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Game Notes: Mets vs Nationals (04/03/2006)

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I have to admit, nothing quite compares to an afternoon off from work and a Mets win on Opening Day. Any win is a good win, though it's nice to get off to a positive start, particularly when you consider that the Mets lost their first five contests of 2005.

It wasn't the most cleanly-played game I've ever seen, and home plate umpire Rick Reed wasn't helping matters with his ridiculously-inconsistent strike zone.

Tom Glavine was effective, but struggled at times with his command. Aaron Heilman had his problems, too, but managed to steer his way out of trouble while allowing one run over two innings of relief.

Billy Wagner looked very good, throwing mid-nineties heat that he should be able to crank up to high-nineties heat in the coming weaks. Yankee fans are already bemoaning his entrance song, Metallica's "Enter Sandman", because it apparently belongs to Mariano Rivera. ESPN.com doesn't list this kind of information with the career stats for these guys, so there's no telling who has actually been using it longer. Wagner certainly didn't roll into Shea and just start using it, so I'm not sure what Yankee fans are getting so upset about. It will surely be an interesting sight when Wagner rolls out of the bullpen when the Yanks come to Shea.

Xavier Nady had a terrific Mets debut, going 4-for-4, while David Wright went 2-for-4 with the game's only homerun, an opposite field shot. Paul Lo Duca and Tom Glavine had two hits apiece, and the Mets as a team hammered out ten hits, four of which were for extra bases.

Jose Reyes left a lot to be desired in his first game of attempted on-base improvement. Here are the CBS Sportsline game charts of his five at-bats:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

His first at-bat wasn't too bad. He took three pitches before flying out to center. In his second at-bat he swung at the first pitch he saw and lined out to Soriano in left. Reyes grounded out to first on the second pitch of his third at-bat before putting together his best at-bat in his fourth plate appearance. He saw five pitches, striking out swinging on the fifth. His last at-bat was another one-pitch job, grounding out to Vidro at second on the only pitch he saw.

All told, Reyes saw only 13 pitches in five at-bats, or 2.6 P/PA, not great for anyone let alone your leadoff hitter. Contrast that with Paul Lo Duca, who saw 16 pitches in four at-bats, or 4.0 P/PA. Even Tom Glavine saw ten pitches in his two plate appearances!

There is good news, though. As you can tell from the charts, Reyes didn't record a single strike on a ball outside the zone. All five pitches to Reyes that fell outside the strike zone were taken for balls. Of course, we're only talking about a single ballgame here, and it's particularly difficult to be patient given the excitement of Opening Day. We'll definitely keep an eye on Reyes' plate discipline and see whether his pitch recognition improves over the course of the season.

The worst part of the game, and kingcritical mentioned it in the comments, was the fans' booing of Carlos Beltran after just two at-bats. Fans have the right to boo if they see fit to, but it's apparently not clear to them that doing so is counterproductive. I am operating under the assumption that Mets fans don't want Beltran to do poorly, and booing and embarrassing him, in the first game of the season no less, runs counter to that goal.

Speaking of disappointments, it's kind of a drag to wait six months for baseball to start, just to have an off-day immediately following the first game. Thanks for nothing, schedule-makers!

UPDATE: Basil over at Federal Baseball has a great post on the questionable (read: ludicrous) decision by Nats' third base coach Tony Beasley to wave Alfonso Soriano home from third with nobody out in the top of the 8th. Replays show that Soriano was actually safe, but that doesn't excuse an otherwise inexcusable decision. Had Soriano in fact been called safe the decision still would have been a terrible one, though the outcome would have certainly been preferable to the Nats.