Upon further review, Omir Santos
is a hero.
With the gimpy Mets down to their final out at Fenway Park Saturday night, and Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon having blown away David Wright
and Jeremy Reed
on strikeouts, the third-string catcher jumped on a first-pitch fastball for a two-run homer that lifted the Mets to a 3-2 victory that may define their season.
That is, Santos delivered the decisive blast after the initial call that the ball had struck high on the Green Monster and dropped back into play was reversed by a video review. Gary Sheffield
and Santos waited on third and second base, respectively, for the ruling, confident the ball had struck something above the line designating a homer, since the shot didn't ricochet hard back into play. It was the first replay review in the history of Fenway, baseball's oldest park.
The comeback came in the unlikeliest of circumstances. The Mets (23-19) were limited to one run in eight innings by Josh Beckett, who outdueled Mike Pelfrey
. They were facing a closer without a blemish on his résumé this season, and an opponent with the best home record in the AL entering the night and a 19-0 record when leading after six innings. And the Mets were competing shorthanded, with Francisco Rodriguez
the latest injury casualty. K-Rod was taken to the hospital via ambulance after the victory with severe back spasms.
Santos has a short swing, Jerry Manuel
has often said, making him the ideal candidate to face a flamethrower like Papelbon, at least in his manager's estimation. Manuel had been vilified back at Citi Field when he called Santos from the bullpen to pinch-hit for Ramon Castro
against Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth on April 29. Santos popped out to end the game. The manager had this type of at-bat on his mind then.
It's production like Saturday night's homer that may endanger Castro's roster spot when Brian Schneider
returns from the DL, potentially within a week. The simplest decision has always been to option Santos to Triple-A Buffalo when Schneider returns, but the 28-year-old rookie's production (.270, 15 RBI) has vastly exceeded any other catcher with the team.J.J. Putz
, who had been unavailable Friday because of neck discomfort, walked leadoff hitter Kevin Youkilis in the ninth trying to protect the sudden one-run lead. Putz was bailed out by fielding that had not been displayed by the Mets all season. A smash down the third-base line by Jason Bay was backhanded by Wright. He bounced a throw to Luis Castillo
, who did a stellar job keeping his foot on second base to retire the lead runner. J.D. Drew then smoked a lineout to right field. Putz then picked up his second save as a Met on a highlight-reel play by Ramon Martinez
Yes, Ramon Martinez. The fill-in for Jose Reyes, who had four errors in his first two starts at shortstop, backhanded Mike Lowell's grounder deep in the hole and fired a one-hop strike to Daniel Murphy
at first base to end the game.Notable performances:Carlos Beltran
was 1-4 as the DH, with a run scored.Gary Sheffield
was 1-3 with a run scored and a RBI, as well as a walk.Jeremy Reed
and Ramon Martinez
went 1-4.Omir Santos
, the performer of the game, was 2-4 with a run scored and two RBI's off of his two-run, game winning home run. David Wright
had a rare poor day at the plate, going 0-4. His average dipped to .353.