How can a starting pitcher still be a hero after he allows four home runs? With defense and a little timely hitting of his own. And an uncharacteristic home run burst from your teammates never hurts.
Johan Santana has looked a little off in his last few starts. Fortunately for him tonight wa a night of generous run support from his Met teammates in stark contrast to earlier in the season. What made tonight a fun game to watch however was Santana's competitive fire. He showed bunt then pulled his hands together and swung away for an RBI double in the sixth. (As Gary Cohen termed it, the “ol' butcher boy play.”) And then he closed the seventh with a brilliant shoe string catch and throw to first to double off the runner. Johan's head is always in the game and even when he's been slapped around he still is always looking for an angle to one up his opponent.
However (there has to be a however in a game where Santana yields four dingers) I didn't care for Johan's indignant refusal to leave the mound. Of course, you always want your starter to insist he can stay in the game. But on a night where Santana had clearly gotten bombed, and just after he allowed a solo shot to Chase Utley to open the seventh, the time had come for Santana to make a graceful exit. Santana should know he took himself out the game with his shoddy pitch location, and should not have sassed his skipper in such an obvious hook situation.
Meanwhile the perfection of K-Rod saved the night from descending into the depths of a tragedy. K-Rod's 16 saves in 16 opportunities has brought a sense of calm to the Mets in the late innings, and a lot of fire among the Citi faithful. (That just doesn't sound right, I had to backspace over “Shea”).
Finally, a truly AWFUL call from home plate ump Lance Barksdale calling Fernando Tatis out at home in the sixth. There was no tag, the ball was lodged in the belly of Phillie catcher Carlos Ruiz and nowehere near the foot of Tatis as it slid into the plate. I credit Ruiz for concealing the play by blocking Barksdale's view with his shin guard and then with his arm. I guess you could say its just another call where the ball beats the runner and gets called out even thought the tag is late (or in this case non-existant) but geez, Barksdale did not move an inch to improve his view. I hope he's embarrassed seeing the replay of that blatant missed call.
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Written by Mark Reichman