Sanchez's clutch blast in eighth sinks Mets
Rookie of the Year candidate continues to batter New York
MIAMI -- Along with belting the decisive home run on Tuesday night, Gaby Sanchez made a statement.
Sanchez's three-run blast in the eighth inning lifted the Marlins to a 5-2 over the Mets, and it also served as a reminder that the first baseman should be a strong National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
According to another standout Florida rookie, Sanchez deserves the award.
"I think he should get it," said Logan Morrison, who hit a double on Tuesday to extend his string of reaching base to 40 straight games. "He hasn't been on the DL. He's been doing it all year. He's been a mainstay in this lineup.
"He's been driving in runs and getting on base and doing what he needs to do. He's a good guy, a great teammate -- the best teammate you can ask for. He's always got your back and always patting you on the back. He's a great person. It couldn't go to anybody more deserving than him."
For Sanchez, individual praise right now is an afterthought.
"I'm not thinking about it until the last game of the season is over," Sanchez said. "Like I was saying from the beginning of the season, that's an individual award and this is a team game. Just because you win the award doesn't mean anything. You've got to go out there and that's the only thing I was thinking about."
The homer highlighted a strong game for Sanchez, who was 3-for-4 and a triple shy of the cycle. He scored two runs, and his homer was his 19th of the season.
The Marlins' first baseman leads all NL rookies in RBIs (81) and doubles (35).
Sanchez's game-changing homer off Elmer Dessens came a pitch after a borderline strike was called by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
"I asked him if that was the corner in, because I need to know if I have to swing at it the next time, if he throws it there," Sanchez said. "They were pitching me there the entire game. I just needed to know if that's as far as I need to go. He tried to go back in there and he just left it in the middle of the plate."
There was no doubt about the homer, which sailed deep over the high wall in left.
The win improved the Marlins' record to 75-75, and kept their fading Wild Card hopes alive. Florida's elimination number is two after the Braves lost to the Phillies.
With the win, though, the Marlins eliminated the Mets from any postseason consideration. It's the third time in four years Florida has officially knocked New York out.
Realistically, the Marlins are playing for third place in the NL East. They lead the Mets by 1 1/2 games for that spot.
"This was a step in the right direction," Morrison said.
The Marlins on Tuesday welcomed All-Star Hanley Ramirez back to the lineup after he sat out four games due to left elbow inflammation. It was a two-out single by Ramirez that kept the eighth inning alive.
New York lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano recorded two quick outs in the eighth before handing the ball over to Dessens. Ramirez and Dan Uggla both singled to center, setting the stage for Sanchez's big blast.
"Hanley is one of the best players in the game, and you always want him in your lineup," Sanchez said. "He's hurting and we know that. For him to be playing and trying to help the team out as much as he can definitely gives the team a boost."
Tuesday was yet another big night for Sanchez against the Mets. For the season, he is batting .406 against them with 15 RBIs in 17 games.
For the second straight game, the Marlins received a quality start. Adalberto Mendez followed up Chris Volstad's complete-game shutout on Monday against the Cardinals with a workmanlike effort.
It wasn't easy, but the 28-year-old rookie showed good things can happen when strikes are thrown. While he allowed 10 hits and walked two, the right-hander gave up just one run over a personal-high seven innings. Of his 89 pitches, 55 were strikes.
"That's a great ratio. It gets the hitters aggressive and hopefully they start swinging at your pitch," catcher Brad Davis said. "All of a sudden, when they start seeing all these strikes, they start expanding the zone a little bit. I think that happened a little bit. He got some guys to chase some pitches that maybe they wouldn't have."
Florida's defense gave him a boost by turning three double plays. Mike Stanton also made a terrific lunging grab in right-center field to rob Josh Thole of extra bases. Davis tossed out two potential basestealers.
In the seventh, the Marlins took a 2-1 lead off Mike Pelfrey, who was denied a chance at his 16th win.
"I came in motivated. I wanted to beat these guys," said Pelfrey, who is 1-6 lifetime against Florida. "I wanted it bad, and it ended up not working out. They ended up scratching a couple runs across and I told myself on the mound, 'It's destiny or something.'"
The go-ahead run scored on Stanton's grounder that was mishandled by David Wright at third base. The error allowed Sanchez to score from third.
Wright, however, made up for the misplay in the eighth inning with a two-out, opposite-field homer off Jose Veras.
With a double in the third, Morrison stretched his string of reaching base safely to 40 consecutive games. It's the third longest streak in the Majors this year, behind Mark Teixeira (42) and Joey Votto (41).
"It's good," Morrison said. "[Teixeira and Votto] do a little more than I do. To be mentioned in any category with them is good, I guess."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.