doubled on the first pitch to put runners on second and third. Beltran followed with a long sac fly to left that Holliday dropped for a 2 base error, allowing Lo Duca to go to third. Carlos Delgado had a nice opposite field RBI single that advanced Beltran to second.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle elected to stay with Jeff Francis, intentionally walking David Wright to load the bases and bring up Woodward. Woodward popped out on the first pitch, and it looked like Francis might escape with a 2 run lead. It wasn't to be. Milledge had a clutch 2 out single to right to cut it to 4-3. Wright allowed himself to get caught taking a wide turn of second, but third baseman Atkins' throwing error allowed Wright to go to third and Milledge to second. Francis was up to 25 pitches in the inning now, after throwing 29 in the previous frame. Hurdle again elected to leave him in there, intentionally walking pinch hitter Julio Franco. Again it backfired, as a tiring Francis walked Tucker on five pitches, forcing home the go ahead run.
Hurdle finally lifted Francis for Ramon Ramirez. Jose Reyes was a little over-anxious, swinging at a ball in the dirt to go in an 0-2 hole, but then Jose found patience as Ramirez threw 4 pitches just outside the strike zone, forcing in another run and putting the Mets up 6-4.
Willie asked Aaron Heilman to give him 2 innings and get the game to Wagner. Heilman did not disappoint. Heilman survived a single and a walk in the seventh by inducing Jamey Carroll to ground into an inning ending double play, aided by a terrific Delgado scoop at first. Aaron must have gotten all of the drama out of his system in the seventh, as he pitched a quick perfect eighth.
Lastings Milledge hit a long home run in the top of the ninth to hand Wagner a 3-run lead. Wagner retired the Rockies in order for his 30th save of the season.
Thoughts on the game
If you missed the game, make sure you catch the pre-game ceremonies at some point in the future when SNY reruns it. They did a terrific job.
Speaking of terrific, Williams was really, really good. He wound up giving 3 earned runs, but pitched better than that. If Reyes made one of those 2 plays in the sixth, Williams would have allowed only one run in 6 innings. He's definitely earned a second start, despite the fact that Oliver Perez pitched another gem in Norfolk this evening.
Nice to see Milledge bust out with 3 hits. They interviewed him after the game, and he talked about how hard he's been working on taking that outside pitch to right. It paid off for him today.
Delgado had another good game with 2 hits to left field, and several nice plays in the field. Wright was 0-3 and didn't look great, and Chris Woodward fell back with an 0-4 after breaking out with a couple of hits yesterday.
Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were together in the booth for this game, and once again they displayed a fun rapport of teammates ragging on each other.
This was Wagner's eighth straight save, and he pitched a perfect inning for only the second time in that stretch. It was very good for a change to enjoy a ninth inning without drama.
This was a really great day, first with the celebration and then the Mets pulling one out that they seemed to be on their way to losing. Just a nice, satisfying win.
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