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Schwei: Mets Own Opening Day, But History Against Padres A Mixed Bag

Jon Niese (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Jon Niese (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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Opening Day

By John Schweibacher
» More Columns

The Mets begin the 2013 season at home against the San Diego Padres.

New York’s Opening Day winning percentage is a major league best .647 (33-18). The Mets are 2-0 when opening at Citi Field, defeating the Braves, 1-0, last season and beating the Marlins, 7-1, in 2010.

The Mets and Padres have opened the season against one another just once before, a 12-5 San Diego win back on April 1, 1997, at Qualcomm Stadium. The Padres scored 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a 4-0 Mets lead.

San Diego began the 11-run inning with consecutive home runs from Chris Gomez, Ricky Henderson and Quilvio Veras off Mets starter Pete Harnisch. The Padres scored eight more times against relievers Yorkis Perez, Toby Borland and Barry Manuel.

STADIUM GUIDE: In & Around Citi Field

The Padres have been the Mets’ opponent in home openers twice. In 2000, after beginning the season in Japan with two games against the Cubs, the Mets defeated San Diego, 2-1, in their home opener at Shea Stadium on April 3rd. In 2009, the Padres were the Mets’ first regular season opponent at Citi Field, and spoiled the home opener, 6-5.

Thirteen players have appeared in Opening Day lineups for both the Mets and Padres.

· Chris Cannizzaro C (NYM 1965, SD 1969, 70, 71)
· Jerry Morales OF (NYM 1980, SD 1970, 72)
· Randy Jones P (NYM 1982, SD 1975-77, 80)
· Kevin McReynolds OF (NYM 1987-91, 94, SD 1984-86)
· Tony Fernandez SS (NYM 1993, SD 1991, 92)
· Rickey Henderson OF (NYM 1999-00, SD 1996)
· Mike Piazza C (NYM 1999-05, SD 2006)
· Derek Bell (NYM 2000, SD 1993, 94)
· Jay Payton (NYM 2001, 02, SD 2004)
· Roberto Alomar 2B (NYM 2002, 03, SD 1989, 90)
· Ricky Gutierrez IF (NYM 2004, SD 1994)
· Mike Cameron OF (NYM 2005, SD 2007)
· Xavier Nady OF (NYM 2006, SD 2003, 05)

The Mets and Padres had almost opposite seasons in 2012. San Diego had the third-worst record in the National League at the All-Star break, but was much better in the second half of the season. The Mets were 46-40 at the break, tied with the Giants and Cardinals, who would play in the NLCS, for the sixth-best mark in the NL, before going just 28-48 the rest of the way.

Here are the best and worst records in the National League after the 2012 All-Star break…

Best NL records after break:

· Reds 50-27 .649
· Giants 48-28 .632
· Braves 48-29 .623
· Nationals 49-30 .620
· Phillies 44-31 .587
· Padres 42-33 .560

Worst NL records after break:

· Astros 22-54 .289
· Marlins 28-49 .363
· Cubs 28-49 .363
· Mets 28-48 .368
· Rockies 31-46 .403
· Pirates 31-46 .403

There’s a chance that the Mets’ season opener at Citi Field might not be a sellout. Opening Day sellouts were not always as common back in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s.

Here are the lowest Opening Day attendance figures for the Mets in their season-opening games at home, according to the Mets media guide:

•1978 11,736
•1980 12,219
•1972 15,893
•1976 15,963
•1975 18,527
•1963 25,849

Jon Niese will be the Mets’ starting pitcher on Opening Day. Niese has gone 1-1 with a 1.99 earned run average in his three career starts against the Padres, including a one-hit shutout against San Diego back on June 10, 2010, at Citi Field. Chris Denorfia, who led off the third inning with a double, was the only Padre to reach base against Niese in that game.

Niese will become the seventh homegrown Mets pitcher to get an Opening Day start for the club, and just the second left-hander:

Mets “homegrown” Opening Day starting pitchers:

· Tom Seaver (11)
· Dwight Gooden (8)
· Bobby Jones (3)
· Craig Swan (2)
· Jerry Koosman
· Mike Pelfrey

Since losing their first eight openers from 1962 through 1969, the Mets are 33-10 on Opening Day. The only time the Mets have lost consecutive openers since 1970 was back in 1999 and 2000, which are also the only back-to-back seasons in which the Mets reached the postseason.

What’s your prediction for Opening Day? Will the Mets improve to 34-18? Be heard in the comments!