David Wright spoke in basic, but his smile told a much complex story.
First inning, Citi Field, yesterday afternoon and Wright was rounding the bases after hitting a two-run, opposite-field homer off Josh Johnson … his smile carrying him as much as his legs.
Wright, who seemingly talked himself out of hitting for power early in the season, and later that lost summer was felled with a concussion after taking a Matt Cain fastball to his head, had just gotten the Mets off to a fast start in turning the page from a disastrous 2009.
Could one swing of the bat set the tone for a summer?
“I don’t put too much stock into home runs,’” said Wright, who hit only ten of them last year, one of them last Opening Day he was quick to remind when the “tone” word surfaced.
Logic says no, that Mets 7, Marlins 1, was simply one game, but the game gave us a glimpse of what could happen when Wright’s team puts it all together for an afternoon. Yesterday was a blue print of what needs to happen.
The Mets need pitching more than power and Johan Santana was superb. And, with their suspect rotation, they need the bullpen late and Fernando Nieve gave them two sterling innings and Francisco Rodriguez was perfect.
Last summer, the Mets hit a major league low 95 homers – the only team not to hit 100 – so their offense must generate runs and take advantage of what is offered. So many opportunities were wasted last year, but yesterday they parlayed three Florida errors into four runs. A gift, yes, but too many times last year they came away empty in similar spots.
The new guys, Gary Matthews, Jason Bay and Rod Barajas had two hits apiece, and Matthews showed he can cover center until Carlos Beltran’s return. “I think it was an all-around good effort,” Wright said.
“We caught the ball, we pitched well and obviously had some timely hitting. You can’t ask for much more than that, first game of the season.” Wright is correct, it’s only one game, but it’s better than if it had been one game the other way.
For a team coming off two late season collapses and a free-fall summer, that played with frustrating mediocrity this spring, winning sure as hell beats losing.
“By no stretch of the imagination are we where we want to be right now,” said manager Jerry Manuel, who looks at winning in a more personal, job-preserving vein. “The important thing is that as you put the pieces into place that you win games. “We played well. We played all 27 outs.”
There will be times this summer when they don’t. All teams, even champions, have those moments. And, there will be times this summer when the smile Wright wore yesterday will be a frown.
But, it was finally nice to see him smile. “It’s good to see David get started,” Jeff Francoeur said. “David has to step up. It has to be his team.”
And, yesterday it was.