The Mets continued to be the most successful franchise in baseball’s storied history as they beat the Braves 6-0, improving their record to an astounding 36-20 after Game 1 of their 56 seasons. And would you believe they started 0-8 on Opening Day? I’ll do the math for you, that’s 36-12 since 1970. They have also won 21 of their last 24 Home Openers.
The Mets scored six times in the seventh inning on the Atlanta bullpen, specifically former Met Eric O’Flaherty.
In a season that is starting with a lot of hope, Noah Syndergaard took the mound for his first ever Opening Day start and promptly threw the first pitch of the season at 98 miles per hour, eventually striking out the leadoff batter, Ender Inciarte on three pitches. Welcome to 2017, Mets fans.
Syndergaard was outstanding, striking out seven in his six innings, including five with his slider, which averaged 94.3 mph. He scattered five hits and didn’t walk anyone, but left after 86 pitches with a blister which will cause the Mets to hold him back a day, making his next start Sunday.
“The blister popped during the last inning”, said manager Terry Collins, “He will dry it out in the next couple of days and be ready to go on Sunday.”
But while Syndergaard was putting up zeroes, so was Atlanta Ace Julio Teheran, keeping the Mets off the scoreboard, matching Syndergaard inning for inning. Teheran has only allowed three earned runs to the Mets in 48 innings against them.
In the seventh, with the game still scoreless, the difference between the teams became apparent. The Mets sent out Hansel Robles (W, 1-0), who needed only 13 pitches to get a 1-2-3 seventh. The Braves sent out Ian Krol (L, 0-1), who could only get one out.
Syndergaard’s personal catcher, Rene Rivera, singled to open the inning, then Krol got an out when Wilmer Flores (batting for Syndergaard) grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring up the top of the order. Flores then stole second and Krol walked Jose Reyes, his second walk of the game. Asdrubal Cabrera then laced his third single of the game into center field, allowing Flores a chance to score.
Inciarte’s throw was in time to nail Flores, but catcher Tyler Flowers took the throw behind the plate and had to reach to tag Flores, who was ruled out by umpire Jeff Kellog. Collins challenged the play and it was overruled as replay confirmed that Flores got his cleat on the plate before the tag. Last year, Flores fractured a finger when he tried to score head first at the plate., learning his lesson and coming in feet first. The Mets had the first run of the game, 1-0.
That was it for Krol, who was replaced by Chaz Roe, who promptly walked Yoenis Cespedes (0-4, 1W), loading the bases and got the quick hook, bringing former Met O’Flaherty to the mound. And just as he did as a Met, O’Flaherty couldn’t get the job done. Curtis Granderson greeted O’Flaherty with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Reyes and giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
After a wild-pitch moved Cabrera and Cespedes up a base, O’Flaherty walked Neil Walker to load the bases and followed that up with a five pitch walk to Jay Bruce (who walked three times) to force in a run, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. Time for another pitcher? Not yet.
O’Flaherty got ahead of Lucas Duda 0-1, but Duda laced a bases clearing double over Inciarte’s head in center and the Mets had broken the game open, 6-0. It took the Braves 35 minutes to get three outs in the seventh inning.
Starting the season at 1-0 is something that the Mets seem to have a good handle on. Let’s see what happens in Game 2.
With an off-day tomorrow, former Met Bartolo Colon will make his first start for the Braves on Wednesday, facing Jacob deGrom. DeGrom was shut down in September, having surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow. He is 3-3 lifetime with a 1.90 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.
POSITIVES: Opening Day crowd was 44,384 … Braves had won six straight at Citi Field, sweeping the last two series in Queens … Mets fans gave Bartolo Colon a big ovation during the Opening Day ceremonies … Cabrera had three hits and scored a run … Bruce walked three times and scored a run … #5 starter Robert Gsellman struggled in the ninth inning, but got out of it as the Mets pulled off a strange double play to end the game … Met pitchers struck out 11 … Fernando Salas struck out two in his one inning of work in the eighth, giving the bullpen 3.0 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits and 4K … Braves had seven baserunners and didn’t steal a base
NEGATIVES: Collins said that after an evaluation, P-Seth Lugo will miss a couple of weeks … Guess the speed up rules didn’t apply, a game that was 0-0 after six innings still took 3:13 to finish 8 ½ innings …