Image by Getty Images via @daylife
It took the Mets until June 13 last year to accomplish what they already have in their first series; win a road series. The first matchup had them pitted against 6’7” 250lb flamethrower Josh Johnson of which they predictably lost. Johnson is tough enough to hit, even had a no hitter going through 6, but then giving up a grand slam to newly acquired John Buck proved to be the nail in the coffin for Mike Pelfrey. The Mets have proven (so far) to be a resilient team. They came back and ripped off the next two games in style, in extra innings and a shellacking of once dominant Javy Vasquez.
While all of this does give each Met fan a small glimmer of hope of “why not us?”…Let’s slow down the World Series ticket buying just for a bit. We beat a Marlins team who lost its power bat 2nd baseman and replaced him with a catcher who had a .281 average last year while previous best was a solid 34 points less. A team that was almost forced by Major League Baseball to spend money on players. I’m not saying that they are an awful team, but they aren’t the Phillies. As I watched the games in Florida I couldn’t help but notice almost a swagger about the Mets. Something about them came off as almost professional. They seem much more energized. Skipper Collins and his brash motivational talks may be exactly what this team needs after 2 years of “it is what it is and let’s get them next game” mantra from Jerry Manuel.
Speaking of which, a Phillies series is right on the horizon. This will be much more telling than Florida series. The Mets somewhat dodged a bullet and won’t have to face Lee or Oswalt but they will have to face possibly the best number 4 and 5 pitchers in all of baseball along with Doc. Hamels was 0-4 last year against the New York Metropolitans and Blanton can shut down a team as easily as he implodes. Beltran, Wright, Hairston, Thole are all batting over .300 versus Doc. So there is hope. It’s not impossible, it is improbable.
Final prediction: Mets win two out of three, World Series ticket purchases from New York area double, Mike Francesca explodes from Mets callers, and Family Guy can eat their heart out.
New York Mets (18-16) at Florida Marlins (16-18) 7:10 pm
Johan Santana (3-2 4.54) vs Josh Johnson (3-1 3.35)
TV: SNY Radio: WFAN
What to watch: The Mets and Marlins start up a four game series in Miami tonight. The Marlins just won 2 of 3 from the Cubbies in Chicago. Johnson has been his usual rock-solid self with the Marlins winning two of the last three games that he started. Santana recovered a bit in his last start going 7.2IP against the Giants, but he did give up 4 ER. That’s shaky for him.
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When the Mets put up 9 hits and 7 runs on Josh Johnson and the Marlins on opening day, I wasn’t really surprised. This is a team that can hit. Even the injury depleted 2009 team led the league with a .270 average. And the addition of Jason Bay makes this a much better offensive team.
Many of us were surprised that the Mets didn’t do anything to improve the pitching staff during the offseason. That includes me. I didn’t think the Mets would go crazy and sign John Lackey, but I did think they would bring in someone consistent like Jon Garland. When Randy Wolf got his ridiculous 3-year/$29.75 million deal, I knew the Mets wouldn’t be in the market for a pitcher with any kind of track record of success.
I had an email exchange with my friend, and frequent commenter, TD about this during the game on Monday. From TD:
I have no worries about them beating the ball to a pulp. That’s a nice offense, even with Reyes and Beltran out.
Shoot, I don’t think they’ll even miss Beltran. If you set up the lineup properly, Even Matthews JR can be an above average good hitter. He’ll see a lot of fastballs!
Florida Marlins (0-0) at New York Mets (0-0) 1:10 pm
Josh Johnson (0-0 0.00) vs. Johan Santana (0-0 0.00)
TV: SNY Radio: WFAN
What to watch: The Mets try to get out to the fast start that Jerry Manuel talked about all spring against the Marlins. It won’t be easy against Josh Johnson and the team that likes to be a spoiler for the Mets. The Marlins would love to put a damper on opening day at Citi Field.
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