Still on the high of seeing Johan Santana throw five scoreless innings on Opening Day, the offense took it’s rightful turn in the spotlight today as the Mets beat the Braves for the second straight game. R.A. Dickey was able to mix his knuckle ball well with his fastball enough to keep Atlanta hitters off balance for the six innings on the mound. Unlike last year, the offense helped Dickey to an early lead, with David Wright starting his three-hit performance by smashing an opposite field home run in the bottom of the first. Kirk Nieuwenhuis joined the party with a bang as he recorded his first two hits in the Major Leagues. Duda showcased his power by having his first multi-home run game this season, and gave the Mets the two-run cushion they needed for some added insurance as the bullpen backed up Dickey once again by shutting out the Braves offense for the last three innings of the game.
The off season acquisitions of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are certainly paying early dividends, with two holds and two saves a piece in the first two contests of this year. What was the nicest surprise for me was watching Bobby Parnell change his entire approach on the mound. Instead of throwing 98 or 99 mph and throwing the ball all over the zone, he started off hitters with 91-92 mph and pitching to the corners. When needed, he was able to pump that fastball in there at about 95, but he looked a lot more like a pitcher instead of a thrower in his one inning of work. Plus, that knuckle curve ball Jason Isringhausen taught him last year not only threw Michael Bourn for a loop, but just about everyone else in the ballpark!
All in all, this season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Obviously, this is a marathon, but we’re getting a glimpse at how this team can really perform. Everything is great when they’re on a hot streak, but we’ll see the intestinal fortitude of this team once the
going gets tough; if they can minimize their not-so-great games, we may have a contender on our hands. Time will tell, but for right now, enjoy seeing the New York Mets on top of the National League East!
Offensive Game Notes:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis made a splash in his MLB debut by getting in the hit column twice, but the offense was paced by David Wright and Lucas Duda. Wright followed up his two-hit performance on Opening Day with three more hits, including a long, opposite field home run in the bottom of the first. Duda took advantage of the new dimensions at Citi Field in the fourth inning, then added on his second blast in the seventh. Josh Thole also joined in the hit parade, getting two more hits as he gets 2012 off to a fast start.
However, Ike Davis put up his second straight hitless game, Ruben Tejada is still riding the wave of his two late Spring Training home runs and continues to hit the ball in the air too much, and even though Jason Bay singled to left for his first hit of the year, he still looks very confused at the plate.
Defensive Game Notes:
The knuckle ball was dancing all over the place today for R.A. Dickey, as he threw six innings, striking out three and giving up five hits. He did walk four, but the defense once again played stellar to help him get out of jams. The only blip in Dickey’s day was the two-run homer he gave up to Martin Prado in the 5th inning.
Just as they did on Thursday, the revamped bullpen of the Mets did a great job holding the lead that the offense gave them. Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch, and Frank Francisco combined for three scoreless innings of 2-hit ball.
Probable Pitchers tomorrow:
Jon Niese will make his first start of the year tomorrow as the Mets go for the sweep of the Braves, who send Mike Minor to the mound in order to avoid the broom and get into the win column for the first time in 2012.
The game is slated for a 1:10pm start at Citi Field, and can be seen on SNY.