Reds 7 (1-0), Mets 6 (0-1)
I don't know what I can't believe more. Here are the options:
1) The way the Mets lost this game.
2) The fact that of all the suspects likely to blow this game, the least likely man was the one who did it.
3) The fact that I screwed up my entire tape-the-game-avoid-all-human-contact-then-watch-the-tape plan.
4) The fact that even after I screwed that up, I still watched the entire game, convinced myself I saw the wrong outcome, and worked myself up when the Mets blew the lead. (I'll tell this story later.)
The first surprise in this game was that Doug Mientkiewicz hit sixth, and future Hall of Famer David Wright hit seventh. Perhaps Mientkiewicz had good career numbers against Paul Wilson (when Wilson was in Tampa Bay).
It's getting into the realm of torturous listening to Joe Morgan. I'm not going to get into why, but for example, at the end of the game, he says, "What's that Yogi Berra saying? It's never over until the game ends?" Or something like that - he butchered it. Along the same lines...Kaz Matsui homers in the top of the first inning, putting the Mets up 1-0. A good color commentator (or me) might say "For the second straight year, Matsui homers in his first at-bat of the season." But Morgan didn't. I am starting to strongly dislike him. (Not just for missing the chance on the Matsui comment - I'm half-joking about that. But I really think he's slipping into Alzheimer's a little. Something's seriously wrong. Listen to him a couple of times and make a case he isn't slipping...I challenge you.)
Bottom of the first, the Reds take the lead off Pedro Martinez*. Adam Dunn capped a rough first inning with a three-run bomb, putting Cincinnati up 3-1.
Carlos Beltran* drew the Mets even with a 2-run homer in the third, making it 3-3. Meanwhile, Pedro Martinez* was striking out everyone and their brother. He struck out the side in the 2nd and 3rd innings, and got the first two guys in the fourth. He didn't allow another hit after Dunn's homer, and finished with 6 innings, 3 ER, 3 hits, 2 walks, and 12 strikeouts. Pedro* threw 103 pitches, and actually left the game with a chance to win. (Red Sox fans are thinking - we've seen this before.) I think I might be able to find it in my heart to root for Pedro*.
On the offensive side, I can't complain. Carlos Beltran* was 3-for-5 with a single, double, and homer. Beltran* and Martinez* are on pace to lose their asterisks by the opening homestand. My only complaint, ironically, comes against future Hall of Famer David Wright. Twice, with two men on, he grounded into double plays. (He did, though, double to the wall in right field.) We need more activity in the clutch from a future Hall of Famer.
Paul Wilson started for the Reds. This allowed for a half-inning or so of talk about "Generation K", the Mets' high hopes for Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, and Jason Isringhausen. Ah, memories.
The Mets took the lead in the seventh. After Jose Reyes, THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, led off the inning with a double, and Matsui bunted him to third, Beltran* drove home the go-ahead run with a single to left. Cliff Floyd then homered to make it 6-3 Mets. More good news on offense - first of all, Reyes didn't get hurt. He's still a free swinger, and isn't going to lead the league in walks (ever - he swung at a pitch that hit him in the foot in the eighth inning), but he showed flashes of being THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED Monday when he singled to right-center field and stretched that into a double. Great speed. And the other good sign on offense was Cliff Floyd was swinging the bat well. He had a great game - 3-for-4, with the homer (that should have provided the insurance in the win). If Floyd can keep this up, and not show signs of fatigue after the first month of the season (he looks in May like other guys look in October after a full season), the Mets will be in good shape in the outfield.
The Mets' bullpen is not one of their strong points. But Braden Looper is supposed to be the strongest part of it. Ironically, he blew this one, while Manny Aybar and Dae-Sung Koo turned in surprisingly good performances to set him up with the 6-4 lead entering the ninth. But Looper gave up a single, homer, homer to end the game, 7-6 Reds. Mets pitchers struck out 16 Reds. The Reds didn't have a hit between the first and seventh innings. But the Reds still won. Very frustrating.
Here's something else that's frustrating. I managed to make it all the way home from work without hearing how old friend Pedro* did (a tough feat in greater Boston, in my opinion). So when I got home, the VCR was still going (but I had no picture), and for some stupid reason, I turned the channel from ESPN to ESPNEWS. I came back to the TV after the VCR timer stopped, and turned on the TV to rewind the VCR. I tried not to look at the bottom line, but before I changed the channel, I saw that Joe Randa had hit a walk-off homer. My thought process was as follows:
"Hmm. Joe Randa hit a walk-off homer. I shouldn't have read that. It could have had to do with the Mets game. Good thing it was just the Royals game. So the Royals must have won, if Randa hit a walk-off. That's good, I guess. I don't mind seeing the Royals win.............wait a second. Randa doesn't play for the Royals anymore. He plays for - (mind racing) - not the Reds. No, he doesn't play for the Reds. OH YES HE DOES YOU STUPID MORON WHY DID YOU LOOK AT THE TV?!?! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT. IF RANDA HIT A WALK-OFF, YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS??!?! IT MEANS THE METS LOST, YOU *!?!$#. "
What a dope I am. And then.....and then, I watched the freakin' game. And then.......and then, when the Mets took a 6-3 lead, yes, I believed they were going to win the game. "There must be another Randa in the majors now, because I can't imagine a scenario where the Mets can lose this one," I think. Then Aybar and Koo get the game to Looper, and I think, "There's no way Randa hits a walk-off here. For that to happen, Looper would have to give up three straight hits, or something bad." Needless to say, I am not happy right now.
I don't feel too confident in Looper. I know I put up a good front, saying he's the strong point of the bullpen, but I feel like if the Mets can get someone to fill that closer spot, i.e. Ugueth Urbina, even though he got roughed up a bit on Monday, I'd feel a bit more comfortable with the Mets' chances. In that same game (Urbina's game), Dmitri Young homered three times. Watching his stats on the bottom line during the Mets game was pretty unbelievable. The more believable thing will be when he finishes with 23 homers or so, and everyone says, remember when he hit three on Opening Day?
In other Mets news, Kris Benson was placed on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle. Marlon Anderson replaced him on the roster. It'll be interesting to see how the Mets replace Benson when they need a fifth starter...on Saturday they traded away Matt Ginter for a minor leaguer. That would have been Ginter's spot.
A quick mailbagger: (Subject: OPENING DAY SPOILER SPOILER DO NOT READ)
Hope that subject line was enough to keep you from reading before you'd seen the game.
A question and a comment this opening day....
The question is did you see the look on Looper's face when he gave up the game-winning homer? He looked like a horrible mix of pain and disbelief.
My comment is that Pedro has bad luck on opening day. I can think of 3 instances where the Sox pen blew his win. 12 K in his debut, by the way. Not bad.
Dave- I did see the look on Looper's face, and though I was not near a mirror, I'd say your description of "horrible mix of pain and disbelief" would also fit the "I can't believe I just watched that tape knowing full well that Joe Randa was somehow, some way, going to hit a walk off homer to beat the Mets." I'm starting to think right now that this blog might be a little funnier if I started including profanity. I have choice words for Looper. But that's an easy trap to fall into...then all I'd be doing was cursing at the Mets. We don't need to go there.
As for your other comment, I do remember Pedro (no asterisk - we're not talking about him as a Met here) having bad luck on Opening Day, but if I remember correctly, at least one of those games was a 13-10 decision (or possibly no decision) to the Blue Jays in which he actually got rocked.
My hope for the Mets now is to bounce back from this very difficult loss and take two out of three in Cincy. They don't play again until Wednesday.
The blog will hopefully be daily from here on out. I am also going to try to include headlines daily (or at least on game recaps). Some will be hits, some misses. Just giving you fair warning. And because of the move, I never had a chance to do my season predictions. Here they are:
NL Rookie of the Year: Garrett Adkins (even though he just went on the DL)
AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Reed
AL Cy Young Award: Randy Johnson (he looked good Sunday night - might not have picked him if I did this before the season)
NL Cy Young Award: Pedro Martinez*
AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero (not very original)
NL MVP: Carlos Beltran (not very original)
NL Champion: Mets (not very original....for me, anyway)
AL Champion: Angels
AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Rangers
NL East: Mets
NL Central: Astros
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Cardinals
Those are just my picks - don't ask for justifications. I will reassess at the All-Star break.