Initially, I had a mad inspiration, right around the bottom of the 7th after Beltran and Floyd had given the Mets what should have been a comfortable 6-3 lead, of naming this column K-dro!. Oh, how I yearned to commence typing out soft cooing noises and words of devotional infatuation with the best Met opening day pitching performance perhaps ever, with 12 K's in 6 innings in a winning effort...
But that of course, was before
After all, our bullpen, our Achilles Heel, was the second most repeated mantra of the spring behind the dreaded If He Stays Healthy caveat.
Instead, the very same man who had surrendered only 5 homers in 83 innings of closing work last season, the ONE man who inspired a modicum of confidence in an otherwise disaster-strewn bullpen became the very same man to pull defeat out of the gaping maw of victory and open the season with a 0 outs, 3 hit, 3 run, 2 homerun pitching line that even Armandogeddon would have laughed at. How do you measure that as an ERA? Twenty billion point zero zero?
Fortunately for those who might grimace at this loss as a harbinger of forthcoming evil, despite the absurdist scope of the loss, the bad news was not the only news.
Pedro whetted our appetite for visions of a Cy Young season when he followed the surrender of a three run homerun to Adam Dunn in the bottom of the first by striking out 12 of the next 14 Reds he faced and shutting down the Reds for 5 hitless innings thereafter. Pedro accumulated his 100th career game with double digit strikouts, joining only Ryan, Randy and Roger as those having done so. He came within one strike of striking out 10 Reds in a row. Pedro was the Pedro we've dreamt of all winter long, pitching the kind of Opening Day game conducive to giddy goose bumps and wild leaps of imagination.
The other saviour of the New Mets, Carlos Beltran, was almost as impressive, going 3 for 4 with a single, double, homer and a pair of runs driven in although he cost us a run with sloppy baserunning getting caught between first and second ina run down and then letting a ball bounce off his glove in a difficult defensive play in the 7th.
Reyes had a pair of doubles and a single in 5 at bats, the last of those doubles coming when he deftly stretched a single by catching the Reds outfielder napping.
Hell, even Cliff Floyd was three for four with a homer and two RBIs and the bullpen other than Looper, did as they were told.
Pedro had pitched only 11 innings this spring before his 103 pitches today.
Junior Griffey was batting 2nd for the Reds, not the place you'd normally find a 500 homer guy.
Kaz Man hit a homer in his first at-bat of the season for the second season in a row.
Only 7 Mets from last year's Opening Day roster were on this year's. New Mets indeed.
Pedro's "extremely" long fingers helps his change up.
Pedro's 1st appearance in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers in 1992, was against the Reds. Pedro's 1st ever start in the Majors in 1992 was against the Reds. Pedro's last National League start before going to the Red Sox in 1997 was against the Reds.
Pedro made 45 pitches over the first two innings causing unease at the thought of which muppet would perform long relief after the 4th.
The first Red to make it to first with no outs came in the third when Jiminez was walked by Pedro. This evolved into the first chance to steal on Piazza of the season. Here's the pitch, the runner goes! Piazza one-hops the throw to second, runner safe! Get used to that call, folks.
I'm no fan of Cryin Mike Cameron but really, Eric Valent and Pedro are not very imposing at the bottom of the order and Wonder Boy Wright didn't fascilitate matters any after blowing two separate chances with runners on first and second with no outs and twice grounding into double plays to kill potential rallies.
Adam Dunn, 6 foot 6 inches, 240 pounds before 42,794 fans, knocks a high fly ball to the right centerfield bleachers for a two run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th.
Looper follows up this blunder by letting Joe Randa hit the game winning homer. Looper said in his post game press conference, "Basically I stunk and didn't get the job done."
Hey, how perceptive.
"I started great last year and we didn't make the playoffs and I've started bad this year so maybe we'll make the playoffs."
Yeah, that's the spirit.
One down, 161 to go. Suck it up and get ready for the next one.