It was short. But sweet it wasn’t for the Marlins.
In what was one of the quickest games on record in Marlins history, the Mets struck suddenly in the ninth for a 3-1, come-from-behind victory that ended Miami’s five-game win streak.
Marcell Ozuna misplayed a fly ball in center and closer Steve Cishek was unable to protect a 1-0 lead as the Mets stormed back on Daniel Murphy’s three-run homer.
“When you get a chance to close it out, that’s what the Marlins pay me to do,” Cishek said. “And I wasn’t able to do that for our team, our organization, and for [Marlins starter Jarred] Cosart.”
Had Cishek breezed through the ninth, just as Cosart and Mets starter Dillon Gee had done throughout, it would have gone down as the quickest game in Marlins history.
Instead, the final time of 1:58 fell six minutes short.
And for the fifth time in as many games so far this season against the Mets, the Marlins also came up short in their rivalry.
It might have turned out differently had Ozuna not taken the wrong first step on Juan Lagares’ deep drive to start the ninth. Ozuna cut in on the ball before realizing — too late — that it had been hit harder than he figured and began to run the other way.
The ball sailed over his head for a double, and matters disintegrated from there for Cishek and the Marlins. Three batters later, Murphy crushed a 1-1 sinker into the bleachers with two aboard.
“I thought the ball was going to be a bloop,” Ozuna said. “I thought it was hit off the end of the bat. Then I saw it wasn’t going to be a [shallow] base hit, and I started running back.”
The mistake proved costly.
“Obviously it’s a tough break,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It gave them an extra out and cost us. The momentum changed there in the ninth, no doubt.”
Cishek took all the blame for the undoing in the ninth, though.
“It falls on me,” said Cishek, who has blown two of his three save opportunities.
“Just poor execution. I had a plan for each guy I faced ... and two pitches just killed us, killed me. It’s tough, especially with how well we’ve been playing.”
Cishek said he was too fine with his pitch to Lagares and tried “to do a little extra since I was in trouble” on a 1-1 sinker to Murphy.
“And it hurt,” he said.
Until the eighth, the game was a sparring match between Cosart and Gee. With the Marlins swinging early and often, Gee needed only 58 pitches to make it through seven innings and ended up throwing just 70 in 72/3 innings.
Were Marlins hitter just too impatient, unwilling to work the count?
“His balls, they look good,” Redmond said. “That’s what he does. That’s what’s made him successful. He’s all over the strike zone.”
Cishek described Cosart’s and Gee’s performance as “artwork.”
“It was a well-pitched game by both guys,” Cishek said. “They were just painting. It was fun to watch.”
The Marlins managed only a pair of singles and no walks off Gee until two were out in the eighth and Justin Bour, pinch-hitting for Cosart, swatted a bloop single to center.
Dee Gordon slashed a single to left before Martin Prado broke the scoreless deadlock with an RBI single.
That left it up to Cishek. But Cishek, who has been involved in very few save situations, couldn’t make the lead stick.
Cishek isn’t throwing as hard as he has in the past, which could help explain matters. His velocity is off a few ticks from previous seasons.
But he shrugged it off to early-season rust.
“Last year, I was about the same about this time of year,” he said. “It took me about a month and a half to get [the velocity] up. I think my arm slot is just a tick low right now. I have faith it will come back.”
And the Marlins have faith in Cishek despite his early-season hiccups.
“I know it’s rough for him right now,” Cosart said. “But we need him this year. We all have the utmost confidence in Steve. I’m not discouraged by that at all. If we’re in that situation tomorrow, we go right back to Steve because we have the utmost confidence in his ability.”