Monday, April 13, 2009


The Mets tonight opened their spanking new ballpark with a slapstick performance that included their starting pitcher tripping and falling while delivering a pitch, an outfielder falling down and dropping a fly ball and reliever flinching while on the mound shaking off a sign from the catcher to balk in the deciding run. And that's just scratching the surface of the bizarre events that happened at Citi Field, where the Mets dropped a 6-5 decision to the visiting San Diego Padres.
The oddities began on Mets' starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey's second pitch, a fastball that Padres' leadoff hitter Jody Gerut (above) -- who last year hit three home runs against the Mets -- slugged into the right field stands for the first-ever home run in a regular season game at Citi Field, instantly giving the Padres a 1-0 lead. Gerut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the first hitter to lead off a game at a new ballpark with a home run for the first time since at least 1900.
Pelfrey's second inning was equally eerie. After he retired the first two Padres' hitters he tripped in mid-delivery while facing his opposite number, pitcher Walter Silva. Silva then lined Pelfrey's next pitch into right field for his first Major League hit and two batters later, scored on a two-run double by diminutive second baseman and 2006 World Series Most Valuable Player, David Eckstein.
The Padres' Adrian Gonzalez, a longtime Mets nemesis added a solo home run in the fifth inning to extend San Diego's lead to 5-1, but the Mets fought back with a game-tying rally in the bottom of the inning, capped by David Wright's three-run homer. It was Wright's first homer of the season and first by a Met at Citi Field, which prompted the new mechanical Home Run Apple to rise from its black metallic top hat beyond the center field fence.
But a mere half inning later, the Mets handed the lead -- and the game to the Padres. With reliever Brian Stokes on the mound, Luis Rodriguez launched a long fly ball to right field where Ryan Church, the usually dependable fielder, turned the wrong way and had the ball clank off of his glove for a three-base error. Pedro Feliciano was summoned to clean up the mess and he responded by getting the next two hitters out without allowing the go-ahead run to score. But while on the mound between pitches to Eckstein, Feliciano flinched while on the rubber for a balk, which sent Rodriguez home with the go-ahead run.
Then, to add insult to injury, the Mets failed in the last two innings against pitchers they cast off. Duaner Sanchez, whom the Mets released in March, set down New York 1-2-3 in the eight inning before Heath Bell -- an outspoken critic of Mets' management since his trade to San Diego following the 2006 season -- emphatically shut down the Mets in the ninth inning to earn the first save ever recorded at the new ballpark.

Winning pitcher --Mujica (1-1)
Losing pitcher -- Stokes (0-1)
2B -- Wright (2), Gerut (3), Eckstein 2, (4), Castillo (2)
Home Runs -- Gerut (1), A. Gonzalez (2), Wright (1)
RBI -- Gerut (1), Eckstein 2, (4), Giles (4), Castillo (2), A. Gonzalez (7), Murphy (3), Wright 3, (4)
Errors -- Church (1)
Balks -- Feliciano (1)
Wild Pitches -- Putz (1)
Runners left on base -- Mets 5, Padres, 9
Runners left in scoring position -- Mets 4, Padres, 3
Web gems -- Padres: Jody Gerut leaps and snares Carlos Beltran's hard hit drive while up against the center field fence in the bottom of the fourth.
METS NOTES: In what seemed like a flashback to Shea Stadium in August 1969, a stray cat at Citi Field got loose and ran from the third base line and jumped up on the screen behind home plate before scurrying into the first base stands near the Mets dugout. Church has now gone 30 plate appearances without striking out, the longest such streak of his career.


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