Written By: Alex Lowenthal

Sunday vs Florida

Johan Santana returned to the hill Sunday against the Marlins looking to bounce back from his shaky first outing.  He did just that.  He pitched four shutout innings while striking out four.  He throw 45 pitches (32 for strikes) and only allowed three hits.  We hope to see more of this from Johan as we move forward.  The Mets, however, lost the game 5-1.  Here are some other Sunday points:

-John Maine came in after Santana and struggled, throwing 37 pitches in just two-thirds of an inning, allowing five runs on five hits with three walks

-Jason Bay had a triple and Luis Castillo was two for three with two base hits

Monday vs St. Louis

Today’s game against the Cardinals turned out to be just about as exciting as Spring Training can be.  Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese were the main Mets’ pitchers, as they are both fighting for the fifth spot in the opening day rotation.  Neither looked great.  Nieve pitched the first three innings, giving up five hits, two runs, a walk, and no strikeouts.  Niese was slightly better, pitching innings 4-6, allowing three runs (one unearned) on four hits, with two Ks and no walks.  The bullpen looked great, including Sean Green (7th), Pat Misch (8th), and Francisco Rodriguez.  This was K-Rod’s much awaited Grapefruit League debut, as he has been battling pink eye.  He looked excellent, throwing just seven pitches in the top of the ninth inning.  He got a weak ground ball out, a pop out to right, and a K to end the perfect debut.

The real story of today’s game was Angel Pagan, who played all of about ten minutes.  He came in to play right field for Jeff Francoeur after the Mets left the bases loaded down 5-4 in the bottom of the 8th.  K-Rod came in and did his thing, while Pagan made a routine fly ball catch.  He also was up third in the bottom of the frame.  With one out and the bases empty, Mets brought in the red hot pinch hitter, Chris Carter, who I will discuss in a minute.  He chopped a single that took a nice hop over the head of Cardinal 2B, Ruben Gotay.  Then came Angel Pagan.  He ripped a 3 and 1 fastball over the right field wall, for a walk off 6-5 victory.  This also gave K-Rod the victory.  Nice 9th inning Angel.  Pagan is battling with Gary Matthews Jr for the opening day CF job, with Beltran out.

Now let’s get back to Chris Carter quickly.  The Mets acquired him in the deal that sent Billy Wagner to the Red Sox.  He’s quickly gotten himself the nickname “The Animal” in the dugout.  After today’s 9th inning single, he is 6 for 12 with 3 HRs and 8RBI this spring.  Mets coaches are seriously considering Carter as a primary pinch hitter if he keeps this up.  Carter, Mike Jacobs, and Frank Catalanotto are all looking to be potential opening day pinch hitters.

Check out Pagan’s Walk off

Side Notes

-Jason Bay was 2 for 3, scored twice, and got hit by a hard Jason Motte fastball in the 8th, but jogged to first and was fine

-Fernando Martinez look brilliant once again, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and 2 RBI

-Despite Martinez’s terrific spring, Omar Minaya said this morning that there is no way he will start the year in the big league

Photo Credit:http://weblogs.cw11.com/sports/thehuddle/JOHAN%20SANTANA%201.jpg