After a rocky spring training that included allowing seven homers in his previous two Grapefruit League appearances, Mike Pelfrey headed into the season by tossing a gem. Pelfrey, whose first regular-season start was pushed back to Game 4 against the Washington Nationals because of a subpar spring showing, limited the Tampa Bay Rays to one run and three hits in six innings in a 4-2 loss by the Mets at Tropicana Field.
"That gives me a chance to sleep a little bit," manager Jerry Manuel said, only partly kidding.
Pelfrey nonetheless finished with a 6.15 Grapefruit League ERA. He had faulted stiff winds for a lot of his longball woes.
"I tried to tell you guys that I'm not hitting the spring-training panic button. It's no worries," he said about his uninspiring previous starts. "It's not a big deal about tonight, either, you know? It's spring training. If I would have given up another 10 runs or four home runs -- it might have been legit in this stadium, in a dome -- but it wouldn't have been a big deal."
Pelfrey had experienced a nightmarish close to his 2007 spring training against the Rays in the same spot just after being named to the rotation for the first time out of camp. He remembered it well.
"Getting blasted?" Pelfrey said. "I always remember the bad stuff, man. It's one of those days you try to forget about. I think eight runs in four innings or something like that."
On Friday night, Opening Day cleanup hitter Mike Jacobs belted a two-run homer in the ninth inning 0ff Lance Cormier. The Mets nearly overtook the Rays, but Fernando Tatis' would-be three-run homer instead was caught at the base of the left-field wall to end the game.