After Matt Harvey allowed his 11th hit and fifth earned run Monday, Terry Collins knew the Mets’ bullpen was in for a challenge.
Harvey, who struck out four in 3 2⁄3 innings but left too many pitches over the plate, dug his team into a 6-0 hole. The bullpen would need to keep the Miami Marlins and their cast of .300 hitters at bay so the offense could try to muster a comeback.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia allowed six hits and two walks the rest of the way but did not surrender any runs. The Mets’ offense rallied, and Yoenis Cespedes’ two-out, two-run double in the eighth produced an 8-6 win.
“You’re down 6-0, and they’ve got a pretty good bullpen and good offensive club,” Collins said. “For our bullpen to hold them back for no more runs, that’s an outstanding job.”
It wasn’t seamless.
In the eighth, Robles gave up a leadoff double to pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki and walked J.T. Realmuto, who went 4-for-4. Martin Prado bunted into a double play, leaving Realmuto on second with two outs. Collins summoned Blevins with lefthanded hitter Christian Yelich at the plate, and Blevins struck him out.
In the ninth, Familia walked leadoff hitter Marcell Ozuna after Cespedes gave the Mets the 8-6 lead. With one out, Derek Dietrich singled. Familia’s perfect record in save opportunities appeared to be in jeopardy.
“Because he has such a good sinker,” Collins said, “you always think he’s going to get ground balls.”
And he got one, off Chris Johnson’s bat. Asdrubal Cabrera fielded the grounder, stepped on second and fired to first to end the game and give Familia his 29th save in as many chances.
“I don’t care what’s the situation,” Familia said. “I just want to go in there and do my job. I don’t change anything, it doesn’t matter the scoreboard.”
Familia has not been as statistically dominant as he was last year, when he posted a 1.85 ERA and struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but he has pitched well enough to deserve consideration for a spot in the All-Star Game. In addition to the 29 saves, he has pitched to a 2.75 ERA and fanned 8.7 batters per nine innings.
“When you play in the big leagues,” he said, “you want to play in the World Series and then the All-Star Game, trying to enjoy everything in the big leagues. For me, it would be something special and for my parents and family, too. You just want to enjoy it if I make it.”