By Mike Steffanos
Game 33: Mets 12 - Reds 6
Johan Santana left his two starts with the lead, but the bullpen cost him the victory both times. Today the Mets rewarded a gritty if not particularly awe-inspiring performance from their ace with enough runs to ensure his fourth victory. Still, for a while it wasn't easy.
Staked to leads of 4-0 and 6-1, Santana needed 38 pitches to negotiate the sixth inning. The Reds touched him up for 2 runs on a triple and 3 singles, and brought Corey Patterson to the plate as the tying run with 2 on and 2 out. Santana's struck him out on a 2-2 changeup.
The 10 hits allowed by Santana equaled his career high. That's two straight performances where he allowed more than his share of baserunners but gave his team a chance to win. In 12 innings in his 2 May starts he has allowed 21 men to reach base via hits and walks, but only 4 of them scored.
For the offense, it was the second consecutive 12-run performance. Reyes and Castillo both went 0-4 to continue their struggles, but David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider all had big days.
After a good game to start the previous road trip in Arizona, Wright slogged through a 2-21 stretch the remainder of the trip. He bounced back with a solid 2-3 with a pair of walks.
I was particularly impressed with an at bat in the sixth. After the Reds scored twice in Santana's final inning to close the game to 6-3, the Mets started the inning with men on second and third, no outs. Bad at bats by Damion Easley and Castillo sandwiched around a Reyes walk brought up Wright with bases loaded and 2 outs. If the Reds could have escaped that thread they would have had momentum in a game that was still within reach. We've seen Wright over anxious in these spots, chasing pitches and getting himself out. Instead he worked a patient walk.
Beltran was up next, looking for a fastball from a pitcher who had just walked in a run. He got it, tripled in all 3 baserunners, and the Mets had breathing room. According to Gary Cohen, it was his first hit with men in scoring position and 2 out. I believe he had been 0-19 before that hit. Also, after only driving in 16 runs in the first 32 games, Beltran had 5 RBI total this afternoon.
Delgado was 3-4 with a double and a home run after being dropped to seventh in the order. Schneider followed Delgado's seventh inning homer with one of his own -- his first extra base hit in 69 AB on the season.
Another game tonight. It will be interesting to see if the Mets can build on this performance.