Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mets Practice Winning, beat Nats 2-0

The day after the news of the Madoff settlement, the skies had cleared, a rainbow arched itself over Digital Domain Park, and Dillon Gee and his Goatee out-dueled Stephen Strasburg and his lesser chin scruff to give the Mets a 2-0 win over the Nationals, their first win in nine spring games.

It wasn't all fun, with the injury bug biting once again. This time it was Andres Torres straining his calf muscle running in after catching the last out of the second. I have some theories on why Torres' muscles might be injury-prone, theories I will explore in a post later this week.

Gee looked great, working all of his pitches into the game-plan. He worked fast from the get-go, which is a priority of his this year. Dillon doesn't have one "great" pitch, but they are all solid, the curveball having potential to be outstanding. He worked on the breaking pitch throughout this outing, and it looked real sweet. He's a smart pitcher, and I look forward to seeing him continue to mature.

It was fun to see Strasburg and The Duda battle. Duda has a good eye and worked the count each time. Strasburg was victorious in the first at-bat, striking Duda out on an outside and low fastball. In the second at-bat, Duda took a 1-2 low and inside fastball that was just off the plate for ball two.  A pitch or two later, he showed off his opposite field power, hitting a fastball over the left field wall for the Mets first run of the night. Duda's hitting continues to impress. He slapped a double down the 3rd base line in the sixth inning, a testament to his talent outside of that natural power everyone has talked about since he came up.

The other run was gained on some fantastic 2-out fundamental work by the Mets in the sixth inning. Jason Bay walked, got a great jump to steal second base, then Ike hit an opposite field single to drive him in. We must play this kind of smart baseball if we are to stand a chance this year, let alone in our National League East-heavy April.

Other takeaways from this game:
  • Ruben Tejada, playing his first game since sustaining a groin strain, looked as if he hadn't missed a beat. He chopped a double over the 3rd baseman's glove in his first at-bat, and made a great back-hand stab and outfield jump sometime in the middle of the game. He could not get the runner at first, but watching him look strong on that play was a good sign his groin injury is in the past. It was good to see him back in the line-up just so he and Murph could keep practicing their rapport turning the double play. Here's to his continuing development and good health.
  • Speaking of Murph, he was challenged a few times during this game on some short hops and hard-hit drives. He is still a work in progress, but turning the double play isn't looking as if it's a weakness anymore. He also has a nice spring beard goin'.
  • The pitcher's bunt is still a work in progress, but Gee did a good job getting a 2-strike one down to move the runner over to third. It was such a glaring weakness on this team last year, so the more they practice this, the better.
  • Frank Francisco got himself into trouble when Terry put him in the game to finish the sixth, but got out of the jam. Both he and Rauch are beginning to look better, and hopefully they can continue to do so.
  • Parnell really has looked a lot sharper this year...but I say this with trepidation. He had never showed me any sign he was ever going to be a pitcher rather than a thrower, until now. He isn't juicin' it up, and looks to be actually thinking through the strategy of getting a batter out. Keep up the good work, Bobby.
  • Johan was chattin' it up on the bench. Nice to see him feel a part of the team again.
  • Stephen Strasburg better grow that Goatee out if he stands any chance of latchin' onto this league.
The Mets take on the Cardinals in Jupiter today at 1:05 pm. Johan ramps it up to 80 pitches.

Keep it up, Johan.

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