After watching Johan Santana pitch 1.1 innings last night against the Braves, the Mets were running out old reliable, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. He’s been one of the most consistent pitchers over the last calendar year; his 2.63 ERA during that time the fifth-lowest total in the entire league. If New York could pinpoint a hurler to have on the mound in the rubber game of a series, it would be this guy; he’s virtually guaranteed a quality start. Well, mother nature and the Braves offense begged to differ.
It was a soggy day at Turner Field, not conducive to the knuckle ball, and the results showed; Dickey suffered his first loss of 2012, and his streak of 14 consecutive quality starts (seventh-longest streak in Mets history) came to a halt today, with his worst start in nearly four years. The final line for Dickey was an ugly one: 4.1 innings pitched, 8 hits, 8 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 3 home runs given up. The poor outing ballooned the knuckleballer’s ERA to 5.71. Upon his early exit, the bullpen was given the task of trying to do what they couldn’t do last night, hold the Braves at bay in order for the offense to crawl back into the game. Once again, they were unsuccessful.
Bobby Parnell got touched up for two runs (one earned) in his one inning of work, Tim Byrdak came in for 0.2 innings and wasn’t effective, and Frank Francisco wasn’t able to navigate through the bottom of the 8th inning clean either. As a whole, the pitching staff struck out 12 batters and walked only three, but they couldn’t withstand the 16-hit entourage headlined by Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, and Juan Francisco.
The Met offense put together 14 hits of their own, and put together multiple rallies to try and get back in the game. Once Jair Jurrjens was chased after 4+ innings, the bullpen bent a bit, but did not break during the New York threats. As usual, the offensive stars included Daniel Murphy and David Wright, who both registered two hits a piece. For Wright, he has now reached base two times in each of his first nine games of the season, which hasn’t been done since Mike Cameron did so in Seattle back in 2002. His three RBI also tie him with Darryl Strawberry for first on the Mets all-time list with 733 career RBI. Ike Davis hit his third home run of the season, continuing his resurgence.
The biggest offensive star of the day was Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was placed in the lead off spot today for the first time in the Major Leagues with Ruben Tejada getting the day off. Could that have been a test for Terry Collins to see how Captain Kirk would react? If so, he passed with flying colors: 3-4, 3 runs scored, 1 walk, 1 RBI. He’s now hitting a robust .375 in his 11 games played. He’s making the decision difficult for Collins when Torres comes back from injury; it’s tough to take someone as hot as Nieuwenhuis out of the lineup, but thankfully, that decision will be left for another day. The loss drops the Mets to 7-5 on the year, in a tie with the Braves for second in the NL East, two games behind the Nationals.
Probable Pitchers Friday:
The Mets get a day off tomorrow, allowing them to recover from their first road trip of the year, yielding a 3-3 result. On Friday, the Amazin’s return to Citi Field and welcome the San Francisco Giants in for a four-game set that will run through Monday. Barry Zito takes the hill for the visitors and the Mets will be running out Jonathon Niese, looking to continue his solid start to 2012.