Wright doesn't miss a beat in opener
Mets star extends two-year hitting streak to 18 with two doubles
MIAMI -- David Wright was fifth in runs scored in the National League last season, seventh in batting average and ninth in runs batted in. Yet the Mets' third baseman said he was not surprised to get a fastball pretty much right down the middle on a 2-2 count in Monday's fourth inning, with the bases loaded, two outs and the Mets ahead of the Florida Marlins, 3-0.
"Not with Carlos Beltran behind me, especially the way he was swinging the bat the first couple of times up," Wright said. "When you've got Carlos Beltran and [Carlos] Delgado to follow, they're not going to pitch around me to get to them."
Wright was correct, lining Mark Hendrickson's pitch into left-center field for a bases-clearing double and helping the Mets to an Opening Day 7-2 victory before 38,308 at Dolphin Stadium.
For Wright, who went 2-for-4 in the game, it allowed him to pick up where he left off last season. He finished 2007 with a 17-game hitting streak, so now he's at 18 bridging the two seasons.
This present streak is reminiscent of early last season, when he carried over a 13-game winning streak from '06 and ran it to 26 games before going hitless. Yet just like last season, Wright is unimpressed with hitting streaks of any duration.
"If I can keep driving in some runs and scoring some runs, I'll take that over a hitting streak," he said. "I need to get off to a better start than I did last year. I wasn't too happy about my April [in 2007]."
Though Wright wound up hitting 30 home runs last season, he said he has no real interest to be known as a home-run hitter.
"I want production," he said. "I want to drive balls into the gaps, score runs and drive some runs in. You can have the home runs. Let me drive in some runs and set up the guys behind me."
Wright said the Mets' offense in general, when it's most dangerous, is not simply a series of one long home run after another.
"Our offense absolutely clicks when we keep the line moving," he said, meaning when the Mets are able to get a number of hitters on base. "We don't necessarily get the big towering home run -- we take some pitches, get on base."
The Mets' fateful fourth inning began with Beltran's line-drive double to the left-field wall. Delgado walked and Angel Pagan, in his first game as a Met, doubled in Beltran. Newcomer Ryan Church then scored Delgado with a line single.
Two outs later, Jose Reyes drove in the third run with a hard single. After Luis Castillo walked, that brought up Wright.
"I had taken some good swings on some offspeed pitches earlier, so I was looking for a fastball," he said.
Presto, he got it.
Far from a braggart, Wright later acknowledged: "Those two-out RBIs, those are what's golden. That's what wins games."
Church, the team's new right fielder, got his first official exposure to being part of a talent-filled lineup, and he was smiling afterward.
"Even though I was hitting in the seven hole, there was a possibility I might hit in the first inning," he said. "It's amazing how these guys are all professionals and how they go about each and every at-bat. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this."
The Mets sent five batters to the plate in the first inning. They missed a chance to score in that inning in part because Castillo, the second baseman, doesn't yet fully trust the health and conditioning of his legs. He walked, and when Beltran hit a two-out double, Castillo turned to look in the outfield as he was running and began to slow when he rounded third.
Castillo, who got a late start in Spring Training because of lingering knee problems, acknowledged afterward that it was the first time this season he's tried to run at full speed.
"I know with two outs, you've got to be running," he said. "But I don't have a chance. I don't have any chance."
In the glow of an easy victory, the missed opportunity could be ignored. Castillo is hoping the next time such a chance is there, he'll be able to seize it.
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.