MIAMI -- One thing you have to do when battling for a postseason berth is beat the lesser teams on the schedule. Though the Mets have been fairly adept at doing so this season, they didn’t get the job done on Wednesday night, as they took a 2-1 loss in 10 innings against the Marlins at loanDepot park.
Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara struck out a career-high 14 over nine innings, then the Marlins scored the game-winning run on Bryan De La Cruz's walk-off RBI single off right-hander Edwin Díaz in the 10th. Alcantara limited New York to four hits, one of which was a Michael Conforto homer in the seventh that tied the game at 1.
“He was throwing strikes with all his pitches,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He had a really good four-seam fastball later in the game. Not only the sinker/changeup/slider mix that he can have, but the four-seam at the top of the zone was tough for batters. He got a bunch of swings and misses. That’s why he was able to cruise.
“He was a sinkerballer earlier, and then he was a four-seam guy later. He got a bunch of strikeouts with that pitch. He’s a guy that has special stuff, one of the best pitchers in the game, I think. It was one of those nights where he was really, really tough.”
With one out in the seventh, Conforto connected on a 92.7 mph changeup and sent it a Statcast-projected 422 feet over the right-center-field wall for his fourth homer and 14th RBI over his past 11 games.
Conforto said he wasn’t necessarily looking for a changeup, but he was aware that it is a big weapon in Alcantara’s arsenal.
“He struck me out with three changeups the at-bat before," Conforto said. "I kind of had a thought that he would try to go into the zone with it. I put a good swing on it.
“[Alcantara] had command, he had good stuff tonight. You’ve got to tip your cap when a guy goes 115 pitches and had everything working for him. Something that good pitchers do, they’ll hold back a pitch and see if they can get you out with their one and two, and then use his plus changeup both to lefties and righties. So he’s able to do that.”
It was the Mets’ 12th homer over their past six games. They’ve hit a home run in 13 of their past 14 games.
Alcantara dueled New York left-hander Rich Hill, who was looking for his first win in a Mets uniform in his eighth start for the team. His control was impeccable over a six-inning stint. Hill threw 83 pitches (64 for strikes) and allowed only one run on five hits.
Hill struck out eight with no walks, and he's now given up three or fewer earned runs in seven of his eight starts for New York.
“I think just overall execution of the fastball and command,” Hill said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Fastball command obviously helps first, and then the curveball feeds off the fastball. Just trying to change speeds, change directions of the curveball. It gives me more leeway to work the curveball when I want to, and also the fastball for that matter. Being able to accelerate, decelerate the fastball, really do the same with the breaking ball.”
In their previous 11 games -- all against the Marlins and Nationals -- the Mets had scored 67 total runs. Only one team in the NL scored more during that time (the Phillies' 68). But the Mets mostly couldn't solve Alcantara.
“We’ve got to bounce back quick,” Rojas said. “We’ve got a game to play tomorrow. We’ve still got some games to play. We’ve just got to recover. We can’t hang our heads, and we can’t look back.”