Saturday, May 26, 2012

Joey's Post Game: Shuttin' 'Em Out & Sluggin' 'Em Out

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the Mets game against the San Diego Padres.  As you can see from the photo to the left, I had great seats so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend the game.  Plus, it was Rusty Staub Bobblehead Day at Citi Field.  How could I miss that, especially since Rusty Staub has had a dual career I'd love to have, going from being an outstanding baseball player to becoming a successful restaurateur?  (Side note:  I know Citi Field already has Blue Smoke, but they really need a "Rusty's Ribs" stand, similar to Camden Yards' "Boog's BBQ" joint.)

Before my mind starts to wonder and I start talking about food, let's move on to the game recap, a game that featured Johan Santana's finest start since returning from his year-long injury sabbatical and a surprising display of power from unexpected sources.

The Mets jumped out to an early lead on the Padres, scoring four first-inning runs off starter Clayton Richard.  The big blow came off the bat of Scott Hairston, who launched a three-run homer into the Party City Deck.  Two batters later, Vinny Rottino gave another souvenir to the party people in the house.  His first big league homer in 241 career at-bats gave the Mets and Johan Santana a 4-0 lead.

It wasn't the first time the Mets gave Santana an early 4-0 lead, as just last Monday, Santana was spotted a four-run lead, only to give it all back to the Pirates in a game the Mets eventually lost, 5-4.  Needless to say, I wasn't as confident as I'd normally be in a Santana start.  Before too long, Johan gave me all the confidence I needed.

 Johan Santana pees excellence.  He also throws a wicked changeup.

Through the first six innings, Santana allowed only two hits, all while maintaining a low pitch count.  No Padre batter reached second base until the seventh inning, but by then, Santana had already declared himself as San Diego's padre.

Despite Santana's dominance, the Mets were unable to extend their 4-0 lead.  That all changed in the eighth inning.

First, Ike Davis continued to show signs of breaking out of his slump, lacing an RBI double to center off former Met Dale Thayer.  Then Mike Nickeas came to the plate.  Prior to his eighth inning at-bat, Nickeas was the proud owner of 20 major league hits and a .230 career slugging percentage.  Both numbers ranked behind his battery mate, Johan Santana, who had 38 career hits and a .240 lifetime slugging percentage entering today's game.

But with one swing of the bat, Nickeas put the final nail in the Padres' coffin, blasting a grand slam to left to give the Mets a 9-0 lead.  It was the first grand slam at Citi Field since August 1, 2009, when Angel Pagan slammed the Diamondbacks with a four-run blast.  (Coincidentally, that was the first post-game recap I ever did for this site, which you can read by clicking here.)

Mike Nickeas hits a slam, then gets slammed with a shaving cream pie to the face after the game.

Nickeas' blast was the salsa on the chicken nachos, putting the kibosh on the San Diego Padres.  All that was left was one more inning by Johan Santana, who was looking for his first shutout since August 2010.  Three Friars up, three Friars down, and with only 96 pitches, Santana's shutout victory was complete.

The Mets slugged three home runs today, accounting for eight of the nine runs scored against the Padres.  At the same time, Johan Santana shut down what passes for San Diego's offense, keeping them off the scoreboard without breaking a sweat on a sweltering day at the ballpark.  The Mets were shuttin' 'em out and sluggin' 'em out today at Citi Field.  What a great day to be a Mets fan!

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