Of all the Mets’ 15 wins this young season, a case can be made for tonight’s 3-1 victory in Miami as their most important. Not their most stylish, although Dillon Gee‘s performance was as good as any Mets pitcher this year. Earlier I called the series with the Marlins a “trap series” as it fell between the always heavily scrutinized series against the Yankees and that with Washington, the team the Mets are trying to unseat in the NL East.
The Mets are in a rare position and have been all season, which included an 11-game winning streak, which included 10 in a row at home. But, they haven’t fared well traditionally in the Bronx and were 4-15 last year against the Nationals. After losing two of three over the weekend, who couldn’t see the Mets looking ahead to Washington and stubbing their toes in Miami?
If you couldn’t, then you haven’t been paying attention to your team. Tonight was a game the Mets had lost in the past, but this team has been promising us it is a different year. And, tonight they proved it.
Miami has always been a tough place for them to play, and the Marlins had to have been stung about getting swept last week in Citi Field. The Mets had Gee going for them in an attempt to rebound from Sunday, one of their worst efforts of the year – in all phases.
With his spot in the rotation reportedly on shaky ground, Gee was magnificent and breezed through the Marlins for 7.2 innings before giving up three straight hits. Gee’s pitch-count was unbelievably low, but a case could be made for pulling him because it was the eighth inning, after all.
However, Terry Collins showed faith in Gee, who retired 15 Marlins on grounders.
“We can put to rest that Dillon Gee can’t pitch at this level,” Collins said. “There has been a lot of talk, and I feel terrible for him. He went out there tonight and showed he can do what he has done in the past.”
Then, in the ninth Juan Lagares lead off with a long fly to center Marcell Ozuna misplayed into a double. One of the early-season staples of these Mets have been their ability to take advantage of opportunities. Lucas Duda then walked, but after Michael Cuddyer flied out, Daniel Murphy homered.
“I’m just focusing on the at-bat at hand,” Murphy told reporters. “No matter what I do, I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and be hitting .290, so one at-bat at a time is all I can control.”
I had no problem not bunting Cuddyer in that situation because he’s the clean-up hitter brought here for those types of situations, and Murphy was dropped down in the order to give him more RBI opportunities.
Both decisions paid off.
As if that wasn’t enough for Murphy, he made a scintillating defensive play in the bottom of the ninth to rob Michael Morse of a hit.
Maybe that ball would have gotten by Murphy in the past, but the Mets wiggled out of the trap and continued to make us believe things could be different.