The St. Lucie Mets traveled to Fort Myers to open up a three game series against the Miracle at Hammond Stadium on Thursday night and they came away with a well earned 6-1 victory and improved their record to 8-6 tying the Miracle for first place.
I was on-hand to cover my first St. Lucie game of the season and with the rain coming down all around us, it seemed as if the game would not be played. By 7:00 pm, which was the original start time of the game, the weather started to clear up, and the Miracle grounds crew removed the tarp from the field. It was finally time for a baseball game. Official start time: 7:27 pm.
I was really looking forward to watching the St. Lucie Mets in my city and we were all treated to great game early on as both Steven Matz and Brett Lee matched zeros and hitless baseball through at least the first four innings. But the big story on Thursday night was the Long Island connection of Matz and catcher Cam Maron. Both were working in sync as Matz was mowing down the Miracle hitters and had a no hit bid that lasted 5.2 innings. It seemed like Maron and Matz were on the same page the whole night. Whatever Maron called, Matz threw with precision, even hitting the gun with his fastball at 95 MPH throughout the game and throwing a wicked breaking ball and change-up to keep the Miracle batters off balance.
The top left handed pitching prospect, retired the first 11 batters he faced before allowing a two out walk in the bottom of the 4th inning. In the 6th inning, Miracle second baseman, Levi Michael dropped a bunt down the third base line and reached first base safely when Matz’s throw was too late. The bunt single was the first hit of the game given up by Matz. He seemed a bit rattled as he gave up a hit to the next batter, but after a visit to the mound by pitching coach Phil Regan, the lefty settled down and was able to induce a ground ball for a force out at second.
In the 7th inning, he would get a ground out, a fly out and then end the inning with a strike out to put a huge exclamation point on a tremendous night on the mound. Matz earned his first win of the season and now has a 2.00 ERA. His final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K’s.
Jake Kuebler who relieved Matz in the 8th inning, was responsible for the only run the Miracle would score, and tossed an uneventful ninth inning to close out the game. His line: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
The Mets also had a hard time getting on base against the Miracle starter and their potent offense was kept in check early on until Maikis De La Cruz recorded the teams first hit with a single in the top of the 5th.
As Matz kept wheeling and dealing and mowing down the Miracle batters, the Mets went back to work in the 7th inning and with two on, TJ Rivera showed why he led the Florida State League in hits in 2013, by lining a single to left field to score Maikis De La Cruz, who also singled earlier in the inning. Then with the bases loaded, Aderlin Rodriguez aka AROD, was hit on the elbow and Dilson Herrera scored from third with the Mets fourth run.
In the 8th inning the Mets would tack on two more runs when Maikis De La Cruz, batting with the bases loaded, reached on a fielding error to score Robbie Shields from third and Herrera hit a sac fly to score the Mets sixth and final run of the game.
Dilson Herrera batting lead-off, which is most likely where he will stay for the remainder of the season, came into the game with an eight game hitting streak, and with a single in the 7th inning, he extended the streak to nine games. He nearly led off the game with a home run, when he smashed a ball down the left field line, but the wind pushed it foul. On a calm night, it would have been long gone. On the defensive side at shortstop, he looked very smooth, ranging left and right with ease and showed a very strong and accurate arm with his throws to first base.
Brandon Nimmo came into the game riding a nine game hit streak and looking to extend to ten, but he would have to settle for an 0 for 4 night dropping his batting average to .370 on the season.
T.J. Rivera, who batted in the DH spot, recorded his seventh multi-hit game with two more hits on Thursday night. He raised his batting average to .380, which is third best in the Florida State League.
Brandon Allen, who has been out with a calf injury that he sustained during a Mets Grapefruit League game, made his Mets debut with St. Lucie on Thursday, and was 1 for 4, with a run scored and a walk.
Aderlin Rodriguez, who has been on a bit of an upward surge lately, finished the game 0 for 4, with an RBI and ended his bid to extend his hitting streak to five games. On the defensive side at third base he showed off his powerful right arm by throwing lasers to first base to nab runners, every time a ball was hit to him.
Cam Maron, who came into the game with a seven game hitting streak, extended it to eight with a 1 for 4 night.
Maikis De La Cruz extended his hitting streak to five games, after a 2 for 4 game.
The Mets came into the game leading the Florida State League in many categories including hits with 132. And they didn’t disappoint by going at it again and spraying nine hits around the field and now lead the league with 141 hits.
The Mets will face the Fort Myers Miracle for the second game of a three game series Friday night at Hammond Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM, weather permitting. Rain is in the forecast.
(Photo by: MetsMinors.net)