DENVER — Coors Field was young Brandon Nimmo’s field of dreams.
He visited annually as a kid, making the two-hour drive south from his Cheyenne, Wyoming, hometown with his family to watch the Rockies, his favorite team, and his idol, first baseman Todd Helton. When the Nimmos stayed home, they watched on TV. One keepsake obtained by a preteen Brandon — a ball tossed up to him by the Colorado bullpen catcher — still has a special spot in a box of childhood belongings at home. When his older brother, Bryce, once played an amateur game at Coors, Brandon watched from the stands and thought, “Man, what would it be like to play down there in a major-league stadium?”
And so it was fitting that Nimmo, the Mets’ emergent 25-year-old outfielder, marked his homecoming and the Mets’ 12-2 win Monday against the Rockies with the best game of his breakout season: 4-for-6 with an inside-the-park home run to lead off the game, an outside-the-park home run to pad the Mets’ late lead and a career-high four RBIs.
Dippin’ Dots were a staple during those childhood trips to the ballpark. Was this better?
“Most definitely,” Nimmo said. “It was just a blast. It was way better than Dippin’ Dots.”
The victory was the Mets’ third in a row, good for their third winning streak of the season. The others: nine games from April 3-13 and four games from May 18-21.
This was a well-rounded win, too. Jacob deGrom allowed one earned run in eight innings to lower his ERA to 1.51. Amed Rosario (two RBIs) and Michael Conforto (two runs) had three hits and two doubles apiece. Devin Mesoraco and Wilmer Flores homered. The Mets’ six runs in the ninth were more than they scored in any game in nearly three weeks.
But Nimmo was the star. Again.
“It doesn’t get a whole lot better than [Sunday],” Nimmo said, referencing his game-winning, ninth-inning homer against the Diamondbacks. “And then today, to be able to do that in front of the family, that sure gave it a run for its money.”
Nimmo is a popular guy this week, and not only among the Mets fans who sprinkled a good amount of orange into the purple Rockies crowd. Local reporters wanted a piece of the pseudo-local boy who has been making good, and Nimmo said he requested about 75 tickets total for the four-game set. On Monday, he hosted Post 6, his old American Legion team.
Already the man of the hour, Nimmo electrified immediately. On the fourth pitch of the game, he pulled lefthander Tyler Anderson’s 0-and-2 cutter to right-center, where it took a fortunate bounce off the wall. As Carlos Gonzalez chased it down in right, Nimmo raced around the bases and scored easily.
“One thing about Nimmo is he’s always running hard,” said third-base coach Glenn Sherlock.
Said Nimmo: “I was just busting my tail.”
In the seventh, Nimmo sent another shot to right-center, this one over the wall. At 449 feet, it was the longest home run of his career. His two-run single in the ninth capped the Mets’ big ninth against a bad Rockies bullpen.
Nimmo became the first Met with an inside- and outside-the-park long ball in the same game since Angel Pagan on Aug. 23, 2009, at Citi Field against the Phillies. That was also the last time a Met had a leadoff inside-the-parker.
The updated season numbers on Nimmo: .287 average, .410 OBP, .603 slugging percentage. He has 12 homers in 60 games. That’s double his career total entering the year (six in 101 games).
Who saw this coming? Effectively nobody.
“I think everybody knew he was capable of playing at an elite level,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But this is pretty elite.”
Nimmo is not on the All-Star ballot. In January, the team signed Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million deal to play right. Two months ago, the Mets sent Nimmo to the minors for three days so they could carry an extra reliever instead of a fifth outfielder.
“That feels like a long time ago,” Nimmo said. “It helps me remember how fragile this is, how baseball can turn on a dime, and just to enjoy every moment I’m out there — and when things are going well to really enjoy it.”