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"Little Matsui" comes up big in debut

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"Little Matsui" comes up big in debut

Postby WebHamster » Wed Apr 07, 2004 2:00 am

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kaz Matsui homered on the first pitch he saw in his Major League debut and finished 3-for-3, leading the New York Mets to a 7-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at Turner Field.

Matsui, a Japanese import, drove in a run in each of his first three at-bats with a double in the second and a walk in the third. He added another two-base hit in the fifth before being intentionally walked in the seventh.

Mike Piazza added a solo shot for New York while Jason Phillips and newcomer Mike Cameron each scored twice. Phillips reached base in four of his five plate appearances with two doubles and two walks.

Tom Glavine (1-0) started for the Mets and yielded two runs on six hits in six innings of work for the win, his first against his former team after losing four straight decisions last season against Atlanta.

"It certainly ranks up there with some of the wins that I've had," Glavine said. "I certainly don't want to overplay it or anything like that, but when you beat your former team, obviously there is some sort of gratification -- particularly after how poorly I pitched against them last year."

Both Braves runs came across in the first inning on a home run by Marcus Giles, but Glavine settled down from there, retiring 17 of the next 21 batters he faced.

Atlanta starter Russ Ortiz (0-1) lasted just 2 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and six runs -- three unearned due to errors by Mark DeRosa and Rafael Furcal.

Matsui showed no Opening Day jitters, calmly taking Ortiz' first offering over the center field fence for the early 1-0 advantage.

"I was kind of looking for a fast ball type of pitch," Matsui said through an interpreter. "The second it went over, I thought I was really running fast. I was very, very excited. It was an excitement that I have never felt in the past."

Giles' blast to center in the Atlanta half of the first came on the heels of a Furcal single, giving the Braves a 2-1 edge.

The Mets quickly jumped back on top with a pair of runs in the top half of the second inning. Phillips doubled into the gap in left and moved to third on a groundout by Karim Garcia. Then, with two outs, Glavine hit one hard down the third-base line that was picked nicely by DeRosa, but his throw to first was off the mark, sending Phillips home.

Matsui followed with a liner down the right-field line to plate Glavine and put the Mets ahead for good, at 3-2.

Piazza, who just missed a home run in his first at-bat, belted a solo homer to left. The run was the first of three in the third frame.

New York subsequently loaded the bases on a single, walk, and an error. Ortiz the issued a free pass to Ty Wigginton to score Cameron, ending the day for Ortiz.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox summoned Juan Cruz from the bullpen, who promptly walked Matsui to force in another run, making it 6-2.

The Mets continued with yet another run in the fourth. Cameron walked and Phillips got him home with his second double of the night.

The Braves bats were silenced from that point on as David Weathers came on for Glavine to throw two perfect innings.

New closer Braden Looper threw a scoreless ninth to close things out.

"It's good to get the first win under our belts," said Piazza. "We hit the ball well tonight obviously, and took advantage of some pitches over the plate."
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