In a series that will undoubtedly be a must-watch during the regular season, the first bout between the Mets and Marlins was missing a key component in Spring Training–Jose Reyes. The Marlins split-up their squad and sent Reyes to take on the Florida International Panthers. So much for Reyes facing his former team. As a result, the Reyes-less Marlins didn’t look to hot against the [Reyes-less] Mets.
The Mets pitching staff shut down Marlins hitters, surrendering just four hits and two walks. Jonathon Niese was handed the start, and looked sharp–hurling two scoreless frames without giving-up a hit (though he did offer-up a free pass). Niese also struck-out two batters. Bobby Parnell took over the reigns in the third innings, and looked uncharacteristically solid, not letting-up a single base-runner while sitting down one. The good times continued with trade acquisition Ramon Ramirez, who pitched 1.6 innings. The righty did surrender two hits and a walk, but he also struck-out three batters. Considering Ramirez posted an 8.7 K/9 in 2011, fans should get used to the high-strikeout totals.
Bullpen contender and left-hander Chuck James saw his first piece of Spring Training action, allowing just a hit in 1.3 innings of work. Even though Tim Byrdak is the Mets go-to southpaw in the bullpen, left-handed pitcher James too could vie for a ‘pen spot if the team decides to keep two lefties aboard. Manny Acosta, who will be entering his third year as a Met, looked his finest in his two scoreless innings–not yielding a hit, run, or walk, while striking out two batters in the process. Garrett Olson finished the line of dominance with a scoreless inning of his own. Olson, like James, is a left-handed pitcher hoping to catch-on as the Mets second lefty reliever. As of now, James appears to have the leg-up due to his dominant season at Triple-A in 2011 (2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 2.48 K/BB).
On the hitting side of things, the Mets got offense from some pretty unexpected sources. Justin Turner led the charge with a 3 for 3 campaign, including a homerun, and three RBI. Also, the two Mets catchers–Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas–combined for four hits, two RBI, and two runs-scored. Youngsters Jordany Valdespin, Juan Lagares, Cesatr Puello, Wilmer Flores all saw some action, but it was really only Matt Den Dekker who made an impression (RBI-double, and run-scored).
It was nice to see the Mets triumph over and shutout the Marlins, 7-0, but it would have been that much sweeter if Reyes was on the field witnessing it.