Monday night the New York Mets opened up a three-game set in Miami, taking on the Marlins, a division rival. Mets left-hander Steven Matz, making his first start this season, got off to a rocky start. He allowed a two-run homer to second basemen, Starlin Castro, giving Miami an early 2-0 lead in the first.
But the Mets answered in the top half of the second, cutting the lead in half. Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos started the inning with singles. Jeff McNeil battled and fouled off a number of pitches for lining a double down the right-field line that hit the chalk and scored Conforto.
The Mets scored again with a run in the fourth. Matz settled in on the mound, pitching into the sixth before being relieved. He went 5.1 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, departing with New York trailing 3-2.
Tim Peterson was the next man up out of the Mets’ bullpen and he pitched well in his second appearance on the season. allowing just one hit in 1.2 innings pitched and keeping the deficit at one run.
In the top half of the seventh, Juan Lagares hit his first home run of the season after struggling at the plate. He crushed the third pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left.
Jeurys Familia came into a tied ball game in the eighth inning to try to keep it that way and he did. Pitching a clean eighth inning without allowing any hits or walks and recording one strikeout to get to the game still tied to the top half of the ninth.
This is where the Mets bats really turned on. Dominic Smith came up to pinch hit for Familia and, facing a full defensive shift, fought off a tough pitch to single through the vacated shortstop hole to lead off the inning.
Lagare failed on two attempts to sacrifice bunt and manager Mickey Callaway kept the bunt sign on with a 2-2 count. Lagare was hit by a pitch, a controversial play that needed to go to review.
With no outs and runners on first and second, the Marlins were in trouble. After a strikeout, shortstop Amed Rosario singled to score Smith and give New York a 4-3 lead. Top prospect, Pete Alonso, who has been red-hot to start to his major-league career, jumped on a hanging slider from Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider. Alonso’s three-run homer to dead center broke open the game.
Heading into the bottom half of the ninth with a 7-3 lead, Callaway went with closer Edwin Diaz in a non-save opportunity. Castro leadoff the inning with a walk; Lewis Brinson and Martin Prado followed with singles to load the bases.
Faced with the tying run at the plate, Diaz cut off the Marlins’ rally with three consecutive strikeouts to close a victory that saw the Mets rally both early and late.
The Mets have now won three of four to open the season, all against division rivals. The Mets again face Miami in the second game of the series Tuesday night. Veteran lefty Jason Vargas gets the start for New York against young right-hander Jose Urena, who has pitched well against the Mets in his brief career.