(Long Island, N.Y.) When David Wright was asked to come up with a fitting word for the 2013 New York Mets, he paused and then said, “scrappy,” which is a relatively safe term to use that will make the fans smile and not rely on winning to be the end all.
But for one day, at least, the captain of the team could have picked a description reserved for the other ball club in town – Bombers.
New centerfielder Colin Cowgill hit a liner that just cleared the left field wall at Citi Field for a seventh inning grand slam en route to an 11-2 pasting of the San Diego Padres, who are not exactly going to remind anyone of the 1975 Big Red Machine this year.
But when you’re the Mets, you take what you can get and they need to create a buzz while rebuilding and cutting payroll. Johan Santana may be done for good and is definitely finished as a Met now that he needs to undergo another shoulder surgery in his walk year, so fellow lefthander Jonathan Niese took the mound as the defacto number one starter and promptly delivered six and two thirds of four-hit ball, surrendering two runs and striking out four batters.
As a team, the Mets rapped out 13 hits, with the aforementioned Cowgill accounting for two. Another new outfielder, Marlon Byrd, also pitched in with two base hits, as did John Buck, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and even Niese. You know that it’s going to be your day when the starting pitcher is currently batting 1.000.
“He (Niese) has stepped into a role now where he kind of leads that rotation,” Mets manager Terry Collins said after the game.
Being able to drive in runs with two outs played a big part in the win for the Mets, something not lost on Collins. “It’s something that we did last year during the first half that made us so competitive,” he said. “You grind out at bats. You don’t give up with two strikes. You don’t give up with two outs – especially with guys in scoring position. (Tejada) has had a tough spring and to have him be the first guy to get us a big hit, I though was really cool.”
One game does not make an entire season, of course, but the Mets were able to play at a high level for the first three months of 2012 when no one gave them a chance at the start of the campaign. So to bet against these guys before they have shown what they may be capable of doing would be unfair.
The cost effective roster that general manager Sandy Alderson has put together has to click and come together in the same fashion that last year’s group did. But then they also need to figure out how to avoid dropping off the way their predecessors did.
But for now, they still have scrappiness to fall back on.