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The Mets elbow their way back to .500 with walk off against the Marlins

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MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets were denied a ‘real’ Opening Day this season due to the Nationals’ outbreak of COVID-19, and so while their season started on Monday, today felt the closest to what Opening Day typically is. The Mets must have agreed, because their win today seemed far more in line with their traditional Opening Day luck than their late loss to the Phillies on Monday. Unfortunately for the Marlins, the Mets are just really good, and lucky, on (even fake) Opening Day.

Taijuan Walker started for the Mets and looked fantastic. His velocity was sitting in the mid-90s, hitting 97 a few times, and had an impressive slider going for most of the afternoon. After striking out the first batter of the game on three pitches, Walker put his first baserunner on with a two out walk to Starling Marte in the first, but was erased when Marte was caught in a rundown.

Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a double, but in a precursor to the type of offensive day the Mets would have, was stranded on second. In the third inning, both Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto walked but, again, were left on the bases. In the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases, but did not score when Walker grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Mets had a scary moment in the second inning, when Brian Anderson hit a long fly ball to center field, and while Nimmo made the catch, he stumbled and banged his head/neck against the wall hard. Nimmo stayed in the game, and didn’t show too many signs of ill-health, thankfully.

Walker didn’t allow another baserunner until the top of the fifth, when the Marlins collected their first hit of the afternoon on an opposite field single by Anderson. After a walk to Jazz Chisolm Jr, Walker made an excellent play on a Chad Wallach nubber down the third base line.

Marlins starter Nick Neidert didn’t have overpowering stuff, but kept the Mets off the board for his four and one-third innings. After giving up a single to Lindor, Neidert was pulled for veteran left-handed Ross Detwiler, who promptly hit Conforto and walked Pete Alonso to load the bases. Dominic Smith hit a ball on the screws to deep center field, only to have Starling Marte run it down and snare it for the second out of the inning. Lindor tagged from third, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. Jonathan Villar struck out to end the inning, limiting yet another run-scoring opportunity.

The lead was short-lived, however, as John Berti, who was double-switched into the game, led off the sixth with a single, and was quickly driven home when Corey Dickerson pulled a double down the right field line to tie the game. A couple of batter later, Jesus Aguilar hit a ball between Lindor and Villar, scoring Dickerson and giving the Marlins a 2-1 lead.

First man out of the bullpen was Miguel Castro, who was impressive in his third appearance of the young season, hitting 100 miles per hour with his fastball and flashing a filthy slider. He may have been wearing the wrong hat, but we won’t hold that against him.

Trevor May made his third appearance of the year in the eighth and, aside from an infield hit, looked the best of his three appearances as well. Edwin Diaz made his season debut and, despite a walk, looked sharp in his scoreless top of the ninth.

But the Mets just could not get their offense going today. The team went 0-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base.

Well, at least until the bottom of the ninth.

Jeff McNeil, who had gone hitless this season thus far, hit an absolute bomb off of Anthony Bass to tie the game to lead off the inning and tie the game, replete with an absurdly epic bat flip. A James McCann ground out was followed by an infield hit from pinch hitter Luis Guillorme. Nimmo hit his second opposite field double of the day, putting men on second and third with just one out. An intentional walk to Lindor loaded the bases, and brought up the slumping Michael Conforto.

Conforto ran the count full before leaning into a curveball which should have absolutely been called a strike, as it was both in the zone and Conforto did not even remotely attempt to get out of the way of the ball. Though it seems like everyone knew that, home plate umpire Ron Kulpa called it a hit by pitch, driving in Guillorme and ending the game. Don Mattingly, justifiably, was quite upset, and all around baseball people realize that it was a bit of a cheap win. That said, there are replay rules, and this particular call was not reviewable, and so here we are. Call it justice for Marlon Anderson.

The Mets are off tomorrow, before picking up the series with an afternoon game against the Marlins on Saturday. Jacob deGrom will take on Trevor Rogers at 1:10pm on SNY.

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Win Probability Added

WPA Chart, Mets vs Marlins 4/8/21

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, +41.1% WPA

Big Mets loser: Taijuan Walker (the batter), -201.1% WPA

Mets pitchers: +9.1% WPA

Mets hitters: +40.9% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil’s game-tying home run, +44.5% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Corey Dickerson’s game-tying double, -21.2% WPA