NEW YORK — Jeff McNeil launched a tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning on his 29th birthday and the New York Mets were handed the winning run on a disputed hit by pitch for a bizarre 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins in their home opener Thursday.
With the bases loaded and one out, a scuffling Michael Conforto appeared to stick out his right elbow pad just enough to get it grazed by a 1-2 breaking ball from closer Anthony Bass that looked to be in the strike zone.
Plate umpire and crew chief Ron Kulpa at first signaled strike, then quickly ruled Conforto was hit by the pitch. Conforto headed toward first base as Luis Guillorme scored and the Mets celebrated a comeback win in front of the first crowd at Citi Field in 557 days.
Marlins players and manager Don Mattingly argued with Kulpa before a replay review was initiated. The review lasted 58 seconds, and the call was upheld.
According to baseball rules, if a batter is hit by a pitch in the strike zone, the pitch should be called a strike. According to replay rules, however, whether the pitch was in the strike zone or the batter made any attempt to get out of the way is not subject to video review. Those are umpire judgment calls. Only whether the ball touched the batter is reviewable.
The official explanation from the replay supervisor in Manhattan was this: “After viewing all relevant angles, the Replay Official definitively determined that the ball struck the batter. The call is confirmed, it is a hit by pitch.”
Edwin Diaz (1-0) worked a hitless inning in his first outing of the season.
Bass (0-2) has blown both his save chances with the Marlins (1-6) and lost both games. McNeil homered leading off the ninth, sending a 3-1 pitch into the second deck in right field. He tossed his bat aside and turned to the Mets’ bench before rounding the bases.
ANGELS 7, BLUE JAYS 5, 11 INNINGS
DENEDIN, Fla. — David Fletcher had a two-run single in the 11th inning and Los Angeles beat Toronto in the first regular-season game played at the Blue Jays’ spring training ballpark.
Fletcher’s hit to center came on the first pitch from Rafael Dolis, who replaced Ryan Borucki (1-1) with runners on second and third and two outs.
Junior Guerra (2-0) worked a scoreless 10th before Raisel Iglesias struck out the side for his second save.
Los Angeles star Mike Trout went 3 for 5 and had the first regular-season hit at the ballpark, a first-inning double, and also homered.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio homered for the Blue Jays.
ASTROS 6, ATHLETICS 2
HOUSTON — Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve homered and Houston kept up its hot start by treating the home crowd to a win over Oakland in the first game with fans at Minute Maid Park since 2019.
Houston is 6-1 this season, tied for the best seven-game start in franchise history. Five of the wins have come against the Athletics after a sweep in Oakland to start the season. The Astros have outscored Oakland 41-11 this season.
They received a warm welcome from a boisterous crowd of 21,765 in the first game in Houston with fans since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, which they lost to the Washington Nationals. Capacity was limited to 50% because of coronavirus restrictions.
Cristian Javier (1-0) scattered three hits with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings for the win.
The Athletics fell to 1-7 a day after getting their first win in 10 innings against the Dodgers. Cole Irvin (0-2) yielded four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings for the loss.
CUBS 4, PIRATES 2
PITTSBURGH — Javy Baez hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning in Chicago’s victory over Pittsburgh.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo also homered as the Cubs pounded out a season-high 11 hits against Tyler Anderson (0-2) and four relievers. Baez, Rizzo, Bryant and Jake Marisnick had two hits each to help Chicago raise its major league-worst batting average from .143 to .157.
Jake Arrieta (2-0) survived a sometimes wobbly six innings, and Craig Kimbrel got five outs for his second save.
Pittsburgh has dropped six straight.
WHITE SOX 6, ROYALS 0
CHICAGO — Lance Lynn pitched a five-hitter for the first complete game and shutout in the major leagues this season, and Chicago beat Kansas City.
Yermín Mercedes kept up his scorching start with a 485-foot homer. Yoán Moncada went deep, and the White Sox gave manager Tony La Russa the win in his first home game on the South Side in 35 years
Lynn (1-0) struck out 11 and walked none in his second shutout in 238 career starts, his first since a five-hitter against the New York Yankees on May 27, 2014.
Brad Keller (0-1) was the loser.
ROCKIES 7, DIAMONDBACKS 3
DENVER — Jon Gray took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and got his first win of the season, pitching Colorado past Arizona.
Gray (1-0) allowed three runners through six innings, helped in the sixth when third baseman Ryan McMahon made a barehanded grab of Tim Locastro’s grounder and threw out the speedy batter by a half-step.
Gray threw 83 pitches through six innings in his second start of the season and was bidding to become the second Colorado pitcher to throw a no-hitter after Ubaldo Jiménez against Atlanta on April 17, 2010. David Peralta tripled leading off the seventh when he sent a 1-2 slider into the gap in left-center field.
Daniel Bard relieved with two on in the ninth and got the two outs for his second save.
Merrill Kelly (0-2) gave up seven runs — six earned — and nine hits in six innings.
RED SOX 7, ORIOLES 4
BALTIMORE — Eduardo Rodríguez won in his return from heart inflammation that caused him to miss the 2020 season, allowing three runs over five innings help Boston spoil Baltimore’s home opener.
Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernández homered for the Red Sox, who have won four consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 14-18, 2019. Boston has scored 33 runs in the four wins after managing five while getting swept by the Orioles in a three-game series at Fenway Park.
A day after his 28th birthday, Rodríguez made his first big league appearance since Sept. 29, 2019, against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Rodríguez (1-0) gave up four hits, including two-run homers by Ryan Mountcastle in the first and Pedro Severino in the fourth — the first home runs allowed by Boston this season. Rodríguez struck out seven and walked none, throwing at up to 94.7 mph.
Matt Harvey (0-1) was the loser.
CARDINALS 3, BREWERS 1
ST. LOUIS — Nolan Arenado hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning of his home debut with the Cardinals, lifting St. Louis over Milwaukee as fans returned to Busch Stadium for the first time since 2019.
Arenado, a five-time All-Star acquired from Colorado on Feb. 1 after eight seasons with the Rockies, followed a walk to Austin Dean with the score 1-1. Arenado turned on a first pitch 96.6 mph offering from Drew Rasmussen (0-1) and sent the ball 373 feet to left for his second homer this season.
Adam Wainwright started his sixth home opener, tying the franchise record set by the late Bob Gibson. The Cardinals wore patches with No. 45 on their left sleeves in honor of Gibson, the Hall of Famer who died Oct. 2. Wainwright, a 39-year-old righthander, allowed one run and five hits in five innings with six strikeouts and two walks.
Giovanny Gallegos (2-0) gave the Cardinals their third straight inning of hitless relief, following Ryan Helsley and Andrew Miller. Alex Reyes finished the six-hitter for his third save.
TWINS 10, MARINERS 2
MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Garver, Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez hit home runs to back another strong start by José Berríos, providing the Minnesota fans plenty to cheer for in their return to Target Field as the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners 10-2 on Thursday.
Berríos (2-0), who no-hit Milwaukee over six innings in his first turn, threw two more hitless innings before surrendering his first run of the season in the third.
Garver had the three-run shot that got the Twins going in their home opener, a straightaway screamer to center field that landed in the living wall of junipers for a 3-1 lead in the third inning against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales (0-1).