Another extra-inning marathon was not an option.
J.T. Realmuto made sure the Marlins didn’t have to Friday night by smacking a two-out, walk-off double that landed in the right center field gap, scored Miguel Rojas and delivered a 3-2 Marlins victory over the Mets.
It was Realmuto’s first career walk-off hit and came less than 24 hours after the teams played a five-hour, 38-minute, 16-inning game - the longest in Marlins Park history.
“It was pretty mentally tough after [Thursday] playing 16 innings and coming out on the losing end,” Realmuto said. “There’s really nothing worse in baseball than playing that deep into extra innings and coming out with a loss.”
More importantly, it conserved an already worn down Marlins’ pitching staff.
The Marlins (5-5) were forced to move up Edinson Volquez’s start to Friday, send one of its durable righties Nick Wittgren to Triple A due to other relievers not having options, and call up rookie lefty Jarlin Garcia from the minors just to have enough fresh arms.
“It was something on everybody’s mind when we got to the ninth inning and we were still tied, we were like ‘We’re going to do this again?” said A.J. Ramos, who pitched the ninth on Friday and picked up the win. “But it’s something you just go out there and play and you can’t think about it too much. Once you’re in it you kind of just roll with it.”
Volquez, who had thrown a bullpen session on Thursday as part of his routine to prepare for a scheduled Saturday start, said he did feel a bit tired on the mound Friday, but gutted it out for 4 2/3 innings, and only gave up two runs despite allowing five hits and walking four batters.
“They were looking for somebody to pitch today and I took the ball,” Volquez said. “The first inning I felt really strong. But after that I was tired a little bit. It’s a little different when you throw your bullpen the day before you pitch and then you’ve got to face those guys. It’s a tough position to be in.”
Rojas and Dee Gordon each recorded three hits in the game with Gordon’s bloop single off Noah Syndergaard tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the fifth. Syndergaard suffered fingernail injuries to his index and middle fingers while pitching and began bleeding toward the end of his six-inning start.
Rojas drew a walk from Josh Edgin to lead off the ninth. J.T. Riddle fouled out to catcher Rene Rivera and Gordon flied out to left. But Realmuto, who was 0 for 3 to that point, belted a fastball on a 3-2 pitch from Edgin into the gap in right center allowing Rojas to come around and score.
“That showed the character of the players and of this team,” Rojas said. “We bounced back pretty well. I think it’s a win to let them know were ready to come to the ballpark ready to win every day.”
Rojas nearly scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, but was denied by the Mets outfield.
The Marlins loaded the bases with one out for Christian Yelich prompting the Mets to bring in lefty Jerry Blevins to face him.
Yelich lined out sharply to Michael Conforto in left field. Conforto then fired the ball on time to catcher Rene Rivera allowing him to tag Rojas out on a close play at the plate for the inning-ending double play.
The Marlins challenged the ruling, but it was upheld after review.
“[Rivera] missed me,” Rojas said. “I felt the tag right here on my back. My hand was already there. I feel like its hard for them [to make the call] too. They don’t know if they made contact with my shirt or with my wristband, I don’t know. It’s a tough situation right there.”
Jarlin Garcia, whom the Marlins called up from Double A Jacksonville early Friday morning, made his major-league debut and tossed a scoreless sixth inning as part of the bullpen’s strong effort.
Garcia walked Jose Reyes to lead off the inning, and Reyes reached third on a bunt by Noah Syndergaard. Garcia proceeded to strike out Rivera and induce a pop-up from Curtis Granderson to end the inning.
“At the beginning I had to get my emotions in check and help my team win,” said Garcia, who was given the ball from the first strikeout as a keepsake. “I had the confidence and always stayed positive out there.”