It wasn't his best day, but it was a fun day for Nick Tropeano.
The West Islip native, a September call-up for the Houston Astros, got a chance Sunday to start the final game of the season for the Astros against the Mets at Citi Field with, by his estimate, more than 100 family members, friends, former teammates and well-wishers cheering for him.
"Warming up, you could hear them screaming, 'Trope!' and that kind of stuff," said Tropeano, who played college baseball for Stony Brook. "You know, good, bad, win, lose, it's kind of a celebration for me just being here, and making it up here, playing the New York Mets -- it's surreal. It's good."
Tropeano did not have his best stuff as the Astros lost to the Mets, 8-3. The 6-4 righthander went five innings and took the loss, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks. He had one strikeout, fanning Mets slugger Lucas Duda to end the first inning.
"He did a good job," Houston interim manager Tom Lawless said of Tropeano. "I mean, with all the people, family and friends, he was probably feeling a little extra pressure, because he's pitching with all his friends and family in the building, but he did well. He battled. He made a couple bad pitches where they got good wood on him, but other than that, he pitched his game. And kept himself around the game."
Tropeano gave up single runs in the first and third innings, and two in the fifth. But he managed to keep the Astros close while he was in the game. After trailing 1-0 and 2-1, Houston twice rallied to tie the score. And even after the Mets went up 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Astros were able to cut the deficit to 4-3 in the sixth before a couple of late Mets homers against the bullpen put the game out of reach.
Tropeano, a fifth-round pick by the Astros in 2011 after winning 25 games at Stony Brook and twice being named the America East Pitcher of the Year, finished the season 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA in his four big-league starts for Houston.
He earned his call-up after going 9-5 with a 3.03 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and Tropeano now will set his sights on doing what he can to make it back to the big leagues with the Astros on Opening Day next season.
"Yeah. I'm coming in with that confidence that I'm going to make the team out of spring training," he said. "I'm going to come in as fit as I can be and come in, work hard and stay focused."