Opening Day loss looked so much like last year for the Mets

Rich Mancuso

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threw the first pitch at Citi Field Monday afternoon for the season and home opener. Those who arrived, in what was a capacity crowd, booed the new Mayor. The Mets, though, heard more boos from their fans and to them it was no different than last year.

It was no different because Dillon Gee, in his first Opening Day start did his job for the Mets. After a second inning two-run home run to the Washington Nationals’ Adam LaRoche, he retired the next 15.

After departing with a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning, it was no different than last season at Citi Field. The Mets lost their first home opener at Citi Field, 9-7 in 10-innings. The bullpen that tied for fifth most in losses in 2013 again was the culprit. 

So the fans booed, as they did so often last season. The pen, an offseason agenda of GM Sandy Alderson, failed to get Gee a well deserved win. He got the run support that included a three-run homer from Andrew Brown in the first inning.

Brown, an extra bench player got the start when he arrived at the ballpark. Newly acquired Chris Young had to sit out his Mets debut because of a quad strain.

Mets fans have become accustomed to know, don’t trust the pen. Opening Day was so much like the outcomes that Bobby Parnell gave the fans last year. The same that Scott Rice saw so many times, with his overused arm.

There is no more LaTroy Hawkins who was reliable out of the pen, especially late last season when Parnell was disabled and had to undergo a procedure for a herniated disc. Hawkins took a nice deal to Colorado.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who unofficially said his team was capable of winning 90-games, retained Rice.  He brought back right-hander Carlos Torres who provides an option as the set-up guy, spot starter, or getting out a batter or two.

Rice, Torres, and six others could not do the job on Opening Day. Yes, there are 161 games to go. But four walks, five runs in 3.1 innings will be unacceptable to Mets fans.

Torres and Rice issued four straight walks that forced in the tying run, imploding, when Gee left in the seventh inning.

“If you’re going to pitch here, you’ve got to be able to throw strikes,” said the manager Terry Collins. “You can’t walk guys. You’ve got to make them swing the bat.”

Torres said he was overthrowing. The cold weather had nothing to do with the walks. “My shoulder dipped a little bit,” he said. “I saw it on film and will make the adjustments by Wednesday.”

\“Scott Rice was outstanding all of last year,” commented Collins. “And talk about shock, the biggest shock was Carlos Torres. I mean, this guy is a strike throwing machine.” But Torres and some of the relievers had a bad last week of spring games.

Maybe the off day Tuesday will help, but Mets fans don’t want to hear excuses. Realistically, they know this team won’t win 90-games, but they want to see some type of competitive attitude from that pen. More so, they want to see this team playing for something after the month of June.   

They did have a good moment, and cheered with someone coming out of that pen. Jose Valverde, a spring training invite, who could be the eventual closer, had the fastball that resembled the one he had with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Papa Grande” with the Detroit Tigers came and retired all four Nationals he faced and struck out three.  John Lannon, a starter and in the pen for now, and Jeurus Familia, two of the bullpen experiments combined to give up four runs in the 10th.

There was some cheering for a David Wright home run, his fourth in a home opener, but in that 10th inning. Curtis Granderson, now on the other side of town is supposed to protect Wright. But, in five at bats he struck out three times as Washington starter Steven Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings.

Yes, it was so reminiscent of last season. Except on Opening Day, Mets fans did not want this outcome after the unexpected home run from Brown and the go ahead two-run homer from Juan Lagares that gave them a 5-4 lead.

“We’re trying hard,” commented Parnell. “It definitely was not our day today.”

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