Seth Lugo spoils Chris Bassitt’s solid outing by giving up grand slam as Mets fall to Marlins

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Chris Bassitt and Sandy Alcantara carried a pitcher’s duel into the late innings when the Mets were the first to break the ice. But an all-too-familiar bullpen meltdown handed the Mets a 6-2 loss against the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

Alcantara had retired 10 consecutive batters when Starling Marte ripped a two-out triple to center in the sixth inning. Then Francisco Lindor collected his 52nd RBI of the season when he plated Marte on a single to center off Alcantara. The Mets were nine outs away from ensuring a series win in this four-game set against the Fish when the seventh inning zapped all the energy from the Flushing crowd.

“He was special,” Buck Showalter said of Alcantara, who has a 1.72 ERA on the season. “Everybody knows what he’s going to do. That’s the reason he’s carrying an ERA with a 1 next to it. But we had a chance, because Bass pitched well.”

Bassitt entered the seventh with 14 consecutive scoreless innings behind him. He’d allowed just three hits to the Marlins all day when, approaching 100 pitches, it became evident his arsenal was no longer as sharp when he gave up a leadoff single to Miguel Rojas on the first pitch of the seventh inning.

Showalter opted to leave Bassitt in long enough to load the bases on his 109th pitch of the afternoon. Bassitt was fired up as he walked off the mound, albeit to a standing ovation from the Father’s Day Citi Field crowd, and angrily sat down in the shade on a bench in the dugout. It would be up to Seth Lugo, who entered the seventh with one out and the bases loaded, to try and preserve the Amazin’s one-run lead.

“I think I gotta be a little bit more consistent,” Bassitt said. “I didn’t throw pitches where I wanted them.”

As for what came next, we all saw it coming.

In his major-league debut, Marlins right fielder Jerar Encarnacion cranked a grand slam on Lugo’s sixth pitch, a 93 mph sinker that didn’t dip enough. Encarnacion’s grand slam represented his first hit, first home run and first RBIs. After that game-changing at-bat, the Mets trailed the Marlins by three runs before Lugo allowed one more on a Jazz Chisholm walk and a Jon Berti RBI double. Once the hellish seventh inning finally came to an end and the Amazin’s found themselves in a 5-1 hole, Mets fans laid it on thick.

The barrage of boos that rained down on Lugo as he walked off the mound and into the dugout were arguably the loudest cries Citi Field has delivered this season. Showalter later said he was working with a short bullpen. Adam Ottavino was unavailable and Showalter wanted to stay away from using Edwin Diaz, who had pitched twice in the past three days.

“It’s also what we had left in the bullpen too,” Showalter said on his decision to leave Bassitt in to face four batters in the seventh. “[Lugo] felt good. He was so close. If you look at the base hits he did give up, sometimes, I’m not saying it’s luck. He made good pitches. I thought he was better than the fate he got in the seventh.”

Since the bullpen was unkind to Bassitt, his final line of three earned runs on five hits with two walks across 6.1 innings was not indicative of how well he pitched on Sunday. Bassitt’s mistakes in the seventh appeared to be a result of fatigue. Otherwise, the right-hander had navigated traffic on the basepaths and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts in his 14th start of the year.

“If I feel good, I’m not afraid to go 115-120 [pitches], that kind of thing,” Bassitt said.

The Mets (44-24) will look to take three out of four from the Marlins on Monday in the series finale that will cap the club’s seven-game homestand. The Amazin’s begin a five-game, six-day road trip on Tuesday with two games at Houston and three at Miami.