MILWAUKEE -- Up and over Brandon Nimmo climbed, ahead of Freddie Freeman, then Mookie Betts, then Michael Trout -- a triumvirate of MVP candidates bested. When he walked off the field after the Mets' 5-0 win over the Brewers on Thursday, Nimmo led them all with a .450 on-base percentage, reaching safely in each of his five plate appearances at Miller Park.
Disclaimer No. 1: Technically, Nimmo is about three dozen PAs shy of qualifying for the league lead.
Disclaimer No. 2: No one is about to mistake him for Trout.
Yet the Mets can no longer deny Nimmo his place atop their batting order, considering his growing list of accomplishments. Nimmo has reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances dating to Wednesday. In four straight at-bats spanning two days, he hit a home run, a single, a double and a triple -- a cycle interrupted only by a good night's sleep.
"The extra-base hits now are coming," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "When you have a guy that can be as patient as he can be, and walk, and then also hit extra-base hits, that turns into a really valuable player."
Most importantly to the Mets, Nimmo is translating his success into run creation. So starved for offense that Callaway and his coaches met early Thursday to brainstorm ways to improve, the Mets took an early lead when Nimmo tripled off Brewers starter Zach Davies in the third inning and scored on Wilmer Flores' sacrifice fly. Two innings later, Asdrubal Cabrera plated Nimmo and Amed Rosario with a double, then Flores singled home Cabrera. All told, the Mets recorded five extra-base hits, including Devin Mesoraco's RBI double in the seventh.
"We had about four or five guys take really good at-bats tonight," Callaway said.
At times, even that burst of offense might not have been enough to back Steven Matz, considering his struggles throughout the early season. But on this night, Matz submitted his longest scoreless outing since last July, completing a rotation turn in which the Mets' five starters combined to post a 0.58 ERA. After escaping trouble in the second and third innings, Matz did not allow a man into scoring position from the fourth through sixth innings, improving to 2-3 in nine starts.
When Matz departed, the Mets held a four-run lead thanks in large part to Nimmo, who spent the early part of this year marginalized. Despite a fair amount of success down the stretch last September, Nimmo broke camp in a reserve role, even spending a brief spell back at Triple-A. When he played, he produced, but not quite like this: Playing every day with Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares on the disabled list, Nimmo has recorded seven of his 11 extra-base hits in his last dozen games, including three in Thursday's win.
"That's my job," Nimmo said. "That's what I'm supposed to do. I'm in a good place right now."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
"Probably our best shot" to score, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, occurred in the third inning, when a single, a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Matz popped up the next batter, Hernan Perez, then threw a 1-2 changeup to Manny Pina to induce an inning-ending flyout.
That's notable for Matz, who entered the night with the league's worst opposing batting average (.423) on changeups.
"It's the same thing I say every time: just focus on the execution of that next pitch," Matz said. "You've just got to make one pitch. You're one pitch away. That's the mindset I had out there, and I was able to translate that thought process to what is actually going on."
Nimmo's two-day cycle may have been quirky, but it won't stand in the record books. The Mets have not had a cycle since Scott Hairston achieved the feat -- which is only slightly more common than a no-hitter -- on April 27, 2012. Ten Mets players have hit for the cycle in the team's 57-year history, including Jose Reyes in 2006, John Olerud in 1997 and Keith Hernandez in '85.
Seven big leaguers hit for the cycle last season, but none so far in 2018.
NIMMO HITS 'EM HARD
All three of Nimmo's extra-base hits came off his bat at more than 100 mph, including the first-inning double, which, at 110.9 mph, was his hardest-hit ball tracked by Statcast™. Nimmo hit the other double at 108.3 mph, tied for his third-hardest hit since breaking into the league in 2016.
HE SAID IT
"He just loves being out there. To see him succeed like that, it's a lot of fun." -- Matz, on Nimmo
Though Noah Syndergaard has been effective all season, he hasn't always been dominant. The Mets hope Syndergaard turned a corner in his last start, when he held the D-backs to one run in seven innings. He'll return to the mound Friday for a rematch against the Brewers, facing right-hander Junior Guerra in an 8:10 p.m. ET game at Miller Park.