Esposito: So Far, So Good

The Mets have embraced the beginning of their 2015 season exactly as projected, with good pitching, timely hitting, and a bit of luck, taking advantage of other team’s miscues in posting a 4-3 record after again winning their home opener. Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Jacob de Grom, continued to display effective control, while admittedly not having his best stuff, with 6.1 shutout innings against the Phillies.

“I had a hard time locating my fastball,” the young righthander confessed postgame, as the Phils scattered seven singles and were kept off the board. He was pleased with his changeup, “threw a couple of good ones,” and he left after tossing 99 pitches, 64 for strikes.

After losing his first start against Washington, yielding just two runs on two hits (but one was a home run) in six innings, deGrom is now 1-1 on the young season, with a streak of 11.1 scoreless innings.

It was his first major league home opener, and he enjoyed the experience. “I had a lot of fun. It’s hard to describe, but I was looking forward to it. I was pretty calm, and Travis (d’Arnaud) did a great job (calling the game).”

Three relievers followed – Carlos Torres, Jerry Blevins, and Jeurys Familia, and maintained the shutout in the 2-0 victory.

While 4-3 is just one game above .500, and it is very, very early, it’s like they’re following a Hollywood script, and Mets fans are responding with enthusiasm and support. The now seven-year old ballpark was sold out for the opener, stuffed with 43,947 enthusiasts, which set a new club in-season record, trailing only the 2013 All-Star Game attendance of 45,186.

The Mets should start every home game by lining up on the baselines for introductions, release balloons and have flyovers, as they perform so well in home openers. They’ve now won four out of the last five home openers, 4-3 overall at Citi Field, and this was the tenth time the Mets have shut out their opponent in the home opener, the last time occurring in 2012 against the Braves, 1-0.

Newcomer Michael Cuddyer also endeared himself with the Citi Faithful with his first triple of the season, a sun-aided fly into the rightfield corner. Phillies’ rightfielder Grady Sizemore lost it in the glare and ended up about ten to the side of it. He didn’t score, but after banging out his first home run of the season the day before in Atlanta, Mets fans are hopeful for things to come.

Manager Terry Collins was obviously pleased with the outcome and the way his young team has responded early on, especially facing the big crowds and the big ballparks.

“We ask a lot of them,” Collins said postgame in reference to his players. “My coaches ask a lot of them. They have to get used to this. We’ve done a lot of yapping to our fan base how we’re going to compete. We hope to fill this place again.”

The team may also have good fortune as they enjoy a lot of home cooking the first month of the season. After spending the first week on the road, they’re in town for a ten-game homestand, oddly tieing a quirky mark as the second time they’ve been scheduled with as much as a ten-game homestand to kick off the year, the last time in 2004. Usually, it’s one week in and then one week out, or vice versa, as is the tendency of the schedule-makers.

And the ten games at Citi Field is followed by three games against the crosstown rivals up at Yankees Stadium, so it’s really a 13-game “homestand.” Hey, anytime you’re sleeping in your most familiar quarters, it’s a homestand, right?

They’re also locked into a groove against their Eastern Division rivals, with 23 of the first 26 games, and 26 of their first 31 games against their very familiar opponents – the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Nationals. The Mets have a chance to really establish a foothold on the division if the pitching and timely hitting stays the course.

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