Once again on Sunday an excellent start was thrown from the mound at Citi Field. This time around, though, the pitcher was on the opposition, making his major league debut, no less. The Mets unfortunately had Aaron Laffey, making his first and possibly last appearance for the Mets. But with Jose Fernandez long gone, the Mets pulled off some heroics in the ninth inning to win the game.
Laffey lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on 10 — count ’em — 10 hits. The Marlins had no problem getting around on the soft tosser, whose fastball sits in the mid 80s, at best. Laffey somehow did manage to strike out five batters, which was a surprise for the pitcher with the lowest strikeout ratio in the majors.
Meantime Jose Fernandez baffled Mets hitters. The 20-year-old Cuban defector who made the jump from Single-A all the way to the big leagues was perfect through three innings. The Mets finally broke through in the fifth when Ruben Tejada singled and Anthony Recker, also making his Mets debut behind the plate, doubled to score Tejada to make it 3-1.
Fernandez was removed after five innings and 80 pitches. He allowed just the one run on three hits, with eight strikeouts and one walk. The Mets just could not catch up to his fastball or figure out his fine breaking pitch.
The Mets were certainly happy to see Jose Fernandez go because Daniel Murphy led off the sixth inning with a home run off of reliever A.J. Ramos to cut the deficit to 3-2.
It was still 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth when Marlins closer Steve Cishek hit Tejada with one out. Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled, and an aggressive Tejada went to third. Nieuwenhuis followed into second. Marlon Byrd then hit a ball right down the third base line that got past the drawn-in infield. Both runs scored and the Mets won in dramatic fashion, 4-3.
Credit the Mets bullpen with keeping the Marlins in check and putting the team into position to win the game and the series. Now it’s onto Philadelphia to take on the struggling Phillies.
It will be interesting to see if Laffey gets another chance with the Mets. He really didn’t show anything to build on, except perhaps for the five strikeouts. The Mets have Collin McHugh ready, who was impressive in his first minor league start. If the Mets decide to add a veteran, Aaron Harang might be out there. The Dodgers traded him to the Rockies on Saturday and he was immediately designated for assignment. If he clears waivers, which he will likely do, he is someone the Mets might consider for the major league minimum salary.