You know what they say about good teams, right? "They find ways to win." While that cliche may be tired and lame, it applied to the Mets today, as our boys fell behind by two runs on two different occasions, but came out on top anyway. The best part is that today's 5-4 victory was just one of many recent ones for the Mets. With three series wins in a row on a 7-2 homestand, the club is within six games of the .500 mark.
Daisuke Matsuzaka can be a hard guy to figure out, and often that saying doesn't just apply to opposing batters. Fans were left wondering to themselves whether or not Matsuzaka was doing a good job this afternoon. On one hand, his slider helped him strike out a season-high 10 batters in just six innings. On the other, he walked four Marlins and while he allowed just four hits, all of them went for extra bases.
Matsuzaka was able to pitch around a walk to Garrett Jones in the second after a perfect first. However, trouble hit in the third when Adeiny Hechavarria led off by ripping a double to left-center field. Starting pitcher Tom Koehler bunted the shortstop over to third, and two batters later, Donovan Solano hit a sharp one-hopper to third that skipped under the glove of David Wright.
The rare captain's error allowed Miami to score the first run of the game, but Matsuzaka recovered impressively by striking out both Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee to end the frame. The veteran right-hander even ran his strikeout streak to four straight when he punched out Jones and Marcell Ozuna during a perfect fourth, but in the fifth, Christian Yelich extended the Marlins' lead to 2-0 with a solo home run.
Up until that point, the Mets had nothing going on against Koehler. The right-hander from New Rochelle used a pair of breaking balls to strike out Daniel Murphy and Wright in the first before following up with a perfect second. Koehler got some help from his defense in the third when Hechavarria used a great spinning throw to retire Juan Lagares on a ground ball. Ruben Tejada walked to give the Mets their first baserunner, but after a Matsuzaka bunt, Curtis Granderson's RBI bid died on the warning track.
New York's frustrations continued in the fourth when Wright saw his hard line drive snared on the warning track by Yelich and Lucas Duda struck out looking on a curveball. After falling behind 2-0, though, the Mets got off to a great start in the fifth when Travis d'Arnaud singled to break up any thought of a Koehler no-hitter. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a long fly ball to left that Yelich had trouble reeling in. The ball fell for a double, and the Mets were in business.
Lagares easily drove in the first run with a ground ball to second base, and Terry Collins was ready to make his first great move of the day with Nieuwenhuis on third and one out. The maligned manager called for a suicide squeeze, and Tejada dropped a perfect bunt right by the first base line. Nieuwenhuis sprinted home to tie the game, and Tejada reached base when Miami catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball away.
It would have been nice to see the Mets continue that rally, because the Marlins struck right back in the top of the sixth. With one out, McGehee walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jones then hit a line drive to left-center field that was nearly snagged in a diving attempt by Lagares. Instead, the ball bounced off of the center fielder's face for a double that scored McGehee for a 3-2 Miami lead.
The Marlins' advantage was extended quickly when Ozuna hit a line drive to right field that Granderson got a poor jump on. The ball floated over his head to get Jones home easily and make it a 4-2 game. Fortunately, Matsuzaka escaped further damage with his ninth and 10th strikeouts of the game, but it appeared that the Marlins had already done enough damage.
Koehler pitched around a pair of free passes in the bottom of the sixth, and Carlos Torres came in to set the Fish down in order in the top of the seventh. New York's half of the seventh didn't get off to a great start when Lagares grounded out to first, but Tejada walked to give Collins the chance to insert Chris Young as the tying run at the plate. Miami manager Mike Redmond countered by subbing the right-handed Bryan Morris in for Koehler, but Collins declined to replace Young with a lefty.
That turned out to be quite wise, as Young sent Morris's first pitch into the left field seats to tie the game at 4-4. Granderson followed with a line-drive single to right, but the rally ended when Solano turned a Murphy ground ball into a spectacular double play with a sliding stop between first and second.
Murphy had some defensive tricks up his own sleeve, though. Vic Black took over the pitching in the eighth, and he put himself in danger by walking Saltalamacchia to put runners on first and second with two outs. Hechavarria then hit a line drive that appeared ticketed for right field, but Murphy cut it off with a wonderful leaping grab that should find itself on highlight reels throughout the nation tonight.
Marlins lefty Mike Dunn entered the game with one out in the eighth and got Duda on a ground out to bring d'Arnaud to the plate with two outs and the bases empty. The catcher double to left field to extend the frame, and Collins inserted Eric Campbell in place of Nieuwenhuis to give the Mets a chance to score off of Dunn.
And score they did! Campbell laced a Dunn slider into center field to get d'Arnaud around and give the Mets their first lead of the game. After Lagares struck out to end the inning, Jenrry Mejia pitched a perfect ninth to finish off a thrilling 5-4 victory.
The Mets will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 p.m. Jacob deGrom will try to replicate his last outing in which he struck out 11 Braves, while lefty Brad Hand will try to beat back the brooms for Miami. It will be the last game before the All-Star break for both clubs.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Young +35.6%, Campbell +29.6%, Tejada +17.1%
Big losers: Matsuzaka -33.2%, Murphy -15.7%, Duda -10.5%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Young homers to tie the game in the seventh, +35.6%
Teh sux0rest play: Jones doubles in the sixth to put Miami up 3-2, -17.6%
Total pitcher WPA: -7.5%
Total batter WPA: +57.5%