New York – It was a cold, windy night for baseball in front of a sparse Mets home crowd as the teetering Mets were facing the even worse Washington Nationals. The weather elements and the Mets lack of offensive output in their first three games of the new season were not a predictor for a rip-roaring game of power baseball but instead, the Mets put on their offensive juggernaut hats and turned it into a home run-fest as they defeated the Nats, 8-2.
Home runs hit at Citifield have been as rare for the Mets as Jose Reyes appearances on major league fields over the past year but surprise of surprises, four big bombs off the bats of two players, Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur were a big part of the Mets win, tonight while Reyes made his first appearance in New York in uniform tonight. The Mets announced that their starting shortstop is ready to take his rightful place again.
The Mets hit only 49 home runs last year in their new, spacious home, an amazingly low number for a major league team but tonight’s outburst is either a sign of the weakness of the Nationals pitching staff or the Mets have discovered new-found power in their bats.
Barajas and Francoeur became the first Mets hitters to homer twice out of Citi Field in the same game. The last time the Mets hit four homers in a game was on September 17, 2008 at Washington when Carlos Beltran hit two home runs and Reyes and Carlos Delgado hit one each.
“From what I heard, this is something you didn’t see at all last year,” Barajas said. “It’s playing like a true ballpark right now. I have no idea why. But I’m happy that it is right now, or else I might have two flyouts.”
The other big positive for the Mets tonight was the performance of Mike Pelfrey. The frustratingly up and down righthander gave his team six solid innings, allowing only four hits and two runs. It continues a little trend during which Mets pitchers have thrown three quality starts in their first four games.
The game started out with the Nationals grabbing an early 2-0 lead on an Ian Desmond triple in the second inning. You had the sense the crowd of 28,055, braving the wind and the 50 degree game time temperature, was beginning to wonder why they had to put up with another Mets disaster to a bad team.
But, Francoeur homered in the bottom of the second then Barajas followed with a fourth inning bomb, both solo shots pulled to left field off of Garret Mock, the Nats starting pitcher. Mock threw schlock tonight, lasting only 3 1/3 innings, and labored through 84 pitches, only 44 of which were strikes.
Once the Nats bullpen was called upon, it opened the floodgates for the Mets batters. Barajas hit a go-ahead homer off Miguel Batista (0-1) in the sixth.
In the seventh, David Wright, who went 2-4 with an RBI, doubled off the top of the left field wall. Thinking it was gone, Wright went into his home run trot right out of the batters box and didn’t break into a sprint until he had rounded first and realized the ball was in play.
“They got on him pretty good,” Manuel said.
“I think I just hit it a little too high,” Wright said. “I’m glad Jeff was able to go deep right after that and show me up.”
Fernando Tatis, pinch-hitting for the struggling Mike Jacobs, singled up the middle to drive in Wright and then, Francoeur, swinging a red-hot bat since the season started, connected on Tyler Walker’s first pitch for a two-run drive, giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.
“We needed that tonight,” Francoeur said.
The Mets added two more runs in the eighth inning when rookie infielder Ruben Tejada singled to center followed by an Angel Pagan single to right. Alex Cora, who also made an outstanding stab of a ground ball in the second inning from his second base position, singled, scoring Tejada. Then, Wright hit a ground ball to shortstop, questionably called a single by the official scorer, scoring Pagan with the Mets eighth and final run.
Pelfrey gave way to Hisanori Takahashi, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Then, Fernando Nieve threw a hitless eighth inning and Jenrry Mejia, the rookie fireballer, finished the game in 1-2-3 fashion.
Met Notes: Francoeur recorded the seventh multi-hit game of his career. His last came on April 12, 2008, with Atlanta and also against Washington. It was Barajas’ eighth multi-home run of his career, the last time coming against Texas when he played for Toronto. Tejada was sent down to Triple A affiliate Buffalo after the game to make room for Reyes.