Rafael Montero in a spot start and David Phelps throwing zeroes at each other into the 6th inning. The Marlins grabbed a lead when Montero ran out of steam, but the Mets stormed right back to tie the score in the 7th. Like Monday night, the Marlins then grabbed the lead back in the last of the 8th inning when Michael Morse snaked an RBI single up the middle off Carlos Torres. But on this night, the Mets couldn't get off the mat one last time and instead fell to the Marlins in an irritating 4-3 loss.
This was, of course, the Rafael Montero "spot start" night that was planned about 2 weeks ago, in an effort to a) get some of the starters (read: Matt Harvey) an extra day's rest and will probably happen at least once a month and b) push Dillon Gee. Montero didn't pitch as well as Gee did on Monday night, but that's not to say he pitched badly. In fact, Montero did quite well, once again hammering home the point of just how loaded this Mets system is with young, talented pitching. If there was one shortcoming to Montero's night, it was that he struggled here and there with throwing strike 3, which ultimately led to him basically running out of gas in the 6th inning. That, or the fact that he just hasn't been stretched out enough for extended endurance just yet. After spending most of Spring Training and the early part of the season working in relief, in short outing instances, Montero only had a couple of opportunities to start in the Minors, so obviously he just wasn't stretched out enough just yet. I wouldn't read too much into it, but then again maybe Terry Collins or Waddlin' Warthen could have picked up on this before too much damage was done. The Marlins weren't killing him by any stretch, but once they got the door open and scraped across a run, the gates kind of opened from there and Montero just didn't have enough in the tank to close out the inning.
But, of course, down by 3, the Mets just dusted themselves off and tied the game almost immediately. They got a good break when Martin Prado yakked on a hot shot by Anthony Recker, a surefire Double Play ball that turned into a no-play (and for whatever laughable reason was scored a hit). A few batters later, Juan Lagares smoked an A.J. Ramos offering out to the fence in Center Field (the rare shot that might have been out of the park in Citi Field of all places, but in the Green Cavern it was off the wall on a hop) to score 3 runs and knot the score. Yet another example of the Mets taking advantage of their opponent's mistakes and turning it into runs on the board, something that's been key to their early-season success.
So, as the game dragged into the late innings, you had to think that the Mets had the edge. They've been winning these late & close games all year long. Alex Torres, who's done a fine job picking up the slack in the absence of Jerry Blevins, got through the 7th, and Carlos Torres, who's done a fine job picking up the slack in the absence of Jenrry Mejia, took over in the 8th, but that's where the Mets late-inning mojo finally ran out. Carlos walked a batter, then walked another batter, and then gave up a hit to Michael Morse that looked to be hard enough that Juan Lagares might have a chance to get Prado at home, but the throw was late and the Marlins had the lead. Steve Cishek came on for the 9th, and again, you had to feel good since the Mets have hit him as recently as last night, and you had to feel even better when he walked Curtis Granderson to start the inning...but the Mets couldn't do anything behind that. And all of a sudden we were reminded that we can't get too confident that the Mets will come through in games like this. It's happened a few times to date, but the law of averages in Baseball dictates that you don't come through in these kinds of games every time. Tonight was one of those times where they didn't come through.
Figures, this ought to happen to the Mets in Miami because even when times are good, the Mets lose annoying games like this in Miami.