Finally, after 3 attempts, I have my first Mets win at Citi Field.
That's not to say that this was an especially pretty victory for the Mets, but, much like any victory, I'll take it. Particularly at the expense of the Phillies.
My third game (but 4th trip) to Citi Field seemed to finally have a much more normal, traditional feel to it than the first two games I attended. El Guapo and I met at our usual Union Square meeting spot (convenient to both of our offices) and trained our way out there. In through the Rotunda, up via the escalators. We toyed with the idea of a pre-game drink at the Promenade Club. This was, in fact, my first trip into the Promenade Club, which features, among other things, a full bar. I'm not sure how much a cocktail runs there, but we decided against that. Back out to the Promenade food court, where I returned to my favorite Shea standby, the Sausage Sandwich. There's two stands out there in the court, and so I went to one and found they were only serving sausage patties, rather than the links I was used to. I didn't realize, at the time, that the other grill had links. Well, whatever. I accepted my patty and ate it. Good enough, but it's not the same as the traditional Sausage Sandwich I'm used to. Next time, pay closer attention to what's on the grill before I order.
El Guapo was musing as to whether or not the Subway featured the $5 footlong that's so ubiquitously advertised wherever you look. There's even a $5 footlong ad in the stadium. I still fail to see the utility in having a Subway at Citi Field altogether. But the Citi Field Subway does not, in fact, offer a $5 footlong. Most of their footlongs are $7.50. There's a little note on the stand that says something to the effect of "Dear Mets fans, this Subway does not participate in the $5 footlong promotion." El Guapo seemed put out and got a hot dog instead. He has become a fan of the Toppings bars that are all over the place (and which I feel will be the impetus for a food fight before all is said and done). He's tried a few different combinations, including raw onion, jalapeno and sauerkraut. At least that's what I think he had. I couldn't really tell, between the mishmash he had and the onion and peppers spilling off my sandwich. We stood at one of the tables and ate, another Citi Field first, rather than walking up to the seats. The crowd out there was fairly thin, and remained so throughout the game. I think most of the people still seem to spend their time waiting on line at the high-end food stands downstairs.
We both seemed to be in one of our overly-analytical moods during the game, or at least our discussion appeared to indicate such early on. Generally, we can cover a full range of topics over the course of a game, and depending on the situation or the importance of the game, it can have very little to do with Baseball altogether. Tonight, it was all Baseball, right from the start. Pelfrey battled through a tough 1st that saw him give up a parachute single to Rollins and and a long double to Howard. The inning appeared to be unraveling on him, but for Raul Ibanez helping him out by swinging at a 3-0 pitch and grounding out to end the inning.
That meant it was Jamie Moyer's turn to unravel, and unravel he did. The Mets teed off on his slop, belting three HRs in the first 2 innings in a power display that seems all too rare from this team. It started when Beltran took a 3-2 "fastball" from Moyer and blasted it deep down the left field line. But he was out in front of it and it hooked foul.
"Bet he won't throw that pitch again," El Guapo remarked.
He threw the next pitch in just about the same spot. Beltran wasn't late, and the ball didn't hook foul.
2 batters later, David Wright swung and hit what appeared to me to be a rather routine fly ball to Center. Victorino appeared to be toddling back, and the ball kept carrying and carrying until it landed all the way out in the black, to the left of the Amorphous Apple for another HR, a real shot considering how difficult it's been to hit HRs to that part of the stadium. Thus, it appeared, the rout was on. Reyes followed up with a shot in a similar spot to Beltran's in the 2nd. In the 3rd, Castro doubled to the base of the wall in Center. By time Moyer made his exit, to a standing ovation in some parts of the park, it was 7-1 Mets, and a laugher seemed imminent.
So, of course, the Mets stopped hitting and the Phillies pecked and scraped. It seemed innocuous enough. Pelfrey managed to settle down after the 1st and was economical, if nothing else. He wasn't especially dominant, not by any stretch. Philly was hitting him, but he was mostly giving up singles and following them up by getting some double play balls on the ground. He wasn't striking out anyone. But he was chugging along, as well as you could expect. A run in the 4th, and a monster HR by Howard into the Mets bullpen in the 6th, and Pelfrey was done after 7 innings that could be classified as "Solid," if nothing else. Turn the ball over to the bullpen, and let's get out of here with a nice, tidy victory and a sweep of the 2-game series.
Things then got a little contentious in the 8th.
Again, it started innocuously. In the bottom of the 7th, Clay Condrey came high and tight on David Wright, knocking him down. Nobody seemed to pleased about that. I said that I was going to run over to the Toppings Bar and throw some sauerkraut at Condrey. This led to El Guapo and I discussing Hot Dog toppings through the rest of the inning. I was talking about how I like mustard and red onion. I must have struck a nerve, because after the 7th inning, he went downstairs and got a hot dog with mustard and red onion. While he was away, things started to go haywire. It started with the crowd. The Mets/Phillies crowds are always lively, which I guess is a nice way of saying that they don't get along especially well, and when you mix in some alcohol, well, you know what can happen. A good looking fistfight broke out in the seats in Center Field. It appeared as though someone had someone else in a headlock, or some such nonsense. It was broken up. At the plate Shane Victorino appeared struck out by Feliciano, but all of a sudden they're calling a foul tip. Sure enough, Victorino singles off Wright. Utley follows by chopping one to Castillo, who moves to tag Victorino. Victorino eludes the tag and Castillo throws Utley out. Victorino is then caught in a rundown and appears to briefly tap Reyes as they pass each other. Victorino being Victorino, he goes flailing wildly before continuing to run, and Reyes gets called for Obstruction. This umpiring crew (featuring our favorite, Angel Hernandez, and the dopey Welke brothers) had been getting on Jerry Manuel's nerves all night. Out he came, for the 2nd time in the inning and the 3rd time in the game. The crowd was behind him. Jerry started yelling and waving his arms and bobbing his head, sort of like how Bobby Valentine used to do. Predictably, Manuel was tossed. Victorino remained at 2nd. Feliciano got Howard to ground out, which would have ended the inning if the Mets had been able to get Victorino out any one of those two chances, and, predictably, Jayson Werth followed with a 2-run HR to make the game 7-5, and now quite hairy. More fistfights seemed to be breaking out, and I thought a sauerkraut fight was imminent. Maybe it happened someplace I couldn't see. I don't know. If there was ever a time for it, it was now.
Bottom of the 8th, and the entire Right Field corner is chanting "JAY-SON WERTH-LESS!" Fistfights erupt in the Pepsi Porch and the Left Field landing. Those of us who remained sane and sober were cautious. This sort of game has happened to us before. Francisco Rodriguez came in for the 9th, attempting to get his 4th Save in 4 days. He could have probably used a rest. But, in a game like this, no rest can be had. Of course, he got the first 2 out. Of course, he walked Matt Stairs on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be more than just a little borderline. Of course, Jimmy Rollins was up next. Of course, all the Philly fans got up and left with 2 outs...What, to beat the traffic?
Rollins popped out. The game clocked in at a breezy 2:53 that felt like about 3:59, most of it packed into the last two innings. Phew!
And just think, these two teams still have 14 more games against each other. Hell, I still have tickets to 2 more games against them on my plan. Can't wait to see how those two play out. Entertaining might not do it enough justice.