CINCINNATI (AP) -- Pedro Martinez blew 'em away. Carlos Beltran
knocked 'em in. Everything was going exactly according to plan for
the new-look Mets -- until Adam Dunn exposed the one area they
Dunn's second homer of the game tied it in the ninth, and Joe
Randa followed with a solo shot off Braden Looper that sent the
Cincinnati Reds to a 7-6 victory Monday in front of the biggest
crowd in Great American Ball Park's history.
For the first time in their 129 season openers, the Reds
finished one off with a homer.
"I felt like I was at a rock concert, screaming for the next
song," said closer Danny Graves, who pitched the ninth and then
piled on Randa at home plate. "We've had walk-off wins in the
past, but I haven't had a feeling like this in a long time. It's
the perfect script. I won't believe it until I watch it [on
The Mets couldn't believe it, either. Not after the way Martinez
and Beltran -- the cornerstones of their expensive offseason
makeover -- performed in their New York debuts.
Martinez struck out 12 and allowed only one hard-hit ball --
Dunn's three-run homer -- during his six innings. Beltran had three
hits, including one of the Mets' three homers, as they went ahead
The Mets committed $172 million to those two players, giving the
Yankees a run for their money when it came to making offseason
headlines. Maybe they should have spent a little more on the
bullpen, their weak link.
"I've been through this a lot," said Looper, who had 29 saves
in 34 chances last season. "I've definitely given up my share of
whatever you want to call it. But on Opening Day, it stinks. Pedro
pitched a great game. He struck out the world."
One little corner of the world, anyway.
Martinez blew away the Reds and any doubt that at age 33 he can
still dominate. After Dunn's first homer, he struck out 12 of his
last 14 batters, making them look overmatched against his 94 mph
fastball and nasty breaking ball.
Martinez became the fourth pitcher to amass 100 double-digit
strikeout games, joining Nolan Ryan (215), Randy Johnson (204) and
Roger Clemens (108). The crowd of 42,794 thought it could rattle
him by taunting after his only mistake.
They should have known better.
Yankees fans tried it in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series
last fall, mocking Martinez with a "Who's Your Daddy?" chant.
Martinez had suggested the Yankees were his "daddy" because they
beat him so often.
The cheer didn't work at Yankee Stadium -- the Red Sox went on to
their first World Series title in 86 years. It didn't work in
Cincinnati, either, after Dunn's three-run homer put the Reds up
3-1 in the first inning.
All it did was get him pitching like the old Pedro.
"He gets a certain look on his face: That's it, I'm going to
shut you down and that's it," said Willie Randolph, who lost his
first game as manager of the Mets.
The fans broke into the "daddy" chant while Martinez was in
the process of fanning Randa to start his strikeout streak. He
didn't allow a hit after the first inning and walked two before
letting the bullpen take over in the seventh.
"Pedro was on top of his game," Randa said. "He was carving
through us. He was unhittable. Once he was out of the game, there
was a big sigh of relief on the bench. Crazy things happen on
Manny Aybar gave up Jason LaRue's RBI double in the seventh.
Looper then let it slip away in only 14 pitches -- Austin Kearns'
single, Dunn's homer and Randa's final swing. The third baseman
raised his fist as he rounded first base, then got pummeled by his
new teammates at home plate.
"I'll have to ice down my whole body," Randa said. "They beat
me up pretty good."
Beltran hit a two-run homer off Paul Wilson, a former Mets No. 1
draft pick making his first opening day start at age 32. He also
singled home the tiebreaking run in the seventh off David Weathers,
one of three thirtysomething relievers brought in to shore up one
of baseball's worst bullpens.
Beltran, Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd had three hits apiece for
the Mets. Kaz Matsui homered in his first at-bat -- the second
straight year he's done that -- and Floyd hit a two-run homer off
Kent Mercker in the seventh to make it 6-3.
Then, the bullpen got involved and the bottom fell out.
"It's not really frustrating," Martinez said. "It's too early
to get frustrated. It was one bad inning, and the rest of the game
was pretty good. I'm optimistic about it."
Matsui, a six-time All-Star in Japan, homered on the first
pitch he saw as a rookie last year, connecting off Atlanta's Russ
Ortiz. ... Batting again in the NL, Martinez made contact in all
three plate appearances -- a popup and two grounders. ... Ken
Griffey Jr. singled though a shifted infield in his first at-bat,
breaking his 0-for-12 streak against one of the few pitchers who
make him look ordinary. He also walked and struck out twice. ...
Griffey stays at seven homers on opening day, one behind Frank
Robinson on the career list. ... It was Dunn's 10th career