MIAMI — Buck Showalter and Francisco Lindor combined for a rare form of double trouble Friday night.
First, the Mets manager won a double challenge on a double-play call in the sixth inning. Then, his star shortstop emerged to ensure it counted with a go-ahead three-run double that sent the Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Marlins at loanDepot park.
Lindor also homered as part of the attack against Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara, who entered with a MLB-best 1.72 ERA. The victory was the Mets’ fourth in five games against the Marlins over the past eight days. In between, the Mets lost consecutive games in Houston.
Showalter’s double challenge fueled the three-run sixth inning that put the Mets ahead.
With Tomas Nido on second and Brandon Nimmo on first, Starling Marte hit a grounder that Willians Astudillo fielded. Between first and second base, Astudillo tagged Nimmo with his glove, but not the ball. Nimmo was called out, as was Marte on the throw to first. But realizing he hadn’t applied the tag with the ball in his glove, Astudillo requested it from Jesus Aguilar and tagged Nimmo, who was still on the ground between the bases.
The Mets challenged both outs. Not only was Marte ruled safe by a step at first, but also Nimmo was awarded second — on the basis he had been called out and would have reached the base had he kept running.
“I am glad we had instant replay and got [the calls] right,” Showalter said. “When the out call is made, you can’t penalize the offense because if he thought he was safe he would have gotten up and scrambled to second. The play continues, but you can’t penalize the runner for the out call.”
The double-challenge victory loaded the bases before Lindor unloaded them with a three-run double to right center.
“Nimmo running the bases did an outstanding job with Marte,” Lindor said. “That at-bat doesn’t happen without them. The professionalism they have to run hard and think the stuff ahead, it’s huge. It made my job easier for sure, going up to hit with bases loaded and no outs and Pete [Alonso] behind me than going to hit with a guy on third base and two outs. It changed everything.”
As for Showalter’s decision to issue a double challenge, Lindor said: “Buck is Buck. He is very smart, very clever. He probably knows the rules more than any umpire out there … it was a huge play in the game, right there.”
Lindor also smashed a two-out homer in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Lindor jumped on a 99-mph fastball and the ball just cleared the fence in center field for his 12th homer of the season.
Mark Canha hammered an up-and-in fastball from Alcantara for a solo homer in the fifth that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. The Marlins ace had allowed just four homers all season entering play.
Taijuan Walker allowed three earned runs on eight hits and two walks over six-plus innings for the win. Drew Smith entered in the seventh and walked three batters—forcing in a run in the process—but Adam Ottavino averted further trouble by getting Jesus Aguilar to fly out to center with the bases loaded. Ottavino pitched a scoreless eighth before Edwin Diaz earned his 15th save after allowing two hits in the ninth.
“I would say right now that [Alcantara] is probably the best pitcher in the game and going toe to toe with him I just have to be a little bit better,” Walker said. “Try to go longer innings than him, but just try to give up the runs as well.”
Walker allowed two singles in the fifth that helped the Marlins tie it 2-2. Jon Berti delivered a one-out single and raced to third on Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s hit to right field. Chisholm advanced to second on Marte’s throw to third and scored on Jorge Soler’s RBI ground out.
The Marlins had four straight singles in the first inning, but managed just one run after Berti was picked off first by Walker.
“He stole two off me last time and I was pretty close to picking him off the last game,” Walker said. “He’s going to run. … He’s somebody I have to pay attention to, and I feel like if we get a pickoff early it kind of shuts down their whole running game the rest of the day.”