MIAMI -- The tone was set in the first inning on Thursday night when the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna clubbed a grand slam. But the game, which turned into an endurance test, ended up being decided in the 16h inning on Travis d'Arnaud's homer off Adam Conley, Miami's originally scheduled starter for Friday night.
Behind d'Arnaud's four hits, four RBIs and extra-innings heroics, the Mets outlasted the Marlins, 9-8, in the first of four games at Marlins Park. Hansel Robles, on in relief for the third straight day, worked two innings and retired Ozuna on a fly ball to deep center with one on, capping a game that lasted five hours and 38 minutes.
"I'm very impressed with the way the whole team played, the way [d'Arnaud] played," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They rose up. They hung in there. They're dog tired. Pretty impressive game to win."
Before the bullpens put up zeros into extra innings, Yoenis Cespedes celebrated a two-homer game and Wilmer Flores added a solo shot. The Mets hammered out four solo homers, with d'Arnaud's finally ending things. The Marlins used seven relievers, and with closer A.J. Ramos warming up early but made unavailable as the game dragged on, they turned to Conley in the 16th.
By that point, the Mets had already considered scenarios as outlandish as using backup catcher Rene Rivera on the mound and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler as a first baseman. As it was, Robles called the dugout from the bullpen telephone, volunteering enough work to keep the Mets afloat.
"They came in since the fifth? That's [11 1/3] innings of zero-run baseball?" d'Arnaud said of the Mets' bullpen as a whole. "That's unbelievable."
The Marlins had taken a four-run lead in the first inning on Ozuna's third career grand slam. After the homers by Cespedes and Flores led the Mets to a 7-4 lead, Miami went back up in a four-run fifth, taking an 8-7 lead on Derek Dietrich's RBI single. New York tied it with two outs in the eighth on Michael Conforto's pinch-hit RBI double.
"It was kind of a crazy game," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We're up four, we're tied, and then we're down three. We get it back. We get the lead. It's one of those games, you think it's going to be crazy. I really felt like once they scored that we're going to score, too."
Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who gave up one run in six innings in a win at New York on April 7, was tagged for six runs in three innings. Cespedes and Flores went back-to-back off Chen in the third. And the three-inning start was the shortest for the lefty since he threw 2 1/3 innings against the Rockies on June 18, 2016.
"It seemed like the Cespedes home run kind of unglued him a little bit," Mattingly said.
Mets starter Robert Gsellman was charged with eight runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yo! Yo! Stays hot: Multi-home run games are coming at a rapid pace for Cespedes. His two-homer game on Thursday was his second multi-homer game in three days. On Tuesday at the Phillies, the New York left fielder belted three homers. In the third inning on Thursday, Cespedes blasted a solo shot off Chen that landed in the Budweiser Bar area. And in the fifth inning off Jose Urena, Cespedes' second of the game was a liner to left. Per Statcast™, the first homer projected at 427 feet with an exit velocity of 107 mph. The second was 402 feet, with a 107-mph exit velocity. More >
Ozuna slam: Like Cespedes, Ozuna has been finding the seats regularly. In the first inning, Ozuna's slam gave him three home runs in three days. He had two on Tuesday night in a win over the Braves. It was Ozuna's third career slam, with the other two May 21, 2014, against the Phillies and Aug. 22, 2014, at Colorado. Statcast™ projected Ozuna's grand slam on Thursday at 376 feet, with a 110-mph exit velocity.
Ozuna now has 16 RBIs, tops in the Majors. He had a chance for another with two outs in the 16th against Robles and Christian Yelich on first. Because Miami was out of position players, Conley was on deck. The Mets opted to pitch to Ozuna, who lifted a long fly to center.
Asked if he was surprised Ozuna was pitched to, Mattingly said: "A little bit. Again, I try to stay out of other guys' dugouts. If he can pull that ball a little bit, it would have been nice."
Added Collins: "We just said, 'Look, no fastballs. Make him hit something offspeed."
"The emotions of the home run helped lift my legs a little bit." -- d'Arnaud, who caught all 16 innings, on circling the bases on tired legs
"I think a lot of times, in these kinds of games, everybody wants to be the guy who hits the homer to win it. Then it ends up with long swings, and you get a lot of easy outs. That's really what you see in these games, a lot of easy outs." -- Mattingly, on hitters' approaches in long games
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The 16 innings tied for the fourth-longest game in Marlins' history, and it was the longest since Miami and New York played 20 innings at Citi Field on June 8, 2013.
The Marlins won two critical challenges on the same play, taking what would have been the tying run for the Mets off the board in the seventh. With two outs and Cespedes on second, Jay Bruce singled to left. Cespedes was waved home, and Ozuna made a throw that was handled on a hop by catcher A.J. Ellis, who made a swipe at Cespedes, who touched home standing up. Home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez called Cespedes safe. The Marlins challenged that Ellis had touched Cespedes, and the Mets countered with a challenge that Ellis didn't provide a lane to the plate. After a review of three minutes and four seconds, the safe call was overturned, and Cespedes was out. As for the blocking the plate challenge, the decision was that the call stands, preserving Miami's 8-7 lead.
Mets: Hoping to stamp out Miami's red-hot offense, the Mets will turn to their ace, Noah Syndergaard, in a 7:10 p.m. ET game Friday at Marlins Park. Syndergaard struck out nine Marlins in his last outing, holding them to two runs -- out earned -- in seven innings.
Marlins: Conley was scheduled to start Friday, but after he pitched the 16th Thursday, and with Miami benefitting from an off-day Monday, Edinson Volquez will start instead on regular rest.
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