Though perhaps not intentional, it was the baseball equivalent of icing the kicker. The Mets took so long to find a pinch-hitter for Ramon Castro with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Wednesday that home plate umpire Scott Barry authorized closer Matt Lindstrom to take some warmup tosses.
"I just wanted to know what they were doing," Lindstrom said. "I didn't know you could take five minutes in the ninth inning to find a hitter ... I've never really had to [throw warmup pitches] waiting for a pinch-hitter."
This season, Lindstrom hadn't been presented with the opportunity to close out games on consecutive days, either, but he overcame a shaky start to do just that. Despite walking the first two batters he faced and hitting another to load the bases with two out, Lindstrom sealed the 4-3, series-winning victory at Citi Field.
Eventually, Omir Santos, Castro's replacement, had to come in from the bullpen. He popped up the third pitch of the at-bat as the Mets went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 14, including seven in the final three innings.
Neither Josh Johnson nor Johan Santana factored into the decision thanks to Cody Ross. Santana left the game after seven innings with a one-run lead, but Ross delivered the Marlins' lone hit with runners in scoring position in the eighth off J.J. Putz, freeing Johnson from a possible loss. Ross' two-out, first-pitch single up the middle plated two. Like Lindstrom, Putz walked the first two batters of the inning.
"I just wanted to see something up," said Ross, who against Santana was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and stranded three in scoring position. "I just wanted to try to jump on a fastball and, fortunately, I got one first pitch and it was up in the zone."
The second of two Marlins first-inning runs off Santana came courtesy of Jorge Cantu's third homer in two days. It was just the second homer Santana has surrendered in 32 2/3 innings, but perhaps Cantu's biggest contribution was with the glove.
He saved two runs in the second when he speared a Jose Reyes smash to first. Cantu also made a couple of nice plays on Ryan Church grounders with men in scoring position in the seventh and ninth innings.
The entire infield defense, which Wednesday consisted of Emilio Bonifacio at second, Alfredo Amezaga at short and Wes Helms at third, was stellar.
Said Cantu: "We're working hard on it ... All these repetitions, it just comes easy."
Juan C. Rodriguez can be reached at jcrodriguez@SunSentinel.com or follow his Marlins updates on Twitter @JCRMarlinsbeat.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times