Carlos Carrasco’s gem, three homers propel Mets past Marlins
MIAMI — He’s one yummy Cookie these days.
Carlos Carrasco isn’t going to win any contests blowing away hitters, but the right-hander’s offspeed pitches and command — and most importantly, his health — have converged this season to give the Mets an invaluable rotation piece.
On Saturday he gave his team 7 ²/₃ shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the Marlins at loanDepot park. Carrasco extended his scoreless streak over his past three starts to 18 ²/₃ innings.
The win was No. 100 in Carrasco’s career, making the 35-year-old the eighth Venezuelan-born pitcher to reach the milestone. Carrasco last surrendered a run on July 9 against the Marlins at Citi Field.
“I have been doing this a long time and getting 100 wins means a lot,” said Carrasco, who is 100-82 over 13 major league seasons. “Even more of it, getting it with a special group like this, going out there every day to play hard for us. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The Mets won their fifth straight and improved to 63-37, their most victories at the 100-game mark since 1986.
Overall, Carrasco allowed four hits and struck out seven with two walks. Seth Lugo replaced Carrasco in the eighth after Charles Leblanc had doubled with two outs. But Leblanc was picked off second base by Tomas Nido, ensuring Carrasco’s scoreless streak continued.
Lugo remained in the game to pitch a scoreless ninth inning, allowing Edwin Diaz a day off following a 10-pitch outing Friday in which he struck out the side.
The Mets will try for a three-game sweep of the reeling Marlins on Sunday with Taijuan Walker on the mound.
After scuffling offensively for seven innings, the Mets gave Carrasco breathing room in the eighth when Francisco Lindor and JD Davis each blasted a solo homer to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.
“Those runs are very important,” Lindor said. “If we are up 2-0 in the ninth, Edwin has to come in and then we probably wouldn’t be able to use him tomorrow. Those couple of runs at the end helped.”
Davis’ blast, as a pinch hitter, came as the Mets are searching on the trade market for a right-handed hitter who can bolster that half of the DH equation.
The Mets have traded for two lefty bats in the past week-plus to bolster the other half. One of those additions, Tyler Naquin, debuted for the Mets on Saturday in the left field and went 0-for-4. The other, Daniel Vogelbach, started at DH and drew a walk in four plate appearances before Davis pinch hit for him.
Carrasco’s gem was the latest strong performance by a Mets starting pitcher. Entering play, the Mets had a 2.45 ERA from the starting rotation in July, which ranked second in the major leagues.
“It’s kind of shortened the number of outs we’ve had to get from [the bullpen],” manager Buck Showalter said, noting the absences of Drew Smith and Trevor May due to injuries. May could return Wednesday.
Jeff McNeil hit a solo homer in the third inning off rookie Nick Neidert to give the Mets their first run. The homer was the first since June 14 for McNeil, who entered the day with a .162/.240/.191 slash line in July. McNeil’s teammates gave him the silent treatment upon his return to the dugout before finally offering congratulations.
“We pull for him so much because we know how much it means to him,” Showalter said. “Not selfishly, just to contribute. He wants to contribute to our club every night and he’s done it at such a high level … the good thing about him is he never relaxes.”
The Mets weren’t finished in the inning: Nido, Brandon Nimmo and Lindor all singled. Lindor’s hit extended the Mets’ lead to 2-0.
Carrasco was challenged in the first inning, when he allowed a single to Miguel Rojas and walk to Jesus Aguilar before retiring JJ Bleday for the final out. In the fourth, Carrasco surrendered a leadoff single, but he escaped the inning when he got Bleday to ground into a double play. Carrasco also induced a double-play grounder to end the seventh.
“Sometimes I try to be too perfect and that is where I get hurt,” Carrasco said. “But I have been doing pitch by pitch and that is what I did tonight.”