Let’s try something new. I’ll be live-blogging Johan Santana’s spring training start against the Cardinals right here. (Well, from my couch, but you can read it here.) Haven’t tried something like this yet, so let’s see how it goes. I’ll be going up until about 2:30 or I get bored or I die, whichever comes first. Refresh for updates as they come.
1:06 — Mets-Cardinals. David Wright is the only Mets player left over from the 2006 NLCS. The Cardinals still have Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Yadier Molina as their players from that series. The Yankees still have Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera from the last time the Mets were in the World Series.
1:11 — First pitch. Santana starts with five straight fastballs, all sitting around 87 MPH on the SNY gun, and walks the first batter. He was sitting 89 MPH before his injury, so 87 would be fine for Santana. But I’m betting the gun is hot.
1:14 — Still all fastballs, but Santana is now hitting 88 MPH against Matt Holliday.
1:14 — Santana bounces a 1-2 changeup, his first off-speed pitch of the game, to Holliday, then goes right back to the fastball for the next two pitches. Holliday flies a 3-2 fastball about 370 to center field to end the inning.
1:18 — Jake Westbrook is pitching for the Cardinals. He’s hitting 89 MPH on the SNY gun, and averaged 90 MPH on his fastball in games last season. So unless he’s in mid-season form, I think we can conclude that the gun is hot.
How are all these low-strikeout ground ball pitchers the Cardinals have going to fare without Dave Duncan?
1:20 — SNY feed has been lost. They were running an alert on the bottom of the screen about a sun outage, which is “when the sun is directly behind the satellite transmitting the game.” I’m missing Jason Bay hitting . . . so I’m okay for right now.
1:24 — Updating that 2006 NLCS stat from before — Mike Pelfrey and Skip Schumaker were on the 2006 teams, but neither played in the postseason.
1:26 — SNY feed kicks back in right for Santana’s first pitch of the second inning. My blood sacrifice to Helios was accepted. David Freese ground out, 6-3, as Santana continues to pump fastballs.
1:27 — Santana makes Yadier Molina look about as silly as someone can look with a 1-2 changeup. Best pitch of the game from Santana. Molina swings through it, then rolls over the next pitch — another high-80s fastball — to shortstop.
1:29 — With consecutive pitches, Santana bounces a changeup (83 MPH on the gun and to a lefty, so it may have been a slider) about five feet in front of the plate, then nearly throws a fastball to the backstop. So his command is clearly off. But Santana follows that sequence up by running back to back fastballs on Matt Carpenter’s hands, getting a ground out to Ike Davis at first base with the second.
1:31 — Adam Loewen looks like a more homeless Jayson Werth, if that’s possible.
1:35 — Santana is done. Two innings, a hit, a walk, no strikeouts. Five of his six outs came on ground balls (Two 6-3 ground outs, one grounder to first, and a double play), the other on a pop fly. Santana has generally been a fly ball machine during his career, so maybe that’s interesting? His fastball sat around 87 MPH on the SNY gun, sometimes ramping up 90 MPH. His arm remained attached to his body. Successful first start for Santana.
1:37 — There’s a homeless man on the field with a blunt instrument!
1:38 — Update: My mistake, it was just Adam Loewen, and not a crazed hobo. Loewen walked and failed to bludgeon anyone. All the other Mets grounded out on the first of second pitch of their at-bat, ending the second inning.
1:42 — R.A. Dickey in to pitch for the Mets. He throws a 61 MPH knuckleball to strike out Ryan Jackson, then gets two ground outs.
1:46 — Maikel Cleto is pitching for the Cardinals and is throwing gas. If that name is familiar, the Mets signed Cleto as an amatuer free agent out of the D.R. in 2006, then traded him to the Mariners in the J.J. Putz trade, along with 500 other players, all of whom are now contributing major league players. The Mariners flipped Cleto to the Cardinals for SS Brendan Ryan, and here he is now.
1:49 — Random observations: Andres Torres is rocking a crazy long chain outside his jersey. Jordany Valdespin has slashing kind of swing, almost like a toned-down Johnny Damon. Jason Bay still looks like an alien. Ike Davis coughed up a lung and then died at home plate from valley fever. His at-bat wasn’t over though, so the umpire made Cleto throw two more strikes, then allowed the trainers to remove Davis’ body.
1:58 — Dickey plows through the Cardinals order in the top of the fourth in about three minutes. Knuckleballers need no spring training. Mets up 1-0.
2:01 — Smokers in New York State: Can you all please stop smoking, just so I don’t have to see these disturbing PSA commercials anymore? The new one for this season isn’t awful, but I know it’s only time until they start bombarding us with crying children and fingerless hands and grainy surgery footage.
2:04 — R.A. Dickey joins the booth via headset! Tim Byrdak appears behind him, also wearing a headset he appears to have found, and begins making funny faces. Spring Training, you guys!
2:08 — Mets load the bases with two outs and the Cardinals pull Cleto for Scott Linebrink. J.J. Putz trade looking better and better by the moment.
2:12 — Andres Torres clears the bases with a triple. 4-0 Mets, all four runs charged to Cleto. J.J. Putz trade declared a rousing success.
2:20 — Jay Hook, the first pitcher to record a win for the Mets in 1962, joins the booth, as Jon Rauch stomps to the mound and promptly gives up a a string of single and a run. It’s 4-1. SNY has it 4-2. Spring Training for everyone!
2:25 — Jay Hook is fantastic, by the way. He’s 75 and he’s still on top of his game. Good stories, good observations, and he has good things to say about the modern game.
2:30 — That wraps up things for me around here. First attempt at live blogging a game — it’s Spring Training for bloggers, too — and I enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll try a few more during the spring.