- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Their new home was gorgeous. The Mets looked lost.

Jody Gerut christened Citi Field with a leadoff homer, Adrian Gonzalez also connected and the San Diego Padres spoiled New York’s first regular-season game in its glittering new ballpark with a 6-5 victory Monday night.

Pedro Feliciano balked in the go-ahead run and the Mets made several key mistakes, opening Citi Field the same way they closed Shea Stadium: with a dud.

David Wright rallied New York from an early four-run hole with a tying homer, but it wasn’t enough. Padres relievers Duaner Sanchez and Heath Bell, both former Mets, closed out the fifth straight win for surprising San Diego (6-2), expected to be one of baseball’s worst teams this year.

Gerut’s shot off Mike Pelfrey marked the first time in history that the first batter homered in a regular-season opener at a major league ballpark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Mets are looking for more success at $800 million Citi Field than they had at big Shea, where they spent 45 seasons that produced two World Series championships _ and consecutive September collapses the past two years.

The Mets lost to Florida in the Shea finale last season, eliminating them from playoff contention. They haven’t been any better in their stadium openers, either _ New York dropped its first game at the old Polo Grounds (1962) and in Shea Stadium (1964), both by 4-3 scores to Pittsburgh.

Wide-eyed fans filed in through the stately Jackie Robinson Rotunda before the game, many snapping photos and searching for souvenirs.

Pregame ceremonies included Hall of Famer Tom Seaver and former New York catcher Mike Piazza walking in together from the bullpen, both wearing Mets jerseys. Seaver threw out the first pitch to Piazza, a strike, and pumped his fist.

The Mets tested out their cozy ballpark with two exhibition games April 3-4 against Boston. But this was the real thing, and it didn’t go as planned.

Gerut pulled Pelfrey’s third pitch down the right-field line, stunning a peppy, sold-out crowd of 41,007 right at the start.

The first hit at Shea Stadium also was a home run, by Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Willie Stargell off “Fat Jack” Fisher on April 17, 1964.

Pelfrey looked out of sorts all night in his team’s new digs. He caught a spike on the mound in mid-delivery, sending the 6-foot-7 right-hander tumbling awkwardly to the turf in the second inning with opposing starter Walter Silva at the plate.

Silva then hit a two-out single, sparking a three-run rally that included David Eckstein’s two-run double and Brian Giles’ soft RBI single.

New York got on the board in the bottom half with Luis Castillo’s RBI double, but Gonzalez gave San Diego a 5-1 cushion with a leadoff homer in the fifth that caromed off the screen attached to the right-field foul pole.

The Mets finally revved up their fans in the fifth. Daniel Murphy hit an RBI single with two outs and Wright reached down to yank a full-count pitch over the retired numbers above the 364-foot sign on the left-field fence.

The three-run homer tied it at 5 and chased Silva, a 32-year-old rookie who squandered a great opportunity for his first major league win. The right-hander was invited to Padres camp in February from the Monterrey Sultans after spending his entire career in the Triple-A Mexican League.

The Mets gave away the go-ahead run in the sixth.

With Brian Stokes (0-1) pitching, Luis Rodriguez opened the inning with a long fly to right that glanced off Ryan Church’s glove for a three-base error. Two outs later, Feliciano balked in a run that put the Padres up 6-5.

Edward Mujica (1-1) retired his only batter in the fifth for his first major league victory. Sanchez worked a perfect eighth and Bell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save.

Notes:@ Gary Sheffield is slated to get his first Mets start Wednesday night in right field. New York manager Jerry Manuel also said that when Sheffield and Church play together in the outfield, Sheffield will be in left while Church stays in right. … One home run shy of 500, Sheffield pinch hit for Pelfrey in the fifth and grounded into a fielder’s choice. … Mets ace Johan Santana was in Florida with his pregnant wife, who was to have labor induced Tuesday. Santana is expected back in time to take his turn in the rotation Saturday against Milwaukee. … Padres OF Cliff Floyd, on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, is expected to take batting practice on the field Wednesday and could begin a minor league rehab assignment this week, manager Bud Black said. … The Mets placed OF Marlon Anderson on release waivers.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide