Mets Game 1: Win Over Marlins

Mets 7 Marlins 2

OK, let’s go over that checklist for a typical Mets win …

Ace pitcher Johan Santana pitches a gem … check.

Jose Reyes jumpstarts the offense … check.

David Wright begins his MVP candidacy … check.

Carlos Beltran gives Wright a run for his money … check.

Marlon Anderson gets a pinch-hit … check

Willie Randolph makes all the right moves … check.

Yup … the New York Mets were firing on all cylinders in their initial 2008 contest, with the only part missing a Billy Wagner save. Luckily, Wags wasn’t needed — hope it doesn’t throw off his rhythm.

The Mets offense exploded for six runs in the fourth inning, and Santana was spectacular, striking out eight and allowing only two runs on three hits and two walks in seven full innings. The first hit he gave up was a two-run homerun to Josh Willingham in the bottom of the fourth and immediately after the Mets’ offensive outburst.

Randolph looked like a genius in the final two innings, mixing and matching ROOGYs and LOOGYs to perfection. Of course, Aaron Heilman made an appearance, and in fact closed out the contest, in the first of what will likely be 150 games for the tall righthander.

It was a spectacular game from every angle, and a wonderful way to begin the season. And hey, the Mets are in first place!

Notes

Sorry for the late post, but I was in NYC attending the MetsBlog Opening Day party, which was a blast. It was amazing to be surrounded by people cheering and giving high-fives every time Johan threw a strike; I thought the walls might cave in when something truly exciting occurred, such as a Mets run. Being at Butterfield 8 was as close to being at Shea for a game, except they didn’t stop serving beer after the seventh inning and Cow-Bellman was nowhere to be found.

Hey, how about Luis Castillo laying down a perfect bunt and then running around the bases like the rabbit he was four years ago? He may yet fulfill that four-year contract on those new knees.

And oh, someone forgot to remind Ryan Church that he’s not supposed to hit lefties. He smoked Fish starter Mark Hendrickson a couple times, though only had one hit to show for it.

Nice to see Angel Pagan continue the hot hitting — and he’s another guy who isn’t supposed to hit lefties. Too bad Ruben Gotay wasn’t still around, or he might have proved the “rule” wrong as well.

Next game has Pedro Martinez going against Rick VandenHurk in a 7:10 PM start.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude April 1, 2008 at 5:39 am
    Like they say, Joe: better late than never!

    A great openning day win for the Mets, no doubt. And I guess I wasn’t the only one to notice Willie using the Show and Sosa in LOOGY/ROOGY roles. Love it. I’m not even bent out of shape on Wise’s short outing, because the 2 hits he surrendered were puny. If there’s one thing to nit-pick about, it would be Heilman being used to close out a 5-run lead, but since Sosa had been pinch hit for in the top of the inning, it was at least better than bringing Wagner. I was also left scratching my head when the umpires called both Reyes and Wright out on the basepaths trying to steal, when both were clearly safe. I guess they gotta get in their fancy punch-out calls on openning day, too. At least they didn’t cost us the game.

    And how about the ex-Mets helping to beat down the NL East competition. Milledge homers and scores 3 times as the Nats beat the Phillies. Man oh man, that Philly bullpen is going to be awful this year! And then in Atlanta, their bullpen (for a second straight game) blows it, and the Pirates get 2 homers and 4 RBI from Xavier Nady to come from behind and spoil Tom Glavine’s return with a 12-11 win in 12 innings. Technically, the Mets aren’t in 1st place (yet), as the Nats are a half game up at 2-0…but I have a good feeling that Pedro will take care of that little problem tonight.

  2. Walnutz15 April 1, 2008 at 6:44 am
    Willie played the ‘pen perfectly yesterday — I actually had to talk some posters over on Scout.com off the ledge. I’ve never seen a more irrational group sometimes when it comes to Randolph. They really do look for every excuse with him, even when he does the right thing.

    …..And I’m not even his biggest supporter. But you can’t really complain about what went on yesterday.

    Great nightcap on Extra Innings, watching the Pirates do their best 12-year old little league impressions….but finally get bailed out by Xavier Nady in the 12th.

    Overall, a very nice start to the season. I was entertained all night.

  3. Walnutz15 April 1, 2008 at 6:53 am
    I also liked reading this, from the Bergen Record:

    Wagner: Heilman Future Closer

    Aaron Heilman’s ninth inning may have been as impressive as any of the seven Johan Santana pitched. Heilman needed nine pitches to retire the side in order on a pair of strikeouts and a weak grounder back to the mound.

    “Awesome,” said closer Billy Wagner, who watched from the bullpen. “Heilman’s the closer of the future. They just don’t know it yet. Heilman will be the closer here in two years.”

    That may be the first time that’s been suggested about Heilman, who burns to be a starting pitcher even when he thrives in the setup relief role to which the Mets have relegated him. But Wagner said watching Heilman use his fastball, slider and cutter to pick apart the Marlins yesterday was only one thing that convinced him he’s right.

    “He’s got the stuff, but mentally he’s got what it takes, too,” Wagner said. “The people that do the evaluating in baseball, they’ve never pitched. They don’t know what it takes. But he’s got it. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

  4. sincekindergarten April 1, 2008 at 7:38 am
    What made it even better was: Not only did the Phillthies’ stopgap closer, Tom Gordon, turn a tie game into a rout for the Nationals (five runs in .1 IP), but the Braves came back from five runs down in the bottom of the ninth . . . only to give up three in the top of the twelfth, and score only two in the bottom of said inning! And Xavier Nady had two HRs against the Braves!
  5. joe April 1, 2008 at 7:41 am
    Heilman looked angry last night … after his first batter (and my two pints of Guinness) I mentioned to someone at the party that he was one of the best pitchers in the NL. The guy says, “you mean, one of the best setup relievers”. I said, “no, one of the best PITCHERS”.

    And he was … last night. If he keeps up this new “Angry Aaron” thing, maybe people will stop calling him “poopyface”.

  6. Micalpalyn April 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm
    Random musings;

    1. Its all good. Even Willie looked great yesterday.
    a. I feel that Wise could be the situational ROOGY and Sosa more the set-up guy.
    b. Could Castillo and Reyes flip roles as the #1 and #2 hitters……….
    c. The obvious hole that is Pagan and Church was not quite that obvious.

  7. isuzudude April 1, 2008 at 1:11 pm
    My 2 cents, Mic…

    A. I feel differently. Wise’s career numbers show he is equally as effective vs. lefties as righties, whereas Sosa is primarily effective vs. only righties. Hence, I envision Wise more the 7th inning setup man (in Sanchez’s absence) or the 8th/9th inning guy in a non-save situation. I see Sosa more the long-reliever by default, as well as situational righty, like last night.

    B. I don’t see why not, but I think that’s something Willie will only look into if the offense is in a serious funk and he’s looking to create a spark.

    C. Agreed, if for only one game. Church looked like he could handle Hendrickson pretty well, getting a hit as well as a line drive to the warning track that was caught. Pagan was equally as impressive. No doubt, if the Mets continue to get that type of production day in and day out from them until Alou returns, it’s going to be a very successful April. Still, I can’t help but wonder what might happen when the Mets face a tougher LHSP, or are facing a deficit and need to rally back against LH relievers with the bottom of the order up.