Notes from Flushing: Mets-Braves

– The Mets had a nice pre-game tribute to the late Gary Carter. The video included his game-winning HR in his Mets debut back in ’85. It was a moving moment, then and now, but tell me this: Have you ever seen worse footwork on a home-run swing? Watch his back foot step away from the plate as his body lurches forward to jerk the slow curve over the LF fence. (And is there a term for such back foot movement? Every source I’ve found says that “stepping in the bucket” refers to the front foot only.)

– Opening Day is always festive, but Mets-Braves just doesn’t feel like a party without Chipper in the lineup. Hurry back, Larry Wayne!

– On to game action: After striking out on a changeup in the dirt to end the 1st inning, Dan Uggla is now 1 for 20 against Johan Santana, with a walk and 11 Ks. The lone hit was a HR in their first confrontation. (Whoops, make that 1 for 21 with 12 Ks for Uggla vs. Johan; he ends the 3rd by whiffing on another down-darting changeup.)

– Atlanta SS Tyler Pastornicky, making his big-league debut, is the son of 3B Cliff Pastornicky, who played 10 games with the ’83 Royals and hit 2 HRs. Only 7 other nonpitchers ever finished with 2+ HRs in so few games. Tyler’s grandpa, Ernest Pastornicky, pitched 3 years in the minors. As a pitcher, he was a pretty good hitter; in his first pro season he went 8-28 with a HR, 3B and 2B.

– I could almost swear that Uggla lost that grounder in the sun before booting it.

– For the second time in his career, Santana just walked consecutively the #8 and #9 men including a pitcher. Fortunately for the Mets, it didn’t lead to a meltdown this time.

– Pastornicky’s 3rd AB is a liner into right-center that Andres Torres plays into a 1-out triple, perhaps because he reinjures his tender calf in pursuit. Torres heads to the clubhouse, and suddenly another Mets season is “off and limping!” There’s no one currently on the Mets’ roster capable of playing CF every day if Torres goes on the DL.

– I’m usually among the loudest mockers of the LOOGY phenomenon, so let me give credit where due: Tim Byrdak just bailed us out of the hole dug by Torres’s misadventure, fanning Jose Constanza and Michael Bourn to preserve the slim lead.

– A 1-2-3 9th by Frank Francisco gives the Mets just the second 1-0 win in their 51 openers.

– The Braves had never lost a 1-0 opener, at least not since 1918. It was just their second O.D. shutout loss since 1991.

Two 1-0 games already in the books today. The searchable record for 1-0 openers is 3, back in 1943 with the sawdust ball:

(I’ll be back later, I hope.)


* I guess I’ll never again think of “Double No-Hit” without remembering our late friend, Frank Clingenpeel, Sr.

47 thoughts on “Notes from Flushing: Mets-Braves

  1. this has nothing at all to do with this article but Jack Hannahan of Cleveland homered from the nine-hole today. On opening day that feat must be rare but if it isn’t I’m 99% sure its rare to homer from the nine hole for on opening day TWO YEARS IN A ROW, because Hannahan homered from the nine hole on opening day in 2011 and 2012!

    1. Assuming you’re a Cleveland fan, you have my condolences on the 9th inning. (You too, Ed, if you’re out there.)

        1. Yeah, I got that – cool.

          I was speaking in response to Perez blowing Cleveland’s 3-run lead in the 9th. I figured that since you took note of the Hannahan feat on consecutive Opening Days, you must be a Tribe fan.

          1. John – This is what a friend posted on facebook before the start of the Indian’s game:

            “Opening Day is Here. I predict the tribe goes 162-0 this year. Sweeps the playoffs and loses game 7 of the world series when Travis Hafner strikes out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with John Elway pitching, Michael Jordan hits a 3 HR for the oppostion and Lebron in the stands with his stupid yankee hat on. It Can Happen –this is cleveland.”

            I responded by saying I thought he needed to work Jose Mesa into the narrative. Little did I know…

          2. Ed — And bugs. Yes, bugs. There needs to be a Biblical plague of bugs dispatched from the depths of Lake Erie and the hull of the Edmund Fitzgerald, while Joba Chamberlain laughs throatily from the stands, “welcome to my hell,” and midges, Canadian soldiers, fire ants and recluse brown spiders engulf the pitcher’s mound and the remains of Chris Perez trying to close out the World Series.

            Yeah, that’s it.

          3. MikeD – We’re getting there. Obviously we need Rocky Colavito throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for game 7. And Ernest Byner must be involved somehow as well. Ah yes, obviously Byner gets to play the role of Steve Bartman, disrupting a potential catch by Shin-Soo Choo, opening the floodgates for a comeback by the Indian’s opponent.

          4. I saw yesterday the Tribe has now trotted out a different opening day starter for 5 straight campaigns. Eric Bedard was also the 5th different Pirate opening day starter in as many years.

            Just doing some manual looking around at some of the other bad luck franchises I found:

            15 Phillies (1936-1950) Including starts by one Syl Johnson and Si Johnson The streak would finally come to an end by the first of 12 straight starts by Robin Roberts.
            12 Athletics (1956-1967)
            12 Browns/Os (1952-1963)
            10 Cubbies (1944-1953)
            _9 Cardinals (1943-1951)
            _9 Yankees (1985-1993)

          5. BTW, Rusty Torres is clearly the Forrest Gump of baseball riots, having been present at the last Senators game, 10 cent beer night, and Disco Demolition.

          6. Topper, I saw Si Johnson’s name, who was the opposing starter (and loser) when Dizzy Dean won his 30th game on the last day of the 1934 season. Some symmetry there as Dean led the league in wins and Johnson led in losses.

            Si was pitching then for another sad sack team, the Reds of the early 30s who lost over 90 five years in a row (1930-34). Si was their opening day starter the last three of those years, in which he started 86 games and went 27-55 (worse than the team) with a 95 ERA+.

          7. Topper, I find your characterization of the Indians as a bad-luck franchise interesting. Reasons?

            The sad-sack Pirates or Royals I can understand, but Cleveland? They have had recent “success”, relatively speaking.

            And, of course, there is a ML franchise with a 19-year post-season drought. That is worse than bad luck.

          8. Well it was partially in response to Ed’s sad prediction of more Cleveland heartbreaks to come. They have had recent success but also had a 40 year down period between their playoff appearances in 1954 and 1995. Over that span they had a .477 Winning% and finished in the first division only 11 times.

          9. In fact from 1969 to 1993 (ALL of the seasons they played in the American League East) they finished in the top half of the division exactly 0 times.

          10. And let’s be honest here…it’s not just about the Indians! We’ve got the Browns and the Cavs as well. Last Cleveland championship was in ’64. Lots of heartbreaks and a stolen franchise and we’ve definitely earned our sorrow.

        2. Now I get the Cleveland baggage.

          However, I felt Toronto was more inept than your boys in terms of chances to win the game before the sixteenth inning. Look at Escobar starting into his home run trot instead of running out the line drive and Davis standing at the plate on his bunt pop-up.

          1. Plus, there’s that little matter of a certain Cavaliers player “taking his talents to South Beach” about a year or so ago…

            The Cleveland Browns were actually extremely successful in the AAFL and the NFL, but that’s far, far away in the rear-view mirror, in the 1950s and early-mid 60s.

    2. Actually, it’s happened a lot more than I would have thought. Hannahan’s shot today is the 73rd time this has happened since 1918. 4 players did this in 1996, and 3 did it in 2000, 2007 and 2009.

      Others to do it twice are Alex Gonzalez (not the current one) in 1996 and 1997, and Don Drysdale in 1959 and 1965. J.P. Arencibia last season is the only player to hit 2 HR from the 9 hole on opening day.

      9-hole hitters for both teams have homered in an opening day game only once – Sandy Alomar (CHW) and Mendy Lopez (KCR) in 2004. The Lopez shot was a pinch-hit job.

  2. I’m normally not one to bash managers on decision-making, but “just wow” to Fredi Gonzalez inserting Jose Constanza into the game in the sixth inning, knowing full well that he was due up in the top of the next frame. After an early run of infield-hit luck, Constanza put up a .174/.174/.174 slash line in Sep/Oct 2011, with four singles in 24 at-bats. It was stunning that he even made the roster this spring; it was assumed he would only be used as a pinch runner/late inning defensive replacement, not batting in the top of the seventh against a lefty with the tying runner on third. Needless to say, Constanza struck out. Eesh.

    1. Every time I see Constanza in the Braves’ lineup, I think of the classic Seinfeld line that Jerry utters on learning that George got a job with the Yankees:

      “Ruth; Gehrig; DiMaggio; Mantle; … Costanza?!?

      (And no, I never let spelling get in the way of a Seinfeld reference.)

  3. The Cleveland-Toronto game was the longest opening day game ever in terms of innings in MLB history.

    P.S. Is this the old B-Ref community from last summer or does that group of people reside somewhere else?

    Sorry for the dumb question but I have been away for about 8 months

      1. Thanks, Birtel.

        I don’t mean to ask any insensitive questions in public but do John Autin, Andy, Sean Forman, Raphy, Neil Paine and (my protagonist) Timmy P. post in here or over at baseball reference?

        The virtual landscape seems to have changed since last fall.

        Again, pardon my being away so long but I would just like to re-connect with the old gang.

        1. Good to see you Neil…

          I have just started posting here myself. You will see many of the old BBref posters here. I know I have seen Timmy here for sure.

        2. Sean Forman of baseball-reference is concentrating on the data/encyclopedia aspects of that site, so the blog folks from b-ref have re-congregated here at High Heat Stats, under Andy’s blog-savvy leadership. Feel free to explore some of the posts that have been published since the move over from b-ref to get a sense of the new landscape.

      1. Thanks, JA.

        Just want to find my way in the new (to me) environment and contribute something intelligent and interesting.

          1. JA, you still have the same kindness, grace and class that you did last year. I’m glad some things never change.

  4. Apropos of your mention of Gary Carter, I’ve found that he, fellow Met Todd Hundley, and Yogi Berra (as mentioned yesterday by Richard Chester) hold the record of 4 consecutive opening day games with a homer, 1977-80 for Carter as an Expo, 1994-97 for Hundley, and 1955-58 for Berra.

    A number of others have done it in 3 straight years, including (possibly not a complete list) Ken Griffey, Dave Winfield, Scott Rolen, Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Richie Hebner, Adam Dunn, Gus Triandos, Danny Tartabull, Tony Batista and Jeff Bagwell.

    J.P. Arencibia of Toronto homered to provide the winning margin in today’s longest ever opening day game in Cleveland. This is Arencibia’s 3rd season and he has now homered in his first game of each of those seasons, the last two on opening day. But, his streak of homering twice in his first game of the year is now over.

    The 511th and last home run of Mel Ott’s career came on opening day 1946, off the Phillies Oscar Judd.

    1. Doug,

      I mentioned the longest MLB opening day game in comment #9.

      Did you see Davis’s abysmal bunt attempt in extra innings? I could not believe it as a Jays’ fan.

      1. No. Didn’t see the game. Looking at the game log, looks like quite a ninth inning comeback, and missed chances on both sides after that.

        By today’s standards, almost a brisk pace to get in 16 innings in just 5 and a quarter hours.

          1. Nice one!

            ESPN can run lots of advertising during those Sox-Yanks marathons. All those pitcher-catcher mound conferences, all those lengthy, protracted at-bats. Both teams are, well …. patient

  5. I actually made it out to Citi to catch the home opener. Beautiful day for a baseball game, catching the spirit of 1968 and a 1-0 game. (Three shutouts out of seven games today, including two 1-0 scores, if I remember correctly. Is this a sign of more to come, with hitting continuing its decline?)

    As I sat there, I tried imagining what would have to happen for the Mets to play .500 this year. Breakouts from Ike and Duda. Return to form from Wright. Return to anything from Bay. 160 quality inning from Santana, and more luck for Jonathon Niese, etc. It’s a mental game I play for all teams. I decided the biggest issue the Mets will have is depth. There is none, and all teams get injuries. As the thought is going through my head, a ball is hit the OF and Torres pulls up lame, and the Mets really don’t have another CFer.

    It’s going to be a long season, but it was a great day for baseball.

    1. I didn’t watch any Mets spring training action until their last one in Port St. Lucie, which Ike Davis won with a HR. Every AB before that, though, the announcers were talking about how teams had been exploiting him with backdoor breaking balls. So I was keeping a keen eye on that angle yesterday — and I think they got him that way at least 3 times, if not all 4. Miserable day for the Ikester: 0-3 with RISP, and the other time he bounced into a DP. Only good thing he did all day was corral Johan’s high throw to end the 5th. (“You can’t teach height!”)

      Also, from the 2 games I’ve seen so far, I will be astonished if Jason Bay has any kind of bounce-back. He may set a record for 6-3 groundouts; he looks clueless up there.

      But hey, at least we have Johan!

  6. By the way, has anyone drawn the Mets parallel between Daniel Murphy and Gregg Jefferies? Murph arrived without the hype, and can’t match the speed, but as far as hitting line drives and having no apparent defensive ability, they’re peas in a pod.

  7. Slightly off topic but are the Mets ever going to stop playing with the fences at Citi?

    In its short lifetime it seems to have had a lot of tweaks to its dimensions. What gives?

    1. I could be wrong, but this is the first change of fences that I’m aware of at Irresponsible Financial Institution Field.

      1. Come to think of it, I just paid off my debts to Citi. Maybe I should go invest some of my savings with Ameritrade.

        Eamus Catuli!

      2. You haven’t lost your sense of humor, JA.

        Perhaps I’m confused with changes to another new ball park, but I thought the fences had been adjusted once before.

        So will Citi Field, aka IFIF, be the house that Wright built?

        1. I think “IFIF” nicely captures the contingent mood that envelops the Wilponets.

          As for who built it — anyone who lost money with Madoff has a claim to that.

          I do think they’ll keep Wright. And I hope no one mistakes my meaning when I say that the reason is, they need a white face of the franchise. I’m not saying that anyone consciously thinks that way, but in my opinion, that’s the underlying reality.

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