The Miami Marlins were victimized by a crazy call in the ninth inning that led directly to a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets.
With 6,489 on hand at Marlins Park, the New York Mets defeated the Miami Marlins by a 7-3 final score. The Mets were the recipient of a blown call with a runner on first and nobody out in the top of the ninth inning and the score tied at three. Drew Steckenrider had Juan Lagares at the plate and a 3-2 count. Lagares offered the bunt as the pitch approached the plate, and he bunted it foul, strike three, right?
Wrong. Lagares shook his hand vigorously and the umpires awarded him first base, moving Dominic Smith to second. Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly challenged the call, but it was upheld on review. For added clarity, here’s the “HBP” in question:
Brandon Nimmo was then struck out on a 2-2 pitch for out number one. Let me remind you at this point, it should have been two outs with a runner on first. Instead, Amed Rosario came to the plate with a much more Mets-friendly situation, and laced a single into right field, scoring Smith with what would prove to be the game-winner. Pete Alonso followed with a three-run homer, his first career moon-shot, but he should have never come to the plate.
It’s always a huge disappointment to see such an obvious mistake not rectified by the officials in charge. The Miami Marlins should file a protest at the way this was handled. It won’t really matter, though. MLB will insist it was the right call and we’ll go about our way. Plus, it’s “just” the Marlins, after all. They weren’t going to compete anyway, not really.
It’s hard to see where larger patterns start. The Miami Marlins came into this game with a promising (albeit short) winning streak. If this poor call was handled correctly, the Marlins would be entering the bottom of the ninth with a tie score.
As we now know, the Marlins then loaded the bases, but didn’t bring anyone home. If the score had been tied instead of 7-3, would the outcome have been different? Would the Marlins, now emboldened by a three-game winning streak, do something unexpected, unpredictable, and even unprecedented? There’s no telling.
Here’s three other things we learned.
The Return of KKKKKKKKaleb Smith
Lost in the commotion of that awful call, Caleb Smith made his first start in over nine months, and struck out eight Mets in five innings of work. He walked one, allowed four hits, and two runs, getting 52-of-87 pitches over the plate.
Smith completes the first turn through the bullpen. Although the five starters combined for only two “Quality Starts,” Miami Marlins fans should feel encouraged by what they’ve seen. Tomorrow, round two begins with José Ureña taking the mound against former Miami Marlins pitcher Jason Vargas.
Starlin Castro accounted for all of Miami’s RBI on the day. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning, then added a two-out, RBI-single in the sixth inning. The game moved the needle on his batting average from .188 to .263, but then, it’s still early in the season. A 75 point jump isn’t necessarily unheard of at this time of year.
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Pen on Fire
After Smith’s eight strikeout performance, it would be only natural to expect some letdown from the bullpen, but that wasn’t the case. Nick Anderson did allow two hits in the sixth inning, but struck out the side by getting 14-of-20 over the plate. Tyler Kinley added a pair of strikeouts despite also surrendering a Lagares seventh-inning rocket-shot. Adam Conley then pitched the eighth, allowing a walk and also collecting a strikeout.
Conley regularly touched 97 on the gun, an improvement even over last season’s 5.5 MPH increase on each of his pitch types.
There was a lot of good to see in this game before it all came crashing down, and I hope that the Marlins can take that good and continue to build something surprising in Marlins Park this season.
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