The Mets have completed their Spring Training schedule and are now en route to New York. They will make an appearance at Citi Field tomorrow for their annual pre-season workout (Studious Metsimus will be attending) before taking the field on Monday for Opening Day against the Florida Marlins.
Johan Santana will be making his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Mets, but his first at Citi Field, as the Mets opened on the road in 2008 and 2009. He will be opposed by Marlins' ace, Josh Johnson, who has fared well since selling his soul to Satan for the right to make the Mets his personal b*tch*s.
Since Johnson signed his pact with Beelzebub, he has gone 7-0 against the Mets in nine career starts. This includes a 3-0 record against New York in 2009 over four starts. In addition to the perfect record, his ERA against the Mets is 2.30 and his WHIP is 1.09. His career numbers against other teams is slightly more pedestrian (27-16 won-loss record, 3.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP).
The Mets, on the other hand, have the best Opening Day record in baseball. Since making their debut in 1962, the Mets have gone 31-17 on Opening Day, despite the fact that they lost first eight season openers. Since winning the World Series in 1969, the Mets are an astounding 31-9 in Game 1 of the season. They've been more Amazin' at home in that time period, winning 17 of their last 19 Opening Day home games. (I still haven't forgiven you, Tom Glavine, for that 15-2 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day 2003. You started your Mets career similarly to the way you ended it!)
Something has to give on Monday. Will Josh Johnson continue his dominance against the Mets? Will Johan Santana be able to extend the Mets' mastery of Opening Day games?
Last year, we got a delicious taste of what a Santana-Johnson pitching duel was like. On April 12, Johan Santana was brilliant against the Marlins, striking out 13 batters in seven innings of work. He allowed only three hits and walked one, but that walk came around to score when Daniel Murphy dropped a routine fly ball in left field. Murphy's fielding gaffe was followed by Ronny Paulino's run-scoring single, giving the Marlins the only two runs they scored on the day.
Unfortunately, Santana was tagged with the loss in that game, as Josh Johnson pitched a complete game against the Mets. Johnson allowed one run on five hits, also walking only one batter.
But that game was last year. 2010 is all about new beginnings. For the Mets, it's time to shake off the ghosts that haunted them throughout the 2009 season. They can't continue to hide under the skirt of injuries when they need an excuse for their latest poor performance. They must come out strong and show the "experts" that predictions of another fourth-place finish were grossly miscalculated.
It all begins with Santana vs. Johnson on Opening Day. Giving Josh Johnson his first career loss against the Mets could be the first of many positive things the Mets could do this year. Start at the beginning and finish on top. Is that formula so difficult to follow? PLAY BALL!