The New York Mets (7-4) lost to the Miami Marlins (5-5) by a score of 3-2 on Friday night in South Beach.
Noah Syndergaard pitched for New York and, while not his usual dominant self, was quite good. Thor allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits in 6 innings, walking none and striking out 4. Syndergaard threw just 87 pitches, but slowed down late in his start and was removed well before his pitch limit after the blister he suffered on Opening Day seemed to flare up. With the one earned run allowed, Thor’s ERA ballooned to 0.95 on the season.
Update: It was apparently a fingernail issue for Syndergaard. I believe it was the same finger. Joe and the team will keep us all updated with further posts!
The game got off to a rough start for the Mets, as Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez cruised through the top of the first and Syndergaard ran into trouble in the home half. Dee Gordon singled to lead off the frame, and a throwing error from Asdrubal Cabrera put runners on second and third with none out. Thor righted himself, however, and managed to get out of the inning with just one run allowed on a sacrifice fly from Christian Yelich.
Volquez lost his command in the second inning, but the Mets left the bases loaded when a hard liner from Rene Rivera found a glove in left. They again loaded the bases in the third, and with the green light to swing on 3-0, Michael Conforto made solid contact for a sacrifice fly that tied the game. But the Mets could not cash in further, as Wilmer Flores grounded out to end the inning.
New York took the lead in the fifth on a monster home run from Lucas Duda, but Syndergaard started to struggle in the bottom of the inning. A pair of singles set the table with one out, and a lucky blooper from Dee Gordon tied the game. Thor also had to battle a bit in the sixth as he struggled with his command, but finished the frame with the game tied.
The Mets, meanwhile, slowed down on offense as the game progressed. Jose Reyes drew a walk leading off the sixth against Miami reliever Jarlin Garcia, who was making his MLB debut, and moved to third when Thor laid down a good bunt with the speedy third baseman running on the play. But Rivera struck out and Granderson popped up to strand Jose at third.
In the seventh, it was the Mets doing the heavy lifting to keep the game tied. After Kyle Barraclough breezed through the top half, Rafael Montero came in to relieve the blister-ridden Syndergaard in the home half, and struggled once again. A pair of singles set Miami up with one out, and with a 3-2 count to JT Realmuto, Terry Collins called for an intentional walk to load the bases before bringing in Jerry Blevins. Blevins got Yelich to fly out to fairly deep left field, and with Miguel Rojas sprinting home, Michael Conforto unleashed a perfect throw to the plate, where Rivera tagged Rojas out on a close play that was upheld after video review.
The Mets almost did some damage against David Phelps for the second straight night, but this time could not cash in any runs in the eighth. Reyes and Rivera singled, but the former Yankee worked out of the jam before Josh Edgin scraped through the eighth for the visitors in the bottom half.
In the ninth, the Mets got the go-ahead run on base when Jay Bruce worked a walk against AJ Ramos, but Duda grounded into a double-play to send it to the bottom of the ninth and put the Mets behind the eight-ball. Edgin issued a leadoff walk to Rojas, and after getting two outs and getting to two strikes on Realmuto, the Miami catcher drove one into the right-field gap on a 3-2 pitch. With Rojas running on the play, the winning run easily scored for the Fish, ending the Mets’ five-game winning streak.
After a 16-inning marathon last night, the Mets needed a long outing from Syndergaard tonight to preserve the bullpen. Thor looked like he could answer the call, especially after he worked through a rough first inning. But he faltered in the fifth and sixth, and then exited with the blister. I noted to myself when he first started to stumble that the blister could be the cause— it’s not like him to look so flat and inaccurate with his secondary stuff— so I wasn’t surprised when he left. Still, the fact that he can keep good lineups in check without his best stuff just shows how incredible he is. All Miami managed was that unearned run early and the RBI blooper from Gordon in the fifth. And when things looked like they might go off the rails, Noah reared back and blew one past Yelich at 100 miles per hour. Who needs secondary stuff when you can do that?
But the blister situation isn’t ideal. Tonight was unique in that the Mets were resting several relievers, but they still can’t go through the season wondering if this recurring blister will blindside them at some point in the game, be it early or late. If having Thor skip a start and get 8 or 9 days off before he takes the mound again would help that blister heal fully (it clearly didn’t the first time), I would consider that. Give Gilmartin a start. Or give Montero one last chance as a starting pitcher.
Update: Apparently it was a fingernail issue on the same finger. That’s either really weird and bad luck, or just an extension of some issue with that finger. Either way, Noah didn’t seem concerned at all, joking that he now has an excuse to get a mani-pedi.
And I mean “one last chance,” because Montero has been so, so disappointing as a major league pitcher. He doesn’t throw strikes, which doesn’t add up when you look at what he did in the minors (and even in the spring). He doesn’t seem to trust his stuff. And his stuff isn’t elite like Thor’s, so he can’t rear back and throw triple-digit heat when he’s in trouble. Maybe he can still become a useful reliever or a decent fifth starter, but he’s running out of chances to show that. I’m also not very high on Edgin. He doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, and he doesn’t have great control. He also doesn’t take the best approach at times.
Blevins, however, has been terrific once again this season. He is never fazed by the pressure. I was baffled by Terry’s decision to have Montero intentionally walk a hitter with a 3-2 count rather than trying to get him to chase a pitch out of the zone, but Blevins came in and got ahead of an elite hitter before Conforto made the play of the night to keep the game even.
Conforto’s defensive gem, his base-hit, and his RBI sacrifice fly added up for another very nice game from the young outfielder. He’s really making a strong case for everyday playing time, and putting Curtis Granderson on the bench until he, Bruce, or Yoenis Cespedes cools off might be the right move.
Bruce had another nice day with a hit and a walk, and Duda walked twice to go along with a hit and the absolute bomb he hit to dead-center. If one of those guys is hitting the Mets are in good shape. If both of them are hitting? Good luck getting through this lineup, especially when several key guys (Cespedes, Neil Walker, Travis d’Arnaud) aren’t getting days off.
Rene Rivera has been good this season, and he continued his strong play with a 2-for-4 performance in this one. Obviously, his hits could have been better-timed, as he twice stranded runners in scoring position, but he’s here for his defense, so anything he can provide with the bat is just gravy. Travis d’Arnaud is hitting like an everyday catcher, so Rivera doesn’t need to do too much to thrive in his role as backup catcher and personal assistant to Noah Syndergaard.
A win tonight would have obviously been nice, but at least the Mets were able to give some guys a rest and avoid another marathon game— it certainly looked like we might see the team play deep into the night once again. Hopefully one of our other long-haired aces gets the team back to its winning ways in game three of this four-game set.