Last night was one of the great nights in the history of New York baseball.
The beloved New York Mets beat Atlanta Braves’ ace, Derek Lowe, in a gut-wrenching game, while the World Champion New York Yankees blasted two clutch, ninth-inning home runs against Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to beat the hated team from the great state of Massachusetts.
The best right-handed pitcher in New York, Mike Pelfrey, hurled seven and two-third innings of solid baseball, improving his record to 5-1, as the Mets beat the Braves, 3-2.
Rod Barajas, who is having one of the most productive seasons of any catcher since the halcyon days of Roy Campanella, staked Pelfrey to a two-run lead with a double in the second inning.
For all intents and purposes, with Pelfrey on the hill, that was the game.
In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading, 3-2, the Braves somehow had the bases loaded with two outs. Pedro Feliciano was not especially concerned as he stuck out Brian McCann to end the threat.
In the ninth inning, the Braves had Yunel Escobar on second with two outs. New York baseball’s best closer, Frankie Rodriguez, reared back for a little extra and easily struck out Nate McLouth to finish off the Braves.
Meanwhile, back in New York, the Red Sox were leading the Yankees, 9-7, in the top of the ninth inning. With Sox runners on first and third, Kevin Youkilis was the batter.
Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate. The call went to the bullpen for right-hander Javier Vazquez to replace lefty Damaso Marte. All Javier did was strike out the Red Sox’ clean-up hitter, again demonstrating the baseball acumen of general manager Brian Cashman.
Going to the Yankees’ half of the ninth, almost none of the knowledgeable fans had left, as Jonathan Papelbon came in to save the game.
Brett Gardner greeted the over-rated Boston closer with a double. After getting Mark Teixiera on a fly ball for the first out, Papelbon had to face old rival Alex Rodriguez.
The greatest right-handed hitter to ever play for the Yankees sent the first delivery he saw from Papelbon deep into the Red Sox bullpen in left center field, where Papelbon had warmed up a few minutes earlier.
The game was tied.
Papelbon was shaken, but he remained in the game because Terry Francona is a lot like Joe Torre.
Robinson Cano was retired on a fly ball to center field, but Papelbon, still seething, hit Francisco Cervelli to put the potential winning run on base. Marcus Thames was the batter.
It didn’t take long. Marcus sent Papelbon’s first pitch over the left field fence as the Yankees once again reminded Boston who they are.
May 18, 2010 is a portent of things to come. The Mets are on the way back, and the Yankees, who never left, showed why they are the defending champions. What a night.