MLB: Just one swing, that's all it took for injured Met catcher to hit winner
By Tim Leonard
The Record (Hackensack N.J.)
NEW YORK — Rod Barajas didn't swing the bat in the on-deck circle. The Mets' catcher didn't offer at any of the first four pitches thrown by Giants reliever Sergio Romo, either.
Barajas felt like he had just one swing in his throbbing left index finger before the digit went numb. That swing was a game-winner.
Barajas hit his second home run of the game, a towering two-run drive that just cleared the fence down the left-field line in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Mets a 6-4 victory over San Francisco in front of 34,681 at Citi Field on Friday night. The walk-off home run was the first at Citi Field the Mets their eighth straight win at home.
"I knew I had one good swing and my finger would go numb," said Barajas, who was hit on his glove hand by Eli Whiteside on an attempted pitchout that wasn't outside enough in the seventh inning. "I gave it a good swing. My whole body went numb after the ball went over the fence."
The home run was Barajas' team-leading ninth of the season. With left fielder Jason Bay still struggling to find his home run stroke, Barajas has been invaluable after signing with the Mets late in the off-season. The catcher has seven home runs, 10 RBI and 10 runs scored in his last 11 games.
"When I hit it, I wasn't sure. I thought it had a pretty good chance to go out. I was hoping, hoping, hoping," Barajas said, his finger submerged in a cup of ice water. "Then it was just, like, exhale. I was hoping so bad for it to go out of the park. I knew the place would go crazy and the boys would be out there to greet me."
There were plenty of heroes for the Mets on this night.
Rookie first baseman Ike Davis also hit two home runs and made a remarkable tumbling catch in the ninth inning to prevent the Giants from taking the lead after closer Francisco Rodriguez had allowed the tying run. Davis walked before Barajas ended the game. The two hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. It was the first time the Mets have hit back-to-back home runs this season.
Davis was more pleased with the catch he made than the two home runs. Pablo Sandoval was at the plate with runners on first and third and two outs. The Giants' third baseman lifted a foul ball and Davis reached as far as he could for the ball, jumping and flipping over the dugout railing. Alex Cora was there to make sure Davis didn't land too hard.
"I'm going to try to catch any ball I can," Davis said. "We want the chance to put one on the board and walk off. We needed to get out of that inning."
The game started with questions about Mike Pelfrey, who complained of tightness in his pitching shoulder after his last start against the Phillies and had an MRI on Monday.
Pelfrey wound up going 7°innings, allaying any concerns. Pelfrey threw just 85 pitches before being removed. He did admit to feeling some stiffness after the game, but nothing close to how it felt after his previous start.
"When I go out there, I expect to compete, whether my arm is falling off or I feel good," he said. "It's way better than last time."
HONORS FOR THWARTED ATTACK: Hours after another bomb scare paralyzed Times Square, the Mets honored two street vendors and two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers who thwarted the attempted terrorist attack on Saturday.
Vendors Lance Orton Sr. and Duane Jackson, along with officers Frank Formato and Paul Casquarelli, were given a rousing ovation by the Citi Field crowd before the game. Another officer, Robert McConkie, was not in attendance.
"Lance and I were in the right place at the right time," said Jackson, who grew up in San Francisco, said. "I'm keeping my day job. (Saturday) morning, I'll be out there on 45thStreet and Broadway."
The two vendors have been hailed as heroes for alerting police to the smoking SUV parked on 45th Street near 7th Ave with the engine running and hazard lights flashing.
"I'm planning on writing a book so I don't want to say too much," Orton said, when asked about his background, which, like Jackson, included a stint in the Navy. "I've been waiting for something big to happen."
LINCECUM IN FUTURE: One of the most consistent starters in baseball will face one of the most inconsistent on Sunday, when San Francisco's two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum opposes Oliver Perez.
The Mets' best chance may be if Lincecum is denied entry to Citi Field. It's happened before to the right-hander, whose shaggy hair and slight frame make him look more like a teenage skateboarder than an ace.
"It happened a little bit more the last few years rather than now," said Lincecum said. "I had to remind the guy that I'm actually a player. It was twice at Shea and once here."