New York Mets
Jason Bay went 1-for-4 in his return to the Mets following a concussion that torpedoed the second half of last season, then a rib-cage strain on the eve of this season that sent him to the DL.
The talk of Bay’s return was his final at-bat, when Astros right fielder Hunter Pence was charged with a four-base error for dropping a fly ball as Bay rounded the bases. Bay also had a ground-rule double and two strikeouts.
“The legs got a little heavy rounding third,” Bay said. “… Multiple choice listing of the possible outcomes for me today, I wasn’t picking those. I didn’t really feel a lot different. My first at-bat kind of felt like the first at-bat, almost like Opening Day. It was a little stiff. After I got that out of the way, I felt like I could relax a little bit and go out there.”
After rehabbing in Florida, there was at least curiosity how the rib-cage strain would hold up in cold weather. But Bay said he did not even think about it during the game because nothing felt irregular.
“It’s definitely not Port Charlotte out there with the weather,” Bay said, referring to the site of his final Florida State League rehab game with Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. “All in all, I was pleased. It was quite the layoff. And to get out there and get your feet back under you, it felt good.”
As for his health, Bay added: “I didn’t even notice the side. It didn’t slow me down. There was nothing there. That’s a good thing, I guess.”
• Perhaps it’s no coincidence that David Wright’s career-high 0-for-20 slump ended while facing left-hander J.A. Happ. Wright entered the game 4-for-8 with two homers in his career against the southpaw. The third baseman finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk, three RBIs and two runs scored.
“I know I haven’t got a hit in a while, but I’ve felt pretty comfortable up there,” said Wright, who had fun with his teammates by wearing a shirt with his own picture on it in the clubhouse afterward. “I’ve felt like I’ve had some good at-bats, hit some balls hard. So I’m glad I was able to get a couple of hits today and most importantly help the team win. We’ve been scuffling. So it was good to get a win. Hopefully this can kickstart us into the weekend.”
New York Mets
• The length of Mike Nickeas’ major league career is open for debate. In fact, he is likely to be demoted Tuesday when Ronny Paulino is due to be activated from the DL.
But Nickeas now has a major league homer to his credit. He opened the game’s scoring by taking Happ deep to left field.
“I’m about to touch second base and I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t even believe this is happening,’” Nickeas said. “It was a really cool moment for me. … For me, and where I’ve been throughout my career, it’s kind of one of those things like, ‘Is this going to happen for me?’ When that happened, it was just an amazing feeling.”
Nickeas did recover the ball. Spectator Zack Hample, who makes a habit of being the one to secure balls that go into the stands, traded the baseball for a bat after the game. Nickeas plans to mail the ball to his father, Mark, a former professional soccer player in the NASL.
• Chris Capuano, who limited the Astros to one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings, improved to 2-1. His pitches’ movement benefited from the gusty winds, he said.
“It was actually helping me get a little more movement on my fastball,” Capuano said.
Said Collins: “His command of his changeup was absolutely tremendous. The location, he kept it down, and I know the wind helped a lot of it, because there were some of them that just died -- just absolutely dipped out of the strike zone that they had to swing at. And he pounded the strike zone. That’s why he only had the 100 pitches in seven innings. He went after hitters.”