Runs have been so scarce for the Marlins this month that when they finally managed to score one — just one — it seemed monumental at the time.
It came in the eighth and gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
Turns out it was as flimsy as tissue.
The New York Mets quickly wiped out the deficit before rallying for a 2-1 victory in the 10th on a Yoenis Cespedes solo home run off Nick Wittgren. It was the opener of an important four-game series involving the two Wild Card playoff contenders.
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Everyone knows how good of a hitter he is,” Wittgren said. “It was dead middle, right there in his wheelhouse, and with a guy like that, you can’t mess up, especially in a game like this, in the hunt that we’re in. Tonight I completely messed up on that pitch and put it right down the middle for him.”
It was the 10th one-run loss for the Marlins this month. It was also their 21st straight game in which the outcome was decided by three runs or less.
“We’re in these games,” Wittgren said.
They’re just not winning many of them.
It was another no-decision at Citi Field for Jose Fernandez, who made his major league debut there in 2013 but has never recorded a win or a loss in what is now four career starts.
Fernandez wasn’t particularly sharp on Monday, throwing barely half of his 113 pitches for strikes. But he still went six scoreless and has not given up a run in either of his past two outings.
“We’re giving everything that we have,” Fernandez said. “It’s just unfortunate it’s not happening for us right now.”
Mets right-hander Rafael Montero, who was called up from Double A to make Monday’s start in place of Jacob deGrom, walked six in only five innings. But the Marlins didn’t turn any of them into runs because their bats were quiet.
Their first hit off Montero didn’t occur until there were two outs in the fourth when Ichiro Suzuki singled. That tied Suzuki with Wade Boggs for 27th on the all-time list with 3,010 career hits.
But Suzuki saved his biggest hit for last.
With two outs in the eighth, Suzuki lined a shot into right-center that he stretched into a double. Xavier Scruggs ripped Addison Reed’s very next pitch past Cespedes in left for a RBI double to end the scoring drought.
The lead didn’t last.
Jose Reyes doubled to lead off the eighth and after advancing to third on a deep fly ball out, scored when A.J. Ramos uncorked a wild pitch over the head of J.T. Realmuto’s glove on an 0-2 pitch to Cespedes.
Ramos and Reyes collided at the plate, leaving Ramos with a bump on his head.
But with two outs in the 10th, Cespedes dealt the deciding blow.
“Coming up (from the minors) they say every pitch counts, and you know it,” Wittgren said. “These last few weeks, you can really tell. Every single pitch counts.”
The home run for Cespedes was his 27th.
“He’s a guy that you don’t want to let you beat you over there,” said manager Don Mattingly.
The Marlins continue to receive strong pitching. But the scoring slump has been their downfall of late.
“In this type of situation that we’re in, this cloud right now looks pretty dark, and it changes in three days, or it changes in two days,” Mattingly said. “You put some runs up and the next thing you know you’ve got some momentum going in that direction. And then you’re hot. We’re going to come out of that and we’ll put some runs on the board.”
The Marlins better hope that happens sooner rather than later.