The Mets' Brandon Nimmo, bottom left, collides with Marlins third...

The Mets' Brandon Nimmo, bottom left, collides with Marlins third baseman Jean Segura, top, as he is safe at third on a single hit by Starling Marte (not shown) during the sixth inning of an Opening Day game, Thursday in Miami.  Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

MIAMI — For all the money spent and financial records set by the Mets over the offseason, nobody received a greater guarantee than Brandon Nimmo, who earned a $162 million commitment across eight years. His is the second-largest contract in franchise history, awarded to a homegrown fan favorite who developed into a premier leadoff hitter and legitimate centerfielder, the kind of player the organization sought to keep as a member of its core.

Similarly, appropriately, for all that went right for them Thursday in a 5-3 Opening Day win over the Marlins, their first game since the spending spree, Nimmo contributed the most.

He collected three RBIs, a hit, a walk and a run scored. His sacrifice fly in the third inning plated the Mets’ first run of the year. His aggressive first-to-third baserunning keyed a two-run rally in the sixth. His two-run double in the seventh put them ahead for good.

Afterward, in welcoming a large contingent of reporters in a tight visitors’ clubhouse, he was ready to talk without being asked, moving the chair at his locker out of the way to make room. He has the statistics, service time and persona of a team leader and now the contract to match, but on a day when baseball officially was back, he was just happy to be here.

This was one of 162 — and one of 1,296 over the life of his new deal.

“It just felt good to get out there and play a game that you’re either going to win or lose, there’s no tie,” Nimmo said. “It meant something. For me, it was exciting to get back out there. It felt like a home game. There were a lot of ‘Let’s go Mets’ chants.”

Joining Nimmo on the Mets’ list of positives: Max Scherzer survived a sketchy final frame to allow three runs in six innings and pick up career win No. 202, and Buck Showalter’s first go at managing a bullpen without Edwin Diaz went perfectly.


Versus the bottom half of the Miami lineup, Drew Smith worked around Jorge Soler’s leadoff double to nab a scoreless seventh. Facing a pinch hitter and the top of the lineup, Brooks Raley followed with a perfect eighth. And, tasked with the heart of the order in the ninth, David Robertson went three up, three down to pick up the save in his Mets debut. Each had two strikeouts.

Showalter had Robertson warming up in the eighth and said he would have gone to him for a four-out appearance if Raley had encountered trouble. But his relievers made it easy in the absence of Diaz, who is expected to miss the season after knee surgery two weeks ago.“A job has to be done by all of them,” Showalter said.

Raley added: “Edwin, as everybody knows, it not replaceable. I think we all have recognized that and know how great he is. As a group, we’ve come together and know that we’ll each be relied on individually to do different things. Today . . . we did a fantastic job.”

A duel between Scherzer and defending NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara (5 2⁄3 innings, three runs) began with their usual excellence but devolved into mediocrity.

“Max matched him,” Showalter said. “That was the biggest part of the whole equation.”

Alcantara failed to escape the sixth inning, during which Francisco Lindor brought in a run via a sacrifice fly and Jeff McNeil singled in another. The latter was the second of two hits in the frame that barely eluded Miami’s Luis Arraez, perhaps the worst defensively of several second basemen on the roster but the only one actually playing the position.

Scherzer’s half-dozen strikeouts pushed him past Justin Verlander for 12th on the all-time list. He’s up to 3,199, with Verlander stuck at 3,198 until he gets over a right teres major strain that landed him on the injured list to open the season.

After cruising through five innings — facing one more than the minimum number of batters — Scherzer struggled in the sixth. Jacob Stallings and Arraez, the AL batting champion with the Twins last year, had hard-hit doubles. Garrett Cooper followed with a tying two-run homer.

“Something I was proud of was us coming right back and scoring two runs after they tied the game up,” Showalter said.

The Mets answered with Nimmo’s two-run double, which snuck past Jazz Chisholm Jr., a second baseman recently converted to centerfield. The Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Eduardo Escobar (single) and Omar Narvaez (walk), scored.

“You got a good blend of righthanded hitters, lefthanded hitters, power, a little speed — a little bit of everything. That’s what can be difficult,” Scherzer said of the Mets’ lineup. “When we’re able to mix and match and play different guys, it lengthens the lineup and you can grind the other pitcher away. All the attention is going to go to the top of the order, but it’s the bottom of the order that really makes a difference.”

Since the Miracle Mets of 1969 lost their season opener, the Mets have won 41 of their last 54 season premieres and own baseball's best all-time record in Opening Day games.

Mets 44-21 (.661)

Mariners 28-18 (.609)*

Orioles 72-49 (.595)

Yankees 68-52 (.567)

Cubs 81-65 (.555)

*Thursday night's game not included

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