If the Mets' marketing people are smart, "I Like Ike" T-shirts will be on sale tonight at the Citi Field souvenir stands. The Mets might as well capitalize on one of the few bits of good news they have had in recent seasons.
First baseman Ike Davis made his major-league debut on Monday night and helped the Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Cubs by going 2-for-4 with an RBI after having his contract purchased from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day. It was something to excite Mets' fans who have suffered through late-season collapses in both 2007 and 2008, a 92-loss season in 2009 and a 4-8 start this season prior to Monday's victory.
Davis, meanwhile, continued to obliterate the scouting reports. The book on the 23-year-old son of former major-league reliever Ron Davis coming into spring training was that he would need a full season at Buffalo to make adjustments, primarily learning to hit breaking and off-speed pitches and hanging in better against left-handers.
However, Davis showed in spring training and during the first two weeks of the International League season that he was making rapid progress. Thus, the Mets did not hesitate to call him up Monday, a day after designating Mike Jacobs, who had been platooning with Fernando Tatis at first base, for assignment. Davis' performance Monday night showed that non-fastballs and lefties no longer baffle him.
In his first plate appearance in the second inning, Davis saw a slider, a changeup, a sinker, and another change from Cubs starter Randy Wells before getting his first fastball, which he took for a ball. Davis then flared a soft single into right field on a 2-2 changeup.
Wells refused to challenge Davis during his second time up in the fifth inning as he threw a sinker then a slider that resulted in a routine fly out to left field. Wells came with a first-pitch fastball an inning later, though, and Davis nearly made him pay by hitting the 89-mph pitch to deep right-center field where right fielder Xavier Nady ran it down. It would have been a home run in many other major-league parks but not in cavernous Citi Field.
Davis faced his biggest challenge in the seventh inning when Cubs manager Lou Piniella brought in left-hander Sean Marshall to face the rookie with runners on first and third. Marshall started off the at-bat with three straight curveballs, falling behind 2-1 then Davis laced a slider into center field for a single and his first career RBI.
In all, Davis saw 13 pitches and only two were fastball. Yet he managed a pair of hits on non-fastballs, making for a solid debut for Davis and good news for the Mets, whose first basemen had combined for the second-worst OPS (516) in the National League prior to Monday, ahead of only the Pirates (391).
More nights like Monday and the Citi Field denizens will certainly have plenty of reason to like Ike.