With all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in the rear-view mirror, the Mets and their fans were looking forward to welcoming back one of their most popular players in recent years, the one they call “Big Sexy”, the ageless Bartolo Colon. Unfortunately, they didn’t anticipate having to wait through eight pitchers and 12 innings as the Mets (1-1) lose their first game of the year, 3-1 to the Braves.
Rafael Montero (L, 0-1), the seventh pitcher for the Mets, continues to defy logic as he just simply can’t get out major league hitters. Montero, once the jewel of the Mets minor league pitching arms, has not proven he can pitch at this level. Time and again, Montero dominates in AAA, only to fail here in the majors.
He worked out of trouble in the 11th, getting a double play with the go-ahead run on third, but couldn’t wiggle his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 12th. Matt Kemp laced his third double of the night, knocking home two runs as the Braves beat them Mets, 3-1.
But this night started out as a love-fest between the fans, players and Colon.
As usual, Colon did not disappoint. He pitched six shutout innings and held the Mets to just two hits, just like we figured he would. Colon, who had been the virtual anchor of the Mets pitching staff in his three seasons in the Orange and Blue, leading the team in innings pitched every season. He won 44 games. Colon, who turns 44 in May, said that the Mets never offered him a contract in the off-season, so he signed a 1-year, $12M deal with the Braves.
Lost in the Colon hype was Jacob deGrom’s first start since September 1st of last season. DeGrom was equally effective, striking out in the first three innings and giving up just two hits, but threw too many pitches and was gone after six shutout innings
While deGrom and Colon were dealing zeroes from the mound, everyone was anticipating Colon’s first at bat, which came in the third inning. With a runner on second, Colon strode to the plate to a standing ovation from the Citi Field faithful. DeGrom joked before the game about facing Colon as a batter, “I’m not going to buzz him or anything, I just don’t want him to get a hit off me.” Although he did foul a pitch off, deGrom struck out his former teammate looking. Colon did get a little bit of revenge in the sixth, making contact, but grounding out to shortstop.
Bruce got things going in the fifth with the Mets first home run of the year, bouncing a 2-2 pitch from Colon off the top railing of the right field fence and giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
While deGrom continued to put up goose eggs, he had to bow out after six innings after throwing 95 pitches, departing with a 1-0 lead. Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless inning on Opening Day and benefited from the Mets scoring six runs as he was the winning pitcher, just didn’t have it. After getting Matt Kemp to tap a ball just two feet for the first out, Nick Markakis drilled a ball past Bruce in right center for a triple. He then walked Brandon Phillips on four pitches and fell behind Adonis Garcia 1-0 before Garcia lined a double over Bruce’s head, tying the game 1-1 and putting runners on second and third. With first base open, Robles hit Kurt Suzuki, the #8 hitter to load the bases.
That brought out Terry Collins, who called for Jerry Blevins to get them out of the jam.
Emilio Bonifacio then pinch hit for Colon, ending Big Sexy’s night with at least a no-decision. Bonifacio worked Blevins to a full count, then struck out on a fastball for the second out. Ender Inciarte then grounded out to Lucas Duda to end the threat and keep the game tied at 1-1.
Mets threatened in the bottom of the 10th after Bruce doubled and Lucas Duda was issued a no-pitch intentional walk, but reliever Jose Ramirez struck out Travis d’Arnaud and pinch hitter TY Kelly.
After Montero gave up two runs in the 12th to give the Braves the lead, Jimmie Johnson (W, 1-0) got the Mets to go quietly in their half of the 12th with his second scoreless inning of relief. After handing the Mets the game on Opening Day, the Braves bullpen backed up Colon’s gem with six scoreless innings.
Matt Harvey makes his season debut on Thursday (weather permitting), returning from his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery against Jamie Garcia and the Braves in the rubber game.
POSITIVES: Jay Bruce had three hits and with three walks on Opening Day has been in base six times in two games … Yoenis Cespedes was on base twice against Colon, a walk and a single … Travis d’Arnaud had one of the Mets hits … Lucas Duda received the Mets first “no-pitch” intentional walk in the 10th inning. There were three no-pitch intentional walks in the game … In-between Robles and Monero, the bullpen put up four shutout innings with just two hits … Colon was 4-1 against the Mets in his career with a 2.81 ERA in five starts
NEGATIVES: Pitchers hit .351 against deGrom last season … Jose Reyes was charged with the Mets first error of the year … d’Arnaud took a call strike three right down the middle of the plate in the 10th inning with Bruce on second and one out … Mets struck out 12 times …
Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.