The good vibes at Citi Field lasted all day, and into the night.
A memorable and joyous Saturday in Flushing began with the long-overdue reintroduction of Old Timers’ Day festivities, with a ceremony that struck every right note for Mets fans and participating alumni featuring verbal bouquets directed throughout at owner Steve Cohen and the surprise retirement of New York baseball legend Willie Mays’ No. 24.
It concluded with yet another victory for Buck Showalter’s first-place Mets, who can sweep their four-game series Sunday against the Rockies — with Max Scherzer on the mound — following a crisp 3-0 victory amid nothing but hoopla and nostalgia at Citi Field .
“One, it’s a lot of pressure to win the game that day. It was a great day for the Mets and the Mets family,” Showalter said. “We had a chance to let them know how much they’ve meant to the organization and the fans. … I thought it was an uplifting thing for our club, too, to see all of these guys. It was a special day all the way around.”
David Peterson (7-3, 3.21) was summoned again from Triple-A Syracuse, and the lefty posted six shutout innings on four hits with zero walks and seven strikeouts over 102 pitches.
Brandon Nimmo homered and drove in two runs for the Mets, who moved three games ahead of the Braves in the NL East and improved to 82-46, already clinching a winning record for the season with 34 games remaining.
“The biggest thing that I saw was the smiles on their faces for the recognition and the people who showed up to acknowledge what they’ve done for the organization,” Nimmo said. “You could tell that everyone that was there wished they could go back to those days and it made me realize that this is pretty darn cool … and tried to take that out to the game.”
Ahead of the organization’s first Old Timers’ ceremony since 1994, Showalter shared the podium during his pregame press conference with former Mets managers Joe Torre, Bobby Valentine, Willie Randolph and Terry Collins, who took turns praising the current team for its approach under its first – year skipper.
“Buck, it’s been a blast to watch,” Collins beamed, as the others nodded affirmatively. “For us old-time guys, we think there’s a way to play the game — and you’re doing it. It is a fun, fun team to watch play. Very, very proud to know you and the job you’ve done. Finish it up.”
Even with Scherzer and Jacob deGrom sidelined for extended stretches due to injuries, the Mets’ starting rotation has remained a strength through most of the season, and that includes Peterson as one of the primary fill-in contributors.
Peterson, who grew up barely 20 miles from Denver’s Coors Field in Aurora (Colo.), was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before the game. The 26-year-old lefty entered his 16th start and 20th appearance of the season with a 3.44 ERA, and he immediately proceeded to whittle that number down further before departing with a 2-0 lead after six innings.
“It’s an honor to be on this team and in this clubhouse with these guys, to fight shoulder to shoulder with them every day,” Peterson said. “I take a lot of pride when I’m given the ball and for every opportunity that I get.”
Nimmo accounted for the first two runs for the Mets, starting with a leadoff blast to right against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland in the first. It was the sixth leadoff home run of Nimmo’s career, and his third against Colorado.
He drove in another run one inning later with a two-out double to right and also walked and scored from first in the seventh on Starling Marte’s double to right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Relievers Seth Lugo and Trevor May recorded the next six outs after Peterson departed, and with closer Edwin Diaz unavailable after pitching the previous two nights, Adam Ottavino worked a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season, both in this series, to cap a perfect day for the Mets.