John Buck won’t finish this season with 292 RBIs — shoot, if he keeps hitting like this, he might not even be a Met by July 31 — while Jon Niese very well could finish 2013 as the frontline starting pitcher he appears to be. Week 1 of the baseball season always presents us with bad bets and good bets. It also can give us early decision points, and the Mets’ 7-3 victory over the Marlins yesterday at Citi Field underlined a move that really should be made with this team, starving for outfield production. Whenever Mike Baxter doesn’t start against a right-handed pitcher, the Mets should have an awfully good excuse. “I’ll tell you what he does, he stays within himself,” manager Terry Collins said of Baxter, who contributed a single, two walks, a stolen base and two runs scored as the Mets’ leadoff hitter. “He keeps his game going. He has a very, very good knowledge of the strike zone, doesn’t go outside the strike zone. “I think as he continues to regain his strength, he’s going to help us.” “I get excited when I get a chance to play, whether it’s off the bench or starting,” said Baxter, the Whitestone native and Archbishop Molloy product. “I think with the group we have, we all bring unique skill sets to the table. And then TC does a good job of kind of mixing and matching that.” Their fifth game of the year, an important one in which the Mets halted a two-game losing streak and lifted their record to 3-2, marked Baxter’s first start of the season. Collins correctly put him in the leadoff spot, where his impact was significant. Baxter drew a first-inning walk against Marlins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco and worked his way around the bases on singles by David Wright and Ike Davis and a Buck sacrifice fly to even the score 1-1. His third-inning base hit, a line drive off the glove of Miami third baseman Placido Polanco, led only to Daniel Murphy hitting into a 4-6-3 double play. Yet when the Marlins tied the game 3-3 in the top of the seventh, it was Baxter who drew a one-out walk off reliever Ryan Webb in the bottom of the frame. He broke for second on a 1-and-1 fastball to Murphy. The play would have been close with an accurate throw, yet Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo misfired the ball into center field, allowing Baxter to sprint to third base. He scored on Murphy’s triple to center, and the Mets added a couple of insurance runs in the seventh and another in the eighth on Collin Cowgill’s solo homer.
Collins must give Baxter long look in leadoff role
New York Post | Apr 7