Bullpen use will be at a premium Sunday when the Miami Marlins and New York Mets close a rain-shortened two-game series.
Each team used eight pitchers in Miami's 2-1 victory in 20 innings on Saturday in the longest game at Citi Field. Kevin Slowey had eight strikeouts over seven shutout innings to get the win. Shaun Marcum, the final pitcher used by the Mets, lasted the final eight frames and had seven strikeouts while tossing 105 pitches. That was only 11 less than Slowey.
The winning run came home when Adeiny Hechavarria singled to center to score Placido Polanco.
Because of the extensive use of pitchers, the Marlins will try to get the most of Tom Koehler today and the Mets the same with Jonathon Niese.
Koehler is coming off a 7-2 loss to the Phillies on Monday when he allowed a season-high five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits over five-plus innings. The right-hander, who turns 27 on June 29, has yet to post a win in 19 major league appearances, including six starts.
Since joining the rotation on May 12, Koehler is 0-4 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts. Monday was the first time he allowed more than three runs, as well as multiple home runs. He is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in four outings (1 start) against the Mets.
Niese has had plenty of rest since his last start. He was scratched in his previous turn in the rotation due to shoulder tendinitis. He has been strong over his last two starts, but doesn't have a win in that span. He didn't get a decision against the Yankees on May 27 despite allowing eight hits and a run over seven innings. The lefty suffered a 4-0 loss to Cincinnati six days earlier, even after giving up three runs -- none earned -- in six frames.
Sixteen scoreless frames went by until Hechavarria plated the go-ahead run on Saturday. The contest needed 6 hours and 25 minutes to be decided.
Steve Cishek assured the end of the contest by putting down the Mets 1-2-3 in the final frame in the longest game of the season in the majors. It was Cishek's sixth save of the season.
Miami ended a 10-game road losing streak while also picking up its seventh win in 10 games against the Mets this season.
For New York, perhaps the only thing worse than losing the marathon contest was that it saw young ace Matt Harvey leave the game with a back injury prior to the start of the eighth inning. He had tossed seven innings of one-run ball before exiting the contest.
The Mets had a runner reach at least second base eight different times from the start of the ninth inning and were an anemic 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position for the contest and left 22 men on base.
"You give our pitchers a lot of credit," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the Mets' struggles in clutch situations. "We had to mix and match a little bit. Everybody did their job. It was a total team effort today."
Marcum retired 16 in a row but after crossing the 100-pitch mark in the 20th inning, he allowed a third straight single to allow the Marlins to push the go-ahead run across.
"He was unbelievable, he gave us everything he had," said Mets manager Terry Collins.
Polanco didn't have his first hit until his eighth at-bat, then came around to score on what proved to be the winning run on Hechavarria's hit.
The contest tied for the longest in Marlins history, with the team also playing a 20-inning affair against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 27, 2003.
It was just the Marlins' fourth win in their last 16 games. All the victories in that span have come against the Mets, having swept them in Miami last weekend.