What a game last night, as Mike Pelfrey (8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO) outdualed Arizona ace Brandon Webb, in a 13-inning thriller that should have ended calmly in the ninth. Instead, due to what I believe was a poor decision by Willie Randolph, Billy Wagner gave up a three-run home run to Mark Reynolds that tied the game. In my view, Pelfrey should have been pinch-hit for in the bottom of the eighth, which would have let Wagner come on in the ninth with the bases clear. I’m not sure what Billy’s percentage of blown saves is with baserunners already aboard when he enters the game, but I’m sure when I look it up later I’ll find that it’s much higher than without baserunners aboard.
Pelfrey was through 110 pitches (a career high) in the 8th. He led off the bottom of that inning. Now, obviously, there are two conflicting schools of thought here. One would let the starter bat so that he could finish off his gem of a game, and go for the complete-game shutout. The other would play it safe for the team, and pinch-hit for the pitcher, trying to stimulate a rally and buy more insurance runs, letting the elite closer finish out the game, giving the starter what should be an automatic win.
It’s incredible how two fans can disagree about such a thing. MetsBlog’s Matt Cerone takes the first approach, even going so far as to say that Willie shouldn’t have pulled Pelfrey after he allowed a baserunner in the top of the ninth with no outs. I completely disagree, and think that it was a terrible idea for Willie to let Pelfrey bat in the eighth. Sure, I understand that it’s great to go for the complete game shutout for Pelfrey, a guy who’s arm is integral to the team’s future success. But Pelfrey is only one of twenty-five, and, in this situation, you have to play it safe. Sure, it’s Wagner who ultimately allowed the home run, but that lead baserunner would never have been aboard if Pelfrey hadn’t started the ninth inning.
The good news is that Carlos Beltran bailed everybody out, walking off with a long ball to end the game in the 13th. The bad news is that the Mets take the field this afternoon, with very little rest for an already banged-up team.
By the way, I now agree that Mike Pelfrey belongs on this team. He’s shown flashes in the past, but this year, despite a few roadblocks, his flashes have been closer and closer together. I think he’s finally turning the corner. Good for you, Big Pelf.