Volquez's brief start spells trouble for Padres
Righty lasts three-plus innings on Opening Day, takes loss at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- The month of March was one blissful ride after another for Edinson Volquez, who played a major role in the Dominican Republic winning the World Baseball Classic.
If April is going to be more of the same for the right-hander, he will need for it to get better in a hurry, especially after Monday's Opening Day dud against the Mets.
Volquez yielded six earned runs in three-plus innings as the Mets ran away with an 11-2 victory over the Padres in front of a sold-out crowd of 41,053 fans at Citi Field.
"I expected to do better than that today," Volquez said.
So did the rest of the Padres, who couldn't in good faith wholly pin this loss on Volquez, who faced two batters in the fourth inning before leaving. He allowed six hits, three walks and had four strikeouts.
After Volquez, the bullpen allowed five earned runs, with relief pitcher Brad Brach allowing a grand slam in the seventh inning. The offense wasn't much better, as the Padres finished with four hits against four Mets pitchers, including starter Jon Niese.
"Bad game," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Niese allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. He had two hits, walked and scored a run as part of a 13-hit attack for the Mets.
"He has a little movement on some of his pitches and a lot on some others," said Padres leadoff hitter Chris Denorfia. "He moves his ball around a bit. He's a tough guy to square up."
Volquez, who led the National League in walks a year ago, allowed a two-out walk to John Buck in the second inning that was followed by an RBI double by No. 8 hitter Ruben Tejada and an RBI single from Niese.
"The ball-strike ratio wasn't great, he pitched behind in the count to be successful," Black said. "There were a lot of two-out hits. He just couldn't make pitches at critical times."
In the third inning, Volquez had a runner on second base with two outs before allowing an RBI single to Marlon Byrd. After walking Lucas Duda, Buck followed with an RBI single that made it 4-1. Volquez was not long for the fourth inning, walking Niese and allowing a double to Collin Cowgill.
Of the 11 runs the Mets scored, nine occurred with two outs.
"It's what we did last year in the first half that made us so competitive. We grind out at-bats. We don't give up with two strikes, we don't give up with two outs, especially with guys in scoring position," said Mets manager Terry Collins.
In his 32 starts last season, only once did Volquez pitch three or fewer innings -- and oddly enough, that start came against the Mets on Aug. 4 when he lasted 1 2/3 innings.
After the game, Volquez admonished himself for not using his changeup more than he did Monday.
"It's my second-best pitch," he said. "I feel good with my curveball, but I've got to throw that [changeup] more."
The Padres, who are off Tuesday before the series resumes Wednesday, got three innings of relief from Anthony Bass, one of two long relievers -- Andrew Cashner being the other -- among the seven pitchers in the bullpen. That saved Black from burning through a handful of relievers.
Brach, who followed Bass, struck out the first batter he faced in the seventh inning but then loaded the bases. Cowgill, the Mets' leadoff hitter, changed that quickly enough, as he jumped on a fastball up in the strike zone, lining a grand slam to left field for an 11-2 advantage.
There were few offensive highlights to be had.
The Padres got their first run in the third inning, when Carlos Quentin bounced a two-out RBI single into center field off Niese. But the Padres wouldn't get another hit until the sixth, when Yonder Alonso jumped on a Niese curveball, sending it into the netting just beyond the right-field fence.
Two batters later, rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko -- who later moved to third base on a double-switch -- lined a curveball down the left-field line for his first Major League hit, a double.
"It felt good. ... Niese sort of had my number, but he left one up and I hooked it down the line," Gyorko said.