While I was in a euphoric mood last night, I didn’t mention the heroic play that catcher Josh Thole made in the 5-2 Mets win over Philadelphia. With runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell got Phillies second baseman Freddy Galvis to chop a ball weakly back to the mound. Former Met Ty Wigginton came charging down the third baseline, so Parnell went home with the ball and got it to Thole just in time.
Thole managed to get the tag on Wigginton for a crucial out, but he also slammed his head on Wigginton’s shoulder. Although Wigginton made the relatively safe play and slid into home plate instead of trying to railroad Thole, there was still a massive impact on Thole’s head. The catcher went to the ground for a bit, but was eventually able to walk off the field on his own. The Mets would get the runs needed to win the game the next inning when rookie Jordanny Valdespin hit a dramatic two-out, three-run homer off of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
We still don’t know if Thole has a concussion or not, but he is being taken to New York for evaluation and will not be available for tonight’s game. In the last collective bargaining agreement, a special seven-day disabled list was created for head injuries like this one, so I suspect Thole will go on that and the Mets will bring a catcher up from Triple-A. Right now, it’s looking like Lucas May or Rob Johnson will backup Mike Nickeas tonight.
The other heroes from last night’s game are Nickeas, who kept the ninth inning alive with a two-out double that happened right before Valdespin’s big hit. Nickeas was down to his last strike versus Papelbon, but he fouled off some fastballs and ripped a hanging breaking ball into left field to set the stage for Valdespin.
Before any of that happened, David Wright hit a huge two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the sixth to break up a potential Roy Halladay shutout and tie the score 2-2. Halladay got the first two outs in the sixth inning and looked to be in cruise control, but center fielder Andres Torres worked out a walk and rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled to left field to bring Wright to the plate. The face of the franchise hit a sharp grounder just over the third base bag for an extra base hit. A fortunate bounce off of the stands delayed left fielder John Mayberry Jr. from getting to the ball and allowed Nieuwenhuis to score from first base.
The tie score as well as the extra pitches thrown forced Phillies manager Charlies Manuel to pinch hit for Halladay in the seventh inning. The all-world hurler ended his night with just one walk and five hits allowed in seven innings as well as seven strikeouts. Although Mets starter Jon Niese struggled early on and gave up a run in each of the first two innings, he managed to get through five and keep the Mets within striking distance. Niese allowed four hits and four walks while striking out five batters in his relatively brief outing.
Wow, what a game. The Mets and Phillies continue their series tonight at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 PM. Miguel Batista returns to the rotation for the Mets, while Joe Blanton takes the hill for Philadelphia.