I should have known there was a catch when Johan Santana got four innings of run support, which for him is like winning a record Powerball jackpot. It seemed too easy. Santana gets four runs on a day where he’s got good stuff and he’s zipping through the Rockies lineup, and then Miguel Batista gets through an inning unscathed?
There’s definitely a catch.
And I’m not talking about Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ catch in the fifth inning, though it had me jumping out of my seat. Dude ran a long, long way for that, and this wasn’t one of those dives to make the catch look good, this was one of those Superman dives … a foot off the ground, and if he was extended any further he’d be on an infomercial for “special pills”. Somebody compared Nieuwenhuis to Lenny Dykstra the other day in a conversation (and I’m not talking about Lenny Dykstra the embezzler). I’m not sure about that. While Dykstra got every ounce of effort out of his limited tools, Nieuwenhuis seems to ooze physical tools and still aims to get maximum output from them. Simply put, the man is no man at all … the man is a cyborg.
No, not that catch. The catch that when things seem too easy, they usually are. A 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th? That’s like Scooby standing on the trap door. And sure enough it turned to dust as Jon Rauch came in and loaded the bases on a single and two walks, with two walks stuck in between. Rauch was supremely upset at the 2-2 pitch to Michael Cuddyer that should have been a strike. He hit the target, and he would have hit the target if it was a moth. But Paul Emmel called it a ball, and Rauch walked Cuddyer on the next pitch. The only thing I can think of was that Emmel called the 2-2 a ball to make up for the 2-1 that he called a strike when Josh Thole framed it to be a strike. But hey, can’t penalize Thole for framing it well and you can’t penalize any team with make-up calls. And I’m not sure I buy that explanation anyway. It’s hard enough to umpire a game. To keep tally of who gets what call at the same time? I’m not sure umpires have the mental capacity to do both at the same time.
Make no mistake, that Emmel call was brutal. And we’re all lucky that Rauch didn’t become the Incredible Hulk before our eyes. But the bottom line is that Rauch, or any pitcher, should never put themselves in a position to let a bad call potentially beat them. He did, and Todd Helton made him pay by launching a bomb on a 2-2 pitch from Tim Byrdak to tie the game at 4-4.
The game went to extras where Cyborg drove in Mike Baxter to give the Mets the lead in the tenth, only to have Frank Francisco blow another save by giving up a soul crusher to Carlos Gonzalez. Now I know you might expect a blogger to go off the grid on this one. But look here, Gonzalez is a premium hitter. Francisco is a relief pitcher who happens to be closing games (or attempting to). Things like Gonzalez hitting frozen ropes towards the row of purple seats are going to happen. We might not like it, but it’s reality. I can deal with that a lot more easily than I can deal with giving up grand slams to Everth Cabrera and Justin Maxwell.
Finally, the Mets took the lead for good in the 11th with base hits by David Wright, Lucas Duda, and the winner by Ike Davis, who went 3 for 6 and raised his average to a buck sixty nine. I’m going to resist the urge to go with the “maybe this is the game that catapults Ike back to prominence.” (The last time we depended on the whole “momentum” thing was after the walk-off win on Thursday … and they lost the next game 18-9.) After all, Ike did strike out looking twice which has been his problem. But at least it was interspersed with three hits, including the game winner. As is always said around my apartment: “It’s a process.” It’s not going to get magically better with one game, rather it’s going to take work. But Sunday was encouraging.
Three Ramon Ramirez outs later, and a 6-5 win was “in the books” … and thank heavens for that. You didn’t want to hear about how Peyton Manning showed up and helped the Rockies win by being Todd Helton’s good luck charm anyway. Imagine how many commercials that would have spawned.
And hey, Scooby was rescued from the trap. Now let’s see who the villian really is: Why, it’s Rockies starter Jamie Moyer!
“I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”