The Mets opened their season with a win on Monday afternoon, beating Washington 3-1 at Nationals Park.
earned got the start for the Mets and pitched very well. The big righty struck out eight in six innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and walking one en route to the 205th win of his career.
Curtis Granderson began the game by coaxing an eight-pitch walk from prized Nationals acquisition Max Scherzer, but the Mets’ offense would go into hibernation after that, as Scherzer set down the next 17 New York hitters.
Colon got into trouble right away, allowing a leadoff single to Michael Taylor and a second baserunner when Daniel Murphy botched an easy throw to first base. But the crafty veteran bounced back to strike out Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman before Murphy redeemed himself by making the routine play on a grounder from Wilson Ramos to end the inning.
Bartolo retired the next nine batters he faced, and actually made decent contact in his first turn at the plate, but faltered in the bottom of the fourth. Bryce Harper took advantage of a misplaced fastball and sent it over the wall in right-center for a solo shot that put the Nats up 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, Granderson drew a 2-out walk against Scherzer, giving the visitors their first baserunner since… Granderson’s walk to open the game. David Wright popped one up just past the infield that caused mayhem for the Nationals when Daniel Uggla got confused in the field (naturally) and was called off at the last second by Ian Desmond, who failed to make the play as the ball fell to the grass. The official scorer deemed the mishap an error on Desmond (it was never going to be a hit with Scherzer pitching a no-hitter) and Granderson advanced to third base while the Captain pulled in at second. On a 1-2 count, Lucas Duda ripped a 98 mile-per-hour fastball into right field to give the Mets their first hit, first two runs, and first lead of the season.
Colon retired eight straight hitters after Harper’s blast, but got into trouble with two outs in the home half of the sixth. Harper laced one up the middle for his second hit of the day and Zimmerman got aboard with Washington’s first free pass of the day, bringing up Ramos with two out and two on for the second time in the game. Once again, Colon won the battle, putting a 3-2 fastball past the Washington catcher and into the mitt of Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud to escape the jam and finish off his excellent outing.
The Mets added a bit of insurance in the top of the seventh. After Daniel Murphy flew out to left, Juan Lagares reached first when Desmond was unable to make the throw to first after reeling in a hard-hit ball. Once again, the Mets made Scherzer pay for Desmond’s mistake. d’Arnaud hit one off the wall in center field and ended up on third with a triple as Juan scored to put New York up 3-1. Although New York could not capitalize further— as Wilmer Flores popped out in foul ground and pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out— the three unearned runs would prove to be all the Mets would need in this game.
After Carlos Torres got three quick groundouts in his first of 162 appearances, the Mets got a pair of two-out singles in the top of the eighth to chase Scherzer. They would make nothing of it, however, as Xavier Cedeno came in to retire Daniel Murphy and end the threat.
Aaron Barrett got into hot water when Travis d’Arnaud singled for his second hit of the game and John Mayberry drew a pinch-hit walk, but Matt Thornton came in was able to bail Barrett out when Granderson’s sharp grounder sizzled straight at (and shockingly into) the glove of Uggla.
Jenrry Mejia was pulled just before the bottom of the ninth could get underway with what was later revealed to be elbow soreness, so Terry Collins had to improvise to wrap up the win. Jerry Blevins came in to face the lefty Harper, who hit a liner that was brought in by Granderson for the first out. Collins then turned to Buddy Carlyle, who got both Zimmerman and Ramos to ground out to Flores to earn his first career save and give the Mets an Opening Day win.
Is there anything better than starting the season off with a win? Against the heavy favorites in your division? Against whom you have struggled mightily in the past? On the road? With your best pitchers still waiting in the wings? No. No, there is not.
Colon really stepped up. There had been so much talk about his Opening Day start, but you can’t complain when the guy you pick (a former Cy Young Award winner, mind you) puts up six innings and really only makes one (mostly harmless) mistake. Also, 8 strikeouts? THAT’S power pitching. Max, Stephen, and Gio… take notes.
It was Colon’s first opening day start since 2006, when he was coming off of the aforementioned Cy Young honor. I was hoping to be able to put that in perspective by giving another Mets-related example of things that haven’t happened since 2006 but are totally happening in 2015, but my mind drew a blank. Any help?
Granderson didn’t get a hit, but he worked two walks (one of which was huge, albeit an easy four-pitch affair) and made solid contact on the grounder to Uggla. Not a bad first game after his torrid spring. Speaking of Uggla, oh my god. The man is a human error, and just as it did before his crucial (and similar) mistake in Spring Training, my face lit up with glee when Gary Cohen announced that Uggla was trying to deal with a high pop-up. Needless to say, he did not disappoint. Not Mets fans, anyway. The play could have easily been ruled a hit, and despite the circumstances, it actually might have been had Desmond not saved Uggla (and Scherzer) by stepping in as a last-second scapegoat.
Travis d’Arnaud had two hits, one of which was a hard-hit ball through the hole and the other of which was a deep drive that nearly cleared the wall in center. He was one of the guys who I was concerned about in Spring Training, so was nice to see him get a couple hits on Opening Day.
Another guy I was worried about? Jeurys Familia. But I’m not anymore. After looking nothing like the 2014 Familia in March, Jeurys looked every bit like his dominant self today, and if the Mets stop trying to tinker with his style (and thankfully, it looks like they have), he should be a dominant power arm at the back of our bullpen.
But the third guy I was most concerned about was Jenrry Mejia, and those concerns grew when he was pulled before throwing a pitch and was sent to the locker room with “elbow soreness.” Seriously, considering the state of pitching in the MLB, without knowing anything, we have to assume that the odds of Tommy John coming into play at some point are, like, 25%, no? And Mejia has had his share of injury problems in the past. On the bright side, if this is something that can be fixed (hopefully without Jenrry having to miss much time), it might explain why Mejia was so unimpressive during the preseason. I won’t hold my breath (and I might not need to, if Familia can transition to the closer’s role), but hopefully Mejia is back on the field and back in form rather quickly.
That was some big-time hitting from Lucas Duda with two outs and two strikes against an elite pitcher with a no-hitter in his sights. The Mets were very good with their backs against the wall in both games and individual innings this Spring, and it was nice to see them get a huge two-out hit in the first real ballgame of the year.
Like I said, there’s nothing better to fuel the optimism of a new season than a win on Opening Day. And with the best Opening Day record in the MLB, the Mets have proven to be pretty good at providing their fans with that little bit of joy. Now let’s see if they can carry it over into game 2 and beyond. You’re up, Jake.
Up Next: The Mets will have the cruel, traditional post-Opener off-day on Tuesday before facing the Nationals at 7:05 PM on Wednesday. Jacob deGrom will go up against Jordan Zimmermann at Nationals Park.
Photo Credit: Evan Vucci, AP