Jimmy Rollins was right – the Phillies are the team to beat – themselves, at least. Rollins made two poor defensive plays, one that directly led to a tying run coming across home plate, and the Mets picked up another home opener win against the Phillies. It’s this type of game that shows why the Mets are the team to beat – they had their first truly bad start by a Mets pitcher (John Maine did not pitch well – more below), and Ambiorix Burgos did not pitch well in relief, giving up an absolute bomb to Ryan Howard to turn a 3-2 Mets lead to a 5-3 Mets deficit. But with this Mets’ offense, the team is never out of the game.
John Maine…not a good start coming off of that really solid appearance last week against St. Louis. He went four and 2/3 innings, and was hurt with walks, allowing six free passes. Coupled with five hits (including a home run to Chase Utley), and it’s something of a miracle that he only allowed two runs. Eleven baserunners in just less than five innings…that will not win ballgames. He was bailed out to a degree by Burgos, but still…Maine will have to pitch more like the Maine of last week than the Maine of this week if he expects to win games.
It was a game where, even though the Mets were trailing, I thought they at least had a chance to get back in the game. Part of the reason is because the Phillies do not play good defense, and do not have a good bullpen. The Mets were stringing together stuff against Cole Hamels, but couldn’t put it together for the big inning, because Hamels is good enough to avoid it. The Phillies bullpen isn’t. Even though I think Lieber is the Phillies’ fourth best starter, he did not pitch well in relief, but it was Geoff Geary setting the stage for the Mets, and the Mets added one timely hit after another to go from trailing, to leading, to blowing the game open.
David Wright hit the ball hard twice today, once again being robbed of a hit (and a game-tying RBI) by great defense, but he hit a nice double to put the Mets ahead 9-5, and from there any doubts Mets fans had about today’s game had to be eased considerably. Once again, I think questions of David Wright’s hitting are way premature, and ultimately he will be fine. Also, Carlos Delgado had a good day, and after not hitting on the road to start the year, playing at home really helped him. That’s strange, because that is the opposite of how he played in 2006. Moises Alou added a pair of hits, and all Mets starters managed at least a hit today to make Opening Day successful all around for the Mets. With a little bit better performance from John Maine, it could have been even more special, but I’ll take the win (and the four game cushion on the Phillies).
The Mets are off tomorrow, but will play Game 2 of the series Wednesday back in New York. It will be Oliver Perez making his first start at home since Game 7 of the NLCS, taking on Adam Eaton, the Phillies’ $21 million mistake this past offseason. Game time is 7:10 PM.