MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets

Game recap March 29: We’re back, baby

Mets 9, Cardinals 4, final

As our intrepid leader said, we survived the winter. But like the overcast, chilly weather, Opening Day started on a somber note with the news that Mets legend Rusty Staub had passed away.

Even without the loss of a good man, few fanbases move through the season with equal parts dread and elation like the Mets faithful, as they fear the answers to questions that have raced around all winter. My colleagues came out swinging with their bold predictions for the summer, and the best thing about yesterday is that we finally start finding out how close our hopes are to reality.

The biggest question will revolve around the starting rotation, whose potential greatness was overcast by injuries that decimated almost every arm in 2017. Noah Syndergaard, who lost almost all of last season to injury, seemed to regain his past great form, hitting the upper 90s, mixing in breaking pitches and a lively two-seam fastball to strike out 10 over six innings, walking none, the only blemish being two home runs, and earning all four of the Cardinals’ runs.

The two sides traded leads early in the game, with the Mets taking a one-run lead in the bottom of the first when Brandon Nimmo, who reached on a hit by pitch, scored on a Jose Martinez throwing error. Yadier Molina added to his long list of Mets killing antics with a two-run home run off Syndergaard in the top of the second that clanged off the left field foul pole. Yoenis Cespedes put the Mets back up with a two run single in the bottom of the frame. The Cardinals tied the game in the fourth with a Jose Martinez RBI single, but a four-run fifth put the Amazins up for good when Adrian Gonzalez, drove Martinez from the game with an RBI double scoring Todd Frazier for his first hit as a Met, and Amed Rosario, Cespedes and Jay Bruce tormented the Cardinals’ bullpen with run-scoring singles. Martinez added a run for St. Louis with a home run in the sixth, and Kevin Plawecki drove in Asdrubal Cabrera in the bottom of the eighth to close out the scoring.

For St. Louis, putative ace Carlos Martinez was erratic, walking six batters in 4.1 innings, surrendering five runs (four of them earned), allowing four hits and striking out five.

The Mets bullpen was perfect, with Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak, and Jeurys Familia each pitching a perfect frame in relief.

It is notable that after a season in which they depended heavily on the home run, the Mets plated nine of them without any homers.

Not to be lost in the good news from Syndergaard is Rosario’s two hits and two runs batted in while hitting in the ninth spot in the order. Equally intriguing was Nimmo’s 2-for-3 day at the plate with a walk and two runs scored while leading off and playing center field as Michael Conforto continues his rehabilitation.

The Mets are off Friday, and next take on St. Louis on Saturday at 1.10 p.m., with Jacob deGrom facing Michael Wacha.

Photo credit: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports

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