NEW YORK (AP)Francisco Cervelli hit a three-run homer, Humberto Mejia impressed in his abbreviated major league debut and the Miami Marlins kept up their surprising surge, beating the New York Mets 4-3 Friday night.
The Marlins won their sixth in a row and improved to 7-1 – they’re 5-0 since missing more than a week because of the team’s coronavirus outbreak.
”You want to ride this wave as long as you can because you know you’re going to hit a stretch somewhere,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”Pennant race baseball is momentum and you want to win every day. I know it’s early and we got a long way to go.”
Miami has won despite already using 43 players, including 25 pitchers, to maintain a full roster amid COVID-19 concerns.
The Marlins, who went 57-105 last year, posted their latest victory on a rainy night. New York has lost seven of nine.
Cervelli waved and pointed to the imaginary fans in the seating areas after hitting his second homer of the season. Jonathan Villar added an RBI double in Miami’s four-run second.
”He’s been tremendous for us,” Mattingly said of Cervelli.
Dominic Smith homered for the Mets. New York scored its other runs in the eighth on a throwing error by third baseman Brian Anderson and RBI single by J.D. Davis.
”We’re continuously putting ourselves in good situations to win,” Smith said. ”We’re not just getting overmatched at the plate and we’re not just getting blown out.”
Marlins rookie second baseman Eddy Alvarez knocked down Wilson Ramos’ two-out grounder with the bases loaded and recovered in time to throw out the slow-footed catcher to end the Mets’ rally.
The 30-year-old Alvarez, who won a silver medal in speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics, got a big round of applause from his teammates when he descended into the dugout. He was promoted to the majors this week and is 0 for 9 at the plate.
Mejia allowed one run on six hits in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two in a strong 67-pitch outing.
The 23-year-old Mejia, who had never pitched above Class A, made his first professional start since Aug. 9 in the Florida State League. He closed this outing by striking out Jeff McNeil, prompting an audibly profane reaction from the All-Star.
”This was a very special day for me,” Mejia said through a translator. ”It was a day I was dreaming of since I was kid. I think I did a good job. I hope to be here for more games and have the opportunity.”
Stephen Tarpley (2-0) pitched two innings for the win. Nick Vincent escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and finished for his first save since 2016 with Seattle.
Michael Wacha (1-2) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings.
”Not a very good pitch at all to Cervelli and he got me,” Wacha said.
INF Miguel Rojas, one of the Marlins who recently tested positive for coronavirus, provided an update on his official Twitter page.
”I’ve been getting the question on when I’ll be coming back,” Rojas wrote. ”I’m feeling 100 percent healthy now but the protocol say that I need to test negative two times in a row and I haven’t got negative results back yet. After that happens, I need to get back to baseball shape.”
The Marlins moved RHP Jorge Guzman to their taxi squad after he made his major league debut Thursday. The Mets optioned LHP Daniel Zamora to their alternate training site and sent OF Ryan Cordell there after he was designated for assignment Wednesday.
Marlins: OF Monte Harrison was given the day off to rest his knee after crashing into the fence Thursday in Baltimore. Harrison had X-rays taken after Thursday and they came back negative.
Mets: 2B Robinson Cano (groin) took grounders at second base and manager Luis Rojas said he is responding well to treatment. RHP Robert Gsellman was activated off the injured list after missing two weeks with triceps tendinitis.
Marlins: Miami did not announce a starter for Saturday.
Mets: Rookie David Peterson (1-1, 3.86) will make his third career start and home debut on Saturday.
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