The New York Mets will have a new vantage point when they take the field on Saturday for the middle contest of a three-game series against the host Miami Marlins.
The Mets will open play in second place in the National League East for just the second time this season. Aside from falling a half-game out after the April 11 action, the Mets had topped the division every day this year.
Now they are looking up at the Atlanta Braves, who hold a half-game lead after they beat the San Diego Padres 6-4 on Friday following the Mets’ 6-3 loss to the out-of-contention Marlins.
Atlanta (87-51) is riding an eight-game winning streak and has 23 wins in its past 28 games.
New York (87-52) has lost four of its past six and is 12-12 over the past 24 games. The Mets held a 10 1/2-game division lead at the start of June and were still up by seven games through Aug. 10.
New York is 10-5 against the Marlins this year, but the Mets couldn’t stop Garrett Cooper (3-for-3 with a two-run homer), Nick Fortes (3-for-4, two runs, one RBI) and Miguel Rojas (two doubles, one RBI) on Friday.
“I’ve been battling the whole year with my timing, trying to find my swing,” Rojas said. “It’s really nice to pull the ball for a couple of doubles.”
The Mets will try to bounce back on Saturday behind Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.91 ERA). The veteran right-hander is tied with Chris Bassitt for the team lead in wins.
Miami will start Pablo Lopez (8-9, 3.66 ERA) on Saturday. The right-hander ranks second on the club in victories, trailing only NL Cy Young Award candidate Sandy Alcantara.
The Mets are 15-9 this year when Carrasco pitches. He has made nine quality starts, but he has lost his past two outings, allowing a combined eight runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings against the Braves and the Washington Nationals.
Carrasco has pitched well in each of his three starts against Miami this year, going 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA. In eight career starts against the Marlins, he is 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA.
The Marlins (57-80) are 13-14 when using Lopez, who has made 10 quality starts this year.
In nine career starts against the Mets, Lopez is 3-4 with a 5.51 ERA.
Miami, which snapped a nine-game losing skid on Thursday by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5, is on a modest two-game winning streak.
On Friday, the Marlins jumped ahead in the first inning on Cooper’s two-run shot and never allowed the Mets to catch them.
Said Rojas: “We want to finish the season on a high note.”
The Mets played on the series opener without right fielder Starling Marte, whose right middle finger was broken on Tuesday when he was hit by a pitch.
Marte has not been placed on the injured list.
“We were hoping there wasn’t a fracture,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “But the good news is that it looks like something he can manage. He is worth waiting on (before possibly placing him on injured list).”
–Field Level Media