Rojas lifts Marlins over Mets 3-2 to snap 7-game skid
NEW YORK (AP) — Miguel Rojas’ two-run single capped a three-run rally in the eighth inning Wednesday night, spoiling Taijuan Walker’s longest start in more than four years and sending the Miami Marlins to a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
Miami played error-free ball and turned three double plays in snapping a seven-game losing streak one night after manager Don Mattingly delivered a stern rebuke about his club’s sloppy play. The Marlins committed nine errors during their skid and were outscored 59-32.
“I thought a cleaner game as far as defensively, for sure,” Mattingly said. “It’s just a lot better brand of baseball. Obviously we didn’t come out and put a bunch of runs (up) and neither did they. But just a well-played game, for the most part.”
The Mets, who lost for the 11th time in 14 games, jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Michael Conforto — an impending free agent who could be playing his final homestand with the club that drafted him in 2014 — hit a 469-foot homer off Elieser Hernandez in the fourth and Brandon Nimmo laced a two-out RBI double in the fifth.
The homer by Conforto was the longest of the season by a New York player and the second-longest of his career, behind a 472-foot drive against the Chicago Cubs in 2018.
Walker, who hadn’t recorded an out in the eighth since he tossed eight innings for Arizona on April 27, 2017, carried a one-hit shutout into the eighth Wednesday before giving up a leadoff double to Lewin Diaz. After Lewis Brinson popped out, Eddy Alvarez chased Walker by working a four-pitch walk.
Alex Jackson, who singled in the third for the Marlins’ first hit, greeted Seth Lugo (4-3) with an RBI double. Pinch-hitter Nick Fortes struck out before Rojas, the oldest Marlins position player at 32 as well as the team leader in at-bats and batting average, blooped his go-ahead single.
“I think Walker threw an amazing game,” Rojas said. “Huge double by (Jackson) to give us the opportunity to hit with runners in scoring position. Something can always happen if you put the ball in play. So it was nice to see the boys offensively waking up later in the game right there.”
Steven Okert (3-1) pitched a scoreless seventh and Richard Bleier tossed a one-hit eighth before Dylan Floro threw a perfect ninth for his 13th save.
“It was nice to see a clean game today,” Rojas said.
Walker walked three and struck out five. After making the All-Star team in July, he went 0-8 with a 7.13 ERA in 13 second-half starts and finished the season with a 4.47 ERA in 159 innings, his most since 2015. He threw just 67 1/3 innings the previous three seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2018.
“I thought it was a really good season,” Walker said. “I know the numbers don’t look good, especially in the second half. But to be where I was the last three years and to go out there and make 29 starts, 30 games total, and throw (159) innings, I would say that’s a win.”
Hernandez permitted two runs and six hits with no walks and six strikeouts in five innings.
SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING
With “Seinfeld” debuting Friday on Netflix, lifelong Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld visited with Mattingly before the game and spent the fourth inning in the Mets’ television booth. The first 10,000 fans received T-shirts with the Mets and the “Seinfeld” logos on the front and SEINFELD 00 and the Netflix logo on the back. Strikeouts by Mets pitchers were accompanied by the “Seinfeld” theme.
Walker and Hernandez opposed each other in unusual fashion at Citi Field on Aug. 31, when the Mets and Marlins completed a game suspended by rain with one out in the top of the first on April 11. Walker relieved Marcus Stroman and tossed 4 2/3 innings while Hernandez went five innings and was credited with a start upon replacing John Curtiss, who was slated to start for Miami but was traded to Milwaukee on July 30.
THE LAST TIME?
In what could have been his final at-bat if the universal DH is implemented next season, Walker legged out an infield single in the fifth for his fourth hit in seven at-bats dating to Aug. 25, shortly after the natural right-handed-hitter began batting from the left side in order to avoid injuries.
“I wish I would have started hitting lefty early in the year, probably would have been better, probably would have had a chance at a Silver Slugger,” Walker said with a grin. “I tried to hit a home run tonight from the left side. I have one from the right side, so hitting one from the left side would have been cool.”
Marlins: RHP Pablo Lopez (rotator cuff) ran in the outfield before the game. The Marlins hope he can pitch in one of their final four games.
Mets: Backup catcher Tomas Nido (left thumb) was placed on the 10-day injured list. It’s the third trip to the IL with a left thumb injury this season for Nido. C Patrick Mazeika was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. … Manager Luis Rojas said RHPs Robert Gsellman (right lat) and Drew Smith (shoulder) still have a chance to return this week.
Marlins: Rookie RHP Edward Cabrera (0-3, 5.79) ERA will make his seventh career start.
Mets: Another rookie, RHP Tylor Megill (3-6, 4.78), will look to end his season on a positive note after posting a 12.86 ERA in his past two starts.
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