Mets 1, Astros 0, 11 innings
NEW YORK (AP)—Mets manager Willie Randolph couldn’t have designed a more perfect game plan.
Kazuhisa Ishii matched Roger Clemens for seven innings and Jose Reyes hit an RBI single with one out in the 11th inning Wednesday night to lead the Mets to their third straight victory, 1-0 over the Houston Astros.
“This is the kind of team we want to be, staying in all the innings,” Randolph said. “They came through at the right time.”
After Victor Diaz walked leading off the 11th, late-inning defensive replacement Chris Woodward sacrificed him to second. Reyes then hit a bouncer that Astros reliever Dan Wheeler (0-1) reached up and deflected with his glove, but the ball continued past second.
The Mets ran from the dugout and mobbed a smiling Reyes on the infield, hitting him on the helmet and jumping up and down, after the team used a late-inning rally for the third game in a row to improve to 3-5.
“I was trying to be extra careful because first base was open, Wheeler said. “I made a good pitch, he didn’t really hit it good. With their speed your defense has got to be on its toes.”
The Mets scored five runs in the eighth innings on Sunday and Monday for comeback wins against Atlanta and Houston—in New York’s home opener.
Said Astros manager Phil Garner, when asked why he pitched to Reyes with Kaz Matsui on deck and first base open: “It’s not Babe Ruth up there.”
Mike DeJean (1-0), the fourth Mets pitcher, worked the 11th for New York. Roberto Hernandez pitched a hitless eighth, and Braden Looper worked a 1-2-3 ninth and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 10th for the Mets.
Ishii and Clemens each allowed two hits over seven innings. Each team finished with four hits.
“(Ishii) set the tone today, he shut them down,” Looper said. “It was important for him to do that against Roger Clemens because your margin for error is pretty small against him.”
Nearly five years after then-Yankees ace Clemens hit Mike Piazza in the head with a pitch, the adversarial relationship—stoked by the tabloid press— seems to finally have petered out, at least to the fans. Shea Stadium was about a quarter full for the first pitch, and while fans greeted Clemens with boos, the taunts of “Roger! Roger!” were absent.
The 42-year-old Clemens worked the outside of the plate against Piazza, inducing him to ground into a force play after Carlos Beltran’s two-out single in the first. He walked him in the fourth and retired him on a fly to center in the sixth.
Clemens didn’t seem to have his most overpowering stuff on the 45-degree night. But he struck out nine, increasing his career total to 4,335. Clemens remains tied with Steve Carlton for ninth on the wins list with 329.
“It was just a very tight ballgame, juts had to be mistake free,” Clemens said.
Ishii came to the Mets in a March 20 trade with Los Angeles after Steve Trachsel injured his back. The left-hander with a 36-26 career record wore out the patience of the Dodgers because of his wildness. On Wednesday, he walked three, including the leadoff hitter in the third and sixth innings, but showed poise in shutting the Astros down.
“I thought he was particularly tough,” Garner said. “He was hitting different speeds. II don’t think anybody got a good pattern on him.”
Ishii also got a lucky bounce.
In the third inning he walked Willy Taveras leading off. After Taveras stole second and was sacrificed over by Clemens, Ishii threw a ball to the backstop but it ricocheted back and Taveras had to hold at third.
Diaz made a long run for a catch in right in the seventh to help Ishii out of the other leadoff walk.
Looper hit Craig Biggio with a pitch on the right forearm starting the ninth on what appeared to be a swing. Biggio immediately fell to the ground, holding his hand but stayed in the game. On his way to first base, the crowd of 22,431, upset with the non-swing call, booed loudly. He was replaced in the field for the bottom half.
X-rays on Biggio’s forearm were negative and he said he was day to day.
Mets LF Cliff Floyd strained his left side during batting practice and was held out of the lineup as a precaution. … Biggio doubled in the sixth inning and has a hit in all seven of the AStros’ games. … This was Clemens’ first start at Shea Stadium since June 15, 2002, when he was with the Yankees.