MIAMI — The biggest moment of the Mets’ 5-3 win over the Marlins on Friday night wasn’t even a play. It was a conversation.
Miami had just turned what the umpires determined on the field was a double play, giving the Mets a runner on third base with two outs in the sixth inning of a tie game. Manager Buck Showalter didn’t quite buy that. He went out to talk. After that chat — and the ensuing successful challenge of both calls — the Mets instead had nobody out and the bases loaded without hitting the ball out of the infield.
The key: On Starling Marte’s ground ball, second baseman Willians Astudillo tried to tag Brandon Nimmo, running from first to second, and indeed touched him with his glove — but the ball was in his other hand. That was one out overturned. At first base, Marte clearly beat the throw from Astudillo (who had just entered the game because Jazz Chisholm Jr. had back spasms). That was the other out overturned.
“I’m glad we had instant replay tonight,” Showalter said. “We got them right. We were able to correct them.”
Francisco Lindor added: “It changed the momentum to our side for sure.”
Lindor followed with a three-run double to right-centerfield. With four RBIs on the night against Sandy Alcantara, Miami’s top starting pitcher, he pushed the Mets (46-26) to the series-opening win.
Lindor has 56 RBIs. Last year he didn’t reach that number until Sept. 26.
The Mets had lost two straight. They are 21-5 in games after a loss and have not dropped three in a row at all this year.
Taijuan Walker contributed another quality start — three runs, six innings (plus a batter in the seventh) — and Adam Ottavino (four outs) and Edwin Diaz (three outs) finished it off.
The Marlins (32-37) gave them a scare in the seventh inning, loading the bases with none out, but managed only a run. Drew Smith (three walks) gave Garrett Cooper a free pass to force in a run. Ottavino (2.60 ERA) entered and got Jesus Aguilar to fly out to center, stranding three.
“Very quietly, Otto is pitching real well,” Showalter said.
The Mets got to Alcantara, whose 1.95 ERA is best in the National League, in a way few teams have lately. He allowed five runs (four earned), equaling the most he has given up this year. His seven innings were tied for his shortest start in a month and a half. His four strikeouts matched his lowest total all season (also Opening Day against the Giants).
“It’s not like you have some scouting plan that gives you success,” Showalter said. “You have to pitch well, which Taijuan did.”
Alcantara had allowed four home runs in 99 1⁄3 innings this season before allowing two in five innings to the Mets. Lindor got him first, on the eighth pitch of his at-bat in the first inning (and after third-base umpire Bruce Dreckman questionably ruled that Lindor did not swing on a two-strike pitch). When Alcantara left a 99-mph sinker up in the zone, Lindor lined it over the centerfield wall.
“It takes away a little bit of his invincibility,” Showalter said.
Alcantara retired the next 11 Mets in order until Mark Canha stepped to the plate in the fifth. He left another pitch up — a 98-mph four-seam fastball this time — and Canha crushed it to left for a solo homer.
“He’s probably the best pitcher right now in the game,” said Walker, who has a 3.03 ERA. “Going toe-to-toe with him, I just have to be a little bit better.”