Mike Redmond celebrated his 43rd birthday on Monday with a few pregame treats.
Marlins brass ordered the skipper and his coaching staff lunch from Joe’s Stone Crab. His twin brother, Pat, sent childhood photos to the team, which surprised Redmond by displaying them inside the clubhouse on a large screen.
Turns out Redmond’s best birthday gift was being saved for last — again.
Casey McGehee’s hard grounder back to the mound bounced off the leg of reliever Gonzalez German and scurried into right field, allowing Christian Yelich to race around third for the winning run in the ninth inning as the Marlins rallied to beat the Mets 4-3 in front of 20,606 at Marlins Park.
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“That was a fun way to end it,” said Redmond, whose team won in a walk-off for the second day in a row. “Give [Mets pitcher Jonathan] Niese a lot of credit. He looked good out there, and we had a tough time early on trying to figure him out. He pretty much shut us down. But we were able to hang in there and mount a late rally.
“Salty was on the top step there in the ninth with Casey up,” Redmond said, referring to Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He said, ‘Red, don’t worry this is your birthday gift. We’re going to win this game for you.’ I felt pretty good that we were going to get that thing done. Sure enough we did.”
Before McGehee recorded the fourth game-winning RBI of the season for the Marlins and his third career walk-off hit, the Marlins (17-15) rallied for three runs off reliever Daisuke Matsuzaka in the eighth to tie it.
Back-to-back walks preceded a rocket-shot, run-scoring single to center by Giancarlo Stanton, who nearly beheaded the 33-year-old Japanese pitcher.
Moments later, a sinking liner by McGehee to short trimmed the Mets lead to one run when the ball went through the legs of Omar Quintanilla, who barely got his glove on the ball, but was charged with an error. Saltalamacchia followed with the tying double to center.
With nobody out, the Marlins were in prime position to take the lead. But Kyle Farnsworth worked out of the jam. He got Jeff Baker to ground out softly to second, struck out Adeiny Hechavarria looking and then got Marcell Ozuna to ground out to third with the bases loaded.
Yelich, though, opened the ninth with a single to center off left-hander Scott Rice. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to second, the Mets walked Stanton intentionally, his major-league leading eighth time.
McGehee fell behind 0-2, but German’s 0-2 fastball missed its intended spot and McGehee was able to square it up.
Said Redmond: “That’s why Casey McGehee is hitting behind Stanton — for that reason. He’s gotten some big hits for us.”
A pair of towering solo home runs by Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson in the first inning that landed in the upper deck in right field followed by a Bobby Abreu sacrifice fly in the fourth, appeared to be enough to beat Nathan Eovaldi.
The Marlins, shut out by Dillon Gee and Carlos Torres the last time the teams met at Citi Field on April 27, were held to five hits by Niese and barely registered much of a pulse until the seventh when Baker and Reed Johnson opened the inning with singles. Even then, Niese was able to wiggle out of it, getting Hechavarria to fly out to center and Ozuna to ground into a rally-killing double play.
The Marlins had come into Monday’s game on fire at the plate. Miami had scored five or more runs in six consecutive games, the third-longest streak in team history, and had back-to-back games with three homers Saturday and Sunday against the Dodgers.
If not for the late rally, Eovaldi would have been the tough-luck loser. He struck out a career-high 10 and settled in nicely after the early trouble, allowing just five hits.
“I think the best thing about this team and I’ve been saying it we just keep coming, giving ourselves chances to have those big hits,” McGehee said. “Sometimes we have them. Sometimes we don’t. But it says an awful lot about this team and what kind of character it has.”