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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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28 Pitches

Once upon a time I liked this baseball game just fine. David Wright took Old Man Moyer convincingly deep in the very first inning for a 3-0 lead, and yesterday’s memories of dropped pop-ups and Doc Halladay and getting shellacked receded at the best possible speed. Yes, it got interesting in the bottom of the first, with solo shots by Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard off Johan Santana bringing the Phillies to within 3-2. But Santana seemed to settle down, and Rod Barajas continued his Citizens Bank domination, whacking a two-run homer to restore the Mets’ three-run lead. Jamie Moyer didn’t seem to be fooling anybody, and obviously Johan would settle down and throttle the Phils. The Mets would head for Cincinnati in first by 1 1/2, having Not Blinked and Made a Statement and Proved Something to Themselves, and all would be just fine.

Yep, that was pretty obviously what was going to happen.

This is what happened instead.

Let’s start in the fourth inning, with two outs and Utley standing on third.

  • Johan’s fourth pitch after that point was a Raul Ibanez single that made it 5-3.
  • Johan’s fifth pitch was a Juan Castro single.
  • Johan’s ninth pitch sent Carlos Ruiz to first via a thoroughly intentional unintentional walk.
  • Johan’s 16th pitch walked Jamie Moyer, forcing in a run and making it 5-4.
  • Johan’s 18th pitch disappeared into the seats, a Shane Victorino grand slam that put the Phillies on top, 8-5.
  • Johan’s 21st pitch was a Placido Polanco single
  • Johan’s 23rd and mercifully final pitch was an Utley home run that made it 10-5.

Hisanori Takahashi came on, but the delights of this particular game were not over.

  • Takahashi’s second pitch was a Ryan Howard single.
  • Takahashi’s fifth pitch — the 28th since Ibanez came to the plate with two out — was a Jayson Werth double that it made it 11-5.

And then, at last, that elusive third out, made by Ibanez. Nine two-out runs. Sitting there like a gaffed fish in front of the radio, I mused that at least one Mets fan somewhere out there must have needed an extended bathroom trip, thought to himself, “eh, two outs and it’s Johan,” and emerged some time later to assume his TV had broken. It’s always faintly shocking when a starter unravels this quickly and thoroughly, but to see it happen to Santana was almost unimaginable — and deeply disturbing.

(Update: Rewrote the conclusion, because what I wrote originally was emotional and dumb.)

And then, after that 28-pitch disaster, the Mets had one baserunner for the rest of the night. One walk. No hits. Not one.

I don’t think that says anything about character or guts or anything else. Teams go through five-inning stretches without hits. It happens. If the Mets had had their hitless spell in the beginning of tonight’s game, and come back from 11-0 to get slightly less tar beaten out of them, we’d be tempted to talk about their Never Say Die attitude. But that would be silly. So, therefore, would be trying to measure their character by snarking that their response to Santana’s getting walloped all over creation was to mount a Gandhi-esque civil disobedience campaign, minus the high moral standing. Even though it’s tempting.

So let’s just leave it at this: It sure was horrible to watch.

23 comments to 28 Pitches

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Fry and Michael Klusek, TheMetWiki. TheMetWiki said: Somehow reading good recaps helps the pain go away. Thx RT @jasoncfry: 28 pitches, elusive 3rd out, 1 big disaster. […]

  • Nice piece. You can narrow it further to 3 pitches, spanning the walk to Moyer and the grand slam. From up 5-3 and just needing a strike to the pitcher to down 8-5 and wondering why we watch baseball.

  • John Smoltz

    I’ll note that the Greeks called it hubris. Just sayin’

  • Andee

    Different ballpark, different game. Most of those home runs were cheapies that wouldn’t have been out at Citi.

    But boy, when Johan doesn’t have it, he can practically teach a Ph.D. level course in How Not to Have It. No excuse for walking Jamie Freaking Moyer with the bases loaded. The man pitched in the American League for almost two decades, and has only been buying bats for himself for a little under 4 years. Make him hit the freaking ball, Johan.

  • mikeinbrooklyn

    You missed the obvious storyline here:

    The Mets started the season terribly. My wife and I then went on vacation to the Bahamas, where I had no contact whatsoever with them. I get back to find them in first, winners of 9 of 10, including a big win over the hated Phils.

    I then spend my first weekend back nursing my sunburn and watching Pelfrey and Santana implode.

    For the team’s sake, I am starting a fund Mets fans can contribute to in order to send my wife and I back on vacation for the next 6 months.

    • Have you considered moving? It’s for the greater good.

      • mikeinbrooklyn

        Unfortunately, you may be right.

        In the 11 years I lived outside of NYC, the Mets made the playoffs 3 times, going to 2 World Series and winning one.

        In the 35 years I have lived in NYC, the Mets have made the playoffs 4 times, going to 2 World Series and winning 1.

        I suck. But I blame me on Omar.

  • Mets Suck

    Don’t try to kid yourself Jason. That was still Johan in there giving up his 4th homer of the night to Utley which made it 10-5….RIP Mets Season (4/5/10 – 5/2/10)

    • Yeah, had the blogger equivalent of whiplash from all of those going out.

      Sucky night to be a Mets fan, but I wouldn’t toss dirt on us just yet.

  • Actually, mikeinbrooklyn, you can blame this one on me (this may read as tongue-in-cheek, but I mean it sincerely):

    I gleefully watched the Mets take apart the Phillies Friday night, and then rode out to JFK to surprise The Wife, whose flight was landing at 11:59p.

    But she landed early and by the time I could reach her on the phone from the airport, she was halfway home. She wanted to wait for me in a subway station; I all but screamed at her to go home as it was already so late. She waited anyway. Good wife. Bad husband.

    Sorry, love. Sorry, Mets. I will be nicer to my wife before their visits to bitter rivals’ parks.

    God, I hate that every baseball season, I’m a prisoner to karma (or my own delusions re: karma).

  • Best Pitcher in the NL East
  • oogieball

    I am Oogieball, and I have been brought crashing down to reality.

  • Dak442

    I am that fan Jason mentioned, though it wasn’t a bathroom break but switching back and forth to Family Guy. Johan walked Ruiz, I figured, “Cool, Moyer is up”. Let out a deafening “WHAT THE FUCK?!!” when I flipped back.

    I keep trying to remind myself that going into the weekend I was on board with the prospect of winning one of three. But our two best pitchers stunk up the joint, and it DID show a disturbing lack of character to go down meekly after Johan’s pasting. I am concerned that April 30th might end up the high point of the season.

  • CharlieH

    Who let the tolls out? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who?

  • CharlieH

    Actually, I think right here is where the season starts.

    You had the requisite Met Opening Day win, which is the surest sign of spring this side of the first robin — and almost doesn’t really count.

    Then you had the Chinese water torture of series losses to the Marlins/Nats/Rockies/Cards — including the sideshow of 20 innings.

    Then the dizzying heights of the last homestand.

    Now, having been smacked in the kisser again, we get to see what kind of team we really have.

    Oh, and please get Frank Catlanotto, Gary Matthews, Jr. & Alex Cora off my team…

  • Lenny65

    Hopefully the reality will end up being somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, which I’ll gladly accept.

    You have to be concerned with Santana, it feels like it’s Pedro revisited right now: a HOF-caliber pitcher who’s entering a slow, inexorable decline from his lofty standards. It was tough seeing him unravel like that, hopefully it was an aberration. It was even worse in light of Pelfrey getting bombed the day before. Walking a pitcher to force home a run is not what you want to see your ace do the day after a blow-out loss. Especially when it’s the only active MLB player older than myself.

  • The Takahashi hits are almost forgiveable, as he didn’t start to warm up until basically Johan was out, which was irresponsible on Manuel’s part.

    And it wasn’t an intentional walk to Ruiz, even though Manuel says he thought it was. (that’s not in Johan’s style)

    Time to rebound. dropping 2/3 every once in a while isn’t a horrible sin, even against the Phillies with things stacked in your favor. Play well, bounce back, and don’t let Philly get cozy.

  • Okay, show of hands: How many people still think the Yankees made a mistake by refusing to trade Hughes as part of the package for Santana?

    Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Come to think of it, how many times did the Phillies tally in that inning? “Nine times!”

    It’s no shame that Santana was not the best pitcher to have pitched in that series, as Halladay might be the best in the game right now. The shame is that Santana was not the best pitcher in his own game. Jamie Moyer was.

    Santana really ought to be ashamed of himself, walking in a run with the bases loaded. When the batter was a pitcher. And 47 years old.

  • […] a cup that features those characteristics. You might say, “Hey, neat!” Johan Santana is still, recent unnerving drop in velocity notwithstanding, a pretty popular guy with Mets fans, and the whole notion of LET’S GO METS […]