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Bannister Experiences First Rough Start in Loss to Astros

Mike SteffanosSaturday, March 25, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Astros 3 - Mets 1
Rookie Brian Bannister, who has looked great every time out this spring, finally had a difficult start against the Astros in Kissimmee. Clearly struggling with his control all day, Bannister, who had walked only one batter in his previous appearances, walked 5 in his 5+ inning stint. He gave up 3 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits, but escaped numerous other jams to minimize the damage. He struck out 4.

In fairness to Bannister, home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg squeezed him a few times, but he lacked solid command throughout his 99-pitch outing. The wind blowing in and pitching against the offensively challenged Astros didn't hurt Bannister, but to his credit, he battled well all day.

Chad Bradford, Jorge Julio and Duaner Sanchez followed. None allowed a run, but Bradford allowed both inherited runners to score when he relieved Bannister with no outs in the sixth. This included a bases-loaded walk to Jason Lane. Julio had a great slider working for him in his inning, striking out 2. Sanchez, throwing a lot of breaking pitches, struggled a little with his control but emerged unscathed.

The Mets left all of their regulars home in St. Lucie and it showed. Tike Redman was the hitting star with 2 of the Mets' 6 hits (all singles) and the Mets' lone RBI. Lastings Milledge had a rare bad day at the plate, going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.

The Mets will be home in Port St. Lucie against the Orioles tomorrow. Kris Benson will face the Mets, while Pedro Martinez will pitch his first start of the spring. The game will be televised on the WB11 at noon.

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