Mets Lineup, With Bay, Dominates Astros, 9-1

Published on: 22nd April, 2011

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Mets beat Astros
Mets Lineup, With Bay, Dominates Astros, 9-1  | read this item

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New York – The Mets came into tonight’s game against the Astros on a season-long bender, having earned their way to owning the worst record in baseball, 5-13.  Not only were they desperate for a win, they were desperate for some sort of spark to get their team and yes, their organization back on a winning track.
 
Enter Jason Bay and Terry Collins. And, enter one crafty lefty in Chris Capuano.

When it was all said and done, enter a Mets 9-1 win, snapping a seven-game home losing streak, and once more giving them hope of turning around this under-performing season of theirs. 
 
Bay did it by finally being healthy enough to be a player again. Collins put him in the fifth slot in the lineup and the benefits were immediately seen, enabling other hitters to move into their more appropriate roles.

Collins did it in just the opposite of ways, getting himself kicked out of the game, just eight pitches in, as most of the Mets home crowd were still being seated. 

And, Capuano did it in a way Mets fans haven’t seen in their starting pitching so far, by throwing strikes and locating all of his pitches. 
 
Bay, mired on the disabled list since March after pulling a rib cage muscle during spring training, got his first game action of this season and his first since July 25th of last season (concussion), when Collins penciled his name into the fifth slot in the lineup tonight and told him to go play left field, the jobs he was initially signed to perform when he put his name on the dotted line of a four-year, 66 million dollar contract.  
 
His presence in the lineup allowed Ike Davis, still just a second-year player, to move to a more comfortable sixth slot in the lineup, where he in fact, clubbed a tape measure bomb of a homer into the black seats over the center field wall.  Bay, a proven major league run producer (prior to joining the Mets) has enough of a pedigree to make sure opposing pitchers don’t pitch around David Wright or Carlos Beltran in their third and fourth slots, respectively.
 
Bay hit a ground-rule double and later blooped another short fly ball toward the right field line that was dropped and kicked into the right field corner by Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, allowing Bay to circle the bases for a rare four-base error in the eighth inning to give the Mets a big lift and a little levity in their dugout, something that’s been missing most of this season. He went one for four and scored two runs.
 
“Jason Bay is an important part of this team,” Collins said. “When you see him walk into the clubhouse and you see guys coming over to talk baseball with him, that tells you the influence he has. In the dugout, guys were talking with him about pitches and the game. It’s really good to have him back.”
 
Collins didn’t hang around too long to watch this win as he got into it with home plate umpire, Doug Eddings on a pitch that looked like it was a strikeout of the Astros’ second place hitter, Angel Sanchez. Eddings had ruled Mets catcher, Mike Nickeas had dropped a two-strike foul tip. Replays clearly showed Nickeas made the catch without the tipped foul hitting the ground. Collins came out to inquire the nature of Eddings’ call and was sent packing within seconds.
 
“I stood out in the parking lot so I’d be cold like everyone else and listened to the game on the radio,” Collins said afterward.  “Major league umpires are the best in the world and they don’t make many mistakes. I just wanted to get the call right.”
 
Although Collins denied putting any thought behind his ejection as a way to kick-start his struggling team, which had lost 12 of their last 14 games, the wily, 61-year old manager might have had that very intention up his sleeve.  In any event, he left the team in the hands of bench coach, Ken Oberkfell, who got to witness the Mets best-played game of the season from the catbird’s seat in the dugout. 
 
Capuano sailed through the first two innings before David Wright threw away a ground ball by Astros pitcher J.A. Happ, putting the ninth place hitter on second base. He followed that with a walk to leadoff man, Michael Bourn. With one out, Capuano got himself out of the jam when he caught a line-drive off the bat of the #2 batter, Angel  Sanchez, doubling off Happ at second and getting out of the inning.
 
Capuano was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets, tonight.  He was solid, logging seven innings, allowing just six hits, one run, two walks, and he struck out four Astros. Oberkfell stretched him out to  100 pitches, 68 of which were strikes.
 
“He was huge, tonight,” said Collins. “You can’t replace your starting pitching getting you deep into games and setting up your bullpen so they’re used correctly.”
 
In the bottom half of the third, with one out, the Mets light-hitting backup catcher, Mike Nickeas did something no one in the ballpark expected. Nickeas, with his .182 batting average, turned on an 84 mph slider from Happ and delivered the first major league home run of his career.
 
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Wright turned on a 3-2 fastball from Happ and sent it out of the park, breaking his career-high 0 for 20 skid at the plate.  Beltran followed with a line single to center. Jason Bay, making his first start of the season while recovering from a pulled rib cage muscle, blooped a ball down the right field line that bounced in fair territory and skipped over the slanted wall in short right. With second and third, Ike Davis stepped up and Happ continued his shaky inning with a wild pitch, scoring Beltran from third. Davis then lined one out to deep left field, scoring Bay from third. The Mets actually led, 4-0.
 
The Mets tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth when Capuano turned on a pitch and hit a line drive down the right field line for a double. Reyes walked and after Pagan, still in a deep season-long slump popped out, Wright, officially out of his slumber, pumped another double into left center field, scoring Reyes and Capuano.  The Mets broke open the game, leading 6-0. 
 
Mets Notes:  Pagan left the game with a pulled muscle on his left side. The club didn’t initially say whether the injury was as a result of a collision he had in short centerfield with rookie second baseman, Justin Turner, who was just brought up from their Triple A affiliate in Buffalo to replace Brad Emaus.

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