The baseball schedulers were very kind to the New York Mets. They started their season with home series against the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins. This would give the young team a good shot at starting off the season on the right foot, and maybe a good start would help with tickets sales as well.
The Mets took two of three games in each of the two home series. The starting pitching was strong, led by Matt Harvey and Jonathan Niese. Unlikely heroes John Buck and Daniel Murphy led the hitters. And in the last game of the Marlins’ series, the Mets were helped by the boneheaded move by Mike Redmond of playing his infield in for the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead and Met runners on second and third. This allowed Marlon Byrd to single in two runs to win the game and spoil a sparking pitching performance by Jose Fernandez.
But in the third series of the season, the Mets would need to make the trip down the New Jersey Turnpike to face the Philadelphia Phillies, who would certainly provide a better test than the Marlins or Padres. The Phils lost their first two series.
The first two games went pretty much as expected. In the first game, the Mets pounded the struggling Roy Halladay while Harvey mowed down the Phils. In the second game, Cliff Lee mowed down the Mets and the Phils pounded Dillon Gee.
In the third game of the series, the impact of injuries to Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum were apparent. Jeremy Hefner, who was slotted to be the long reliever, got the start and allowed the first six Phils to reach base safely. Before the damage was over, the Phils had scored five runs. This was remarkably similar to the game last September against the Phils when Hefner gave up seven runs in the first inning before being pulled from the game. The Phils went onto win the game 7 – 3. Lucas Duda hit two long bombs for the Mets, one into the teeth of a strong swirling wind.
So this game has really made it clear why 2014 will be the first year the Mets will realistically be in a serious position to compete for a National League playoff spot. Zack Wheeler will have joined the rotation to make it very solid. Travis d’Arnaud will be the catcher. Duda should have matured into a 30 HR hitter. Ike Davis might have learned to hit a curve ball. The team will have acquired a power hitting corner outfielder and a real closer. The future looks bright. But for this year, Met fans need to settle in for another, “same old, same old,” and “wait ’til next year.”
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