New York Mets Baseball: Brooklyn Alums Help Mets Sweep Braves

April 12, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Jim Dolan

Brooklyn Eagle

The sun shone on the Mets on opening day at Citi Field, as Johan Santana made his long-awaited 2012 debut following arm surgery, pitching five scoreless innings against the Braves to start the season. David Wright, now the elder statesman of the team (debuting in 2004), came through with an RBI single to plate Daniel Murphy after his double to left field for the Mets’ 1-0 opening day win.

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Although the Mets took the opener, they suffered a loss in center field as Andres Torres re-injured his calf while trying to catch a fly ball. With Torres on the disabled list, an opportunity for outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (the Mets’ seventh-ranked organizational prospect) opened as the 2008 Brooklyn Cyclones All-Star was notified of his promotion by Triple-A Buffalo Manager Wally Backman during the Bisons’ opening series in Pawtucket. Nieuwenhuis was the Mets’ 2010 Minor League Player of the Year.Right fielder Lucas Duda (Cyclones 2007) emerged from spring training as the Mets’ top hitter with 20 hits, including four home runs. Duda continued his torrid hitting with two solo home runs in the Mets’ 4-2 win over the Braves, launching two shots over the newly drawn-in fences at Citi Field at the 390-foot mark. Photo by George Napolitano

With Nieuwenhuis joining the team for the season’s second game, the Mets fielded a lineup composed of seven homegrown players from the farm system, with the exception of pitcher R.A. Dickey and left fielder Jason Bay.

The homegrown seven included catcher Josh Thole; first baseman Ike Davis (Cyclones 2008); second baseman Murphy (Cyclones 2006); shortstop Rueben Tejada; third baseman Wright; and right fielder Lucas Duda (Cyclones 2007). With the relief appearance of RHP Bobby Parnell in the seventh inning, the total of homegrown players on the field jumped to eight.

After a rocky 2011, RHP Bobby Parnell (Cyclones 2005) had a stellar spring training in relief, holding opposing teams to zero runs.For the second game of the season’s opening series, Nieuwenhuis started in center field and went 2-for-4 with two singles and a strikeout in his major league debut. The Mets beat the Braves, 4-2.  

Although he stated that he “had fun” playing for the first time in Flushing, Nieuwenhuis admitted, “It was pretty nerve-racking until I got my first hit.”

As it turned out, after striking out in his first at-bat, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound former college football player beat out an infield hit by an eyelash in his second turn at bat. With his first hit under his belt, Nieuwenhuis was able to stroke another single in his next at-bat.

After Wright gave the Mets an early 1-0 lead, former Cyclone Duda added two more solo home runs over the newly drawn-in fences in right field.  
A healthy Daniel Murphy (Cyclones 2006) returns to the Mets after two consecutive seasons marred by injuries. Murphy continues to hit where he left off in past seasons, as he has shown that he can fill the Mets’ need for an everyday second baseman.

“He can hit a ton,” Wright said of Duda. “What he did in spring training was no fluke.”

Duda had emerged as the Mets’ top hitter coming out of spring training.

Also returning from injury this season is Ike Davis (Cyclones 2008), whose defense at first was sorely missed last season. If healthy, Davis will be the Mets’ key hitter in the cleanup spot with his home run power.The Mets ended the weekend with a 7-5 sweep of Atlanta that featured Jon Niese throwing six innings and at one point retiring 15 Braves in a row. Reuben Tejada made some fans forget about Jose Reyes’ departure, as the young, diminutive shortstop went 4-for-4 and ate up ground balls that were hit up the middle.

After this 3-0 start to the season, thanks to the Mets’ young players coming of age, many fans are hoping for the magic to last all year, just as it did in 1986.

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