Great Yates

Tyler Yates cautioned not to put too much stock into his last spring training start, a largely unsuccessful tuneup effort against the Montreal Expos in which he primarily worked on his sinker. <p> "They haven't seen the real Tyler Yates," the rookie hurler told reporters Thursday. Last night, he proved it, leading the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Expos in Puerto Rico.

You have to go back to the days of Paul Wilson to find a Mets starting pitcher who fires with the brand of heat that the 26-year-old was bringing last night. Wilson's arm flamed out around the beginning of the Bobby Valentine era at Shea Stadium, and Yates quickly reminded why having a flame-throwing righthander on a Mets staff was such a sight for sore eyes.

Making his major league debut after stealing the No. 4 starter's job from incumbent Jae Seo in spring training, Yates was truly terrific, edging his way out of a jam in the first inning by coercing Carl Everett to bounce back to the mound for an inning-ending double play.

"After that first inning, it was all fun and games," Yates told reporters.

Rearing back, Yates then made it look easy, reeling off eight outs in a row after the double play before Orlando Cabrera singled with one out in the fourth.

In six shutout innings, Yates allowed just five hits and struck out four. Displaying good control of his fastball and the sinker he fine-tuned against Montreal back in Florida, he walked none.

Yates' night missed its ultimate capper, as he missed out on notching his first big-league victory, the victim of a blown save on the hands of relievers Mike Stanton and Braden Looper. Montreal plated the tying runs in the home half of the eighth inning on Jose Vidro's two-run double to left off of Looper, who relieved Stanton in his second inning of work.

But Todd Zeile, a former Expo who seriously contemplated retirement before the Mets came calling, wound up playing the hero. The 38-year-old bench player – soon to be nicknamed "Money," thanks to Art Howe's proclamation last night – doubled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning off of losing pitcher Luis Ayala (0-2).

A night of firsts all around concluded when another hard-throwing New York newcomer, rookie Orber Moreno, polished off Montreal in the bottom half of the inning to earn his first major-league save.

Mets Briefs: RHP Scott Erickson is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 19. Major League Baseball allowed the Mets to backdate the injury retroactively. … C/1B Mike Piazza will make his first major-league start at first base on Sunday. … Brooklyn Cyclones manager Leron Lee resigned Thursday following an arrest in Port St. Lucie, Fla. According to a county sheriff's report, Lee is accused of unlawfully exposing himself on numerous occasions to a group of four female guests at the Holiday Inn hotel in Port St. Lucie. The Mets are seeking a replacement from within the organization.

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