Apr. 26, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (9) is congratulated by second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) after scoring during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Heath Bell Implodes, Captain Kirk Supplies the Broom


Kirk Nieuwenhuis helped the Mets get off to a quick start in the bottom of the first today with a lead-off triple off Miami starter Ricky Nolasco, scoring on a Ruben Tejada sac fly, but the Marlins righty shut down the offense for the rest of his outing. For the third straight game, New York and Miami were locked in a great duel by their starting pitchers; this time, it was between Nolasco and Jonathon Niese.

Despite a couple of mistakes throughout the game, Niese put together his fourth straight strong start. He ended up throwing seven fantastic innings, giving up two runs, four hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. Nolasco matched zeros with Niese after giving up the early run; he also threw seven innings, yielding just that one run on five hits, striking out five, while walking one. Gabby Sanchez continues to tear up Met pitching in his young career with his booming solo home run in the third inning to bring the score back even at one.

Then, after an Omar Infante double and Giancarlo Stanton single in the fifth, he was back at it again. However, Sanchez grounded into a double play while Infante scored the go-ahead run. The Mets offense was reasonably quiet all afternoon, until the 9th inning, that is. Ricky Nolasco did a great job at keeping the New York hitters off balance, moving the ball all over the zone.

Ramon Ramirez followed Niese’s solid performance with two more scoreless innings, allowing the Mets a chance to come back against Miami closer Heath Bell in the ninth. David Wright led off the inning with a walk, then moved to second base after Lucas Duda grounded out to Gabby Sanchez on a full count. Bell looked very uncomfortable on the mound today, especially after walking the ice cold, Ike Davis, on five pitches, then allowing Josh Thole to take a free pass to load the bases.

Justin Turner put together a fantastic at-bat with the bases full, seeing 13 pitches before working out a walk of his own to tie the ball game. This implosion marked the second time in the series that the Miami bullpen walked four Mets in a row. After a Scott Hairston fielder’s choice, Nieuwenhuis made the Marlins pay with a walk-off single to complete the sweep.

Captain Kirk just continues to shine, with three more hits in today’s contest. Davis did scratch out a hit today, but after putting together two solid at-bats in the latter half of the game last night, he wasn’t able to build on that progress this afternoon. What impressed me most is this team’s patience at the plate. Heath Bell threw north of 40 pitches in his 3rd blown save of the season, and every hitter made him work hard. Even with this fast start, not many are expecting the Mets to maintain this level of success throughout the year. So, they have nothing to lose! Teams like that are always dangerous.

The win moves the Mets to 11-8, closing out a 4-3 home stand. Jose Reyes did not get a hit, making his 1-12 in his first trip back to Citi.

Probable Pitchers tomorrow:

In place of Mike Pelfrey’s rotation spot, rookie Chris Schwinden will be making his MLB debut for New York, as the Mets start a six-game road trip in Denver against the Colorado Rockies. Jim Tracy will be running out their talented young starter who has gotten off to a tough start, Drew Pomeranz. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40pm EST at Coors Field.

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Tags: David Wright Heath Bell Heath Bell Blown Save Jonathon Niese Kirk Nieuwenhuis Miami Marlins New York Mets Popular Ricky Nolasco