Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco de Heroes

There were successful returns from injury, a game saving relief performance, and a return to past glory at Shea Stadium today as the Mets held on for a 7-5 win at Shea today over the Phillies. After losing 4 in a row, the Mets have bounced back by taking 4 out of 5, including three of four from the Phils. There was no shortage of heroes for the Mets this afternoon.

Kris Benson returned from his strained pectoral injury which kept him out all season, and started fast with a eight pitch first inning which saw him strike out Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu looking. Benson looked sharp until the 5th when he loaded the bases by giving up a base hit to opposing pitcher Vincente Padilla, giving up a single to Jimmy Rollins on a ball that Jose Reyes could have caught, and walking Utley. After inducing a pop up to Abreu, Benson worked Met-killer Pat Burrell to two strikes before coming inside on a pitch. It went a bit too far inside and hit Burrell to force in a run and tie the game at 2-2. Willie Randolph came out and ended Benson's 2005 debut at that point, but Benson was impressive with six strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 innings with 5 hits and two walks.

Aaron Heilman relieved Benson and got David Bell on a comebacker to end the threat. From then on Heilman was sharp, continuing his success at home this season. Heilman walked one and gave up one hit in 3 and 1/3 stellar innings, striking out 5 to earn the victory. Met pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts today.

Mike Cameron also returned from injury impressively. Although he had a little trouble getting a jump on a catchable fly ball single by Utley in the third, Cameron starred with the bat today, going 2-4 with two doubles.

On this Cinco de Mayo, number 5, David Wright, got a key hit in the 5th inning, a bases loaded double off Padilla to give the Mets the lead for good at 4-2. It was redemption for Wright who struck out with the bases loaded in the third and broke his bat in frustration.

The most important performance of the day belonged to Mike Piazza. Piazza, who has been seemingly been aging a year each day, went 4-5 today and had some good swings. His long three run HR in the bottom of the eighth off of Tim Worrell was only window dressing at the time, making the score 7-2. However as the ninth unfolded, it became apparent that it would be the most important of the day.

The only downside to today's game was that ninth inning. Mike DeJean relieved Heilman to start the ninth, and to put it nicely, he was useless. With one out, former Met Todd "Tank" Pratt grounded a single to center. Then after an infield single by Plocido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, who had a huge day himself, parked a three run homer off DeJean to cut the Mets lead to 7-5. Rollins went 3-4 and created a run all by himself in the third with a walk, two steals, and scoring on a Benson wild pitch.

So after Utley struck out and Abreu singled to right off DeJean, who amazingly was left in the game for two batters after the Rollins homer, Braden Looper came in to face Burrell. Amidst chatter in the stands that the scary Looper should probably walk the potential tying run in Burrell to pitch to pinch hitter Tomas Perez, Looper came up big and struck out Burrell to earn his sixth save. It should be of concern that the game got that close, because you know that the blown lead of six runs or more after the seventh inning is coming with this bullpen. But Looper held the fort down against the biggest Met killer around, and that is certainly reason to breathe a little easier.

Hit streak update: Victor Diaz, who had an RBI double in the second inning, played left field in place of Cliff Floyd, so Floyd's hit streak remains at 20 games.

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