Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 2, 2007
BASEBALL: Best Record in Baseball
Certainly an encouraging start to the Mets' season last night, and particularly a good start against the Cardinals to beat Chris Carpenter with Kip Wells and - chortle - Braden Looper starting the next two games. It was much better than, say, 2005, when the Mets played a beautiful game on Opening Day only to have it spoiled by - say it again - Braden Looper blowing the game in the ninth in spectacular fashion.
The Mets drip-dripped Carpenter with singles right up the middle in the rally that let them pull away, before David Eckstein finally decided to just plant himself behind second base...some great defense by Jose Reyes last night as well. After his offensive breakout in 2006, one of the major questions of 2007 is whether Reyes can start putting up great defensive stats to match his tremendous tools - his quickness, athleticism and the best shortstop arm in the game. His numbers thus far haven't been impressive by most measures, though if Jose Valentin's bat holds up, it may help to finally stabilize second base - like his crosstown rival Derek Jeter, Reyes has suffered from a revolving door at second including some highly questionable gloves.
The one moment I didn't understand last night: 8th inning, 5-1 Mets, two men on, Joe Smith on the mound, Albert Pujols at bat, Smith throws his first pitch out of the strike zone. Smith throws his second pitch out of the strike zone. And I'm wondering: you have a raw rookie on the mound, a guy with 12.2 career innings above A ball, making his major league debut on the road on national television on Opening Day against the defending World Champions, best hitter in baseball at the plate, tying run on deck in the person of Scott Rolen, the one thing you don't want to do here is walk Pujols - yet, when Smith gets himself into this position, nobody goes to the mound to talk to him. Isn't that kind of what you pay a 35-year-old catcher to do, settle the kid down and focus him on making Pujols hit the ball? Instead, Smith walks him and the Mets had to get Aaron Heilman in the game to get Rolen.