Saturday, May 31, 2014

Game of the Day (5/30/14)

Phillies 6, Mets 5 (14). Rafael Montero of the Mets was making his fourth career start. Philly's AJ Burnett was just 18 starts shy of letting me say that he was making his four hundredth. Still, 382-4 is a pretty stark disparity in big league tenure.

Burnett was perfect in the first, while Montero worked around a single. The Mets began the scoring in the top of the second when Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu walked, Lucas Duda doubled in one run, Travis d'Arnaud followed with an RBI groundout, and Ruben Tejada capped the rally with a run-scoring single for a 3-0 lead. Montero allowed another single in the second, while Burnett issued a pair of walks in the third; Daniel Murphy was caught stealing before David Wright drew the second free pass, keeping any sort of rally from materializing.

Philly picked up a run in the third when Burnett and Jimmy Rollins singled, putting runners at the corners, and Chase Utley added an RBI groundout. They proceeded to seize the lead an inning later when Marlon Byrd walked, Carlos Ruiz singled, and Domonic Brown cracked a three-run homer. Reid Brignac then singled, and Burnett reached on an error after bunting. Ben Revere hit into a double play, but Rollins walked, and the Mets had seen enough of Montero, replacing him with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who coaxed an inning-ending popup from Utley.

New York recaptured the edge in the top of the fifth on a single by Juan Lagares, a walk to Murphy, and a two-run double by Abreu. The home team recovered to tie in the second half of the inning when Byrd walked, Ruiz doubled, and Brown grounded out. Burnett was perfect in the sixth and seventh, while Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia combined to throw three scoreless innings; Jake Diekman allowed an Abreu single-and-steal in the eighth, but left the veteran at third.

Mike Adams walked the bases loaded in the ninth, then struck out Abreu to end the inning; Scott Rice and Carlos Torres combined to force extras via a scoreless bottom of the inning. Jonathan Papelbon allowed singles to d'Arnaud and Tejada before posting a zero on the board in the tenth; Torres had less trouble in the bottom of the inning, permitting only a walk. Antonio Bastardo and Torres both put up 1-2-3 elevenths, and Mario Hollands did the same in the twelfth. Vic Black allowed singles to Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. in the bottom of the twelfth, but left them both on. Justin De Fratus and Black combined to walk three hitters in the thirteenth, but allowed none of them to score, and De Fratus was flawless in the top of the fourteenth.

Jenrry Mejia relieved in the bottom of the fourteenth, and the Phils ended the game rather swiftly. Byrd reached on an Abreu error, Ruiz singled him to third, pinch hitter Cesar Hernandez was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Reid Brignac singled to end the game.

This was a long game and a good one, ranking just outside the top 10 for the first two months of the season. The Mets batted 15 times with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 men, while the Phillies had "only" 12 shots with RISP but left 17 on base. There were multiple lead changes in regulation, and both teams left potential go-ahead or winning runs in scoring position in the ninth or extras multiple times, so the tension stayed high throughout.

The two quirkiest features of the game both involved the batteries. The two catchers, Carlos Ruiz and Travis d'Arnaud, combined for over a quarter of the game's total hits (6 of 22), despite the fact that d'Arnaud is having such a poor season that his pair of hits failed to raise his average above .200. (In fact, d'Arnaud and Ruben Tejada, New York's 7 and 8 hitters, combined for half of the Met hits in this game.)

The second oddity is that all of the runs that were allowed in this game came with someone on the mound who has started at least one game this season. The extensive parades of pure relievers combined for 13 scoreless innings before one team had to put another sometime starter in. Which either says something about the current state of baseball, or is just a thing that happened in one game.

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