July 25th, 2011
by Andrew Rizzi

The tying run was in scoring position. The winning run was on 1st. The bases were loaded with 2 outs, and the Mets held a slim 4-2 lead. The capacity crowd in Cincinnati was on its feet as Brandon Phillips tried to play hero. But the veteran closer Jason Isringhausen buckled down and struck out Phillips on 3 pitches to end the game, preserve the win for R.A. Dickey, and pick up career save number 296.

It was an entertaining game to watch from start to finish between 2 even teams. The Mets and Reds both entered the night with identical 50-51 records, and it was nothing but zeros early as a pitcher’s duel emerged between Dickey and Mike Leake.

It was a well deserved 5th win for the quirky, yet effective R.A. Dickey.

The Reds finally got on the board first in the 6th inning when Phillips drilled a double off the right field wall and Miguel Cairo came around from 1st base. But as they have done so many times this year when they go down, the Met came right back and countered with runs of their own. Carlos Beltran drove in the tying run with a sac fly that scored Jose Reyes for the 2nd out of the inning.

It looked like an innocent enough inning, unless you have watched the Mets all year. They are an incredible offensive team with 2 outs, and they proved it again tonight, adding 3 more runs in the 7th. A huge 2-run double from Daniel Murphy gave the Mets the lead, and then Hell froze over as Jason Bay drilled an RBI double of his own to right field. It was Bay’s first double in 50 games…. that’s right, 50 games, and the Mets were up 4-1.

Cincinnati came back with a run in their half of the 7th when Drew Stubbs singled to center. Paul Jannish looked like he might be dead meat at home trying to score from 2nd, but Murphy made the wrong move and cut off Jason Pridie’s throw. That was all for R.A. Dickey, who threw 6 2/3 stellar innings, allowing the 2 runs while striking out 8.

That was all the Reds could get, thanks to Isringhausen’s tight rope walk in the 9th. Dickey earns his 5th win of the year, and the Mets get back to .500 at 51-51.

Three Up:

1) R.A. Dickey- Dickey may have had his best start of the season. His knuckle was consistently over the plate, and he rarely had to go to the heater. If it wasn’t for Murphy’s dumb cut off he would have only allowed one run against a good lineup in a hitter’s ball park. He has had a solid 2nd third of the season for sure.

2) Bobby Parnell-What a great recovery from Sunday’s terrible outing. Parnell bounced back with a bang tonight, pitching a scoreless 8th inning with almost nothing but pure heat. The key at-bat was getting the reigning MVP Joey Votto in a pinch hitting role.

3) Daniel Murphy- I couldn’t believe it myself, but Murph is now in the top 5 in the league in doubles, and 9th in the NL in batting average. He is an adventure in the field, but he is having a very, very good offensive season. So much for Mike Francesa’s assessment that he “is not a Major Leaguer.”

Three Down:

1) Pedro Beato- The kid has great stuff, but sometimes he just can’t find the plate. Tonight he came in in a huge spot in the 7th inning relieving R.A. Dickey, and promptly walked Cairo on 4 pitches. Terry Collins smartly pulled him right there, and Tim Byrdak bailed him out by striking out Jay Bruce.

2) Logan Ondrusek- The Reds reliever has had a great year with a sub 2.00 ERA, but tonight he was dreadful. Ondrusek gave up 3 hits in 1/3 of an inning, allowing the game winning runs and earning the loss.

3) Brandon Phillips- He did got 1-5 with an RBI double, but it was a rough final 2 innings for Phillips. He struck out on high heat from Bobby Parnell leading off the 8th, then went down swinging to end the game an inning later, with the bases loaded and the winning run on base.

Rizzi’s Rants:

- When I am in the ballpark I love seeing homeruns, come backs, and rallies. But when I am watching baseball on television there is nothing like a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel.

- I love it when the SNY trivia question comes up and I know the answer right away. It makes me feel so smart (about a topic that is not even close to intellectual).

- Jason Bay made another great diving catch in the 4th inning, robbing Jay Bruce of a double. Bay hits like me after 7 beers, but he has played a great left field all season.

- Miguel Cairo always seems to get the big pesky hit AGAINST the Mets. Where was that when he was ON the Mets?

- Terrible call by 2nd base ump Wally Bell in the 7th on Drew Stubbs’ steal attempt. Josh Thole made a perfect throw and Stubbs was out by 2 feet, but was called safe. Luckily he never came around to score.

- Great job by Tim Byrdak to get Drew Stubbs on 3 pitches to end the 7th after Beato walked his one guy. It was a little piece of revenge for Byrdak, who gave up the NL Central clinching homerun to Bruce last year.

- Daniel Murphy’s awkward putout to lead off the 9th was a huge play, and a great recovery, but I couldn’t help laughing my ass off. As long as he keeps raking doubles and coming up with clutch hits, Murph’s intense yet strange defensive skills will remain hilarious.

- Izzy talked post-game about how the Reds told him in Spring Training that he “had nothing left in the tank.” It must have felt nice for him to nail down the save in Cincinnati.

- The Mets now have 192 2-out runs- the most in the National League.

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