Count me as a big fan of starting the season on the road. It means you get two openers. After getting a sense of how all the parts fit together away from the smiling Florida sun and the orange-heavy Mr. Mets caps, fans get to welcome their heroes home. A .500 record is all it takes to be considered a hero in Flushing at this juncture. But the expectations are higher than that moving forward, as evidenced by the 43,947 people in attendance, a Citi Field record.
It was a great day for baseball. The sun was out, and the temperature was 63 degrees. Dignitaries like Fonzie, Mookie, and Franco milled around the stands. As the teams took to the baselines for introductions, there was a little giddy humor as Howie Rose introduced "pitcher—and hitter—Bartolo Colon!" And Matt Harvey justifiably received the loudest ovation during the pre-game ceremonies.
Things were so feel-good that a couple Phillies even got cheers from the crowd during intros—albeit ones with ties to the Mets. Jeff Francouer and his .311 OBP from 2009-2010? We still love you! Steve Henderson, part of the trade that ripped the heart out of the organization in the late '70s? Good to see you again, ol’ buddy, you gave us some good years.
Yes, there was plenty to be happy and magnanimous about, with last year’s Rookie of the Year taking the hill and on his way to his fourteenth straight outing completing six innings—the second-longest active streak in the majors behind James Shields. The first burst of energy from the crowd came on a full count 94 miles per hour four-seamer from Jacob deGrom that blew away leadoff hitter Ben Revere. It was the first of only three strikeouts for deGrom, as he often fell behind hitters early while being a little off on location, running up five full counts by the end of the third inning. Still, his four-seam fastball had its characteristic great run, while his changeup was his most effective secondary pitch. Plus, he only walked one batter on the afternoon. He hit as high as 97 on the gun and had enough to work around a handful of threats through six-and-one-third shutout innings to earn the first win of his sophomore campaign.
It was the third inning that would pose Philadelphia’s first scoring opportunity against the young gun. Things started well, as his changeup got a swinging strikeout from Cody Asche. Freddy Galvis hit a ball in the hole—not past a diving Flores, but the shortstop was a bit slow to his feet and then lost the handle on the transfer. Flores had previously gotten an explosion out of the crowd for cleanly fielding a liner on a short hop and firing a perfect throw to first.
Aaron Harang laid down a bunt to advance Galvis, who has big shoes to fill if he hopes to approach the legendary ire Mets fans had towards the man he replaces at shortstop. Revere then ripped a hanging curve to right, but Curtis Granderson was able to track it down.
Harang continued to pitch well against the Mets after holding their hitters to 6-for-65 hitting last year in three starts while posting a 0.90 ERA. The Mets did get two on in the third via a walk from Granderson and a single by Wright. With the runners in motion on a full count pitch, Lucas Duda skied out to left, although Revere took an adventurous route to the ball in the swirling winds. It would not be the last time that the elements would pose difficulties for the Phils.
deGrom likewise worked around two baserunners in the fourth, thanks to a functional 4-6-3 double play. With one out in the bottom half of the inning, Murphy smacked a double to right field. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t quite line up a hanger, sending a fly to right, but Murphy advanced to third, which turned out to be critical.
With two outs, Juan Lagares fell behind in the count 0-2, but went on to foul off four more pitches. The center fielder then did well to make hard contact on a tough slider diving low and away, and sent a comebacker careening at Harang. The pitcher managed to knock the ball down and it only trickled away a couple feet towards third base, but the 6-7, 260-pound Harang was not nimble enough to recover and make a play. Lagares easily legged out the single while Murphy was homeward bound with the first run of the game.
Lagares took off for his first steal of the year, and advanced to third when Galvis couldn’t handle the short-hop throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz, while Chase Utley helpfully kicked the ball towards left field while backing the play up. Flores handled himself well at the plate in this clutch situation, laying off a good outside slider on a 1-2 pitch, and then cracking the next pitch towards right-center—but the speedy Obudel Herrera ran it down.
The Phils tried to respond in the top of the fifth with one out, when Asche and Galvin—the seventh- and eighth-place hitters—ripped into first-pitch fastballs for a pair of singles, with Galvin buzzing deGrom on a liner up the middle. deGrom politely declined the haircut offer and sprung off the mound on Harang’s bunt attempt to cut down Asche at third. deGrom then fell behind Revere 2-0, but he once again got it to full count. Revere then lofted a harmless fly to center to end it.
The bottom of the inning featured a fantastic Superman-style layout by Ben Revere to rob Granderson down the left-field line. The Grandyman is now just 1-for-18 on the season, but he has drawn nine walks.
Leading off the sixth for the Mets, Duda walloped a ball several rows up into the Pepsi Porch, unfortunately just a little bit to the wrong side of the foul pole. He eventually flew out to Revere, who again battled the winds to haul it in. Cuddyer popped a routine fly towards the right field line, which Grady Sizemore lost in the sun. Sunglasses might look cool, but don’t actually work when you look directly into the sun.
By the time Sizemore had found the ball, Cuddyer was nearly on third base with a gift triple. The Mets couldn’t capitalize, but the Phils made it interesting. Murphy popped a ball in front of the mound. Harang, in trying to get out of the way, nearly ran into shortstop Galvis while serving as what Ron Darling called "a human eclipse." The ball hit the heel of Galvis’s glove, but he managed to hold on to it. Travis d’Arnaud proceeded to pop it up behind short, and another near collision ensued between Galvis and Utley, but Utley managed to haul it in despite stumbling around like a drunken sailor.
Sitting at 91 pitches after six innings, deGrom came back out for the seventh to defend the slimmest of leads. But after getting getting Sizemore to fly out, Asche and Galvis again stung the Mets for back-to-back singles, bringing up Cesar Hernandez to pinch-hit for Harang. With deGrom now at 99 pitches, Terry Collins brought in Carlos Torres to put out the fire.
Hernandez hit a hard grounder to the right side, which Murphy did well to glove while moving left. He then spun from his knees and delivered a strike to Flores for the force out at second. With runners now at the corners, Torres fell behind Revere 3-1. With the crowd in full throat and on their feet, Torres got a high strike three call to get out of it.
The Mets threatened again in the seventh, as Flores roped a one-out single and Granderson worked a two-out walk after it looked like he already had taken strike three. Wright, looking to give the Mets good value on his contract this year, seems to have picked up some janitorial duties around the stadium, as he picked up a flying wrapper and stuffed it in his back pocket in between pitches. Unfortunately he was unable to clean up the way we really want him to, as he waved at a 1-2 slider for strike three.
The top of the eighth had three lefty hitters coming up for the Phils, but Terry Collins eschewed his rested lefties in favor of Jerry Blevins’s fourth appearance in seven games and second in a row. He capped off a 1-2-3 inning by getting Ryan Howard to fruitlessly reach on a 2-2 curve for a strikeout.
The Mets got their insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Duda once again hit the ball well to right, but Sizemore caught up to it before the wall. Cuddyer then one-handed a soft liner up the middle for a hit. Murphy scalded a one-hopper right at Utley, but Utley came up too high with the glove, and the ball went right between his legs, advancing Cuddyer to third. d’Arnaud hit a lazy shallow fly to left field, but Tim Teufel was willing to challenge the weak-armed Revere, who threw an eephus pitch home while Cuddyer easily chugged in with the second run.
Jeurys Familia came out for the ninth and his second save attempt since being anointed closer, and he walked Ruiz to lead things off, eliciting some groans from the crowd. But he made up for it by hustling to cover first on what became a 3-6-1 double play, and both Familia and the crowd were pumped. Asche flew out to Lagares, who added a little leap on the play for a final flourish, and this one was in the books as a 2-0 win.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +24.8% WPA; Carlos Torres, +16.9% WPA; Juan Lagares, +12.9% WPA
Big losers: Lucas Duda, -8.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Juan Lagares RBI single in 4th, +13.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Freddie Galvis single in 7th, -6.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +57.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -7.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Juan Lagares