Fresh off referring to the Yankees as chickens in the New York Post, Frank Francisco was called on to close out Friday’s game. It wasn’t pretty and he didn’t strike out the side like he promised, but he was able to escape a jam to notch his 18th save as the Mets won the first game of the weekend Subway Series by a score of 6-4.
The Mets plated five out of their six runs in the first inning off Andy Pettitte, the big blow of which was a three-run home run by Ike Davis. He actually got a little help from Nick Swisher, as the ball deflected off his glove and over the right field fence as he was attempting to make a leaping catch. Pettitte settled down after the rough first while the Yankees chipped away against Jon Niese and the Mets’ bullpen, getting home runs from Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Robinson Cano.
The man of the hour, Frank Francisco, entered the top of the ninth with a two-run cushion and got Russell Martin to fly out to deep center field for the first out. In typical Francisco fashion, he made things interesting by walking Raul Ibanez and giving up a single to Derek Jeter, but he was able to get Curtis Granderson to strike out looking and induced a pop up from Mark Teixeria to end it. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who had Luis Castillo flashbacks on that last one.
The Mets are now winners of four straight and will enter play tonight at a surprising 39-32, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East.
Your Friday box scores:
Nationals 1, Orioles 2
Tigers 1, Pirates 4
Braves 4, Red Sox 1
Twins 5, Reds 4
Blue Jays 12, Marlins 5
Rockies 1, Rangers 4
Indians 2, Astros 0
Brewers 1, White Sox 0 (10 innings)
Cardinals 11, Royals 4
Dodgers 5, Angels 8
Giants 5, Athletics 4
Mariners 5, Padres 9
Cubs 1, Diamondbacks 6
Rays/Phillies – postponed, doubleheader on Sunday
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”