Thursday, April 07, 2011

By the numbers: Mets home openers

We all know the success the Mets have had on Opening Day since losing eight of their first nine.

But with my 12th consecutive and 13th overall opener coming up tomorrow (the Mets are 9-3 when I've been there), I wondered how they've done in their first home game over the years. So I crunched the numbers ...

In the 49 openers leading up to this year, they've gone 31-18 (.633), edging opponents by a cumulative score of 201-189 (an average of 4.1-3.9 per game). A total of 1,907,740 fans have attended the games, averaging 38,933 per game. The contests have averaged 2 hours, 47 minutes, though nine of the last 10 have gone longer than three hours.

One of the more interesting openers to me was in 1997, when the Mets (and Yankees) opened with doubleheaders because of rain in New York (amazing that both the Mets and Yankees were scheduled to open at home on the same day, too). This twin bill was news to me because, as a junior in college in Indiana in the spring of '97, I guess I didn't follow the day-to-day ins and outs of the season as closely as I do now.

Tomorrow will be the Mets' first Friday home opener since 1995. They're 4-4 opening up their home schedule on a Friday, though they've won four of their last five. The full day-by-day breakdown:

Sunday, 0-1
Monday, 13-6
Tuesday, 9-7
Wednesday, 3-0
Thursday, 1-0
Friday, 4-4
Saturday, 1-0

Then there are the opponents. The Cardinals and Expos/Nationals have been the most frequent denizens of the opposite dugout, nine times each, so the Nats will claim the top spot with their 10th appearance tomorrow. In all, 12 different teams have appeared:

Atlanta, 2-1 (Mets' record)
Chicago Cubs, 1-2
Colorado, 1-0
FLorida, 2-0
Houston, 1-0
Los Angeles, 0-1
Montreal/Washington, 5-4
Philadelphia, 7-1
Pittsburgh, 3-5
San Diego, 1-1
San Francisco, 1-1
St. Louis, 7-2

The only clubs who haven't been here for the home opener are the Diamondbacks, Brewers and Reds, none of which is all that surprising: Arizona has only been around since '98, the Brewers only in the National League since then, and the Reds always open the season in Cincinnati, so they've never been an option in the 25 years when the Mets are home on Opening Day.

Six of the home openers have gone to extra innings (three wins, three losses), and in home openers that weren't on the season's Opening Day, the Mets are 13-11 -- leaving them at 18-7 on Opening Day in New York.

And for individual achievements, the Mets' winningest pitcher in home openers is the man who holds the Major League record for most Opening Day starts: Tom Seaver, who was 6-0 at Shea with the April bunting. Following him are Jerry Koosman (3-0) and Dwight Gooden (3-2). Al Leiter (2-0) is the only other pitcher -- Met or opponent -- with more than a single victory.

Three visiting pitchers have lost more than one opener (Gooden is the only Met to have done so). Steve Rogers lost with the Expos in 1976 and '78 and Livan Hernandez dropped decisions with the Marlins in '99 and the Nationals in '06. The losingest pitcher? That would be Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, all with the Phillies: '72, '75, '82 and '83. Seaver got the wins in '72 and '75 and was the starter in '83, but the win went to Doug Sisk after Seaver was pulled and the Mets scored twice in the seventh in a 2-0 victory.

Here's hoping for more good numbers tomorrow, when R.A. Dickey gets the start in his first Mets opener against Jordan Zimmermann in his first, and the Nats franchise's 10th.

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