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Marlins attempt to take series from slumping Mets

Aug 2, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) and center fielder Lewis Brinson (25) celebrate after defeating the New York Mets at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) and center fielder Lewis Brinson (25) celebrate after defeating the New York Mets at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The slumping New York Mets — still in first place but slipping as of late — will close out a four-game series against the host Miami Marlins on Thursday afternoon.

Miami has won five of eight games against the Mets this season, including two of three in this series.

New York on Thursday will start lefty Rich Hill (6-4, 4.10 ERA), who was acquired late last month from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Mets are 2-0 when getting a start from Hill, who is 2-1 with a 5.48 ERA in five career appearances against the Marlins. In Miami, Hill has been even better — 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts.

Mets manager Luis Rojas held a team meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The Mets, who had lost 12 of their past 20 games before that meeting, proceeded to beat the Marlins, 5-3, on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.

“This is a resilient team,” Rojas told the media prior to Wednesday’s game. “If we’re going through a tough situation right now, it’s nothing new for us.”

Indeed, the Mets, plagued by injuries all year, have managed to stay atop the National League East despite going just 21-26 in their past 47 games. They lead the second-place Philadelphia Phillies by 1 1/2 games.

“We talked as a family,” Rojas said of the team meeting. “We talked about having fun and trusting our process.”

The Mets, who are still without injured stars such as pitcher Jacob deGrom and shortstop Francisco Lindor, also have other ailments.

Mets third baseman J.D. Davis, for example, said he is continuing to play through an injury to his left hand. He tore two ligaments in that hand in late April, and he didn’t return to the lineup until July 16.

Davis estimates the injury is 90 to 95 percent healed.

“It’s a nagging thing that will be with me all year,” Davis said.

The Marlins, who have yet to announce their starter for Thursday’s game, are looking for continued improvement from center fielder Lewis Brinson, who is on pace for career highs in batting average (.236) and OPS (.669).

Brinson, 27, had struggled for much of his first four MLB seasons, but he hit a grand slam in the opening game of this series, and Marlins hitting coach Eric Duncan has preached potential.

“You can see his confidence growing now that he’s getting an extended opportunity,” Duncan said. “He can be dynamic.”

At one point this season, Miami’s starting outfield consisted of Corey Dickerson in left, Starling Marte in center and Adam Duvall in right.

All three have since been traded, and that has provided an opportunity for players such as Brinson as well as Magneuris Sierra, 25, Bryan De La Cruz, 24, and converted catcher Jorge Alfaro, a 28-year-old who has played left in this series.

Those guys have taken it to the Mets this week, and De La Cruz has been especially impressive on defense.

“I give it my best effort,” De La Cruz said. “That’s all I can do.”

–Field Level Media