STARTING PITCHERS: Joe Ross left a 3-2 fastball out over the plate and up in the zone to Michael Conforto with a runner on and two out in the first, and his 21st pitch of the inning ended up clearing the left field wall for a two-run blast that gave the New York Mets a 2-0 lead in Port St. Lucie, FL’s First Data Field.
Ross ended up throwing 26 pitches total in the bottom of the first.
Meanwhile, in West Palm Beach, Patrick Corbin started against the Miami Marlins at home in the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and once again struggled out of the gate, with a throwing error by Anthony Rendon and back-to-back doubles (by Brian Anderson and Peter O’Brien) leading to two early runs for the Fish, 2-0 as well.
Ross needed 20 pitches to get through a scoreless second, while Corbin settled in at home, retiring 8 of 9 batters after the back-to-back doubles in the first, and, according to a report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman on Twitter, throwing 22 pitches total in the second and third innings after he’d throwing 22 in the first.
Robinson Canó doubled to right-center field of Ross with two down in the Mets’ half of the third, but the sinker-balling righty stranded the only runner to reach base in 15-pitch frame that left him at 61 total.
Corbin ran into trouble again in the fifth in his outing against the Marlins, giving up five hits (all singles) and three runs as the Fish jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
BULLPEN ACTION: Scott Copeland tossed two scoreless in Port St. Lucie after taking over on the mound for Ross, walking one and picking up a strikeout.
Justin Miller replaced Corbin after five innings from the lefty (5.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks), and gave up a run on two hits in the sixth in West Palm Beach.
Erick Fedde took the mound against the Mets in the home-half of the sixth inning, and threw a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
Miller gave up another run in the seventh against the Marlins, with Martin Prado doubling to right and scoring once the Nationals’ righty left the mound in favor of J.J. Hoover, 7-1 Fish.
Spencer Kieboom tied things up in the seventh in First Data Field, going against the wind for a two-out solo home run to left field off Mets’ righty Tim Peterson that tied things up at 2-2.
Fedde gave up a leadoff double by Devin Mesoraco in the bottom of the seventh, and the catcher moved up on a sac bunt, and scored on a sac fly, 3-2. Fedde was up to 27 pitches total after two innings.
The Nationals busted things open in the top of the eighth, however, with Carter Kieboom (single) Anderson Franco (double), O’Koyea Dickson (walk), Tres Barrera (RBI single), and Armond Upshaw (RBI single), putting the visiting team ahead, 4-3. Spencer Kieboom hit a two-run double to left later in the inning, 6-3.
It takes a nasty pitch to get that type of reaction. pic.twitter.com/9uFmef8Hp6— New York Mets (@Mets) March 18, 2019
Fedde came back out in the eighth with a three-run lead and gave up back-to-back-to-back singles, with the third of the three catching him on the foot and bouncing from the mound into foul territory at first. He left the mound at that point, 37 pitches into his outing with the bases loaded and no one out.
Matt Grace and Aaron Barrett tossed a scoreless inning each against the Marlins, who won that half of the split-squad doubleheader, 7-1.
Back in Port St. Lucie, Tanner Rainey got what looked like a potential DP grounder out of Dominic Smith, but an error by Adrian Sanchez on a one-hop liner to second allowed two runs to score, 6-5.
Rainey struck out Mesoraco, then issued a base-loading walk to Luis Guillorme before he struck Adeiny Hechavarria out to end the threat and keep the one-run lead intact.
Austen Williams tried for the save in the bottom of the ninth against the Mets, and worked around an infield single in a scoreless inning of work, with a caught stealing ending things, 6-5 final.