Ike Davis' two-run single in eighth lifts Mets over Braves, 4-2
Rare, indeed. But Sunday night, it was not satire to refer to the residents of Citi Field as the Amazin's.
And, rarer still, poor Ike Davis -- the subject of incessant talk about a demotion to the minors -- delivered the big hit, a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning that gave the Mets a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Righthander Shaun Marcum enjoyed a mostly brilliant outing, with a career-high 12 strikeouts and no walks before yielding a go-ahead two-run home run to Dan Uggla in the seventh. Lucas Duda, with three hits, extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games. And Bobby Parnell set Atlanta down in order in the ninth to save the victory for LaTroy Hawkins (1-0).
Enough about all that, though. Davis, failure personified through most of the season's first two months, walked in the second inning, beat out an infield hit in the fourth and, after a routine groundout in the seventh, produced the bases-loaded winner with one out in the eighth.
With the Mets trailing 2-1, pinch hitter Justin Turner had led off the eighth with a single and, after David Wright struck out, Duda bounced a ground-rule double into the seats along the leftfield line. John Buck singled to left, sending Turner home with the tying run, and pinch hitter Mike Baxter was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Davis.
Astonishing, given recent developments. The Mets had lost five in a row and 12 of their last 15, eight straight at home. And Davis needed the 2-for-3 night just to get his average up to .158.
"I like to say I'm calm most days," Davis said. "But we had a conversation before the game about trying to have fun again. For a while there, it wasn't quite fun. So try to smile more, laugh a little more on the field.
"Most Mets fans really hate that. But it's not going to help me perform better by being miserable and not having fun so . . . I'm 1-for-1 with the new approach of having fun."
When Uggla rocketed a slider from Marcum into the leftfield second deck, erasing the 1-0 lead that Duda had provided with his fourth-inning homer, another ring of baseball hell seemed to be added to the Mets' inferno. Collins, speaking of the players' frustration before the game, said, "One of the things that makes them great players is their pride, and right now that's been damaged a little bit. And that makes them angry."
General manager Sandy Alderson spoke of having no deadline on whether Davis might be sent to Triple-A, with "the goal . . . to get Ike back to the player we know he can be. The biggest pro is that he was able to turn it around last year. The biggest con is that we don't have the luxury of no production out of that spot because we're not getting production out of a lot of spots."
Meanwhile, among the strange suggestions about how to get Davis going came from the publicist for The Amazing Kreskin -- the 78-year-old mentalist who once performed psychic feats on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show'' -- in the form of a letter to Davis offering to have Kreskin "spend a few hours" with the first baseman to improve his batting average.
"With all the speculation going on," Collins said, "Ike might have reached the stage where he said, 'Look, I'm not going to worry about it anymore.' "
Not so easy, though, Davis said. "You always go into the at-bat trying to be loose," he said, "but then you get a nasty pitch on the corner or miss a slider and it's, like, all that tenseness comes back, and you're going, 'Oh my God, I'm 0-for-2 and struck out a fourth time.' It does get stressful.
"But today was better. I'll wake up tomorrow and try to be happy again."