I guess if I was going to pick the perfect day to buzz work and go to the Mets game instead, yesterday would have been that day.
The celebrated pitching matchup of Chris Carpenter and Johan Santana was somewhat uneven, but definitely lived up to its billing. Santana wasn't sharp most of the afternoon, spending most of the day working with runners on base or behind in the count. But, true to form, Santana got the outs he needed to get and prevented the Cardinals from doing too much damage. 2 runs in 7 innings, both coming on a pair of 2-out hits. You can't ask for much more. The rest, then, would be left to chance on how the Mets offense—if such a group can be called an "offense—would fare against Carpentier.
For most of the afternoon it didn't look promising. But, for one inning, Carpenter stifled the Mets completely, allowing nothing more than a hit batsman in the 1st inning. But it was the 4th inning where the Mets were able to reach him, and it was a 2-out, 2-run double by Nick Evans that gave the Mets their slight margin of victory.
The Mets offense right now is a total Mess. They are devoid of fundamentals. I attended the game with a colleague who spent most of the game screaming, and quite literally screaming about how the Mets downfall is their inability to move runners along. It happened in the 1st, it happened in the 4th and it happened in the 8th, which, if I'm not mistaken, were the only innings the Mets had any runners on base altogether. One such instance of pushing a runner from 1st to 2nd with less than 2 outs could have meant an extra run here or there, which would be crucial in this game.
Crucial, but fortunately, not necessary.
Santana wasn't sharp, we know that. He made big pitches when he needed to, in particular to Pujols in the 2nd, who lifted a drive to left that looked real scary off the bat, and to Cheech Molina, who hit a flare into center that appeared destined for disaster before Fernando Martinez came through with his 2nd sparkling defensive play of the day, picking off the ball and ending the Cardinals threat.
Solid defense and one big hit at the right moment. Some days, that's just all you need. That was all it took for the Mets yesterday. And for Nick Evans, who was clearly good enough to make the team out of spring training, but was left off for a myriad of reasons that are meaningless now, it has to feel very redemptive for him to have been recalled after struggling in the Minors, coming up and hitting well, at least for the last few games. The Mets are dying right now for someone to come in and provide some kind of a spark somewhere in that lineup. It remains to be seen if Evans, who was uneven in his cameo appearances last season, will continue to perform well. My guess is that being recalled would spark his confidence. I don't know. But maybe he'll be that spark we need.
That other team this weekend. I'll be in attendance Sunday Night, for The Biggest Game In The Galaxy, and my first non-plan ticket game at Citi Field.