By Howard Koplowitz
New York Mets fans held out hope for a promising season as they flocked to Citi Field for their team’s home opener Friday, but for one day the Amazin’s let them down in a 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.
A sell-out crowd of 41,095 braved temperatures in the low 40s, including some characters sporting orange Afro wigs and Mets flags worn as capes.
Corona resident Wellington Fernandez, 23, and his father, Norberto Hernandez, dressed up their 5-year-old mutt Coffee in a Mets cap, sunglasses and a pipe for all to see prior to the start of the game.
“We watch the games, she lays around,” Fernandez said of his dog. “Hopefully, [the season] goes good to make the dog happy.”
The Nationals got off to a good start, getting ahead of the Mets 2-0 in the top of the second inning after pitcher Jordan Zimmermann’s two-RBI single.
The Mets first baseman drove in David Wright with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth to put the Mets within a run, but struggling starting pitcher R.A. Dickey walked in a run with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning.
Mets left fielder Lucas Duda responded with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 3-2, but Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez drove in two runs with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and shortstop Ian Desmond followed with an RBI groundout, causing most of the sell-out crowd to empty the ballpark.
Diehard Met fan Mike Wilder of Baldwin, L.I., was excited about the Mets home opener, noting he got married last year at Citi Field.
Wilder said Met fan favorite Wright autographed a picture for him and signed it, “Trish, will you marry Mike?,” but joked she wondered whether the proposal was to marry the third baseman.ï»¿
“She said, ‘Either way it’s “Yes,”’” Wilder said.
Jeremy Horen, 25, of Fresh Meadows, who has attended every Mets opener since high school, said he had realistic expectations for the Mets — in other words, a losing season.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think they’re going to have a very good year, but at the same time that’s OK because ticket prices will be cheaper,” he said. “After all these years of expectations and they let you down, it’s good not to have those expectations.”
Springfield Gardens resident Gary Thones, who said he makes sure to be at every Mets home opener, was more optimistic.
“I’m looking forward to the season,” he said. “Hopefully, if the players should concentrate on the fundamentals, they should do well. I’m a little concerned about the [Philadelphia] Phillies improving, but I’m hopeful they’ll have a respectable finish.”
Eddie Boison, a Bronx resident known as “Cowbell Man” who has attended every Mets opening day since 1995, said he thinks his team will do better than expected and may have a shot at the playoffs.
“It all depends on pitching. I think pitching and injuries, that’s the two keys to the season,” Boison said. “You never know, man. I’m a believer. I’ve always been a believer. If they make the playoffs, it’s a great step.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.