New Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway has to know they all won’t be this fun – or this easy. Everything fell into place for the Mets this afternoon in a 9-4 victory over St. Louis, just the way it should be on Opening Day.
“It feels great,’’ Callaway said. “What a ballpark. All of us, the coaches, were sitting there going, man, this is something special. This is a different place than most.’’
A day that began with the sad news of the death of franchise icon Rusty Staub began with everything breaking right for the Mets, who lost their first eight Opening Days, but have gone 37-12 on the season’s first game since.
At 37-20 (.649) they have the highest Opening Day winning percentage in the Major Leagues. So much went right for the Mets today, beginning with Noah Syndergaard, who struck out ten and didn’t strike out a hitter for the seventh time in his career, second only to Tom Seaver in club history.
Despite the numbers, Syndergaard wasn’t happy with giving up four runs on six hits in four innings.
“I thought it was a great team win. A lot of fun,’’ Syndergaard said. “Kind of kicking myself in the butt for allowing that (Jose) Martinez guy to get a little too comfortable, but that won’t happen again. … I didn’t have command. In the last game (of) the spring I was comfortable, so I don’t know what happened.”
Syndergaard had thrown a manageable 52 pitches entering the fifth inning, but finished with 85, which is too many for a starter who wants to pitch deep into games.
Twice the Mets gave Syndergaard a lead he gave up, something else he vowed to improve on.
Complementing Syndergaard was an offense that proved power isn’t the only way to win.
“I just wanted to make sure the guys were in a good position to succeed,’’ Callaway said of his batting order featuring Syndergaard batting eighth, Amed Rosario ninth, Brandon Nimmo leading off and Yoenis Cespedes second. “We wanted to just make sure that we thought everything out when we set that lineup. We’ll try and do that every single time.’’
Callaway’s thinking was to stack the Mets’ speed – Rosario and Nimmo – in front of Cespedes.
“It made sense,’’ Callaway said. “It’s not as much about the pitcher as it is who’s hitting at the top of our lineup, and who’s going to hit ninth for us. It’s not going to be something that happens every game.’’
Rosario responded with two hits, including a two-run single and Nimmo reached base four times on two walks and two hits.
“It was a blast,’’ Nimmo said. “I was anxious to get into this game. Whatever they give you, take it. I think that’s the mentality of this team right now.’’
Mets’ hitters struck out eight times, but more importantly, drew nine walks. They also went 5-for-15 with RISP and drove in six runs with two outs.
Coming through were Cespedes (three RBI on two singles); Jay Bruce (RBI single), Kevin Plawecki (two hits and an RBI) and Adrian Gonzalez (two hits and two walks).
“I put our lineup against anyone,’’ said Bruce spouting Opening Day confidence. “We have veteran guys. We have young guys with so much talent.’’
And, today it panned out.