From the "who didn't see this coming?" file: Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson gave up six runs in five innings while Mets Johan Santana pitched seven innings of three hit baseball, leading New York to a 7-2 victory over Florida on Opening Day Monday.
Hendrickson was effective early, serving up a healthy diet of fastballs, elevating in the zone. As the early innings wore on, Hendrickson slowly worked in his breaking stuff more and more. However, it didn't take long for the mets' high powered lineup to figure him out. After Carlos Beltran drilled a hanging curveball into center for a double, Carlos Delgado worked a walk, Angel Pagan doubled, plating Beltran and Ryan Church singled, plating Delgado. Hendrickson battled back, getting Brian Schneider to line out and striking out Santana. For a moment, it looked as though he was going to get out of the inning having only surrendered two runs. But that moment passed quickly. Jose Reyes singled in Church, Luis Castillo walked to load the bases and David Wright cleared them with a three RBI double. Hendrickson pitched just one inning after that before getting the hook. 5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. A bit of a reality check for Hendrickson after only giving up three runs in 16 innings in spring training.
With Santana on the hill, runs usually come at a premium and six run deficits are usually insurmountable. Today was no different. Working his prolific fastball-changeup combo, Santana was perfect through three, striking out two. The Marlins finally got to him in the fourth off the bat of Josh Willingham. After Santana walked Hanley Ramirez, Hammer put the first pitch of his at-bat over the left field fence. But aside from a Jorge Cantu single in the 7th inning, that was all the offense the Marlins would muster off of Johan. He went seven innings in his Mets debut, scattering just three hits. 68 of his 100 pitches were strikes.
The Mets' bullpen took over in the 8th and only surrendered two more hits, one of which was an infield single. Their offense tacked on an unearned run in the top of the 9th when Matt Treanor made an ill advised throw to third following a wild pitch.
The only encouraging aspects of today's game? Ricky Nolasco and of course, the Hammer. Nolasco, who is rehabbing his way back into the rotation in the bullpen, pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Hendrickson, striking out one and only giving up two hits. Willingham, who hit just .218 off of lefties last year, took Johan for a 400+ foot ride in his second plate appearance.