Mets relief pitcher Vic Black throws against the Cincinnati Reds...

Mets relief pitcher Vic Black throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth inning in Cincinnati. Black earned his first save of the year as the Mets won 4-2. (Sept. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

CINCINNATI -- Mets manager Terry Collins expressed concern on Tuesday night that closer Bobby Parnell might not be at full strength after undergoing surgery to correct a herniated disc in his neck.

It's why the manager was watching closely as Vic Black notched his first career save in the Mets' 4-2 win over the Reds.

"As I'm sitting here I'm hoping and praying Bobby Parnell comes back 100 percent," Collins said. "I don't know if you saw him but when he
left, I'm worried. We've got to find somebody that certainly can pick that role up."

During the game, Black certainly looked the part.

The Reds have clinched a postseason berth and appear to be headed for a wild card matchup, though home-field advantage is still up for grabs. Nevertheless, Black calmly dispatched of the Reds in the ninth inning.

He struck out Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. But Frazier reached base when he whiffed on a third strike that bounced past catcher Travis d'Arnaud. Nevertheless, Black bounced back to get Zack Cozart to hit into a game-ending double play.

Of Black's 14 pitches, 12 were for strikes. His fastball touched 97 mph and he got whiffs on two of the three curveballs he threw.

"I was very curious, I really was," said Collins, who wanted to see how Black responded to pressure. "And I'm going to tell you something: that's the best he's thrown. He pounded that strike zone, challenged Jay Bruce, which in my opinion is as good a lefthanded hitter as there is in this league."

Black joined the Mets as the player to be named later when the Mets traded veterans Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates.

Since then, the 25-year-old righthander hasn't been shy about his ultimate desire to close out games.

"That's my childhood fantasy right there," said Black, who is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 relief appearances with the Mets.

Even after the game, Black relished the role, saying "you want to break peoples' hearts." His first save was made even sweeter by the fact that it came against the Reds. An uncle in Texas didn't care for the club, Black explained with a laugh, and "set a bad image in my head."

Said Black: "I've never really liked the Reds."

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