Mets' Báez bolts out of doghouse with apology, winning run
Javier Báez sprinted home from first for the game-ending run on Michael Conforto’s single, earning cheers from a fanbase he insulted days earlier in the New York Mets’ 6-5 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.
In the resumption of a game suspended by rain April 11, the Mets scored five runs in the final inning and won it when Báez scored following a Marlins error.
Báez was booed when he entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, hours after apologizing for revealing Sunday that a thumbs-down celebration gesture used recently by the team was dig at fans who have been booing the struggling club recently.
“Winning’s all we want - all the fans want, we’re all pulling (in) the same direction here,” Conforto said. “I don’t know what one game does. But I can tell you that the guys wanted to win this one about as badly as any other game we’ve played.
“In short, I think winning cures everything.”
Fans chanted Báez’s name when he came up again in the ninth with two on, two out and New York trailing 5-3. He beat out an infield single to make it 5-4, drawing an ovation from the sparse afternoon crowd.
Conforto then grounded a single down the third-base line off Dylan Floro (5-5). Báez bolted from first to home when left fielder Jorge Alfaro bobbled the ball.
Plate umpire Tim Timmons initially signaled that catcher Alex Jackson had tagged out Báez as he dived across the plate, but then he saw the ball squirt loose and signaled safe instead.
“This is a guy that can beat you in so many ways,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “Defense, with his bat, hitting a homer and the speed, which is what played today.”
New York’s rally started with a one-out walk by Chance Sisco and a two-run homer by Brandon Nimmo.
“Incredible final inning by the guys,” Conforto said.
Jeurys Familia (8-3) threw a perfect top of the ninth.
The resumption of the longest suspended game in baseball history began about an hour after Báez and Lindor held separate press conferences to apologize for the thumbs down gesture they and teammate Kevin Pillar delivered during Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals.
Báez said Sunday the gesture was the players’ way of answering fans who had booed the Mets throughout August, during which New York has gone 8-19 (not counting Tuesday’s game, which officially counts as an April 11 result) to fall out of first place in the NL East.
Lindor heard some boos prior to his first plate appearance and went 0 for 3 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt. He and Báez shared a long hug near home plate after Báez scored the winning run.
There was no shortage of quirkiness in the game itself - which official scorer Howie Karpin noted resumed at 1:12 PM after a delay of 4 months, 19 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes.
The Marlins had to replace five starters from April 11. Outfielders Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Adam Duvall, as well as pitcher John Curtiss, were all traded while catcher Chad Wallach was waived.
Elieser Hernandez, who opened the season with Triple-A New Orleans, received credit for a start in place of Curtiss and allowed five hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
Center fielder Bryan De La Cruz, who began the season with Triple-A Sugar Land in the Houston Astros’ system, replaced Marte and capped the Marlins’ two-run second with an RBI single, which goes into the books as having occurred 110 days before he was acquired by Miami.
Miguel Rojas had an RBI single immediately before De La Cruz’s hit. Jazz Chisholm Jr. delivered an RBI double in the fifth and Jesus Aguilar had a two-run double in the sixth.
“We’re trying to go out there and do the same thing we’re trying to do in April and every other month from there - we’re trying to get a ‘W,’” Floro said. “And these hurt when you’ve got a lead all game and towards the end you lose it.”
The Mets were missing two starters - third baseman Luis Guillorme and catcher Tomas Nido are each on the injured list - from April 11. Patrick Mazeika, who replaced Nido, doubled in the second, giving him a base hit 23 days before his big league debut on May 5.
Jonathan Villar and Nimmo each hit their “first” homers of the season. Villar, who didn’t homer until May 5, increased his seasonal total to 16 by leading off the fifth with a shot to right-center. Nimmo, who didn’t homer until April 23, now has five round-trippers.
Taijuan Walker allowed three runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, in relief of Marcus Stroman, who threw nine pitches April 11 and got one out in his shortest career outing.
Walker following Stroman marked the first time a pitcher wearing No. 99 relieved a pitcher wearing No. 0.
JEWEL OF A PLAY
Báez lost an earring near home plate during the celebration, and teammates, coaches, grounds crew and even team president Sandy Alderson were on the ground looking for it. The 73-year-old Alderson was still down on one knee picking through the grass with other team employees nearly half an hour after the final out.
Marlins: RHP Paul Campbell (undisclosed) was placed on the 10-day injured list. RHP Zach Pop, who missed the previous 15 games with a sore right middle finger, was activated.
Mets: Nido (left thumb) was placed on the 10-day injured list. Nido was also sidelined with a left thumb injury from Aug. 16-27. Sisco was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.
Marlins: RHP Zach Thompson (2-6, 3.16 ERA) is winless in his last eight starts despite a 3.83 ERA.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 6.94 ERA) allowed two runs over seven innings against the San Francisco Giants last Thursday in his best start for New York.