When it was all finally over and the Mets convened at the mound for a rather muted celebration , Manny Acosta kind of rolled his eyes up at the sky and spread his hands in equal parts thanks and exasperation. It was an entirely appropriate response to his own pitching — in the 10th he walked two guys, gave up an RBI single, and recorded outs on a pop-up and two long drives tracked down by Jordany Valdespin, the last one while staggering on to the warning track.
Or maybe Acosta was just afraid of being eaten by seagulls. Which would have been appropriate too.
Acosta was bad, but he was far from alone — the Mets played an infuriatingly shoddy game that they thoroughly deserved to lose. There was Ronny Cedeno botching a tailor-made double play, Bobby Parnell throwing straight fastballs down the heart of the plate, David Wright flailing at balls nowhere near the strike zone, and a generally deplorable lack of focus. Ike Davis’s night was particularly amazing — he failed to plug the hole, froze on a potential double play, muffed a grounder to set up extra innings and managed to strike out four times. I’ll give you 10-to-1 odds Ike’s dropping his iPhone in the john right about now.
The Mets were saved by a few things:
They had Jeremy Hefner pitching about as well as one could have asked of a man sent to the mound with a half-awake defense. I like Hefner, who looks like he knows what’s he doing out there, whether he’s got a ball or a bat in his hands.
They had Tim Byrdak and Jon Rauch doing their jobs, and Josh Edgin turning in a gutsy performance after Parnell faltered.
They had Valdespin kicking up the energy level as always and Mike Baxter returning and chipping in and Jason Bay quietly having an OK game after a poor start — if Bay hadn’t pushed it and taken third on Baxter’s pinch single in the 10th, that run Acosta gave up would have made it 7-7, and then God help us. (Remember, Baxter never buys a beer in NYC again. We owe him .)
They had the Giants playing equally horrible baseball, with Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera and Clay Hensley looking torpid at key moments and Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla reminding us that we do not, in fact, have a monopoly on sucky bullpens.
And most of all the Mets had Scott Hairston, who saved Hefner with one homer and then rewarded Edgin with his second one. You know how much we hate Shane Victorino in New York? That’s how much my friends who are Giants fans hate Hairston. The Mets ought to do the wise thing as well as the decent thing and trade Hairston to a better place, but in the meantime, I’m sure glad to have him.
Anyway, every year brings a few games that are so hideous that the best thing to do would be to scrub them from highlights shows entirely, for fear that they might infect other baseball teams. But they count too, and it’s your best interests to win them. The Mets did that, and that’s good — even if it felt a lot more like survival than triumph.