Reed Garrett and Omar Narváez of the Mets celebrate after defeating the...

Reed Garrett and Omar Narváez of the Mets celebrate after defeating the Marlins at loanDepot park on Sunday in Miami. Credit: Getty Images/Rich Storry

MIAMI — In the climax the Mets never wanted, the game flipped to the bottom of the ninth inning and was close enough to be interesting. Climbing atop the mound was the man tasked with desperately protecting their lead: Reed Garrett.

Then he did what he was supposed to do and tossed a scoreless inning to finish off a 7-3 win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. With two highly effective frames, Garrett recorded the save.

That allowed the Mets to avoid the embarrassment of a sweep at the hands of the cellar-dwelling Marlins, but it was a mere Band-Aid on what has become a painful open wound. In a late-and-close situation, they would not go to beleaguered closer Edwin Diaz, who — for now — is taking a timeout from closing duties.

Diaz’s role is “fluid,” manager Carlos Mendoza said after he blew three leads in six days, including a four-run implosion Saturday. That means softer spots, easier openings, less important innings for the recipient of the richest reliever contract ever.

“Like I told him, he’ll get through it,” Mendoza said. “We’ll help him get through it.”

Garrett said: “We all believe in him. We all know that he’s going to be back. We all know that he’s elite when he’s right, and we know we’re going to do everything we can to get him right. Whenever my name’s called, I’ll pitch.”

Mendoza avoided specifics on the near-term plan for Diaz, saying only that “the game will dictate” how he’ll be used. But the message was clear: What is best for Diaz and best for the Mets is reducing his role. In the meantime, they will “mix and match and see what we got” for save situations, Mendoza said.


Adam Ottavino was ready for the ninth against Miami (15-33). Mendoza stuck with Garrett after his quick bottom of the eighth and the Mets’ three-run rally in the top of the ninth.

The Mets fully expect Diaz to return to the ninth inning. They just don’t know when.

“Zooming out, he’s had a bad week, right?” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said. “His first 15 innings of the year were really good. He gave up five hits and was striking everybody out. He’s not far removed from being the guy that we know. “

“[Saturday] was bad. It was tough. It was tough on him, tough on the team. Given where we’re at, it was hard. Realizing that, owning that, it’s just one day. There is a path forward because he is really good.”

Given Diaz’s history, they will call on lessons learned during similar episodes in 2019-21 — before he became a world-dominator in 2022, signed a five-year, $102 million deal that offseason and missed 2023 because of a knee injury.

That will mean getting on the mound more frequently, Hefner said, a good habit that he has gotten away from. And they want Diaz to be “intentional every time we throw the baseball,” he continued.

“We’re trying to hit a spot, we’re working on things because we only have so many times we can throw,” Hefner said.

And then there is the matter of greatly diminished confidence.

“It’s the chicken or the egg,” Hefner said. “Does the good performance help build confidence or does his confidence lead to good performance? I don’t think it’s either one. It’s both. We gotta pump him up, pump the tires. But also, he has things to work on, too.”

Early Sunday, it seemed as if the Mets (21-25) wouldn’t need a closer at all. They shot out to a big early lead with a four-run first inning, scoring on Tyrone Taylor’s two-run double and Harrison Bader’s two-run single. Miami righthander Sixto Sanchez needed 40 pitches to get three outs.

But then their offense all but ceased. They advanced one additional runner past second base until the ninth.

Along the way, Miami made it close with two runs in the fifth off starter Sean Manaea (five innings) and another in the seventh against Jake Diekman.

Brandon Nimmo’s two-run homer and Brett Baty’s RBI single in the top of the ninth offered Garrett — and Mendoza and the Mets — some wiggle room.

The Mets’ past three wins have been sweep-avoiders.

“It shows a lot about the group,” Mendoza said. “Not an easy weekend.”

Nimmo said: “When our backs are up against the wall, we respond really well. So now we’ll work on not getting in that position in the first place.”


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