Mets 2, Nationals 0: An Evening With Pitching

The Mets scored their first Grapefruit League victory in 10 days with a tidy 2-0 win over the visiting Washington Nationals. Not that wins and losses mean a whole heck of a lot this time of year, but it's much easier to say that when you actually win one now and then.

Dillon Gee was rather impressive this evening, going 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four and walking just one. He allowed just three hits, all singles and two of those of the infield variety. Even allowing for a Nationals lineup sans many regulars, this was another encouraging outing for a Mets starter. If you had told me before spring training that by this point only one Mets starter would be having a miserable time of it and it was Mike Pelfrey...actually, if you had told me that, I would have totally believed you.

Almost as heartening as Gee's performance was that of the new bullpen pieces. Neither Frank Francisco nor Jon Rauch has shown much so far, but both managed to throw scoreless frames tonight. Francisco had a tougher time of it, loading the bases on two singles and walk in relief of Gee in the sixth, but induced a grounder from Wilson Ramos to end the threat, then got the first two outs in the seventh. Rauch had his first drama-free appearance of the spring with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Chuck James logged the last out of the seventh, and Bobby Parnell retired the Nats in order in the ninth.

As for the Mets offense, there wasn't much offense to speak of, as is often the case when you face Stephen Strasburg. However, Lucas Duda managed the feat of launching an opposite-field homer against him in the fourth inning. They padded their lead with two outs in the sixth when Jason Bay walked, stole second, and came around to score on an Ike Davis single.

The one sour note of the evening came when center fielder Andres Torres left the game after the second inning on what was later diagnosed as a calf strain. It did not appear a serious boo-boo, though I realize I am tempting fate just by writing that. Terry Collins has already discussed starting Bay and/or Jordany Valdespin in center in his stead. In other words, hurry back quick, Andres.

Those inclined to optimism can look forward to tomorrow, the Mets travel to Jupiter to take on the Cardinals, with Johan Santana scheduled to pitch again. Smiles, everyone!

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