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Marlins arms, bats struggle in Queens opener


NEW YORK — The Marlins played the Mets for the eighth time in almost three weeks on Thursday. Miami manager Don Mattingly didn’t mince words when asked what the biggest obstacle is when facing the first-place team in the National League East.

“Their team is a challenge,” Mattingly said pregame. “They are talented. They do a lot of things offensively. They put the ball in play. They have some power. They pitch. Their bullpen is good. They are just a challenge in general.”

In the series-opener at Citi Field, the Marlins found out just how much of a juggernaut the Mets are as Miami was pounded, 10-0, in the club’s most lopsided loss of the season.

It was just that kind of night for the Marlins. Left-hander Daniel Castano was cruising during the first two innings, retiring six of the first seven hitters he faced. But he was gone after four innings, having allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits.

The biggest blow came in Castano’s final inning on the mound, when Mets catcher James McCann hit a three-run homer to make it a 6-0 game in the fourth. Castano was trying to land his cutter inside, but the ball ended up in the middle of the plate before being propelled into the left-field stands.  

“I felt confident with our game plan,” Castano said. “We had just seen them.”

The outing for Castano was surprising. It was the same Castano who had allowed just two runs over seven innings the last time he had faced the Mets, on June 26 in Miami. So what was the difference on Thursday? Castano wasn’t able to put the Mets away with two strikes. 

“I was able to get ahead, get to two [strikes],” Castano said, “and they were able to fight off some really good pitches. If I put anything over the plate, they seem to hit it pretty well. 

“A little bit of bad luck. A little bit of the ball finding holes. But that’s how the game is. So you have to figure it out; find a way to get the job done and give us a chance to win, which I wasn’t able to do tonight.”

It only got worse after reliever Jimmy Yacabonis entered the game in the fifth, when J.D Davis hit a grand slam to make it a 10-run game.

But while New York’s offense was busy going yard, Miami’s was non-existent. The Marlins collected two hits and had a runner in scoring position only once against Mets right-hander Trevor Williams, who delivered seven scoreless innings.

“We didn’t do anything with him,” Mattingly said. “He is not a guy that throws in the middle of the plate much. He is going to be on both edges. You’ve got to get him up in the zone, you’ve got to try to get him in the middle. If you are chasing edges at all then you are going to be in for a long day. He kept us off balance all [night].”

With the loss, the Marlins finish their first-half with a 39-42 record, 12 games back from the Mets (52-31). Mattingly acknowledged that he checks the standings all the time, knowing the Marlins are still Wild Card contenders (they’re four games back from the Phillies and Giants, who are tied for the third Wild Card spot). Obviously, improvements have to be made.

“We have to be more consistent, honestly, with everything,” Mattingly said before the game. “We have been fairly solid defensively all year, but we haven’t scored consistently. But that has been the trend in baseball.

“I think just our general play has to be more consistent. We’ve had three [winning] streaks now of five, a six and a seven. But we really haven’t taken off with those streaks. Usually, if you can put those wins together, then you can start rattling off series and get consistent with your play where you are playing .600 baseball or whatever. That’s where we fell short. We’ve been hot. As we come out of those [winning streaks], we don’t sustain consistency. That’s where we are at right now. We’ll see where we go.”

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