When opposing players make mistakes, the Mets make them pay.
It’s been the theme for these 2022 Mets, and their ability to capitalize on a momentous slip-up helped lead them to a 5-3 win over the Marlins in the series opener on Friday night in Miami.
The second matchup of the season between the divisional opponents went back-and-forth until the turning point in the sixth inning.
With Brandon Nimmo on first and Tomas Nido on second, Starling Marte ripped a marginally hard-hit ground ball to Marlins second baseman Willians Astudillo, who was filling in for Miami sparkplug Jazz Chisholm after he left Friday’s game with back spasms. Astudillo attempted to tag Nimmo, who was halfway between first and second, before throwing to first base to nab Marte.
Nimmo was called out on the tag, and Marte was called out on the throw. It was ruled a double play, but Buck Showalter wasn’t buying it. Before the Mets manager could even check with bench coach Glenn Sherlock, who calls the team’s trusted replay analyst, Harrison Friedland, in the video room, Showalter was out of the dugout to speak to the umpires. After a few minutes of calm, non-combative discussion, in which Showalter explained that a double challenge is completely within his jurisdiction his, the crew chief umpire announced to the home crowd that the Mets are exercising a double challenge.
Not long after, MLB’s replay overlords in Midtown, Manhattan overturned not one, but both calls.
Astudillo tagged Nimmo with the glove on his left hand, but the ball was in his right hand. So that tag-play was disregarded and overturned, and Nimmo was awarded second base. Marte reached first base before the throw, so that call was overturned. Nido advanced to third on the play, so the Mets had the bases loaded for Francisco Lindor.
On the mound, right-hander Sandy Alcantara, Miami’s best pitcher, was shaken up by the bizarre sequence of events. He missed his spots to Lindor, falling behind 3-1, before the Mets shortstop pounced on a slider and sent it to the right-field warning track. Lindor cleared the bases on a three-run double and the Amazin’s marched ahead to the tune of a 5-2 lead.
Lindor also opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run off Alcantara. The shortstop has 56 RBI, fourth-most in MLB, already this season. Lindor didn’t record his 56th RBI last year until Sept. 26. Pete Alonso leads the majors with 66 RBI.
The Mets (46-26) took advantage of Astudillo’s mental mistake and never looked back.
Taijuan Walker was charged with three earned runs across six-plus innings and 99 pitches in another solid start for the right-hander. Walker’s third earned run went to his docket after Drew Smith allowed his inherited runner to score. Though Smith scratched and clawed through a laborious seventh inning – he walked three batters and struck out two – Adam Ottavino recorded the final out of the frame and kept the Marlins at bay.
Edwin Diaz picked up his 15th save of the season, but not without another Mets challenge. With one out in the ninth, Jon Berti attempted to steal second base as catcher Tomas Nido threw to second, from his knees, to Luis Guillorme who applied the tag. Berti was called safe on the field, but after a review the call was overturned and the Mets won their third challenge of the night.
Berti made a poor decision to steal second, and the Mets made him pay. So it goes for these 2022 Mets, featuring a manager who is paying close attention to the details and a team that is playing sharp baseball.