Blistering start: Syndergaard, Mets top Braves 6-0 in opener
NEW YORK (AP) Noah Syndergaard is off to a blistering start – and that could be a concern for the New York Mets.
The hard-throwing ace pitched six sharp innings before leaving with a blister, Asdrubal Cabrera singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh and the Mets broke through following a pivotal replay reversal to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-0 in their season opener Monday.
Syndergaard struck out seven without a walk in his first opening day assignment, the only blemish a blister on the top of his right middle finger that ended his outing.
”It was just affecting me on all pitches,” Syndergaard said. ”I haven’t had it in a long time. I had it when I was going through the minor leagues with the Blue Jays, but kind of a rare occurrence.”
Syndergaard called it ”just a little blister” and insisted he’s not too worried. Still, manager Terry Collins said the right-hander’s next turn will be pushed back a day to Sunday.
”It’s not very big. He had it and it popped during the inning,” Collins said. ”These guys, that’s a very common thing. They’ll dry it out the next couple days. He’ll be ready.”
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran throttled the Mets as usual, throwing six scoreless innings before a sellout crowd of 44,384 at Citi Field. But once he was lifted after 96 pitches, New York took advantage of five walks by a shaky Braves bullpen in a six-run bottom of the seventh that lasted 35 minutes.
Curtis Granderson had a sacrifice fly and Lucas Duda added a three-run double off ineffective lefty Eric O’Flaherty.
The Mets stopped a six-game home losing streak against Atlanta – the last-place Braves swept their final two series in Queens last year – and improved baseball’s best record on opening day to 36-20.
Rene Rivera began the seventh with a single against Ian Krol (0-1). One out later, Jose Reyes walked and Cabrera singled for his third hit. Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte made a strong peg home, and Wilmer Flores initially was called out.
But replays showed catcher Tyler Flowers was in poor position when he took the throw behind the plate, allowing Flores to touch the front corner with his foot before getting tagged.
”Great slide,” Duda said.
From there, the Mets stayed disciplined in the batter’s box and built a comfortable lead.
”Yeah, we kind of have a big momentum shift right there and probably turns the game around,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Hansel Robles (1-0) worked a perfect inning for the win.
Freddie Freeman had three hits for Atlanta, including a one-out triple in the fourth. Syndergaard struck out the other three batters in the inning, and pitched out of trouble against the middle of the lineup again in the sixth.
”That’s the reason why he’s starting opening day,” Freeman said. ”He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and he worked his way out of it.”
BRINGING SEXY BACK
With fans still filing in, Braves pitcher Bartolo Colon received a standing ovation during pregame introductions as he waved and tipped his cap to the crowd. Big Sexy, who turns 44 in May, won 44 games for the Mets over the past three seasons. He signed a $12.5 million, one-year contract with Atlanta in November. ”Bartolo had a huge effect on this team,” Collins said.
In his first big league opening day outside Cincinnati, Mets right fielder Jay Bruce drew three walks on his 30th birthday – one with the bases loaded. ”It was great. I was nervous – and that was an awesome feeling. I like being a little nervous,” Bruce said.
Syndergaard became the seventh different Mets pitcher to start on opening day over the past seven years, the longest streak in club history. Teheran joined Rick Mahler (1985-88) and Greg Maddux (1993-96) as the lone Atlanta pitchers to start four straight season openers. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) and Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) are the only major league pitchers who have longer streaks with their current teams.
Braves: Snitker said injured reliever Mauricio Cabrera (elbow), who features a fastball clocked at over 100 mph, should begin throwing soon.
Mets: In their comments to reporters, RHP Seth Lugo seemed optimistic about a fairly quick return from the DL, while it appears LHP Steven Matz will be sidelined for some time. Both are out with elbow injuries. … 3B David Wright (neck surgery) took batting practice with the team on the field. He was in uniform for pregame introductions and received a warm hand. Wright started the previous 12 season openers at third base.
Braves: Colon will make his Atlanta debut when he starts the second game of the series Wednesday night against his former teammates. ”Some of these guys don’t know Major League Baseball without him in it,” Snitker said.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom returns to the mound from Sept. 21 surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.
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