Saturday, April 7, 2012

Duda Muscle!

On a beautiful day for the major league debut of Kirk Nieuwenhuis at Citi Field, the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves by the final score of 4-2.  The recently-promoted Sultan of Spell Check went 2-for-4 in his inaugural game and played a flawless center field.

R.A. Dickey got his season off to a fine start, winning his first decision with six fine innings of work.  Dickey's only blemish came on a two-run homer in the fifth inning by Martin Prado on a ball that was hit down the left field line.

Dickey's counterpart on the mound, Jair Jurrjens, was not as sharp.  Prior to today's start, Jurrjens was a veritable Met killer, going 8-4 with a 2.94 ERA in 13 career starts against the Mets.  He had also allowed only one home run in 82⅔ innings versus New York.  That was before David Wright and Lucas Duda took him deep today.

Wright's home run, a 430-foot blast to the opposite field gave the Mets the early 1-0 lead.  Duda's fourth-inning home run (which gave the Mets a 2-0 lead) would not have been a home run last year at Citi Field, but with the park's new dimensions in 2012, it became the rightfielder's first bomb of the season.  Duda flexed his muscles again in the seventh inning, hitting a shot over the right field fence that would have been a home run in any year at Citi Field.  That blast gave the Mets their fourth and final run, which stood up when Frank Francisco came into the game in the ninth and notched his second save in as many games, but not before he became a true Mets closer by putting the potential tying run on base.

Any thoughts of Duda not being ready to be the team's everyday rightfielder were quashed by his bat today.  After hitting .322 with 10 HR and 38 RBI in the second half of the 2011 season, Duda collected the first multi-homer game of his career today.

Although the Mets are off to their first 2-0 start in three seasons, let's not forget that the last time they won their first two games (2009), the team didn't exactly finish the season strongly.  But back then, the team was full aging, injury-prone veterans.  Now, with Nieuwenhuis and Duda in the outfield, along with Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada teaming up with the old fart, David Wright, in the infield, the Mets might be poised to surprise many so-called experts in 2012.

It's only two games, but the Mets have got to be feeling good about themselves.  Their starting pitching has been excellent.  Their bullpen has been unscored upon.  And their offense has been hitting the ball around the shrunken ballpark.  David Wright showed some muscle today.  Lucas Duda made us do a double take with his.

The time has come for the Mets to begin a new era of winning baseball in Flushing, something that hasn't been seen at Citi Field since its opening in 2009.  After two season opening wins against the Braves, that time might be coming sooner than you think.

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