Firmly out of playoff contention with a week of games left in the season, the end of the Don Mattingly era has become a free for all for individual players making their case for 2023. On the other side of the white lines were the New York Mets, a 97-win team set to embark on their first postseason run since 2016.
One name whose performance through 2022 makes him among the shoe-ins to break camp with Miami next spring, Jesús Luzardo, continued to show Wednesday why went from zero to hero in the span of one season.
Delivering 6+ innings of 2-run ball in his 17th start of the year, Luzardo did all he could to put the Marlins in place to collect their 65th victory. He even got a bit of help from his offense as Bryan De La Cruz’s 12th home run of the season and Brian Anderson’s RBI double would give the Parkland native a 4-0 lead to work with.
“He was pretty much in control all night,” said Don Mattingly. “It was basically a good bounce-back start for me,” said Luzardo who lasted just 3.1 innings against the Mets on 09/11.
Minus the 2 walks scattered, the only meaningful damage against the left-hander came in the bottom of the 7th when Eduardo Escobar cut the Miami lead in half with his 20th home run of the season.
Fast forward to the following inning, and in his first appearance in a week, Tanner Scott was up to his usual tricks, walking 3 of the 4 hitters he would face, Out came Mattingly to pull his struggling reliever - whose season ERA now sits a 4.60 - and in came Richard Bleier.
Fresh off a night where he came just the second pitcher since 1994 to balk 3 times in a single game, Bleier’s run of bad luck would continue. A Jeff McNeil pop-up for the second out would make for a quick bit of cortisol-reducing in Miami’s dugout, but that bubble would burst thanks to the Marlins nemesis of the 7th, Eduardo Escobar.
Having previously cut the deficit to two no less in time than it would take to sit through an episode of Seinfeld, Escobar’s single through the second base side would even the score at 4.
The Marlins would have to wait for their first sweep since July 1st-4th when they swept a four-game series in Washington.
With mutual goose eggs in the 9th and a scoreless 10th from the Amazin’s bullpen, it would be up to Dylan Floro to keep New York from their 98th victory.
The final say would, as you might surmise, be Escobar, as his walk-off single would give the Mets a 5-4 win and keep them in a tie with Atlanta for first place in the NL East.
Miami’s run of squaring off against good teams will continue Thursday when they begin a four-game series against the playoff-hopeful Milwaukee Brewers. Braxton Garrett (3-6, 3.52 ERA) will start the 7:40 E series opener while Milwaukee will counter with Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.96 ERA).
- Minimum 60 plate appearances, Bryan De La Cruz’s 1.278 OPS in the month of September is the second highest mark for any Marlins hitter in said month in franchise history. Only Gary Sheffield, who put together a 1.284 OPS in September/Oct. 1995, fared better.
- De La Cruz’s .421 batting average makes him the first Marlins hitter since Marcell Ozuna in May 2016 to hit .400 in a calendar month with a minimum of 60 plate appearances.