In beating the Mets on Wednesday night, the Marlins exhibited why some people considered them to be preseason playoff berth contenders, with speed and defense complementing an offense built around the most feared power hitter in the game. Dee Gordon (2-for-3 with the go-ahead RBI) looked the part of pesky leadoff hitter, and let’s not ever forget that 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki can still handle the lumber. Meanwhile, the Mets betrayed some of their flaws which some feel belie their hot start.
Things looked good for New York early on, as a two-run home run by Michael Cuddyer opened the scoring in the first. Cuddyer had been mired in a 2-for-28 slump coming in, but he ran into a Mat Latos breaking ball that didn’t break, launching it off the back wall of the bullpen in left-center for his second homer on the season.
Giancarlo Stanton responded in the bottom half with a monstrous 434-foot two-run bomb which landed in the last row of the left field seats. Bartolo Colon was missing his spots early and flatlined a sinker at the belt, which Stanton jumped all over for his sixth round-tripper of the year, tying the game.
Still, Colon pitched solidly, if not spectacularly, and the Mets were hitting the ball well off of Latos, even if the hit column wasn’t overly friendly. Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy routinely struck the ball well off Latos, but only had one hit each to show for it. This was partly due to bad luck and partly due to some nice defense by the Marlins throughout the game. Adeiny Hechavarria put in some good work at shortstop, leaping to snag a Granderson liner and making some slick plays around the bag, including a pair of key double plays. Stanton made a great running catch on a rope into the corner by Granderson. It took a dead run by center fielder Marcell Ozuna to track down a potential Cuddyer RBI extra base hit almost 400 feet from the plate in the left-center.
With the liners not falling, the Mets were able to scratch out another run and a second lead with some well-executed small ball. Granderson led off the third with a double, advanced to third on a Juan Lagares groundout to the right side, and scored on another grounder by Duda.
It was the last lead the Mets would have, as their bats were unable to dent the Marlins’ bullpen once Latos left with a leg injury, managing only two harmless singles the rest of the way. Meanwhile, New York’s up-the-middle defense showed some of its limitations and could be seen as subtly aiding a number of Marlins' runs tonight. Murphy’s wide throw on a double play bid in the first put on a runner who would later score on Stanton’s homer. He also was unable to complete a tough play reminiscent of his whirling dervish masterpiece from two nights before, which resulted in the third Marlins run instead of ending the inning—a ‘traditional’ second baseman with quicker footwork may have been able to make it happen.
As much fun as it is to extol Colon’s many virtues, poor footwork as he labored after a seventh inning bunt attempt may have cost him a chance to cut down a runner at third; alas, Gordon then followed with a sac fly to put the Marlins ahead for the first time. Murphy also dropped a weak one-bounce throw by Kevin Plawecki which would have nevertheless cut down a steal attempt by Ozuna in the eighth. Instead, that runner changed the complexion of the inning, reaching third when J.T. Realmuto’s dribbler into the pitcher-third-short Bermuda Triangle couldn’t be handled (Hansel Robles reacted slowly off the mound), and was the first to score when Ichiro golfed a three-run homer into the right field stands to put the game away. Wilmer Flores also committed his fifth error of the young year, but it did not end up biting the Mets. Still, defense continues to be a problem for a team with postseason aspirations of its own.
With the Mets playing from behind late in the game, Terry Collins turned to a contingent of the relief corps that he is still feeling out—to mixed results. Robles came on for Colon in the seventh with two outs, a runner on, and the imposing Stanton at the plate. Robles's second big league appearance started well, as he stuck out the slugger on a 96 mile per hour heater that appeared to rise up and out of the hitting zone. He would strike out both hitters he retired, but he walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth before the Realmuto infield single. Alex Torres then came in only to serve up the Ichiro gopher ball. Erik Goeddel appeared as a ROOGY for the second out of the inning. Then Jack Leathersich made his major league debut, securing his only out in a strange fashion—lefty Justin Bour crushed a ball over Granderson's head in right, but Bour stepped off the bag by about two inches after popping up from sliding safely into second, and Flores stayed with the tag for the out. They say ‘better lucky than good’. But I think the Mets would rather get back to good instead. Let's hope they do that ASAP, as they start a four game set with the Nationals Thursday night in Queens.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Michael Cuddyer, +19.5% WPA; Juan Lagares, +4.4% WPA
Big losers: Bartolo Colon, -32.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Cuddyer's two-run homer in the first, +19.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer in the first, +18.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -31.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: -18.5% WPA
GWRBI!: Dee Gordon