Mets baseball is back, baby! It may just be one game in a long season, but there’s something so incredibly satisfying about a decisive opening day win. At least for one day, the Mets are in first place.
The day started off on a sad note with news that the beloved former Mets player, broadcaster and all-around great guy, Rusty Staub had passed away. Announcers Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, who were close friends of “Le Grande Orange,” were noticeably somber at the start of the game and the fans bowed their heads in a moment of silence for both Staub and Ed Charles, of the ’69 Miracle Mets, who passed away earlier this month. Alas, the 2018 Mets gave the packed stadium plenty of reasons to smile and made Rusty and Ed proud with a 9-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
As Howie Rose introduced the players to the crowd, new Manager Mickey Callaway all but sprinted onto the field, setting the tone for the season. Noah Syndergaard did his part to set the tone for the ballyhooed and beleaguered Mets pitching staff. He was untouchable for seven of the nine Cardinals hitters and struck out 10 without surrendering a walk in six solid innings. The four runs came courtesy of a barely fair home run off the bat of long-time nemesis Yadier Molina and three hits including a home run from the clumsy fielding, but solid hitting first baseman Jose Martinez. Martinez, who beat out incumbent Jed Gyorko with a hot spring, oddly seems to have Syndergaard’s number. Syndergaard never hit triple digits, but his 98 mph fastball had a lot of movement and his slider was filthy. He mixed in a nice dose of curveballs and sinking changeups that look like Greg Maddux fastballs as well. What little defense was required of the Mets fielders was solid as we weren’t scored any errors.
On offense, the Mets got a lot of help from Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, who walked six and hit a batter. First baseman, Jose Martinez made a costly error that led to the Mets first run. Following Molina’s annoying off-the-foul-pole home run, the Mets struck back with a Yoenis Cespedes‘ 2-run single in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead. Jose Martinez tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, before the Mets offense exploded in the 5th inning. Adrian Gonzalez RBI double knocked Martinez out of the game, but reliever Matt Bowman brought a 5-gallon can of gasoline and a box of kitchen matches to the hill. With two outs, Amed Rosario knocked in two with a clutch single and then Cespedes and Bruce both followed with RBI singles of their own to put the score at 8-3 after five innings.
Syndergaard surrendered a solo home run to Jose Martinez in the sixth before retiring the side and ending his day after six innings. Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak and Jeurys Familia each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out, but not before Kevin Plawecki drove in an extra insurance run in the eighth.
The Mets totaled 12 hits and nine walks and every starter got on base at least once. Gonzalez and Plawecki each reached base four times and Brandon Nimmo three times. Cespedes drove in three runs. This game was full of quirky highlights too, like Bruce stealing a base, Gsellman striking out the side in relief, and Asdrubal Cabrera turning a walk into a triple with some aggressive base running.
The Mets are off tomorrow so savor this win. It’s a good one.