07/24/10 3:04 AM ET
Bay's big hit breaks open win for Mets, Johan
Left fielder makes mark with three-run double, tough catch
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
The first was the position of the bat on his shoulder, because the change he made was almost imperceptible. After 100 swings in batting practice Friday afternoon, Bay had the stick resting slightly on his shoulder, something he took away from a high-school level drill earlier in the day. The result was two hits, three RBIs and a breathing-room, bases-clearing double in the top of the eighth inning that gave the Mets their first four-plus-run game in 18 days.
That was plenty behind Johan Santana, who improved to 4-0 in four career starts against the Dodgers with a seven-inning, five-hit, one-run performance.
"It was great, I mean I felt like I had good at-bats all night," said Bay, who was 2-for-4 after being dropped to seventh in the lineup. "Obviously you guys have been watching much better than I have been. It was nice to just get some results and see a little light at the end of the tunnel, know that what you're working on is working. With that magnitude and it being two outs in the eighth and bases loaded, that was big in a lot of ways."
The second clip to watch was Bay's running catch from right to left into the Dodgers' bullpen gate in left field, because he just can't remember exactly what hit what. Most of the gate is chain-link, but some of it is padded, including the middle partition where the doors open and it appeared Bay made the most impact. The gate held up, but Bay essentially crumpled on his back, remaining down briefly until his outfield mates helped him up. He had the ball, robbing Jamey Carroll to end the second inning with none on.
"I think the pad kind of helped a little bit. I've got chain-link, dirt matted on my pants, and my legs hit that, too," Bay said, showing the marks on his left knee. "I haven't even seen the replay. You guys probably have a better idea than I do. All I know I was lying on the ground, I heard everybody go 'Oooh.'"
"You know it's coming, but you kind of hope that you've got that one step to kind of put your arms up and kind of absorb it and I didn't. The body absorbed most of it. But I kind of gathered my faculties after I smoked it."
Bay was removed from the game after his double in the eighth, but manager Jerry Manuel said that was precautionary. Bay said he didn't hit his face, and the only pain he felt after the game was in his knee. With no promises about Saturday morning, Bay said his back was fine, although he admitted he was skittish going for a ball down near the line the next inning. Even at the time of impact, he was surprised he wasn't in more pain.
"I'm like, I don't know yet, give me a second," he said. "I was walking off the field, I kind of felt like I could try to run off, and then it's just like, eh, let's walk."
His double was a hit Bay and the Mets sorely needed. Bay was given the day off Thursday after striking out eight times in his last 12 at-bats. Entering the game, his July batting average was .169. And the Mets' offense on Thursday had dropped to a low not seen since 1981 -- three shutouts on the same road trip.
"That was probably the biggest hit for us, for Jason to be the guy after we take a couple walks," said Manuel, who was ejected in the second inning. "That was huge."
"We stayed in the game from the first pitch all the way to the last one," Santana said.
The Mets broke a 17-inning scoreless streak out of the gate. Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo got the offense rolling with hits on Vicente Padilla's first two pitches. Reyes one-hopped the right-field wall for a ground-rule double, and Castillo dropped down a perfect bunt to the left side. Padilla struck out the heart of the Mets' order consecutively afterward, but an error on a double-steal attempt plated Reyes with two outs. Padilla allowed one earned run in seven innings.
"He did a great job, he was moving the ball around, he was very aggressive and getting quick outs," Santana said of Padilla. "I always love the challenge."
Ike Davis broke a 1-for-17 slide with his 14th homer of the season leading off the second, on the second Eephus pitch Padilla tried on him in the at-bat. The Mets could have had at least another run in the second following Davis' leadoff homer were it not for a missed call at first base that led to Manuel's ejection.
"It's a speed difference of 40, 50 miles per hour," Davis said. "I just stayed through it ... it's more like softball."
Defense took over in the middle innings as Padilla threw just 29 pitches from the third through the sixth. After Bay's catch, Angel Pagan got in the act with consecutive sliding catches in the fourth inning, one carrying him into foul territory, and Carlos Beltran slid in shallow center to take away a hit in the sixth. Shortstop Reyes made a dive up the middle later in the inning that kept a runner from advancing to third.
The only Mets player to struggle Friday was David Wright, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
"They had David's number tonight," Manuel said.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.