Rocky third is all she wrote for Glavine
Veteran unable to pick up win No. 298 as Mets fall to Rockies
DENVER -- It had all the makings of a homecoming for Tom Glavine. Though he's hardly Colorado's favorite son, Glavine had developed a reputation for taming the beast that is Coors Field, establishing a 3.56 ERA in 11 career appearances and staking a claim as the only pitcher to throw two shutouts in the hitters' haven.
But on Monday night the beast bit back. Just three wins shy of 300, Glavine watched the Rockies explode in a six-run third inning, setting the Mets up to fall, 6-2, in the series opener.
After striking out Rockies starting pitcher Jason Hirsh to open the inning, Glavine gave up three hits in succession to Willy Taveras, Jamey Carroll and Matt Holliday, who gave the Rockies all they needed with a three-run blast that went 415 feet into the left-field seats.
"That was obviously the difference maker," Glavine said. "I'm still not convinced it was that bad of a pitch. You got to give him a little bit of credit. I would suspect that I didn't get in quite as much as I wanted to, but it's still in a location that guys have a hard time keeping that pitch fair. He stayed inside the ball pretty well and kept it fair.
"You're capable of having a lot of big innings in this park, and from my standpoint, I was just trying to end the inning as quick as I can, and not have any more damage and hope that we were able to do something. Obviously, we weren't. Sometimes you make good pitches and get bad results. After the home run, it was a lot of bad results."
With two outs in the third inning, Glavine gave up two more hits and a walk, allowing a fourth run to score before he intentionally walked Chris Iannetta to face Hirsh again. This time, Hirsh made him pay, lacing a single down the first-base line and into right field for his second career hit and his first two career RBIs.
When a pitcher with a career .024 batting average drives in a pair of runs, it's easy to chalk it up as another Coors Field night. But when you figure that Hirsh matched the hit production of the first five batters in the Mets' lineup, who were a collective 1-for-14 against him, the problem lies not in the high-altitude enigma of the field, but in the lack of any fuse lighting up the batting order.
"I'm not very familiar with this ballpark," Carlos Delgado said. "All I know is we've been known to play hard for 27 outs. It doesn't matter where we are. With the lineup that we have, I don't think we're ever out of the game. It just didn't happen tonight."
The Mets' bats were stymied by Hirsh, who allowed three hits through six shutout innings before leaving the game in the bottom of the sixth after spraining his right ankle at third base on a pickoff play.
Hirsh's consistency in the strike zone and his efficiency with his pitches, throwing 44 of his 61 pitches for strikes in six innings, forced the Mets to swing early or dig themselves into pitchers' counts at the plate.
"He's the kind of guy that'll give you problems, because he pounds the zone," said David Wright, who touched Hirsh for a double off the center-field wall. "He throws all his pitches for strikes. He's very effective. You can't just go up there looking for one or two pitches, because he's got three quality pitches. Contact pitchers seem to give us our most problems. He was pounding the zone, and we were being a little overly aggressive and getting ourselves out early in the count."
New York finally broke through in the eighth, touching Colorado reliever Jorge Julio for a pair of runs on a leadoff single to left from Ruben Gotay, a double from Jose Reyes, a wild pitch and an RBI groundout to third from Carlos Beltran.
"I don't think you ever anticipate coming in here and getting shut down," Glavine said. "Especially with our offense coming off the weekend we had in Philadelphia. It just goes to show it can happen. [The Rockies] have been struggling, coming off a tough [1-9] road trip. Sometimes the law of averages catches up with you, and maybe tonight was one of those nights."
Despite the confidence that the club has to erase a six-run deficit, there was no getting around the reality of thinking ahead for the remaining two games in the Mile High City. Practical considerations combined with the knowledge that Glavine had been partially a victim of some bad breaks influenced manager Willie Randolph to keep the veteran in for three more innings after his six-run third.
"In this type of ballpark, you always want to cover yourself the next day and not spend your bullpen if you don't have to," Randolph explained. "After that inning, he settled down pretty good and allowed us not to use our long guy. Tommy had a rough inning, but he didn't totally bend. He tried to give us enough to where we could get back in the game, but we didn't get enough offense going."
Putting Monday behind them, the Mets were already looking toward Tuesday before they left the clubhouse, confident that if it comes down to the law of averages, the law is on their side.
"Tomorrow, we got to go up there and not wait until the eighth inning; do it right off the bat," said Jose Valentin. "First two guys in the lineup, those are the guys we need to see on base. It's a whole lot different ballgame when Reyes is on base."
With Reyes and No. 2 hitter Paul Lo Duca held in check to a 1-for-8 outing in the opener, a whole different ballgame is exactly what the Mets are penciling in for Tuesday.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.