Eduardo Escobar, Mets walk off Marlins to take NL East lead

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The slumber party ended and the pep rally began, sending the Mets to Atlanta with a wisp of momentum, and more importantly, a lead in the NL East.

Embarrassment and regret avoided. On the verge of getting swept in two games by the lowly Marlins, the Mets rallied late. And in the 10th inning, Eduardo Escobar’s RBI single delivered a 5-4 victory for the Mets at Citi Field.

In overcoming a four-run deficit for their 98th victory of the season, the Mets moved one game ahead of the Braves, who lost in 10 innings in Washington. The Mets have a day off Thursday before they are scheduled to begin a three-game series in Atlanta, with the NL East title up for grabs.

Escobar, who drove in all five runs for the Mets, delivered an opposite-field single to left against Dylan Floro that brought in automatic runner Francisco Lindor with the winning run to begin the victory celebration.

Marlins
Eduardo Escobar celebrates with the team after he hits a walk-off single scoring Francisco Lindor in the tenth inning against the Miami Marlins.
Corey Sipkin

“It was an incredible moment,” Escobar said.

Drew Smith left the automatic runner stranded at second in the top of the 10th inning by striking out two of the three batters he faced. Edwin Diaz and Adam Ottavino also each gave the Mets a scoreless inning in relief after Seth Lugo surrendered a run in the sixth. Taijuan Walker started and allowed three earned runs over five-plus innings.

Escobar said he was aware the Braves had lost as he came to the plate in the 10th inning.

“But it was important for us to get this game in,” he said.

In the eighth inning, the Mets loaded the bases on walks by lefty Tanner Scott to Brandon Nimmo, Alonso and Mark Canha, before Escobar slapped a two-run single that tied the score 4-4. Escobar’s single came against lefty Richard Bleier, who had balked three times in Alonso’s eighth-inning at-bat the previous night. With calls of “balk” from the crowd before each Bleier delivery, Escobar hit a roller through the right side.

Eduardo Escobar celebrates with the team after he hits a walk-off single scoring Francisco Lindor in the 10th inning against the Miami Marlins.
Robert Sabo

Asleep for six innings, the Mets created a stir in the seventh on Escobar’s two-run homer, which sliced ​​Miami’s lead to 4-2. The home run was the eighth this month for Escobar, whose .607 slugging percentage for September was first in the National League entering the night. After Jeff McNeil singled leading off the inning, Escobar homered into the left-field seats against lefty Jesus Luzardo, who had allowed only three hits to that point.

Walker was removed with runners on second and third with nobody out in the sixth and watched as JJ Bleday’s sacrifice fly gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead. Walker agreed with manager Buck Showalter’s assessment that he had some of his best stuff of the season on this night.

“One hundred percent,” Walker said. “My body felt good, I thought my velo was back where it needed to be, my splitter was good, a good slider. I felt like I had everything working today.

The Marlins added to their lead in the seventh, receiving an RBI double from Brian Anderson against Lugo after Charles Leblanc had walked to reach base for the third time in the game.

Mets
Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo celebrate during the Mets’ win over the Marlins on Wednesday.
Robert Sabo
Mets
Taijuan Walker reacts after getting out of trouble in the fifth inning.
Robert Sabo

Bryan De La Cruz smashed a two-run homer in the fourth against Walker that put the Mets in a 2-0 hole. The homer was the fifth allowed by Walker in his last five starts and 15th overall this season. Leblanc doubled leading off the inning before De La Cruz homered over the center-field fence with two outs.

Walker loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but escaped trouble by striking out Brian Anderson. The Marlins received two singles in the inning before Leblanc walked to load the bases.

Now come the Braves, who have refused to perish in keeping the NL East a dogfight.

“We know how good they are and we have got an opportunity just like they do,” Showalter said. “It’s great for baseball, it’s good for our sport that we all love and it’s an honor to be a part of. But we’re going to get an opportunity in October to play in the playoffs. We’ll see when.”

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