Former Wildcat, Western Hills grad's first career HR wins it for Marlins
MIAMI (AP) — Former Kentucky Wildcat J.T. Riddle’s first major league hit was certainly special, if not sensational — a little dribbler down the third base line, a few days ago.
His second hit, now that was something smashing.
The Miami rookie launched a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday and the Marlins beat the New York Mets 4-2. The drive cleared the wall in right-center field and led to a robust celebration at home plate.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Riddle said. “It is something you dream about as a little kid. And to be here doing that, walk-off home run to get a big win, is huge.”
Riddle - a graduate of Western Hills High School and 2010 Kentucky Mr. Baseball - connected off Addison Reed (0-1) right after the Mets made a perfect relay to prevent the winning run from scoring.
“I left a fastball belt high over the middle of the plate and those usually get hit pretty well,” Reed said. “He didn’t miss it.”
The Marlins also showed off their defense. Miami came close to holding the Mets hitless, helped by left fielder Marcell Ozuna’s acrobatic catch.
Ozuna raced back, hung on to the top of the wall, and caught Wilmer Flores’ drive in the fifth. Flores slammed his batting helmet into his leg while Ozuna flashed a big smile.
“Early, I thought that ball was gone, but I said, let me (go back) just in case,” Ozuna said.
Marlins starter Dan Straily and three relievers didn’t allow a hit until Neil Walker singled with two outs in the eighth. Miami won the final three of a four-game series.
“It’s been a crazy series,” Riddle said. “Every game was close. It’s fun to be up here.”
The Mets made it 2-all in the ninth on pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-out, two-run single off David Phelps (2-1).
“We didn’t hit, but we got big hits late when we needed to,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Ozuna led off the bottom of the ninth with a single against Addison Reed (0-1). Miguel Rojas doubled with one out, and a perfect relay from left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to Cabrera to the plate nailed Ozuna. Riddle followed with his homer.
Straily, who entered with a 7.56 ERA in his first two starts, tossed 5 1-3 no-hit innings before being lifted after issuing a pair of walks. He walked five and threw 93 pitches.
“I was trying my best to throw strikes,” Straily said. “I was effectively wild.”
Marlins reliever Jarlin Garcia got the final two outs of the sixth. Kyle Barraclough pitched a hitless seventh before turning it over to Brad Ziegler, who gave up Walker’s hit.
“Just locating their pitches,” Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “That’s the name of the game. That’s the name of pitching.”
Christian Yelich and Ozuna drove in runs to put Miami ahead 2-0. The Marlins nearly had another run, but Justin Bour missed the plate on a slide.
Mets starter Matt Harvey allowed one earned run in six innings.
“I think each start and each outing from here on in is going to be kind of a test,” Harvey said. “Being able to go against that lineup and kind of control the damage for the most part is definitely uplifting for me.”
Dee Gordon went 3 for 4 with a run scored to finish the homestand 13 for 30 (.433 average) with five runs over the last six games.
“You’ve got to keep Dee off the bases,” Collins said. “He creates havoc.”
Gordon had a bunt single to lead off the first, went to third on Harvey’s wild pickoff and scored on a groundout.
METS HOMER STREAK ENDS
The Mets had their 11-game home run streak end. The last time the Mets had a longer single-season home run streak was 12 straight in April 2013.
Marlins: 3B Martin Prado (right hamstring) is expected to rejoin the team on Monday after completing a rehab assignment with Single-A Jupiter. “I’m feeling ready to go,” Prado said. “It’s been a fun four days getting back to my routine and I’ve been able to play defense and offense and not worry about running the bases. I think I’m close as I can be to play at this level now.” … C J.T. Realmuto returned to the lineup after battling an illness shortly after delivering a walk-off RBI double on Friday.
Mets: Begin a nine-game homestand on Tuesday against Philadelphia with RHP Zack Wheeler (1-1, 7.45 ERA) on the mound. Wheeler is 3-1 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts against the Phillies.
Marlins: Open a three-game