The game was on Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 and was the second of a three game series against the Red Sox. Mike Pelfrey was pitching for the Mets and Josh Beckett was pitching for Boston. The Mets were playing the game without 1B Carlos Delgado, who was already out for the season, and Jose Reyes who was in the midst of the first couple of games missed due to an at the time unknown hamstring injury. Carlos Beltran was in the lineup, but DHing because he was hurt. Daniel Murphy was leading off for the Mets.
The Mets squeezed out a run in the top of the first inning, while the Red Sox countered with two in the bottom half. Pelfrey looked like he was on the ropes, but neither team scored for the next seven innings. Pelfrey left after seven, and was followed by Pedro Feliciano, who threw a scoreless eighth. Beckett pitched 8 innings, giving up just the one run.
I remember the ninth inning so vividly. Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to finish the Mets off, and he started by walking the leadoff batter, Gary Sheffield. And I remember saying to myself, "A leadoff walk against a reliever is like an inside the park homerun." Papelbon did his best to shut me up by striking out David Wright and Jeremy Reed, blowing each away with unhittable fastballs.
Next came Santos. Out of nowhere, he timed the first pitch fastball he got from Papelbon and crushed it, deep off the Green Monster for what looked like a double. Sheffield was being held at 3B by coach Razor Shines. As Sheffield was running throught the stopsign, it appeared that contact was made between Shines and Sheffield, a violation that would have resulted in Sheffield being ruled out, ending the game. However, that was not called.
As for the 2B, from where I was sitting I could not tell whether the ball went out; it happened so fast. Jerry Manuel came out of the dugout and all the umpires got together. Then they left the field to review the play. My first positive signs were that they were not showing the replay in Boston, which meant there was some doubt over whether the ball hit the wall as opposed to going over. While those watching TV had a perfect view of the ball hitting the chair above the Green Monster, I had to wait in suspense for the umpires to return to the field. I remember, telling my mom, "If they change this call, I'm going nuts." And sure enough, to the dismay of most of the crowd, the umpire signaled it was a homerun. And I'll never forget that feeling as I jumped out of my seat watching Santos jog around from second base, to home and then the Mets pounding him as he reached the dugout.
Of course, the game finished with set-up man JJ Putz getting the call in place of the unavailable Francisco Rodriguez. Putz got through a shaky inning thanks to two tremendous plays from fill-in SS Ramon Martinez. Santos finished his only full MLB season hitting .260 (73-281) with 14 2B, 7 HR and 40 RBI. He most recently spent this spring training in Detroit Tigers camp trying to make a return to the big leagues. I've seen a lot of solid games among the 158 games I have seen in person, but this was the most exciting game I have ever been at the ballpark to see.