Saturday, September 02, 2006

Carlos Beltran Saves 4-2 Mets Win over Astros in Ninth, but is Hurt Smashing into Fence

By Nicholas Stix

Mets closer Billy Wagner held off the Astros tonight, with a lot of help from his friend, centerfielder Carlos Beltran.

With Astros on first and second base and one out in the ninth inning, the Astros’ best hitter, Lance Berkman, who earlier in the game had hit a cheap solo shot to the shallow "Crawford seats" in left field, was at bat. Berkman drove an almost 100-mph fastball, that at first looked like it would go out of the park and win the game for the Astros. Then, with Beltran seemingly hopelessly out of range, the drive came down towards the left-center field fence, an extra base hit that would tie the game. But Beltran incredibly made up ten feet, leapt, and made a backhanded catch, as his left knee smashed into the bullpen fence. Beltran then sprang back towards home, and made a strong, accurate throw to the infield, in case an Astros baserunner failed to get back in time.

Beltran then lay down, grimacing in pain. After a perhaps five-minute delay, Mets trainer Ray Ramirez walked Beltran back to the dugout, to ice his knee down. Although the outfielder, who has so far been the team’s MVP this season, was limping, he was able to put pressure on his left leg.

New acquisition Shawn Green went in for Beltran.

After making some warm-up throws during the delay, Wagner was able to catch the next batter, Chris Burke, looking at a fastball for strike three, to end the game.

Afterwards, Beltran’s teammate, left fielder Cliff Floyd, said Beltran will “suck it up” and play, but it is too early to know what sort of shape Beltran is in.

Rookie Mets righthander John Maine (5-3) got the win; rookie Astros righthander Jason Hirsh (2-3) took the loss. Both pitchers were sharp.

After the game came word that Beltran had suffered a knee contusion.

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