Brandon Nimmo’s two-run double lifts Mets to opening day win over Marlins

Tribune Content Agency

MIAMI — The opening day matchup in Miami was exactly what you want to see as a baseball fan. Two aces were on the hill for the Mets and their NL East foe, the Miami Marlins.

Max Scherzer might be a decade older than reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara but he’s still one of the aces that other pitchers have to chase.

Neither pitcher gave a whole lot, and the Mets took what they could but still ended up tied at the end of the sixth inning. It was when they got to the Marlins’ bullpen that they were able to get some separation with a two-run double by Brandon Nimmo in the seventh inning to beat the Fish, 5-3, on Thursday at LoanDepot Park.

Mets fans were counting on Scherzer for a big outing to get the team off to a strong start. The day started with the news that Justin Verlander would be skipping his first two starts because of a teres major strain, and the club already lost closer Edwin Diaz and left-handed starter Jose Quintana during spring training.

All three of them signed hefty offseason contracts and fans began to panic, thinking all that money was going for naught and the World Series aspirations were slipping away before the team had even played an inning.

But Nimmo also signed a new contract over the winter, one that will likely make him a Met for life, and he delivered, going 1 for 3 with three RBIs, a walk, and a run scored. Jeff McNeil, who signed an extension to stay with the Mets through at least 2026 in January, went 2 for 4 with a run scored.

Scherzer allowed three earned on four hits, walked two and struck out six over six innings to earn the win.

Alcantara, who gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits, walked four and struck out two over 5 2/3 innings of work to take a no-decision.

Drew Smith pitched a scoreless inning of relief, pitching around a leadoff double, Brooks Raley pitched a scoreless eight with two strikeouts in his Mets debut. In place of Diaz, the Mets turned to David Robertson to convert the save. In his Mets debut, the former Yankees closer pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save.

The Mets carried a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning but things quickly went downhill for Scherzer. Until that point, the right-hander had been pounding the zone and pitching efficiently. But a leadoff double by Jacob Stallings changed the course of the game. Two batters later, Luis Arraez drove in Stallings with a double to the center-field warning track, and with two out and one on, Garrett Cooper took Scherzer back into the stands to tie the game with a two-run homer.

The Mets eked out three runs over six innings, with one in the third and the two in the sixth, when McNeil hit a perfectly placed single up the middle shortly after being assessed a strike call for a timeout that he didn’t call. Pete Alonso, who had walked ahead of him, didn’t get back to first base on time and McNeil took offense to the strike call. He retaliated by chopping a slider past a diving Joey Wendle and Arraez to score Starling Marte to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The Mets have won 14 of their last 18 openers, including six of the last seven. Much like last season, they showed resolve and an ability to come back in the late innings. Their stars played like stars, which is exactly what the team needed.