The way Wednesday’s game started, it looked like Billy The Marlin was going to be able to dust off his broomstick and use it as a celebratory prop for the first time in 10 months.
David Wright, John Buck and the Mets made sure to keep it hidden. New York scored six runs between the sixth and seventh innings to rally past the Marlins 7-6 and end Miami’s winning streak at three games.
The Marlins’ bullpen, which had allowed just two earned runs during their past 14 combined innings during the win streak, allowed the brunt of the damage.
Right-hander A.J. Ramos, who entered for starter Wade LeBlanc with two on and two outs in the sixth, surrendered a 4-2 Marlins lead when pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin drilled a line drive that carried 355 feet and landed in the first row beyond the right-field wall.
“I threw a changeup that was up in the zone, didn’t have the same depth as the one I threw before to him,” Ramos said. “It was a bad pitch up in the zone. He was looking for it. And he did what he’s supposed to do with bad pitches. He hit it out.”
An inning later, Buck, the Marlins’ former catcher, drilled a Chad Qualls pitch into the gap in right-center, driving in Daniel Murphy and Wright with what turned out to be two important insurance runs.
“You can pick apart different parts of the game, but at the end of the day, LeBlanc did a nice job,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We tried to get him through the sixth inning, and we just couldn’t hold them down. Our bullpen has been great all year. Every once in a while, this is going to happen.”
The Marlins, hoping to pull off their first series sweep since taking three in a row from the visiting Phillies on June 29-July 1 last season, caught a huge break in the seventh when a Justin Ruggiano single to left bounced off the glove and over the head of left fielder Lucas Duda, driving in two runs.
But with Ruggiano standing on third and just one out, reliever Scott Atchison retired rookie Marcell Ozuna on a slow roller to third and then Chris Valaika on a fly ball to center. Ruggiano, one of five Marlins with two hits, walked back to the bench frustrated after it appeared he hesitated on Ozuna’s grounder to third, which Wright scooped up barehanded a little more than halfway up the baseline and fired to first for the out.
“On that situation we’re relying on the hitter to really do his job,” Redmond said. “We were talking about it during the game. That’s a tough read. Because if you commit, Wright just picks that ball up and throws it home and he’s out by 10 feet. He made a great play. That’s one of those situations where you are looking to get the ball in the outfield, through the infield and it didn’t happen.”
An inning later, the Marlins had another runner get into scoring position when shortstop Nick Green doubled to right with one out. But pinch-hitter Austin Kearns and leadoff hitter Juan Pierre both grounded out to end the threat.
The Marlins, who pounded out 13 hits Wednesday, had a big run wiped off the board in the fourth when center fielder Juan Lagares threw a perfect strike to the plate to get Green out rather easily.
The Marlins, who fell to 8-20 and now head out for a 10-game trip taking them to Philadelphia, San Diego and Los Angeles, took a 3-0 lead off Mets starter Dillon Gee in the first inning.
After Pierre and Greg Dobbs walked, Ruggiano singled just past Murphy at second to make it 1-0. Two batters later, Valaika doubled down the left-field line to add two more runs to the scoreboard.
But Wright, who finished with three hits and three runs scored, started the Mets’ comeback when he opened the fourth inning by crushing the first pitch from LeBlanc 402 feet to left field for a solo home run. LeBlanc eventually got that run back a half inning later, but he paid for it. He took a knee to the chest from Buck when he slid just ahead of Lagares’ throw to the plate on Pierre’s RBI single.
The Mets (11-15) delivered the knockout blow to LeBlanc in the sixth. After Wright opened the inning with a double, Marlon Byrd singled to right with two outs to make it 4-2. Moments later, Ike Davis ended LeBlanc’s day with another single to right, bringing in Ramos out of the Marlins’ bullpen and Valdespin off the Mets’ bench for what turned out to be the game-changing at-bat.
“The important thing is to make leads hold up when your offense grinds them out and gives you a lead like that,” LeBlanc said. “That’s the frustrating part, I gave the Mets a little more life than they should have had in the sixth.”