OJTB: Walked Off: Mets Fall to Marlins, 4-3
Entering the bottom of the eighth inning of Monday’s contest at Marlins Park, the Mets were riding high. LHP Jonathon Niese had limited the Miami Marlins’ offense, and New York (16-15) held a 3-0 lead. Then, the proverbial roof crashed.
Miami (17-15) tied the contest against RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka in the eighth and prevailed, 4-3, on 3B Casey McGehee’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Matsuzaka was wildly ineffective, both literally and figuratively, in the eighth inning. Without recording an out, he surrendered three runs on two walks and two hits. Only two of the runs were earned, however, because SS Omar Quintanilla committed an error during the meltdown.
RHP Kyle Farnsworth relieved Matsuzaka and kept the game tied by escaping a second-and-third jam with nobody out, but the Marlins were unfazed. LF Christian Yelich commenced the bottom of the ninth with a single against LHP Scott Rice, and he was sacrificed to second by 2B Ed Lucas. After RHP Gonzalez Germen, who had replaced Rice (0-1; 6.14 ERA), intentionally walked Marlins’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton, McGehee came through, hitting a grounder that deflected off Germen and into right field.
The bullpen collapse overshadowed another strong outing by Niese. The southpaw hurled seven shutout innings, striking out six, while surrendering only five hits and one walk. Having eclipsed the 100-pitch mark, Niese’s night ended positively when he induced PH Marcell Ozuna to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play with two runners on base.
Marlins’ RHP Nathan Eovaldi settled down after a rough beginning to his start. Eovaldi gave up three runs on five hits and a walk over seven innings. He surrendered two homeruns, one more than he had allowed in 38.1 previous innings this year, but he also fanned a career-best 10 batters.
The Mets wasted little time before scoring. With one out in the first inning, 2B Daniel Murphy redirected a 97-mph fastball into the upper deck in right field for his first dinger of the season and a 1-0 Mets’ lead. CF Curtis Granderson doubled the edge with a solo shot of his own two batters later.
New York’s lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth inning when RF Bobby Abreu brought home 3B David Wright on a sacrifice fly to left field.
With the game tied in the ninth, RHP Steve Cishek issued a one-out walk to 1B Lucas Duda. Cishek (2-1; 2.08 ERA) escaped the inning, however, on a strike-him-out throw-him-out double play.
1) Because of Eovaldi’s splits, Mets’ Manager Terry Collins benched right-handed hitters Ruben Tejada, Juan Lagares, and Chris Young in favor of left-handed batters Quintanilla and Abreu, and switch hitter Eric Young Jr. The trio combined to go 1-8 with a RBI against Eovaldi. Lefties had hit .325 against Eovaldi entering the game, compared to only .127 for righties.
2) With Monday’s gem, Niese hasn’t allowed more than three runs, earned or otherwise, in any of his last 10 starts dating back to last season. This string ties Niese’s longest such streak, which he previously accomplished between 2012 and 2013.
Additionally, Niese tied a career-high by allowing one or fewer run in four straight starts. He enjoyed a similar four-start string from Aug. 6-21, 2010.
The series continues on Tuesday night with Mets’ RHP Bartolo Colon (2-4; 5.65 ERA) scheduled to square off against Marlins’ RHP Henderson Alvarez (1-2; 3.28 ERA).