Are these the 'dog days' of summer? Because, "Woof."
Coming into this series, we all knew the Mets were the best team in baseball. Their mediocre pitching staff, anchored by a trio of broken-down has-beens in Chris Young, R.A. Dickey, and Johan Santana, was being carried on the backs of their potent lineup. When you feature an order with Jason Bay, Jordany Valdespin, and Josh Thole you're gonna score a bunch of runs.
Can you say "Dynasty?" No? Well, maybe you need some more schooling. These Mets could school you the way they did the Rays this series. But, let's be fair. Against a team this legendary, there's really no shame in the Rays being outscored 29-9.
If you started watching baseball on Tuesday, you probably believe the preceding paragraphs, but if you've even casually glanced at a box score or two during the last few months, you know it's a bunch or malarkey. Like the Headline's score, everything's backwards. While the Metropolitans have enjoyed some success on the mound, their hitting hasn't been anything to write home (or anywhere else) about.
Don't tell that to Jeremy Hellickson, who didn't waste any time giving up the lead as he allowed a leadoff home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis (yep, not spelling that again) on just the second pitch of the game. Hellickson seemed to appreciate the Patriotism of a solo home run--how the actions of a single man can lift the spirit of a nation--so he coughed up another one to Jason Bay in the second inning. Clearly, he forgot that Jason Bay is Canadian.
I'd be delusional if I told you there was a silver lining in Helly's performance today. "3.2 IP, 8ER, 9H, 1BB, 0K" tells you all you need to know.
Offense after the jump...
On the other side of the coin, the offense did a bit of damage to Johan Santana. Highlights included Elliot Johnson with a clutch two-out, RBI single to give the Rays a (brief) 3-2 lead in the second. The offense was OK today, but just couldn't overcome the eight run hole. However, despite the big hole, they threatened twice in the later innings.
The Rays started off strong against Santana in the sixth, loading the bases with a single, double, and a walk with no outs. With the tying run at the plate, Santana was pulled in favor of BRAWLFENSE-crush Jon Rauch who apparently snorted some fine, uncut R.A. Dickey before coming in and K-ing Sean Rodriguez and Jose Lobaton, and coaxing Elliot Johnson to ground out to third to end the inning and the "threat."
The Rays also tried to make it a game in the ninth. After a few hits and a walk, the Rays forced the Mets into a save situation and they called on Frank Francisco. He'd get Carlos Pena to ground weakly to second, but a shifted Omar Quintanilla tried to beat Desmond Jennings to second for the force out and was unsuccessful. B.J. Upton would K on some hard stuff, but Hideki Matsui worked a walk to bring up Ben Zobrist as the go-ahead run. To that point, Zobrist had a nice day at the plate, 2-for-3 with 2 doubles and a walk, but was caught looking (or was it swinging?) on a 3-2 splitter to end the game.
So, I can say without a doubt that the best thing about this series is that it's over. The Marlins come to town tomorrow when Matt Moore takes on Carlos Zambrano @ 7:10 PM. The Rays have won (I think) seven straight against the Fish, so let's hope that continues.