A couple of rookie right-handers put on a pitching clinic today at Citi Field. Or perhaps it was more a case of two anemic offensive attacks. Either way, Sunday’s series finale between the Astros and Mets was a well-played contest that took on a brisk pace, right up until the ninth inning. Lucas Harrell threw seven innings for Houston, allowing only two hits and two walks while fanning seven.
Harrell was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth with the Mets leading 1-0. The way Jeremy Hefner was pitching for the Mets it looked like Ike Davis‘ fourth inning homer would be enough to carry New York to victory. Hefner entered the ninth with seven strikeouts, having held the Astros scoreless on three hits and one walk.
Jose Altuve was brought off the bench to hit for Brandon Barnes leading off the ninth. Barnes had made solid contact against Hefner with a couple of deep flyouts but Tony DeFrancesco decided it was the perfect opportunity to get his best hitter into the game. Altuve didn’t disappoint, hitting a sharp grounder up the middle that resulted in an infield hit.
Altuve then stole second despite Marwin Gonzalez swinging and missing on a hit-and-run attempt. The Astros benefited on a poor throw by Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach allowing them to put the tying run in scoring position. Shoppach’s throw came in on a bounce and was well wide of the bag on the shortstop side. A good throw would have nailed Altuve.
Gonzalez then lifted a fly ball down the leftfield line that Lucas Duda got a glove on but couldn’t quite handle. Altuve scored the tying run on what was ruled a double for Gonzalez, his second of the day. Lucas Harrell was now off the hook for the loss and Hefner was suddenly in trouble. Mets skipper Terry Collins then removed Hefner from the game, bringing in Robert Carson to face left-handed hitting Brett Wallace.
Carson dodged a bullet when Wallace scorched a line drive that was caught by first baseman Ike Davis. Carson was then replaced on the mound by Bobby Parnell. Ben Francisco greeted Parnell with a base hit to leftfield and third base coach Dave Clark waived Gonzalez home in an attempt to plate the go-ahead run. Duda and Shoppach managed to redeem themselves for their earlier lapses by teaming up to nail Marwin at the plate. Duda’s throw was on the money and Shoppach did an incredible job of blocking Gonzalez off the plate. Marwin argued the call and was quickly ejected by home plate ump David Rackley. Slow-motion replay showed that Gonzalez was indeed tagged before he could reach the dish.
After an intentional walk to Scott Moore, Tyler Greene grounded out to end the threat and send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied at one. With the heart of the Mets order coming up, Wilton Lopez took the mound for his second inning of work. David Wright started the inning with a flyout to Francisco in rightfield. Ike Davis followed Wright to the plate and Lopez missed the strike zone with his first two offerings. Davis then lifted a high fly to right that sent Francisco all the way back to the wall. Ben jumped up, extending his glove over the fence but the ball came down just beyond his reach. Ike Davis was a hero, hitting his second homerun of the day and propelling the Mets to a walkoff win.
The 2-1 victory gave the reeling Mets their first home series win since the all-star break. It also marked the final time the Astros would play in Queens as a National League franchise. The Astros now travel home to Houston for a six-game homestand. Matt Cain and the Giants get the homestand started Tuesday at 7:05 CDT after an off day on Monday. Cain, who threw a perfect game against the Astros earlier this season in San Francisco, will be opposed by Bud Norris.