Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Benitez We All Know and Love

I landed a ticket to last night's Mets-Giants game, and I was there with my aunt and a couple of friends. I thought this would be a great game to see, especially to boo Barry Bonds every time I got up. The seats were great, the same ones I had a couple of weeks ago when the Mets played the Cubs.

I got to the park to discover that Balco Barry was not in the starting lineup. No problem, as I thought he would turn up at some point later in the game.

It got off to a rather rough start for Oliver Perez, as he gave up solo homers to Randy Winn (on the fourth pitch) and then to Bengie Molina. It stayed that way until the fourth, as Giants starter Tim Lincecum retired the first 10 batters before walking Endy Chavez.

But with two outs, Carlos Delgado hit a bomb off him that hit the bottom of the right field scoreboard to tie the game at 2. The Mets scratched out a run in the sixth to grab the lead, but Perez surrendered his third homer of the night, to Daniel Ortmeier, to tie it up again at 3.

As all this was going on, I kept my eyes peeled on the scoreboard. The Red Sox were leading the Indians in Boston the entire night, and the Blue Jays were in a nail-biter with the Yankees in Toronto.

The Mets had opportunities to score runs in the ninth but couldn't get that clutch hit. Then to start the tenth, Barry Bonds entered the ondeck circle, and the boos rained down him almost immediately (except from a group of obnoxious Giants fans sitting a few rows ahead of us behind first base). The chants were mostly: "BAL-CO" "STER-OIDS" and of course, "BARRY SUCKS."

Bonds naturally drew a walk, but the Giants didn't score. The Mets wasted another chance in the bottom of the tenth, and left the bases loaded when David Wright flied out to deep center.

As that was going on, the Yankees-Blue Jays ended in Toronto with the Jays winning, 3-2. 14 games back, I thought. Now, the game in Boston was 4-2 Sox, in the top of the ninth. I waited anxiously for the "9" on the scoreboard to turn into an "F" (for final). It seemed to go for an eternity until the "F" finally went up. A few Mets fans seated next to me seemed to notice at the same time and also applauded: the Yankees were now an incredible 14 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, still tied for last in the AL East (as Tampa Bay also lost last night).

Turns out that Josh Beckett pitched seven superb innings in his return from the DL, and got his 8th win of the year. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek hit homers, and Jon Lester had another terrific rehab start at Pawtucket, pitching five shutout innings.

The game at Shea went to the 12th inning, and with first and third and one out, Carlos Delgado tried to turn a grounder to him into a DP, as he stepped on the bag and threw home. the runner beat the throw by inches, and the Giants had the lead. (Replays on TV later showed to be the right call, but it would have been great to see it in the park. MLB won't allow it.)

The Mets were down, 4-3, and the Giants brought in former Mets and totally useless closer Armando Benitez to close it out. I had just one thought in my mind:

Benitez is coming in. This game is far from over.

He walked Jose Reyes to open the inning and promptly balked him to second. Endy Chavez bunted him to third, but Carlos Beltran grounded out to second, and Reyes had to hold. A Mets fan next to me was bemoaning the Mets fate, but I reminded him:

Benitez is pitching. This game is far from over.

Reyes was dancing off third, and Benitez flinched, and committed his second balk of the game. Tie score. At that moment I thought that Carlos Delgado was going to go deep here. Benitez was living up to his rep as a closer with no "balls." (It was his 18th career blown save in his career at Shea Stadium.) And sure enough, on 2-2, Delgado hit a rocket over the right field fence to win it for the Mets. It was gone as soon as it left the bat.

Shea absolutely erupted, and the fans reacted like the World Series was just won. "There's the Benitez we all know and love," I said to any fan who would listen. The joint was rocking even as I left the park. It was an electric finish to a truly remarkable night.


Michael Leggett said...

Armando Benitez:

That was Really Classic;

How many times I've yelled in Fury "Benitez, You SUCK" until I was hoarse;

Last Night, I was in Derisive Joy.

Steel36 said...

I was speechless. I have seen him start a bench FILLING brawl at Yankee Stadium by nailing Tino Martinez on the back-now Balk-a-Palooza?