MIAMI – It’s a yummy cookie these days.
Carlos Carrasco won’t win any contests that knock out hitters, but the right-hander’s off-speed pitches and command — and most importantly, his health — have combined this season to give the Mets an invaluable rotation piece.
On Saturday, he gave his team 7 ²/₃ shutouts in a 4-0 win over the Marlins at LoanDepot Park. Carrasco extended his scoreless streak to 18 ²/₃ innings in the last three starts.
The win was No. 100 of Carrasco’s career and made the 35-year-old the eighth Venezuelan-born pitcher to reach that milestone. Carrasco last gave up a run against the Marlins at Citi Field on July 9.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and getting 100 wins means a lot,” said Carrasco, who is 100-82 in 13 major league seasons. “Even more of getting it with a special group like this, going out every day to play hard for us. I couldn’t do it without her.”
The Mets won their fifth straight win, improving to 63-37, their most wins at the 100-game mark since 1986.
Overall, Carrasco allowed four hits and hit seven with two walks. Seth Lugo replaced Carrasco in eighth after Charles Leblanc doubled with two outs. But Leblanc was picked off second base by Tomas Nido, ensuring Carrasco’s scoreless streak continued.
Lugo stayed in the game to field a scoreless ninth inning, giving Edwin Diaz a day off after a 10-pitch game on Friday in which he hit the side.
The Mets will look to beat the tumbling Marlins in three games on Sunday with Taijuan Walker on the mound.
After seven innings of offensive play, the Mets gave Carrasco breathing room in the eighth game as Francisco Lindor and JD Davis each blasted a solo homer to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.
“These runs are very important,” said Lindor. “If we lead 2-0 in the ninth, Edwin has to come in, then we probably won’t be able to use him tomorrow. Those few runs at the end helped.”
Davis’ explosion as a pinch hitter came as the Mets searched the trade market for a right-handed hitter who can bolster that half of the DH equation.
The Mets traded for two left at-bats last week — plus to bolster the other half. One of those newcomers, Tyler Naquin, made his debut for the Mets in left field Saturday, going 0-for-4. The other, Daniel Vogelbach, started at DH and drew a walk in four plate appearances before Davis pinned for him.
Carrasco’s gem was the latest strong performance by a Mets starting pitcher. When the Mets came into play, they had a 2.45 ERA ranking second in the major leagues since the starting rotation in July.
“It kind of cut down on the number of outs we had to get out of [the bullpen]said manager Buck Showalter, noting the injury-related absences of Drew Smith and Trevor May. May could return on Wednesday.
Jeff McNeil hit a solo homer from rookie Nick Neidert in the third inning to give the Mets their first run. The homer was McNeil’s first since June 14, entering the day in July with a slash line of .162/.240/.191. McNeil’s teammates treated him to silence after his return to the dugout before finally congratulating him.
“We draw so much for him because we know how much it means to him,” Showalter said. “Not selfish just to contribute. He wants to contribute to our club every night and he’s done it at such a high level… the good thing about him is he never relaxes.”
The Mets weren’t done in the inning: Nido, Brandon Nimmo, and Lindor were all singles. Lindor’s goal extended the Mets’ lead to 2-0.
Carrasco was challenged in the first inning when he allowed a single to Miguel Rojas and went to Jesus Aguilar before retiring JJ Bleday for the final. In the fourth, Carrasco gave up a leadoff single, but he escaped the inning when he tricked Bleday into breaking into a double play. Carrasco also prompted a double-play grounder to finish the seventh.
“Sometimes I try to be too perfect and I get hurt doing it,” Carrasco said. “But I did pitch by pitch, and that’s what I did tonight.”