The New York Mets are in first place.
Okay, it was just one game out of 162, but the Mets got the 2013 season off to a good start with an impressive 11-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Opening Day at Citi Field. It was the team’s 34th win in its last 44 Opening Day games dating back to 1970.
Pitcher Jon Niese, who was tapped for the start after the Mets realized ace Johan Santana - who is now out for the season - wouldn’t be ready for the April 1st game, gave the Mets a solid 6 2/3 innings of quality work on the mound. The left-hander gave up two runs on four hits, striking out four hitters and throwing 101 pitches.
And Niese performed at the plate, as well. In the second inning Niese singled in Ruben Tejada, walked and scored in the fourth, and then singled again in the fifth. Much like the Mets record after one game, Niese’s on-base percentage was perfect, too.
But Niese wasn’t the only one who delivered. The Mets got some big-time hits from two new names on the roster, outfielders Marlon Byrd and Colin Cowgill and catcher John Buck. Byrd and Buck both had RBI singles in the third inning, and Cowgill blew the game wide open when he hit a grand slam off reliever Brad Branch in the seventh inning.
Other than first baseman Ike Davis, who went 0-for-5 at the plate, every Mets starter reached base. Third baseman David Wright, who inked a $137 million contract extension in the off-season, even stole a pair.
After the game, Mets coach Terry Collins hoped the win would give the Mets some “credibility” after pretty much every baseball expert – and even many Mets fans – have all but written this team off as a cellar dweller in the NL East this season.
“But it is Day One,” Collins cautioned. “We’ve got a long way to go.”