New York – Maybe it is the mental aspect of playing at home, or it is the familiarity of playing at Citi Field. Perhaps the New York Mets still can’t determine why they play so much better at home than they do on the road after their 2-1 eleventh inning walk off win over the San Diego Padres Tuesday evening.
Last week in San Diego the Padres would victimize the Mets in their last at bat. But this is Citi Field where the Mets tied a season high ninth straight win at home, their major league leading 23rd win at home, and it was done on an Ike Davis career first game ending home run leading off the 11th.
And Mets manager Jerry Manuel may have the answer as to the fortunes of his team winning at home as opposed to losing their share of games away from Citi Field. “We’ve played extremely well here,’ said Manuel. “We’re confident here.” New York is 4-0 on the current home stand coming off a three-game sweep over the Florida Marlins.
Confident enough to have the rookie Davis lead off the inning and get the walk-off on a 1-1 pitch that reached the second deck to right field. It was a splitter thrown by padres’ relief pitcher Edward Mujica, (2-1) who got the loss.
“I was trying to hit the ball in the gaps somewhere and maybe get to second base and have someone bunt me over,” said Davis about the situation who was mobbed by teammates at home plate after running the bases..
“He hung the splitter. I saw it pretty early and put a good spin on it.” It was the 7th home run of the season for the Mets rookie who had been struggling at the plate, batting .196 over his last 12 games.
Before the home run it was another interesting game at home for the Mets. Also another impressive outing for starter Mike Pelfrey (8-1) who did not figure in the decision after allowing one run on five hits He became the first Mets pitcher this season to go nine innings.
The only run allowed by Pelfrey was in the first inning, an RBI double to Adrian Gonzalez. Pelfrey over his last five starts has a 1.19 ERA and has pitched with confidence, finally becoming a pitcher the Mets got when they drafted him as their number one pick in 2005. Pelfrey also knows how to win at Cit Field, 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA in six starts at home this season.
He was able to keep the score tied after Jose Reyes evened things up with his second home run in the seventh, a two out drive to left that was reviewed by the umpires after the ball bounded above the orange line that runs along the wall. He managed to strand Padres runners at second base in the eighth and ninth innings that got on base with one out.
“ I looked at it that we’ve got guys at second base, so what,” said Pelfrey about keeping the score tied ,with hopes the Mets would get him a win in their half of the eighth or ninth. “I’m not going to let him score,” he said.
Manuel added about Pelfrey, “He’s now developed enough to become a good pitcher. The bullpen also kept the Mets close. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless tenth, Pedro Felicano in the 11th and Elmer Dessens (1-1) who struck out the only batter he faced earning his first win since August 26, 2007 against Washington.
“He’s come in some tough situations and given us some good outs,” commented Manuel about Dessens, now with six consecutive scoreless outings since his recall in late May.
Now if the Mets can only get wins on the road. Their next road trip after this series takes them to Baltimore and Cleveland, two of the worse teams in the American League. We’ve been in a lot of games on the road,” said Pelfrey when asked about the disparity of the Mets home and road record. “Bad breaks,” he said.
Not at home though, as the breaks and now walk off wins keep the Mets rolling at Citi Field.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]