New York Mets: Opening Series Gives Mets Something They Didn't Have Last Season

James Stewart-MeudtCorrespondent IIApril 4, 2011

Through three days of play, the Mets have already shown their fans they’re capable of doing things differently. Even before the season started, they showed they’re capable of building a team with less money, whether it was by design or otherwise.

The Mets took two out of three games from the Florida Marlins, winning in ways not seen last season. They took a lead into the ninth inning of their game on Saturday, watched Francisco Rodriguez blow the save, and scored three runs in the next frame to win, 6-4.

Last season, the Mets played 16 extra inning games. They were 7-9 and scored in the 10th inning in just three of those games. So far, they’re 1-for-1.

Their opening series is even more significant when you look at how the Mets played on the road last year. They were an impressive 47-34 at home, but an ugly 32-49 away. Three games on the road so far, and they’ve got two wins.

And as far as winning a series on the road? Forget it. The Mets didn’t do that until they swept the Cleveland Indians in June last year. One road series, one series win.

That’s the beauty of baseball. A new season brings a clean slate. And for now, the Mets’ slate is looking pretty spotless.

There’s certainly more good than bad to take away from these first three games, and the Mets got a glimpse of what they’re going to have to do this season if they want any chance of contending.

In the season opener, they sent their “ace” Mike Pelfrey to the mound to oppose the Marlins Josh Johnson, a trendy pick for this year’s Cy Young award. Pelfrey loaded the bases in the fourth inning and gave up a grand slam to catcher John Buck.

The Mets would never recover and dropped that game, 6-2.

For those of you honest Mets fans out there, how many of you were ready to pack it in after that? Because for a team with as many questions and concerns entering this season as the Mets, a loss on opening day stung.

But this team showed resiliency. The Mets aren’t always going to have a pitching advantage heading into a game. In fact, with Johan Santana on the DL until at least July, they frequently won’t.

The important thing is that they win the games when they get good starts out of their pitchers, as they did on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, Jon Niese gave the Mets seven innings of four hit, two run ball. That’s about all you can ask from Niese, or any of the Mets' starters for that matter.

The Marlins Ricky Nolasco matched Niese pitch for pitch though, and the Mets found themselves having to pull the game out in the ninth inning, when they got a go-ahead RBI single from Josh Thole.

Enter closer Francisco Rodriguez with another lesson for the Mets. After getting the first two batters he faced out, Rodriguez gave up three straight singles and blew the save.

But there's more to like about that situation than dislike. You can dislike that K-Rod blew the save. But the Mets came right back and scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning on RBI hits from David Wright and Willie Harris.

Any Mets fans watching on TV who turned the game off after K-Rod blew the save were kicking themselves the next morning.

They learned they can come back and win in situations where they struggled last season.

If the Mets want to contend this season, they’ll have to win games in extra innings and take advantage of bad pitching as quickly as possible. They did that Saturday night and again on Sunday, jumping all over Marlins starter Javier Vasquez, who gave up seven runs (four earned) over just 2 1/3 innings.

Five walks from Vasquez, three Marlins errors and home runs from Harris and Ike Davis gave the Mets a 9-2 win and their first series win of the season.

You’d like to have seen the Mets come back from down four runs in their game on Friday, but watching them come back to win in extra innings the next day AND crush the Marlins yesterday should give fans a fuzzy feeling.

The Mets now head to Philadelphia with a little momentum. Sure, the Phillies are 3-0 and have a win in extra innings of their own, as well as the advantage of having Cole Hamels and Roy Hallday in two of the three games against the Mets, but the Mets have something they didn’t have much of last season.