Lucchesi, bullpen tremendous ... until 9th

May 23rd, 2021

It turned out to be a bullpen day for the Mets on Saturday at loanDepot park and it went well until the final inning, when Garrett Cooper hit a walk-off home run to sink the Mets, 3-1.

The game was tied at 1 when Miami won it in the bottom of the ninth inning off right-hander Drew Smith. With Brian Anderson on first base and two outs, Cooper hit a mammoth home run over the left-center-field-fence.

Smith threw a cutter that he hoped would go on the outer part of the plate for a strikeout, but the ball went middle-in and Cooper crushed it.

“[Cooper] is a good hitter and he did what he is supposed to do with it,” Smith said.

Smith had hopes that he would get out of the inning. He felt that way after center fielder Johneshwy Fargas made a fantastic diving catch off the bat of Jesús Aguilar for the first out of the inning.

“That was unbelievable. It was a great catch. A big moment,” Smith said. “I was hoping I could get out of it. ... It didn’t happen like that. To see him lay out in that situation -- I thought the ball hit the ground. It was unbelievable. I was so thankful.”

It was a game where you had to scratch your head as to why Mets manager Luis Rojas took left-hander Joey Lucchesi out after four innings. It was clearly Lucchesi’s best game as a member of the Mets. He was pumped up to have a great game. It helped that fans at loanDepot park were cheering for him.

“My mindset was a little bit different today,” Lucchesi said. “I tried to keep it simple. I had a little competition inside myself in my head saying, ‘Let’s see how many times I can hit the glove today.’ I stayed stubborn with that thought in my head. That‘s all I was doing.

“[In the past], I was thinking too much. I just had to simplify it and told myself, get the sign and hit the glove right there. I liked the way it made me feel.”

Lucchesi was dominating, facing the minimum and striking out eight batters. The Marlins looked helpless against Lucchesi, who had a deadly curveball and changeup on this day. He couldn’t have been tired because he threw 43 pitches and he felt like he could go a few more innings. But his day suddenly ended and Sean Reid-Foley entered the game.

“I really wanted to keep going,” Lucchesi said. “Rojas said, ‘That was one one hell of a job. You did really good.' But they are just looking out for me. That’s the longest I’ve been out there this season. I get it. They are looking out for me.”

There was a reason Lucchesi didn’t go past the fourth. In between outings, Lucchesi worked as if he was a reliever.

“He has been part of the bullpen for almost a week,” Rojas said. “At a point, we had him throwing sides as a starter. Not at this point. He wasn’t even doing that between starts. Last night, we didn’t know who was going to start the game. This morning was when we committed to giving the ball to Lucchesi because he probably had the length that we needed, which is four innings."

The game was scoreless until the seventh inning. Reid-Foley exited while the Marlins had runners on first and third with one out. In came left-hander Aaron Loup to face Corey Dickerson, who hit a fly ball to left fielder Cameron Maybin. It appeared Maybin threw Brian Anderson out at the plate, but Tomás Nido dropped the ball and Anderson was ruled safe.

The Mets tied the score in the top of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second, two outs and left-hander Richard Bleier on mound, Dominic Smith singled to right field, scoring José Peraza.