Sunday, June 19, 2022

Mets Drop Pitchers' Duel To Marlins, Who Have An Unlikely Hero


Jerar Encarnacion nearly caught up to his teammates rounding the bases on his grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets lost a heartbreaker to the Miami Marlins on Sunday at Citi Field, 6-2, as Miami's Sandy Alcantara outdueled the Mets' Chris Basssitt, and they got a game-winning grand slam from Jerar Encarnacion, who was making his Major League debut, in the seventh inning. 

The Mets fall to 44-24, and lose one of the two games they had gained on the Atlanta Braves in the National League East standings the past couple days. Altanta finally won one at Wrigley Field, 6-0 over the hapless Cubs. The Mets lead is now 5 1/2 games over Atlanta.

Sunday was both Father's Day and Juneteenth, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams was on hand for the occasion, as he threw out the first pitch.

Photo by Jason Schott.

Chris Bassitt got the start for the Mets, looking to build off his strong outing in his priot start, when he threw eight shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers last Tuesday. He scattered three hits and walk, with seven strikeouts, in the 4-0 Mets victory.

Sandy Alcantara, who has emerged as one of the best young starting pitchers in baseball, took the mound for the Marlins. The tall right-hander entered this one with a 6-2 record and a superb 1.68 ERA (earned run average), which ranked second in the Major Leagues behind San Diego's Joe Musgrove (1.59), and is the lowest in Marlins history through the first 13 starts of a season. 

In his seven starts prior to this one, he was 4-0 with an 0.74 ERA, pitching at least seven innings in all seven outings and allowing no more than two earned runs in any of those starts. He allowed only 30 hits and 5 earned runs over 55.2 innings, with 51 strikeouts including when he matched his career high with 14 against Atlanta on May 28.

Chris Bassitt firing one by Jazz Chisholm, Jr. Photo by Jason Schott.

Bassitt came out firing, as he struck out Jazz Chisholm, Jr., and Jon Berti to open the game and retired Miami in order in the first. 

Miguel Rojas singled to open the second, and then after Bassitt notched two more K's, Bryan De La Cruz singled to give the Marlins two on and two out. Jerar Encarnacion, who was making his Major League debut, was up next, with a big situation in his first at-bat, and he struck out.

In the bottom of the second for the Mets, Pete Alonso lined one to left field over Luke Williams' head for a double, and then Jeff McNeil drew a walk. Alcantara recovered by getting Eduardo Escobar to fly out to right field, and then struck out Luis Guillorme and Nick Plummer.

Both pitchers settled in form the third inning on, as Bassitt retired seven in a row before Chisholm singled to open the sixth, but he then was erased trying to steal second. Berti struck out on the pitch Chisholm took off on, so it was a "strike him out, throw him out double play." Avisail Garcia then grounded out to end the frame.

Alcantara had a streak where he retired ten Mets in a row. I am starting this after Tomas Nido was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double when he led off the third inning. If you want to make that an out retired by Alcantara, he then retired 14 in a row starting in the second.  

Starling Marte broke the streak when he lined one up the left-center field gap for a triple with two outs in the sixth inning. Francisco Lindor singled him home to make it 1-0 Mets. 

Miami responded in the top of the seventh, as Rojas singled, and then with one out, Jacob Stallings got a single as well. Bassitt then walked De La Cruz to load the bases, and since he hit 109 pitches, that was it for his afternoon.

Seth Lugo came on for the Mets, and the first batter he would face was Encarnacion, the right fielder making his Major League debut, and he was 0-for-2 at this point in the game.

After working the count to 3-1, and then after Lugo got a strike over to make it a full count, Encarnacion smacked one to right field for a grand slam to make it 4-1 Miami. 

That closed the book on Bassitt, who wound up allowing three runs on five hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Miami wasn't done in the seventh, as Chisholm drew a two-out walk, and then Berti lined one up the gap in right field to bring him in and make it 5-1 Miami.

The Mets got one back in the bottom of the seventh as McNeil led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Guillorme to make it 5-2. Alcantara then struck out Plummer and Nido to get out of the frame. 

Alcantara stayed on for the eighth, and retired the side, making his final line: 8 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. He improved to 7-2 on the season, and his ERA ticked up a tad to 1.72.

This was the third game of this four-game weekend series, with the series finale tomorrow, Monday afternoon with first pitch at 1:10 p.m.

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