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Johan Santana, New York Mets Begin 2012 the ‘Wright’ Way
The New York Mets' 1-0, Opening Day win over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on Thursday should, for at least another 24 hours, serve as a huge boost of confidence for third baseman David Wright, starting pitcher Johan Santana and closer Frank Francisco.
That isn't much of a grace period, but this is, after all, a franchise known these days for being a National League East doormat, its ensnarement in Bernie Madoff's multi-billion dollar mendacity and that hysterical, "the season's over" "Family Guy" bit.
Yes, "You gotta believe" has long since devolved into unmitigated skepticism, misery with no end in sight.
And yet Wright drove in the game's lone run, plating Andres Torres in the sixth inning with a sharp single to left; Santana (no decision) pitched five scoreless innings in his first regular-season start since Sept. 2, 2010, ending his day by getting Michael Bourn to ground out (1-3) with the bases loaded; and Francisco (S, 1), in his Mets debut, struck out Jason Heyward for the final out as part of a 1-2-3 ninth.
What does it mean? Not much, given that it's only game No. 1 out of 162. But if Santana, who underwent elbow surgery in 2010 and missed all of 2011, reports no discomfort beyond the stiffness pitchers typically feel after a start, the Mets' ace has something positive to build on going into his next outing. Wright has a game-winning RBI to start the year, something he hopes is commonplace this season. As for Francisco, he gets the first-save-as-a-Met monkey off his back before such could even become an issue.
Limiting issues of a negative nature is the very least the Amazin's could ask for early on in 2012, which, many have predicted, will end with them in the NL East's basement.
Again, this is just one game, one win to start a long season, and it may mean nothing several days from now if followed by a string of defeats. But in a season featuring an extra wild card slot, the road to baseball's postseason is wider, and that gives teams able to play around .500 ball through June hope.
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