BAT, ball and glove. Johan Santana proved Tuesday night he is proficient with them all.
The Mets ace helped himself to his eighth victory of the year with seven plus strong innings of work which featured a game-tying RBI double and starting an inning-ending double play.
He was nowhere as good as his expected brilliance – in fact, he was quite poor by his standards – but at the start of a tough run in to the All Star Break he gave the Mets a chance to win.
With 24 of the next 31 games coming against teams with winning records, that’s all the banged up New Yorkers could have hoped for.
His teammates weren’t bad either. David Wright broke his 100-at bat home run drought with a 2nd inning blast to left field, switch-hitting Carlos Beltran launched a two-run blast of his own in the 3rd and Ryan Church became the first Met to hit a ball into the big red apple in the 7th.
So much for Citi Field playing large, the Phillies had four – strangely the most Johan has given up since 2007.
Pedro Feliciano produced three outs on four pitches with a pair of grounders in the 8th and Francisco Rodriguez remained perfect on save opportunities with his 16th of the year.
The Phillies, whose starters came in to tonight 8-0 in the last 10 games since Myers hit the DL, turned to starter JA Happ to try and keep the patchwork Mets lineup in the yard.
Wright took a fastball up and in over the 16ft wall in left field for his 4th home run of the season and first for more than a month to give the Mets a 1-0 lead early on in the ballgame and Beltran extended that to 3-0 in the 3rd when he hit a two-run jack to left field from the right hand side of the plate.
I guess Citi Field is a band box now, right?
The Phillies fought back in the 4th inning with back-to-back two-out home runs off of Santana. Ryan Howard dispatched a high offering over the bullpen when Santana caught too much of the plate and Raul Ibanez followed with one over the Modell sign near the porch.
Despite getting ahead of everyone and throwing strikes, the guys in the Mets SNY booth alluded to him maybe throwing too many strikes, especially ahead in the count.
Jimmy Rollins gave the Phillies the lead in the 6th inning on a two-run blast – another bomb with two men out – on a hanging changeup, but the Mets were on the tough end of a botched call in the bottom of the 6th inning when they thought they had scored the tying run against JA Happ.
Tatis led off the inning with a double off the wall, moving to third on catcher Ruiz’s throwing error. With none out, the Phillies played back against Church to concede a run on a ball hit in the infield.
Church did his part and hit a soft one-hop to Howard who came home with a bad throw. Ruiz scooped it and cradled it and even though he didn’t have control of it and Tatis was judged to be out.
Replays showed otherwise, but it was a moot point.
Clay Condrey relieved Happ, but Omir Santos singled and Santana pulled an RBI double to right on a butcher boy fake-bunt play to tie the game.
Castillo popped out for the second out of the inning, but Alex Cora got Johan his lead back with a single through the box to make it 5-4.
Church’s solo blast made it 6-4 before Johan gave up his fourth jack of the evening to bring the Phils back to within one.
But Feliciano slammed the door in the 8th inning and K-Rod took care of business in the 9th.
It was a game played the way baseball should be played. With a month left until the break, let’s hope the Mets can produce more of the same.