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Chourio sparkles in MLB debut, Brewers beat Mets 3-1 as tempers flare in season opener

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NEW YORK (AP) — Even before his first big league game, Jackson Chourio had an $82 million contract.

Didn’t take him long to show why.

The 20-year-old provided an immediate spark from the leadoff spot in his much-anticipated debut, and the Milwaukee Brewers threw a one-hitter to beat the New York Mets 3-1 in their contentious season opener Friday.

“It’s not easy to have that pressure and that responsibility that he carried,” new Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy said. “I’m just really proud of the kid and happy for his family and anyone that was here to see him that he really showed well — defensively, offensively, baserunning. That was pretty cool.”

Christian Yelich homered and Freddy Peralta pitched six splendid innings for the NL Central champions, giving Murphy a victory in his first game since replacing Craig Counsell.

Tempers flared at windy Citi Field when Brewers newcomer Rhys Hoskins — who irritated the Mets during his days with the NL East rival Phillies — slid hard into second baseman Jeff McNeil on a potential double-play ball in the eighth.

McNeil was visibly angry at Hoskins, and both benches and bullpens emptied onto the field. The teams kept their distance, so there was no pushing and shoving, but Hoskins rubbed his eyes as if to call McNeil a crybaby, and McNeil cursed at Hoskins from across the field.

Chourio had a terrific major league debut, getting his first hit and driving in a run with his parents and brother in the stands. He also drew a four-pitch walk to start the game, stole a base and left his feet for an important catch at the right-field wall.

After the game, the souvenir ball from his first hit was sitting in a case atop his locker, and Chourio said he would give it to his father.

“Just very happy. Very proud,” he said through a translator.

When he thought about batting Chourio leadoff, Murphy sought Yelich’s opinion and the veteran outfielder told him sure, throw the kid right into the fire. Get the jitters out of the way.

“Great debut for him, for sure,” Yelich said. “He’s just a talented kid. He can really play the game, and he’s still so young. You forget that he was a teenager a couple weeks ago.”

Chourio became the youngest Milwaukee player to make his major league debut on opening day since Hall of Famer Robin Yount was 18 in 1974.

One of baseball’s most prized prospects, Chourio signed an $82 million, eight-year deal this offseason — the most money guaranteed to a player with no major league experience.

Peralta (1-0) struck out eight and walked one in his first opening-day start. The right-hander fanned four of his final five batters and the only hit he gave up was Starling Marte’s homer in the second, his first since July 4.

“Peralta was really good. Not a secret — this guy when he’s on, he’s tough,” new Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “He was on today. We started chasing some balls down and then when we expanded, it was easy for him to just go back to the fastball and attack the top of the zone.”

Trevor Megill, the brother of Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill, worked the seventh and Joel Payamps struck out two in a perfect eighth. With star closer Devin Williams injured, Abner Uribe threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his second big league save with the help of an excellent defensive play by second baseman Brice Turang.

Mets starter Jose Quintana (0-1) was charged with two runs over 4 2/3 innings in an opener postponed a day because of rain.

Mendoza lost his first game as a big league manager after replacing Buck Showalter this offseason. Mendoza was hired by new Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns, who used to run the Brewers after growing up a Mets fan in New York City.

Yelich tied it with a leadoff homer in the fourth and finished with three hits. Chourio’s first hit, a ground single to right field, sent Andruw Monasterio from first to third in the fifth and set up William Contreras’ shallow sacrifice fly.

Pinch-hitter Jake Bauers doubled leading off the seventh, advanced on Turang’s pinch-hit bunt single and scored when Chourio grounded into a forceout. The speedy Chourio beat the relay to first, avoiding a double play to earn his first RBI.

New York dropped to 41-22 in openers, by far the best record among big league teams — even after losing its first eight from 1962-69.

UP NEXT

Brewers: DL Hall makes his Milwaukee debut when he starts Saturday in the middle game of the series. The left-hander was acquired in the Feb. 1 trade that sent 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes to Baltimore.

Mets: RHP Luis Severino makes his Mets debut after signing a $13 million, one-year contract in the offseason. The two-time All-Star spent his previous eight big league seasons across town with the Yankees, going 4-8 with a career-worst 6.65 ERA last year.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer

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