David Wright greets Andrew Brown at the plate after Brown's three-run homer in the first inning against Stephen Strasburg.NEW YORK -- If you were to list the three big winners for the Mets in a 9-7, 10-inning Opening Day loss to the Washington Nationals, the group likely ought to include Andrew Brown, Juan Lagares and Jose Valverde.
Arguably, Brown made his first Opening Day roster because the Mets decided to carry an extra bench player while Jonathon Niese is on the DL. And Brown started only because Chris Young had a quadriceps strain and Eric Young Jr. moved to second base for the absent Daniel Murphy.
Brown then launched a three-run homer in the first inning against Stephen Strasburg.
Brown said he first had an inkling he might start when he heard from Anthony Recker that Murphy had hurriedly departed for Florida for the birth of his first child.
“At that point I figured E.Y. would probably be starting at second,” Brown said.
Still, that also required Chris Young’s quadriceps preventing the ex-Diamondback from playing.
“I knew that it was there, but I didn’t know to what extent it was,” Brown said about C.Y.’s injury.
The Mets need to shed a position player this weekend when Niese is activated from the DL. Perhaps the long ball will help convince Sandy Alderson to look elsewhere.
“I don’t know how to think about it any other way except I’m here,” Brown said. “I’m going to do what I can while I’m here.”
Lagares didn’t learn until he saw the lineup card this morning that he would start. And the debate with him is clear: Will he hit enough?
Obviously the fielding is Gold Glove-caliber.
So it was a good sign that Lagares belted an 0-2 pitch from Tyler Clippard in the eighth for a solo homer that had given the Mets a 5-4 lead. Lagares finished 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored.
“I just tried to put the ball in play,” Lagares said about the homer.
Valverde, released by the Detroit Tigers from Triple-A last season, retired all four batters he faced, including three via strikeout. He got the Mets out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to preserve a tie score after Scott Rice had walked in a run.
The Mets' dicey bullpen needs Valverde to be the primary setup man. Day 1 was a good start.