Opening Day Live Blog

Not at the park today, but watching on a television. Let’s do a live blog here anyway. The lineups are:

Atlanta Braves
CF — Michael Bourn
3B — Martin Prado
C — Brian McCann
2B — Dan Uggla
1B — Freddie Freeman
LF — Matt Diaz
RF — Jason Heyward
SS — Tyler Pastornicky
P — Tommy Hanson

And for the New York Mets
CF — Andres Torres
2B — Daniel Murphy
3B — David Wright
1B — Ike Davis
LF — Jason Bay
RF — Lucas Duda
C — Josh Thole
SS — Ruben Tejada
P — Johan Santana (!!!!!!!)

Pre Game:

– Applause Observations: Sans Frankie Rodriguez, and almost everyone being young and somewhat unknown, all players on the Mets receive warm ovations. Biggest cheer for Dickey (for being Dickey). Big cheers for Niese (for signing a contract?), David Wright, and Johan Santana. Some mild boos for the training staff, but an enthusiastic cheer for the clubhouse massage therapist.

– Scratch that last observation. Jason Bay was booed. I forgot about him for a glorious moment.

– Moment of silence for Gary Carter, followed by an unveiling of a “KID 8” logo on the outfield wall.

– First “Somebody left the gate OOOOOOO-PEN” commercial. What will we see more of today: That commercial, or Johan Santana strikeouts?

Top of the First Inning:

– Santana throws a pair of high-80s fastballs to Bourn, a sinking changeup for a swinging strike, slider in the dirt, and then a 90 MPH fastball Bourn grounds to Davis, 3 unassisted. First batter is out — let’s read too much into it. Mets going all the way!

– Prado singles. No no-hitter today. Santana is using all his pitches and the velocity is there. But he isn’t showing great command so far.

– McCann flew out to right. Against Dan Uggla, Santana just dropped a 77 MPH breaking ball for a get-me-over strike. Never seen him do that before with his slider. May have been a crummy changeup that surprised everyone.

– Santana strikes out Uggla with a 78 MPH changeup in the dirt, Thole applies the tag. That’s one K for Santana, one commercial for “SOMEBODY LEFT THE GATE OPEN.”

Bottom of the First Inning

– Andres Torres flies out to right to lead off, bringing up Daniel Murphy (still walking up with “Shipping up to Boston”). Hanson starts Murphy off with two fastballs, gets ahead with a nasty curveball for a called strike, then tries to double up with the curve. Hanger. Murphy knocks it into the left field gap for a double.

– Wright flies out to right, leaving Murphy at second with two out for Ike Davis. Tommy Hanson looks like he’s throwing darts — not in a “he’s throwing fast” kind of way. Like his windup actually looks like he’s throwing darts in a bar. Hanson feeds Davis seven straight curveballs — and Davis strikes out on the seventh. No score after one.

Top of the Second:

— Santana tries to work Freddie Freeman inside, but keeps missing the inside corner until the count is full. Santana misses with a changeup, leaving it up, but Freeman misses too. Flies out to Bay. Matt Diaz flies out to Duda on the next pitch. Lots of flyball outs for xFIP defier Santana.

— Santana still missing the corner on lefties, trying to work Jason Heyward inside. Heyward works the count full, but Santana gets him with an 88 MPH fastball for a strikeout. That’s two Ks for Santana . . .

— but the commercial break leads off with the SOMEBODY LEFT THE GATE OOOOOOPEN. Two Santana Ks, two “GATE OOOOOOPENs.”

Bottom of the Second:

— Jason Bay grounds out to the left side of the infield. Baseball is back! Hanson gets Duda swinging with another nasty curveball, then Thole flies out to left. Quick inning. Everyone is swinging away in this game. Plenty of full counts, but no walks and both pitchers have a pair of Ks through two.

Top of the Third:

— Tyler Pastornicky grounds out, 6-3, on Santana’s first pitch of the inning. The opposing pitcher, Hanson, works the count full then pops out to first. Santana’s stuff look fine, good difference between his fastball and changeup, he’s throwing sliders for strikes and in the dirt  — he’s just missing the corners to both lefties and righties. It’s that last bit of control, the only difference between 2009, 2010 dealing Santana and this version of Santana. Maybe that comes next inning, maybe it comes in a few weeks or months. Or maybe it never comes back.

That said, Bourn flies out to left to end the inning. Santana is at 45 pitches through three, right where he wants to be. He’s shut out the Braves through three, still no score.

Bottom of the Third:

— Ruben Tejada flies out to center field, where Michael Bourn does battle with the sun and wins. For now. The sun will have its day.

— Santana Ks. Hanson is dealing, fastball, slider and curveball all going for strikes in any count.

— Torres grounds to second . . . and Dan Uggla kicks it around. E4.

— And then Torres gets himself picked off in a breathtaking impersonation of Angel Pagan. End of three, no score, one hit for each team.

Top of the Fourth:

— Prado flies out to Bay in left, than Santana starts McCann off with a fastball on the outside corner for a called strike, then a changeup on the inside corner for a called “strike.” Two pitches off the plate to bring the count even, then blows a fastball up and in, swing and miss. He’s finding it.

– I don’t think Dan Uggla gets changeups. Like, he just doesn’t get them. No idea what they are. Santana makes him look silly, ending the inning with back to back Ks. Four strikeouts for Santana (two LEFT THE GATE OPEN ads), Braves getting one-hit through four.

Bottom of the Fourth:

— Murphy flies out to Bourn in left-center, then Hanson walks Wright on a full count, first walk of the game.

— After seven breaking balls last at-bat, Hanson throws Davis a first pitch fastball and Davis is way late on the swing. Paying too much attention to Wright at first, Hanson nearly throws a curveball to the backstop. Then he drops a beauty of a curve on the outside corner,   another one on the inside half of the plate that Davis rolls over to second, starting an inning ending 4-6-3 double play. Hanson is dealing, too, now. His curveball is falling off the face of the earth and landing in Brian McCann’s glove. No score through four.

Top of the Fifth:

— Santana shifts inside, outside, fastball, changeup, all over the place with Freeman, striking him out with a fastball away. Five Ks for Santana, the last three in a row.

— Two pitches later: Santana leaves a fastball up against Diaz, who doubles into the right field gap. Outside fastball against Heyward, who lifts it into short left field. Two outs, Diaz at second for Tyler Pastornicky.

— Santana is playing with Pastornicky like a preying cat — Pastornicky was badly fooled with diving, paper-plane changeup — but then the shortstop escapes. After getting ahead 1-2, Santana misses with three straight pitches. Two on, two out for Tommy Hanson.

— Johan losing his control again, and the velocity is slipping by a few MPH. He walks Hanson on a full count, loading the bases with two out for Michael Bourn, who has, indeed, been referred to as Jason Bourn at least once on the telecast.

— Santana and Bourn work it to a full count, Santana, still struggling with his control, tries a fastball on the outside corner. Bourn tops it back to the mound, Santana fields the ball on a hop, throws to first — high — and Davis comes down with it. Braves leave the bases loaded. No score still, but the Mets escape a jam.

Bottom of the Fifth:

— Jason Bay looking forward to a summer of 5 t0 3. Another ground out to the left side.

— Just kidding! There’s no way Jason Bay is still starting come the summer.

— Duda flies out to center, followed by a Thole single. Tejada comes up with one on and two out — looks like he’s choking up a little bit — and works a walk. Mike Baxter pinch hits for Santana with two on and two out.

— Hanson drops a curve in for a strike against Baxter, paints the low outside corner, then high and outside on the black. Three pitches, three strikes, Baxter doesn’t get a swing in. Mets are done in the fifth. Still no score.

Top of the Sixth:

— Santana’s day is over. Five innings, two hits, two walks, five strikeouts, no runs. Santana’s got a 5-2 lead over the GATE OOOOOOPEN commercial, but plenty of commercial breaks left. Ramon Ramirez comes in relief.

— Ramirez’s first inning for the Mets: Prado flies to right; McCann walks on four pitches; Uggla singles up the middle; Freeman flies deep to right for the second out, allowing both McCann and Uggla to tag and advance; Diaz grounds out to second, ending the inning. Ramirez struggled with his control, fastballs up and all over the place, but everyone in this game looks rusty — hitters, pitchers, fielders. For whatever reasons, the advantage of prevalent rust seems to be with the pitchers.

Bottom of the Sixth:

— Andres Torres draws a walk to lead off the inning. Tommy Hanson is on pace to walk an infinite number of batters this inning.

— Murphy takes a bad called strike two, then pulls a single into right field. Torres advances to third, Murphy at first. Hanson now on pace to surrender and infinite number of hits and walks this inning.

— David Wright, RBI single on Hanson’s first pitch, a fastball left up over the plate. Hanson now on pace to surrender an infinite number of hits, singles, walks, and runs this inning. Fredi Gonzalez walks to the umpire, ready to make the double switch. It looks as if Hanson will not be allowing an infinite number of anything this inning. Mets up 1-0.

— Kris Medlen for the Braves, Ike Davis for the Mets. Medlen feeds Davis nothing but off-speed pitches, getting Davis to lazily fly out to center. Davis has seen one fastball today. Methinks I see a trend.

— New walls already helping Jason Bay: He flies out to the warning track in left. With the old fences, that ball would have died on the grass.

— Duda grounds out to end the inning, 4-3. Medlen comes in, goes three up three down.

— Yeah, what girl wouldn’t need new shoes? Santana K’s — 5. SOMEBODY LEFT THE GATE OPEN — 3.

Top of the Seventh:

— Ramon Ramirez still on for the seventh. Ramirez/Rauch/Francisco the rest of the way?

— Jay-Hey Kids flies out to left, and then . . . ruh-roh. Series of unfortunate events. Tyler Pastornicky drives a ball to right-center, which Torres misjudges, not going back enough. Trying to catch up, Torres re-injures his calf and Duda has to field the ball. Pastornicky ends up at third, Torres exits, Ramirez exits, Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak enter. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, here’s your shot.

— Tim Byrdak, death to lefties. Pinch hitter Jose Contanza is so badly fooled, he strikes out by throwing his bat at a slider. Michael Bourn doesn’t throw his bat, but strikes out on a slider, too. Pastornicky is pinned at third. Still 1-0 Mets.

Bottom of the Seventh:

— Medlen back out for the seventh, and Josh Thole pokes another ball into left for a single. NL batting champion?

— Well, no, probably not. But Thole might be the leading hitter in the NL after today.

— ARGHERHGH buntsssss. Terry Collins bunts with Ruben Tejada. Medlen throws to second for the out, and the Braves almost double off Tejada at first. Close game, Braves bullpen is good, and the ball isn’t carrying today. Tejada’s bunt attempt may be more forgivable than your general run of the mill position player sacrifice. But the point stands: ARRGHHRHRHHH buntssssss.

— Justin Turner, pinch hitting for Byrdak, grounds into an inning-ending double play. 1-0 Mets with two innings to go.

Top of the Eighth:

— Jon Rauch into pitch. In honor of his first Mets appearance, this inning will be recorded in transliterated Wookiespeak.

— AAAAWWWRRRRRRR.

— grrrraAAAAAAAARRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrr, grrrrrrr argrrrrrrrr. Grrrrrr, grrrrr grrrr arrr grrr graaaaaaoooooh.

— Arrggrrrrr arrrrr ooooohhhhh. Arrrgggrrrrrr arrrr oooohhhhh Brian McCann grr arrooohh.

— Arrrooh, rrrrrrrrrarrrr, Tejada arggggg Davis.

Bottom of the Eighth:

— Still 1-0 Mets. Jonny Venters in for the Braves. Scott Hairston greets him with a sharp single into left.

— Murphy chops a ground ball towards second. Pastornicky fields the ball in front of second and to the right of the bag, flipping the ball back to Uggla, who catches it with his bare hand. The Braves get Hairston at second, but the throw is late at first and Murphy is safe.

— Wright singles, second hit of the game. He also leads the NL in hitting as of right now, I think. Also OBP, maybe? First and second, one out for the Mets.

— Venters retires Davis for out #2, two sinkers and three sliders, all strikes. Davis saw three fastballs today; everything else bent. Something to watch for on Saturday, if this is the way the Braves are attacking Davis.

— Jason Bay walks, in kind of a pitch around to bring up the lefthanded Duda with two outs, bases loaded. The Braves must not know . . .

— Nevermind. Venters gets Duda with three pitches, Ks him swinging. This Mets lineup might be cake for lefthanded starters and relievers. Wright eats lefties for breakfast, and Bay has remained average against lefties, but past those two, it’s the lefthanded Murphy, Duda, Davis and Thole in the middle, with the switch-hitting Torres and baby Tejada the remaining righthanded bats. Something else to watch for this year.

Top of the Ninth:

— Frank Francisco in to pitch, Ronny Cedeno replaces Murphy at second. Double-switched in.

— Gary Cohen compared Frank Francisco to Armando Benitez, with regards to body-type. Please, no. No, no no no no. That’s a terrible announcer omen if I’ve ever heard one.

— Freeman, bouncing ground ball to the right side that Cedeno gobbles up. One down.

— Hinske pops out to Thole in foul territory on a splitter. Two down.

— Francisco’s splitter is nasty, and he’s pumping fastballs in the low 90s. Nowhere near the plate with some of the fastballs, but Heyward is swinging over pitches in the dirt.

— Francisco sends one last fastball past Heyward, swing and a miss, game over. Mets win 1-0.

Postgame:

— Big ups to:

— Johan Santana, who is healthy, alive, and effective. He’s back, maybe not forever, but at least he’s back for now.

— David Wright, he of two singles and a walk, driving in the only run of the game.

— The rebuilt bullpen: Four shutdown innings from Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch, and Frank Francisco.

— Josh Thole: Two hits, caught a shutout with five different pitchers, and snagged tough pitches up, down, and all around from his rusty pitchers.

— Poo-poo to:

— Andres Torres’ calf. Torres pulled up lame in center, re-injuring his calf and exiting the game. The Mets aren’t deep on true center fielders, and if Torres is out for an extended period of time, the outfield defense could become atrocious.

— Ike Davis: Braves pitchers tossed breaking ball after breaking ball Davis’ way. He fouled off a ton, but not enough, with two strikeouts and a double play grounded into. The Braves had a plan against Davis, and it worked.

Okay, I’m done. The Mets play the Braves again on Saturday, 1 p.m., R.A. Dickey against Jair Jurrjens.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Opening Day Live Blog

  1. I’m in class trying to follow the game and nearly burst out laughing at the “Dan Uggla doesn’t get changeups” line.

    • Patrick Flood

      For anyone trying to follow along with the game based on this, I apologize for the top of the eighth inning.

  2. Mets – 1, Braves – 0. Needing a new pair of shoes AND leaving the gate oooooopen? Priceless.

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