Improbable because as late as the 7th inning the Pads trailed 7-1. Hard fought because little was handed to the Friars in this game. They did the old fashioned way – yep , they earned it! Enduring because it took about 6 hours from start to finish and included two rain delays, but man was it worth it. Savory because of all the reasons just mentioned, along with the excitement of witnessing some truly heroic performances and moments to grab this victory in the midst of the trade rumor madness that has surrounded the organization and penetrated the clubhouse in recent days.
As magical as the finish was for this contest, the start was anything but. The Mets took the early lead as Cashner allowed a lead off double that eventually scored. 1-0…no big deal. He settled down after that and very effectively posted zeros on the board for the next three innings. The problem though was that the offense was getting stymied by Niese, and were blanked for the first five innings.
The Mets started to open things up in the 5th when Granderson got a Cashner breaking ball away, got his arms extended and drove the ball into the right field seats for a 3-run shot. 4-0 Mets…much bigger deal.
The Pads offense finally showed some life in the 6th when Kemp drove in Melvin Upton, Jr. who walked earlier to make it a 6-1 deficit. The momentum was immediately halted, though, as the Mets plated three more runs in their half of the 6th on a long ball by Uribe, and 2 unearned runs that were gifted when a routine double play ball was fumbled. It was 7-1 Metropolitans at that point, and all that appeared to be left to wonder was if the final outs would be made before the looming thunderstorms hit.
Enter Yonder Alonso, who came off the bench with the right handed Parnell now pitching for the Mets. Yo’s been hot and that continued as he opened the 7th with an opposite field double. Wallace then walked in his pinch hit appearance. Couple runners on, one out…ok that’s fine, but the boys are still down by six. Upton, Jr. then singled to load the bases and all of a sudden it was a legitimate rally. Terri Collins felt the same way and brought in his 98 MPH throwing set up man, Robles, to put an end to it. Norris had a different plan, though, and after missing the first two heaters he saw he caught up to the third one and crushed it into the left field stands for a grand slam!!! Game changer, and all of a sudden the Pads only trailed by two.
The score remained 7-5 into the 9th, and Mets closer, Familia, quickly retired the first two batters he faced. Then the magic started. Remember the thunderstorms that everyone was waiting for? Well they arrived just as Norris was starting his at bat. Wind, rain, more rain, all within a mater of seconds. He could have easily swung at the first fastball away to end the at bat and get everyone out of the downpour, but he patiently took it for strike one. Then the clincher…big lightning! Game suspended instantly, tarps quickly rolled out, all with an 0-1 count. Really?
As fast and as furious as the storm arrived, it vanished and 40 minutes after play was halted Norris was back in the box, Familia back on the mound, and the Pads down to their final two strikes. Familia’s first pitch was a nasty slider on the outside corner, strike two. Friars down to their final strike. Tough pitch delivered and fouled off. Another out pitch offered and again Norris got a piece to stay alive. Another good fastball fired by Familia and this time Norris fights it off flaring safely into right field for his fifth hit of the day to keep the Pads hopes alive.
Then the rain returned. As it started falling harder and harder Kemp pulled a ball through the left side to put the tying run on base, and bring Upton to the plate. The guy that could put the Pads ahead on one pitch. Granted it’s windy, and the rain is starting to come down really heavy, so even if he does hit the ball hard it will be tough to get it out of CitiField, right? Wrong! J-Up got a pitch out over and drove it opposite field over the wall for a 3-run blast to give the Pads the lead for the first time all day. The improbable comeback was complete, and the Friar dugout was going nuts! The rain continued to pick up and after the next out was recorded to end the inning again play was stopped.
This time, however, instead of the grounds crew quickly and efficiently getting the tarp in place they stumbled and fumbled their way into a tarp disaster that left the field exposed for extended minutes as the rain poured down on it. By the time they got it on the infield dirt was flooded. Of course, if the game was cancelled at that point the score goes back to the last completed inning which would mean Upton’s HR was null and void and the Mets would walk away with the win….huh…bad tarp job….shady.
Over two and half hours later the field was repaired and play was resumed. All that was left was for Kimbrel to get three outs, hopefully in order to prevent Duda, who had four homers in the series already, from making it to the plate. Kimbrel held up his end of the bargain as he retired the side in order to lock down the dramatic come from behind win, and record his 30th save on the season…YES!!!
Truly a gutsy, fun, and unique come back victory to celebrate…AWESOME!
Ok, now to the gorilla in the room. No one was traded. One day left before the “deadline” and all of the baseball world is still expecting the Padres and Preller to be active. Kimbrel, Ross, and Upton are all still the most talked about to be wearing different uniforms by Saturday. The Padres front office brain trust are all on the trip and convening as they make the crucial decisions that could shape the short and long term future of the organization. Stay tuned!
Kennedy, who as a free agent next year is also on the “may move” list, is scheduled to go for the Pads in game one against the Marlins. First pitch will be thrown at 4:10 PST, and Uncle Teddy and I will be excited to have you with us for the call on the Mighty 1090!