Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco walks to the dugout after...

Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco walks to the dugout after the top of the third inning against the Marlins in an MLB game at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Carlos Carrasco flopped on Tuesday night in his bid to show the Mets he should be the fourth starter in the playoffs over Taijuan Walker.

In doing so, Carrasco also pushed the Mets closer to potentially not even needing a fourth starter in the playoffs.  

Carrasco allowed four runs in three innings to the 90-loss Marlins and the Mets – despite Pete Alonso’s 40th home run – went on to a 6-4 defeat before 29,067 at Citi Field.

With the loss and Atlanta’s 8-2 victory over the Nationals, the Mets are again tied for the NL East lead with the defending World Series champions with seven games to play.  

The division runner-up will end up in the best-of-three wild-card series instead of getting a first-round bye. You don’t need a fourth starter in a three-game series.

The Mets are still gunning for the division crown.

“It’s an easy concept: You just win,” Alonso said. “That’s really all you can do. If we win more than we lose, then we’ll be on top, and if we lose more than we win, then we’ll be in the wild card. That’s the remedy.”

 

The Mets currently hold the tiebreaker over Atlanta with a 9-7 season-series lead, but that only matters if the teams end the regular season tied. There is no one-game playoff to settle the division.

The Mets are scheduled to visit Atlanta for three huge games beginning Friday. But Hurricane Ian’s path may include Georgia, and the dates, times and even location of that series could change.

Carrasco put the Mets into a 4-0 hole before Alonso hit a three-run homer to left in the fourth. Alonso, who broke a tie with Aaron Judge to take over the major-league RBI lead with 131, became the first Met to have two seasons with at least 40 home runs. Alonso hit 53 in his rookie season of 2019. It was Alonso’s fifth home run in his last seven games.

But the Marlins immediately tacked on two runs on Jacob Stallings’ two-run single in the fifth against Trevor Williams to make it 6-3.  

“Pete got us back into it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I thought the two runs we gave up after that were tough.”

Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) gave up two runs in a 33-pitch first inning that included two singles, a hit batter, a walk and a run-scoring wild pitch.

“I didn’t think he had a feel for his breaking ball the whole outing,” Showalter said. “It’s unfortunate because he’s pitched well for us this year.”

In the third, JJ Bleday hit a high drive to right that landed over the fence just inside the foul pole for a two-run homer and a 4-0 Miami lead. According to MLB.com, the home run was in the air for 6.4 seconds and traveled an estimated 339 feet.

Carrasco finished the inning and then was finished for the night at 67 pitches.

Miami starter Pablo Lopez (10-10), who had an 11.34 ERA in four outings against the Mets this season and a 9.33 career ERA in four games at Citi Field, gave up just the three runs on Alonso’s homer in his six innings.  

The Mets added a run in the eighth in a most unconventional fashion. Jeff McNeil singled with two outs and was balked to second by lefthander Richard Bleier. And balked to third by Bleier. And balked home by Bleier to make it 6-4. All while Alonso was batting, all called by first base umpire John Tumpane and all apparently for not coming to a set in the stretch.

Bleier had appeared in 303 games (including his first 23 with the 2016 Yankees) and had never before balked.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly was ejected after the third balk. Bleier was ejected after retiring Alonso on a grounder to second to end the inning.

The Mets went down 1-2-3 in the ninth against Miami’s Dylan Floro. He struck out Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha looking and Eduardo Escobar swinging for his eighth save, and the Mets slid back into a first-place tie with Walker slated to face Miami on Wednesday.

“This is fun,” Alonso said. “This is really, really fun, being in a race like this, and everyday is a chance to be great. Tomorrow’s another chance for us to be great.”