If you didn’t know any better watching Tuesday night’s game, you might have thought you were watching a replay of Monday’s game. There were slight differences, but the Mets did fall behind 4-0 to the Marlins, and the Mets did battle back late in the game, but the Mets did ultimately fall short. The score this time around was 5-4, but it was no less frustrating than Monday’s defeat.
The Mets immediately threatened in the first inning but could not break through against Marlins’ rookie Nick Neidert. Brandon Nimmo, in his first start in four games, singled to lead off the game. Pete Alonso popped up, and Jeff McNeil walked, which gave New York two runners on with one out. Javier Báez had a 2-0 count, but swung on a breaking ball well out of the zone, and ended up going down swinging. Dominic Smith then followed suit with a strikeout as Neidert escaped unscathed.
Taijuan Walker, who has struggled since the All Star break for the Mets, immediately found himself in trouble in the bottom half of the frame but, like Neidert, was able to get out of the jam. After Miguel Rojas drove one to the warning track on the first pitch of the game for an out, Isan Díaz singled and Jesús Aguilar doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Brian Anderson popped up on the first pitch for the second out, and Monday night’s Marlins hero, Lewis Brinson, struck out to end the inning.
Miami did not waste their opportunity in the second against Walker. Bryan De La Cruz, who had himself a solid evening, had a one out single but was picked off of first. That proved to be a big play, as the next batter, catcher Alex Jackson, drove a homer to dead center field to give the Marlins the early lead. It was the first career homer for Jackson, who was 3-for-47 in his big league career prior to that long ball. Miami added three more runs in the third, which began with a Díaz solo homer. Walker then loaded the bases on an Aguilar walk, a Brinson single, and a Jorge Alfaro walk, and De La Cruz grounded a single up the middle for his first two career runs batted in to give Miami a four-run lead.
With the two homers he gave up in the second and third, that made it seven homers allowed by Walker over his last three starts after he allowed six in his first 17, which continues an alarming trend for the right-hander since the break. To his credit, Walker bounced back to retire nine of the last ten batters he faced, including perfect fourth and fifth innings. He ended up going 5.2 innings, which made it 12 straight games for the Mets without their starter going six innings. Still, while it wasn’t a great start, it was still his best since the break.
The Mets began their rally attempt. McNeil began the frame with a double to left field that dropped in when Alfaro, who was playing out of position in left, couldn’t get to it. McNeil advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and Báez hit a liner to right which was hit too hard for McNeil to score, but Smith picked him up with a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in McNeil. J.D. Davis struck out to end the frame.
The Mets got closer in the sixth, as Alonso walked to lead off the frame, and McNeil was hit on the leg to put the tying runs on base. Báez flew out to center, which got Alonso to third, and Smith drove him home on a sacrifice fly. With the two sacrifice flies, that gave the Mets 12 total on the year, which is less than any other team, and puts them on pace for only 18 on the year, which would be the fewest by any team since they started tracking the stat. Davis then hit a ball to right that carried and hit off the wall, which brought McNeil home all the way from first. With the chance to tie up the game, Conforto flew out to end the inning.
The Mets went down 1-2-3 in the seventh, which is not itself a noteworthy occurrence, if not for the fact that Luis Rojas was ejected for arguing on the strike three call to Nimmo to end the seventh inning. It was, very clearly, a strike, but it was perhaps an attempt by the team’s manager to spark some sort of fire in his club. In the next inning, Alonso hit a ball deep to left, but it died on the warning track and landed in Alfaro’s glove for the first out. McNeil and Báez were both retired to end the inning.
Seth Lugo, who remained in for the eighth after a perfect seventh, allowed Miami to score an insurance run, which would end up being critical in this loss. After Anderson recorded the first out of the inning, Brinson singled, and Alfaro doubled into the right-center field gap to give the Marlins a two-run lead and make the job even tough for the Mets in the ninth.
Dylan Floro was in for the Marlins for his third straight game in a situation he was not used to, which gave the Mets a glimmer of hope as they tried to come back. Smith led off with a single, and Davis grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out. Conforto hit a grounder to the right side, but it was scooped up by Anderson on a diving play to get Conforto at first for the second out. James McCann doubled Davis home, which shrunk Miami’s lead to one, but Brandon Drury was unable to tie the game and grounded out to complete the loss.
The Phillies earned a 5-4 win of their own against the Nationals, which means that the Mets’ lead in the division is down to 1.5 games, their lowest since May 26. New York has retained sole possession of first in the NL East since May 9, but with a series against the Phillies coming up this weekend, that is certainly in jeopardy.
The Mets, who have lost five of their last six, and five of seven overall to the Marlins in 2021, will desperately try to stop the ship from sinking as they face the Marlins on Wednesday night. Carlos Carrasco will make his second start for the Mets, and he will be opposed by Zach Thompson on the Miami side.
*illar of the Game
Neither: Jonathan Villar was retired in his pinch hitting appearance, and Kevin Pillar did not play in this game.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, 12.7% WPA
Big Mets loser: Taijuan Walker, -18.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: -18.4% WPA
Mets hitters: -31.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: J.D. Davis run-scoring double in the sixth, 13.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Alex Jackson second inning home run, 12.1% WPA
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