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News » New York 'pen avoids bloodshed in 1st showdown

New York 'pen avoids bloodshed in 1st showdown

New York 'pen avoids bloodshed in 1st showdown
The major roadways leading in and out of Philadelphia early Friday night resembled shopping mall parking lots at Christmas.

That's the only reason about half of the seats at Citizens Bank P ark were empty when the Mets- Phillies game began.

Eventually, a sellout crowd of 44,773 settled in to see Opening Day II.

That's what it felt like.

Either that or October.

A special sizzle is in the air when the Mets are in town.

Phils-Mets has become the National League's version of the Yanks-Sox holy war. Even judging from the buzz and the buzzed at the parking lot tailgates, you could sense this wasn't a series with the Nats, Fish or Brewers getting started.

The Mets won the first of 18 meetings between rivals, 7-4, in a game that had plenty of everything, including bad baserunning.

Still at the end, Phillies fans were standing at full-throat, expecting another Big Apple choke even though the tying run was in the on-deck circle.

Alas, there were no chokes on this night. K-Rod, signed in the offseason for just this purpose, got Ryan Howard flailing away for the final out.

The Mets needed this one more, and not because they needed to prove they could beat the Phillies . They actually did it 11 out of 18 times in 2008, although the seven Phillies wins seemed to have more of an impact because most were by comeback -- like the September night the Mets blew a 7-0 lead and lost 8-7 in 13 innings.

No, the Mets needed it more because they stumbled out of April at 9-12 and have been as disappointing as some of the sight lines at their new Citi Field home. Even GM Omar Minaya already was saying some nasty things about them, sniping that they needed to compete with "more of an edge."

"I guess we had an edge tonight," manager Jerry Manuel said.

The edge was really the pitching -- and hitting -- of starter Mike Pelfrey.

He had an RBI single and knocked in two runs, but was more impressive on the mound where he battled through 51/3 innings and 104 pitches, working around seven hits and four walks.

Pelfrey handed over a 7-3 lead to three relievers who combined to hold the Phillies to just one hit -- a Chase Utley homer --in the final 32/3 innings.

Someone needs to give the Mets a chance of winning in the four days between Johan Santana starts and Pelfrey filled the bill on this night.

Mets fans may not want to open their eyes today when Oliver Perez (1-2, 9.31 ERA) takes the ball.

Following the pregame script, Pelfrey downplayed the importance of getting Game 1 vs. the Phils.

Still there was a little extra giddiness in the Mets' clubhouse.

"It's only one win," Pelfrey said. "No matter who it's against, it's important to win. This one's over with now and you just have to come back tomorrow and play well because they're a very good team."

K-Rod, who lost his Angels' halo and talked trash the minute he arrived in NYC, took the same drab one-win-at-a-time tone.

"Every game is very important for us, especially in the division," he said.

Even from the other coast, K-Rod knows what went on the last two Septembers. No need to gloat over a win on the first of May when you haven't proven you can nail them after Labor Day.

He knows there will be 17 more of these stomach-twisters between these two.

K-Rod said it was "unbelievable" what he heard from the fans hanging out near the Mets' bullpen.

Actually, he ain't heard nothing yet.

For more on Keith's

night in Philly , see

Groller's Corner.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 5, 2009

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