Delgado's big night all for naught
Mets slugger ties club postseason record with two homers
NEW YORK -- It went to waste on Friday night at Shea Stadium. The most prolific performance by a Mets slugger in the National League Championship Series since Richard Nixon was president and Saigon was about to come tumbling down.And when Carlos Delgado was asked about his place in club history, he professed to be ignorant of the fact that he tied a Mets postseason record by hitting two home runs in a 9-6 loss to the Cardinals in Game 2 that knotted the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. "I did not know that," said Delgado, who claimed to be more disturbed about squandering leads of 3-0, 4-2 and 6-4 in the game. "It's great, but I'm not big with numbers. I'm not big with stats. I'm trying to win. If it happens to me, great, but we've got other things to worry about right now. Whenever I'm done, I'll think about my place in history. Right now, I'm going to look at Game 3." Because of Wednesday's rainout, both teams had a quick turnaround to Game 3, which is slated for a chilly Busch Stadium on Saturday night. Games 4 and 5 will then be played without a breather on successive evenings on Sunday and Monday before the series shifts back for a possible Game 6 at Shea Stadium next Wednesday night. For the record, Rusty Staub is the only other Mets player to launch two homers in an NLCS game, and that happened 33 years ago on Oct. 8, 1973, at Shea against the Reds in a game the Mets won, 9-2. The Mets took that series in five games and then went on to lose that World Series to the A's in seven. Delgado, who took a long time to get to his locker after Friday night's loss, couldn't be faulted if he felt discouraged. His two homers and four runs batted in chased last year's NL Cy Young Award winner and current candidate Chris Carpenter from the game and gave the Mets a chance to take a commanding lead in the series. "Carlos had a huge day," said Shawn Green, who barely missed making a spectacular leaping catch above the right-field fence on Scott Spiezio's seventh-inning triple that knocked in two runs and tied the score, 6-6. "What he's done all postseason has been huge."
Delgado had played 1,711 regular-season games for Toronto, Florida and the Mets in his 14-year career before stepping out on the field in the postseason. Thus far he's batting .455 (10-for-22) with three homers, six RBIs and a pair of doubles in his first five playoff games.
"He has been huge all year for us," said Mets manager Willie Randolph. "I mean, he's in a nice groove right now. When he's hitting the ball solid the other way like that and through the middle, he's just an unbelievable hitter. He takes this opportunity, his first postseason, to show everyone what a great player, a great hitter he is. He got us started, but we couldn't hold on to it. He got us going with some big home runs."
Multihomer games in the NLCS
The first was a three-run shot, coming in the bottom of the first inning, a 440-foot drive that came to rest well beyond the fence to the left of center. His second was a solo shot into the left-field bleachers with one out in the fifth. And it should be noted that the four RBIs tied another Mets NLCS single-game mark set by Staub in that same game 33 years ago.The homers both came off fastballs out over the plate, Delgado said. Tough pitches? "I hit them," he said. "That's very relative. [Carpenter] probably didn't have his best stuff. I've seen his breaking ball a lot sharper. But he's a tough competitor. He wasn't going to give in." Delgado, of course, is a left-handed hitter, and he said when he's using the opposite field to that kind of good use, he is at his best. "I'm just trying to hit the ball hard," said the 34-year-old native of Puerto Rico. "I'm more successful when I let the ball travel. Sometimes I get in trouble when I try to hook too much, try to pull too much. Now I'm just trying to let the ball travel and let it go." Asked when he developed that approach, Delgado said: "When I was 16. When I signed to play professional baseball. That's when I started doing it. Sometimes it just doesn't work." On Friday night it worked, even if it was wasted in a losing cause.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.