With pitching and power, Mets sweep Marlins, surge over .500
NEW YORK (AP) — Pete Alonso turned on a fastball and raised his arms high in triumph, still holding his bat. Fans at Citi Field roared, just like they had moments earlier for J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto.
The New York Mets hit three home runs in an inning for the first time exactly two years, riding a raucous seventh-inning rally to beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 Monday night for a doubleheader sweep that moved them above .500 for the first time since early May.
“Getting to this point has been really tough,” Alonso said, “but now anything can happen.”
Jeff McNeil welcomed Robert Dugger to the major leagues with a home run on his first pitch as New York won the opener 6-2. Amed Rosario broke a 1-1 tie with a third-inning homer and Jacob deGrom (7-7) gave himself a three-run cushion with a two-run single.
New York (57-56) had not been above .500 since it was 16-15 before play on May 3. The Mets dropped to 40-51 after losing their first game of second half but are 17-5 since. They trailed by eight games for the second NL wild card before play on July 25 but are just 2½ games back.
“We still have a long way to go,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “Hopefully we’ll be selling out every game the next two months and do something really special.”
New York has won 11 of its last 12, but eight victories came against the teams with the three worst records in the NL and three more against the Chicago White Sox, who also have a losing record. Starting this weekend, the Mets play 24 of their next 27 games against NL East rivals Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington plus Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs, both contending for division titles.
“We understand the road is going to get tough, but we’re going to ride this wave,” Conforto said.
Davis, Conforto and Alonso all homered off Jeff Brigham (1-1) on full-count fastballs. Davis led off the inning with an opposite-field drive to right-center, and Conforto, who had a two-run single in the first, hit a 440-foot homer with two outs that went over the second deck seats in right field, just inside the foul pole.
“That’s probably one of my best bullets,” Conforto said.
Alonso followed with a low laser just inside the left-field pole for his 35th homer, the rookie’s first since July 26.
“Ever since Mercury came out of retrograde, I think I’m OK,” he said.
Miami dropped to an NL-worst 42-69 with its fourth straight loss.
“I got ahead of them pretty good, just did a poor job of executing my put-away pitches,” Brigham said. “That’s what happens when you let the count run deep. They see a few pitches, and then you leave one out over the plate.”
“It was about as electric as I’ve ever seen it here,” said Conforto, who debuted for the Mets’ 2015 NL champions.
Dugger (0-1), brought up despite a 9.34 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A, gave up six runs, five hits and four walks in five innings, striking out three , hitting two batters and throwing a wild pitch. The 24-year-old right-hander became the first starting pitcher to give up a home run on the first pitch of his debut since New York Yankees rookie Derek Jeter — the Marlins current CEO — went deep off the California Angels’ Jason Dickson on Aug. 21, 1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I said, wow, this is going to be a long game,” Dugger recalled. “I better step it up and start making pitches.”
Isan Diaz, a 23-year-old second baseman, made his major league debut and homered on a 1-2 fastball leading off the sixth, a 422-foot drive to right that was part of a 1-for-7 day. He was among the four prospects acquired from Milwaukee in January 2018 for outfielder Christian Yelich.
A contingent of family and friends of the debutants cheered from the seats behind third base. Diaz’s dad, Raul, was being interviewed on the Marlins’ telecast at the time of the home run and screamed for about a minute.
“Obviously, this was his dream, as well,” Isan said. “I’m happy that I was able to finally be able to make our dream come true.”
Another prospect obtained from the Brewers, 25-year-old outfielder Lewis Brinson, rejoined the Marlins and went 0 for 6 in the doubleheader, dropping his average from .197 to .181. Brinson was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans on April 30 after starting the season with no homers and four RBIs in 76 at-bats.
To make from for Diaz at second, Starlin Castro played third in the opener for the first time since rookie ball in 2008. Rookie Jon Berti switched from third to shortstop, where he had played just 11 innings previously in the big leagues.
Marlins: OF Cesar Puello (strained left hip flexor) and 1B Neil Walker (sprained right index finger) were put on the 10-day IL. RHP Ryne Stanek, acquired last Wednesday from Tampa Bay, was activated. He had not pitched since July 19 due to right hip soreness. RHP Kyle Keller was optioned to New Orleans.
Mets: McNeil left the nightcap in the third inning with a right calf cramp. … 2B Robinson Canó was diagnosed with a torn left hamstring and went back on the IL, a day after getting hurt at Pittsburgh. “That’s devastating,” Callaway said.