New York Mets News

David Wright, Johan Santana Shine in Opener

By Adam Garnett

Hey folks, the Mets are 1-0 and tied with the Phillies and Braves for first place in the NL East! Wooohoooo! I had the pleasure of being able to take in the festivities out at Citi Field today. What a glorious April afternoon in Queens. Despite the whipping winds wreaking havoc on some of the fly balls to the outfield, one could not have asked for better weather.

For Mets fans, I am not sure you could have asked for not only a better final outcome, but also how the squad arrived there. First off, let me say this. I have been to the last five Mets home openers. Because of the events of last season and the negative shockwaves they sent through the entire organization and fanbase, this opening day felt different. It felt like a rebirth.

I know, I know. Every team has eternal optimism at the beginning of April, and fans always think “this is our year” when a team is 0-0 but the vibe at Citi was unmistakable. The fans seemed ready to turn the page on the 2009 disaster and most importantly so did the core group of players who went through that debacle. Thankfully, there is a large contingent of new arrivals who had no part in last year’s disaster and could care less about it. Guys like Jason Bay, Rod Barajas and Gary Matthews, Jr. are genuinely pumped to be here and I heard it distinctly in their words during the postgame locker room media availability.

As far as how the Mets worked their way to the 7-1 victory over the Josh Johnson and the Marlins, it starts with the symbolic spark David Wright provided in the bottom of the first inning. Before the game, I got to watch the Mets take batting practice for about a half hour. Wright was hitting mammoth shot after mammoth shot. It was not surprising to me when he smacked a 1-0 delivery from Johnson to the opposite field and over the fence to give the Mets and early 2-0 lead which they would never reliquish. After getting beaten down for months by fans and media types alike for his lack of power last season, Wright stuck it in all of his critics faces with that dinger and signaled to everyone that this year, he’s going to write a different tale.

On the Johan Santana front, what else is there to say about what this guy means to the Mets. He is clearly 100% recovered from the elbow surgery he had in August and ready to lead the way for this beleaguered pitching staff. The biggest positve I took from from the Santana outing is the effectiveness of all of his pitches. The elbow problems from last year clearly affected his abilty to throw his slider and devastating changeup. Each of those pitches were stellar today, his slider showcasing great bite and his changeup stifling hitters’ timing all day. The final line: 6 IP, 4H, ER, 5K. Expect this to be the norm the rest of the way.

Now is where stuff gets interesting as the Mets try to win a game without Johan toeing the rubber. It is clear the offense is going to be formidable, even more so when Reyes and Beltran return, but can any of the four other guys step up and back Santana up. John Maine is first up when he faces Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday under the lights. I’ll be there to watch the Jugger-Metropolitans try to make a it a 2-0 in the standings