Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Mets 6, Cubs 1, 4/19/10: We Like Ike

[Editor’s note: we were going to go to Small Beast, our usual Monday night hang. But when one of the last of the great bluesmen offers you a free Mets ticket, do you say no? At the risk of becoming just another baseball blog, we offer you Ike Davis’ debut…]
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Diehard Mets fans are not an easy sell when it comes to the the promotion of a highly touted prospect, especially during such dismal times as these – so often a Timo Perez or Victor Diaz will come up, make a quick splash and then turn into…Timo Perez or Victor Diaz. Yet there wasn’t a Mets fan at the ballpark tonight who in his or her heart of hearts didn’t leave with the secret hope of one day having bragging rights to the night Ike Davis made his debut. Most impressively, in his first trip to the plate, the lefty first baseman who tore up the Grapefruit League this spring battled back from a 0-2 count and smacked a sharp single to right field. He also displayed power with a long fly to the warning track in right in the sixth, drove in a run in the seventh and nonchalantly handled a towering Alfonso Soriano pop fly – although he wasn’t able to dig an Alex Cora throw out of the dirt in the sixth, resulting in an error being charged to Cora for allowing Cubs catcher Geovany Soto to take third on pitcher Randy Wells’ infield hit.

For the first four innings, the game was a classic cold April Flushing pitchers’ duel between Wells and the Mets’ Jon Niese, the one extra-base hit being a wallop off the 415-foot sign in right – a homer anywhere else in the league – by Soriano. Wells’ slider bamboozled the Mets’ hitters until an improbable rally in the fifth. With two outs, Alex Cora singled to right, Niese muscled the ball through the left side of the infield and the free-swinging Angel Pagan was then presented with a four-pitch walk. Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot held the Mets to a single run by corralling Luis Castillo’s slow grounder behind second at the edge of the grass as Niese held at third. With the bases loaded, Wells – who also excelled at the plate, with two hits – made quick work of David Wright, whiffing him with a succession of sliders.

All but abandoning his signature curveball, Niese pitched magnificently for five and two thirds, in and out of trouble, freezing the Cubs’ lineup with a live, moving fastball. Scattering eight hits with seven strikeouts, he turned over a slim 1-0 lead to Fernando Nieve. That lead disappeared in the space of about fifty feet as Cubs centerfielder Marlon Byrd hit a Texas chop off the turf – by the time it had returned to earth, Soto, who’d walked and then gone to third on the Cora throw that Davis couldn’t dig out, had come in to tie the game. Nieve managed to stop the bleeding by getting Jeff Baker on a comebacker.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella turned over the game to rookie lefthander James Russell, who began the bottom of the seventh by plunking pinchhitter Jose Reyes, then went 2-0 on the next pinchhitter, Gary Matthews Jr. before getting him to chase a 2-2 slider out of the strike zone for the first out. The next hitter was Angel Pagan: Piniella had Jeff Samardzia warming in the bullpen but left Russell in for a matchup that looked auspicious and proved every bit as much when Pagan launched one into the seats in straightaway center for a 3-1 lead. Luis Castillo then drove a scorching opposite-field liner into the glove of an immobile Soriano and Piniella had finally seen enough.

Wright greeted Samardzia, the former Notre Dame wide receiver and Heisman candidate, with a solid single and then stole second, scoring on Jason Bay’s double off the left-centerfield wall. Lefty Sean Marshall then took over on the hill but the damage continued, a fourth run scoring on Davis’ second hit of the night and another on a wild pitch that Rod Barajas mystifyingly swung at and missed.

Jenrry Mejia held the Cubs scoreless the rest of the way with a seemingly effortless over-the-top delivery, mixing in an effective changeup to complement a fastball that clocked as high as 95 MPH on the stadium gun, catching pinchhitter Kosuke Fukodome looking at a 2-2 heater on the outside corner to end the game. Unlike at Yankee Stadium, there aren’t a lot of Fans from Hell at Mets home games; in our case, we had just the opposite seated close to where we were in the front row up in the third tier down the rightfield line. Over the course of three hours, the big guy must have had about six beers, onion rings, a footlong hot dog and something else. When he wasn’t eating, he provided a running color commentary that kept the entire section in stitches. Barajas became Rod Basura when he fanned for the first time; as the game was ending, phonetic theory came into play, specifically how to pronounce Fukodome’s last name (try it – it got better as it went along).

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment