Monday, April 5, 2010

Mets Stroke Johnson To Continue Opening Day Dominance

On a gorgeous day for baseball, the Mets played their home opener hoping to erase their bitter memories of the 2009 season. They provided the fans with quite a show, as they defeated the Marlins and their nemesis, Josh Johnson, by the score of 7-1.

That 7-1 score matches Johnson's new career record against the Mets, as the Mets had not been able to defeat the Marlins' hurler until today. Johnson had always been a master at baiting the Mets into swinging prematurely. Prior to today, the Mets and their bats appeared to shrivel and hide against Johnson, who was undefeated against the Mets in nine career starts. It took ten attempts, but the Mets finally exploded against Johnson, climaxing with a four-run sixth inning.

The Mets didn't take long to bring the Flushing Faithful to its feet. After a 1-2-3 inning by Johan Santana in the top of the first, David Wright took a juicy Johnson offering and deposited it over the right field fence, barely staying on the fair side of the not-so-foul pole. It left Wright only nine home runs short of last year's total, but more importantly, it gave the Mets the early 2-0 lead.

After Santana and Johnson put up zeroes over the next four innings, the Marlins finally got to 'Han the Man in the top of the sixth.

With Chris Coghlan on base, Jorge Cantu lined a shot down the left field line. There was no question that the ball was fair, but the call at second left a little to be desired. As shown by the photo below, second base umpire Jeff Nelson was so enthralled by Luis Castillo's orange wristbands that he missed Castillo's tag of Cantu for what should have been the third out of the inning.

Studious Metsimus tried to get an interview with the vision-impaired umpire but was turned away. However, our gossip reporters found a way inside the umpires' dressing room and overheard this conversation.

"I hadn't seen wristbands like that since Tsuyoshi Shinjo played here. How could I not be fascinated by them?"

We tend to believe our outstanding gossip reporters, so lay off Luis Castillo for not selling the play to the umpire. Also, stop bringing up the fact that he didn't use two hands to tag Cantu. That bit is getting as old as Jamie Moyer.

The Mets went into the bottom of the sixth inning with the slimmest of leads, but a 2-1 game quickly turned into a 6-1 lead, thanks to some first base follies by the Marlins.

On a day in which four military members sang the National Anthem, the Mets paid tribute in their own way. First, Sgt. Bay of The Yukon tripled to lead off the inning, followed by a walk to Pvt. Matthews. The walk to Gary Matthews Jr. was the last issued by Josh Johnson, as he was replaced by Clay Hensley.

After a Jeff Francoeur sacrifice fly plated the Poutine Patriot, Hensley tried to pick off Pvt. Matthews at first base, but threw wildly to first baseman Gaby Sanchez, allowing Matthews to scamper to second base. He later scored on a double by Rod Barajas, making the score 4-1. A single by pinch-hitter Angel Pagan brought Barajas home and led to a quick shower for Hensley.

On came Dan Meyer to put out the fire. Of course, he decided to put it out with gasoline and got burned. It looked as if Angel Pagan had run himself into another baserunning blunder when he was caught running towards second base by Meyer. However, error #2 at base #1 pushed Pagan over to third base. Alex Cora then drove in Pagan with a groundout to short.

Since bad news always comes in threes, Luis Castillo reached first base safely when Gaby Sanchez committed the third Marlin error of the inning. The third error did not result in more scoring, as David Wright flied out to left field to end the inning.

Here's a quick recap of the final three innings. One tack-on run by the Mets, two solid innings of relief by Fernando Nieve and everyone's fav'rit Reservoir Dog, Mr. Pink(eye), coming out of the bullpen to put the game in the books.

As seen in the photo above, the post-game celebration led to an interesting discovery. Apparently, Mets' first base coach Razor Shines is a fan of the robot. When Mr. Pink(eye) tried to do his usual jump n' bump with Shines, he was surprised to see the coach in the middle of doing a celebratory robot dance. If this becomes a new tradition at Citi Field, similar to the pogoing at the plate done by players after a walkoff home run, you can thank the Razor for it.

With today's win, the Mets continue their Opening Day mastery. They have now won 32 out of their last 41 Opening Day games. More importantly, they were finally able to defeat Josh Johnson for the first time. Juan Marichal can now rest easily. His 19-0 record against the Mets to start his career will not be surpassed by Josh Johnson.

Johan Santana was on the mound and back to his winning ways. David Wright re-discovered his power stroke. The new additions (Sgt. Bay of The Yukon, Pvt. Matthews and Draft Dodger Rod Barajas) were at attention and served Mets Nation well. Baseball is back at Citi Field and we can't be any happier.

Notes and anecdotes: The Mets premiered their new cream-colored home uniforms today. They are now 1-0 in those jerseys, putting that uniform one game ahead of the Mercury Mets in the all-time jersey standings.

As is customary on Opening Day, each member of the team (including coaches and other on-field personnel) was introduced in a pre-game ceremony. Almost every person introduced was greeted with cheers. Who were the loudest boos reserved for? All of the trainers and physical therapists.

Darryl Strawberry threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a rousing ovation. Had Dwight Gooden not gotten into trouble with New Jersey's Finest, perhaps he would have been tabbed to throw out the season's first pitch.

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