Tagged: opening day

Santana, Murphy, bullpen see Mets past Reds

THE New York Mets spent money in the offseason to tighten up a bullpen which cost them a trip to the playoffs for each of the past two seasons.

On Monday, it looked like money well spent as JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez shut down the Cincinatti Reds to give Mets fans hope that ’09 may just be their year.

The Amazins continued their Opening Day tradition of success by edging a tight pitching duel in Cincinatti 2-1, winning their fourth consecutive Opening Day outing to improve on their league-best record.

Santana pitched 5 2/3 innings of three-hit ball to record his second straight first day victory, and Daniel Murphy went deep for the Mets as they got their season underway on the right note at the Great American Ballpark.

Shaun Green recorded four consecutive outs in his 1 1/3 inning of work and new acquisition JJ Putz worked around a one-out walk to Chris Dickerson to get the ball to closer Francisco Rodriguez who recorded his first save in orange and blue.

Bases loaded

The Mets loaded the bases in the 4th inning on a walk, bloop single and intentional walk, but Harang got Santana to fly out to centre field on the eighth pitch of the at bat – the 85th of the game – to end the inning and keep the score tied.

The Reds got their first hit of the ballgame in the bottom of the 4th inning when Jay Bruce drove a low two-out pitch down and away off the centre field wall for a stand-up double.

Daniel Murphy hit the Mets’ first home run of 2009, driving a 3-2 pitch to right centre field after fouling off a pitch up and away to stay alive the previous offering.

The Mets almost added a second run shortly after, when David Wight and Carlos Delgado hit back-to-back bloops to shallow centre field to bring Carlos Beltran to the plate.

Beltran singled to right field, but Wright got a bad jump from second base and Jay Bruce threw him out on a two-hopper despite bobbling the transfer.

Aaron Harang gave up one run – the solo shot to Murphy – on seven hits, walking three and striking out a pair on 114 pitches through five innings of work.

Difficulties

Harang’s replacement Daniel Ray Herrara fell into immidiate difficulty in the top of the 6th inning.

After Brain Schneider grounded out to lead off the inning, Herrara gave up a double to Luis Castillo and then walked Santana and Reyes.

With the bases loaded, Murphy lined a grounder down the first base line. Joey Votto knocked it down to get the out, but Castillo scored easily from third to make it 2-0.

The Reds started to get something going in the home half of the 6th inning. Darnell McDonald led off the inning with a broken-bat single to left field and Joey Votto singled to right.

Both runners advanced on Church’s throwing error to third base, and only Santana backing up Wright at third stopped McDonald from scoring.

Brandon Phillips hit a 2-2 92mph fastball to left field to drive home McDonald with a sac fly to cut the lead in half, but leftie Jay Bruce popped out to Wright to keep the tying run at second.

That was the final batter Santana would face as Shaun Green came out of the pen to get Edwin Encarnacion to line out to Murphy in left.

Santana threw 99 pitches, 62 for strikes, and he gave up just the one run on three hits and four walks, striking out seven.

Bullpen

Shaun Green pitched a perfect 7th inning for the Mets, getting three ground balls and former Met David Weathers matched him pitch for pitch, getting Castillo, pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson and Reyes on ground ball outs on eight pitches.

JJ Putz walked Chris Dickerson with one out in the eighth, but he got sothpaw Joey Votto and All Star slugger Brandon Phillips to end the threat and keep the one-run lead intact.

K-Rod got Jay Brice on a soft tapper back to themound, Encarnacion on a pop-up and Hernandez to strike out swinging.

Other notes: Ryan Church and Carlos Delgado both went 2/4 and David Wright went 1/3 with two walks. Jose Reyes also stole his first base, taking second in the 1st inning against Aaron Harang.

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Series at a glance: Mets @ Cincinatti

AFTER waiting six months for baseball to resume after the winter break, it took me precisely 13 pitches to start shaking my head in disgust.
 
That was how long it took for the Atlanta Braves to figure out Brett Myers and the fact that he has no fastball, no curveball and definitely no changeup.
 
But that’s ok, because I’m not going to be cheering for the Phillies much this year. So, with Opening Night out of the way, let’s get to those Mets.
 
Here is the first Series at a Glance post from the blog that wants to be a train driver when it grows up.
 
The Mets have the best Opening Day record out of any team and they will be keen to get off to the best possible start when they travel to the Great American Ballpark in Cincy.
 
The Mets are 248-294 (.458) lifetime against the Cincinnati Reds, including 108-159 on the road.

In 2008, the Mets were 4-3 against the Reds, marking the third straight year they have won the head-to-head series. In fact, the Mets have not had a losing record against the Reds since 2001.

On the road against the Reds last year, the Mets split the four-game series 2-2.
Duaner Sanchez got both Mets wins in this series, with Wagner picking up a pair of saves.

johansantana.jpgJohan Santana is 1-0 in three career starts against the Reds, although he struggled both times out in 2008.

In his outing last June he gave up five runs (a pair of home runs) on six hits and three walks in four innings, picking up a no decision.
The second time he faced them in ’08, he gave up ten hits through six innings, allowing three runs and getting the win in a 12-6 Mets victory.
Santana made four spring training starts last month and will be making his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Mets.
His 6.75ERA is the most against any team he has faced.

 

Aaron Harang will face the Mets on Monday. He has faced six of the Mets’ likely started before, but only three of them have more than 10 at bats against him.

Delgado has seen Harang the most, batting 6/21 (.286) against him. Also of note, Castillo is 6/9 with three walks and Wright is 5/7 with a homer and a double.

Mike Pelfrey will get the ball on Wednesday to face Edison Volquez.
He earned a no decision and a loss when he faced the Reds in ’08 and his only trip to the Great American Ballpark marked the only time he gave up three home runs all year.
 
He finished the game with five runs on six hits, in the Mets 7-5 win.
 
No Met has had more than three at bats against Volquez, so the sample size is small. Reyes is 3/3 against the sophomore and Ramon Castro homered off him last time out.

davidwright.jpgOn Thursday, Maunel will hand the ball to Oliver Perez – a man who has seen plenty of the Reds.

He is 9-4 in 18 lifetime starts, including 4-2 in 10 appearances in Cincinnati where he has a 3.91ERA.
Perez lost his last start there, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits in as many innings of work.
 
The Mets may have their best chance of taking a game against the Reds in this opening series against Micah Owings.
 
Church, Wright (2) and Beltran have all hit home runs off of Owings in limited at bats, and the three Mets who have at least double-digit plate appearances against him are all batting .400 or above.
 
Key pitcher: Johan Santana
Key batter: David Wright
 
Opening Day is hours away. Let’s put the last two Septembers behind us and play ball.