NEW YORK – Jacob deGrom maintained his focus on the mound with a baby on the way, and the New York Mets got big hits from Neil Walker and Michael Conforto to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 in their home opener Friday.
After the 2015 National League championship flag was raised above the right-field stands at Citi Field, deGrom (1-0) pitched six sharp innings in his season debut and even knocked in the first run with a groundout. The All-Star right-hander was removed as a precaution with tightness in his right lat, the Mets announced.
Right up until morning it was uncertain if deGrom would make the start because his wife is due with their first child (a boy). He said all along he planned to head for home in Florida whenever she went into labor.
“Hopefully, we can get him through the sixth inning and get him out of there before the baby comes,” manager Terry Collins said before the game.
Yet deGrom hardly looked distracted. He yielded one run and five hits with six strikeouts and no walks against a Phillies lineup missing young bopper Maikel Franco, hit by a pitch Thursday in Cincinnati.
Lucas Duda lined a leadoff double in the sixth and Walker followed with a tiebreaking single, endearing himself to New York fans in his first home game with the Mets after being acquired from Pittsburgh in an offseason trade.
Conforto followed with an RBI double that chased Jerad Eickhoff (0-1), who faced New York for the fourth time in nine major league starts. He was doing fine once again until going back out to the mound following a trip around the bases in the top of the sixth.
Walker added another RBI single and Conforto, who had three RBIs in his first home opener for the Mets, hit a two-run single in a four-run seventh against left-hander James Russell. Travis d’Arnaud capped the outburst with an RBI single off David Hernandez.
New York had two days off following a two-game split to start the season in Kansas City, which beat the Mets in the World Series last year. Former pennant-winning Mets stars Rusty Staub, John Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo hoisted the NL championship banner during pregame festivities.
Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez each had an RBI single for the Phillies, who are 0-4 for the first time since 2006.
Eickhoff doubled to deep right-center leading off the sixth for his first career extra-base hit. He was booed by the sellout crowd of 44,099, the largest in Citi Field history for a regular-season game, when he donned a jacket at second base to stay warm on a windy, 47-degree afternoon.