Mets crumble in 10th, drop pitcher’s duel to Marlins 2-0

Taijuan Walker Mets
New York Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker delivers against the Miami Marlins during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 10, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Miami Marlins plated a pair of runs in the 10th inning to earn a split of their four-game series against the New York Mets (53-33), coming away with a 2-0 extra-innings victory in a top-tier pitching duel between Taijuan Walker and Sandy Alcantara.

With no outs in the 10th, Tomas Nido’s errant throw well over third base and into left field on a stolen base attempt by Billy Hamilton allowed the speedy free runner to score. Reliever Tommy Hunter proceeded to yield three hits, the last a Luke Williams single up the middle to score Jesus Sanchez.

Brandon Nimmo came within a few feet of tying the game in the bottom half of the inning, but Sanchez managed to haul in the long fly ball with his back against the right-field fence. After Mark Canha walked, placing runners at first and third with two outs, Marlins closer Tanner Scott struck out Francisco Lindor to end it.

Considering the high turnover of pitchers not being able to participate in All-Star Games these days — whether it’s for preservation or scheduling issues — Walker made just the latest strong case on Sunday as to why he should be strongly considered for the National League team.

And who better to do it against than the clear-cut favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award in 2022? 

Walker went seven scoreless innings on Sunday, allowing just three hits — all to Marlins speedster Jon Berti — while striking out seven, lowering his 2022 season ERA to a sterling 2.63. He’s allowed just three earned runs in his last three outings (20.1 innings pitched).

“It was fun to watch,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Tai has been solid for us. He’s a smart man He knows what it takes to keep us in a game like that.”

But his performance came in a no-decision as Alcantara was yet again superb, going seven scoreless innings of his own on 93 pitches, allowing six hits — three of them to Luis Guillorme — with four strikeouts. 

It was the star right-hander’s 12th start of seven innings or more while extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 19 and lowering his season ERA to 1.73.

An error and a walk put the Mets in business in the sixth, but Francisco Lindor’s double play snuffed out the threat before Pete Alonso popped out to first with Brandon Nimmo on third. 

“We had a couple pops at their starter but couldn’t get anything,” Showalter said. “That’s why he is who he is”

Walker proceeded to run into trouble of his own in the top of the seventh when he allowed the first two men on, including Berti’s third hit of the afternoon. But he bounced back to coax a fly-out, a pop-up, and his seventh strikeout of the afternoon, getting Brian Anderson swinging, to get out of the jam at 99 pitches. 

After Drew Smith recorded a scoreless eight, Edwin Diaz breezed through the ninth inning, striking out two in a seven-pitch frame. He has now struck out 70 of 139 batters faced this season — more than half.

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