Mets 4, Cardinals 1 (NYM: 2-0, STL: 0-2)
(Note: The 8 o'clock starts are late on school nights. Excuse this post if it's a bit disjointed - I'm writing parts before the game is over, so that I can finalize it when the game ends, publish, and go right to bed.)
The Cardinals handed out their championship rings before game 2 of the season, and the Mets soured another celebration in St. Louis with a 4-1 win. Orlando Hernandez pitched an outstanding game, and the Mets turned in some more solid defense, making their 4 runs stand up.
The Mets manufactured a run right out of the gates - after Jose Reyes drew a leadoff walk, he almost got picked off, but on the next pickoff throw, was able to advance to second on a wild throw by Kip Wells. So with Reyes at second, Paul Lo Duca laid down a bunt, and a Carlos Beltran fly ball to center brought Reyes home from third. That's what the Mets did all last year, jumping out to early leads.
In the fifth, Reyes again created another run - with 2 outs he singled, then stole second. Lo Duca lined one to right field, which was badly misplayed by Skip Schumaker (ruled an error), and Reyes scored to make it 2-0.
El Duque was great on the mound (see below), but also at the plate - he was 2-for-3, and picked up 2 RBI with the bases loaded in the sixth after an intentional walk to Jose Valentin (who wouldn't walk Valentin in that situation?). Hernandez grounded one down the third base line, and Valentin was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first, but it gave the Mets a 4-0 lead.
The Mets turned 3 more double plays Tuesday night, giving them 7 in two games. I tried to look up in the media guide if that's some sort of record, but I could only find double plays in a game - 5. Love that book, though.
The bullpen got a wee bit shaky in the eighth inning. Scott Schoeneweis got two straight outs before getting runners on first and third, with Albert Pujols coming up. So Aaron Heilman was brought in, and he got Pujols to fly to center. Billy Wagner pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
The Mets go for the season-opening sweep of the Cardinals on Wednesday with John Maine on the mound against none other than Braden Looper. That should be fun.
AUTOTRADER JOHNNYMETS.BLOGSPOT.COM PLAYER OF THE GAME: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. I hate to see this be the starting pitcher all the time - but the past two outings have deserved it. Hernandez went 7 innings, giving up one run (a solo homer to Scott Rolen), and walking just 2, giving up 5 hits. He didn't strike anyone out, but started two of the Mets' three double plays. He gave the Mets just the kind of start they're going to need from him all year - it's a nice way to get started. His big problem last year was consistency - one good start followed by a bad start, so now his next start looms large - string together a few like this, and the Mets are in great shape.
I've just decided that I'm going to keep a tally of the "Player of the Game" players that I award over the year. The winner will get a watch...or nothing. Most likely nothing.
NOTES: I've been reading some recaps of the Opening Night game between the Mets and Cardinals, and some people are writing that the Mets exacted revenge on the Cardinals for the NLCS by winning Sunday night. Uh....I don't think so. Those two don't quite equate.
The Cardinals gave their fans replica rings. Pretty neat. That's a giveaway I'd like, if it was for my team.
Also, the Cardinals are allowed to wear uniforms with gold trim around their names and numbers, because they are the champs. I actually like the way the unis look. I'm not sure if this is something new baseball is doing, or if it's something the Cardinals requested. I don't remember the Red Sox or White Sox having that option. It's a neat idea.
Finally, I watched this game on FSN Midwest, so I had Joe Buck. He got a World Series ring, because he's the Cardinals announcer. Seems to me that's some sort of conflict of interest.
LOOKING AHEAD: I was checking out the Mets' schedule. July looks particularly tough. There are 10 home games, and 16 road games. It looks more intimidating on the schedule than it sounds...but there are a couple of lengthy road trips.
Also schedule-related...there are only 20 off days all season, counting the days before and after the All Star Game. And that also counts Monday, and this Thursday, and next Tuesday. So 17 off days after a week from today. It seems like a lot more during the course of the season - each off day feels like 2 or 3 to me.
MASN NEWS: The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network airs both Nationals and Orioles games (there's a MASN2 this year - I'm pretty sure there wasn't last year), and there are broadcasting developments that I caught on Tuesday night. It sounds like Gary Thorne is now doing Orioles games, which is fantastic. I'm pretty positive it was Thorne, not seeing the booth at all, just hearing some audio. But you don't mistake Gary Thorne's voice. And the analyst on the Nationals' post-game show was 1986 World Series MVP Ray Knight. Didn't stick around long enough to see how he did...but it's nice to know where to find him.
BOOF: I was watching MASN2 because our old pal Boof Bonser was pitching for the Twins against the O's. He did well. Not sure we'll be following him here this year like we did last year. The secret's out - he's a good pitcher with a funny name. Also, I wasn't even smart enough to pick him up in my fantasy league - someone else grabbed him. Whoops. Some fan I am. (For the record, Bonser went 6 innings, striking out 6, and giving up 2 runs, getting a no decision in the Twins win.)
BEAT THE STREAK: Not sure how this snuck under my radar the past two days, but Vladimir Guerrero is playing against the Texas Rangers - that's an automatic Beat the Streak pick. They're an afternoon game on Wednesday, too, so I won't have to stay up late to see how he did...like tonight with Mike Piazza. So far, as I'm about to turn in, Piazza does not have a hit.