You know it's been a long game when you hear exchanges like this:
Gary: Not to get ahead of myself, but the last time the Mets played into the 18th inning was that famous July 4th game. They haven't gone longer than 17 inning since.
Keith: Want a Frito?
It was that kind of game. Pretty soon, we were being treated to shots of Keith with towels draped over his head (courtesy of the attractive bespectacled blonde Stage Manager), feeding Fritos to stuffed animals, and several peeks at the Giant Cow billboard that appears to be draped over a foul pole at Juicy Juice Park before the Mets finally closed out this ridiculously extended game as Wagner was able to retire Mark "Get Back" Loretta for the final out. Just barely.
But let's look a little closer, since it is quite rare that the Mets play 17 innings. In fact, the last time this happened was September 29th, 1993 (and I know I'm breaking my promise to never mention 1993 again), in a game that saw Bobby Jones pitch 10 shutout innings.
Let's give some credit to the Bullpen, who broke out of their recent funk and threw 10 shutout innings. Heilman, Joe Smith, Feliciano, Mota, Sele, even Schoeneweis for once came in and got key outs. Got out of jams and kept the game going. And worked long too. Heilman threw 1.2 innings before Feliciano came in to strike out Berkman in the 9th. Mota worked 2 innings. Schoeneweis came in for the 12th and didn't blow it. Joe Smith relieved Schoeneweis and got through 2.1 innings. Sele worked 2 shutout innings. Wagner warmed up about 7 times before finally getting in in the last of the 17th and closing out the game.
And it was a small miracle that the Mets were able to muster the offense to win the game. The defense was there all night, featuring Beltran stealing the show, first by making a leaping grab of a near-HR off the bat of Lee in the 11th, and then doing his best Endy impersonation in the 14th, making the Kate Bush catch, Running Up That Hill to rob Luke Scott of a sure game-winning hit, running full tilt, making the catch and then tumbling to the ground, rather than falling flat on his face as most unsuspecting outfielders have in the past. Then in the 15th, with 2 on and 1 out, Sele gets the ground ball just perfectly to Wright, on the bag at 3rd for the easy DP.
The Mets offense was pretty impotent most of the evening, striking out 16 times, and stranding 13 men, 9 after they had tied the game in the 7th inning. 17 hits and 15 were singles. But yet they made their last 3 hits count the most, after Brian Moehler (who for some reason is still in the league) walked Reyes, Gotay managed to punch one, a perfect non-hit-and-run hit-and-run play, into the vacated hole as Reyes broke for second and went to 3rd, and Beltran finally coming up with the big hit that has eluded him pretty much all season long, driving home the lead run, and Wright following with the insurance run.
I'm exhausted, and I didn't even turn the game on until the 14th inning. Who knew? Thank God it's only July. If this game had been in October, I probably would have had a heart attack about 4 times over. The Mets should have won this game about 6 times and could have just as easily lost it another 6 times. But you can't not feel good about a win like this, especially considering how much of a must-win game this really was, given all the bad vibes and the Reyes-Bashing going around following Friday night's debacle. Take this game and run with it, and maybe in a month we can look back and say that this was the turning point.