As the Mets left the field in the top of the ninth, they were serenaded with loud boos, the result of a blown 4-1 lead. By the time they were done batting in the bottom of the ninth, there were only cheers and applause after a thrilling victory.
Despite blowing a three-run lead in the ninth, the Mets beat the Giants 5-4 in a walk-off when Ruben Tejada scored on a throwing error by Giants catcher Buster Posey with two outs. A misplayed routine fly to center, courtesy of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, in the top of the frame led to the Giants tying the game.Debby Wong/US Presswire
Ruben Tejada slides in with the Mets' winning run in a wild ninth inning Saturday.
"At this level, you're going to escape death a few times, and sometimes you're going to get shot," manager Terry Collins said. "Today, fortunately, we escaped it."
The Mets had played a great game entering the ninth, taking a three-run lead into the final frame behind a strong outing from Mike Pelfrey. Leading 4-1 in the ninth, Mets closer Frank Francisco, who had given up four earned runs in his past three games, imploded.
Two singles and a walk sliced the lead to 4-2, and forced Collins to pull his closer in a save situation for the first time this year. Tim Byrdak retired a batter for the second out and Jon Rauch induced a soft fly to shallow left-center from Brandon Belt, but it wasn't that simple.
Rookie Nieuwenhuis, playing deep to prevent any doubles, called off Tejada, but he misplayed the ball, overrunning it as the ball dropped in for a game-tying two-run double that stunned those at Citi Field on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.
"I just overran it," said Nieuwenhuis, who added that the sun didn't affect him. "That was my ball all the way."
Said Tejada: “You have to catch that."
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out to bring up Nieuwenhuis. He chopped a ball to first, resulting in an out at home, but on the throw back to first, Posey fired wide of the bag and the ball trickled into the outfield, allowing Tejada to score easily and win the game for the Mets.
A critical play was the base-running of pinch runner Scott Hairston, who slid into home while Posey was throwing the ball and clipped the catcher's heel. Though Posey argued with the umpire after the play, he told reporters after the game that it wasn't a dirty play.
"My job as a base-runner is to make sure the throw was altered in that situation," Hairston said. "I didn't raise my spikes in any way, I made sure it was low, and I was able to hit the bottom of his foot, not his ankle, and make sure he wasn't hurt at all."
As Pelfrey watched the game in the training room, and saw the fly ball to center, he started getting ready to celebrate, assuming the game was over. Even his manager thought the game was over on that soft fly to center.
The Mets made it scary and more harrowing that it needed to be, like they have a tendency to do, but managed to end up on the winning side in a bizarre finish.
"Obviously a big win, but I think it would've been a maybe even worse loss if we lost this game with the lead in the situation there," Pelfrey said. "They were able to come back and retake the lead and that's important. That's a huge game to stop the little skid we're on and hopefully we'll get going again."