Commentary

Ike's big blast propels Mets past Padres

The Amazins' rookie first baseman had never hit a walk-off homer ... until Tuesday night

Updated: June 9, 2010, 11:39 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Ike Davis had flung his helmet airborne midway down the third-base line, and the rookie first baseman was preparing to high-jump into a mosh pit of teammates gathered around home plate.

But as Davis approached the mass of celebrating players after his 11th-inning walk-off homer lifted the Mets to a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, his teammates calmed him down. They feared a repeat of Kendry Morales' freak celebration injury after a similar blast on May 21 in Anaheim that resulted in a broken leg.

[+] EnlargeAngel Pagan, Ike Davis
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesAngel Pagan delivered a pie to Davis' face following the dramatic home run.

"I was going to jump really high, but I saw all my teammates like going, 'No, no, no, no, no.' So I gave like a fun little hop," said Davis, who homered on right-hander Edward Mujica's 1-1 split-finger fastball to lead off the bottom of the 11th.

Said shortstop Jose Reyes, who had pulled the Mets even at 1 with an instant replay-awarded homer in the seventh: "He didn't jump. He just took it easy there. We didn't want him to get hurt in that situation."

Before the blast, the 23-year-old Davis had been in a rut at the plate, despite a 4-for-4 performance on Saturday against the Florida Marlins.

Yet it took him only 45 career games to deliver the first walk-off homer of his Mets career. For the record, the last Met to deliver a walk-off earlier in his career was Craig Brazell, who did it in his 17th game in 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Brazell's long ball handed the Chicago Cubs a critical late-season defeat that put their postseason chances on life support.

"It was awesome, especially to win a game with one swing," Davis said. "Walk-offs are amazing. I think that's really like my first true walk-off in my life. So that was pretty sweet. Considering I've been going through a little rough patch here and not making contact, it made it even better."

Said starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey, who had limited the Padres to one run in nine innings: "It's the first one for him, but it's not going to be the last. That's definitely for sure."

After the home run, Angel Pagan greeted Davis with a ritual pie to the face. Davis had experienced that once before, when his teammates used shaving cream after his major league debut.

"It was burning, and it was in my throat, and I couldn't breathe," Davis recalled.

This time, Davis quickly -- and gratifyingly -- learned his teammates had used whipped cream, not shaving cream, to make the impromptu pie.

"As soon as they hit me, I said, 'Oh, god,' because it got all the way back in my throat again," Davis said. "[Then] I went: 'Oh, that's pretty good.'"

It was two years ago this week that Davis was drafted 18th overall with a compensation pick the Mets received from the Atlanta Braves after Tom Glavine re-signed with his former team. Davis hit zero homers in 215 at-bats in 2008 with Class A Brooklyn after signing with the team, and never thought after that experience that he would be in the majors this soon.

Now, Davis appears certain to break the franchise record for most games started in the cleanup spot by a rookie. He's at 17 games already. The record is 27, by Steve Henderson in 1977, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Others rookies that Davis will soon unseat: Cleon Jones (25 times in the cleanup spot in 1966), Jason Phillips (20, 2003), Ron Swoboda (20, 1965) and Jesse Gonder (18, 1963).

"Definitely, after my first year of pro ball, I was like, 'I'm in here for the long haul. We're going to have to really work our way up,'" Davis said. "It was quicker than I thought. I thought maybe at the end of this year I would have got a September call-up or something.

"It's a pleasant surprise."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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