Some years ago, author pat Conroy wrote a book called “South of Broad.” It drew a lot of attention on a web site where books for the blind are reviewed. Last night, in a period of about 4 hours the Mets and Phillies packed more unlikely drama into one game than you’ll find in Conroy’s pretend vision of Charleston, South Carolina. You need to start with the ball park itself, which can and often does have a profound effect on how the game is played. Citizens’ Bank Park, located east of Broad Street is a far cry from the sterile mistake that was Veterans’ Stadium. While the dimensions appear normal, the park “Plays small,” meaning home runs fly out of it. An early lead isn’t as safe as it would be in, say Petco Park in San Diego or even Citi Field in New York. The Phillies proved that by gaining a 5-0 lead in the third inning, and blowing it by the fifth. The Mets chipped away with two in the fourth, on a home run by Travis D’Arnaud. An inning later, a two-run shot by Yoenis Cespedes and a solo home run by Kelly Johnson evened accounts at 5-5. It was a battle from there on. Inning after inning, the Mets looked like the Mets of June and July, going 0 for 13 with men in scoring position.
You couldn’t sell the story of the 13th inning to a Hollywood script writer. You’d be laughed out of the office. Relief pitcher Carlos Torres lead off the inning. Up until then he was 0 for 34 at the plate in his career. To the astonishment of what fans were left as the witching hour approached, Torres legged out an infield single, then made it from first to third when the next hitter Curtis Granderson singled. Daniel Murphy stepped up looking for a shot of redemption after grounding into a double play two innings earlier. Sometimes baseball does provide a second chance and Murphy took his, driving a double that brought both Torres and Granderson home. He took third on the first of 3 errors the Phillies would commit in that inning. The other two were committed on the same play by ill-fated pitcher Hector Neris, who for the entire series had played the role of Peter McNeely to the Mets’ Mike Tyson. Neris bobbled a grounder by David Wright, (one error,) then compounded his folly by airmailing the throw to first, giving Wright a free ticket to second base. From there he easily scored on a hit by Michael Conforto. The only part of this game lacking in drama was the bottom of the 13th. Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who all too often has provided unwanted drama in the last month had a far easier inning than usual setting the Phillies aside with only a hit and cementing a 9-5 Mets win, a four-game sweep of the series and their seventh consecutive win.
Now it’s back home to Citi Field for the Mets where they host the Red Sox this weekend. Matt Harvey, aka The Dark Knight faces Boston’s Henry Owens in tonight’s series opener. The Sunday game will be aired nationally on TBS, allowing the country to see Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The locals call him Thor, but that’s another column. The best series matchups of the weekend occur further west. The Astros and Twins get together in Minneapolis, while the Cubs invade Chavez Ravine to face the Dodgers and the Cardinals face the Giants in San Francisco. The final game of the Cubs-Dodgers series is the Sunday night game on ESPN. It’s the second week in a row the boys from Bristol have given the fans a game worth watching on Sunday night, but that’s just how I see it.0