Thursday, April 3, 2008

Johan, Pedro, and winning the first series.

This is the first in what should be a season-long series of posts in which I recap and discuss the Mets' previous series. In addition to what I think about what the Mets did, I will also look a little bit about what I think of the opposing team.

First off, Opening Day. It felt like a long time coming. The pitching match-up was Johan Santana against Mark Hendrickson and the Marlins. As I wrote earlier, it's hard to get worried about that match-up, but on the other hand, it would just be that much worse if we lost. But the "$137 million eraser," as Ron Darling put it, removed the lingering feelings from last season.

Johan was great. Pitching 7 innings, he gave up 2 runs, all on one HR, and just 3 hits, with 8 strikeouts. Asking for anything more from him, especially on Opening Day, would just be greedy. The home run, of course, is something to think about though, as he has had a bit of a problem keeping the ball in the park, despite his tremendous success in the past. That is one reason why I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with the Mets, with a home stadium that tends to keep fly balls contained. Coming from the hitter's park in Minnesota - besides just facing a National League lineup - that factor could really make his numbers look even better.

With all the excitement building up to Opening Day, and then the results, Monday was a wonderful day. Not only did the Mets win 7-2 on a great performance by Santana, but the Phillies were 0-1, the Braves were 0-2, and the Yankees had their home opener rained out.

Oh, how quickly moods can change.

Pedro Martinez began Game 2 by hitting Hanley Ramirez, then giving up a 2-run HR to Dan Uggla. Then he gave up a solo HR to Luis Gonzalez and an RBI triple to Ramirez in the 2nd inning. Pedro was struggling. But then, with one grab of the hamstring, things were so much worse. He left giving up 4 runs and 4 hits in 3 1/3 innings, an ERA of 10.80. The news would come the next day that he would be out at least 4-6 weeks with a mild strained hamstring.

The Mets got back into the game though as their bullpen kept the Marlins off the scoreboard, tying it 4-4. But in the end, the unlikely hero was Robert Andino, as he hit the walk-off HR off Matt Wise in the 10th. After all the excitement of the day before, all I could feel on this day was depression. The mood had completely changed. I don't think the loss of Pedro will hurt too bad as far as our win-loss record is concerned, but it certainly stings mentally and emotionally.

What better way to relieve the pain though than a 13-0 victory the following day to win the series. Oliver Perez was brilliant, throwing 6 shutout innings, also with 8 strikeouts. Already with a 10-0 lead, there was no need to stretch him out any further in his first start. Nelson Figueroa (Pedro's replacement on the roster), Pedro Feliciano, and Billy Wagner all got their first innings of work of this season in a no-pressure situation. The dominating win should definitely make the players feel better as they travel to Philadelphia. A loss could have really hurt, after what happened the day before.

The pitching outside of Pedro was obviously great. The offense was pretty good, too, though. You can't say enough about Angel Pagan right now, stepping up into the 6th spot in the lineup with Moises Alou out. He went 4-for-10 with 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored in the series, getting us started in each of the first two games. Other new acquisitions Ryan Church and Brian Schneider also did a great job. Carlos Delgado struggled in the first two games, but he went 2-for-5 with an RBI yesterday, so I won't give up on him yet. All the way up and down the lineup, we performed pretty well, obviously, with 24 runs scored.

The Marlins certainly lost a lot with Miguel Cabrera and Met-killer Dontrelle Willis being traded away to Detroit. They still remain a team that I don't feel comfortable playing, though. They have a lot of solid young talent that can burn you throughout the whole lineup. But I think, like last season, it may not matter, as you can just hope to put up more runs than they do with that shaky pitching staff.

No comments: