Back in February, a Mets fan could only dream that Johan Santana’s rehab would progress perfectly through Spring Training, leading to a triumphant return on Opening Day. But the pessimistic fans, scarred by years of mishandled and unfortunate injuries, scoffed when Terry Collins suggested that Santana would be the Opening Day starter. For 4 2/3 innings, Santana exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic of Mets fans.
Johan gave up no runs on 1 hit, walked none and struck out 5. After about 70 pitches, he started to lose an MPH or two, and lost command. With a man on second in the fifth, he walked the number 8 hiter (Tyler Pastornicky) and the pitcher (Tommy Hanson). After falling behind 3-1 to leadoff man, Michael Bourn, he induced comebacker to end the inning. Santana finished with 84 pitches thrown, 0 runs 2 hits, 2 walks and 5 Ks. Had he gotten out of the fifth sooner, he may have continued into the sixth. However, Collins wisely pulled Santana, and went to his bullpen for the final innings. His late struggles raises a specter of doubt in what could have been an ideal scenario.
Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, and Jon Rauch looked strong in relief. Byrdak was particularly impressive, striking out two straight left-handed batters with one out and a man on third. Byrdak tore the meniscus in his left knee just a few weeks ago, and returned strong for Opening Day. And Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. See – no reason to worry…right?
The Mets’ only run came in the sixth on an RBI single by David Wright. They failed to add insurance in that, or any other inning, as the Mets lineup struggled against Braves Pitching. But Johan and the Bullpen needed only one run.
Andres Torres re-strained his calf muscle pursuing a drive to center. SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt speculates that he may miss 2 weeks. He left the game in favor of Scott Hairston. Torres was a question mark for Opening Day, and one wonders if he may have come back to soon.
Before the game, Gary Carter’s family was on hand for a moving tribute to the late Mets great. The Kid 8 logo was added to the new, blue outfield wall in left field.