CINCINNATI - For the Mets, a team that sabotaged itself the past two seasons, rarely does a plan come together as perfectly as their winter blueprint did against the Reds on Opening Day.
Johan Santana pushed into the sixth inning Monday, striking out seven,
and that allowed the Mets' revamped bullpen to finish the job. Sean
Green picked up four outs, J.J. Putz performed his set-up duties in the
eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez earned the save in the Mets' 2-1
victory at Great American Ball Park.
Daniel Murphy, the club's new No. 2 hitter, made Jerry Manuel look good
by driving in both runs. He homered off starter Aaron Harang in the
fifth and added an RBI-groundout in the sixth.
In the ninth, K-Rod threw three straight changeups to Jay Bruce, who
grounded meekly up the first-base line. Edwin Encarnacion popped up
foul on the first-base side and Rodriguez struck out Ramon Hernandez on
a changeup. Predictably, K-Rod thrust his arms into the air to
celebrate as the Mets gathered around the mound to join him.
The Mets have at least one home run in 20 of the last 26 openers, but
Murphy's was their first since 2006. They are 31-17 on Opening Day,
when their .646 percentage is the best in baseball.
Santana, starting his fourth opener, allowed three hits and struck out
seven in 52/3 innings, but Manuel chose not to push him beyond 99
pitches. The only run Santana allowed came in the sixth after two
singles and Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly. Santana improved to 3-1
with a 4.07 ERA on Opening Day.
The front office put Ryan Church's job in jeopardy by signing Gary
Sheffield on Friday. But there is no way Sheffield turns the double
play that Church did in the second inning on Hernandez's sinking liner
to right. Church made a sliding catch on the wet grass, trapping the
ball after it popped off his right leg, then rifled a strong throw to
double up Encarnacion at first base.
The Mets did little more than drive up Harang's pitch count until
Murphy's one-out homer in the fifth. They stranded five runners,
including four in scoring position, before Murphy drilled a full-count
fastball into the rightfield seats.
That should have signaled the start of a rout. David Wright followed
with a bloop single to center and Carlos Delgado punched another base
hit that somehow dropped into left. But rather than play it safe on
Carlos Beltran's sharp single to right, third-base coach Razor Shines
waved Wright home when he saw Bruce bobble the ball.
That turned out to be a mistake. Bruce delivered a decent throw, and
even though it bounced a few times, it still beat Wright to the plate,
where Hernandez got him with a sweep tag.
Harang was pulled after 114 pitches in five innings and the Mets took a
2-0 lead off Daniel Ray Herrera. After a one-out double by Luis
Castillo, Herrera walked Santana and Jose Reyes to load the bases for
Murphy, who delivered the run with a grounder to first.
Santana did not allow a hit until the fourth, when Bruce ripped a
two-out double that came within four feet of clearing the chain-link
bullpen fence in left-center. Encarnacion followed with a walk, the
fourth by Santana, but Hernandez slapped the first pitch to short to
end the threat.
Mets Bullpen Does the Job in Opening Win
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.