For only the second time in their history and the first time since 1971, the Mets fielded an all-homegrown team in their matinee with the Marlins on Thursday, and the youngsters were able to come from behind in the ninth to win yet another pitcher’s duel, 3-2.
The Mets jumped out to a good start — Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the bottom of the first with a triple off the glove of Giancarlo Stanton in right field (left). Ruben Tejada then drove him in with a sacrifice fly for the early lead.
But in the third the Marlins tied it up on a solo shot to left by Gaby Sanchez. With Chipper Jones retiring, Sanchez is likely to pick up the mantle as the top Mets killer.
Sanchez even contributed to the second run — he grounded into a double play in the fifth to score Omar Infante, who also does quite well against the Mets.
Heath Bell was called on in the ninth to protect a 2-1 lead, and he was unable to do so. He was also unable to throw strikes — the disgruntled former Met walked four batters to tie the game at two; the last one was Justin Turner, who had a remarkable 13-pitch at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch with a 3-2 count until he worked out his game-tying walk. Then with two outs Nieuwenhuis crushed a ball over Stanton’s head in right field for the dramatic comeback victory.
The starting pitching was stellar for the third straight game. Jonathon Niese had another solid outing — seven innings, four hits, six strikeouts and no walks. On the other side, Ricky Nolasco stymied the Mets, who also went seven innings, allowing five hits and striking out five. But once again, the bullpen proved to be the Marlins’ undoing.
So the Mets sweep the series, and now it’s off to Denver, where pitching duels are a rarity.