Miami Marlins

Adam Conley sharp as Marlins blank Mets 6-0 to win series

Miami Marlins relief pitcher Adam Conley winds up in the seventh inning against the New York Mets in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015.
Miami Marlins relief pitcher Adam Conley winds up in the seventh inning against the New York Mets in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. AP

The Marlins have gifted rookie starter Adam Conley generous support all season. On Wednesday night, he didn’t need it.

Conley threw a career-high seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and striking out six, as Miami (63-83) beat the Mets 6-0 to take the rubber game of the three-game series.

“The plan we had was to attack the zone, it was to get ahead of guys and it was to be aggressive,” Conley said. “It was to just pretty much say, ‘I’m going to throw you my best stuff and if you get me, I’ll tip my hat to you.’ 

In Conley’s young career, he has rarely gone deep into games, completing six innings only once in seven previous starts. In three of those, he failed to complete five innings. But the Marlins had won six of those seven, in large part because of hefty run support — they were averaging 7.7 runs per game when he took the rubber.

Conley bucked that trend of needing the bats to carry the load on Wednesday, slicing his way through a Mets lineup that entered the day leading baseball in runs since the beginning of August. He retired the first 10 hitters of the game until David Wright broke up the perfect game in the fourth inning with a double.

“He was in attack mode from the beginning,” manager Dan Jennings said.

More notably, Conley (4-1) sustained that success into the later innings. In previous outings, batters were hitting .347 against him the second time they faced him in a game and .360 the third time, versus a still high but relatively lower .288 the first time through the order.

But after Wright’s double, he continued to mow down the Mets lineup, allowing only two more hits. And he did not walk a batter, the first time he has done that in his eight career starts. With the start, he lowered his ERA from 4.93 to 4.22.

Conley, ranked third on MLB.com’s list of Marlins’ prospects, looked like the pitcher the team expected after he dominated Triple A this season. In 19 outings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this year, he had a 2.52 ERA in 107 innings. Miami took him in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Miami’s offense did not put up a fireworks display behind Conley like usual, but unlike its previous try against Bartolo Colon on Sept.  5 it was able to score against the veteran starter. In that game, a 7-0 Marlins loss, Colon tossed a complete-game shutout.

Martin Prado made sure that would not repeat itself in the fourth inning when he stroked a solo home run to left-center field, his eighth of the season. Prado, who finished 2 for 4, has been a thorn in the Mets’ side all season, hitting .356 against them.

Prado’s solo shot was the first of three for the Marlins on the night. In the fifth inning, J.T. Realmuto hit one to left field, also off Colon (14-12), and in the eighth, Justin Bour hit a towering shot to right-center off reliever Tyler Clippard to make the game 4-0. Bour’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, plating Dee Gordon, had given the Marlins their third run of the game. Back-to-back RBI singles by Gordon and Christian Yelich in the top of the ninth capped off Miami’s scoring.

After Conley left the game, Mike Dunn, Bryan Morris and Kyle Barraclough combined for two hitless innings to complete the shutout. The win marked the Marlins’ second consecutive series victory against the Mets, with Miami also taking two of three from New York at Marlins Park two weeks ago.

“We’re having fun right now,” Jennings said. “We realize that we’re not playing for the postseason, but at the same time we’re playing to get ready for 2016.”

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