MIAMI — The Mets’ second game under baseball’s new rules was brisk and breezy, and give the Mets credit for helping to speed play along. Doing almost nothing at bat takes very little time, it turns out.
The pitch clock is the real hero for this stunningly swift two-hour, nine-minute game, of course, as it forces action, trims fat and also aids deadlines, which means the stories should be somewhat better. We have much more time to craft before deadline hits (judge for yourself).
Naturally, the other proven way to save time is to do very little while batting. The Mets’ 2-1 defeat to the Marlins that dropped them to .500 after two games was one of the fastest Mets games in recent times, and would have been even quicker if they also employed a pitch clock for the replay review, which seemed interminable, and ultimately also unjust as they didn’t overturn a call that appeared to be wrong (more on that later).
The Mets don’t deserve all the credit for this efficient contest, of course. The Marlins’ unusual small-revenue roster features one of the better rotations in the game, and left-hander Jesus Luzardo looked unhittable at times.
“They have arms over there,” the Mets’ Tommy Pham said.
Luzardo is one of the better ones, as he’s got a deadly mix of pitches, including a fastball that reaches 99 mph and a changeup that’s one of the best in the league. Luzardo coincidentally came to the Marlins by way of Oakland in a deal for Starling Marte way back in an era when the A’s were actually trying. Sure, it was only 21 months ago, but it must seem like an eternity in the Bay Area.
Anyway, that was one killer trade by Marlins general manager Kim Ng, as Luzardo is a frontline starter. Also coincidentally, the only two hits he allowed in 5 ²/₃ innings of scoreless ball came off the bat of Marte, his trade counterpart.
The Mets didn’t threaten until the sixth inning when they loaded the bases against Luzardo, on one of those Marte hits and two walks. But alas, right-handed reliever JT Chargois got Pete Alonso on a sharply hit liner to center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. Had Chisholm moved from left-center to right-center with two strikes on Alonso, that ball would have found the gap. But Chisholm, a neophyte in center, was perfectly positioned.
“That’s baseball,” Alonso said.
Yes, but this was a new brand of the game, a better version.
The rare open roof on a perfect night — it was only the sixth time since the start of 2021 the roof was open at loanDepot Park — also played a supporting role. The surprising winds probably knocked a few balls down, leading to a couple luck hits (Daniel Vogelbach had a .040 expected batting average but his pop-up plopped in front of Chisholm in center).
The winds also probably prevented a couple more homers in a game that was decided by two home runs for the Marlins to one for the Mets. Alonso’s first homer of the year, which came with two outs in the ninth, briefly gave the Mets life but couldn’t overcome earlier homers by Chisholm and Jorge Soler.
There were a few “Let’s go Mets!” chants here again from the smallish crowd. The fans showed decent life, although the 7 Line straphangers seemed to have gone back to New York, hopefully via plane and not rail.
The Mets never answered the call, however, as Marlins pitchers kept the Mets down until Alonso’s opposite field homer off his University of Florida teammate A.J. Puk, who then struck out Mark Canha and got Jeff McNeil on a groundout completing one of the fastest Mets games in years. Pham and Francisco Lindor both mentioned they liked that they could still go out to dinner.
“I love it,” Pham said. “With the pitch clock you’re constantly in the game.”
The replay people didn’t help matters, as the review of Brandon Nimmo’s groundout to short as the first batter in the game seemed to take forever. Nimmo looked barely safe on the replays seen in the press box, but perhaps the replay people were unconvinced.
“They must have had another angle I didn’t see,” Nimmo said. “When they played the replay I thought it was pretty obvious. But apparently it wasn’t as obvious as I thought.”
Never mind that they very likely didn’t get the call right. How about a pitch clock for the replay booth!
Hitters get eight seconds to be ready to hit. Pitchers get 15 seconds unless there are men on base, in which case they get an extra five. Meantime, the replay official remains unencumbered by time, and unchecked. He’s also unnamed. Who is this guy, who just can’t decide?
The review seemingly took forever. Though officially, they said it was only two minutes, 54 seconds.
It seemed much longer. That’s OK. There’s still time for me to go grab some dinner. Thanks, MLB.