Newark, New Jersey and Flushing, New York
Wednesday, April 15th - Thursday, April 16th
Three trips to Jersey in a week and a half! Whodathunk it?? After making the realization that Newark was a quick and easy jaunt (by our standards) from home, and much more convenient to get into the city than actually driving into the city, we headed back here again for one last time (this month at least!).
I had gone online and purchased tickets for a Mets game at CitiField earlier in March. We wanted to have a chance to see 'our' new digs as early in the season as we could, without spending a fortune on StubHub for opening day tickets, so we attended the third game at CitiField instead of the first. In the meantime, after I bought the Mets tickets, the New Jersey Devils made the playoffs, and it just so happened that they were home on Wednesday night, the day before the Mets game - BONUS!!
We left Binghamton mid-afternoon on Wednesday, and arrived in Newark around 6:00 or so. We had made reservations at the Hilton Newark Penn Station (again)(Room 630 - $151.62 for the night), and it proved once again to be a great base of operation - we could walk to the Prudential Center through covered walkway and to Penn Station through the same covered walkway to get the train into the city.
After checking into the hotel, we made our way to the Prudential Center. We walked around both the upper and lower concourses to get another and better look at the place. Michael played one of the games on the upper concourse, and I grabbed a Jimmy Buff's Italian hot dog (YUM!!). We went back to the lower concourse and found our seats. We sat in section 4 for this game - great sightlines from where we were! Jill had a 'turkey club' (which they called an italian wrap, and Michael had a sausage sandwich. Somewhere during the game, we had some french fries, and between two and three Michael got a sundae from the Carvel stand right outside of our section. We made our way back to the hotel after the game. Jill and I were actually still a bit hungry, so after tucking Michael into bed we went down to the hotel restaurant and grabbed a late night bite to eat.
The next morning, we ate breakfast in the room, packed up and threw our stuff in the car, and then boarded the PATH train for the ride into the city. We came into the World Trade Center station, and from there we grabbed the E train to Times Square. Mike had never been to Manhattan before, and we figured this was as good a place as any to start out! We walked around the Times Square area, then up to Rockefeller Center. From there, we grabbed the 1 train to 34 Street and wandered around the outside of MSG, and we did some shopping at the Gerry Crosby store (a Lundquist Rangers jersey for Max). Being just about lunchtime, we hopped back on the 1 train to Times Square and had lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. there. Afterwards, more walking around including the Hershey Store and the M&M store, and lastly we found the Mets Store on 42nd Street. From here, we hopped onto the 7 train and headed out to our new MLB home!!
Our first order of business when we got to Citi was to find out brick. After a bit of searching we found it! Then it was time to go in, entering through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. We wandered around the stadium, checking out the new digs - what an awesome place they had built here! Jill had dinner at the El Verano Taquería, a very yummy chicken taco!; I had a Shake-cago dog from Shake Shack, and Mike ended up with a hot dog I think. We also had some fries from Nathan's in the process as well. Mike did the dunk tank and batting cages on the center field promenade as well.
The seats I bought for our first game here were in the upper deck, on the third base side. It was a good view, but we were UP there, especially when we're used to sitting in box seats five rows up at home! As the game went on, the wind continued to swirl around, the temp dropped, and the Mets just didn't play well, so in about the 7th inning we left. A beautiful new home, but the same old team. Back to Newark via the subway and PATH, and then home to Binghamton after that
New Jersey Devils 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1
NEWARK, N.J. -- There's something about the Stanley Cup Playoffs that brings out the offense in Mike Mottau.
The stay-at-home defenseman, who has five career goals in 179 regular-season games, scored his second postseason goal in just six playoff games Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. He scored the opening goal in the Devils' 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes when he gained control of the puck along the wall, made a nifty move around Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose and then beat Cam Ward with a low wrist shot from just inside the right point with 3:57 remaining in the first period.
"It was just getting pucks to the net in traffic," said Mottau, who also scored in last year's five-game series loss to the New York Rangers. "The forwards did a good job getting traffic in front of Ward. It was a seeing-eye wrist shot. It was nice to get the first goal and gain some momentum from that."
But what about the move around LaRose? Where did that come from?
"I knew it was a turnover and the guy was kind of closing in on me," Mottau said. "I tried to chip it to an area and get it through. It was real important, with the crowd into it. It was good to come out with the lead in the first period. I don't score too often. The other guys took over after that. (But) it's a good sign if I'm putting the puck in the net."
The puck appeared to dip before it got past Ward, although replays showed no signs of a redirection. Mottau was asked what could have caused the mysterious movement.
"I think it was just a lack of velocity," he joked.
After contributing some offense, Mottau and New Jersey's other defensemen did a spectacular job of shutting down Carolina's high-powered offense. The Devils didn't allow more than seven shots in any period and gave up just 19 for the game, making it a relatively-easy night for Martin Brodeur. New Jersey kept Carolina off the scoreboard until Ray Whitney made it a 3-1 game at 9:22 of the third period. Jamie Langenbrunner quickly took any momentum away from the Hurricanes, scoring 29 seconds later to restore the Devils' three-goal lead.
"Motts played very well," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. "It wasn't just the fact that he scored, it's how he got the goal. The play he made just inside the blue line and just getting the puck to the net. I don't think Cam saw it until the very end. I think a couple of guys crossed in front of him. But Motts made a very good play."
Moments after the puck got past Ward, Mottau jumped into the arms of defensive partner Colin White. It made Zach Parise smile from ear to ear, seeing Mottau so excited after the rare tally.
"That was a big goal for us," said Parise, who scored his first goal of the playoffs 59 seconds into the second period. "It gets the crowd excited and it gets the bench excited. We didn't look back from there. It was a great celebration from him, too. It was fun to watch. It looked like someone who just put in his 50th."
Much like Sutter, Langenbrunner was just as proud of Mottau for his defensive efforts as for his goal. The Massachusetts native was a plus-1 in 13:17 and helped keep the Hurricanes' high-octane offense at bay all night long.
"Some guys can rise up," Langenbrunner said. "He played great all night, even if he didn't score a goal. It was just a great job of playing defense and it was nice to see him get rewarded."
San Diego Padres 6, New York Mets 5
NEW YORK -- A three-run first inning and a short start by Padres ace Jake Peavy are typically causes for celebration.
"I think everybody would have said that's mission accomplished," third baseman David Wright said.
But with Peavy on the ropes, Thursday's crowd of 35,985 watched as the Mets could not deliver a fatal blow, letting the Padres hold on to a lead gained through a five-run third inning en route to a 6-5 win to secure the series.
"We continue to put ourselves in a good position," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We just haven't been able to finish it at this point."
It wasn't that the Amazin's lacked any fight. With a chance to christen Citi Field with its first series win, the Mets jumped on Peavy from the get-go.
Jose Reyes hit a game-opening single off the 2007 Cy Young Award winner and Daniel Murphy followed with a walk. A balk call with Carlos Delgado batting advanced the runners, but it hardly mattered, since Delgado smashed the ensuing 3-0 pitch over the right-center-field fence. The blast traveled an estimated 440 feet and extended Delgado's hit streak to 14 games, dating back to Sept. 24, 2008.
Peavy's 44-pitch first inning had the right-handed ace in an unusual position: vulnerable.
With one out in the fourth, the Mets continued to push Peavy's pitch count and apply steady pressure. Reyes beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball, which was followed by Murphy's ground-rule double down the left-field line.
But Peavy didn't crack, and got Wright to strike out looking to thwart the Mets' attack.
"That's why he is who he is," Manuel said of Peavy. "Despite his struggles and our battle with him, he never really gave in.
"I thought we had some chances ... but he kept hanging in there making plays."
Peavy didn't allow another hit and exited after five innings, with Delgado's three-run knock his only blemish.
But the Mets' early cushion wasn't enough for right-hander John Maine. After cruising through the first two frames with barely a hiccup, Maine opened the third with a walk to Henry Blanco. Three of the next four Padres connected for a base hit, then San Diego batted around the order and worked Maine for a 46-pitch, five-run inning.
It was a frustratingly familiar story for Maine, who has struggled with inconsistencies within his starts.
"It just seems a lot of time it's just one inning that does me no good in a game," said Maine, who was visibly upset as he stood in front of his locker.
Although the Padres collected just one extra-base hit, all three of the batters Maine walked -- one intentionally -- went on to score.
"He was just behind hitters a lot," catcher Ramon Castro said. "When you get behind the hitters, that's what happens."
After pitching around Adrian Gonzalez in the third inning, Chase Headley made Maine pay for it with a two-out, two-run double. Headley finished the night with four hits and three RBIs and was a source of irritation for Maine, who denied that his increased velocity has made his fastball more difficult to maintain.
"I mean, it's just frustrating. I made some good pitches, and they just hit it and put it in play," Maine said. "I just couldn't get a ball to go by somebody, and it's just frustrating."
Frustrating, in fact, aptly describes Thursday's narrow loss.
"It seems like one inning there is killing us," Wright said. "We are playing seven or eight good innings, but then there's one or two innings where we just kind of take a little detour."
The Mets' offense tried to right the ship in the eighth inning, when the red-hot Ryan Church opened with a single and Castro connected for a two-run blast, sending a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence to put the Mets within one run.
Veteran slugger Gary Sheffield came on to pinch-hit and drew a one-out walk to put the tying run on base, but Padres reliever and former Met Duaner Sanchez got Reyes to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"They came through when they needed to," Maine said. "They had guys in scoring position. Even with two outs, they did it."
On Thursday night, that made all the difference.
Our seats for the Devils game were in Section 4, Row 23, Seats 14-15-16.