A phenomenal game by the Mets in Philly tonight that could have turned like so many bust-ups have over the past thirteen months or so. A solo Beltran home run and–oddly–a second consecutive gem by Oliver Perez saw the Mets with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Duaner Sanchez would get the first out and allow the next two batters on base, bringing up Pedro Feliciano to face lefty Ryan Howard.
And then the rains came (what is this, Wimbledon?…More on that tomorrow, likely, not that you care all that much!).
That incessant downpour and interminable delay served to make me hope that somehow it would continue long into the night, calling the game in the Mets’ favor. Forgive the pessimism, but we have surely witnessed too many bullpen meltdowns in Philly to have much faith in Feliciano (who has been struggling for what seems like all season) against Howard. And we all had hours and hours to fret over that match-up.
And then Howard strikes out.
And then it looks pretty good as the Mets sratch out another run in the top of the ninth, leading the way for Billy Wagner. Our closer. Our All-Star. It’s the bottom of the Phillies’ order, and he’s supposed to mow them down, right? Game over, no?
NO. Not for Wags against Philly. How many games has he blown against Philly in the last year? There goes a game-tying two run bomb, the miraculous Phillies having been down to their last strike. Of course. Dejafuckingvu. We almost need a moratorium against a crucial appearance for Billy Wagner against the Phillies. Maybe we can give that spot to Joe Smith against Philly.
But first things first: a big fucking thank you to Fernando Tatis, tonight’s game-winning hero, answering Jayson Werth’s two-run bomb with a two-run bomb of his own, putting the Mets up 4-2 in the twelfth. This would allow Smith, who had pitched an inning and a third, to end the top of the twelfth with one of the most lousy at-bats known to mankind (he at least fouled off a pitch?) and pitch the bottom of the frame.
And boy, did Smith MAN UP. In his two and a third, with Tony Armas the only available option in the bullpen, Smith had to face big lefties in Chase Utley and Howard, along with switch-hitter Jimmy Rollins. Smith + lefties = trouble. But holy God, was it a true grit performance, allowing one hit in his appearance (to Rollins), and deservedly earning the win tonight. I think we saw a young man grow up tonight.
Of course, due to his age, he has to carry that Hello Kitty backpack to the bullpen. “Hello Smitty” indeed. Maybe Smitty can lend it to Wagner for a while. That’d be some poetic justice.