Colon closes out spring, Mets' ninth-inning rally falls short
Opening Day starter pitched into fifth
By Anthony DiComo and Jenifer Langosch
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Carlos Martinez vindicated Mike Matheny's decision to name him the Cardinals' fifth starter, delivering six shutout innings Wednesday in a 5-4 win over Bartolo Colon and the Mets.
Making his final start in Florida before the Cardinals break camp, Martinez struck out five and walked one, snapping the Mets' four-game winning streak. New York had won four straight Grapefruit League games by a combined score of 22-5, before running into Martinez and a trio of Cardinals relievers.
Opening Day on tap: Making a final tune-up before his Opening Day start against the Nationals, Colon allowed three runs over five-plus innings, striking out two and walking one. Colon was cruising along until Jon Jay, Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta opened the sixth inning with consecutive singles, plating one run and forcing an end to his day. Matt Adams greeted new Mets reliever Jerry Blevins with an RBI single, which went on Colon's final line.
Support from short: Cardinals shortstop Peralta provided the Cardinals an early cushion with his first multi-RBI game of the spring. He doubled home Wong in the first inning and later delivered an RBI single to knock Colon out of the game. Peralta, now 14-for-42 this spring, has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
Still in the hunt: Though Ruben Tejada and Danny Muno are both options to replace Daniel Murphy if his strained right hamstring is not healed by Opening Day, Matt Reynolds continues to insert himself into the conversation. Reynolds hit a pinch-hit, two-run, opposite-field double off Marcus Hatley in the seventh inning, plating the Mets' first runs. That hit upped his Grapefruit League average to .386, while Tejada's 0-for-3 dragged his down to .259. Muno is in the middle, at .347.
Martinez masterful: In his first start since being named the team's fifth starter, Martinez showed himself more than ready for the job. Over six shutout innings, he struck out five and allowed just four baserunners. Martinez retired 10 straight after allowing a first-inning single and allowed only one baserunner to advance as far as second. Martinez, who threw 54 of his 82 pitches for strikes, will pitch next against the Reds on April 11.
"I love the Mets. That's the team that gave me an opportunity when I was 16 years old. They gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues with them, too. That's the thing I played my whole career for. This is what I want to do." -- Mets outfielder Juan Lagares, who is closing in on a four-year contract extension
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals entered Wednesday leading the National League in several team categories, including stolen bases (27), ERA (3.15), opponent batting average (.239) and fielding percentage (.986). Individually, Pete Kozma entered the day leading the league with a .435 batting average. Kozma will open the season on the club's bench.
One final Grapefruit League game for the Mets means one final Harvey Day. Matt Harvey will start the team's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals, looking to stretch out to around 90 pitches. From there, the Mets will drive straight to the airport, where they will board a Texas-bound plane for a pair of weekend exhibition games against the Rangers. Opening Day is Monday in Washington.