Gwynn’s Homer Leads the Padres Past Mets, 7-4
Tony Gwynn’s broken-bat, three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday lifted the Padres over the New York Mets, 7-4.
Yes, he really broke that little bat of his. As he rounded the bases a bat boy picked it up and saw the crack.
Later, teammate Carmelo Martinez cracked: “Where’s that bat! I want to hit with it!”
Gwynn said it was his greatest moment. Last year, he homered in the ninth off the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela to give the Padres a 1-0 win, but that was in the top of the ninth.
“I’ve never, ever done something like this in the bottom of the ninth,” he said.
He hit it off Jesse Orosco on the first pitch. Gwynn said he was thinking fastball because Orosco thinks fastball early in most counts.
“I’ve always had trouble with Orosco,” he said. “I think I only had a bloop single (against him) last year.”
There was no doubt about the homer.
“I’m kinda surprised I did it,” said Gwynn, who leads the National League with a .357 average but is known for singles, not homers.
The Padres, 22-18 and winners of four straight, are a half game out of first place.
The Mets had made threats in the ninth themselves. Facing Lance McCullers, Mookie Wilson collected his fifth hit of the night--a bloop single-- and two walks later, the bases were loaded with two out.
In came Goose Gossage.
Out from the dugout came Gary Carter, who had homered earlier in the evening.
Lifetime, Carter was 1-for-7 against Gossage and had struck out three times.
Make it four, as Carter went down on four pitches.
Padre starter LaMarr Hoyt was on the wild side Friday.
He walked four batters, the first time he’d walked that many as a Padre and something he hadn’t done since June of 1984. He had only one walk all year going into the game. And last season, he gave up just 20.
Still, three of the four walks Friday night came in the first three innings. After the third, Hoyt settled down into his rhythm, using that big leg kick of his to help nip the black of the plate.
“It’ll solidify the staff (if he continues to pitch well),” Manager Steve Boros said. “And it’ll make winning streaks possible--that’s what we’ve lacked. Face it. Most of your stretches in baseball are streaks. A good pitcher like that keeps you out of a losing streak or continues your winning streak.”
The fourth walk did in Hoyt. Ray Knight--leading off the seventh--drew it, and then Howard Johnson singled to left. Len Dykstra dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Hoyt was taken out.
His replacement: Gene Walter, a lefty who would make the next batter--the switch-hitting Wilson--turn around and hit right-handed.
This year, Wilson was hitting 2-for-13 right-handed.
Here came the first pitch. Wilson hit it for that two-run triple, erasing a 4-2 Padre lead.
This was Wilson’s fourth hit. And while he stood on third, hoping to be the fifth Met run, Walter retired Wally Backman and walked Keith Hernandez intentionally. There were two out. Darryl Strawberry, now 6-for-59, then struck out on a 3-and-2 fastball.
So Hoyt didn’t get a victory.
But he got a hit. He tears up Met pitching. Last year, he collected his first major league base hit off Dwight Gooden, and, Friday, he had his first hit of 1986 off Sid Fernandez. That’s five career hits for him now.
Friday’s came just after Graig Nettles had homered to right to tie the game at 1-1 in the second inning and just after Carmelo Martinez got the first of his two hits on the night. Hoyt lined one past first baseman Hernandez, moving Martinez--sore left knee and all--to third. Martinez then made it 2-1, scoring on Fernandez’s wild pitch, and Hoyt came around to third.
Funny, but before the game, Hoyt couldn’t hit. During batting practice, he kept popping them up in the cage. Then, he broke his bat. As he walked for a new one, he hurled the broken one, and it came within feet of decapitating Tim Flannery and Terry Kennedy.
Hoyt’s hot batting streak came to an end in the fourth, when he failed to sacrifice with runners on first and second. Three times he tried to bunt, and three times he missed.
He hurled the bat again.
Nettles gives Fernandez a bad time. Before Friday, he was 4-for-7 lifetime. Nettles hit his first pitch to him for a home run. It was Nettles’ second homer of the year off left-handed pitching and his sixth of the season.
Is he slowing down at age 41?
“I’ll never retire,” Nettles told John Shea of the Escondido Times-Advocate. “I’ll play until the team I’m playing for--and all the other teams--say I can’t play anymore. There’s nothing else I’d rather do right now. I play for two reasons. One, for the fun, the other for the money. When it stops being fun, I’ll play for the money.”
Steve Garvey’s two-run homer in the third made it 4-1. Suddenly, the Garv has nine homers, moving him to third place in National League home run derby.
Carter must like it here. He hit five home runs in a two-day span in San Diego last season.
Padre Notes While the Padres play these days, Bip Roberts--who has a groin injury--sits in the clubhouse twiddling his thumbs. He says the Padres won’t let him sit on the bench. He says he’s not sure if they’ll let him go home. He listens to the games on radio; he bugs equipment manager Brian Prilaman. “This is driving me crazy,” said Roberts, who has missed three games now. Manager Steve Boros, who had thought that Roberts might be back in uniform by Monday, isn’t so sure now. Roberts took some ground balls Friday but didn’t move much laterally. “It may not be Monday,” Boros said. “Monday might be a little optimistic.”