A Cold Mets Opener

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Forget the first game because the Mets season opener Friday afternoon at Citi Field was cold. Game time temperature of 54 degrees and powerful winds of late March prevailed but the Mets bats were cold. First of 162 and only one hit, a Starling Marte, one out home run in the second inning.

The Brewers handled the cold and took away the enthusiasm of a new Mets season with their 3-1 win, thus spoiling what every team wants out of the shoot and that is getting that first one. But the Mets, a team that underachieved last year, know there are a lot more left to play on the schedule.

The good thing is we have got 161 [games] left,” said Pete Alonso, who is in a walk year and that will a story line that will consume the season. 

Other than the Marte home run, this Opening Day had the usual pre game ceremonies with a traditional wreath at home plate and there was a tribute to the late Bud Harrelson, the shortstop who was a member of the 1969 World Championship team but is also remembered for that altercation with Pete Rose and that nasty slide at Shea Stadium in October of 1973.

When tempers flared in the eighth inning, Rhys Hoskins slide into second baseman Jeff McNeil on a potential double-play ball that could not spark the Mets. Benches cleared, no punches were thrown nor were there any ejections. And it wasn’t Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson at Shea Stadium as the umpires ruled the slide was normal.

The Mets resembled the normal routine of last season, a lack of scoring runs, despite different names on the roster. Give or take a few opportunities, though not that many, Brewers starter Freddy Peralta struck out eight and walked none in his first opening-day start. And the Brewers bullpen closed the door.

No trumpets and chance to see Edwin Diaz close this one out for the Mets, now 41-22 on Opening Day, a Major League record. Fans may have to wait until Saturday afternoon to see Diaz back on the Citi Field mound for the first time since September of 2022. The All-Star closer missed the entire 2023 season after a freak injury that was sustained during a World Baseball Classic ceremony on the mound.

It was a late slide, but it was legal,” said Mets’ rookie manager Carlos Mendoza about the play at second that caused some heated moments. “We saw it on the replay, it was a late slide. He (Marte) got a pretty good swing on the fastball.” he said about the home run.”

The response was adequate.

Mendoza, in his first post game meeting with the media, handled it well, though his team is expected to have better results Saturday afternoon. He begins his tenure with less expectations than the 2023 team, although the Mets and their front office expect to be in play for a NL wildcard when game 162 concludes in October.

Friday afternoon it was the Mets and a repertoire of sorts that was seen far too often last year. The bats were cold as their top four in the lineup went 0-for-13. They were far from resembling a team that expects to be postseason bound and something owner Steve Cohen mentioned in pre game comments to the media.

He kept us in the game,” Mendoza said about opening Game starter Jose Quintana. “He went back in the fifth but overall, as the game went on, he was using his pitches, the curveball, the changeup.” Quintana will anchor the rotation until Kodei Senga returns from the injured list, He line read two runs and six hits over 4 ⅔ innings.

Leading off in the fourth inning, Christian Yelich got hold of a 1-0 curveball that tied the game. From there the Brewers managed to squeeze out two more runs in a game that was pushed back to Friday because of the rained out opener.

Again, Quintana made most of the right pitches, but the Brewers had the proper at bats going when they were needed. This opening game loss should not be an indicator of where this Mets season is headed. Then again fighting the cold elements at Citi Field can’t be an excuse that had a sellout crowd of over 44,000 leaving with that same old story of last year.

The fan base expects to win this year and a message was sent with the late addition of veteran hitter JD Martinez. But losing the first one with a home run as the only hit? Mendoza and the Mets vow this won’t be the same. Of course, warmer days are ahead in the weeks and months of this long campaign to October.

The Mets need that bounce back year from Marte and he got that started. They need that entire lineup to also rebound. One game does not tell the story here. The McNeil-Hoskins situation they say will not carry over to the next two days at Citi Field.

That was a legal slide on a cold day. It also was a cold day at the plate and the Mets hope that is a rare occurrence.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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