There is a special joy for Mets' fans in crushing the playoff dreams of the Marlins, regardless of how fantastical those dreams have become over the past few weeks. To their credit, this Marlins squad has shown itself to be surprisingly resilient by staying in the playoff conversation far longer than anyone expected. Good for them.
Despite that, one cannot forget that the Marlins played spoiler to the Mets' postseason hopes in both 2007 and 2008. Though the Amazins were far closer in those years than the Marlins are now, it feels particularly good to have a hand in returning the favor, and watch as any faint hope of Miami playing in October blows away with the autumn breeze.
In summary, though the Mets did not look their best tonight, they emerged victorious, beating the Fish 4-3, and adding one more nail to the 2014 Marlins' coffin.
The game started off similar to last night's contest. Juan Lagares reached base for the sixth consecutive time when he led off with a single against Marlins' starter Tom Koehler. Lagares then advanced to third on Matt den Dekker’s double to right to put two runners in scoring position with no men out. Apparently though, Koehler had the Mets right where he wanted them, as he struck out David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Travis d’Arnaud to escape the jam and strand the runners.
Mets' starter Jacob deGrom also ran into a little trouble in the home half of the first. After Christian Yelich grounded out to Ruben Tejada, deGrom walked Donovan Solano, and coughed up a base hit to Giancarlo Stanton that skipped past Duda to put runners at first and third with no outs. Thankfully for the Mets, Casey McGehee followed Stanton and grounded into his National League-leading 27th double play to let deGrom off the hook and end the inning.
This was how much of the early part of the game went on. Though there was minimal scoring, both pitchers struggled with their command, particularly deGrom, who threw 48 pitches through two innings.
The Marlins got on the board first in the bottom half of the third. After coughing up consecutive singles to start the inning, deGrom faced Stanton again with runners on first and second and no out. The good news was that Stanton grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. The bad news was that Casey McGehee came up next and hit a high bouncing ball back to deGrom. Normally, this doesn’t present too much of a problem, but the ball deflected off of deGrom’s glove, forcing Dilson Herrera to make a low, but playable, throw to Lucas Duda at first. Duda—who had looked completely lost in the field at several points earlier in the game—couldn’t handle it, and Christian Yelich scored from third to put the Marlins up 1-0. deGrom then got Marcell Ozuna to strike out swinging to end the inning, but the young Floridian was clearly frustrated as he walked off the mound.
The Mets answered back in the top of the fourth with some runs of their own. After notching two quick outs, Koehler put d’Arnaud on first with a walk. Kirk Nieuwenhuis came up next and absolutely pounded a ball into the upper deck to put the Mets on top 2-1. Koehler got out of the inning without any more trouble, and held the Mets at two before ultimatley leaving the game after the seventh.
After his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, deGrom made a minor miracle occur to open the home half of the fifth when he allowed a bloop single to Koehler to give the Marlins’ starter only his fifth hit of the year. Generosity aside, it was yet another example of what deGrom had done all night: make life difficult for himself. He recovered though, inducing two fly ball outs and striking out Stanton on a 2-2 fastball to get out of the inning. He came out again for the sixth, and threw another 1-2-3 inning that allowed him to leave the game in place to get the win.
The Marlins tied the game up in the seventh, however, thanks to a stellar managerial move by that wild and crazy genius Terry Collins. Initially, Buddy Carlyle came on to relieve deGrom in the seventh. Carlyle got Jarrod Saltalamcchia to ground out before giving up a double to Adeiny Hechavarria. The Mets righty then got pinch hitter Reed Johnson to hit a grounder to Duda, who managed to get the out despite looking completely unfamiliar with fielding his position (yet again) on the play. At this point, Terry—for reasons only he knows— decided it was high time for Dario Alvarez to make his major league debut.
Now, one could argue that, conventionally, it made sense to bring in the lefty Alvarez to face the left-handed hitting Christian Yelich. However, Yelich’s average is actually forty points higher against lefties than it is against righties, and he showed why on the second pitch he saw from Alvarez, when he singled to drive in the Marlins’ second run of the game to tie the score at two. Terry quickly removed Alvarez from the game, and Carlos Torres came on to finish the inning without any further excitement.
Thankfully, the eighth inning saw the Mets put some additional runs on the board. Matt den Dekker led off with a bunt single against new Marlins' pitcher Mike Dunn. After David Wright earned the golden sombrero (Wright finished 0-5 on the night), Duda singled to put runners on first and second and knock Dunn out of the game. Bryan Morris came in to, presumably, keep the score tied, but instead, he gave up a double to Travis d’Arnaud that drove in den Dekker to put the Mets back on top 3-2. Morris then intentionally walked Kirk Nieuwenhuis to set the double play up with the struggling Dilson Herrera on-deck. Though Herrera grounded into a fielder's choice, Duda scored on the play to add some padding to the Mets’ lead, and Morris then hit Ruben Tejada to load the bases. Torres batted for himself, though, and, unsurprisingly, struck out to end the inning.
Not wanting to get too comfortable, Torres promptly gave up a leadoff home run to Stanton in the bottom half of the inning that cut the Mets lead to one. Mercifully, he got the next few batters out without any issue, and though the Mets failed to score in the top of the ninth, Jenrry Meija pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning, letting all Mets fans every experience a faint taste of the schadenfreude that comes from playing the spoiler.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners:Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 34.0; Matt den Dekker, 22.3
Big losers: Dario Alvarez, -23.3; David Wright, -21.9
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kirk Nieuwenhuis home run, top of the fourth
Teh sux0rest play: Christian Yelich single, bottom of the seventh
Total pitcher WPA: 18.4
Total batter WPA: 31.6
GWRBI!: Dilson Herrera fielder's choice, top of the eighth