For the first time this season, the New York Mets (7-9) won a series by taking Sunday afternoon’s rubber game, 4-2, over the Miami Marlins (7-3).
Jacob deGrom was not at his best — escaping trouble and injury concerns — but still managed to pick up his second-consecutive victory by allowing two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks over five innings of work.
It’s just the sixth time since the beginning of 2018 that the two-time defending NL Cy Young Award has won consecutive games.
Much of that had to do with the dynamic play of rookie infielder Andres Gimenez, who collected three hits and scored three runs on the day as he continues to live up to his top-prospect billing.
New York’s victory was hardly an easy one over the surprising Marlins, who were forecasted to be one of MLB’s worst teams.
Rare control issues in the second inning saw deGrom run into some early issues. He threw eight-consecutive pitches out of the zone to walk the opening two batters of the frame, which is more free passes he’s allowed in 99 of his first 174 career starts.
A hard-hit ball by Eddy Alvarez was stopped by a JD Davis dive at third base to load the bases with one out, but more concerning was the fact that team trainers came out to the mound to check on deGrom’s finger following that at-bat.
He stayed in the game and proceeded to bear down, striking out Monte Harrison before coaxing a Jonathan Villar groundout to get out of the inning unscathed.
“Finger was fine. A couple pitches I could feel it a little bit as the ball slipped off. Felt like a blister a little bit but it was fine,” deGrom said. “That was a pretty frustrating inning.”
Rojas added that it was “nothing alarming.”
The Mets would take the lead in the third inning after a single by Gimenez, a stolen base, and a pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs.
Jeff McNeil sent a sharp liner into the hole at second base but Alvarez made a sterling diving stop to get a force out at second and limit the play to just one run.
After Pete Alonso struck out, the Mets got a break when Corey Dickerson booted Michael Conforto’s blooper in right field to double the Mets’ third-inning output.
They would add another in the fourth when Brandon Nimmo drove in Gimenez, who picked up his second hit of the day with a one-out double earlier in the frame.
Miami would find a way to get to deGrom in the fifth when Jesus Aguilar — who had a monster series against the Mets — teed off for a majestic two-run home run into the left-field seats.
While deGrom got through the inning, he clearly was unhappy to finish his day on that note as he kicked a garbage can on the way to the Mets’ clubhouse.
“I felt like it was dragging a little bit today,” deGrom said. “I felt like I was underneath everything today.”
But the Mets continued to add sporadic support for their ace even after his day was done. Gimenez helped create yet another run in the sixth after reaching on a perfectly-executed drag bunt.
After moving to third on a Tomas Nido single — and Nimmo getting hit by a pitch to load the bases — Gimenez scored on a shallow sacrifice fly from Jeff McNeil to make it 4-2.
“This kid is amazing,” Rojas said of Gimenez. “You watch him play, all the ground he covers at second, his IQ… This kid is always on his toes physically and mentally and we saw those plays today.”
It was all the Mets would get in the inning, though, as the struggling Pete Alonso hit into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second.
The Marlins nearly tied things up in the eighth inning off the enigmatic Edwin Diaz, who is trying to work his way back to the closer’s role.
After two-straight strikeouts to start the inning, a single by Ryan Lavarnway and a double by Alvarez — which was a few feet from being a home run — put the tying runs in scoring position. But Diaz was able to strike out to escape the jam.
“There’s a lot of conviction in every pitch that he threw,” Rojas said. “It’s some of the things we want to see from him, that he has a plan, he as a vision so he can execute those pitches.”