- Last Updated: 12:01 PM, June 21, 2012
- Posted: 2:57 AM, June 21, 2012
The Mets nearly got another complete game out of a starting pitcher last night, and they almost needed it.
Closer Frank Francisco made things interesting in the ninth inning after Dillon Gee shut down the Orioles for most of the night. Francisco walked in a run before escaping with the bases loaded in the Mets’ 4-3 victory.
Francisco threw 33 pitches in the inning, 11 of which were balls, as he picked up his 17th save of the year. The 250-pounder said after the game the 90-degree heat affected him.
“It was hot today. I was sweating like crazy,” Francisco said. “I think I got tired a little bit. They gave me a great fight — a lot of foul balls — and they got me tired a little bit. . . . [It] seems like I’ve got to run a little more to get in shape.”
Manager Terry Collins had Miguel Batista warming in the bullpen as Francisco walked the tightrope, but stuck with the big reliever.
“Well, he’s my closer, and actually he’s been throwing great,” Collins said. “Cripes, he hit 97 today and made some good pitches. [Wilson] Betemit’s at-bat is what got the pitch count up. I thought Frank was throwing it really good. He hasn’t been out there much. He needs the work. That’s why I stuck with him.”
The Mets bullpen hardly has been called upon lately because of the outstanding pitching from the team’s starters. Francisco had not worked since Sunday against the Reds. Collins said he wanted to get Francisco in last night and, at one point, was worried that Gee was going to take a shutout into the ninth and prevent him from using Francisco.
“I haven’t been pitching on a regular basis, but I keep doing my routine every day,” Francisco said. “I know it’s not the same, but I think the whole thing [last night] was the heat.”
Francisco gave up consecutive base hits after recording one out in the ninth. He threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third and then walked Mark Reynolds to load the bases. A four-pitch walk to Steve Pearce brought in a run and made it 4-3. The Citi Field crowd gave a mock cheer when Francisco threw a strike to Brian Roberts, who eventually grounded out to end the game.