MIAMI — If the Mets played the Marlins all the time, they wouldn’t need much of anything at the trade deadline.
They coasted to a 9-3 victory on Sunday, banging out a season-high 19 hits (no homers) on the way to a three-game sweep and six-game winning streak, matching their longest of the season.
As the calendar flips to August, just ahead of the trade deadline at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Mets are cruising at 64-37, good for a three-game lead in the NL East, with Jacob deGrom finally returning this week after being sidelined for more than a year.
“We’re just playing really good baseball right now,” Taijuan Walker said. “The confidence is really high.”
Manager Buck Showalter said of the Mets’ 17-8 July: “That’s a good body of work.”
Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and Mark Canha led the way against the Marlins (47-55) with three hits apiece. Every starter had at least one. Everyone except Patrick Mazeika (2-for-4) scored a run.
The turning point came in the first inning, when Marlins righthander Pablo Lopez began his worst start of the season: eight outs, six runs, 12 hits. That represented a poor last impression for any club considering acquiring him before the trade deadline (though he still has a 3.41 ERA).
It got ugly early, with the Mets collecting four consecutive hits on the way to a three-run first: Lindor double, Pete Alonso double, Daniel Vogelbach single, McNeil single. Canha’s two-out single brought in the last run.
“It’s impressive that our guys came out with that type of intensity you need facing Lopez,” Showalter said. “I can’t say it surprises me, the things these guys are able to [do]. They’re really good concentrators. It’s fun to watch.”
The Mets tacked on another three runs with another barrage via another four consecutive hits in the third: McNeil double, Tyler Naquin triple, Canha single, Luis Guillorme single. When Brandon Nimmo contributed an RBI single — giving every Mets starter at least one hit — Lopez’s day was over.
Lopez has a 9.00 ERA in three starts against the Mets and a 2.73 ERA in 18 starts against everybody else. That is a more extreme version of the advantage they have had this year against Miami ace Sandy Alcantara, who has a 3.33 ERA against the Mets and a 1.69 ERA against other teams.
“There’s no secrets to hitting Pablo,” said Canha, the only Met with multiple RBIs and multiple runs. “He moves the ball around so well and has different ways he can get you out, so you have to be balanced and not try to do too much. That’s part of why you saw we had success today. There weren’t any home runs. You just knock the ball around the yard and try to get the barrel on it. You do the best you can with that, because he’s tough.”
Walker snapped what had been a career-high eight-game streak of quality starts when he fell an out shy of another. The Marlins reached him for three runs and seven hits in 5 2⁄3 innings, ending his outing with some hard contact, including a home run by his last batter, Charles Leblanc.
“Just kind of felt off today,” Walker said, citing slightly decreased velocity across the board and a slider that wasn’t nearly as sharp as usual. “I didn’t like it. I didn’t think I had my best stuff. The offense did a really good job scoring runs early, especially against a good pitcher, Pablo. I really wanted to go out and finish the sixth inning. It was all right.”
And now comes the part the Mets have been waiting for since November: Max Scherzer and deGrom pitching consecutive games on Monday and Tuesday in Washington.
“Max and Jake going back-to-back,” Walker said, “like everyone dreamed of.”