The Mets finally took the field to start their 2021 season. It did not go as planned.
When the lineup was released, New York Mets Twitter went crazy. The lineup was as follows:
Kevin Pillar, CF
Francisco Lindor, SS
Michael Conforto, RF
Pete Alonso, 1B
J.D. Davis, 3B
Jeff McNeil, 2B
James McCann, C
Brandon Nimmo, LF
Jacob deGrom, P
The glaring absence of Dom Smith anywhere in the lineup lit the little blue bird on fire. Smith was arguably the Mets’ best hitter last year and has been improving his defense in left field over the last few seasons.
The left-handed hitter did not get the nod, and skipper Luis Rojas gave the start to the defensive-minded Kevin Pillar. Looking back on the days of a young Michael Conforto, then-manager Terry Collins similarly did not play him against opposing southpaws.
But if you want the player to get better, the only way to get there is to let them play.
Jacob deGrom was back out doing it with the arm and bat. The right-hander was the first pitcher in the history of the Mets to record the first hit of their season, and he also drove in the second run of the game with a single in the fourth.
The first time through the lineup featured mostly fastballs while deGrom sprinkled in his secondary pitches. His fastball hit triple digits a couple of times, topping out at 102 miles per hour. Jacob was “routine greatness” according to Gary Cohen, finishing his first start with seven strikeouts and just 77 pitches.
The offense started off slow. Again with the lack of Dom Smith, Pillar leading off gave the Mets a ho-hum start to the game. However, in the fourth, the bats (and a little luck) came to play. James McCann roped a single for the first run of the game, making a great first impression. Following the single was an error from centerfielder Adam Haseley, loading up the bases for…Jacob deGrom?
Who came through with his second hit of the night, driving home a run.
However, Jeff McNeil did not get off to the greatest of starts, connecting on one in the fourth that seemed to be leaving Citizens Bank Ballpark but eventually fell victim to the strong winds.
Although McNeil didn’t record a hit in the opener, he should be happy with how he attacked the ball. All of them were contacted hard, just right at people.
Baseball is a game where failing seven out of ten times gets you paid hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Mets fought but it was too little too late, Jose Alvarado got Pete Alonso to fly out at the warning track to end the game.
Miguel Castro was tasked to relieve Jacob deGrom, and besides a ball that kicked off the diving glove of Pete Alonso, was spectacular. The right-hander was sitting at 100 miles per hour with movement, which is a promising sight.
Trevor May then entered as the set-up man in the eighth and gave up a hit to pinch hitter Brad Miller before walking Andrew McCutchen on an eight-pitch walk. Rhys Hoskins followed McCutchen with a single, loading the bases for Bryce Harper.
Aaron Loup entered the game to face the lefty and hit him with the second pitch, which proceeded an Alec Bohm single to tie the game. A wild throw from Luis Guillorme then plated two runs with Loup then giving up a sacrifice fly to Didi Gregorius, plating the fifth run of the inning.
This was the 31st time the Mets bullpen has blown the opportunity for Jacob deGrom to be credited with the victory. Just painful.
In the most anticipated Mets Opening Day in the last decade, it was status quo from deGrom. But everyone else?
Well, I guess the Mets just had the most “Mets” start to their season.
The fact that Dom Smith wasn’t used at all Monday night made little-to-no sense and the bullpen newcomers disappointed. The gaping hole Seth Lugo’s injury left in the bullpen was additionally on full display.
However, it is just game one of 162. They should be fine and can look to bounce back with Marcus Stroman on the bump tomorrow night.