John Buck's 9th-inning home run was too little, too late, as the Mets wasted a strong outing by Dillon Gee and a chance at a season-opening sweep, falling to the Padres 2-1.
The Bad Stuff:
- After scoring 19 runs over games on Monday and Wednesday, the New Yorkers ran out of gas against Eric Stults and the Friar bullpen, only managing five hits and striking out a whopping 14 times.
- The worst culprits of this sudden zombie syndrome at the plate were the most important part of the order, as the tandem of David Wright, Ike Davis, Marlon Byrd, and Lucas Duda combined to go 0-12 with 10 Ks (Daniel Murphy pinch-hit in the 6-hole in the 8th inning, striking out to give the 3-6 hitters 11 Ks on the afternoon.
- Jeurys Familia fell well short of potential during his stint in the 8th, walking Chris Denorfia, allowing him to go to third on a Yonder Alonso single, and bringing him home with a wild pitch in the next at-bat. The only out he got was a foul-out to first of Jedd Gyorko, bringing his season ERA "down" from infinity to a less-than-infinite 27.00. The good news? He's got nowhere to go but down. Probably.
- Dillon Gee looked impressive in his first start since before last year's All-Star Break, allowing one run on three hits in 6.1 innings with three walks and four strikeouts in 93 pitches. Those three hits were concentrated during a brief lapse by Gee, coming consecutively in the 4th inning.
- The Mets' five hits were also concentrated into just two batters, as Justin Turner went 3-4 with a double in his first action of 2013, while John Buck continued to impress, going 2-4 with a monstrous home run off San Diego closer Huston Street in the 9th.
Gee showed no signs of rust after returning from a potentially serious blood-clot last July. With the bottom part of the Mets' rotation in question, it will be especially important to have consistency from the top three starters. Though the sample size is admittedly small, the body of work of Gee, Matt Harvey, and Jonathon Niese is so far outstanding.
Buck saved the home team from an embarrassing shutout, proving to be the MVP of the Mets' position players in the first series of 2013. Look for an extended piece on his importance on RisingApple.com soon.
Starting a second straight season with a sweep would have been nice, but all-in-all the opener was a successful one for the Mets, who will look to add to their momentum by thrashing the feckless Fish this weekend. With series against the Marlins, Phillies, Twins, and Rockies coming up, the Amazin's should be expected to at least finish the month of April with a winning record.
UPDATE: Here is that extended piece: "John Buck: Placeholder or Tenant?"