Pitching on nine days rest, the end result of a snafu where the Mets couldn’t clear a roster spot on Friday, Erickson placed himself into position for his first victory in almost two years with ease.
The 36-year-old right-hander held the defending World Champions to two runs (one earned) through six innings, handing a 5-2 lead over to the bullpen only to miss out on the decision when relievers Orber Moreno and Braden Looper faltered.
"The bottom line is to win the game," Erickson said. "That puts a damper on everything. In a game like this, winning is more important than the personal stuff."
But for Erickson, the ‘personal stuff’ was notable. After a lengthy rehabilitation assignment and a stint in the minor leagues, Erickson was finally back on a Major League mound, the first time he could say that since August 31, 2002.
"I feel like I'm ready to finish the season with the Mets and pitch in October," Erickson said. "I won't have any setbacks. The hamstring thing was a freak incident and it will never come back."
Perhaps, but what if the Mets pursue another front-line pitcher like Benson or Johnson? Erickson promised he’d be fine with that as well.
"We want to win,” Erickson said. “If they can get Randy Johnson, who's going to argue? If I've got to be in the fifth spot behind Randy being in the fourth spot, I can't complain.”
Soft hits get Braden: Looper allowed four straight hits to open the ill-fated ninth inning, flushing away the Mets’ 5-4 lead when Miguel Cabrera dunked a soft liner to center to tie the game. Former Met Lenny Harris – who visited the Mets clubhouse before the game in some kind of strange time warp – drove home the winning run with a pinch-hit single to right.
Later, manager Art Howe shot down the idea that Looper’s four-out save against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday had somehow affected his ability to record outs Monday night.
"He threw 10 pitches [Sunday]," Howe smiled. "Nice try. It didn't affect him."
Armando seals it again: Florida’s Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth inning around a single to Ty Wigginton, striking out pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd to strand the tying run at first base. The former Met is now 7-for-7 against his old club this season.
Bryan Hoch is the managing editor of New York Mets Inside Pitch Magazine.