San Diego-The New York Mets knew they needed to win their series with the San Diego Padres to avoid talk of a second half swoon beginning. The Mets have had their troubles at PETCO Park over the years, winning only one series in the 11 years that the park has been open. Today's game was a fantastic pitcher's duel that saw Padres' starter Orasimer Despaigne carry a no hitter into the eighth inning. The Mets (46-52) managed to break up the no-no and tie the game in the eighth, but the Padres (43-55) got the last laugh as they walked off with a 2-1 win in the bottom of the ninth.
This game was defined by pitching. Zack Wheeler had a very strong outing for the Mets, giving up only a solo home run to Yasmani Grandal in the fourth inning to give the Padres a 1-0 lead. That would be the only run Wheeler allowed on the day, as he pitched six innings and scattered eight hits and one walk while striking out seven. While Wheeler was great, Despaigne was even better. Despaigne fooled the Mets for six innings, mixing his pitches very effectively and allowing only one walk and hitting a batter for the Mets' only two baserunners.
The tone of the game changed in the seventh inning, when the Mets finally got Despaigne to work a bit. Despaigne hit Lucas Duda with one out, and after getting the second out of the frame he walked Bobby Abreu and Juan Lagares to load the bases. Ruben Tejada came up as the tying run and grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning, but Despaigne's pitch count had risen to nearly 100 pitches. Despaigne recorded the first two outs in the eighth, but finally lost his no hitter when Daniel Murphy doubled to put the tying run in scoring position. David Wright then snuck a single past Alexi Amarista to plate Murphy and tie the game at one. Despaigne came out of the game at that point in favor of lefty Alex Torres, who singled to move the tying run to second base. Kyle Quackenbush then came in and got Travis d'Arnaud to strike out to end the frame.
The Padres nearly got the lead right back in the bottom of the inning, when Wil Venable tripled to lead off the inning against Jeurys Familia. Familia pulled a Houdini act to get out of the jam, striking out a batter and walking another to set up an inning ending double play to escape unscathed. After the Mets went quietly in the top of the ninth, the Padres went to work against Vic Black. Black (L, 4-2) committed the reliever's cardinal sin by walking leadoff man Carlos Quentin. Amarista tried to sacrifice pinch runner Cameron Maybin over, but Black botched the play and allowed him to reach safely without recording an out. Black got two outs by inducing a double play ball from Chase Headley, but Maybin moved to third on the play. Josh Edgin came in to face Seth Smith, and Smith hit a high chop over the pitcher's mound that allowed Maybin to scoot home and give the Padres a 2-1 win.
The Mets are entering dangerous territory with this loss. This loss was a devastating one, and the Mets have had a bad habit of letting crushing losses snowball into four or five game losing streaks. The potential for a losing streak is here if the Mets lose focus, as the next portion of their road trip brings them to Seattle against a contending Mariners squad. It will be very important for the Mets to put the disappointment of this series behind them and rebound with a victory tomorrow night. If they can't, the team could be looking to sell players very soon.
Player of the Game:
Today's Player of the Game award goes to Padres' starter Orasimer Despaigne, who was brilliant over 7.2 innings of work. Despaigne only gave up one hit and one run while walking three and striking out five. Despaigne was let down by a lack of run support, but he easily could have won today.
Post Game Notes:
- Smith was the hero for the Padres offensively, going 3 for 5 with the game winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
- The Mets and Padres split their season series at three wins a piece.
- Jonathon Niese is back with the Mets and will be activated from the disabled list tomorrow to start in Seattle. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been moved back to the bullpen.
- Joaquin Benoit (W, 4-2) picked up the win in relief for the Padres.
After a disappointing stop in San Diego, the Mets will fly to the Pacific Northwest to begin a three game interleague series with the Seattle Mariners (52-46). Niese (5-4, 2.96 ERA) will be on the mound for the Mets, while the Mariners will send lefty Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54 ERA) to the mound. First pitch at Safeco Field is scheduled for 10:10 pm.
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