The New York Mets improved to a 2-0 record, thanks to a monster day by outfielder Lucas Duda who hit two bombs in the 4-2 decision over the Atlanta Braves (0-2) on Saturday afternoon. New York hit a total of three homers today, improving to 22-0 at Citi when they have a multiple-homer day.
“We think he (Duda) benefitted from last spring and summer where he was in the line-up every day,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of his young slugger. “He is realizing that he belongs here and as the season goes along he is going to put some swings on some mistakes and has a chance to be a very special power hitter.”
On how the outfielder has gone from someone who was off the radar to the person that the Orange and Blue see on a regular basis, Collins had this to say,
“The one thing about young players is that they eventually learn how to pull the ball, and with that when you are as big and strong as he is you will learn how to hit the ball in the air and will hit those homers. Over the past couple of years that is what he has learned what to do.”
Having a great day on the mound for the Mets was knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey, who picked-up his 13th straight quality start, which is the longest streak in the majors. The righty’s run dates to July 25th of last season, as Dickey holds a 2.49 ERA (24 earned runs/86.2 innings) during the stretch.
“He had a tough time getting the grip on the ball, he told me it was like throwing a piece of glass,” Collins said Dickey’s performance. “He is the same way like the guy that pitched on Opening Day (Santana) he just competes.”
New York had a ton of offensive contributions, including the first fit for center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who reached on an infield single in the fourth inning. Nieuwenhuis has impressed Mets-brass during the course of Spring Training, and continued his impressive play finishing the game 2-for-4 in his MLB Debut.
Also pacing the offense were David Wright and Josh Thole as the duo both had multi-hit games. Wright finished 3-for-5 at the dish for his second straight multi-hit game, while Thole went 2-for-4 collecting a single and a double.
“One of the things that we told him (Wright) when came back from his rib injury was to pull back on working out,” Collins said when asked if he was surprised by the performance by his All-Star third baseman. “He like a lot of the guys in the locker room will kill themselves to get ready and he is a tireless worker and there is no doubt in my mind that this guy is an outstanding player.”
Thole was especially impressive for New York hitting the long ball frequently during batting practice, prior to the game against the Braves on Saturday. The New York backstop will be one player to watch for during the course of the 2012 season.
Impressing for the second straight game, was the revamped bullpen, which followed-up the Opening day 4.0 scoreless inning performance with an impressive 3.0 more scoreless inning performance. Coming in to bring the heat was Bobby Parnell, which was followed by equally impressive performances by Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco…as the trio combined for four strikeouts.
“We made the phone calls about (Francisco) during Spring Training, so that we can get a background on the new guys” Collins said on the velocity of Francisco. “One of the things we were told was to not watch Spring Training, they told us when the season started that he gets it going and so far that is what has happened.”
The conclusion of this three-game series is set for Sunday as Atlanta starter Mike Minor, takes on New York hurler Jon Niese. Prior to Saturday’s game the franchise made a five-year deal official with the young hurler.
Minor had a 5-3 record with a 4.14 ERA in 2011, recording one win in a 6-5 decision against the Mets on September 8, 2011. The lefty recorded 10 strikeouts in the game.
Niese, meanwhile, won his last game against the Braves an 11-7 decision at Citi Field on August 6, 2011. Jon tossed 5.0 innings recorded six strikeouts in that game while only allowing two walks.
“It is just an honor to play for the Mets organization,” Niese said of his long-term contract. “The fans are excellent, as well as the city of New York. I just love my teammates, we all get along and I love being a part of this team and playing with these guys.”
The finale of the Mets/Braves game is set to air on the SNY network with first pitch set for 1:10 p.m.
Written on April 7, 2012 also seen on the Examiner.com site below: