Houston shortstop Jed Lowrie hit a single up the middle off of Manny Acosta in the bottom of the eighth to score Jordan Schafer and give the Astros a 4-3 lead. Acosta was only pitching in the eighth inning because a minor Frank Francisco injury pushed Jon Rauch to the ninth. Terry Collins reckons that Francisco is suffering from dehydration, so in a way, the Mets lost because Francisco didn’t hit the cooler enough.
“You’ve got to keep yourself hydrated,” Collins said. “Everybody thinks they drink one of those little things of water and it’s going to do it, but it doesn’t.”
Anyway, Bud Norris kept the Mets from scoring runs for most of the evening. The promising young righty struck out seven batters and walked just one in 6.2 innings while allowing three runs and seven hits. Through six innings, it looked like Norris might have a truly spectacular night in store for us, but things unraveled in the seventh.
With the Astros up 3-0, David Wright and Ike Davis got the inning started with singles, and then each moved up a base on Mike Baxter’s fly to right field. Andres Torres, in his first game back from injury (Zach Lutz got sent down) hit a chopper between first and second that was misplayed by non-regular first baseman Matt Downs. The “hit” allowed Wright to score from third and gave the Mets the opportunity to score more runs. Although Thole grounded out weakly, Lucas Duda followed with a walk to load the bases. Then, the beloved rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis lined a single into right field to tie the game and end Norris’ outing.
Unfortunately, that seventh inning rally accounted for all the Mets scoring on the night, and more unfortunately, the three runs were not enough to win the game. However, it was amusing to see Houston skipper Brad Mills using the revolving door strategy to somehow burn four relief pitches in the eighth inning. It was less amusing when the Astros scored in the bottom of the frame to avoid extra innings and the strategy actually paid off.
For the Mets, R.A. Dickey was his usual, awesome self for much of the game. Much like his counterpart Norris, he became undone thanks to some crap defense and one big hit. Dickey ran into his trouble in the sixth inning, right before the Mets rallied for three runs in the seventh. Jordan Schafer led off with a soft liner over David Wright’s head (Wright was playing in to protect against Schafer’s speed). After Jose Altuve dropped down a sac bunt, Lowrie hit a blooper that somehow landed between Ruben Tejada and Nieuwenhuis in shallow left field. Tejada had a really long run because he was holding Schafer on second, and Nieuwenhuis was playing his first game in left field thanks to the return of Torres. I guess those two things were enough to let the ball land in.
With runners now at the corners with one out, Travis Buck hit into a fielders choice to give Houston a 1-0 lead. The real damage, however, came next, when Downs homered down the left field line to make the score 3-0 Astros. The big fly was frustrating for Dickey.
“Tonight was a night where I literally threw one pitch that I regretted and it got hit out of the park,” he said. “Normally that doesn’t happen. One more little wiggle to the knuckleball there, [and] he pops that up or he hits it off the end.”
Meanwhile, Downs admitted that he got kind of lucky.
“He left one up in the zone,” Downs said. “With the ball dancing like that, you just close your eyes and hope, I guess. You never know if it’s going to dart in, dart out, go up and down. You just find something up in the zone and take a hack at it.”
Before Schafer’s hit to lead off the sixth, Dickey had not allowed a hit in the entire game, which I’m sure added to the frustration of the three-run inning. For the first five frames, it sure looked like three Mets runs would be enough to put this one away. Dickey finished with six strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
More Mets notes
- Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak got one out each to end the eighth inning
- Andres Torres batted seventh in his return to the lineup while Nieuwenhuis stayed in the lead-off spot. Torres went 1 for 4 with a single that probably should have been an error. However, he did hit a ball hard to right center in the fifth inning that was ran down by Buck.
- Nieuwenhuis and Davis had two hits each, while Tejada and Daniel Murphy were held without one.
The Mets and Astros play another game tonight at 8:05 PM. It will be a southpaw showdown with Jon Niese on the mound opposing J.A. Happ.