The New York Mets' 22-year-old Dominican-born right-hander Rafael Montero split the 2012 season between Class-A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie. He was making his third appearance and second start for NY this Spring this afternoon in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field. Montero had a combined 19 walks (1.40 BB/9) and 110 Ks (8.11 K/9) in 20 starts and 122.0 innings pitched last season. In his first inning of work today, Monterogave up a line drive to right by Danny Espinosa that fell in for a one-out single, but a 5-4-3 DP off Tyler Moore's bat ended a scoreless top of the inning.
27-year-old Nationals' left-hander Gio Gonzalez gave up a two-out double by Marlon Byrd in the Mets' first, but needed just 13 pitches to complete his own first scoreless, with Ike Davis lining out to left to end the frame.
Chad Tracy singled to right to start the Nats' second, but a fly to center off Wilson Ramos' bat and a sharp grounder to third ended Rafael Montero's second scoreless with the Mets turning another inning-ending 5-4-3. A leadoff walk came back to haunt Gio Gonzalez in New York's second. A single through the right side of the infield moved Mets' catcher John Buck around to third after the free pass, and a fly to center by Zach Lutz brought NY's first run in, 1-0 Mets. Gonzalez was at 34 pitches total two outs later when he struck the opposing pitcher with a cruel two-strike bender. Rafael Montero was up to 35 pitches in the third after he hit Gio Gonzalez and walked Roger Bernadina with two down, but the 39th pitch he threw got Danny Espinosa swinging to end the right-hander's third scoreless. 1-0 NY.
Collin Cowgill's pop to right center got over Steve Lombardozzi behind second and fell in front of the charging Roger Bernadina and right fielder Micah Owings for a single, but the Mets' runner was erased on a 4-6-3 DP from Justin Turner and a lineout to left from Marlon Byrd ended an eight-pitch inning by Gio Gonzalez that had the Nats' lefty at 42 pitches overall after three.
A 2-2 slider outside from Rafael Montero got Tyler Moore swinging for the first out of the fourth. Chad Tracy hit a 408 ft double to center in the next at bat, but the center field wall in Tradition Field is 410 feet from home, so he settled for two-base hit to the deepest part of the park. Two outs later, Tracy was stranded at third however, after a fly to right from Wilson Ramos and a swinging K from Carlos Rivero. 1-0 Mets.
After a weak groundout to short from Ike Davis, Gio Gonzalez got John Buck looking with a 78 mph backdoor bender that was called strike three for out no.2 of the left-hander's fourth inning of work. A full-count curve to Duda fooled the left-handed hitter too and fell in for the second-straight called strike three and Gio Gonzalez's third K in 4.0 IP. The 15-pitch inning had Gonzalez at 59 after four, but the Mets led 1-0.
Rafael Montero left the game with a runner on second after Micah Owings lined his 65th pitch off the left field wall for a one-out doub-- make that a single, as Lucas Duda played the friendly bounce off the wall and fired it back in to hold Owings (who wasn't exactly sprinting out of the box) at first. [ed. note - "Think he's dealing with leg issues."] Gio Gonzalez bunted Owings' pinch runner Jimmy Van Ostrand over, out no.2, and Pedro Feliciano took over on the mound for Montero, hitting Roger Bernadina before retiring Danny Espinosa on a grounder to third. 1-0 New York after four and a half. Gio Gonzalez was up to 71 pitches after a 12-pitch bottom of the fifth in which Jamie Hoffman reached on a two-out throwing error by 25-year-old Nats' shortstop prospect Francisco Soriano. A fly to center by Collin Cowgill stranded the runner, however, and had Gonzalez through five in which he allowed just one earned run.
Francisco Soriano handled the two straight groundouts to short that started the Mets' sixth, making strong throws on both after committing the throwing error in the fifth. Gio Gonzalez was up to 83 pitches when he lost control of a 2-2 curve that buzzed Ike Davis' tower. Davis hit a broken bat single to left-center with two down, but Steve Lombardozzi made a leaping play on a line drive to second by John Buck to end Gonzalez's sixth inning of work after 85 pitches.
Prospect Time: Steve Lombardozzi and Jimmy Van Ostrand hit back-to-back singles off the Mets' Josh Edgin to start the seventh. Mets' first baseman Frank Lutz bobbled a grounder to first off Jose Lozada's bat, thinking double play before he had the ball. E 3 and bases loaded, but Josh Edgin got Roger Bernadina looking with an 0-2 fastball outside for out no.1 before Francisco Soriano's fly to left tied it. 1-1 game with two down. A walk to Justin Bloxom loaded the bases again, but Jerad Head K'd on a check-swing strike three to leave the bases loaded and the game tied.
Five pitches into the bottom of the seventh inning it was untied when Lucas Duda launched a 3-1 fastball to right for a leadoff, solo HR off Nats' right-hander Drew Storen. Storen gave up a one-out walk to Ruben Tejada, but was able to pop up Mike Baxter and get Kirk Nieuwenhuis looking to end the inning. 2-1 New York.
Carlos Rivero doubled to center of Mets' lefty Robert Carson in the top of the eighth, but two outs later he was stranded at second after Billy Burns and James Van Ostrand were retired. Zach Duke took over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth. A leadoff single by Mets' outfielder Andrew Brown and a HBP on Brandon Hicks put two on with no one out and Travis D'Arnaud got a one-out, pinch hit appearance after Brian Bixler K'd and took the first pitch he saw from Duke to center for an RBI single that made it 3-1 Mets after eight. 11 for 31 this Spring for the 24-year-old D'Arnaud.
Jose Lozada reached on an error by Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada and one out later went first-to-third™ on a single to right by Francisco Soriano. Mets' right-hander Brandon Lyon got Justin Bloxom swinging, however, and got Jerad Head to pop out to foul territory off third to end the game. 3-1 Mets final.