Mets outslugged in finale at Fenway
Red Sox rally against Redding to derail sweep attempt
BOSTON -- As if this road trip needed some lopsided bowtie to link the absurdities of the past 10 days, Mets starter Tim Redding climbed on the Fenway Park mound in the first inning Sunday and began pitching through torrents of hail.
"I've pitched in snow in Rochester, N.Y., in high school and college," Redding said. "I can honestly say I've never thrown with a hail storm out there until today."
Whether or not Redding was hurt by the 36-minute delay that ensued -- "It definitely didn't help," he said -- hardly mattered. Nor did the fact that the Mets ultimately dropped a 12-5 game to the Red Sox. Considering that nine Mets -- more than one third of the active roster -- missed time due to injuries, sickness or setbacks this week, and that the team still salvaged a 5-5 road trip, manager Jerry Manuel could hardly look at Sunday afternoon's loss with any sort of regret.
"I'm glad we got out of here alive," Manuel said.
They flew out of Boston on Sunday beaten, bruised and hardly boisterous, but they also did so with their dignity intact. Had the Mets lost Friday's series opener to the Red Sox and then won Saturday and Sunday, they would have been positively crowing about their salvage job in a three-city, two-coast road trip that has now come to a merciful end.
Instead, they won two out of three in Boston the more disappointing way, squandering what early chances they had to secure a series sweep. Afterward, their speech was laced with what some might argue to be misplaced regret.
"I don't think 5-5 is ever good," David Wright said, referring to the road trip as a whole.
"We just couldn't finish them," Carlos Beltran said, ruefully.
But consider the context. Playing despite injuries to Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez, among others, the Mets ran into perhaps the hottest team in baseball -- the Dodgers -- and perhaps the most perpetually stellar team in the league -- the Red Sox. And their fractured club somehow salvaged a split on a trip that had been advertised as their toughest of the season.
Sunday was no less damaging than any other day, after third-string shortstop Ramon Martinez -- the emergency backup to the injured Reyes and Alex Cora -- told Manuel that his aching back might prevent him from starting. He did so anyway. But by the eighth inning, Martinez could play no more, forcing Manuel to replace him with the team's fourth option at shortstop, Fernando Tatis.
If Martinez and Reyes are both unable to play again Monday -- and after Sunday's game, Reyes cast doubt on his ability to do so -- then Tatis will have to start the first game at shortstop in his decade-long career.
But that's a worry for another day -- Monday. On Sunday, the Mets' greatest worry was their pitching, which did not come particularly close to silencing the Red Sox. Redding allowed the Sox to score multiple runs in three separate innings, before reliever Brian Stokes saw the game push out of reach when he served up Kevin Youkilis' three-run home run in the seventh.
Playing with only two regulars -- Wright and Luis Castillo -- at their Opening Day positions, the Mets could not mount nearly enough of an offensive attack to draw even. Despite tagging Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield for five runs in six innings, they were punchless against Boston's bullpen. And it's not difficult to see why.
"We ran out of gas," Manuel said. "We kind of ran out of people."
A new week won't exactly bring relief -- at last check, Reyes, Delgado, Cora and others are all still injured. But games at home against the Nationals and Marlins should provide more margin for error than games on the road against the Dodgers and Sox. Citi Field will be a welcome respite.
There, the Mets will still have to rely on Ramon Castro, who homered Sunday, and Angel Pagan, who walked and scored, and Jeremy Reed, who was one of three Mets to single home a run. But they'll gladly fight those battles in Queens.
"The way we're playing right now, we have to forget about all these injuries that have been happening to us," Beltran said. "I think, as a team, we're kind of getting caught up a little bit in thinking that we're missing this guy, we're missing Delgado, we're missing the guys that are hurt. Basically, we need to move on and play with what we've got."
Late Sunday evening, the Mets sat tied for second place in the National League East, merely 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies. Considering all that they've endured in recent weeks, that's hardly a bad place to be.
"That's OK to come in here and win two out of three," Manuel said. "In the situation we're in right now, to win two out of three I think was huge for us here."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.