NEW YORK (AP) — Dillon Gee, Juan Lagares, Andrew Brown – all the opening-day subs delivered for the New York Mets before a rare packed house at Citi Field.
They were one strike away from a perfect afternoon when that suspect bullpen blew it.
For the second time in three innings.
Denard Span hit a tying double with two outs in the ninth off closer Bobby Parnell, and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Mets 9-7 Monday to give Matt Williams a win in his first game as a major league manager.
“Just got to do a better job of coming out and shutting them down,” New York manager Terry Collins said.
Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in the 10th and had a career-best four RBIs, twice rallying the Nationals in the late innings. Gee left with a 4-3 lead in the seventh but Washington tied it when relievers Carlos Torres and Scott Rice issued consecutive four-pitch walks, forcing in a run.
“We ran into some of that in spring training,” Collins said. “Certainly it’s got to be addressed at this level. If you are going to pitch here, you’ve got to throw strikes.”
Ian Desmond put the Nationals in front for the first time with a sacrifice fly in the 10th. Rendon connected two batters later against former Washington pitcher John Lannan.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 over six innings in his third straight opening-day start. But he was outpitched most of the day by Gee, given the starting assignment because of injuries to Matt Harvey and Jonathon Niese.
Several fill-ins came through for New York, in fact. Lagares and Brown both homered after they were surprise additions to the lineup.
Aaron Barrett (1-0) struck out two in a perfect inning to win his major league debut with family in the stands.
Jeurys Familia (0-1) took the loss, hurt by Travis d’Arnaud’s passed ball. David Wright hit a two-run homer in the 10th.
Lagares put New York ahead 5-4 with a leadoff homer in the eighth against Tyler Clippard, but the Mets couldn’t hold it. Parnell failed in his first save opportunity since a neck injury that eventually required surgery sidelined him for the final two months last season.
“Bobby will be just fine,” Wright said.
The Mets lost for only the third time in their last 23 season openers at home. They still own the best mark in the majors on opening day at 34-19.
New Yorkers woke up to an icy mix of sleet and snow flurries – only fitting after the frigid winter much of the country endured. The temperature at first pitch was 44 degrees, with wind gusting to 25 mph, but it warmed in the afternoon.
Gee pitched in short sleeves and retired 15 in a row after Adam LaRoche’s long two-run homer in the second.
Rendon, the new starter at second base, chased Gee with a two-out RBI double in the seventh. Washington tied it on the walks by Torres and Rice.
“That situation, I can’t let that happen,” Rice said.
Brown, a surprise starter in left field because newcomer Chris Young sat out with a mild right quadriceps strain, clubbed a three-run shot on a 94 mph fastball from Strasburg in the first inning.
Chris Young’s injury also opened a spot for Lagares, who started in center. Eric Young Jr., normally the left fielder, shifted to second base to fill in for Daniel Murphy, who was in Florida with his pregnant wife awaiting the birth of their first child.
Eric Young had a sacrifice fly in the second.
“We got a great performance today by Dillon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get him a win,” Wright said. “There’s some things that we need to work on moving forward and that was pretty glaring in game one.”
NOTES: One reliever who did get the job done was Jose Valverde, who struck out three over 1 1-3 perfect innings in his Mets debut. He fanned Ryan Zimmerman on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded to keep the score tied in the seventh and bolted excitedly off the mound. … The Mets announced on Twitter that they have signed 40-year-old outfielder Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract. Abreu, a two-time All-Star who was released by Philadelphia late in spring training, did not play in the majors last season. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. … After an off day Tuesday, Chris Young and Murphy are both expected back in the lineup Wednesday night, when RHP Bartolo Colon makes his Mets debut against LHP Gio Gonzalez. … Cleanup hitter Curtis Granderson went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts in his first game for the Mets. … Late slugger Ralph Kiner, a Hall of Famer and Mets broadcaster since the team’s inception in 1962, was honored before the game. Kiner died in February. … Harper was shaken up early when he got kicked in the forehead by Eric Young Jr. while breaking up a double play. Harper stayed down for a minute or two but stayed in the game.