Unlikely Hero Ordonez Lifts Mets

Friday's game between the Mets and the Marlins had it all: an unlikely power source, a long rain delay and an unlikely bullpen collapse by the Mets that cost Pedro Astacio from getting a win for the third straight time. Rey Ordonez basically carried the Mets on his shoulders with a single, a three-run double and his first home run of the year as the Mets weathered the weather and a horrific sixth inning as they beat the Marlins 6-5.

After Marlins starter AJ Burnett had a perfect first inning, with two strikeouts, Mo Vaughn led off the second inning with a hit that came from the form he culled from many years of hitting at Fenway Park. He hit the ball to the opposite field very hard, having it bounce off the top of the scoreboard in left and wound up with a double. Edgardo Alfonzo then singled, moving Vaughn over to third. Jeromy Burnitz, in the midst of a horrible slump, saw the slump continue when he was unable to hold up on his swing on the third strike and struck out, Burnett, then showing the wildness that he is capable of, walked Roger Cedeño to load the bases. Rey Ordoñez, who has hardly been a threat when runners are in scoring position, came to the plate. Then again, the Mets are the best in the league hitting with the bases loaded this year, and Ordoñez surprised everyone by going the opposite way for a bases-clearing stand-up double to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

Astacio, who has not been sharp in his past couple of outings, gave a couple runs right back in the bottom of the inning. First he walked Mike Lowell, and then after Kevin Millar had hammered a couple of balls foul, he threw a curveball that hung and Millar hammered it several hundred feet fair for a two-run home run and cut the lead to 3-2. Astacio then retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning.

The Mets got another run in the sixth when Ordoñez hit a one-out single off of Hansel Izquierdo, who had come in to relieve Burnett. Izquierdo had absolutely no control as he proceeded to hit Astacio on the calf, and then walked Roberto Alomar to load the bases. Timo Perez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2. With only one out, Piazza strode to the plate. It looked like a prime situation, because Izquierdo wasn't able to find the strike zone at all. Unfortunately the weather gods seemed to be on Izquierdo's side, as the skies opened up in the middle of Piazza's at-bat, and both teams were forced to scatter into their dugouts. It looked likely that game might be called, as it was official, and it was getting near a late hour, but at around 10:45, the umpires decided to resume play. Pro Player Stadium looked eerily like a Montreal Expos game, as there weren't but around 2,000 fans left in the stadium that stuck it out, the majority of them probably Mets fans. So Piazza came back to hit, and was intentionally walked by Armando Almanza, who came in for Izquierdo after the delay. Almanza then proceeded to strike out Vaughn to end the inning.

The Mets made it 5-2 in the seventh when Cedeño hit an opposite field home run.

David Weathers pitched two scoreless innings, and things appeared to be going very smoothly, until the eighth, when Scott Strickland relieved Weathers. Strickland ran into immediate trouble by surrendering back-to-back singles to Andy Fox and Cliff Floyd. Floyd then stole second and both scored when Mike Lowell, who has been a principal tormenter of the Mets this year, doubled. It looked like the game was going to be tied up when Preston Wilson singled, but Perez made a clutch throw to the plate to nail Lowell, who was trying to score from second. Strickland then undid that momentum by overthrowing Alfonzo at third when Wilson was picked off trying to steal the base, and the throw sailed far enough away to allow Wilson to score with impunity. Tie game. Astacio was probably wondering who he had inadvertently insulted in the Mets bullpen for them to have blown a win for him three times in a row.

The game moved into extra innings, and in the tenth, the Marlins brought in their closer-Vladimir Nunez. Nunez looked unhittable, striking out both Jeromy Burnitz and Cedeno in succession. Then the unthinkable happened. Rey Ordoñez, he of the seven career home runs in six full seasons, turned on one of Nunez's fastballs, and golfed it over the scoreboard in left to put the Mets ahead 6-5. The Mets dugout erupted as soon as he hit it. Mo Vaughn was seen jumping up and down with joy. Pro Player Stadium remained standing, however.

The task remained for Armando Benitez to close out the game, and he had to face the heart of the Marlins batting order in Fox, Floyd and Lowell. He handled them with no problem, however, getting Fox to pop out to Ordoñez at short, Floyd to ground out to third and he struck out Lowell swinging to end the game.

Notes


-Grant Roberts, who pitched the tenth inning, got the win for his first win of the season
- Ordoñez was a triple shy of hitting of the cycle. He was the only Met to have more than one hit also.
-Nunez got the loss to fall to 4-2. -Saturday night's starting pitchers will be Jeff D'Amico (4-4, 3.03 ERA) and Ryan Dempster (3-5, 4.31 ERA).

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