Carlos Carrasco’s gem, three home runs propel Mets past Marlins

MIAMI – That’s a delicious cookie these days.

Carlos Carrasco won’t win any contests squashing batters, but the right-hander’s pitching and off-speed command — and most importantly, his health — have converged this season to give the Mets invaluable rotational play.

On Saturday, he gave his team 7²/₃ shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Marlins at LoanDepot Park. Carrasco extended his scoreless streak in his last three starts to 18 ²/₃ innings.

The win was No. 100 in Carrasco’s career, making the 35-year-old the eighth Venezuelan-born pitcher to reach the milestone. Carrasco last gave up a run on July 9 against the Marlins at Citi Field.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and getting 100 wins means a lot,” said Carrasco, who is 100-82 in 13 major league seasons. “Even more, getting it with a special group like this, going out there every day to play hard for us. I couldn’t do it without them.

Carlos Carrasco didn't allow a run in the Mets' 4-0 win over the Marlins.
Carlos Carrasco didn’t allow a run in the Mets’ 4-0 win over the Marlins.
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The Mets won their fifth in a row and improved to 63-37, their most wins at the 100-game mark since 1986.

Overall, Carrasco allowed four hits and struck out seven with two walks. Seth Lugo replaced Carrasco in the eighth after Charles Leblanc doubled with two outs. But Leblanc was picked at second base by Tomas Nido, ensuring Carrasco’s scoreless streak continued.

Lugo stayed in the game to pitch a scoreless ninth inning, giving Edwin Diaz the day off after a 10-pitch outing on Friday in which he retired the team.

The Mets will attempt a three-game sweep against the shocked Marlins on Sunday with Taijuan Walker on the mound.

Francisco Lindor (right) celebrates with Pete Alonso after hitting a solo homer in the eighth inning of the Mets' win.
Francisco Lindor (right) celebrates with Pete Alonso after hitting a solo homer in the eighth inning of the Mets’ win.
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After battling offensively for seven innings, the Mets gave Carrasco breathing room in the eighth when Francisco Lindor and JD Davis each homered solo to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

“These races are very important,” Lindor said. “If we are 2-0 up in the ninth, Edwin has to come in and we probably wouldn’t be able to use him tomorrow. Those few races at the end helped.

Davis’ explosion as a pinch hitter came as the Mets search the commercial market for a right-handed hitter who can bolster that half of the DH equation.

The Mets traded for two left-handed bats over the past week to bolster the other half. One of those additions, Tyler Naquin, made his debut for the Mets on Saturday in left field and went 0 for 4. The other, Daniel Vogelbach, started at DH and drew a walk in four plate appearances. before Davis hits it for him.

Jeff McNeil hits a solo home run in the third inning of the Mets' win over the Marlins.
Jeff McNeil hits a solo home run in the third inning of the Mets’ win over the Marlins.
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Carrasco’s crown jewel was the last solid performance by a Mets starting pitcher. Going into the game, the Mets had a 2.45 ERA since the starting rotation in July, which ranked second in the major leagues.

“It kind of shortened the number of withdrawals we had to get from [the bullpen]”said manager Buck Showalter, noting the absences of Drew Smith and Trevor May due to injuries. May could return on Wednesday.

Jeff McNeil hit a solo homer in the third inning against rookie Nick Neidert to give the Mets their first run. The homer was the first since June 14 for McNeil, who entered the day with a slant line of .162/.240/.191 in July. McNeil’s teammates gave him the quiet treatment as he returned to the dugout before finally offering their congratulations.

“We shoot so much for him because we know how much it means to him,” Showalter said. “Not selfishly, just to contribute. He wants to contribute to our club every night and he’s done it at such a high level…the good thing about him is he never relaxes.

The Mets didn’t finish the inning: Nido, Brandon Nimmo and Lindor all got singles. Lindor’s hit extended the Mets lead to 2-0.

Carrasco was challenged in the first inning, when he allowed a single to Miguel Rojas and walked to Jesus Aguilar before retiring JJ Bleday for the final. In the fourth, Carrasco surrendered a first single, but he escaped the inning when he grounded Bleday in a double play. Carrasco also induced a grounder in a double play to complete the seventh.

“Sometimes I try to be too perfect and that’s where I get hurt,” Carrasco said. “But I took it step by step and that’s what I did tonight.”

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