Mets End Season With 4-0 Win Over Astros
By Dan Miller
The New York Mets, facing a franchise low in the 21st century, met the Houston Astros in a game that meant nothing in the standings but pride for those who wore Mets uniforms on this last home game of the 2009 season.
The Mets sent Nelson Figueroa (2-8, 4.70 ERA) to the mound to face Wilton Lopez (0-1, 9.42 ERA) for the Astros. The Mets have a record of 69-92 and are in fourth place in the National League Eastern Division, 23 games behind the league-leading Philadelphia Phillies, who have the opposite record to the Mets (92-69).
The Mets drew first blood in the bottom of the third inning when Angel Pagan hit a one-out triple off the outstretched glove of Astros right fielder Hunter Pence. Luis Castillo drove Pagan home with a sacrifice fly to center field giving the Mets an early lead.
The Mets put two more on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Carlos Beltran, leading the Mets in batting with a .326 batting average, singled. Daniel Murphy singled to right and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, moving Beltran to third. Jeremy Reed walked, putting runners on first and third with one out. Mets catcher Josh Thole singled to center, driving in Daniel Murphy and putting the Mets up, 2-0.
Anderson Hernandez, filling in for injured Mets All Star Jose Reyes, hit a come backer to the mound. Lopez threw to shortstop Tejada, who threw to first base in an attempt to complete a double play and end the inning. Instead, Miguel Tejada’s throw to first was high over the head of first baseman Lance Berkman, keeping Hernandez safe at first and permitting Thole to score. The Mets pitcher batted next and immediately struck out, ending the Mets’ rally and leaving the Mets with a 3-0 lead after four innings.
Jeremy Reed led off the fifth with a triple and scored when Thole, the next batter, doubled him home. By the end of the fifth, the Mets had increased their lead to 4-0.
Nelson Figueroa came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning to a standing ovation from the paid attendance of 38,235 that put the Mets season attendance at 3,154,262.
Figueroa received an even greater ovation when Carlos Lee, the last Astros batter, flied out to left fielder Jose Pagan to end the game. Figueroa was named as co-player of the game. Figueroa pitched a complete four-hit shutout on 113 pitches, 76 that went for strikes. This was Figgy’s first complete game shutout of his career and the second complete game shutout for a Mets pitcher this season, the first accomplished by Pat Misch on September 27 in a 4-0 win over the Marlins.
Mets left fielder Angel Pagan shared player of the game honors with Figueroa for his outstanding season-ending 4-4, including a single, two doubles and a triple. His triple in the third inning set up the Mets’ first and winning run. With his triple, the Mets extended their franchise record for triples, set only a day earlier. Pagan’s triple gave him 11 triples for the season and put him in third place in the majors in that category. Pagan is only the fourth player in Mets history to hit ten or more triples in a single season. Jose Reyes was credited with reaching double figures in triples in each of the last four seasons. Reyes hit 17 in 2005 and 2006, 12 in 2007 and 19 in 2008. Mookie Wilson hit 10 triples in 1984, while Lance Johns hit a franchise record of 21 triples in 1996.
Pagan also tied Jose Reyes for most extra base hits during a single game this season. Jose Reyes hit three doubles on May 13 against the Atlanta Braves.
Luis Castillo’s bunt sacrifice in the first inning was his 19th of the season, the most sacrifice bunts in Mets club history since Felix Millan sacrificed 24 times during the 1974 season. Tejada, filling in for injured Mets shortstop Reyes, extended his hitting streak to 21 games in the fourth inning, the longest current hitting streak in the National League. During that time Tejada has been hitting .407 (33-81). He is making his mark to make the club for next season.
More than 3 million fans paid to see the Mets play in the inaugural season of their new Citi Field home.
Before the game a number of Mets, mostly younger players, took to the right field sidelines to sign autographs and pose for photographs. The pre-game fun included a visit to the Mets dugout by a group of 20 kids from Harlem RBI an after school not-for-profit organization that provides afternoon, weekend and summer academic and sports activities for more than 700 kids living in Harlem.
Their motto, “Play, Learn, Grow”, is carried out in activities on the east side of Harlem, not too far from Coogan’s Bluff—sacred to the memory of older baseball fans as the field where the hottest team in the National League once played; i.e., the New York Giants, with players such as Christy Mathewson, Bobby Thompson and Willie Mays and where in 1962 the New York Mets played for their first two seasons until Shea Stadium opened in 1964, just in time for the New York World’s Fair held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.