Mets Montero Spot On

monteroNEW YORK — Rafael Montero joins Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as spot starters who continue to give the Mets solid performances.

Montero wasn’t his best tonight, but he managed to throw five innings of shut-out baseball in his first major league start since April 2015. He didn’t make it look easy, though, allowing six walks and needing 100 pitches to get through five innings.

But it was enough to give the Mets a chance against one of the best pitchers in the National League, Jose Fernandez.

“It was one of those games that you don’t expect to win, that’s why it’s baseball,” said Mets manager Terry Collins.

Montero, who posted similar numbers (5.1 IP, 3 hits, 4 walks on 106 pitches) in his first major league win in September of 2014, didn’t get the help from the Mets’ bats for his second career major league victory.

The Mets had two runners on in the first, fourth and sixth innings but failed to produce any runs in all three innings.

Long after Montero left the game after the top of the 5th inning was when the New York offense woke up. Jose Reyes led off the top of the 8th inning with a double and advanced to third base on Alejandro De Aza’s sacrifice fly.

One of A.J. Ramos’ pitches to the next batter, Yoenis Cespedes, slipped out of his hand and went over the glove of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, allowing Reyes to score on a wild pitch to tie the game at one.

Montero, the 25-year old Dominican right hander, who once was deemed a higher prospect than Jacob DeGrom, got sent down to Double-A Binghamton after a poor performance in Triple-A Las Vegas where he started his 2016 season.

Whether his demotion was because of his own issues or just the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, nobody knows. What we do know is that he had a 1.70 ERA and a 4-2 record in eight starts with Binghamton. And his success continued into Flushing to help the Mets down the stretch.

“I feel good. I thank God for the opportunity to return to the big leagues and now that I’m here I’m going to continue doing my job,” said Montero. “I walked six batters but I thanked God I was able to get out of the jams.”

As for the remainder of the game, well, the big dog came through. Yoenis Cespedes blasted a walk-off home run off of Marlins pitcher Nick Wittgren into left-center field to take the first game of this ever so important four game series.

Terry Collins acknowledged the lopsided pitching matchup, and his teams’ vast array of injuries. Collins remained optimistic, however.

“We were short tonight a little bit so you’re just saying if we could just hang in there and we hung in there,” said Collins.

The Mets are now tied with the Marlins at 67-64, and sit 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot.

Seth Lugo will take the mound tomorrow night against the Marlins Tom Koehler in the second of this four-game series.