When the 2009 MLB schedule came out Mets fans pointed to this series with the Phillies with delight.
This was a weekend to pencil in around your late season vacation plans--a series that would mean everything--the one to watch.
While the season has fallen apart, last night's game certainly made for a great watch, starting with the pitching matchup--the hated Cole Hamels vs Big Mike Pelfrey.
Neither man disappointed Mets fans.
Toss in some timely hitting, a managerial ejection, a few hit batters, and some great relief, and it was the type of win the fanbase has longed for all year--if only it mattered a bit more.
The simple fact of the matter is that we like to beat the Phillies, and they hate to lose to us--if somehow we can pound them the rest of the weekend it would be one small victory in a season devoid of them.
Mike Pelfrey was outstanding, and he recognized how the rivalry helped his game: "I think when you go up against your rival, you have a little extra adrenaline and you're into the game." Pelfrey said.
Pelfrey is now 3-0 with a 3.92 ERA in four starts against Phils this season. He is the only major league pitcher with three wins against Philadelphia this year.
The hitting star of the night was Jeff Francoeur, who had three hits including a homerun. Since joining the Mets, Francoeur is batting .310 with a respectable .340 OBP, and 23 RBIs in 142 at-bats. He is putting the Mets in a position where keeping him around for 2010 is a no-brainer.
Pedro Feliciano and Brian Stokes combined for two scoreless innings. Stokes is having a terrific season and now sports a 2.89 ERA. Just think back to a few months ago when Stokes was in Jerry's doghouse and woefully underused.
Frankie Rodriguez came on in the 9th and gave us the typical heart palpitations that accompany the majority of his outings. With the tying runners at the corners, the All-Star closer struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for his 27th save in 32 chances.
It's certainly fun to watch Cole Hamels struggle. He is now 0-3 in August and took a beating at the hands of the Mets makeshift lineup, allowing 10 hits in only 5 innings.
Since beating the Mets in his first start against them, Hamels is 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA in nine starts vs. New York. That is a beautiful stat line for a kid who called the Mets "choke artists" in the offseason.
Hopefully Hamels can choke on that stat line.
Even Jerry Manuel showed a bit of fight, getting ejected after the ump clearly blew the call on Francoeur's attempted steal of second in the fifth. Jimmy Rollins clearly missed the tag, and Jerry went off on the ump, getting ejected in the process.
"We've got to continue to fight as best we can," Jerry Manuel said. "When we feel that things are against us, we've got to continue to stand up against those things."
As if all this wasn't enough, the drama continued--Sheff was tossed, and we saw another example of Luis "Brainfart" Castillo failing to cover first base on a bunt that Murph charged.
That loaded the bases for the Phillies, but Big Pelf took care of business by inducing consecutive popups from pinch-hitter Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins--it was a scintillating sequence for the lanky right-hander and showed how tough he can be under pressure.
"That's what won the game for him," Charlie Manuel said.
All in all a great game--if only it had meant a little more.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
by Dave Singer