Well, we can thankfully turn the calendar from February to March, which means we’re one month closer to Opening Day and some meaningful baseball games! The Mets and Nationals each toed the line for the second time in four Grapefruit League games, as Rafael Montero took to the mound and faced off against Washington ace, Stephen Strasburg, who didn’t disappoint in his three-inning appearance.
The Mets got on the board first thanks to Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill leading the game off with back-to-back singles, pushing Valdy to third base, scoring off a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly. If New York could have fielded the ball cleanly tonight, maybe they would be in the win column, but that’s what three errors and two unearned runs will do to you. Thank goodness it’s only Spring Training.
- Valdespin, Cowgill, and Travis d’Arnaud all recorded multi-hit games; Cowgill is continuing his tear, as he sports a .545 batting average, but d’Arnaud is catching up with his .444 mark.
- Omar Quintanilla helped the cause, as he drove in d’Arnaud with a ground-rule double in the top of the 4th.
- d’Arnaud scored again in the sixth, but this time it was off the bat of Brian Bixler, who singled to left field.
- The tying run scored for New York in the top of the seventh, as Matt den Dekker scored on a wild pitch from Yunesky Maya, who was in the middle of striking out Brandon Hicks.
- Rafael Montero impressed in his debut, as he only gave up a run on three hits in two innings pitched to start the game.
- Brandon Lyon and Elvin Ramirez both gave up an earned run in their respective appearances, but Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, and Jeremy Hefner combined to throw six innings, allowing an unearned run to go with seven strikeouts.
- Stephen Strasburg looked to be in mid-season form, striking out six Met hitters in three innings pitched.
It’s incredibly impressive to see how the 22-year-old Montero handled some Big League competition. New York coaches and players alike have given nothing but sparkling reviews about the youngster, and we saw a part of it tonight. When you factor in that he hasn’t pitched higher than Adv. Class-A St. Lucie, what he’s been able to show is all the more impressive, and encouraging for the years to come.
With the combination of Kirk Nieuwenhuis struggling to start the spring and Collin Cowgill just going nuts in his first few appearances, I think it’s going to further solidify him in the outfield for Opening Day. The plan has been to platoon them, but if he keeps hitting and playing at the rate he’s currently at, there should be no need for a platoon to come into play here. Also, after racking up some strikeouts between the intrasquad game last Friday and his first Grapefruit League appearance, it’s great to see d’Arnaud making some solid contact. Between him and the homers from John Buck and Anthony Recker on Wednesday, all this production from the catcher’s position is about to make my head explode.
The Mets will stay home for a couple of games, as they welcome the AL Champion Detroit Tigers to Port St. Lucie and Tradition Field, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 1:10pm.