The first six innings of this game were the El Mago and Stro show, as Javier Báez and Marcus Stroman did everything they could to put the Mets on their back and carry them to victory. But baseball is a team sport, and it takes more than just two players to will a team towards a win. And in the end, the collective effort was not there, and the failures of the bullpen and the bats with runners in scoring position resulted in a demoralizing 3-2 loss to the Marlins.
Báez took over the game from the first inning. After Jesús Luzardo retired the first two batters, Báez scorched a double to right-center field that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. With Michael Conforto at the plate, Miami’s hurler buried a pitch in the dirt that didn’t get too far from catcher Sandy León, but got far enough that Báez broke for third. It was a risky move, but it ended up working out as he used his magical sliding ability to evade the tag. That proved to be a big gamble, because as Conforto walked, the ball again got away from León, which allowed Javy to come home with the game’s first run.
The bottom of the first and top of the second were uneventful, but the Marlins had their first big scoring opportunity in the bottom half of the second. After Marcus Stroman retired the first two batters, León singled, and Isan Diaz snuck a ball under his glove for a hit to put two runners on. Stroman recovered from that unfortunate play to get Magneuris Sierra to pop up to Francisco Lindor to end the inning.
With the Mets seeking more offense, Báez delivered in the third. After Pete Alonso flew out to left field to start the inning, the powerful second baseman strode to the plate and unloaded on Luzardo’s 1-1 offering, sending it far beyond the center field wall to give New York an insurance run. Funny enough, the home run came as Keith Hernandez was critiquing his propensity for swinging at certain counts and his overall hitting style.
From that point onward, the two starters settled into a nice groove. Stroman buckled down after his shaky second, retiring ten straight batters, which included perfect third, fourth, and fifth innings. During that span, he struck out four, and had command of all his pitches. His slider was particularly nasty with some good movement to it, while his changeup was incredibly effective through that part of the game. Meanwhile, Luzardo retired eight in a row, which included perfect fourth and fifth innings. He lost his streak in the sixth by walking Báez to start the frame. It was only the 19th walk he's drawn on the season, and his first since August 24. He then proceeded to steal second and third, though the Mets wound up stranding him there when Luzardo struck out Conforto and Zach Pop punched out Dominic Smith to extinguish the threat.
Stroman ran into trouble in the sixth after cruising for much of the game. He started the inning off by hitting the pinch hitter Eddy Alvarez, and then surrendering a single to Miguel Rojas to put runners on the corners with nobody out. He got Jazz Chisholm to ground out to second, which gave Miami their first run of the game. Chisholm stole second and ended up on third on a Bryan De La Cruz fly out, but Stroman struck out Jesús Sanchez to keep the Mets out in front.
Things unraveled in the seventh inning, allowing Miami to tie the game. With one out, León hit an innocent dribbler towards first base that Stroman misplayed. It looked like he was waiting for the ball to bounce up to him, but it bounced behind him, allowing the slow-footed backstop to reach first and ending Stroman’s night. Brad Hand entered and gave up a hit to Isan Diaz, with Báez stopping the ball on the infield but failing to make a throw to first. With Lewis Brinson up to the plate to pinch hit, Hand uncorked a wild throw that had a fortuitous bounce back to James McCann, who threw out the pinch runner Alex Jackson at third for the second out. Hand then got a soft grounder, but threw the ball away, which allowed Diaz to score for the tying run. The Mets again lucked out when Conforto threw out Brinson at second to end the inning.
The Mets positioned themselves well to re-take the lead in the eighth against Anthony Bender, as Alonso extended his hitting streak to nine with a triple off the right field wall. But Báez, who dominated the early part of this game, and J.D. Davis each grounded out to the drawn in infield. With Alonso still at third, Luis Rojas opted to pinch hit for Kevin Pillar with Jeff McNeil, and Don Mattingly countered with Richard Bleier. Predictably, McNeil grounded out to short to end the inning.
Jeurys Familia was called upon for the eighth to pitch for the fourth time in five games. After setting down the first two Marlins batters, Chisholm crushed Familia’s 1-0 offering and sent it deep into the upper deck in right field to give Miami a lead that they would not relinquish. The Mets came up against Dylan Floor in the ninth and did nothing, as Smith struck out, McCann grounded out, and Jonathan Villar struck out to end the game.
This was New York’s 12th loss in their last 13 one-run games, which is inexcusable and probably the clearest proof that the Mets are not deserving of a playoff spot. In the postseason, winning close games is crucial, and this team has shown an inability to come away with victories in close games. The Mets also went 0-for-7 with RISP in the loss, and were 1-for-22 on the series.
On Monday, the Mets were 3-1 on this road trip and three outs away from going 4-1. Instead, they blew a lead in the ninth, and proceeded to lose two out of three to the Marlins. They will return home from a disappointing 4-4 road trip to face the Yankees in Round 2 of the Subway Series. Tylor Megill will try to play stopper on Friday as he is opposed by left-hander Jordan Montgomery.
*illar of the Game
Neither: Kevin Pillar went hitless while reaching base after getting hit by a pitch. Jonathan Villar struck out to end the game. Neither is deserving of any glory in this defeat.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Marcus Stroman, 21.3% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeurys Familia, -24.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: -18.6%
Mets hitters: -31.4%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso eighth inning triple, 22.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jazz Chisholm eighth inning home run, -33.1% WPA
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