NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mets hitters are off to a record-setting start. Not the kind they had in mind, though.
Gio Gonzalez homered in his first outing for the second straight season and New York struck out 13 more times Wednesday night in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals, leaving the Mets with 31 strikeouts already this season.
In a post on Twitter, the Nationals said that’s the most for any team after two games in modern major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
STATS confirmed the 31 whiffs by New York batters were the most in the first two games since at least 1914, surpassing the previous mark of 28 by Houston hitters against Texas last season. And the Mets shattered the franchise record of 23 strikeouts set in 1998 and 2003, according to Newsday.
“Obviously, we have to do a better job of putting the ball in play with two strikes,” manager Terry Collins said.
Curtis Granderson was booed at Citi Field just two games into his tenure with the Mets. The strikeout-prone slugger, who was brought in on a four-year, $60 million deal this offseason, is 0-for-9 with five Ks.
“It’s two games in,” Granderson said, according to the New York Post. “I’ve got a lot of at-bats over the course of the season still remaining and you’ve still got to get the swing right, that’s part of the game. I’m not too concerned one way or the other. It’s just baseball being baseball. I’ve gotten a couple of balls to hit, just haven’t been in the right position to do what I want with them.”
Collins said it would take some time for Granderson to adjust to the National League after coming from New York’s American League franchise.
“One of the toughest things is to switch leagues, face guys you’ve never seen before,” Collins said of Granderson, who struck out 69 times in 61 games for the Yankees last season. “You can have all the tape and other stuff you want, until you get in that batter’s box and face them, it’s a different game.”
Collins stacked his lineup with eight right-handed hitters, but it hardly mattered. New York provided little support for Bartolo Colon (0-1), touched up for nine hits and three runs over six innings in his Mets debut.
The beefy right-hander signed a $20 million, two-year contract in the offseason after going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA for Oakland last year, when he finished serving a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.
Ian Desmond and Gonzalez (1-0) both homered in the fifth against Colon, who gave up only 14 long balls in 190 1-3 innings last season.
“I think I pitched very well,” Colon said through a translator. “They were just coming out a little high, that’s all. I was throwing normal.”
Jayson Werth had four hits for the Nationals, who followed up their 10-inning comeback on opening day with a more routine victory against one of Gonzalez’s favorite foes. The left-hander struck out six and walked one in six comfortable innings, improving to 6-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his last seven starts against New York.
Left fielder Bryce Harper threw out a runner at the plate, and Denard Span scored twice following extra-base hits. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen finished a three-hitter, the latest disappointment for New York this week.
Mets closer Bobby Parnell has a partially torn elbow ligament that might require surgery, and new outfielder Chris Young came out in the second inning with tightness in his right quadriceps. The injury kept Young on the bench in the opener, and he still hasn’t batted for New York.
“I feel terrible about not being able to contribute,” he said. “It’s the last thing you want to have happen.”
Juan Lagares, an early bright spot, got the Mets off to a good start with a leadoff triple. He scored on David Wright’s sacrifice fly, snapping Gonzalez’s streak of 16 shutout innings at Citi Field.
Consecutive doubles by Werth and Adam LaRoche tied it in the fourth. Desmond hit the first pitch of the fifth over the left-center wall, and Gonzalez went deep two batters later.
A right-handed batter, the pitcher drove a 2-2 delivery off the railing just above the shortened fence in left-center at Citi Field. The ball caromed back onto the outfield grass and Gonzalez sprinted home, unaware that second base umpire Todd Tichenor was signaling home run.
Mets left fielder Andrew Brown hardly rushed after the ball, and when Gonzalez finally slowed up he immediately spotted his brother sitting behind home plate.
Back in the dugout and out in the bullpen, his teammates had a blast. The umpires didn’t even look at a replay.
“I think it was the fastest home run jog in baseball,” Gonzalez said. “I was about to slide home!”
It was Gonzalez’s third career homer. He also connected during his first start last season off Miami’s Kevin Slowey.
Ruben Tejada tried to score from first when Lagares doubled inside third base with two outs in the fifth, but was cut down at the plate on a strong throw by Harper. Tejada, who broke his leg last September, gave himself up to catcher Jose Lobaton.
“There was some confusion. He didn’t realize he can run into the catcher,” Collins said. “He crossed the plate and didn’t know what to do. When I asked him about it afterwards he said, ‘I didn’t know I could hit him.’ It’s a big deal because there’s an ejection if you don’t follow the rule.”
NOTES: Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann starts the series finale Thursday afternoon against RHP Zack Wheeler. … Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (elbow) joined the team after pitching in a simulated game Tuesday against Class-A St. Lucie in Florida. He is on track to come off the disabled list and start Sunday against Cincinnati.
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