Friend of mine fired off a quick e-mail to me after today's game in which the Marlins and Mets went at it for nine highly entertaining innings before the Marlins prevailed 10-8. This guy is semi-retired and takes in about 20-25 Marlins games a year in person while watching the rest on television when he's chilling out at Saratoga during the summer. I'm not sure Secretariat impressed him as much as Chris Coghlan did today with his long at bat.
"The best at bat I have ever seen," he gushed. "He had one last year in late April (11-pitch walk) that sent him on his way. Deja Vu?"
Without question, Coghlan's 12-pitch in the seventh inning was pure drama and high achievement all wrapped into one. The Marlins had managed to squander a 7-0 lead. The Mets had clawed back to make it 7-6, and those of us in the press box were starting to reel off the epic chokes, not that this would have ranked on a national scale. We came up with the obvious ones -- Red Sox/Yankees in 2004 and Boston Bruins just this week -- when Coghlan came off the bench to pinch-hit with two on in the bottom of the seventh and Fernando Nieve on the mound for the Mets.
Coghlan gained the intitial advantage, running the count to 2-1, when Nieve and he started to wage batter-pitcher war. Coghlan fouled off the next seven pitches. And I mean the foul balls were going in all different directions. A ball on the 11th pitch turned it into a full count.
Coghlan: "He threw everything he had, and when you're able to foul those off and see every pitch he has in the course of an at bat, I think as it gets deeper and deeper, it gives the advantage to the hitter. He threw some nasty pitches and I was fortunate enough to foul some off. And then when I got to 3-2, I knew he had to come over the plate, he left one up, and fortunately I was able to capitalize on it."
Coghlan gave the ball a ride over the wall in right-center, one of the deepest parts of the ballpark, for a three-run home run that gave the Marlins a 10-6 lead. More than anything, though, it gave the Marlins a chance to breathe, a jolt of fresh life. It was only the second pinch-hit of Coghlan's career. The other, also a home run, came last season. Asked if he was developing a knack for the special skill of pinch-hitting, Coghlan laughed.
"Pinch-hitting's good but I'd like to start," Coghlan said. "But, yeah, I couldn't draw it up better either way than that."
, It's been a tough start for Coghlan following his Rookie of the Year season. But if a long at bat got him going in '09, perhaps Sunday's lengthy plate appearance will have the same effect.