I just took in what will probably be my last game at Shea Stadium, sitting four rows from the top of the mezzanine, directly behind home as the Washington Nationals and New York Mets once again ripped into each others' pitching, with the Mets' firepower prevailing in a 13-10 win for a two-game sweep of the next-to-last series of the season between the teams.
Almost more fun than the game was watching the emotional turmoil the Met fan suffers through these days, turning my attendance at the game into an anthropoligical study of the scorn-filled masses, who seethed and celebrated reflexively in reaction to the Mets' successes and failures on the field of play, as the home team blew a 7-1 lead with the Nationals chipping away and eventually tying the game in the sixth inning when DC shortstop Cristian Guzman took Aaron Heilman deep for a two-out, two-run, game-tying home run to right, completing the Nationals' gradual surge to tie it at 7-7 after six.
The Mets took the lead back in the home half of the seventh when DC reliever Saul "Sa-ool" Rivera allowed two singles and a sac fly from Carlos Delgado to score David Wright from third, for an 8-7 Mets' lead which had the ecstatic crowd chanting, "M-V-P, M-V-P" at a player, Delgado, they had once lustily booed to the point that he refused to take a "curtain call" after hitting the second of two HR's at home in a late-April win over Atlanta.
Tonight, the Mets' faithful cheered Delgado, saving their venom for Nationals' outfielder Elijah Dukes, who hit a solo shot to the last row of the bleachers in left-center in the second and received a high and tight fastball from NY starter Mike Pelfrey in his second at bat, which led Dukes to take a step or two towards the mound before stopping as the Managers and fielders all quickly converged at home...
Dukes, defying, I'm sure, all expectations, didn't get tossed, and he backed off after making clear his objection, responding instead by stroking a double to left off Pelfrey for Dukes' second hit of the evening. (ed. note - "Let's make one thing clear, Pelfrey did throw at Dukes. Period. And when he hit him with a full count pitch to load the bases in the fifth, Dukes didn't even react, just took his base and ran around to third when Kory Casto's two-run single made it 7-5 NY after the five...)
After Aaron Heilman gave up the game-tying home run to Guzman in the sixth and was replaced on the mound by "Generic" Joe Smith, Heilman received what might have been the second-loudest chorus of boos, behind only Dukes, as the Mets' reliever slowly walked to the dugout with Smith warming...DC lefty Mike Hinckley, (by far the most searched for player on federalbaseball.com), retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the sixth with a groundout from Argenis Reyes and swinging K's from Jose Reyes and Ryan Church.
After Delgado's sac in the seventh put the Mets ahead again, Carlos Beltran and ex-Expo-National Brian Schneider added to New York's lead with Beltran singling and scoring after an error and a wild pitch, and Schneiderman slicing a two-run single into left to make it 11-7 in NY's favor. Cristian Guzman hit his second HR of the game in the eighth, a three-run blast for The Guzzzz's third-fourth-and-fifth RBI's, to draw DC within one at 11-10, before David Wright put the game out of reach with a two-run blast off "Wild" Joel Hanrahan in the Mets' eighth that leaves NY up for good at 13-10.
-- Dukes ends the day 2 for 4, with 2 runs scored, a double, a HR and an RBI. Guzman's 2 HR's give him 9 in '08, the most he's hit in a season since 2002, and the second-highest total of his career. (#1 - Guzman's 10 HR's in '01)...Wil Nieves goes 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Kory Casto's 1 for 3 with 2 RBI's, and Ryan Zimmerman is 1 for 5 with a double and 1 RBI..."Opening Night" Odalis Perez gets hit hard and exits early, followed by Levale Speigner, Garrett Mock and Mike Hinckley who combine for 3.0 scoreless before Saul Rivera and Joel Hanrahan surrender the lead and the game to the Mets.
Nationals now 56-90. (Countdown To 100 Losses Stands At...10.)
Federalbaseball.com In USA TODAY Sports Weekly...
Earlier this week I conducted a quick email interview with USA TODAY sports writer Devin Clancy which appears in the September 10-16 2008 edition of USA TODAY Sports Weekly, (featuring Carolina Panthers Rookie Jonathan Stewart on the cover and now on newsstands). In Mr. Clancy's column entitled, "Bloggin' Baseball", I respond to four questions, (which I'll list below for anyone who'd like to provide their own responses) in what Mr. Clancy describes as, "...a season-long series of Q&A's with bloggers who cover teams in the news."
(ed. note - "The article isn't online yet, but when it is you can probably find it HERE...so I'll scan it and get it up for some off-day reading as soon as possible tomorrow, til then, why not give the questions a shot yourself? Put your answers in the Comments section:
1) What made you want to blog about the Nationals? (Or read Nationals blogs if you don't write.)
2) What are the positives coming out of this season?
3) What's your opinion of Nationals Park?
4) If you could change one thing about the team's management what would it be?
Next Game: Friday September 12th, 7:10 pm EST against the Florida Marlins. Shairon Martis vs Scott Olsen.