Monday, September 1, 2014

Game of the Day (8/31/14)

Mets 6, Phillies 5 (maybe). The (maybe) is there because this game has a fairly narrow lead on Indians 4, Royals 2 (9.5), which was suspended in the middle of the tenth inning; if the Royals stage a rally of any significance, that game will make the pass. For now, though, this matchup of New York's Dillon Gee and Philly's AJ Burnett takes the top spot.

Gee was perfect in the first, while Burnett worked around a David Wright single. Domonic Brown doubled with two outs in the top of the second, but Gee left him on; Wilmer Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis opened the bottom of the inning with singles, but Burnett recorded two strikeouts and a Gee groundout to end the inning. Both starters then retired the side in order in the third.

Jimmy Rollins led off the fourth with a single, Chase Utley grounded out to move him to second, and Ryan Howard doubled him home with the game's first run. Grady Sizemore walked and Brown singled to load the bases, but Wil Nieves grounded into an inning-ending double play. Flores singled and was stranded in the bottom of the fourth, while Ben Revere singled and moved to third on a steal-and-error before Rollins whiffed to leave him on in the top of the fifth.

New York put its first runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Juan Lagares started the rally with a two out single, stole second, and scored on a double by Matt den Dekker to tie the game. Wright then singled den Dekker home to put the Mets in front for the first time, but Howard tied the score with a one-out homer in the bottom of the inning. A Sizemore walk and a Brown single put runners at the corners, but Gee recovered to strand both men and preserve the 2-2 tie.

The Mets struck again in the bottom of the sixth. Flores led off with a single, Dilson Herrera drew a one-out walk, and Anthony Recker followed with a three-run homer. Philly got a run back in the seventh; Freddy Galvis opened the inning with a pinch walk to chase Gee in favor of Dana Eveland, and Revere and Rollins singled him around, with the runners taking second and third when Recker mishandled the throw to the plate. With the tying runs in scoring position and nobody out, the Phillies then demonstrated the dangers of having three consecutive left-handed hitters in your lineup, as the southpaw Eveland got Utley to pop up and struck out Howard and Sizemore.

Bastardo was perfect in the bottom of the seventh, and Brown homered against Jeurys Familia in the top of the eighth to narrow the gap to a lone run. The Phils tacked on a run of insurance in the bottom of the eighth when Nieuwenhuis doubled against Justin De Fratus, stole third, and scored on Herrera's single. Jenrry Mejia allowed a Rollins single and plunked Utley to open the ninth, but Howard hit into a double play, and Sizemore's RBI single was therefore far less threatening than it might have been. Brown grounded out to end the game.

This game is Ryan Howard's season in miniature. Howard doubled to drive in the first run of the game, then homered to tie it two innings later. He also struck out twice, once with the tying runs in scoring position, and hit into a double play with the tying runs on in the ninth. That's two hits and two RBI - and a negative WPA (-.034), without even accounting for his baserunning or defense.

But enough about the player with one of the craziest contracts ever signed. Both teams got three-hit games from their shortstops; the Phillies also added four from their left fielder, while the Mets were fortunate to get as much as a well-timed double. However, New York countered with a three-run homer from their journeyman catcher, while Philly's backstop posted an ofer. Throw in Howard's well-timed outs, and the Mets had just enough to come out on top.

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