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First Blood

Mike SteffanosMonday, April 2, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Mets 6 - Cardinals 1

Tom Glavine picked up where he left off in 2006, and the Mets displayed a brand of sharp, crisp baseball that we haven't seen much of this spring. There was 2-out clutch hitting and there was great defense for the Mets, while the Cardinals came up lacking in both. There was Paul Lo Duca driving in 3 runs and Shawn Green getting a couple of knocks. There was Joe Smith getting his feet wet in a big spot and not looking too bad for his first time out.

Tonight was doubly sweet. For the Mets it was a step in the right direction, and for St. Louis it was the first step down the road to being ex-champs.

More tomorrow.

Box Score

Comments (7)

I give ESPN a C minus for their coverage. I thought it was jus_________________________________________________________the fourth inning when Joe Morgan said th_______________________________________________________________________ audio problems? Give me a br__________________________________________thought it was my TV set. Then they mentioned it thems____________________________________________________________ think that a national TV network, in its first game of the sea___________________________________people who make sure that kind of stuff won't happen. Other than that, it w___________________________________________________________________________________________o Mets!

If the Game last night was any indication of how the Mets are going to play in 2007 , then Look Out National League . I was impressed . The Bullpen does need some work though , eh Mike ?

Good game!

Dear Joe Morgan, how I wish I could remember you only as a great ballplayer. At least he doesn't seem to carry any animosity; but he will say silly things each and every game, while failing to say, or possibly even to take note, of several important things that happen along the way.

The contrast between the two team defenses could hardly have been more obvious; but while Joe (finally) mentioned the terrific game the Mets defense played, I didn't hear him make the obvious contrast to the Cardinals' D. Taguchi made two horrible plays, one of which was called an error. This does not bode well for the Cardinals, as Taguchi's backups are Chris Duncan and Scott Spevio, two even worse butchers. Edmonds may not last a full season; he's reportedly still suffering from that concussion last year; and his backup is Preston Wilson, who has lost much of his range to leg injuries. In short, this is an outfield with the potential to play so badly it might not matter whether they get good pitching or not. The Mets, of course, can field an airtight outfield of Chavez, Beltran and Milledge if they feel the need, like when Perez starts for instance.

The two team's defensive outfield situations are about as far apart as college ball is to AAA, and I think that fact warranted a mention.
But of course it is infield defense that is actually important, according to B'rer Morgan. It doesn't happen to be especially true, but Little Joe is a Hall of Famer.

Also, Joe chose the fifth inning, I believe, to tell us of how the Mets pitching situation was in disarray. The score at the time was 5-0, the Mets having swatted around the Cardinals' only really good pitcher; a pitcher who ordinarily pitches far better on his home field, incidentally. Carpenter is a horse, certainly; he also is a player who struggled for several seasons in Toronto before turning his career completely around. I have noticed that players like that, and I could name a few if pressed, sometimes enjoy their top game only for a short span; because they got started late, or because their talents are good enough to carry them only in those few years when they are at peak physical condition. If that proves to be the case with Carpenter, then the Cardinals will be fighting Houston for third place in the Central; but it's the Mets' pitching situation that deserves a mention, not the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have a reconstructed Isringhausen for a closer, a failed Mets reliever for a fifth starter. Not as a sick joke would I trade the Mets' pitching staff for the Cardinals'; but Joe saw fit to highlight the Mets' pitching problems.

Okay, I can rinse my mouth out now and enjoy a well played game by the lads from Queens. Get 'em tomorrow, El Duque!

PS:

A year or two from now Jose Valentin is going to retire; and maybe then folks will look back and note that he was one damn fine ballplayer. I was aware of him for years, of course -- but I wasn't, really. I saw the numbers and assumed that he was a slugging shortstop, a lesser Ripkin model, who probably was pushed to provide adequate defensive. Somehow over those years I never heard of what a heads-up, smart player he was and is, nor of the array of skills and the leadership he gives a team.

Very, very glad I finally made your acquaintence, Jose.

NostraDennis - I was shocked that on a national telecast to open the baseball season they weren't able to fix that audio all night. Then again, losing audio would improve a FOX telecast.
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Mark - I think we all agree that the bullpen will be a work in progress early on. I did love the fact they were able to work Joe Smith into a pressure situation early. The stat line wasn't great, but he made one bad pitch to Eckstein for the single and was around the plate when he walked Pujols. I was impressed with his composure for a first time out.
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dd - I agree with you on Morgan, and the Cardinals OF. I'm interested to see how Carpenter fares this season. I know what you mean about guys like him.

The Mets pitching has become a baseball cliche. I heard the great Steve Phillips on Baseball Tonight before the game claiming that if you combined the Mets and SL rotations and took the best 5 you still wouldn't come up with a Top 10 rotation. I wasn't offended. Phillips was and is a very unimaginative baseball mind. He'll be wrong on this, too.

Good point on Valentin. I don't even think a lot of Mets fans appreciate what a good ballplayer he is.

Game 1 of the season was great, for us Mets fans. There was alot to like- the bottom of the hitting order producing, Delgado putting his near non-existent spring training behind him, and the stellar defense. Glavine looked fantastic for 5 innings (plus he got a bloop single!), although I think he tired in the 6th due to it being early in the season. If he has thrown about 60 pitches going into the 6th inning in June, expect him to go at least 6 innings, if not 7.

The Cards defense was horrible. Taguchi, as has been pointed out, made two defensive errors, and the Mets consistently were able to advance from first to third. And the scary thing is, is that they did this without Reyes or Wright really factoring into the offense. And the Cards hitting was subpar; the entire team looked as though they were banking on Pujols to make some noise. All those ground ball outs, double plays, and crappy baserunning has to make a Cardinals' fan wince. I also didn't like how La Russa put the batting order together. Preston Wilson batting in the 2 hole? Adam Kennedy in the 8 hole? Molina batting ahead of Edmonds? I know it's early, and tinkering now isn't going to kill you, but the lineup I'd have chosen would have been Eckstein-Kennedy-Pujols-Rolen-Edmonds-Wilson-Molina-Taguchi (with Duncan and Miles on the bench). They can't get Encanarcion back fast enough. And Mark Mulder, as well.

Best line from ESPN's announcers all night: "This Mets lineup is a meatgrinder". It's true (and I wish they'd have mentioned it during the offseason more often) and it's going to annoy the heck out of the NL. From top to bottom they will hit opposing pitchers, and force them to throw alot of pitches. Carpenter had thrown about 70 pitches (another thing that ESPN actually called right) by the 4th inning. Glavine had thrown 20 less pitches by then.

It's early in the season, but the elation that Valentin felt after making that incredible double play in the 8th inning is how Mets fan should feel right now.

The Cards usually play a better brand of baseball than they played Sunday night. I wonder if some of their own brouhaha from the ceremony affected them.

La Russa seems to like having a guy with some power batting second. Given the players he has right now I think they can put a better lineup out there against RHPs.

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