The oddest show in this strange 2020 baseball season played the Big Apple on Friday night and did a number on the Mets.
The Miami Marlins, who had their season suspended for more than a week after a coronavirus outbreak and had to replace more than half their roster, continued an improbable run by holding off the Mets for a 4-3 victory in steady rain at desolate Citi Field.
Miami is on a five-game winning streak since it returned with a remade roster loaded with waiver pickups and part-time players. It now has baseball’s best record at 7-1.
The Mets may have started the day getting back two starters — Amed Rosario returned from hamstring tightness and Jeff McNeil from a back issue — but they ended it needing to go find a little dignity.
“If you've been around this game for a while now, you can see some crazy stuff,” said Mets starter Michael Wacha, an eight-year veteran. “They're still big-league ballplayers (and) they're going out there and they're playing. Nobody's really given them a chance and so I'm sure they've got that posted up on their bulletin boards. And so they’re playing with a little chip on their shoulder.
“You never know what can happen, especially in this game, just like us,” Wacha added. “We've gotten off to not a very good start — at least not as well as we would’ve liked to — but there's still a lot of game left to be played, a lot of season left. There’s no doubt we can turn this thing around.”
The Mets nearly sidestepped this embarrassment with an eighth-inning rally. Amed Rosario broke a string of 13 straight Mets retired with a double off the wall in center to lead it off. Pinch hitter Brian Dozier drew a walk and — after Jeff McNeil’s liner was snared by leaping Marlins second baseman Eddy Alvarez — Pete Alonso singled to load the bases. Michael Conforto hit a ground ball to third baseman Brian Anderson and he threw wide of home plate to allow Rosario to score and make it 4-2.
J.D. Davis greeted righthander Nick Vincent with a line single to left, scoring Dozier to make it 4-3 and extending his hitting streak to 11 games. But Dom Smith flied out and Wilson Ramos grounded out to end the threat. It was part of the Mets going 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
They didn’t get a baserunner against Vincent in the ninth.
“McNeil got robbed,” manager Luis Rojas said. “It was almost the way we had envisioned and then Pete came to the plate. We had a really good chance there.”
The Marlins opened the game with rookie righthander Humberto Mejia, who had never pitched above Class A ball and was making his big-league debut. Mejia got six of the seven outs he recorded on strikeouts. Mejia was the first leg in a relay that included five relievers and held the Mets to six hits.
Wacha (1-2) at times looked very good during an uneven five-inning outing in which he allowed four runs, six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. He gave up all four runs in the second inning and both walks he issued ended up scoring.
Mets relievers Chasen Shreve, Jared Hughes and Edwin Diaz pitched four scoreless frames but the best performance for the Mets might have been by the grounds crew, which somehow managed to keep the contest on track.
Wacha’s 33-pitch second started harmlessly enough with a one-out walk and an infield hit. Francisco Cervelli then hammered a three-run homer into the rightfield stands. He issued a two-out walk to Magneuris Sierra and the speedster scored on Jonathan Villar’s double to the wall in left center.
The Mets got a run back in the bottom of the second on Dom Smith’s second home run, but the four-spot was enough to doom the Mets (5-9) in this one.
“I don't think we'll ever really hit the panic button,” Smith said. “We know that we're playing good baseball . . . We're continuously putting ourselves in situations to win. We're not just getting overmatched at the plate and we're not just getting blown (out).
“We know that we’re close to getting on a good run.”