Mets beat Braves 4-3 on Nimmo pinch hit home run


NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Nimmo played only 2 1/2 innings off the bench and still made all the difference.

Held out of the starting lineup Sunday night because of soreness on his right side, Nimmo entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and hit a two-run homer in the ninth that gave the New York Mets a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Swinging a pink bat and wearing pink socks on Mother’s Day, a smiling Nimmo pumped his fist as he circled the bases. He was swarmed by excited teammates at home plate after connecting off left-hander A.J. Minter for the second walk-off homer of his career.

“This definitely is one of the coolest days that I’ve had, for sure,” Nimmo said at his locker afterward, still in full uniform and cleats. “It just was really special.”

Nimmo exited Saturday's game early with right intercostal irritation, and Mets manager Carlos Mendoza initially intended to give him a full night off Sunday.

But when he saw how comfortable Nimmo looked while taking test swings in the indoor batting cage, Mendoza was convinced the outfielder could be a safe and viable option off the bench.

“I was really impressed with the way he was swinging the bat,” Mendoza said. “Probably an hour before game time, I went back to the training room with him and talked to the trainers and wanted to make sure that we were all clear. And, it wasn’t an easy decision.”

DJ Stewart started for Nimmo in left field and the leadoff spot. Stewart singled twice and drew a one-out walk in the seventh. That's when he was lifted for Nimmo, who also made an excellent catch at the left-field fence in the eighth.

“It was a good test right away,” Nimmo said. “I couldn’t have imagined that today would work out this way."

Nimmo was removed from Saturday’s loss after the fourth inning. He felt discomfort when he held up on a swing in the second and was checked by Mendoza and an athletic trainer.

Nimmo initially remained in the game and drew a walk. He played the next two innings in the field before being replaced by Tyrone Taylor.

“I’m pretty optimistic that we caught it early,” Mendoza said before Sunday's game. “We were able to treat it last night, and he’s feeling good today.”

The 31-year-old Nimmo is hitting .234 with six home runs and a team-high 27 RBIs. He began the day leading New York's everyday players with a .779 OPS.

Nimmo has appeared in all but one of the team's 39 games this year and played in 341 of New York's 362 games dating to the start of the 2022 season. Over his past 14 games, he's batting .314 (16 for 51) with four homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs.

“Pretty huge. For him to go through what he went through yesterday and today just to be available kind of shows the player he is,” teammate Jeff McNeil said. “Always wants to be on that field helping the team win.”

In other injury news, it's unclear when No. 1 starter Kodai Senga will throw live batting practice again or begin a minor league rehab assignment.

In his recovery and buildup from a right shoulder capsule strain, Senga faced hitters twice in the past two weeks. But he's back to just throwing bullpens probably for the next week or so, according to Mendoza, as Senga attempts to fine-tune his mechanics to his own liking.

“We don't want to put him at risk,” Mendoza said. “He's very meticulous about his craft.”

Elsewhere, right-hander Tylor Megill (shoulder strain) pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings for Triple-A Syracuse in a win against Lehigh Valley. He allowed seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks, throwing 55 of his 74 pitches for strikes.

New York is expected to reinstate Megill from his minor league rehab assignment this week and decide whether to bring him back to the big leagues or option him to Syracuse.

Right-handed reliever Drew Smith (shoulder soreness) pitched a hitless inning Saturday for Syracuse and could come off the injured list Monday or Tuesday.

Left-hander David Peterson (left hip surgery) is scheduled to make another rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Binghamton. He could be ready to come off the IL when eligible on May 27, Mendoza said.