MIAMI — Buck Showalter and Francisco Lindor caused a rare form of double trouble on Friday night.
First, the Mets manager won a double challenge on a double-play call in the sixth inning. Then his star shortstop emerged to ensure he counted with a three-run double that sent the Mets to a 5-3 win over the Marlins at LoanDepot Park.
Lindor also scored as part of the attack against Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara, who was competing with an MLB best 1.72 ERA. The win was the Mets’ fourth in five games against the Marlins in the past eight days. In between, the Mets lost consecutive games in Houston.
Showalter’s double challenge fueled the sixth inning with three runs that put the Mets ahead.
With Tomas Nido on the second and Brandon Nimmo on the first, Starling Marte hit a grounder that Willians Astudillo set up. Between first and second base, Astudillo marked Nimmo with his glove but not the ball. Nimmo was called out, as was Marte on the throw first. However, when Astudillo realized he hadn’t applied the tag with the ball in his glove, he requested it from Jesus Aguilar and tagged Nimmo, who was still down between bases.
The Mets challenged both outs. Not only was Marte declared safe by one step first, but Nimmo also finished second – on the basis that he had been called out and would have reached base had he kept running.
“I’m glad we had and got an immediate replay [the calls] right,” Showalter said. “When the out call is made you can’t punish the offense because if he thought he was safe he would have stood up and climbed into second. Play continues, but you cannot penalize the runner for the out call.”
The double challenge win loaded the bases before Lindor unloaded them to right center with a three-run double.
“Nimmo, who runs the bases, did an excellent job with Marte,” said Lindor. “This attack can’t work without them. The level of professionalism they have for running hard and thinking things ahead is tremendous. It definitely made my job easier to hit with loaded bases and no outs and no Pete [Alonso] behind me than hitting with a guy on third base and two outs. It changed everything.”
Commenting on Showalter’s decision to issue a double challenge, Lindor said, “Buck is Buck. He’s very smart, very smart. He probably knows the rules better than any referee out there… it was a big play, right there.”
Lindor also smashed a two-out homer in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Lindor jumped on a 99-mile fastball and the ball just crossed the fence in midfield for his 12th homer of the season.
Mark Canha hammered an up-and-in fastball from Alcantara for a solo homer in the fifth that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. The Marlins ace had only allowed four homers to get into the game all season.
Taijuan Walker allowed three earned runs with eight hits and two walks spanning more than six innings for the win. Drew Smith came on in the seventh and went three batters – forcing a run in the process – but Adam Ottavino prevented further trouble by getting Jesus Aguilar to fly into the middle with the bases loaded. Ottavino threw up a scoreless eighth before Edwin Diaz made his 15th save after conceding twice in the ninth.
“I would say that now [Alcantara] is probably the best pitcher in the game and if I have to go toe-to-toe with him, I just have to be a little bit better,” Walker said. “Try to go longer innings than him, but also try to give up fewer runs.”
Walker allowed two singles in the fifth game that helped the Marlins to a 2-2 draw. Jon Berti delivered a one-off single and rocketed to third place when Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit right field. Chisholm advanced to second with Marte’s throw, hitting Jorge Soler’s RBI floor.
The Marlins had four straight singles in the first inning but only managed one run after Berti was picked up by Walker first.
“Last time he stole two from me and I was pretty close to getting him out of the last game,” Walker said. “He will run. … He’s someone to watch out for and I have a feeling if we get an early pickoff it will put their entire running game on hold for the rest of the day.