Collin Cowgill's grand slam provided the exclamation point on Jonathon Niese's strong starting effort, and the Mets built on an already strong Opening Day tradition with an 11-2 victory over the Padres.
The Good Stuff:
- Jonathon Niese's first pitch of the new year resulted in a hard single by Chris Denorfia, one of two baserunners in the inning for San Diego, but Niese got out of the jam unscathed. The makeshift rotation frontrunner would not surrender much more on the afternoon, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 6.2 innings, walking a pair and striking out 4 on 101 pitches.
- New York's first run of 2013 came the way so many did in 2012: clutch hitting and pure hustle. With John Buck on first after a two-out walk in the 2nd inning, Ruben Tejada slashed an Edinson Volquez fastball into the left field corner. The burly catcher barreled his way around the bases, charging towards the plate on orders from Tim Teufel. The throw home was well off-line as Buck slid home, scoring on Tejada's double. It was the first of many runs for the home team on this day.
- In the 7th, a man named Collin had a fever, and the only prescription was more Cowgill. With two down and runners everywhere, the leadoff center fielder took a 2-2 fastball from Brad Brach and really explored the space in left field (there will be many, many more of these). Cowgill was hustling so hard he didn't even notice the umpires had signaled for a home run; it took him until third base to start his glorious trot. All it meant is the New Yorkers got their 11th run across the plate all the more faster, turning what was already a blowout into a bona fide laugher and a good time all around for the Citi Field sellout crowd of 41,053.
- Other offensive highlights on the day included:
- Birthday boy Daniel Murphy (2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI)
- Newly-minted Captain David Wright (1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB)
- Outfield acquisition Marlon Byrd (2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI)
- Buck, Tejada, and Niese (2 hits, 1 RBI each)
- The Mets' bullpen combined for 2.1 hitless inning of relief, as Brandon Lyon finished off the 7th, Scott Atchison blew through the 8th, and Scott Rice struck out two in a 1-2-3 9th, his first major league action after 14 long years in the minors.
- Ike Davis and Lucas Duda combined to go 0-7 with 5 strikeouts. Davis accounted for 4 of those Ks, sparking worries he may regress into his first-half mode from 2012.
The Mets' Opening Day dominance continued in their 52nd season, as they improved to 34-18 in seasons' first games, good for a far-and away league-best .654 winning percentage. Terry Collins got his team to play with hustle and intensity as they took care of business against a weaker Padres squad. Sure, it's only one game, and the team probably won't stay in first place much longer, but as I've said before, all that matters is the New York Mets won today. All they have to focus on, as do we, is winning tomorrow. If we all can do that, this supposed lost season will become an Amazin' one.