Opening Day. Where everyone is 0-0, and young fans fancy their team’s pennant chances. A time of hope springing eternal. A time where new players come to make you forget about the old players. Where you get texts of “Let’s Go Mets” and “Happy Opening Day”. And this year’s new entry: “Holy Crap, Verlander!!!”
Justin Verlander went on the IL just hours before their Opening Day game against the Marlins, with a low grade injury to the muscle that holds together the scapula. It was just a year ago when Tylor Megill started in place of Jacob deGrom, who was responsible for teaching us what a scapula was. Now, Megill will have to replace Verlander because we’ve learned that there’s a muscle that holds together the scapula. It’s called the “Teres Major”, which sounds like the constellation that was named after the band member that was trampled to death in 1982 after the Stanford/Cal play. Who needs medical school when you can just follow the Mets and have a degree in Hard Knocks Surgery.
Justin Verlander says if this was a playoff scenario, he'd be pitching:
"Being the beginning of the season, it makes too much sense to not push it right now." pic.twitter.com/gq4ekFwXpg
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 30, 2023
Thankfully, Verlander says that if it was the playoffs, he would have pitched, which confirms that the Mets are going to be extra careful with their older roster in an effort to get to the end healthy. It also confirms that they have some common sense, which is refreshing. Now you just hope that this isn’t one of those “minor” injury that turns into “Teres Major – 60 Day IL”.
But the best part about Opening Day is that no matter what life throws at you in the morning, there’s now a game that afternoon. In fact, most afternoons or evenings until October, there will be a game. It’s a beautiful thing, and Max Scherzer made it an extra beautiful thing by throwing five shutout innings to start the game while the Mets scratched out a couple of hits on outs, with the only thing keeping them from breaking the game open was Garrett Cooper turning into Keith Hernandez for the day, robbing Jeff McNeil of a run scoring double, and taking a hit away from Daniel Vogelbach.
In the top of the 6th, the Mets had their first dalliance with the nuances of the pitch clock. (Never has Daisuke Matsuzaka enjoyed retirement more than today.) McNeil fouled off a Sandy Alcantara pitch to make the count 0-1 with runners on first and third. That runner on first, Pete Alonso, sauntered back to first base. But in this brave new world, sauntering is frowned upon. As such, McNeil was docked a strike. I laugh when rules that are designed to speed up the game actually slow it down at points because the umpires call everything to the letter and have no common sense. But … whatevs, as McNeil gave the Mets the Luis Sojo Special for a 3-0 lead and made Larry Vanover’s “did I do good, Rob” moment moot.
JEFF MCNEIL DOING WHAT HE DOES BEST! pic.twitter.com/i3kTYYuAuP
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 30, 2023
But Max got hit hard in the 6th. Luis Arraez drove in a run with a double to make it 3-1 while he surely was wondering why all the Venezuelan WBC fans didn’t bother to show up to this one. Then it was Cooper, pretending he’s Cecil Cooper, smacking a two run HR off Scherzer to tie the game at 3-3. But the Mets came back in the top of the 7th. After Eduardo Escobar signled and Omar Narvaez walked, Brandon Nimmo scalded a ball to right center off lefty Tanner Scott. Jazz Chisholm, reprising the role of Juan Samuel, had the ball go by him to the wall which enabled the trail run Narvaez to score behind Escobar for a 5-3 Mets lead. With all the injury talk, it was certainly a relief to see Nimmo hit a ball hard off a lefty and prove that he’s behind that awkward spring training slide.
Then the remade bullpen went to work. Drew Smith, down a few pounds from 2022, hung a slider to Jorge Soler for a lead off double. But after that, he got a one pitch out, then spotted the fastball well on the outside corner to Bryan De La Cruz after going down in the count 3-0, then blew Jacob Stallings away to finish the inning off. A good outing by Smith was followed by a better inning by Brooks Raley as he set down the Marlins 1-2-3 on 12 pitches. And that was followed by the unveiling of David Robertson as Mets closer: striking out Cecil Keith Hernandez Cooper, setting down Chisholm on a nasty knuckle curve, and then battling Soler while battling the control on his cutter, but getting him to fly out to right to end the game and give the Mets a 41-13 record in Opening Day games that didn’t take place in the 60’s. Somebody get David a trumpeteer and a theme song, stat.
So we’re one day into a season with new rules, and without Edwin Diaz, Justin Verlander, and Darin Ruf. Somehow, we’ve all survived it. The sun will rise tomorrow (albeit behind storm clouds) with the Mets at 1-0, as per usual. Hopefully Day 2 doesn’t force us to discover a new body part.
Today’s Hate List
- Garrett Cooper
- Larry Vanover
- Luis Arraez
- Shane Victorino
- Mitch Keller