The New York Mets continued to live on the edge tonight, walking off with a 4-3 win against the Miami Marlins thanks to an RBI single by Curtis Granderson. They’ve been straddling a fine line since the start of the season, relying on pitching, defense and an occasional small miracle, thanks to the fact that their bats have yet to wake up from their winter slumber.
Of their 13 wins this year, four have been by a margin of one run. In seven of their wins, the Mets have scored four runs or fewer. On their current homestand, the Mets have gone 5-3 while scoring 22 runs, an average of a little over three per game. The ball has clearly not been carrying at Citi Field. As in previous Aprils, several Mets hitters have knocked long fly balls to the warning track for outs, leaving them with what might be called the Citi Field Stare.
Tonight, David Wright crushed one to right-center field that Giancarlo Stanton tracked down about 380 feet away. It was a ball that would have been out of most ballparks. Instead, Wright stood near the second base bag, looking dazed. Granderson hit two deep fly balls to center that fell short. Granderson, ever the professional, managed to hide his Citi Field Stare. He later figured out the secret to hitting at Citi — keep the ball on the ground. It was his hard ground ball that slipped under the glove of first baseman Garret Jones that scored Omar Quintanilla from third base.
As an aside, Marlins closer Steve Cishek continued to struggle against the Mets. He came into the game with an ERA over 5.00 against New York, even though he’s been dominant against the rest of the league. It was his first blown save since June 4, 2013 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Despite the late inning death-by-a-thousand-cuts rally by the Mets, which featured singles by Granderson, Lucas Duda, Quintanilla, a double by Kirk Nieuwenhius and a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice bunt mixed in, the Mets continued to lean hard on their pitching, as they’ve done all of April. Zack Wheeler started and pitched well, though, he continues to struggle with his command at times. He walked three batters, but struck out 10. His secondary stuff, particularly his change-up and curveball, were sharp. And his fastball velocity didn’t dip as the game went on, which had been his pattern previously. Even though he spent 110 pitches over six innings, there were many positives to take away from tonight’s start.
The bullpen pitched well again, despite back-to-back home runs surrendered by Gonzalez Germen. In his second inning of work, he threw a fastball right on the border of being strike three to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but didn’t get the call. Two pitches later, Salty homered to tie it. Jones followed with the go-ahead homer off the foul pole in right. Germen’s fastball-change-up combination continued to be impressive, however.
The question is, how long can the Mets keep winning without hitting? In order to do so, they’ll have to rely on their pitching and defense to remain perfect — and each of those facets of the Mets’ game showed a crack or two in the armor tonight. Pitching and defense are great. They’re the foundations of most winning ballclubs. But the bats are going to have to come around sooner or later.