Miami, FL – There’s nothing like Opening Day. It’s a clean slate for every team in Major League Baseball and fans finally get to see their favorite teams suit up! For the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets, a crowd of over 30,000 was in attendance at loanDepot Park to see two titans on the mound square off for 2023 Opening Day.
— Alex “Milo” Aguirre (@aguirrethecap33) March 30, 2023
Although it was a home game for the Marlins there was a certain buzz in the crowd as if the Marlins were playing in Queens instead of Miami. There was even a section of the stands filled with Mets fans wearing t-shirts that said “Queens South”. Let’s just say that Mets fans aren’t shy when it comes to expressing their loyalty.
Lots of these shirts around the ballpark from Mets fans. “Queens South” on the front. They’re everywhere. pic.twitter.com/9hFeGRY8Yj
— Will Manso (@WillManso) March 30, 2023
Sandy vs. Mad Max
What more can you ask for in a pitching matchup on Opening Day? Sandy Alcantara is coming off his 2022 Cy Young Award campaign and the best single-season performance on the mound in Marlins franchise history. The Mets countered with three-time Cy Young award winner and future hall of famer, Max Scherzer. Not a bad backup option for opening day with Justin Verlander on the IL.
The first 𝙎𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙮 𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙠𝙚𝙤𝙪𝙩™️ of the season‼️
— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) March 30, 2023
Sandy was un-Sandy-like in his outing. He kept the Mets’ offense in check during the first two innings but his control was a bit off. After retiring the first six batters in order, Alcantara issued a leadoff walk to Daniel Vogelbach in the top of the third. Vogelbach would come around to score on Brandon Nimmo’s RBI single and the Mets took a 1-0 lead after three innings of play.
Scherzer looked like he was in midseason form. He shut out the Marlins’ offense through the first five innings allowing only one hit and two walks. Scherzer also got the Marlins to hit into two double plays.
Things looked even bleaker for Miami when the Mets rallied against Alcantara in the sixth to give Mad Max a 3-0 lead. Sandy got the first batter out but issued a walk to Nimmo who advanced to third on a base hit by former Marlin, Starling Marte. Nimmo would score on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Lindor. The inning continued due to Sandy walking his fourth batter with two outs in the inning. That walk would come back to hurt Alcantara as Jeff McNeil followed that up with an RBI single to put an end to Sandy’s night. Andrew Nardi would come out of the bullpen to finish off the sixth inning requiring only two pitches.
JEFF MCNEIL DOING WHAT HE DOES BEST! pic.twitter.com/i3kTYYuAuP
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 30, 2023
New Faces, Same Offense
The Marlins’ offense woke up in the bottom of the sixth inning and finally made Scherzer look human. Jacob Stallings led off the inning with a double to left-center field. After Joey Wendle flew out, newcomer and 2022 AL batting title winner Luis Arraez doubled to right-center field to bring in the first run of the 2023 season for Miami. After another newcomer Jean Segura struck out, Garrett Cooper flexed his muscles and tied the game with one swing of the bat.
— Gabriel Garcia (@Gabewritesports) March 30, 2023
Scherzer limited the damage and completed the sixth inning with the score tied 3-3 but his outing was over. The Marlins had three innings to work with to at least tie the game but just like so many times last season, the offense is nowhere to be found. Even with one of the most elite closers, Edwin Diaz sidelined, Miami struck out six times out of the nine remaining outs. New York’s bullpen did its job with veteran David Robertson earning the save. The same can’t be said about Miami’s bullpen.
Marlins Bullpen Woes
Tanner Scott was the new pitcher for Miami in the top of the seventh. Scott had a rollercoaster of a season in 2022 in which he was used in different roles. At one point he was the closer and showed mixed results with his better outings coming in the seventh or eighth inning.
First-time manager, Skip Shumaker, chose the southpaw to hold the tie but that quickly vanished. After getting the first batter to ground out, Scott gave up a single to Eduardo Escobar. He then walked Omar Narvaez to put runners on first and second base. Nimmo once again pulled through for the Mets and delivered a two-run double to center field which ended up being the deciding hit.
Here’s the list of leadoff hitters who drove in 3+ runs on Opening Day in #Mets history:
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) March 31, 2023
J.T. Chargois relieved Scott in the seventh to get the final two outs and the score remained 5-3 with the Mets leading. The lone bright spot in the bullpen was Huascar Brazoban who pitched two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth and kept the Mets offense from extending their lead.
As much as it pains me to see the Fish lose on Opening Day and a Sandy Alcantara outing, I always go back to the wise words of Jake Taylor played by Tom Berenger from the movie Major Leauge, “Relax kid we got 161 of these games to go”.
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Photo | Tony Ozegovich