New York – Jose Reyes was supposed to be the storyline at Citi Field Tuesday evening returning to New York for the first time since signing the lucrative off-season deal with the Miami Marlins. However, that was overshadowed by the outstanding pitching of Johan Santana and the Mets placing outfielder Jason Bay and starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list.
Reyes would go hitless in four appearances at the plate. It was due to the sharp pitching of Santana who went 6.2 innings, striking out eleven Marlins. But once again, Santana, in his fourth outing failed to get run support.
He did not figure in the decision as the Mets got a deciding run in the eighth inning and won the first game of a three-game series, 2-1.
Reyes had a pre game meeting with the media in the Marlins dugout. He was excited to be back in New York, met with his old teammates, and the Mets paid tribute to one of their former franchise players with a brief tribute on the video board before the first pitch.
As expected the small crowd that gathered to their seats gave him resounding boos, though there were those who gave him a nice welcome when they stood and cheered his name. When he stepped to the plate, for his first at bat leading off the game the displeasure of Reyes leaving for greener pastures to Miami were heard from the announced crowd of 20,192.
“It was kind of weird for me a little bit but after the third inning everything goes away and you just focus on playing baseball,” he said. Off to a slow start, Reyes would almost get an extra base hit leading off. The pitch from Santana looked like it would go out of the ballpark, but center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis made a leaping catch at the fence.
Reyes said, “It is good to get it out of the way. Tomorrow I’ll have a better idea. But it’s good to see my buddies over there. I played for them for a long time.”
However, Mets fans may never forgive the National league batting champion and homegrown product from leaving. It was a matter of another year and a few million more that that Mets did not offer to keep Reyes in a Mets uniform. He signed the $106 million, six-year contract with the Marlins, a team expected to contend and favored over the Mets in the NL East.
Santana went about his business and rebounded from his last start in Atlanta. Last week he gave up six runs in the first inning, eight overall in 4.1 innings. The fastball and changeup were sharp and he had great command. But once again he failed to get a single run of support.
Marlins starter Josh Johnson, also working on six days of rest was just as effective going 6 2-3 innings, charged with one run and three hits.
“I put that one out of the way,” he said about the loss to Atlanta. “I still have a long way to go but it is good to have an outing like this. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
He struck out two in each of the first five innings and had his most strikeouts since the 11 against the Braves on August 2, 2010. In nine previous starts against the Marlins, Santana was 6-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He gave up a one-out single in the first, and did not give up another hit until a Giancarlo Stanton two-out single in the seventh. He was removed after throwing 105 pitches.
On facing Reyes for the first time, he said, “I didn’t do anything different. Everything we do here is professional and we went about our business.”
Lucas Duda hit a tie-breaking single in the eighth that came off the finger of Marlins reliever Edward Mujica that scored the deciding run. Jon Rauch (3-0) picked up the win and Frank Francisco with a hitless ninth got his fourth save.
But the Mets win was also overshadowed by their continued bad streak of injuries. Bay, injured fielding a ball in left, in the second game of a twin bill Monday against the Giants, sustained a broken rib and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Bay will return, but the Mets will be cautious as he is once again is hindered by an injury coming after missing a significant amount of games last year.
The injury to Pelfrey is more of a concern. The right hander, without a win in three starts, was also placed on the 15-day DL with swelling of his pitching elbow. There were reports circulating at the ballpark, not confirmed, that Pelfrey would be shut down for the season and undergo Tommy John Surgery.
Mets manager Terry Collins would not confirm that report about Pelfrey as the Mets suddenly have a rash of injuries that prompted them to call up youngsters from their AAA affiliate Buffalo and Binghamton AA team.
The Reyes return to New York is over. The Mets have moved on as Ruben Tejada, the heir apparent at shortstop has assumed the role and handled the job well in the early going.
As Tejada said about Reyes, “He was a good teammate. Nothing is different. We got the win.” But the manager Terry Collins has to do without Pelfrey and Bay and that seems to have not changed for the Mets, the injuries that continue to plague this team.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]