Today was as fun as yesterday was not. Really, as a Mets fan, you can’t hope for much better than a 13-0 thrashing of the Florida Marlins, even if the umpires stole a home run from Carlos Beltran. Today the team was just doing everything, making contact, hitting for power, great pitching, great defense…really, what else could you hope for in a game? This was just a Mets team that came roaring back after last night’s disappointing game and more than made up for it.
Oliver Perez had a stellar game, allowing no runs on 5 hits and a walk in 6 innings, while striking out 8. Great performance; the Marlins couldn’t manage a single extra base hit against him, although Hanley Ramirez probably would have had one had he hustled more on a hard-hit ball to the outfield in the first. The Mets bullpen also found the strength and intestinal fortitude to maintain the thirteen run lead, with scoreless innings pitched by Pedro Feliciano, Billy Wagner, and new Met Nelson Figueroa (more on him below).
Then there was the Mets hitting. Remember when I criticized them for not managing an extra base hit yesterday? Well, they made up for that today, with six doubles (three by Carlos Beltran) and two home runs, including Ryan Church hitting the Mets’ first homer of the season, and David Wright hitting his first home run at Dolphins Stadium. One of Carlos Beltran’s doubles should have been ruled as the third home run, but umpires ruled that it struck the top of the fence, despite replays showing it had hit the railing behind the fence. No matter – the extra run it would have netted the Mets was meaningless, and unless Carlos Beltran hits 72 home runs this year, I doubt that home run will even come into play.
If there’s one thing this series illustrated to me, it’s that the Marlins could be in for a rough year. Sure, they won yesterday’s game, but they needed seven pitchers to do it. They used another six to lose today’s game, and their Opening Day starter, Mark Hendrickson, leads the team through three games with five innings pitched. Clearly, they do not have a lot of faith in their starters (and they haven’t pitched well enough to deserve faith) and their bullpen doesn’t look to be any great shakes, either. They have had some injury problems with some of their young starters, and that might be affecting some things, but they could be even worse than expected if they can’t get some good innings out of their starters.
In other news, Pedro Martinez was placed on the 15 day disabled list today with a strained hamstring. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, and frankly, I hope it’s more towards the 6 than the 4, as I’d hate for the team to have to rush Pedro back only for him to hurt something else compensating for the injury. Nelson Figueroa was promoted to take his place, and it looks like he will not start the Mets home opener, as he pitched one inning of relief today. The Mets will not need to use Figueroa right away, as they have an off-day on Monday, so he will probably not have to start until April 12th against Milwaukee. Orlando Hernandez is expected to make three rehab starts for the St. Lucie Mets, so Figueroa’s time with the Mets may be brief, but he looked good in the inning he pitched today, so that’s a good sign, at least.
The Mets will have an off-day tomorrow followed by a three game series against one of two teams expected by experts to give the Mets their biggest challenge in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Tim Hudson will get the ball for the Braves, where he will be opposed by John Maine, making his first start of the season. Game time is 7:30.