Hanging high above Citi Field, out in leftfield next to the row of retired numbers that Keith Hernandez’s No. 17 joined Saturday, is an electronic screen that recently has functioned as a warning sign for the Mets.
It is the out-of-town scoreboard. It displays on a rotating basis the status of that day’s other games. On Saturday, its message was clear: Atlanta won again. So did Philadelphia, for that matter. They kept the pressure on the Mets, who will visit Atlanta for a three-game set beginning Monday in their quest to remain atop the NL East.
The Mets did their part, too, beating the Marlins, 5-4, in 10 innings in their usual unusual way to maintain a 2 1⁄2-game lead in the division. Down to their last out, they got huge assists in the form of back-to-back defensive blunders by Miami, including reliever Tanner Scott’s game-ending throwing error on a routine ground ball.
It was the first time the Mets won on a walk-off error with two outs in extra innings since Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox.
“There was a lot of weird things that happened during that game,” said Brandon Nimmo, who hit a tapper back to Scott and busted it down the first-base line, as always. “To win that way was just how the game was going. Glad to get a W. It was a long, hard-fought game.”
The tying hit was, officially, an RBI double by Tomas Nido. His little roller up along third, behind the bag, got through Brian Anderson, whose glove was down but not down enough as it rolled into leftfield.
“He didn’t really attack the ball,” Nido said. “When I saw the ball going away from him, I knew something good was going to happen.”
Moments later, Nimmo’s would-be inning-ending bouncer back to the pitcher ended the game instead. Scott bobbled the ball, picked it up and threw wildly to first as first baseman Jesus Aguilar made no attempt to catch the poor throw, and Nido scampered home as the winning run.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been around for a while, a lot of veteran guys that understand that there’s going to be mistakes made over 162 games,” Nimmo said. “If we can capitalize on them, we’ll usually come out on top more often than not. That’s the biggest thing: understand that baseball is not played perfect all the time and looking for those opportunities to take advantage of. We were able to do that — a couple times today.”
That sequence more than made up for Francisco Lindor’s throwing error, which allowed the Marlins (40-43) to take the lead in the top of the 10th. They were positioned to add another run, with Jon Berti on second and none out, but Nido picked Berti off second base (aided by another Miami miscue, as Berti’s momentum carried him beyond the bag).
In the eventful seesaw of a game, Carlos Carrasco (5 2⁄3 innings, two runs) and Braxton Garrett (5 2⁄3 innings, three runs) were mostly equals.
The Mets’ runs off Garrett came on a pair of swings: home runs by Pete Alonso in the fourth, which was the Mets’ first hit, and from Lindor in the sixth. Alonso had a booming solo shot. It was his first long ball since June 25 and first RBI since June 26. Lindor’s went off the leftfield foul pole.
Carrasco didn’t allow a run until the sixth, when Anderson’s RBI double knotted the score at 1. Jesus Sanchez could have scored on the gapper to left-centerfield, but he got a late start from second base and Luis Guillorme’s strong, on-target throw beat him to the plate. Showalter called it “probably the best play of the game.”
That set the stage for the late dramatics in front of a sellout crowd of 43,336.
“You want to be able to win on that day and show the fans why they came out,” Nimmo said. “Keith even mentioned us in this speech. You wanted to prove him right and say, ‘This is a team to be reckoned with.’ Definitely wanted to try to pull this one out.”