NY Sports Day

Mets Open 2010 With 7-1 Rout Over Marlins

After an awful, injury-riddled, 70-win 2009 season during which everything seemed to go wrong, the New York Mets have been marketing their 2010 season behind the slogan “We Believe In Comebacks.”

The Mets won’t need many of those, if they play enough games this year like their 2010 season opener.

Still, if past history is any indication, cautious Met fans won’t read too much yet into the Mets’ first win of the season, an easy 7-1 victory over the Florida Marlins, before 41,245 fans at Citi Field on Monday afternoon. You can hardly blame those who bleed blue and orange, considering the Amazin’s are still seeking their third world championship and first since 1986 despite a major league-best 32-17 record on Opening Day, including Monday’s victory.

For one day however, the Mets got exactly the type of team performance they had hoped for all spring, even without stars Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes starting the season on the disabled list.

New York (1-0) got off to a great start against Florida (0-1) right off the bat –- literally -– of third baseman David Wright, who in his first plate appearance of the season, provided all of the offense the Mets would need on the day, smacking a two-run home run just over the wall and inside the right field foul pole, giving the Mets a 2-0 first-inning lead.

Wright’s homer was certainly a positive for a player who averaged 29 home runs per year during his first four full seasons in the majors, before suffering through a power outage last year, during which Wright hit just ten round-trippers in 618 plate appearances.

Other good signs for 2010 were the significant contributions of Met newcomers, three of whom collectively provided two-thirds of the Mets’ nine hits on the day. Making their first start in Met uniforms (which happened to also be the debut of the Mets’ new crème-colored duds), offseason free agent signings, leftfielder Jason Bay, centerfielder Gary Matthews, Jr., and catcher Rod Barajas each collected two hits (Bay and Barajas each in four at-bats, and Matthews in three).

All three were directly involved in the Mets’ four-run sixth inning which put the game away. Bay led off the inning with a triple before scoring on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who begins his first full season as a Met after coming to New York in a mid-season trade with Atlanta last year. Matthews then scored on a Barajas double to deep center field, after reaching on one of three Florida errors on the day.

Meanwhile, Mets’ ace starting pitcher Johan Santana showed no ill effects from finishing 2009 on the disabled list and undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in the elbow of his throwing arm. The lefty threw 69 strikes in a crisp 103-pitch effort, allowing just one run (earned) on four hits, while walking two batters and striking out five in six innings of work.

The Mets also got a nice surprise from their bullpen, an area which figures to be a key weakness for the club this year. Reliever Fernando Nieve, a spot starter in his first season with the Mets last year, tossed a perfect two innings in relief of Santana, while striking out two hitters, and Mets’ closer Frankie Rodriguez closed things out with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Even the weather was perfect for an early April opener in New York. WFAN radio announcer Tom McCarthy commented that he would have gladly taken Monday’s bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s even during the beginning of spring training in Florida this spring. All around, it couldn’t have been a better start for the Mets, who desperately need to start fast this season after choking away September NL East leads in 2007 and 2008, and stumbling to a fourth-place finish last year.

“I think it was an all-around good effort,” Wright told Associated Press reporter Jay Cohen, after the game. “We caught the ball [making no errors], we pitched well, and obviously had some timely hitting. You can’t ask for more than that, the first game of the season.”

Well, except for a lot more efforts just like it, enough to at least make this September meaningful in Queens.


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