MIAMI — For a day, at least, the magic ran out for the Mets, their backups and the backups’ backups.
They lost to the Marlins, 3-1, on Saturday after Garrett Cooper’s two-run, walk-off home run against Drew Smith. That wasted a strong day for lefthander Joey Lucchesi and the bullpen, a late game-tying rally and a highlight-reel catch by Johneshwy Fargas
Cooper had worked a full count against Smith, who left a cutter over the heart of the plate. He smashed it to left-centerfield, the first runs allowed by Smith in five appearances.
"He’s a good hitter. He did what he’s supposed to do with it," Smith said. "I’ve had that pitch swung through many times or fouled back many times. This just so happened to be a home run in a crucial part of the game. It happens. It sucks."
Fargas robbed Jesus Aguilar of an extra-base hit by laying out for a diving, snow-cone catch for the first out in the bottom of the ninth. Two batters later, Brian Anderson grounded a single into rightfield against the shift, bringing Cooper to the plate.
This was the Mets’ third walk-off loss of a three-city, nine-game road trip that ends Sunday. They have lost more players to the injured list (six) than games (five) in that stretch.
The Mets (21-18) tied the game in the eighth with an assist from home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who ruled that Richard Bleier’s sinker over the plate was actually a ball. That turned a would-be inning-ending strikeout into a full count to Dominic Smith. Smith capitalized with an RBI single.
The Marlins (21-24) scored in the seventh, when Corey Dickerson lofted a sacrifice fly to leftfield. Cameron Maybin made a strong throw home for what was almost an inning-ending, run-preventing double play. But catcher Tomas Nido dropped the ball after applying the tag. Anderson scored.
Publicly named the starter about 80 minutes before first pitch, Lucchesi pitched a season-high four innings. He had thrown just 43 pitches when his outing ended suddenly.
The reason for the departure, according to manager Luis Rojas: Lucchesi had been functioning as a reliever of late, so he didn’t do his between-starts routine and was not fully stretched out. Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner decided before the game that a "safe" threshold would be four or five innings/55 pitches.
"Since he’s been in our bullpen to be the long guy, we didn’t go past four," Rojas said. "And we kept it at that. It’s more being preventive, with him not getting work as a starter. That’s why, even though he felt good."
Added Lucchesi: "I kind of get it, but honestly, I did feel like I could go a few more. I was feeling good. But I also get it. I need to keep being more consistent."
Lucchesi allowed one hit, walked none and struck out eight. His ERA dropped to 7.32.
The key, he said, was not thinking too much.
"I just had to really simplify it and told myself, get the sign, glove, get the sign, glove," Lucchesi said. "If negative thoughts came into my head, which they did, I just said, hey, glove. Hit the glove right here. Hit the glove right here. That’s what I kept repeating in my head. I really liked the way it made me feel.
"I know I’m a great pitcher. I’m going to keep building off this and show New York what I’m made of."
Miami righthander Pablo Lopez cruised through seven shutout innings in his best start of the year. After working around early issues, Lopez retired his final 10 batters and 15 of his last 16.
"He was nasty," Rojas said. "We didn’t impact the ball to get an extra-base hit, to hit a ball over the fence today. We’re that kind of team right now."
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