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Truly Benitezian

What a great win Tuesday night.

I'm talking about for the Rays, of course, who stole another one, taking the lead from the Marlins for good on a pair of bases-loaded, two-out, 3-2 count, walks in the eighth inning, and hanging on through a Benitezian ninth inning by Troy Percival, in which the closer was bailed out by fantastic defense (an interesting concept that the Mets haven't employed in 2008) from third baseman Evan Longoria and second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Tuesday was filled with dicey saves and this one may have been the diciest of them all.

I call the performance Benitezian because it was the kind of save that was literally invented by former Mets closer Armando Benitez. It requires pitching an inning or less, while walking at least four batters.

In the history of the save rule, it's a save so dangerous that only three pitchers have done it. Ryan Dempster and than Percival followed Benitez's lead.

The first occurrence of the Benitezian save took place on September 7, 2002. Both the Mets and Phillies were way, way, way out of the playoff hunt, but that didn't mean they couldn't get together for some entertaining baseball.

The story of this game is most important to Tyler Walker, and since I already told you that the Mets won, I'll mention that this was his first big league victory, though it was one that required four innings of help from the bullpen.

We'll skip most of the details (Roger Cedeno and Edgardo Alfonzo homered, if you must know) and note that the Mets had a 5-3 lead in bottom of the ninth inning, so Bobby Valentine brought Benitez in to close.

You could tell that this was going to be a struggle when the first batter, Tomas Perez, fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches and worked an eight-pitch walk. Benitez than went four-wide on Jeremy Giambi after a first-pitch strike to create a scenario in which the tying run was on base.

Rather than wait patiently for Benitez to further implode, Jimmy Rollins bunted the first pitch, moving both runners a base, but giving the Mets their first out of the inning. Prosperity did not suit Benitez well on this day, as he threw four straight balls to Bobby Abreu to load the bases.

It was clear by this point that Benitez had a strategy by which he was trying to slowly kill his manager, his teammates, and Mets fans worldwide. He may actually have done them a favor when he threw four straight balls to Pat Burrell to force in a run and cut the Mets lead to 5-4.

But, much like Percival gutted through Tuesday's ninth inning, Benitez found prosperity in the face of impending doom. He blew Travis Lee away on three straight pitches.

The next batter was Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal, and on a 1-1 count, Benitez induced a tapper back to the mound. My memory is a little foggy on this (the New York Times didn't help much), but I could swear that Benitez came within an inch or two of throwing the ball, and the win away (Am I right??).

Regardless, he got the out, giving Walker his first victory and Mets fans the kind of triumph they wish the team had managed on Tuesday night, rather than such a disastrous defeat.

The Truly Metitezian fans know...Let's call the opposite of a Benitezian performance, a "Spotless save."

We'll define a "Spotless save" as one in which the pitcher went at least one inning, allowing no hits and no walks.

Most "Spotless Saves"
Mets History

87-John Franco
59-Armando Benitez
41- Billy Wagner
24- Roger McDowell
21- Tug McGraw
21- Braden Looper


Anonymous said…
LMAO --- Benitez--Rolaids Reliever of the Decade.

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