MIAMI — Garrett Cooper is the only remaining player from the Miami Marlins’ Opening Day roster in 2018, the first team assembled under the franchise’s current ownership group led by principal owner and chairman Bruce Sherman.
The first baseman has seen up close and personal everything the organization has undergone over the course of the past five years.
The roster teardown. The hitting rock bottom. The one blip of hope during a pandemic-shortened season only to be followed by two more lackluster (to put it nicely) seasons. And now, finally, entering a season where the team is hoping for a semblance of positivity, a chance to — maybe — finally start moving in the right direction under a new manager and with a roster that’s deeper than it has been during his tenure with the club but also in one of the toughest division in baseball.
In several instances Thursday, as the Marlins began their 31st season as a whole and their sixth under this regime, Cooper did his part to give the Marlins a chance to take an season-opening win from the New York Mets. He made at least three quality plays on defense and socked a game-tying, two-run home run to right-center field in the sixth inning.
But the Mets scored two runs in the seventh against Marlins reliever Tanner Scott and Miami could not muster another rally in a 5-3 loss at loanDepot park in front of an announced crowd of 31,397.
And so the Skip Schumaker managerial era of the Marlins begins 0-1. Miami is also 12-19 all-time on Opening Day.
Brandon Nimmo delivered the final big blow, with a two-run double on a line drive against Scott to right-center field that skipped past Jazz Chisholm Jr., playing his first regular-season game in center field, and to the wall.
Prior to that, the Mets scored three runs over 5 2/3 innings against Marlins ace and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, who gave up three hits and walked four.
Miami’s revamped offense, which includes the additions of steady contact hitters Luis Arraez and Jean Segura, struggled early against Mets ace Max Scherzer. The Marlins had just one hit through the first five innings — a leadoff single to left from Arraez — before breaking through for three runs in the sixth. Catcher Jacob Stallings hit a double to left-center and scored on an Arraez double to right-center. Cooper then belted out his home run, a 422-foot shot to right-center, to tie the game and give Miami a momentary glimmer of life.
It didn’t last long.
The Mets scored their two runs in the seventh and held the Marlins scoreless for the final three innings.