NEW YORK – After this first home stand that opened the season, did we expect anything better than a 2-4 start for the New York Mets? They lose two of three to the Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals continued the misery at Citi Field also taking two of three.
Same old story, even with the return of Jose Reyes on Saturday, The failure to drive runs in from scoring position, slow starts from newcomers Jason Bay and Mike Jacobs, and it was very reminiscent to what Mets fans witnessed too many times in 2009.
With the exception of a multi home game from newcomer Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur in the opening game series win against the Nationals, there was nothing to cheer about. Though Johan Santana, who won the season opener last Monday, John Maine, Jonathan Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez gave the Mets some quality starting pitching in the first five games,
Then Santana could not get his fastball over the plate Sunday and the Nationals scored four runs off the Mets ace in the first inning. There was no comeback from these Mets, like the one against Florida Wednesday evening, courtesy of an ineffective Florida bullpen that made New York score runs without the benefit of a hit.
Said Santana Sunday, before the Mets departed for a six-game road trip to Colorado and St. Louis, “Today was one of those days. Every game is important for us,” Well not every game at this juncture of the season is important, but if Santana is not effective, and if the offense does not get it together, 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position Sunday, then this will definitely be another long season at Citi Field.
The first road trip is significant. Why? Surely the Mets do not want to come home next Monday hosting the Chicago Cubs after losing two- of three to the Rockies and Cardinals, even in danger of coming home without a win. Citi Field crowds were not at capacity except for the Opening Day game and how many more of the Mets faithful will stay home for an upcoming 10-game home stand that also includes the Braves and Dodgers?
Envision this very bad 2-4 team that hit the road coming home next week with a 4-8 record after 12 games. Or the probability of returning to Citi Field with a 2-10 mark in the unlikely event of a six-game sweep to the Rockies and Cardinals
Instead of leaving their first home stand on a winning note and getting two wins from Santana, perhaps was too much to expect. The bats were cold again until Mike Jacobs hit his first home run in the eighth inning. Until then he was 1-for-14 and hearing boos from the Citi Field fans.
You sense frustration from the manager. “I would hope that we would become, better than what we have shown so far,” said Jerry Manuel Sunday afternoon. “Today we were unprepared and I have to take responsibility for that.”
On the lack of production and failure to drive runs in, he said, “We are not pressing. That don’t, seem to be the case at this point.” The one who may be under pressure is Manuel because his team had to get off to a quick start. He, along with General Manger Omar Minaya, as rumor has it, will have little time left on the job if the early losing continues.
Mets fans do not want to see the misery continue. That was a recurrent attitude when the last pitch was thrown at Citi Field back in October. And during the off-season there was also a prevailing opinion that Minaya and ownership failed to make appropriate improvements.
Jason Bay was the major acquisition and a lack of production from his bat has been seen the first six games. And do not blame the Citi Field outfield dimensions as a reason. It seems the Marlins and Nationals, as was the case with opposing teams last season, had no problems socking the ball over the wall.
Reyes has returned to the lineup, a catalyst to some run production. He was not very effective but to his credit it is spring training for him. When Carlos Beltran returns, maybe by mid May, the lineup has a different dimension. But Bay, as well as David Wright will also have to also be effective in the batting order.
As for first base, as the Mets wait for the return of Daniel Murphy, the platoon of Jacobs and Fernando Tatis has been a disaster. And it may be too early for fans to see a debut of rookie Ike Davis
“Looking at this team we lost our first two series,” commented Jacobs. “We definitely have the capability of doing better than that.” For the moment the Mets don’t have the capability, and if the manager says he is to blame you think the Wilpon ownership was listening this early in the season?
We will know more about the makeup of this New York Mets team the next six days, even though we are still in the month of April.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]