The Miami Marlins have been battling hard to claim one of the two remaining National League wild-card spots, but their chances took a hit Tuesday, when they were supposed to play the New York Mets. The two teams didn't even take the field, and the Marlins still somehow lost.
Due to unplayable field conditions from the weekend's rain, Tuesday's game between the Mets and Marlins was postponed and scheduled to be made up as a straight doubleheader Wednesday. For the fourth-place Mets, who have a 71-85 record and nothing to play for, it was fine. But for the Marlins, who are just half a game out of the third wild-card spot, it had a major impact.
The Marlins had lined up their best starter, lefty Braxton Garrett, to pitch Tuesday. That way he would be on normal rest to start the regular-season finale Sunday, which could be the game that seals Miami's trip to the playoffs. But with the postponement, Garrett has to pitch Wednesday, meaning he won't pitch Sunday unless the Marlins decide to start him on just three days of rest.
The ripples of the postponement go beyond Garrett. The Marlins' entire bullpen is going to be stressed from Wednesday, and there will be no chance for them to catch their breath.
Miami will now have to play two games tomorrow. One with Braxton Garrett who generally goes 6 innings. Then another game with an opener. So they will probably have to fill 12 innings with relief pitchers Wednesday. Then play 4 straight games after that.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) September 27, 2023
And if they manage to make it into the playoffs, they'll have a single day to rest before they have to fight for their lives in the three-game wild-card series.
So how are the Mets at fault here? The grounds crew worked hard to get the field in playable condition. Sometimes the ground is too wet, which it was in this case. But how did the field get so wet to begin with, especially given that it should've been covered for days as the rain rolled through?
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Marlins officials were told that the Mets grounds crew hadn't covered the infield Saturday when it rained, which meant all the water went directly into the ground. The entire field was "eventually" covered with the tarp because it was expected to rain all weekend, but so much water had reportedly seeped into the ground between Saturday and Monday (while the Mets were out of town playing the Philadelphia Phillies) that hours of work from the grounds crew Tuesday couldn't get the field in playable condition.
Nothing feels more Mets than a careless mistake blowing up into something with actual consequences. The difference this time is that the consequences don't affect them — but only because their season has been such an abject disaster that nothing can hurt them anymore.
Mets owner Steve Cohen publicly apologized on Wednesday. He acknowledged that the postponed game was important for the Marlins, but didn't mention anything about why the field was wet.
Our sincere apologies to the Marlins and their fans for having to postpone last night’s game. We know how important this series is to the Marlins and every effort was made to get the field playable.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) September 27, 2023
The Mets-Marlins straight doubleheader is scheduled to start at 4:10 on Wednesday. The field was properly dried out before 2pm, but it had to be helped along by actual blowtorches.
Seventeen hours later, the grounds crew is still out putting finishing touches on the field. Heard they were using blowtorches earlier to dry it out some more. A nasty night has turned into just a beautiful day at Citi Field. pic.twitter.com/RzFU20v186
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2023