Marlins, Mets set for rubber match of three-game set

MLB

The New York Mets have scored the third-fewest runs in the majors this season, but they rank seventh in ERA.

The good and the bad define the 2021 Mets, who seem too talented for their 70-70 record. Then again, considering the injuries they’ve had this year, perhaps that mark is a pleasant surprise.

On Thursday night, the Mets will conclude their three-game series at the Miami Marlins (58-81).

The Mets won the series opener 9-4 on Tuesday. However, Miami beat New York 2-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday thanks to Bryan De La Cruz’s walk-off hit — it counted as a single, but his shot slammed off the center field wall.

New York first baseman Pete Alonso, who hit three homers over the previous two games, was held to a double in four at-bats Wednesday. He led the team with 32 homers and 84 RBIs.

“I take pride in putting runs on the board,” Alonso said. “I can’t always control the outcome of games, but every time I’m in that box, I want to make an impact and help us win.”

The Mets, who have won eight of their past 11 games, are just 7-7 against the Marlins this year.

New York will aim to bounce back behind right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-12, 2.93 ERA) on Thursday.

Stroman led the Mets to a 6-5 win on May 21 in Miami. He struck out eight batters in six innings, allowing just six hits, one walk and two runs. He also had a brief outing against the Marlins on April 11, pitching one-third of an inning before the contest was suspended due to rain.

Those were his first two career outings against the Marlins.

Stroman has been remarkably consistent in his career at home (30-30, 3.42 ERA) or away (30-29, 3.87 ERA). September traditionally has been a good month for him (3.04 ERA). Only July has been better (2.78 ERA).

Miami will counter Stroman with lefty Jesus Luzardo (5-7, 7.00 ERA).

Luzardo beat the Mets the only time he has faced them, which was on Aug. 2. In that game, he lasted five innings, allowing four hits, three walks and three runs.

The Marlins are 4-3 in his seven starts since joining the franchise in a July 28 trade.

Luzardo, who turns 24 on Sept. 30, has struggled with his control this year, allowing 4.5 walks per nine innings. He has also allowed 10.4 hits per nine innings, and both of those figures are career highs for the third-year major-leaguer.

As for the Marlins’ offense, rookie Lewin Diaz is in for veteran Jesus Aguilar at first base. Aguilar, who went on the injured list on Wednesday due to a sore left knee, has been Miami’s most dangerous hitter all year, producing 22 homers and 93 RBIS.

With the Marlins out of playoff contention, the decision to recall Diaz is well within Miami’s mission plan. The Marlins want to see what they have in Diaz.

“I’m glad to be back home,” Diaz said of his return to the majors. “I know how to play. It’s just a matter of staying calm.”

At Triple-A Jacksonville this year, Diaz hit .248 with 20 homers and 51 RBIs in 74 games. In 30 career major league games, including his 0-for-4 effort Wednesday, Diaz is batting .132 with three homers and eight RBIs.

“We wanted to get an extended look at Lewin,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “(Aguilar’s injury) sped that up.”

–Field Level Media

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