The Marlins have had some big ninth-inning struggles this season. Today, they turned the tables on the Mets.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff grand slam as part of a six-run bottom of the ninth as the Marlins topped the Mets 8-4.
The game was tied 2-2 entering the ninth when the Mets rallied for two runs in the top of the inning off Heath Bell. That would have given the struggling Bell his fourth loss of the season had the Mets been able to close it out.
However, Frank Francisco didn’t have it today, either. He gave up a triple, a walk and an RBI single to the three batters he faced before being replaced by Manny Acosta. A sac fly then tied the game at 4. After a pop out to right, it looked like the game might go to extras. However, a walk and a HBP followed, loading the bases and allowing Stanton to do his thing. It was his second career walkoff homer and third career slam.
Francisco’s latest misadventure could well get him replaced in the closer’s role for the Mets. With Acosta also struggling, Jon Rauch would be the favorite to take over. Eventually, Bobby Parnell might earn a look there.
The Marlins also couldn’t have been too happy with what they saw from Bell, whose ERA jumped back over 10.00 today. Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica rate as their most reliable relievers.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.