For the past week or so, the Mets' offense was ice, ice cold—not quite absolute zero cold, but colder than any reasonable human being could bear. In their previous nine games, the Mets had gone 2-7, scoring three runs or fewer seven times. It appeared that they had the perfect recipe to break the malaise, facing a pitcher in Wade LeBlanc who had a 6.20 ERA coming into the game, having allowed 53 base runners in just 24.2 innings. In the early going, it appeared that LeBlanc, like so many mediocre pitchers before him, would get healthy against the Mets.
After a leadoff single by Ruben Tejada to begin the game, Daniel Murphy grounded into a double play, and David Wright grounded out to end the inning. Dillon Gee, who had faltered late in his previous two starts, decided to change things up and get hit early this time. After walking Juan Pierre to begin the inning, and then Greg Dobbs with one out, Justin Ruggiano grounded an RBI single past Murphy, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead. After retiring Marcell Ozuna, Chris Valaika hit a grounder down the left field line, scoring Dobbs and Ruggiano from first, giving the Marlins a what seemed insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The Mets got two runners on in the second, but Juan Lagares could do nothing with it. Murphy reached in the third with two outs, but was quickly picked off first. This was less than optimal considering Wright was at the plate. It would look even worse as Wright, who had struggled against lefties to begin the season, launched the first pitch of the fourth, a hanging changeup from LeBlanc, deep into the seats in left, over the Clevelander night club, putting the Mets on the board. Gee would fall into more trouble in the bottom of the fourth, giving up an opposite field double to Nick Green with one out.The next batter, LeBlanc, after failing to bunt Green over, singled into center. The Marlins third base coach sent Green, but Lagares was able to make a perfect throw, nailing him at the plate. Despite the assist, Gee would not escape the inning unscathed, as Juan Pierre hit a ground ball past the outstretched glove of Murphy, and LeBlanc would score, despite getting shaken up at the plate, making it 4-1.
The score would remain the same until the top of the sixth. With two outs and a runner on third, Byrd hit a dunker into right, making it 4-2. After Ike Davis reached on a single, LeBlanc was pulled for right-hander A.J. Ramos. This spurred Terry Collins to pinch-hit Jordany Valdespin for Lagares. On a 2-2 pitch, Valdespin sent a fastball just over the seats in right, giving the Mets their first lead of the afternoon.
The Mets tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh on an opposite field, two-run double from John Buck. For the first time in over a week, the Mets had a lead of more than one run. That would quickly change. Reliever Scott Atchison would retire the leadoff batter but give up back-to-back hits to Donovan Solano and Dobbs, Ruggiano hit a single to left. The ball took an unfortunate hop, going over Lucas Duda's head and rolling all the way to the wall. Two runs would score and Ruggiano would end up at third, making it 7-6. With one out, Ozuna would hit a slow roller down the third base line. Wright made a brilliant bare-hand throw to first, recording the out and keeping Ruggiano at third. Valaika flew out to end the inning and the Mets' lead was still safe.
In the bottom of the eighth, Green had another double but the combo of LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Rice combined to keep the Marlins off the board. After not scoring in the top of the ninth, the Mets would end the bottom of the inning with a one-run lead for the third straight game. Closer Bobby Parnell was brought in this time, and Mets fans held their breath. Solano grounded out, but up came Dobbs, destroyer of worlds. Parnell, however, was able to do something few mortals, or at least Mets pitchers could do: get him out. Dobbs flew out to left on the first pitch he saw and there were two outs. With a 2-2 count on Ruggiano, Parnell got him fishing for a change-up in the dirt, sealing the Mets victory and restoring a modicum of their severely wounded pride.
After an off-day tomorrow, the Mets begin a three-game set with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Shaun Marcum will make his second start of the season as he squares off against Mike Minor. First pitch is at 7:30 pm, and the game will air on SNY.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jordany Valdespin 41%, Justin Ruggiano 32.7%
Big losers: A.J. Ramos -41.9%, Dillon Gee -23.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jordany Valdespin's three run homer in the sixth
Teh sux0rest play: Justin Ruggiano's single and Lucas Duda's error in the seventh
Total pitcher WPA: 4.2%
Total batter WPA: 45.8%
GWRBI!: John Buck