By Mike Steffanos
Mets 3 - Braves 2
Mike Pelfrey started for the Mets and pitched 4 strong innings, facing a Braves lineup missing most of their top players. Pelfrey allowed only one run on an opposite-field homer to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, scattering 3 hits, striking out 3 and walking none. Afterwards, Pelfrey spoke of the difference between pitching to college players and pros:
The biggest adjustment is that guys up here have a plan. Guys in college just go up there and swing. Most guys in college just sit on the fastball. I threw some good pitches. I feel like I'm progressing right where I need to be.
John Maine followed Pelfrey and got touched up for a run on 2 hits in his inning of work. Lefty reliever Juan Perez pitched 2-1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only 1 hit while striking out 4. Mitch Wylie and Billy Wagner closed the game out for the Mets.
Catcher Paul Lo Duca led the Mets offense, which featured only 4 hits, with a solo home run. Anderson Hernandez, Julio Franco and minor-leaguer Chase Lambin had the Mets' other hits.
Nationals 10 - Mets 2
Yusaku Iriki has made a decent case for himself this spring, but faltered against the Nationals today. He lasted only 3-1/3 innings, giving up a pair of solo home runs. Fives were wild for Iriki -- as in 5 runs, 5 hits, and 5 walks. Royce Ring followed with a scoreless 2-2/3, allowing only 1 hit and no walks while striking out 3. Prospect Henry Owens got torched for 5 runs on 5 hits in his one inning stint. Heath Bell closed out with a scoreless eighth.
As in the Braves game, the Mets offense was unimpressive. They only managed 5 hits, with no player collecting more than one. Lastings Milledge has a solo homer for the Mets first run, while Victor Diaz drove in the other with a double. Jeff Keppinger, trying for a real shot at the second base job, was 1-4 with a strikeout and stranded 3 runners on base.
The Mets are home in Port St. Lucie tomorrow versus the Marlins. Brian Bannister will pitch as he continues to try to force his way into the Mets plans for 2006. The game will be televised on Channel 11 at 1 PM.