March 06, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (57) on the mound in the first inning of the spring training game against the St Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Game 2A Spring Training: Mets Down Cardinals, 8-6

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It was only two innings, but it was two innings more than he pitched in all of 2011. Johan Santana got the nod for the first time since September 2, 2010, and dazzled fans and scouts alike with two scoreless frames. Santana didn’t record a strikeout in his bout, but only allowed a hit and walk. The southpaw averaged about 87-88 on his fastball (according to the stadium radar gun)–which is promising considering his long journey back–and hit 90 a couple of times too. In addition to his solid fastball, Santana got notable Mets-killer Yadier Molina to wiff badly on a terrific change-up, which was also a good sign for him. The former-ace received a loud, and much-deserved applause from the crowd upon his exit.

R.A. Dickey took over for Santana, and matched his excellence to the tune of two scoreless and hitless innings. The knuckleballer did not walk a single batter, and sat-down two. Fans also saw not-so-great outings from new arrival Jon Rauch (1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and top prospect Jeurys Familia (1.6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). But hey, that’s Spring Training. Pedro Beato, the Mets Rule 5 pick from 2011, relieved Familia, but only lasted two batters before his arm tightened-up. Luckily for the righty, his recorded out was enough to grant him the vulture win. D.J. Carrasco (1.3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) and Josh Edgin (0.6 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) took care of business, with the latter notching the official save. Aside from Rauch and Familia, the other five Mets pitchers looked about as lights-out as it gets.

On the hitting side of things, Andres Torres continued his red-hot Spring–going 2 for 3 with three-RBI triple, and a run-scored. Torres is the favorite to lead-off for the Mets during the regular season, and he’s certainly looked the part through the first two games of Spring Training. There was still no sign of David Wright, but Mets regulars Jason Bay, Ike Davis, and Josh Thole all made appearances. The group didn’t record a hit, but collected three walks between them. Fans got to see some of the Mets “Spring chickens,” including the likes of Matt Den Dekker, Jordany Valdespin, and even 2011 first round pick Brandon Nimmo. Den Dekker went 0 for 2, but Valdespin punched a RBI-single, and Nimmo recorded a walk and a run-scored.

As noted back on March 2, it appears as though the only true “competition” this Spring is between Mike Baxter and Adam Loewen. The pair are fighting for the left-handed hitting bench spot and potential Jason Bay platoon partner. Loewen and Baxter both started, in left field and right field, respectively, and played well. Loewen had a perfect day at the plate, boasting two singles and a walk, while Baxter “only” notch one single in his three trips to the plate. Even though the two are boxing for a bench spot, it should still be a fun battle to watch unfold.

Overall, the 8-6 victory was a good one. It was awe-inspiring to watch Johan Santana bounce back from a terrible and career-threatening injury, and show such steady mechanics and poise on the mound. It was just as enjoyable to possibly witness the future star of the Mets in Brandon Nimmo.

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Tags: Ben Berkon Brandon Nimmo Johan Santana Mets Mets Cardinals Spring Training Recap New York New York Mets Rising Apple Spring Training

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