The Marlins and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate them, and they love to give me reasons to hate them. Tonight, though, I saved most of my ire for the Mets, who played a flat, sloppy game and exhibited little to no plate discipline. Jenrry Mejia showed a few flashes of the brilliance he displayed in Washington last Friday, but he struggled early in the contest, and his teammates were not up to the task of bailing him out.
Henderson Alvarez (one of the players that came to Miami from Toronto in The Last Great Fire Sale) had only given up 2 runs in his previous 3 starts. You could see why he'd been so stingy lately on Wednesday night, as he proved to be a groundball machine. These proclivities were abetted by the Mets batters, who approached their plate appearances as if they had a cab waiting for them outside Marlins Park with the meter running. (Considering today was the trade deadline, I hope the cab wasn't waiting to take them out for Cuban food.)
Alvarez set about blanking the Mets early, retiring them in order on grounders in the top of the first. In the second, New York threatened with a leadoff double from still-with-us Marlon Byrd and an infield single by Ike Davis. (It happened. I saw it. I swear.) But Alvarez induced a GIDP from last night's hero, John Buck, then got Juan Lagares to hit a comebacker, thus escaping unscathed. Get used to that acronym, GIDP, as you'll be seeing it many times in this recap.
As in his first start in Washington, Mejia flirted with danger in the bottom of the first inning tonight by allowing a leadoff single to Christian Yelich. He erased Yelich by getting Placido Polanco to ground into a double play, thanks to some nifty glove work by Daniel Murphy, but then he walked Giancarlo Stanton and fell behind 3-0 to Logan Morrison. LoMo assisted Mejia by swinging at ball four, then lining the next pitch to shortstop.
After a strikeout and a grounder to open the second, it looked like Mejia might settle into the groove he found in DC, but Jake Marisnick turned on a two-seamer and sent it into the left field bleachers for his first major league home run, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
Alvarez dispatched the first two batters in the top of the third with little effort. The third batter, Eric Young, hit a ball to the fence in right center. I mean, literally to the fence. Young's clout bounced off the top of the wall, eluded the shrubbery planted just beyond it, and bounced back onto the field, missing a home run by a matter of micrometers. After an official review and several uncomfortable minutes of Gary Cohen and Ron Darling watching slo-mo to see if the hit had "moved a bush" (ahem), the call was held up and Young limited to a mere triple (correctly, as replays showed). After Murphy walked, David Wright flew to right for the third out, and the Mets were turned aside again.
In the bottom half, things began ominously as Alvarez hit a tapper a few feet in front of the plate. Either John Buck didn't call off Mejia or the pitcher didn't hear him, because both men went for the ball. Mejia eventually fielded it, but not in time to throw out Alvarez at first. Yelich followed with a long double over Young's glove in left. Polanco hit a long fly ball to right that Byrd fired toward the plate, even though there was no shot to nail Alvarez at home. Byrd's ill-advised throw allowed Yelich to tag up and move to third, then score on a Stanton fly to left. (The Mets should be grateful it stayed in the park.)
With a 3-0 lead, Alvarez worked a quick top of the fourth, despite a two-out error by shortstop Ed Lucas that briefly put Buck on base. At the same time, Mejia also began to find a groove, setting down the Marlins in order while notching two K's in the bottom of the fourth. Unfortunately, he found other ways to fail in the top of the fifth. Omar Quintanilla led off the inning with a bloop single. Mejia attempted to bunt him over, but pushed the ball right toward the pitcher, which allowed Alvarez to initiate a double play. It might not have resulted in two outs had Mejia not come to a complete stop while running to first for some reason, but he did. One out later, the Mets were dispatched on a mere 5 pitches.
To his credit, Mejia didn't carry that gaffe with him to the mound and even managed to clean up a mess not entirely of his making in the bottom of the fifth. He allowed Alvarez to dunk a single into shallow right, then forced Yelich to ground a ball toward Davis. Ike decided to go after the lead runner, but fired a terrible throw on the run toward second. The ball sailed into the outfield, allowing Yelich to reach safely and Alvarez to run to third. Mejia knuckled down and got a shallow fly from Polanco and a groundout from Stanton to avoid catastrophe.
Alvarez continued to cruise in the top of the sixth, retiring the first two batters of the frame while having thrown only 61 pitches to that point. The Mets finally put up some resistance when Byrd hit a two-out infield single, then Davis worked the team's first lengthy at bat of the evening. Ike hit Alvarez's ninth pitch into the right field corner for an RBI double. That, however, would be all they could manage in the inning, and when the last out was recorded, Alvarez had expended a mere 75 pitches to get through six.
Mejia finished strongly, working around a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth to throw another zero on the board. If nothing else, he had kept the Mets in the game after some rough early innings, but his teammates could not capitalize. Juan Lagares was hit by a pitch to open the top of the seventh, but Omar Quintanilla (who, after a hot-ish stretch, has become well acquainted with The Mean) promptly grounded into the third Mets DP of the evening. One out later, Alvarez was back in the dugout with only another 11 pitches added to his workload.
The once ubiquitous Scott Rice took Mejia's place on the mound in the bottom of the seventh and impressed by striking out the side. Immediately after, Alvarez finally began to fade. Young started things off in the top of the eighth by working a walk. Murphy then turned in a tough at bat before lining a ball toward shortstop. Young was running on the play and it would have gone for an easy double play had Lucas hung on to the ball. Lucas bobbled the ball and recovered in time to throw out Murphy at first, but Young hustled his way to third on the play.
That ended Alvarez's night and brought Chad Qualls to the mound, he of The Greatest Fist Bump ever. Qualls' second pitch sailed past the catcher's glove, allowing Young to scamper home with the Mets' second run. Then Wright singled stole second, and advanced to third on a long fly out by Byrd. (Wright appeared to spike himself on his stolen base, but hung in there because he's David Wright.)
The Marlins turned to lefty Mike Dunn to face Ike Davis, but the Mets countered by pinch hitting with Josh Satin. This was a more than defensible move considering Ike's track record against southpaws. The scheme backfired, however, as Get Thee Behind Me flew out to left.
Carlos Torres is still slated to start a game this weekend, but he took the mound for the bottom of the eighth and quickly set down the Marlins in order, capping another surprisingly strong outing from the Mets' bullpen With Miami's closer, Steve Cishek, unavailable, Dunn stayed on to try and earn the save. John Buck, who'd had a rough game to that point, inspired comeback dreams when he smacked a single up the middle to start off the top of the ninth. But Dunn struck out Juan Lagares, got pinch hitter Justin Turner to fly out to deep right field, then fanned another pinch hitter (Anthony Recker) to end the ballgame.
Hopefully, the Mets caught that cab that was waiting for them and went immediately to their hotel after the game to get a good night's sleep. Based on tonight's effort, they need it, and nobody wants to be dragging their posterior on a sunny Harvey Day.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Ike Davis, 10.2%, Eric Young, 8.6%
Big losers: Jenrry Mejia, -11.3%, Juan Lagares, -10.3%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ike Davis RBI double, top sixth, 8.4%
Teh sux0rest play: Jake Marisnick home run, bottom second, -11.9%
Total pitcher WPA: -6.4%
Total batter WPA: -43.6%
GWRBI!: Giancarlo Stanton RBI sac fly, bottom fourth