From the first pitch, Johan Santana was on. His fastball was in the low 90’s and his changup would have fooled Ty Cobb, and he pitched 7 strong innings to lead the Mets to a 7-2 win over the plucky Marlins on Opening Day 2008.
Santana struck out Hanley “I think I’m better than Jose Reyes” Ramirez to start the game, and he then proceeded to retire the first nine hitters to face him. It wasn’t until a very bad ball call by home plate umpire Rick Reed that Santana allowed a base runner, walking the aforementioned Ramirez to start the 4th. After erasing Dan Uggla and Mike Jacobs, Josh Willingham gave the Marlins their only highlight from the night, a two-run bomb of a home run to left/center.
Otherwise, Santana scattered only two more hits the rest of the way through seven very solid-looking innings. He struck out eight and walked just two, a ratio that is very nice to see. What’s more is he worked at a very quick pace throughout his time on the mound, ensuring that his defense was awake and ready behind him.
You could probably blame the Mets offense for Santana’s “shaky” forth inning because in the top half, the boys in gray sent ten batters to the plate over the course of half an hour. Santana was probably rusty from sitting on bench for so long between innings.
The story of the offense was all told in that forth inning. Beltran, Pagan, and Wright all doubled, Church and Reyes both singled, and, after it was all said and done, the Mets sent six runs home. Reyes’ single and Wright’s double both came with two outs and runners on base, so it’s nice to see them come through in the clutch. They would add a tack-on run in the top of the 9th when Marlon Anderson, who had singled earlier in the inning, went to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a terrible throw to third that went into no-mans-land behind third base.
It was a great day for Mets fans. Here’s some observations:
1. Marlon Anderson continued where he left off last season and got a pinch hit in the 9th inning. Plus, he played heads-up ball by scoring from second on a series of Bad News Bears plays by the Marlins.
2. Jose Reyes did seem a bit toned-down today. What was really nice was seeing him sacrifice bunt Anderson to second to help get him in scoring position. A “selfish” player wouldn’t give up a chance for a hit so early in the season, especially with what was at the time already a four-run lead.
3. The Mets’ aggressiveness on the basepaths was seen, thought not to much avail. Castillo stole second in the fourth, but Reyes got thrown out at second to end the sixth and then Wright made the second out trying to steal third base in the seventh.
4. Angel Pagan looked really strong today. He looks fit and I’m excited about having him in the lineup.
5. Enough can’t be said about how strong Santana looked today. If this is what we can expect from him, he’s going to run away with the Cy Young voting.
6. All the commentators (it was good to hear Ron, Keith, and Gary again!) commented pretty regularly on how the Mets are the best in baseball on Opening Day. All I can help wondering is, which team is the best in baseball on the last day of the season, when it really matters?
7. Both Jorge Sosa and Scott Schoeneweise looked great in the 8th inning, and Aaron was great in the 9th. Other than Matt Wise, who seemed tired or something, the pen did a fantastic job holding the lead.
8. The Marlins have male dancers. They’re fat and balding and ugly, and I love them. Thanks to Grim for the link.