You know, I think I like this whole idea of relief pitchers coming into the game and getting the guys they face out.
Monday's victory in Cincinnati was, for the most part, a pretty ugly win. The Mets situational hitting was putrid, runners were left on base in bucketloads and the baserunning was spotty. I don't think I saw too much to like from the Mets, at least from the offense. Everyone did a good enough job getting on base, for the most part, and even Reyes and Church chipped in with some steals. But right from the start, the Mets offense seemed to pick up right where they left off last September. Reyes opened with an infield single, stole 2nd, went to 3rd on a groundout by Murphy. And I'm thinking "Hot start, here we go," and then Wright strikes out.
This seemed to be the MO for the Mets most of the afternoon. It's fortunate, then, that Johan Santana emerged from the gate and performed as he usually does. But even so, Santana couldn't be expected to go the distance on Opening Day, in miserable weather. Certainly, Santana wasn't his sharpest, which is certainly excusable given the conditions. And after he ran up to each of his teammates and did an elaborate set of handshakes with each of them, maybe he was a little winded. So, when he departed in the 6th, with a 2-1 lead and the tying run on base, we had reason to be somewhat skeptical. My co-worker was completely convinced that he wouldn't get a win today, and even offered to lay money on it.
In retrospect, I should have taken him up on it.
In came a succession of relief pitchers who don't know a damn thing about constant bullpen implosions and late blown leads. Down went the Reds, one after another, through the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. Sean Green, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez each earned their Joe Buck "WELCOME TO NEW YORK!!" moments for their performances Monday. 11 Reds came to the plate against these 3 pitchers and one reached base, only via a walk by Putz to Chris Dickerson of little consequence.
Man, that's night and day. Last season, a 2-1 lead with the starter leaving with 2 out in the 6th, that lead would have been gone before he even sat on the dugout bench. Amazing how different things are when guys come in out of the bullpen and actually do their jobs. Did I say that already? If this keeps up, you'll hear me saying that a lot. I could get used to this.