NY Sports Dog: Good Morning Mets Fans!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good Morning Mets Fans!

The 2009 Mets got off to a flying start despite nearly being grounded by the weather.

Johan Santana, the best pitcher in New York, did what Aces do: give their team a solid chance to win every time they take the mound.

Johan started the game with strikeouts and walks--in fact he walked 3 of the first 6 batters he faced and struck out Jerry Hairston, Jr and Darnell McDonald to open his 2009 campaign.

But it was vintage Santana all the same. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth, and surrendered his one and only run of the game in the sixth.

Jerry Manuel, sensing the moment had come, pulled his Ace with a 2-1 lead and a runner on second.

And so it began--Mets Bullpen version 9.0.

Newcomer Sean Green was summoned to the hill to begin the process of preserving the win and immediately set to his task. He induced a liner that Daniel Murphy jumped all over and the Reds threat was ended. He then pitched his version of a perfect inning in the 7th: 3 up, 3 down, all on ground balls.

Next up was JJ Putz in the 8th.

Putz has a devestating arsenal of pitches and makes the opposition look foolish at times. His fastball moves, his splitter dazzles, and he can bring the heat. I'm no major league hitter, but I cannot imagine how anyone could step in and feel comfortable against Putz with the amount of movement he has.

Putz did walk one batter in the inning, but was otherwise flawless.

To finish the affair was KRod, or Frankie Rodriguez as he prefers.

Frankie looked like a man against boys in the 9th. Three up, three down, and a game punctuating strikeout of catcher Ramon Hernandez.

The bullpen, simply put, was masterful. 3.1 innings, 1 walk, 2 Ks, and no hits. It was "boringly beautiful" and comfortable to watch.

"Our bullpen may be one of our best assets," David Wright said. "They were lights-out the first game of the season. They really didn't give them one chance."

Johan was thrilled with his new bullpen and pointed to Green when asked who saved the game. Sometimes the save does come in the seventh. "They deserve all the credit," Santana said. "That's when the game was won."

The Mets had other contributions as well. Daniel Murphy was the hitting star of the day, driving in both runs and hitting the club's first dinger of the year.

"He is such a good young hitter," Manuel said, still marveling at Murphy hitting a 3-2 pitch for a home run after falling behind 0-2 in the count. He went as far to compare Murphy with Frank Thomas.

Additionally, both David Wright and Ryan Church made defensive gems.

Church was particularly impressive and saved a run on a diving catch that resulted in a double play. Sliding to keep the ball from bouncing past him, Church, tapped the ball to himself like Jerry Rice, made the reception, bounced up and fired to first for the double play--it was truly a great athletic play, one that Gary Sheffield could never make these days.

David Lennon of Newsday has a nice piece on Ryan Church making a statement.

All in all it was a solid game, a great start, and hopefully, a foreshadowing of things to come in 2009.

And you know what else? I like this team, and the way this team is built, a lot. Good guys, hard workers, and certainly more pieces in place to start the season than we had in 2008.

As Ed Ryan from Mets Fever asks: Could It Have Been Scripted Any Better?

Enjoy your coffee!

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