Jazz's exit has ripple effect in pivotal inning
MIAMI -- Hours before Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Mets, Marlins manager Don Mattingly mentioned having to push his banged-up infield with only two off-days so far this month and Brian Anderson and Joey Wendle sidelined. Shortstop Miguel Rojas and de facto third baseman Jon Berti have played in all but one game in June, while second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. has sat out four times.
That appears to be catching up to Miami, as Chisholm exited the series opener with back spasms and caused a ripple effect at loanDepot park. Postgame, Mattingly said Chisholm has been dealing with minor symptoms, but his back felt “really tight” during his second at-bat on Friday.
When Miami took the field behind ace Sandy Alcantara for the sixth, Willians Astudillo had replaced Chisholm. Rojas already was a late scratch with a right foot bone contusion, sending Berti to short rather than third, where Luke Williams started. Neither Astudillo nor Williams was on the Opening Day roster, each joining the club less than a month ago.
“Hopefully we got Jazz out in time, and Miggy felt like with a day, he'd be able to get back out there,” Mattingly said. “Got treatment throughout the day. We'll see. Again, we've been pushing. Bert looked like he felt something funny on that [ninth-inning] slide. We’ll see where we’re at tomorrow.”
Chisholm’s absence was immediately felt. Tomás Nido and Brandon Nimmo opened the frame with back-to-back singles, setting the stage for a game-changing sequence. Former Marlin Starling Marte sent a chopper toward second, where Astudillo charged the ball and tagged Nimmo before firing to first for what looked to be a double play.
Mets manager Buck Showalter challenged the call, and a review overturned both calls. Astudillo had tagged Nimmo, who never reached second, with his glove -- but the ball was in his hand. And Marte beat the throw to first. Astudillo was charged with a fielding error on the play. Rather than two outs and a runner at third, the bases were loaded with no outs. Francisco Lindor, who homered off Alcantara in the first, then knocked a bases-clearing double to the right-center-field gap to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
“I was just trying to execute a double play,” Astudillo said via an interpreter. “I knew I didn't touch him with the ball, so that's why I gave my signal to [Jesús Aguilar], so we can actually execute the out.”
Alcantara was charged with five runs (four earned) in seven innings, raising his National League-best ERA from 1.72 to. 1.95, though he extended his streak of consecutive starts of at least seven innings to nine.
Alcantara surrendered a pair of solo shots to Lindor and Mark Canha, marking just the second start of 2022 in which he gave up multiple homers. Lindor turned on a 99.1 mph sinker at the top of the zone, while Canha did the same with a 98.4 mph four-seamer in the fifth. Those were the second- and fourth-highest pitch velocities of Alcantara’s career to be taken deep. Entering the series opener, just 11 home runs in MLB this season had been hit against pitches at 99.1 mph or higher.
“That's not too good for you, because they make real quick adjustments,” Alcantara said of facing the Mets for the second straight start. “Ready for my pitches, ready for my two-seam, my slider and my changeup tonight.”
Miami had a chance to return the favor by loading the bases in the seventh with no outs against Drew Smith, but Astudillo and Jorge Soler struck out. Garrett Cooper walked in a run before Aguilar flied out to center. In the ninth, Astudillo represented the tying run until Berti was caught stealing, snapping his streak of 21 consecutive stolen bases. Astudillo wound up with a hit, but Soler grounded into a forceout to end the game.
“That one hurt us a little bit,” Mattingly said of the seventh. “We kind of answered all day. … To only get one, it's a little bit of hurt momentum. You'd like to at least get two, because you've still got to get another one, and you know they've got [Edwin Díaz] over there. It's going to be tough to get one in the ninth. You're hoping to get somebody in there, but the closer you get it, obviously the better. It would've been nice to find a gap there or something, but [we] just weren't able to do it.”