By Jason Schott - Associate Editor - @JESchott19
The Mets won 3-1 on Sunday, and the bullpen turned in one of their best games of the season, as Carlos Torres, Vic Black, and Jenrry Mejia covered eight innings after Daisuke Matsuzaka left early.
Mets Manager Terry Collins said, "I'm gonna give the credit to Dan (Warthen, pitching coach) and to Ricky (Bones, bullpen coach), they got those guys ready. Ricky did a great job down there trying to explain to them what was going to happen. It's quite obvious I used Torres more than I wanted to, he's been in a lot of games. I told Jenrry you have to go in the eighth because if that back stiffens up, I got nobody behind you except for one guy so that's the way we worked on it. Those guys came in and did a great job."
Catcher Anthony Recker said of winning a game with a virtual relay race out of the bullpen, "Obviously, it's awesome, all the credit goes to the bullpen. They did a tremendous job today coming in and covering eight innings and Torres the biggest part, good four innings out of him, 60-something pitches, just amazing. That's obviously, playing a team like the Padres, they're going through a tough time similar to...as we are, or were, you know, and you want to come out of this series and really try and establish yourself and get some wins. To be able to come out and win the series today on that note was pretty cool."
Matsuzaka said through an interpreter what went on before the game, "I came to the ballpark this morning and had breakfast and then started to feel some pain in my stomach, and I vomited everything out. I knew I wasn't physically fit to fulfill the starter's role, but I wanted to do as much as I could, and that ended up only being an inning, and that ended up causing the bullpen to go out longer than they really wanted to."
It was obvious from the first pitch that Matsuzaka did not have it. He walked Will Venable to open the game. Everth Cabrera bunted him over, and Lucas Duda had the wherewithal to throw to third to get Venable, who was trying to get bases on the bunt, out to complete the 2-3-3-5 double play. Matsuzaka then walked Seth Smith, and Collins and the trainer went to the mound fearful there was something wrong. Matsuzaka stayed in and retired Chase Headley on a hard ground ball to first. Matsuzaka left after the first due to a "severe upset stomach."
Collins was asked when he knew there was something wrong with Matsuzaka and he said, "About a half hour before game time, he got sick in the clubhouse. Told the trainers after he got sick, he thought he could pitch. Then he got sick in the bullpen again while warming up. First pitch of the game was 84, knew that wasn't going to work, so I just went out to ask him 'can he finish the inning?' and he said he had no strength, but he could finish the inning, so we had to get him out of there."
Duda's great play showed defense can turn to offense in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson hit a mammoth home run into the second deck in right field to make it 1-0 Mets. Daniel Murphy followed with a double, David Wright walked, and Bobby Abreu hit a double to score Murphy and make it 2-0.
Just when it looked like they could have a real big inning against Ian Kennedy, the rally stalled. Andrew Brown struck out, Duda hit a weak pop up to third base, and Wilmer Flores hit a pop up down the right field line and Seth Smith got it leaning over the wall for the third out.
Carlos Torres came in for Matsuzaka in the second, and it took him a while to settle in. He gave up singles to Carlos Quention and Yonder Alonso, and Rene Rivera got an RBI single to cut the Mets' lead to 2-1. Torres settled down to strike out Jace Peterson looking, retired Kennedy on a sacrifice bunt, and got Venable to ground out to first base to end the innings.
The Mets got the run back in the bottom of the second, as Anthony Recker and Granderson walked and Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Recker and make it 3-1 Mets.
Torres did not allow another hit in the final three innings he pitched. Overall, he went four innings, and allowed one run on three hits, two walks, and a hit batsmen and threw 63 pitches. He leads all major league relievers with 44 2/3 innings pitched.
Torres got the win to improve his record to 3-4. He said of when he knew he could be brought in early, "About two hours before the game. I walk in here and I hear throwing up and I see who it is coming out, and didn't know what was going on, but I knew it was going to be a possibility we would all be called upon early."
Torres said of the bullpen, "It says that we're here ready to do our job. This is obviously an extreme circumstance, something that doesn't happen everyday, but everyone here, defense, offense, steps up and tries to do their job everyday."
Vic Black was next out of the bullpen, and he initially had no command of the plate, as he walked Smith and Headley to open the sixth. Like Torres, he settled in and got Quention to pop out to Murphy at second and Alonso to pop out to Wright at third. Black then struck out Rivera to end the threat.
The Mets rallied in the bottom of the sixth, as Flores singled and, with one out, Eric Campbell singled up the middle to chase Ian Kennedy from the game.
Kennedy did not pitch great, but labored through 5 1/3 innings in which he threw 116 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. He allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks and he struck out 7.
Lefty Alex Torres came in for the Padres and got Granderson to fly out to right for the second out and walked Daniel Murphy. Righty Kevin Quackenbush (what a name!) came in to face Wright, and got him to hit a lazy fly ball to right field to end the inning.
Black stayed on to pitch the seventh for the Mets. He allowed a one-out single to Yasmani Grandal, and got Venable to hit a grounder to second. Murphy threw to Flores to start a possible double play, and Flores dropped it without really having control of it. They caught a break as the umpires gave him the out on the transfer rule. Black then got Cabrera to hit another easy grounder to Murphy to end the inning.
Mets closer Jenrry Mejia entered in the eighth for a two-inning save, and he retired the Padres in order, with the only scare a warning-track fly ball by Quentin. In the ninth, Duda made a couple of dazzling plays, on a grounder up the line by Alonso and caught a line drive by Chris Denorfia. Mejia then got Alexi Amarista to ground out to end it."
Mejia said of this outing, his first outing since Thursday due to back stiffness, "I feel good because I told you yesterday I wasn't feeling good...Today, I came in out of the eighth inning, just threw seven pitches, and they asked if I felt good to go out there again, and I say ' I'm good, I feel ready.'"
On if he had an idea early on that he could be brought in early once Matsuzaka left, Mejia said, "I was surprised because I don't know what's wrong with him, but Recker told me and I said I'm ready for any situation they need me."
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