Bonds Shuns Media, Mets Win in 12
Members of the media were all gathered in the visitor's dugout at Shea Stadium on Tuesday. It was no secret who was supposed to give his 'regular media session before the first game of the first series in each city.' Everyone one was in place and watching every person to ascend from the tunnel. There was one problem - Barry Bonds decided he didn't want to do it.
Members of the San Francisco Giants began to take the field for batting practice around 5:00 pm. A few players even joked with the media, as if they were the scheduled guest. Shortstop Omar Vizquel said with a smile, "I'm not talking today, guys."
Manager Bruce Bochy took the seat reserved for Bonds and did what he can to satisfy the hunger for another. He explained that Bonds was not in the line-up for the opener of a three-game set for a scheduled day off, and that "It's up to Barry. He's approaching 43. Let's just say he's got a lot of baseball left. When Barry hits home runs, we have a better chance to win. We're going to need him all year, so we try to give him days off when we can."
Regarding the amount of reporters at every place the Giants play, Bochy said, "We expect it. He [Bonds] expects it. All of this off the field stuff, I don't give it any thought. We're just 25 guys."
34 minutes later, Bonds finally emerged and was noticeably limping going up the dugout steps, his injured knee still bothering him. The first sight of Bonds heading to the batting cage brought a cheer from the people in the stands gathered near the Giants' dugout. Bonds 'wowed' them with a shot off the middle of the scoreboard in rightfield. More cheers followed when he left the field to retreat back to the security of the clubhouse.
Not one scribe expected baseball's second-leading all-time home run hitter to come out and say much, especially anything related to his rumored performance-enhancing drug use. At this point, no one can hope for that. But Bonds should have at least did the bare minimum of what the Giants' media relations department stated he would do. Especially considering that this is the Giants' only appearance in New York. There was no word if he would hold his press conference on one of the other days during the series.
With all the pre-game distractions, it was hard to remember that a game was still to take place. The Mets returned home after a successful road trip, which culminated in a three-game sweep in Florida. They now lead the Atlanta Braves by four games in the National League East. The Giants come into the series being swept by the Colorado Rockies at home over the weekend.
A match-up of hot young starters was the big story with Bonds sitting this one out. Oliver Perez (6-3, 2.54 ERA) faced Tim Lincecum (2-0, 3.08 ERA). Both have given their clubs a lift in the early going of the season.
Randy Winn led off the game with an estimated 385-foot shot to left field on a 2-1 pitch for his 12th career lead off home run. Catcher Bengie Molina then put one out the same way with two outs to put San Francisco up, 2-0.
The Giants' young righthander had retired every batter he faced until walking Carlos Beltran with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning. That brought up Carlos Delgado, who promptly tied the game with a home run into the Mets bullpen.
In the bottom of the sixth, Beltran doubled home Jose Reyes to give the Mets a 3-2 advantage. The Giants got even in the top of the seventh inning when leftfielder Dan Ortmeier hit his first major league home run with no one on base.
The game was still knotted up at three in the bottom of the ninth when David Wright hit one to the top of the right field wall with one down for a double. Paul Lo Duca was intentionally walked to set up a possible double play, bringing up Damion Easley, who popped out. 48 year-old Julio Franco, pinch hitting for Carlos Gomez, hit a hard grounder up the middle that Vizquel made a diving stop on and then recovered in time to flip the ball to second baseman Kevin Frandsen to force Lo Duca and end the threat.
Bonds came up as a pinch hitter in the top of the 10th inning to a loud chorus of boos and a chant of 'You take steroids.' Whatever good feelings that were present during batting practice were not during the heat of battle. Mets' lefty reliever Scott Schoenweis walked the slugger on five pitches, and the crowd of over 47,000 began to serenade Bonds with a 'Barry s***s' chant. Frandsen then lined a ground-rule double to right field, putting two runners in scoring position. Aaron Heilman then was called on by manager Willie Randolph to face Brooklyn-born Rich Aurilia. One pitch later, Easley grabbed a line drive for the third out.
The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. Russ Ortiz, the former Giant standout starter, walked two and hit a batter in the inning. Wright than came up with a chance to win the game. He hit the ball on the screws to dead centerfield, but Winn was able to track it down and prolong the evening.
The Giants took the lead in the top of the 12th inning when Delgado nearly pulled off an inning-ending double play. He grabbed a grounder hit by Winn, touched the first base bag for the out and then threw home. Lo Duca made a nice play on a low-thrown ball, but Vizquel was able to get in under the tag on a close play.
The Shea boo-birds made themselves heard once again when former Met and current Giant closer Armando Benitez came on for the save attempt. Reyes worked out a walk and then was balked to second base. Endy Chavez sacrificed him over to third before Beltran grounded out to second with the infield in for the second out. Benitez then committed his second balk to bring Reyes home with the tying run. With the crowd still buzzing from the previous play, Delgado crushed a Benitez fastball over the wall in right field for the walk-off home run and a 4-3 Met victory.
"We moved him [Delgado] back to the cleanup spot," Randolph said in his post-game press conference. "And tonight he cleaned up."
A visibly upset Benitez sat alone by his locker after the game. To his credit, he met members of the media and did not look to pass the blame. "No excuse. I didn't do my job today," he said. "Tomorrow's another day. I'll be back tomorrow."
Mingling in the emptying Giants clubhouse, reporters hoped for a Bonds sighting that would not come. His locker appeared well kempt, and a clubhouse attendant lined up the five pairs of brand new Filas sporting the number '25' on the tongue, as well as a pair of shower shoes. That was as close to Bonds as any scribe was going to be on this evening.