Mets, in must-win mode, face Marlins

MLB

The New York Mets, who have remained in the playoff race by winning eight of their past 10 games, could be running out of time.

Mets catcher James McCann realizes this as his team gets set to face the host Miami Marlins on Wednesday night in the middle game of this week’s three-contest series.

“The key is putting blinders on,” McCann said. “It’s not a marathon anymore. It’s a sprint.”

Indeed, with less than one month left in the regular season, the Mets (70-69) trail the Atlanta Braves by four games in the National League East.

The Mets are 7-6 against the Marlins (57-81) this year, and now they are set to face Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara on Wednesday.

New York will start lefty Rich Hill (6-6, 3.92 ERA).

The last time Alcantara (8-13, 3.36 ERA) took the mound, he allowed a first-inning, leadoff homer to Mets third baseman Jonathan Villar last Thursday. Alcantara took the loss, allowing eight hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

For his career against the Mets, Alcantara is 2-4 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts.

Hill has faced the Marlins twice this year – once while with the Tampa Bay Rays and once with the Mets. Hill took a no-decision both times, but the Marlins won each game.

In that first game, on April 3, Hill allowed four runs in four innings. More recently, on Aug. 5, Hill allowed one run (unearned) in five innings while pitching for New York.

In six career games against the Marlins, Hill is 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA. His ERA against the Marlins this year is 4.00.

Hill struggled with a back injury earlier this year. However, he is apparently healthy now.

“My body is feeling great,” Hill, 41, said after a recent start.

Hill has lost his past four decisions — he hasn’t won since June 23 — but the Mets are 4-4 when he starts. He is also coming off a stellar effort last Friday, pitching six scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals. It was his best start since May 13, when he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings.

“You ride it out,” Hill said when asked about slumps. “If you panic and do something drastically different, that can lead to those valleys.”

The Marlins likely will load their lineup with right-handed batters against Hill. That should include shortstop Miguel Rojas, who was rested on Tuesday, and first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who should be able to return after missing one game due to a sore left knee.

Eddy Alvarez, another right-handed batter, also could be in the lineup.

Alvarez won a silver medal in baseball in this year’s Olympics, and he also won silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics in speed skating.

He is just the sixth athlete and the third American to medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Only Jim Thorpe and Alvarez, who was recalled by the Marlins on Tuesday, have played Major League Baseball and also won an Olympic medal in another sport.

As for his role with the Marlins, manager Don Mattingly likes Alvarez’s versatility.

“We can use him for sure,” Mattingly said. “He plays a lot of spots in the infield, and he can play the outfield, too.”

–Field Level Media

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