Win over Marlins gives 9-1 Mets best start ever
MIAMI — Mickey Callaway wanted to and tried to bench Yoenis Cespedes Tuesday, he really did. Cespedes was struggling at the plate and sick — fever (since dissipated), sore throat, congestion. “It’s not your normal everyday cold,” Callaway said.
Cespedes refused, and it might just have been the difference. The Mets beat the Marlins, 8-6, for their seventh win in a row after Cespedes chopped a game-winning two-run double down the leftfield line in the ninth.
“He looked at me like I was nuts when I said it to him. That’s always a good sign that they want to play,” Callaway said. “He’s been feeling terrible and still playing. I’ve been trying, ‘Hey, Ces, do you need a day? Do you need a day?’ He didn’t want one.
“Him not taking a day won us the game today. For him to battle through what he’s going through is pretty good.”
At 9-1, the Mets are off to the best 10-game start in their 57-season history. The 2006 and 1985 teams went 8-1 before dropping their next one. They have won four straight series to open a season for the second time (the other: 2006).
“It’s just a relaxed confidence,” Callaway said. “Guys are just going out there and playing. They’re not pressing. They’re super relaxed. When you can do that, that’s when you play at your best.”
Cespedes (1-for-5, three strikeouts) has not been at his best. Since starting to feel sick Saturday, he is 2-for-20 with 11 strikeouts. But both hits were game-winners — his 12th-inning single Sunday night against Washington and his ninth-inning hit Tuesday. The double bounced past third baseman Brian Anderson and rolled slowly down the line, allowing Michael Conforto to score from first.
Cespedes said he does not consider his illness and slump to be related.
“I cannot say I feel good because I’m not OK,” Cespedes said through an interpreter. “The only way I can go out of this slump is taking at-bats and go out and play and do what I do, which is hitting.”
Jeurys Familia threw a perfect ninth to become the seventh pitcher in major-league history with six saves in his team’s first 10 games. It was a B-day for the bullpen, with several of the top arms unavailable, but Paul Sewald, Hansel Robles and Familia contributed scoreless appearances.
Setting the stage for Cespedes’ dramatics was a series of mid-to-late-inning homers from both sides. Justin Bour hit a pair of two-run shots — both on pitches up and away, both to leftfield, both giving Miami the lead. In the eighth, Wilmer Flores and Asdrubal Cabrera had solo shots to tie it.
The Mets have allowed runs in 23 innings this season. They have scored in their next turn at bat 12 of those times.
Cabrera also had a bases-empty homer in the fourth against Caleb Smith (five innings, three runs). It was the 22nd time a Met homered from both sides of the plate in a game. The last? Cabrera on Aug. 26, 2016, vs. Philadelphia.
Jacob deGrom lasted six innings and gave up four runs, his outing much like Noah Syndergaard’s Monday: clean and efficient early, messy late.
The Marlins struck for four runs in the fifth in a sequence that amounted to some bad luck and one big hit. Of five batted balls, two went off third baseman Todd Frazier and one was a sacrifice fly to center. Then Bour struck with his first homer.
“Kind of a funky inning,” Callaway said.
Mets starters have not recorded an out in the seventh inning.
The Mets jumped out to a three-run lead with lone runs in the first, fourth and fifth, the last of those coming after Amed Rosario doubled to left. It came off the bat at 106.1 mph, according to Statcast, giving Rosario the hardest-hit ball for the second night in a row.
Flores said this hot start reminds him of 2015, when the Mets won 11 straight games in April, a stretch that he said helped them during rougher times that season, which ended in the World Series.
“It’s unbelievable. The other team scores a run, we score two,” Flores said. “When you’re hot, you have to win as many games as you can.”