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In the Motor City, It’s Customary to Drive Runners Home

From the third inning of Tuesday’s game until the fifth inning of Saturday’s game, the Mets scored a total of nine runs. They came on a solo homer, a groundout to second, three consecutive solo homers, a solo homer, another solo homer, a sac fly and a catcher’s two-base throwing error. That means when Jose Reyes singled home Paul Lo Duca and Ricky Ledee in the fifth yesterday, the Mets had batted in 41 innings without delivering a base hit to drive in a baserunner.

Reyes’ turnaround of that situation could have indicated one of two things:

1) The Mets were clearly about to make up for lost runners on base.

2) The fifth-inning two-RBI single was an aberration.

The evidence as regards what developed from the sixth through ninth innings is inconclusive. The Mets would score four more runs Saturday, two of which scored when hits were delivered with runners on base, two of which were delivered either via out or with first, second and third completely unoccupied. Nothing wrong with sacrifice flies and solo home runs per se except the former indicates optimal production was not achieved and the latter…well, there’s something about solo home runs that seems almost counterproductive. That’s an odd inference to derive from a player swinging and scoring on the same play, but little good seems to come from them other than a single run that leaves the bases as clean in their wake as they were when the at-bat in question in started. I’ll take the run but I sure wish it would build something, not represent the totality of a rally.

I’m down on solo homers because David Wright’s one-run shot in the top of the eighth mocked us coming as it did in the Met plate appearance that followed Carlos Delgado’s in the top of the seventh. Delgado, as you know all too well if you saw or listened to the defining choke of this bloody fiasco [1], loomed as Wil Ledezma’s death sentence. The Mets were doing that thing they used to as recently as May 2007 where they fall behind but come back. I vaguely recall that it was known as being the Mets.

We went from 8-3 (I don’t even want to think about how Ollie Perez gave up five and would prefer Guillermo Mota grab an injection of whatever kept him from giving up three more in similar situations in 2006) to 8-5 on Ledee’s double and Castro’s sac fly off of Bonderman. Gotay singled off Yorman Bazardo’s glove for another run, sub-yeoman enough work to get Yorman pulled in favor of Ledezma at 8-6. Ledezma induced a disgusting popup out of Reyes but then it’s Mets time, baby. A bloopish Valentin double (Gotay to third). A Beltran walk. Bases loaded. Up steps Carlos Delgado, the man with more RBI in Interleague play than anybody who’s ever crossed N.L/A.L. borders.

He’s also Carlos Delgado who has been not the king of any league this year (did I actually hear the Fox guy say he’s having a good season after a slow start)? Still, CD seemed to be working Ledezma. Got ahead in the count. On the payoff pitch, with the possibility seeming very real that Carlos could make it anywhere from 8-7 to 10-8, he grounded out to second base.

So you’ll excuse me if when Wright launched his leadoff (read that solo) home run to start the eighth I wasn’t doing a joyful jig. David’s dinger made it 8-7. Carlos should have found a way to do that and more. And that is what is killing this team at the moment. They have forgotten how to bring runners home from first, second and/or third with less than three out. There’s no bigger fundamental flaw in baseball.

After Wright’s one-run homer, I assumed we would lose. When I next met up with the game, I heard Beltran’s fly ball drop in to right with two out in the ninth and Delgado stepping up. Well, he literally stepped up to the plate but figuratively failed to step up one little bit. Another grounder to second. We did lose. I hate when I assume correctly.

Five earned runs off Bonderman in six-plus innings and you don’t win. The bases loaded and Mr. Interleague with a bat in his hand against whoever in the seventh and you don’t win. A gift baserunner in the ninth the likes of which you only get from the Nationals never mind the American League champs and you don’t win. Four runners driven in by Mets batters and you don’t win.

We gotta do somethin’ about that.