Carlos Torres was surprised to be pitching in the second inning after Daisuke Matsuzaka left the game because of an upset stomach. Curtis Granderson was surprised to see his name in the leadoff spot before he blasted a home run in the first inning.
Yet the biggest surprise, perhaps, was that the Mets hung on to beat the Padres, 3-1, Sunday at Citi Field despite the circumstances.
Things were dreary for the Mets before the game even started when Terry Collins deemed relievers Gonzalez Germen and Dana Eveland unavailable and stressed the need for Matsuzaka to pitch deep into the game. The manager also didn't know if his closer, Jenrry Mejia, who missed the previous two games with a stiff back, was healthy.
Then the Mets' odds quickly grew bleaker. Matsuzaka, who was ill even before he took the mound, still gave it his best shot. He pitched a scoreless first inning before deciding he couldn't go on.
At that point, Collins said he thought, "We better add on some runs right here because tomorrow, I don't know what we're going to have.''
In other words, beating the Padres, baseball's worst-hitting team, and finally winning a series after dropping three of them in a row became as close to a must-win for a struggling team in mid-June as it could possibly get.
With three relievers throwing eight stunningly effective innings, the Mets got one.
Torres (3-4) was summoned and allowed three consecutive singles that led to a run in the second, but he retired the next three batters. He gave up a run, three hits and one walk and struck out four in four innings. Vic Black pitched two scoreless innings before Mejia, suddenly looking very healthy, earned his seventh save with two perfect innings.
"This was a big win for us,'' Collins said. "It's really a boost for everyone on this ballclub.''
The Mets had dropped nine of 11, and another loss would have made them a season-worst nine games under .500.
"It was absolutely amazing,'' Granderson said. "It's a good thing to pick things up. Every little thing could definitely help get things moving forward. All positive things that we can hopefully build upon.''
Granderson had not started since Wednesday because of a sore left calf. His shot to the Pepsi Porch in rightfield was the Mets' first leadoff homer this season and his first since 2009.
Daniel Murphy doubled off Ian Kennedy (5-8), David Wright walked and Bobby Abreu belted a run-scoring double. Four batters into it, the Mets surpassed their offensive output Saturday in a two-hit shutout.
Granderson was 2-for-3 with his ninth homer and two walks. First baseman Lucas Duda made two nifty plays in the ninth and had two doubles in four at-bats.
Murphy's sacrifice fly drove in Anthony Recker to make it 3-1 in the second inning, and the bullpen made the lead stand.
"It says that we're here and ready to do our job,'' Torres said. "[Matsuzaka pitching only the first inning] obviously was an extreme circumstance and something that doesn't happen every day, but everyone here -- defense, offense -- everyone tries to step up and do their job every day.''
With a few relievers unavailable, it was imperative, Terry Collins said, that Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch into the seventh inning.
The Padres certainly didn't knock the Mets starter out with their bats. It wasn't that Matsuzaka walked too many. His throwing arm didn't appear too tired.
No, an upset stomach, of all things, was Matsuzaka's demise Saturday.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised if you looked up and in the seventh or eighth inning, he'll still be out there," Collins said before the Mets beat the Padres, 3-1, at Citi Field and avoided falling a season-worst nine games under .500.
Surprise. By the second inning, a different pitcher was on the mound for the Mets.
Matsuzaka was visited on the mound by a trainer after issuing his second walk with two outs in the first inning. He finished the inning without allowing a run, but did not return.
Carlos Torres was summoned in relief and allowed three straight singles that led to a run in the second, but then retired the next three batters to end the inning.
Torres allowed one run, three hits and one walk while striking out four in four innings to pick up the win. Vic Black pitched two scoreless innings. Jenrry Mejia, who had not pitched since leaving Thursday's game with a stiff back, converted the two-inning save.
Collins was right about at least one thing, though: plugging Curtis Granderson into the leadoff spot for the first time this season worked.
Granderson, who had not started a game since last Wednesday because of a sore left calf, blasted a homer to the Pepsi Porch in rightfield. It was the first leadoff homer for the Mets this season and Granderson's first since 2009.
Daniel Murphy followed in the inning with a double, David Wright walked and Bobby Abreu belted a two-run double. Four batters into it, the Mets surpassed their offensive output Friday, when they were shutout and mustered only two hits.
Granderson was 2-for-3 with his ninth home run and two walks. Lucas Duda made two nifty defensive plays at first base in the ninth and went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
Daniel Murphy's sacrifice fly scored Anthony Recker to make it 3-1 in the second inning.
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