That’s what I have tonight. What a weird, unsatisfying game. R.A. Dickey debuted with the Mets and made an outstanding play on a bunt attempt by the lead off hitter, Nyjer Morgan (yeah, that guy). It got better from there: Dickey had a no-hitter going until the bottom of the fourth, and Angel Pagan hit an inside the park* home run in the top of the 4th to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
*Quick question: if you were going to abbreviate that term, how would you do so? I went with ITPHR, but several tweeps went with ISTPHR. Now, inside is one word: I spell-checked it and everything. And even if you were to misconstrue it, couldn’t it stand for “In The Park Home Run”? I just don’t see what the “S” adds to the equation.
The Natinals scored two off of Dickey in the bottom of the fourth, but not before Pagan made an extra-base hit and ITPHR (I’m not giving up on it) saving shoe-top catch. Oh, but it gets better: in the bottom of the fifth with Livan Hernandez on second and Morgan on first, Christian Guzman hit a flair into center field that Pagan snared, inches from the deck. It was clearly an out, but the umpire was slow to call it. Pagan was so close to second, and moving with a good head of steam, that he easily could have doubled-up Hernandez on second. Instead, he decided to initiate the double play by throwing the ball clear over second base. Henry Blanco caught the ball and threw it to Jose Reyes, who fired it over to Ike Davis to complete the Mets’ first triple play since 2002. It was your standard 8-2-6-3 triple play and somehow, ESPN.com rewarded Pagan with a hockey assist on the play. Seems fitting to me.
Please allow me a brief digression. In the span of two innings, Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park home run, possibly prevented another, and initiated a triple play. As many of my tweeps tweeted and re-tweeted, that was the first time since 1955 that the same player had an ITPHR and started a triple play (the immortal Ted Kazanski, of the Phillies, was the last to achieve the feat). I’m on record defending Pagan’s baserunning so I don’t want to belabor the point, but I am sick and tired of the semi-popular misconception that he has an “inferior Baseball IQ”. The guy can flat out play. Does he make mental mistakes? Of course. But his athleticism and production far outweigh any gaffes he makes on the field. Furthermore, have you never made a mistake while working? Of course you have. But I’d like to think (and I hope this is true for all of you) that any mistakes you make on the job are more than offset by the contributions you make. If your boss can overlook them and recognize your production, shouldn’t we do the same for Pagan? Enough with the nebulous criticisms of his “Baseball IQ”. The guy can play, and we’re lucky to have him in Carlos Beltran’s abscence.
Whew. I had to get that off my chest. Anyway, the Mets rallied to tie the score in the top of the sixth, and Dickey induced a double play to end the inning, preserving the tie. Then, Jerry Manuel happened.
First, he pinch hit for Dickey after Henry Blanco singled to lead-off the inning. In and of itself, that wouldn’t have been a bad move, however, Manuel had Alex Cora bunt Blanco over to second. Dickey couldn’t have done that? Granted, he’d thrown 98 pitches to that point, but the bottom of the order was waiting in the second. It was a waste of a pitcher AND a bench player (no matter how poorly Cora has been hitting this year, he could have been saved for later). Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo made quick work of the rally facing rookie Drew Storen (making his major league debut), but the real fun would start in the bottom of the inning.
In rapid succession, Manuel went to Raul Valdes (who was ineffective), Fernando Nieve (who was only slightly less ineffective) and Oliver Perez (who, by comparison, was startlingly effective). The Nats quickly scored three runs and, despite a Fernando Tatis homer in the top of the ninth, the game was over.
R.A. Dickey had a quality start in his Mets’ debut and Angel Pagan had a career game, the kind of game we all dreamed about when we were in little league. The Mets still blew it. It was exciting, and fun while it lasted, but it was all for naught. Kind of like the Mets’ 2010 season.