(Long Island, NY) When you look back at the regular season, there are games that jump off the page that stand out as the ones that either killed or salvaged the campaign. After one of the most wild and wacky two-game sets all year, the Mets and Phillies played to a stalemate.
The Mets answered an 8-7 extra-inning loss with a 6-3 victory on Wednesday night. An unlikely come-from-behind win was made possible by Carlos Delgado’s two home run performance, including the tying solo shot to the opposite field in the eighth inning.
How enormous the win was cannot be measured when you think of what could have been. Turn-about is fair play, and the usually reliable Philadelphia relievers – including closer Brad Lidge – allowed a 3-2 lead to disappear. Rookie Daniel Murphy and light hitting, but hot of late Brian Schneider had key hits to break the tie. The bullpen that opened the floodgates 24 hours earlier slammed the door and a split was the result.
“You know that one game could determine who wins and loses (referring to the division),” Mets manager Jerry Manuel told reporters. “Every game is important – it’s a must-win.”
Heading into Citizen’s Bank Ballpark clinging on to the slimmest of leads in the National League East in Game One, the Mets seemed to be coasting with a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning. They had their former ace, Pedro Martinez, on the hill cruising and had knocked around the ancient Phillies southpaw, Jamie Moyer.
These are the type of games that championship clubs put away, even in a bandbox stadium. But the Phillies chipped away at Martinez and a porous Met bullpen, coming all the way back to tie the game with two out in the ninth inning and finally winning it in the 13th.
What could have been a one and a half game lead for the Mets ended up being them trailing the Phillies by one half game and the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild card hunt. That is how close the race for the postseason is in the senior circuit.
With the Mets’ win, the roles were reversed and the Mets occupied the penthouse and the Fightin’ Phils were on the outside looking in. It would behoove either team to ensure their place in the October dance by winning the division outright. The Brewers are playing well and had 77 wins heading into Wednesday night, compared to the Mets’ and Phillies’ 73. With a pitching staff consisting of a pair of aces in C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets, the Brew Crew look poised to break their playoff drought. The former American League franchise has not enjoyed the extra cash since 1982, when they lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to three.
Perhaps Martinez had a vision after the first game. “Today, they won,” he said to reporters in the locker room. “Tomorrow, maybe we’ll return the favor, and everything will be back to normal.”
In a Topsy-turvy season such as this, abnormal is normal.