By Ed Coleman
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The Mets could have been sitting in Chicago on their off-day at the .500 mark, after taking two of three from the Yankees in the first installment of the Subway Series. Coulda - woulda - shoulda. Never happened.
Instead, the Mets were left to ponder the twists and turns of a nightmarish 7th inning that saw 13 Yankees come to bat and 8 runs cross the plate. The Mets have been forced to play "small ball" with Ike Davis, David Wright and Angel Pagan all sidelined. Yet the Yankees, the ultimate slugging team - they lead the major leagues by a wide margin with 71 HR - beat the Mets at their own game to capture the day and the series.
Mike Pelfrey was three outs away from handing the ball over to Jason Isringhausen and then Frankie Rodriguez, a fairly untouchable combination of late, and also facing the bottom third of the Yankee lineup. Granted, there were enough bloopers and bleeders throughout the inning to make you gag. But Pelfrey also committed some unpardonable sins.
After Brett Gardner grounded a single right through him into centerfield, Pelfrey walked utility outfielder Chris Dickerson, just his second walk of the day, but a killer nonetheless. The only other walk was ridiculous as well, a walk to the .182 hitting Jorge Posada leading off the second inning. But Pelfrey then retired the Yankees' bottom three on a grounder and two flyouts. Not this time though.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli, in a bunting situation, was next. With the Yankees giving the Mets an out, Pelfrey proceeded to plunk Cervelli on the left shoulder as he squared to bunt. Bases loaded. Nobody out. Beginning of the end. Derek Jeter followed with a single, again right through Pelfrey and just beyond the dive of SS Jose Reyes into center, tie game at 3.
Yankee manager Joe Girardi then inserted his wacky into the inning's wackiness by bunting Curtis Granderson - second only to the amazing Jose Bautista of Toronto for home runs hit in the majors. Granderson's sacrifice worked, and Met manager Terry Collins countered by intentionally walking Mark Texeira, hoping for a ground ball to get out of the inning. Alex Rodriguez was next, the ground ball came, the only problem was it was topped down the 3B line into no-man's land, run scores, Yankees lead, game over. Despite his weakest RBI yet, A-Rod is now 6-8 with 19 ribbies following an intentional walk to Texeira. Five more runs would score on three more hits, two of them bloops into left, but the damage was done. Yankees win - a golden opportunity for the Mets goes by the board.
Pelfrey's line does not indicate how well he pitched for most of his outing. But it still is his 4th loss of the season, all on the road. Even though the game was in New York, it was not at CitiField, and Pelfrey is now 1-4 with an 8.58 ERA in 6 road starts this year, continuing a career trend. Contrast that to his 4 starts at home where he's 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. And even though the Mets have done a respectable job winning series thus far this season, not so in the Subway variety. Sunday's loss now makes it 3-10 in Subway Series rubber (or deciding) games for the Mets. Nine of those have been played at new or old Yankee Stadium - the Mets are 0-9. Ouch!
It might be a good idea to have a high-profile publicity piece written about you when you are being battered and besieged financially from all sides like Met ownership is at the present time. But if you do - you best mind your P's and Q's - and throw-away comments - at all times. Fred Wilpon has some embarrassing descriptions of his star players to explain away after the release of the lengthy story about him in the New Yorker. Look, Carlos Beltran is more than likely in the final 2 months of his Met run, so what's done is done. But Jose Reyes, and whether he stays or goes, is still very much a hot-button topic with Met fans, and you have to wince when you see that in print. And David Wright - who has always done the "Wright" thing when it comes to the Mets both on and off the field - doesn't need any back-handed compliments thrown his way, especially those he has to respond to while making his way to Los Angeles to have his bad back examined.
We have all said or thought similar things about these and other Met players currently or in the past. It's just that if you're the owner of the Mets, you can't be caught voicing them out loud for publication. Wright responded earlier on Monday by saying - "Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times. There is nothing more productive that I can say at this time." As usual, Wright is right on. I've known Fred a long time, and have always found him to be a fair and good person. At the same time, if you have nothing productive to say about a person, better off saying nothing at all. On or off the record. Period. Amen.
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