MIAMI -- With the rotation as the strength and focal point of their building process, the Marlins’ bullpen often gets overlooked. The relief corps was asked to pick up at least four innings on Saturday night at Marlins Park, after rookie right-hander Zac Gallen made it through five and allowed just two runs.
Of late, the Miami bullpen has been fairly reliable, and it appeared to be again, until Robinson Cano crushed a two-run home run off Nick Anderson in the eighth inning that lifted the Mets to a 4-2 victory.
“Looked like a breaking ball there,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “That’s [Anderson’s] pitch. He’s pretty much a two-pitch guy. And it just kind of sat there, it looked like.”
Cano didn’t miss Anderson’s 84.6-mph slider. The game-winning home run was projected to have traveled 391 feet with an exit speed of 102.3 mph, per Statcast.
The Marlins and Mets have now split the first two of three games in the weekend series, with the finale set for 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday.
Entering the night, since June 1, the Marlins’ bullpen had a 2.25 ERA over 24 innings, which was tied with the Braves and A’s for the third best in the Majors in that span.
“The guys in the ’pen were good,” Mattingly said. “[Anderson] just looked like he threw a pitch that kind of stayed there.”
The MLB Trade Deadline is July 31, and a number of scouts are attending the series, mainly to have a look at both teams’ pitchers. Most were on hand on Saturday night to get a look at New York’s Noah Syndergaard, who gave up two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
“He had good stuff tonight,” Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper said of the Mets’ starter. “His sinker was moving a lot. He didn't really miss in the middle of the plate. The couple of times he did, we hit the ball hard and scored some runs. But, to me, he pounded in, worked away, and painted black on the corners. Sometimes you tip your cap to those kinds of performances. Move on to tomorrow. He had his good stuff tonight."
Brice threw a clean sixth inning with two strikeouts, and has not allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings. Garcia allowed one hit and had a strikeout in the seventh. Anderson hadn’t yielded a run in six innings before Cano’s homer.
Even rookie left-hander Jose Quijada chipped in with a scoreless ninth, allowing a walk, but striking out three, including All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso.
“I feel like it's been great,” Brice said of the bullpen. “I feel like everybody is working off each other now in the bullpen. Tonight was unfortunate. It always seems like, if anything does go south, it's always like one pitch. It's not like somebody is out there throwing the ball all over the place.”
The Marlins were also victimized earlier in the game by a two-run home run, when Michael Conforto belted one off Gallen in a 29-pitch third inning. The high pitch count led to Gallen being lifted after five innings and 92 pitches.
“That third inning kind of stunk,” Gallen said. “It was a little bit longer, as far as pitch count. One thing you can do out there is compete. That's what I tried to do.”
Once the ’pen took over, the corps kept the Marlins in the game. Some young relievers gained some more experience, while others remain potential trade targets.
“They did a nice job,” Mattingly said. “Brice comes in and is efficient. Jarlin is efficient, giving our guys a chance to win the game.”