After spending the weekend cooped up inside their homes following a player and coach testing positive for COVID-19 last Thursday, the Mets resumed their season Tuesday.
They were quickly reminded of frustrations that don’t exist in quarantine: rain delays and runners left in scoring position.
The rain interrupted Game 1 of their doubleheader against the Marlins on Tuesday, but before and after the Mets struggled to hit with runners on base and dropped the opener, 4-0, at Citi Field.
Rick Porcello gave up four runs in a three-inning start that was cut short by the rain. He didn’t get any support from his offense as the Mets left 11 men on base and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They had at least one base runner in each of the seven innings but failed to do anything with all the traffic.
“Noticeable again,” Luis Rojas said. “Tonight, once again, we just got away from our approach every time we had runners in scoring position. We keep reinforcing it, keep repeating it to the team that we gotta stay within our approach when that happens.”
The Mets (12-15) had won three straight games before getting shut down because of their two COVID-19 cases last week in Miami. They had also gotten hot at the plate — after struggling to hit with runners in scoring position for most of the season — making the unwanted layoff all the more frustrating.
The Marlins (13-11), who experienced a full-blown COVID-19 outbreak at the end of July that reached 18 players and two coaches, have since rebounded and are ahead of the Mets for second place in the NL East.
The Marlins jumped on Porcello in the top of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. Brian Anderson led off with a double to the left-field corner, and Porcello hit Jorge Alfaro with a sinker between recording the first two outs. Lewis Brinson then smoked a single up the middle to put the Marlins ahead 1-0.
Miguel Rojas followed with a sharp single to right field, driving in two more runs to make it 3-0.
“It was a string of inconsistent location, falling behind guys, pitches being up in that second inning that led to those runs,” Porcello said.
Porcello struck out the first two batters of the third inning before giving up another Anderson double and an RBI single by Lewin Diaz for the 4-0 deficit. Soon after Porcello’s 64th pitch ended the frame, the grounds crew rolled the tarp onto the field with violent winds, rain and thunderstorms entering the area.
Porcello did not return after the 65-minute rain delay, adding another frustrating turn to his season.
“It’s not like I feel like I’m a mile away from consistently pitching good ballgames,” said Porcello, who owns a 6.43 ERA through six starts. “It’s just been a couple things here and there and for whatever reason, it’s been lingering around up to this point. Keep working and keep getting after it. For me, that’s the only way I know how to do it.”
Corey Oswalt relieved Porcello to begin the fourth inning. He quickly got some help when Dom Smith ended the frame with a leaping catch at the wall in left field to rob Rojas of extra bases. Oswalt was able to get through four innings to finish off the rest of the game, saving the Mets’ bullpen arms for Game 2 and the rest of their busy week.