WASHINGTON — Who said new Mets hitters are contractually required to get off to slow starts?
Years of torturous letdowns — from Carlos Beltran in 2005 through Jason Bay in 2010 all the way through the duo of Francisco Lindor and James McCann last year — might have lowered the expectations for offseason additions Starling Marte and Mark Canha, but the first two games of this season suggest it’s OK to get excited again.
Marte collected two hits and three RBIs and Canha reached base four times Friday as the Mets beat the Nationals, 7-3, to win back-to-back games in the season-opening, four-game series.
“It’s what every team tries to do in baseball — grind every at-bat,” manager Buck Showalter said before the game about the Mets’ new-look lineup. “Sometimes you don’t score a run, but you can win the inning.”
Well, the Mets are scoring plenty of runs, at least in part because they aggressively signed Canha to a two-year, $26.5 million contract and Marte to a four-year, $78 million contract before MLB entered its offseason lockout.
Marte broke a 3-3 tie Friday by following Brandon Nimmo’s leadoff triple with a double into the left-field corner in the fourth inning. He added a two-out two-run single in the sixth, sparking “Let’s Go Mets” chants in the road ballpark. The Mets ranked No. 28 in MLB in hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position (.204) last season.
Marte hasn’t yet dipped into his toolbox for arguably the biggest two biggest assets he brings to the Mets — the speed to steal 47 bases for the Marlins and Athletics in 2021 and the Gold Glove defense he brought to the Pirates earlier in his career.
Marte also was in the thick of the action on Opening Day, with a single and an RBI as the leadoff hitter because Nimmo was out due to a stiff neck.
Not that it should overshadow Canha, who had two hits in the opener and has been on base seven times in nine plate appearances.
“It always feels important to get off to a good start, especially Opening Day and through the first month,” Canha said. “You want to show your new teammates that you are going to contribute and that you are valuable. I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t important to me to get off to a good start.”