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Sandy Alcantara was on, Luis Rojas was off

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The Mets couldn’t get to Alcantara and couldn’t get past their manager’s poor in-game skills.

MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets and Marlins played a long, drawn out, sloppy slog of a game last night, which ended with a Mets victory. Reverse all of that, and you’ve got tonight’s game, which ended 2-1 in the Marlins’ favor.

The Mets sent Rich Hill to the mount tonight in Miami. Hill, after a six-inning, shutout performance in Washington over the weekend, followed that up with a six-inning, one run affair in Miami. Hill struck out eight and walked none, allowing just the one run when Bryan De La Cruz scored in the second inning. De La Cruz doubled, and was driven in by Alex Jackson.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Hill’s starting performance would be dwarfed by that of Marlins’ ace Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara, who surrendered his lone run on a Michael Conforto solo home run in the seventh inning, had electric stuff tonight. Walking just one, Alcantara struck out 14 across his nine innings, scattering just four hits.

The Mets’ bullpen spent the rest of regulation giving their fans the fits by putting seven men on base across the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but allowing none to score. Jeurys Familia allowed a seventh inning single to Isan Diaz. James McCann then mishandled a ball hit by pitcher Alcantara, putting two on with one out. But Miguel Rojas bounced into a double play to end the inning.

Same story in the eighth inning, when Aaron Loup allowed singles to Jorge Alfaro and Jesús Sánchez, before both being erased on an inning-ending double play off the bat of De La Cruz.

In the ninth, Seth Lugo, who was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor all inning, allowed a double to Jackson and walks to Diaz and pinch hitter (and former Met) Joe Panik to load the bases with just one out. But Lugo locked in, striking out Miguel Rojas, and inducing a tricky, but playable, ground ball from Jazz Chisholm to end the threat.

The Mets would not score in the top of the tenth, due in part to a potentially bad call made by the umpires on whether a Javier Báez hit fly ball down the right-field line hit off of Sánchez’s glove in fair or foul territory. It was called foul, and so instead of runners on first and third with no one out, Báez whiffed for the first out. A Jeff McNeil ground out (replete with temper tantrum) and a Luis Guillorme walk put the bat in the hands of pinch hitter Patrick Mazeika, who nubbed a ball forty feet and was thrown out at first base.

Edwin Díaz, who has been a topic of scorn for Mets fans as of late, came into the tenth inning and retired the first two batters he faced: Magneuris Sierra went down on a great, bare-handed play on his bunt by Díaz, and Sánchez was called out on strikes. Luis Rojas, with first and second base open, opted to have Díaz pitch to the red hot De La Cruz instead of pitch around him and face the ice cold Lewin Díaz.

De La Cruz hit a ball in the air, for which Díaz pointed in the sky, implying a pop up, but instead it hit off the center field wall and scored the free runner, Chisholm, from third and gave the walk-off loss tonight.

While there are usually a lot of places to apply blame in a 2-1 loss against a bad team, Alcantara was so dominant tonight that it seems unfair to blame the offense for failing to do much against a fantastic pitcher having an incredible night. Instead, the blame has to fall squarely on the shoulders of Rojas, whose inability to see the simplest solution to avoid losing the game cost them not just a victory, but a potential leap in the standings, as both the Braves and Phillies lost tonight.

The Mets finish out their series against the Marlins tomorrow night at 6:40pm. Marcus Stroman starts for the Mets, with Jesus Luzardo going for the Fish.

Box scores

MLB.com

ESPN

-illar of the day

Jonathan Villar broke an 0-14 stretch with a single in the ninth inning, which is about the most offense anyone not named Michael Conforto contributed tonight. But, Kevin Pillar also made a pretty great catch tonight, so let’s be generous and call it a tie.

Win Probability Added

Mets vs Marlins WPA Chart, 9/8/21
Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Seth Lugo, +30.1% WPA

Big Mets loser: Patrick Mazeika, -30.7% WPA

Mets pitchers: +43.5% WPA

Mets hitters: -93.5% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s solo home run, +21.3% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Bryan De La Cruz’s game-winning single, -37.9% WPA

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