After watching Rafael Montero make his major league debut against the Yankees last night, one thing that jumped out at me was that he most certainly looked like he belonged here.
There was a confident swagger prevalent that you won’t see in his pitching line, and he carried himself like a 10-year veteran on the mound at Citi Field.
Unfortunately for Montero, he was matched up against a fierce mound opponent in Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese import shut down the Mets’ bats, resulting in a 4-0 defeat and Montero’s first loss of his career.
The Dominican righthander allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts for the night.
He needed 69 pitches to get through the first three innings, but bore down and utilized another 39 pitches for his final three innings, tossing 108 on the night – far exceeding the most he’s thrown all year.
“I was calm from the first inning until I finished up,” Montero said through an interpreter. “I just kept trying to throw strikes. That’s the most important part.”
Manager Terry Collins came away far more than satisfied by Montero’s effort.
“I was very impressed,” Collins would say afterward. “This kid is going to be good.”
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He came out and threw strikes right away, which tells me he was comfortable.”
The first run Montero got tagged for will go down as earned, but an ill-advised diving attempt by Eric Young Jr. allowed a Brian Roberts single to turn into a triple that scored Solarte from first base.
The second homer to Teixeira was also forgivable as it came in the sixth and after he had already exceeded the 95 pitch mark.
One thing that Montero will never forget and may one day become a great Mets trivia question was his first big league strikeout – a swing and a miss by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in the third.
“That was a good feeling,” Montero said. “I felt very happy.”
All in all a fantastic job by Montero and the first of what should be a long career of solid starts in the Mets rotation.