By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
Noah Syndergaard was on the mound at Citi Field Monday afternoon and the ace of the New York Mets had his curve working as he threw six innings of scoreless ball with seven strikeouts against the Braves.
A good beginning for Syndergaard and the Mets before the second largest crowd to watch a game at Citi Field. A blister on the right middle finger shortened his first outing. The Mets responded when Julio Teheran was lifted after six innings. The righthander holds the lowest ERA against the Mets among active pitchers.
But this is a Mets team with expectations. A blister and a tough Braves hurler was not going to spoil their homecoming on Opening Day.
Terry Collins was not concerned about the blister. Syndergaard will get his next start Sunday night against the Marlins and the Mets manager is more concerned about his team putting a blister on their bats in the early going. Lucas Duda responded with a three-run double in the seventh and Asdrubal Cabrera singled a run home.
Oh, that bullpen without Jeurys Familia also responded. That was a plus as this will be a test for most of this month when it comes to closing it out and going home happy.
“It’s great to start the season like this,” said Fernando Salas who will be asked to pick up the slack with the absence of Familia. The righthander worked an inning and struck out two after Hansel Robles did his inning role of perfection.
“Ready for whatever situation,” Salas said. “I like the competition. To support the team whenever I am ready I am fully ready for any situation.” It will be any situation for the bullpen and Collins intends to utilize whoever he has to make sure these April games amount to wins.
To do that the Mets need to also get on base. That is always a concern in April as it was in that October game. Jose Reyes is the catalyst leading off and after a perfect first inning from Syndergaard it was chants of “Jose-Jose” again on Opening Day but he struck out looking.
It wasn’t Bumgarner with the fastball or curve, though the 26 year old Julio Teheran does show signs of being an elite pitcher in the National League. His 96 pitches thrown in this pitch count conscious world was the opening the Mets needed.
“A good day for all of us,” Asdrubal Cabrera said. “All victories are nice for the fans.” And on this Opening Day this was a win the Mets wanted and they got without the offense from Yoenis Cespedes or form the birthday boy, Jay Bruce who walked three times and scored a run.
Robles got the win, not Syndergaard. That did not matter and there are 161 more of these that continue Wednesday night when former teammate Bartolo Colon takes the mound for the Braves.
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