Mets Win Opener 2-1: Johan Average, Bullpen Great

Joe NoaCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 6: Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the thrid inning at Great American Ballpark on April 6, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

When you don't have your best stuff and win, you are a great pitcher. Johan Santana is a great pitcher. The Mets beat the Reds 2-1 in the 2009 season opener in Cincinnati.

It is hard to stay loose in temperatures in the low 40's with a threat of snow in the forecast. Santana threw some seventy pitches in the first three innings but still kept the Reds guessing and off balance. He threw his fast ball close to 93 mph but mostly was consistent at 91 mph.

He mixed up speeds and his change up was hard to pick up. Johan's change up makes his fast ball seem like it's in the upper 90's. Even with Santana not pitching his best, he would not have been able to win the game if it wasn't for an outstanding sliding catch by Ryan Church and a great catch by Daniel Murphy, preventing the tying run from second base to score.

Kudos to Daniel Murphy for being involved in both Met runs. His home run over the right field wall gave the Mets their first run of the season and his ground out to first base drove in the other. As it turned out, this was all Johan and the bullpen needed.

For the Reds, Harang was pitching well under the elements. He stranded eleven Met runners and kept the score low. You can't ask any more from your pitcher. Johan Santana was a little better.

On another day, Harang could have won this game. Dusty Baker should be happy with Harang's outing. It is a big improvement from last year's disappointing season of having an ERA over 5.

Santana was removed after 5 2/3 for Green, who quickly shut the door. J J Putz was also impressive in the eighth, overpowering the Reds at times. Francisco Rodriguez came in the ninth and slammed the door for his first save ever as a member of the Mets.

The bullpen, which cost the Mets 29 games last season, showed confidence and swagger.

The Mets will have high production from their lineup. This is the kind of game the Mets need to win. Johan can now breath a little better knowing he doesn't have to be perfect with the arms the Mets now have in their bullpen.