Nimmo and Lindor's lineup swap pays dividends in 'huge win'

May 19th, 2024

MIAMI -- Booming bass echoed through the visiting clubhouse at loanDepot park on Sunday late afternoon. The Mets, at the end of a weekend that started with a shutout loss and an extra-inning walk-off defeat, were headed to the next stop on their road trip with a victory under their belt.

There were signs earlier, too, like when “Let’s go Mets” chants rained down on the field following a two-run homer from in the top of the ninth -- the final nail in the coffin as New York bested Miami, 7-3, to avoid being swept.

Things have been weird for the Mets lately: Nimmo missed two games with an illness, and a few other Mets are playing through some flu-like symptoms; entered Sunday in a 1-for-25 slump; And Edwin Díaz isn’t the de facto closer anymore.

But thanks to a new-look lineup that debuted the night prior, with Lindor at leadoff and Nimmo batting third, the Mets headed to the bottom of the ninth with a four-run lead for the second consecutive game.

This time, though, the lead held, thanks to a two-inning save from and an offensive breakout that held up against the Marlins’ rally attempts.

“It shows a lot about this [team], especially after that game last night, for us to come out today in that first inning and right away put pressure [on them],” manager Carlos Mendoza said, “and really good at-bats up and down the lineup -- it shows a lot about that group.”

The shakeup has been in the works for some time; Mendoza is always thinking about what adjustments to make to set the team up for success. Back in Spring Training, the skipper approached Nimmo to discuss the potential for moving him throughout the lineup, away from the leadoff spot. Nimmo was all for it.

Mendoza received the same response from Lindor when the pair chatted following New York’s shutout loss Friday night: “‘I’m all in, let’s do it.’”

Just two days into the new order, things are going well. Lindor went 2-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch and two runs scored in the finale, perhaps the first step in jumpstarting his production after a slow opening month-and-a-half. He reached base in four of his five plate appearances, setting the table for those behind him.

All nine starters reached base at least once on Sunday (and on Saturday). And, while the Mets were relatively quiet in the middle innings after posting four runs right out of the gate, Nimmo’s ninth-inning homer -- his seventh this year -- showed the fight New York knew it had all along. It also bolstered Nimmo’s team lead in RBIs (29).

It was also impressive, given that Nimmo is still feeling the effects of the illness that kept him out of play Thursday and Friday.

“It’s been a bit of a journey the past three days to get over the sickness; right now I’m just trying to get some appetite back,” Nimmo said. “I was able to get some protein in for the first time last night, and then [again] this morning. I’m definitely not 100%. Just trying to battle through it.”

That “battle” mentality is something that extends to the entire Mets lineup: The win on Sunday marked New York’s 12th series-finale victory in 16 series this season.

While the bats came through big, so did the bullpen. With Díaz’s usage in flux, the Mets turned to Garrett in the eighth (in which he struck out the side), then again in the ninth. The two-inning save was Garrett’s second save this season.

“It was a great team win,” Garrett said, deflecting praise. “[We] got out to a huge lead at the beginning of the game and just kept grinding.”

So, how does Mendoza feel about the results this new batting order has churned out?

“It’s two days,” the skipper said. “You’re gonna go through some stretches where, you know, it’s gonna be hard. But the last couple of games -- I like how it’s gone. … Like I said, not an easy weekend, not the way we expected it. But we just got to continue to move forward, continue to take one day at a time and start winning series. But today was a huge win for us.”