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Mets vs. Reds 12:35 PM Start


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Tim McCarver used to marvel at the intelligence and good timing of his buddy Bob Gibson.


"Gibby's smart," McCarver said. "He always pitches on the day the other team doesn't score."


Now, Oliver Perez isn't Gibson -- in a number of ways. But when Perez makes his first start of a season, he seems to choose the best day -- a day when the other team's offense goes AWOL and his own offense goes off.


Perez is to make his 2009 debut on Wednesday afternoon against the Reds in the Mets' third game. And based on what has happened in his first starts the past two years, the Mets are likely to fly on to Miami rather pleased with their first '09 endeavors.


Perez has a 2-0 record in his season debuts with the Mets; moreover, he has allowed one run in 13 innings in those starts and the Mets have outscored their opponents, 24-1. He allowed five hits and -- drum roll -- no walks in seven innings against the Braves in Atlanta on April 6, 2007, as the Mets won, 11-1. And last April 2, he shut out the Marlins for six innings on five hits and one walk in a game the Mets won, 13-0, in Miami.


Indeed, in Perez's three most recent season debuts, the first with the Pirates in 2006, he has two victories, no losses, a 1.00 ERA, he has allowed 17 baserunners -- four on walks -- and struck out 23 batters in 18 innings.


Evidently, Early Ollie is Good Ollie.


But who can say for sure? The pitcher who threw merely 14 strikes among his 37 pitches against the Red Sox on Friday night at Citi Field clearly was Bad Ollie. He was to have thrown two innings. Instead, he allowed two hits, four walks and six runs (five unearned) in two-thirds of an inning. Manager Jerry Manuel referred to it as "that type of performance" and said "some concern" existed.


Manuel cited the weather conditions for Perez's outing on Friday, but the forecast for Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati calls for temperatures in the 50s. Rain is possible late in the day.


"We got his hands all warmed up the other day," pitching coach Dan Warthen said, kiddingly. "But really, he had a great bullpen [session] Monday. That wouldn't mean anything if I said it about Johan [santana] or [John] Maine or Derek Lowe. I had Lowe with the Dodgers, and he could have an awful bullpen and then come back and throw great in his game. But with Ollie, a good bullpen means something. It means he can repeat his pitches. And that's a good sign."

Pitching matchup

NYM: LHP Oliver Perez (10-7, 4.22 ERA in 2008)

Perez has a 4-2 record and a 3.91 ERA in 10 career starts at Great American Ball Park despite allowing nine home runs and pitching only 53 innings. He beat the Reds at Shea Stadium and lost to them in Cincinnati last season, and he now has a 9-4 career record against them. One of the two shutouts and three complete games Perez has pitched in his career came against the Reds, but that was in 2004, when he was a member of the Pirates. Perez allowed four home runs in 17 2/3 innings in four starts against big league competition in his uneven Spring Training, which was interrupted by the World Baseball Classic.


CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (15-11, 4.77 ERA in 2008)

Arroyo has been quite effective against the Mets in his three seasons with the Reds. In his career, he has a 4-2 record with two complete games and a 3.48 ERA in seven starts against them. One of the complete games came as a member of the Pirates in 2001. Arroyo talked his way back to starting after he was originally scheduled to start on Sunday. He received a cortisone shot to remove the discomfort from carpal tunnel syndrome in his right forearm. Arroyo threw 40 pitches in the bullpen on Monday and looked good enough to the coaching staff to keep his assignment.


The Mets expect the absence of Tim Redding to extend into late April, perhaps early May. Redding had been shut down in Spring Training because of weakness in his throwing shoulder. He sensed he had regained his strength before the team broke camp last week. ... The Mets' Opening Day payroll, as reported by USA Today on Monday, is reflective of neither what the club would pay if the roster were to remain unchanged all season nor how the Mets measure it. The report put the Mets' payroll at $149.9 million, but that figure reflects the $14 million owed Gary Sheffield, for whom the Mets are responsible for merely $400,000. Moreover, the Mets base their figures on what they anticipate paying in salary and bonuses. The bonuses earned over six months are, of course, estimates. And there is no way to factor in personnel changes. A rookie, earning the big league minimum, replacing a well-compensated veteran, will alter the estimates. ... The figure Major League Baseball attributes to the Opening Day payroll is $138.1 million.


This date in Mets history -- April 9

The 1963 Mets were shut out on Opening Day by Ernie Broglio of the Cardinals, who pitched a two-hitter -- surrendering both hits to Larry Burright -- in a 7-0 game at the Polo Grounds. The Mets were shut out four times in their first eight games that year, all losses, and scored just three runs in their first five games. ... Nolan Ryan earned the first of his three career saves on this date in 1969, working the last 1 2/3 innings in the Mets' 9-5 victory against the Expos at Shea Stadium. ... Gary Carter marked his Mets debut on this date in 1985, hitting a game-winning home run against Neil Allen in the 10th inning. The Mets won that Opening Day game, 6-5, against the Cardinals at Shea. ... On Opening Day in 1990, Jeff Innis, the Mets' sixth reliever, surrendered a monster two-run home run to Bobby Bonilla of the Pirates in the eighth inning of a 12-3 loss. The ball landed well beyond the right-field bullpen. Innis walked off the distance the following day and estimated, "The ball landed closer to Neptune than Pluto." ... On this date in 1992, Anthony Young pitched a complete game in the Mets' 7-1 victory in St. Louis. Young won in relief 10 days later, but didn't win again until July 28, 1993, by which time he had lost 27 consecutive decisions, the Major League record. His streak-ending victory came in relief in a 5-4 game against the Marlins at Shea. ... Mike Piazza hit two home runs and drove in five runs in the Mets' 9-4 victory against the Braves at Shea on this date in 2001. ... Double-switched into the batting order three innings earlier, Todd Zeile doubled in the decisive run in the 11th inning against Luis Ayala in the Mets' 3-2 victory against the Expos in San Juan, P.R., on this date in 2004.



Ollie's line today:


7 IP, 2 ER, 2 BBs and 8 K's. Write it down.

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