Friday night’s bullpen collapse and 5-4 loss to Arizona couldn’t have been very good for Mets morale, but over the course of the next two days, the scraptastic New York club picked itself up and earned a pair of victories. Much of the credit goes to some superb starting pitching.
It’s easy to get sick of analysts rambling about how the ace of a pitching staff is big and macho and how he is supposed to stop a losing streak in its tracks. Rational people like myself know that a starting pitcher doesn’t really play better when his team has lost a bunch recently, but Johan Santana was really good on Saturday afternoon in a streak-stopping 4-3 victory.
“We won and that’s the most important thing,” said Santana, whose 2.61 ERA doesn’t match his 1-2 record. “I wanted to help and somehow stop it and give our team a chance to win and that’s all I was doing. I was going inning by inning, trying to keep the score there and trying to compete and get ahead.”
Santana pitched seven innings with five strikeouts, one walk and three runs allowed while throwing 74 of 108 pitches for strikes. Arizona struck first on a Ryan Roberts solo home run in the second inning, but just like on Friday, the Mets scored four runs in an inning. This time New York turned the trick in the fourth, as Mike Nickeas and Andres Torres both hit two-RBI singles to put the Metsies on top.
Although Arizona would get a pair back in the top of the fifth on a Paul Goldschmidt double, Santana only allowed one baserunner in the next two innings, and Bobby Parnell combined with Frank Francisco to preserve the Mets lead until the end. Despite not factoring into any of the run scoring, Daniel Murphy was the star on offense with four singles in four at-bats. He was very humble about it, though.
“That’s a bonus for me. We’re trying to get wins around here,” Murphy said, according to MetsBlog contributor Amit Badlani. “We end up winning 95 ballgames and end up in the playoffs, everybody’s going to get a piece of it. Johan’s day today, Torres had the big hit that drove in some runs, Turner had a nice day. So, it was nice.”
No extra base hits for the Mets on Saturday, but they did enough early on to get rid of young Arizona starter Patrick Corbin quickly. The southpaw walked two, struck out two and allowed five hits. He was charged with all four runs, but left the game after Nickeas singled with the bases loaded to make the score 2-1 with one out in the fourth. Josh Collmenter came on and let up the Torres single.
Today was an easier time for the Mets, as for the first time in a while they played a game without falling behind their opponents. New York got on the board quickly when Murphy lined a single up the middle in the first inning to score both David Wright and Torres.
Although Arizona starter Trevor Cahill would settle down and only allow three more hits and one more run in seven total innings, R.A. Dickey was even more effective and the master of the knuckleball shut out the snakes through eight innings. A brief Arizona rally in the ninth kept Dickey short of the complete game, but he still only allowed one run, four hits and four walks in eight innings with four strikeouts.
Josh Thole hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth inning to make the score 3-0. The Diamondbacks got a couple of runners on base in the fifth, but Dickey got out of the minor jam by picking Gerardo Parra off of first base. In the ninth, Parra led off with a walk and Justin Upton followed up with an RBI double to end Dickey’s day. Now with the tying run at the plate, Terry Collins brought on Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco to get the next three Diamondbacks out to end the game.
The big news in this one, however, was a strained quad suffered by Ruben Tejada as he hustled to turn a bunt into a base hit in the fourth inning. Justin Turner came in to play shortstop because Jordany Valdespin had just been sent down to make room for D.J. Carrasco, but even if Tejada does not need to go to the disabled list, it’s likely Valdespin is brought back up to play short.
Here’s the box score from Sunday’s game. Tomorrow the Mets and their 15-13 record are in Philly to start a three game series with the team that plays there. Jon Niese will take the mound for the New York while Roy Halladay pitches for the Phillies.