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Late rally falls short as Mets fall to Marlins

Another Mets potential comeback falls tantalizingly short against the first place Marlins.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Wacha burst out of the gate in the first inning, striking out the side with a sharp fastball touching 96 on the radar gun. Pete Alonso just missed staking Wacha to an early lead, as he doubled off the very top of the wall just left of center field. The Mets would strand Alonso there—a persistent issue they have struggled with this year which would rear its head again later in the game.

Wacha’s second inning was unfortunately the polar opposite of his first. His fastball ticked down in velocity, and his control seemed off. After a walk and an infield single with one out, Wacha served up a first pitch fastball down the middle that Francisco Cervelli deposited into the cardboard dog cutout area in the right field corner. The Marlins tacked on a fourth run thanks to a four pitch walk to ninth hole hitter Magneuris Sierra followed by an RBI double by Jonathan Villar.

With the team in an early 4-0 hole, Dominic Smith quickly got one back for the Mets, depositing an offering from Marlins’ rookie Humberto Mejia into the second deck in right field. Mejia, making his major league debut—and first appearance ever above A ball, as the Marlins continue to patch together a roster ravaged by COVID-19—was otherwise quite impressive, striking out 6 over 2.1 innings, as the youngster was limited to 67 pitches.

The Mets blew an opportunity to cut the deficit further in the bottom of the third thanks to a Brandon Nimmo baserunning miscue. After Nimmo drew a walk, with two outs, Michael Conforto blooped a ball down the left field line. Nimmo inexplicably went into a slide heading into third, just as Corey Dickerson misplayed the ball and it bounded past him, costing Nimmo a chance to cruise home.

J.D. Davis struck out to strand the two runners. He would become the first of 13 straight Mets to be retired by the Marlins’ bullpen, as the game got sloppy in part due to a slow, steady rain. Chasen Shreve and Jared Hughes did their part to keep the Mets in the game, but the team seemed headed towards a quiet, desultory loss—until the eighth inning, when the Mets instead turned it into a loss of the more painful, excruciating variety.

Amed Rosario led off the frame by snapping the Mets’ drought with a double off the right-center wall. Luis Rojas then made the curious decision to pinch hit Brian Dozier for Brandon Nimmo. Dozier did draw a walk, which brought up Jeff McNeil. McNeil stroked a ball seemingly ticketed for right-center, but Marlins second baseman Eddy Alvarez snagged it at the top of his leap to rob McNeil. After an Alonso single to right and a poor throw home by Brian Anderson on a Conforto grounder left the score 4-2 with the bases loaded and one out, the Mets were on the cusp of completing a big rally.

J.D. Davis did lace a single to left to cut the score to 4-3, but Alonso was unable to score from second. This time it was Dom Smith’s turn to come up short in a big at bat, popping out to short center to strand another runner at third with less than two outs. Wilson Ramos followed with a sharp grounder that Alvarez bobbled enough to get you momentarily excited—until you remembered who was running. Ramos was out by a good 3-4 strides as the inning ended with the Mets coming up just short.

Edwin Diaz came on and threw an impressive top of the ninth with two strikeouts to keep the deficit at one, but if you thought the Mets had already once again squandered their best opportunity to come back, you were correct. The team went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame to Nick Vincent, with Billy Hamilton lining out to left batting in what would have been Nimmo’s spot to close it out. The Mets will look to bounce back and snap the Marlins’ six game winning streak behind David Peterson tomorrow.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Michael Conforto, +12.2% J.D. Davis, +10.0%
Big Mets loser: Michael Wacha, -21.3%, Wilson Ramos, -20.2%, Dominic Smith, -17.8%, Jeff McNeil, -13.7%, Andres Gimenez, -12.9%
Mets pitchers: -12.6% WPA
Mets hitters: -37.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: J.D. Davis RBI single in the eighth, 18.6% WPA.
Teh sux0rest play: Francisco Cervelli three-run home run in the second, -23.9% WPA.