SAN DIEGO — "Let's go Mets! . . . Let's go Mets! . . . LET'S GO METS!"
Inning by inning by inning, the cheers grew louder, as if this were New York Jack Murphy Stadium. The San Diego Padres, perhaps a little confused, played as a road team might play.
The Padres slipped up Monday night. They could have gone ahead in the seventh inning, but Graig Nettles rounded third base and fell. He got up off his hands and knees and scored to tie the game, but poor Marvell Wynne--who had been heading for third--had to stop in mid-stride because, for all he knew, Nettles might head back to third. So Wynne was out in a rundown and watched from the dugout as the next batter, Garry Templeton, doubled. Wynne would have scored the go-ahead run. He later said: "What could I do?"
Met pinch-hitter Ray Knight stepped up with two on and two outs in the eighth and ripped a tie-breaking RBI single to left. Left fielder Kevin McReynolds--who earlier in the day had been named National League Player of the (last) week--went to pick it up, but he also slipped and literally booted the ball 15 feet. Rafael Santana scored from first, and the Mets went on to delight many in the crowd of 18,605 with a 5-2 victory.
"There were a lot of (bleeping) Met fans up there," Padre catcher Terry Kennedy said. "They must have had a trip here for a bunch of their fans. Nah. If we were going good, it would be chic to be rooting for us. But it's the in-thing this year to be a Mets fan."
Pain is in for the 1986 Padres. Pitcher Eric Show was taken out Monday night while he was pitching a perfect game. In the second inning, his right elbow--the one that has hurt since early July--acted up and he told Manager Steve Boros he wasn't sure how long or far he could go. He was getting everyone out, so he figured he'd try. In the third inning, though, after he had retired his seventh consecutive batter, Show shook his head and couldn't go on.
Dave LaPoint--who said before the game: "My ERA's 5-Oh-1. I'm pitching like a good pair of blue jeans"--threw a pair of good innings until the Mets scored twice to lead, 2-1. San Diego native Kevin Mitchell drove in the first run in the fifth, and reserve third baseman Howard Johnson drove in the next run in the seventh.
Johnson was playing third only because the regular, Knight, was nursing a sore thigh. Johnson said he isn't having as much fun as the other Mets because he's on the bench a lot.
"Baseball's my life," he said. "If I'm not doing well or not being used to my satisfaction, I'm not satisfied."
Meanwhile, the people who were chanting for the Mets were getting what they wanted. And the Padres were going down the tubes. Let us count the misplays:
--San Diego scored its first run in the first inning on McReynolds' RBI single. McReynolds, who had been told by team president Ballard Smith that he didn't work hard enough, certainly was happy to answer with player of the week honors.
But he wasn't too emotional. "Somebody has to get it, I reckon," he said.
But right after McReynolds' base hit, Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey tried a hit-and-run play. Gwynn, who was on second base, got a great jump to third, but Garvey hit it to the one place he shouldn't--third base--and the Mets turned a double play.
--Gwynn led off the sixth with a single, and Garvey followed by hitting a ball hard to left-center. Gwynn thought it was a certain base hit and took off at full speed. But left fielder Mitchell said he used to watch Garvey play when he was growing up here and knew exactly where to play him.
"I shaded him to left-center," Mitchell said. "If I hadn't, the ball would've been in the gap. But I've been watching Garvey my whole life."
--The Mets led, 4-2, entering the ninth. Tim Teufel hit a slow grounder to short, but Templeton bobbled it and was charged with an error. Two outs later, Mookie Wilson tripled and gave the Mets an unearned insurance run.
--The Padres put two on with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Templeton was called out on a slow chopper to the right side. Replays showed him safe, but baseball umpires don't consult videos. Dane Iorg grounded out to end it.
"Let's go Mets!" the fans screamed.
Afterward, Gwynn marvelled at the team from New York.
"The Mets showed us why they're the best in the National League," he said. "It's awesome watching those guys play. . . . It's not fair to the rest of us."