Ah, nothing like escaping 30 degree, snowy Buffalo for 65 degree, sunny Florida.
It was a beautiful day for baseball in Port St. Lucie, and the Mets beat the Marlins 10-0 at Digital Domain Park in the first spring training game I've ever attended.
I jotted down some observations from my seat, as I chowed down on the incredible Taco in a Helmet. Yes, it's amazing as Ted Berg made it out to be.
One thing I noticed was that Jon Niese was really actively working on his new changeup. It's a new pitch he's developing this spring, and he used Friday's game to test it out in game action.
It seems like he threw his changeup more often Friday that ever before, and it was pretty effective. One reason why I think Niese is going to have a breakout season this year is his dedication to his craft.
Last year he developed his cutter, which has become one of his most effective pitches, and now this year he comes back with a new pitch to work into his arsenal.
Niese pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. He retired 10 in a row at one point and looked in control the whole ballgame.
Of the three hits, one of them was an infield single to Justin Turner at 3B that should have been ruled an error, and one of them was a double leading off the fifth inning that broke up his 10 straight retired streak.
At the plate, the Mets put up 10 runs in the first four inning thanks in part to five Marlins errors.
Luis Castillo reached base three times before being relieved by Willie Harris, and the Mets got a pair of two-run homers from Ike Davis and Josh Thole.
Castillo is looking really good, and even though I still think he has a decent shot at being cut before April 1st, he has played very well this spring. He's still a viable starting 2B in my opinion, although he wouldn't be my first choice.
Speaking of those 2B candidates, Brad Emaus DH'd and had two hits in four at bats, both of which were solidly hit balls.
One was hit to the opposite field, for what it's worth, and he scored from first base after Justin Turner's fly ball was dropped by the Marlins centerfielder in the third inning.
It wasn't all fun and games for the Mets offense, though.
Jason Bay looked dreadful in all three of his at bats. He struck out swinging three times, and by my count he only made contact on one pitch, a foul ball in his third at bat.
He swung and missed at at least six or seven pitches. It was pretty brutal. It really was as bad as it could be. I hope he gets it together soon, because his timing was really off. He was out in front at times AND late at times. Yikes.
I really like Pagan batting second. Castillo led off and with Pagan behind him, they created havoc on the basepaths all day long for Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad and his defense.
The Marlins made 5 errors in the first four innings, and had a couple other misplays. They looked like a little league team out there at times.
The rightfielder especially had an awful game defensively, and even Hanley Ramirez dropped a pop-up that led to a run as well as a wide throw to first that caused Turner to reach on an error for a second time.
Jason Isringhausen pitched a nice inning, getting a double play and hitting 89 mph on the scoreboard radar gun.
He actually said after the game that he was going through a bit of a dead-arm period, which is not unusual for pitchers at this time in spring training. He was still effective, though. He's looked good this spring.
One interesting moment was when left-hander Les Walrond came in to pitch the sixth inning. He wore number 93 and did not have a name on his jersey. I actually think he may have signed a minor-league deal with the Mets that morning.
Walrond retired Chris Coghlan and Omar Infante to start the inning. Infante struck out swinging, he waved at three very nice changeups from the 34-year-old journeyman. The Fish rallied to load the bases but he got out of it.
Overall, Niese, Mike O'Connor, Walrond, Bobby Parnell, Isringhausen and K-Rod combined on the shutout.
Bonus video! I was able to capture a video of Ike Davis's infield single in the first inning. It's a pretty funny play.