After coming back and winning Saturday afternoon in Miami, the Mets had a chance to steal the series from the Marlins before they head back home to face the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. Jonathon Niese took the mound against Carlos Zambarno, and the two starters locked up for a well-pitched game into the late innings. In the first meeting between the two teams this year, the Miami bullpen imploded; this time around, the Mets bullpen was the model for futility, with today’s finale taking center stage.
Niese did a great job at putting the Mets in position to take the game and the series on getaway day; he threw six scoreless innings before he left the contest with flu-like symptoms. He gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Kirk Nieuwenhuisdid what he does
best to make sure Niese was in line for the win; he started another rally, this time in the 4th inning. He led the frame off with a single, followed by a David Wright single. Both runners advanced on a John Buck passed ball, allowing Captain Kirk to score on a Lucas Duda ground out. Following that, Daniel Murphy stretched the lead to 2-0, driving in Wright with a run-scoring single. Outside of this rally, Zambrano kept New York’s pink bats silent.
Once Niese exited the game, Collins brought in Ramon Ramirez to preserve the lead and start building the bridge to Francisco. In his one inning of work, Ramirez gave up three hits and two runs to blow the save and tie the game back up into the late innings. Jon Rauch followed with yet another effective inning of his own, lowering his season ERA to 2.93. Heath Bell came in to keep the game tied in the 9th, but his struggles continued.
In the final inning, the Mets were able to put together another rally against the Miami closer, loading the bases on a Murphy double, a walk to Ronny Cedeno, then an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Mike Baxter. Collins called on Justin Turner to pinch hit, and he rewarded his manager’s decision with a long battle at the plate, ending with a two-run, go ahead double to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. That created a save situation for Frank Francisco, and every Mets fan was pleading that New York would score another three or four runs to prevent him from coming in, but it wasn’t so.
Francisco was greeted with a lead off triple by Emilio Bonafacio, followed by a walk to John Buck. After Greg Dobbs singled in a run, Collins decided to give his closer the hook and bring in Manny Acosta; however, as he was getting pulled, he was arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Todd Tochenor, earning him an ejection. Upon the arrival of Acosta, he proceeded to help blow the game by allowing a Jose Reyes sac fly, a walk to Hanley Ramirez, hitting Austin Kearns with a pitch, and then giving up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton to seal the series victory for Miami, which could have been another sweep for New York if it wasn’t for all the shoddy bullpen work.
On the offensive side, Kirk Nieuwenhuis continued to show his value to this team with two more hits, one starting the 4th inning scoring rally. He’s now hitting .310 on the season, and Daniel Murphy’s two hits rose his season average to .328. David Wright added a hit in the middle of the first rally and has risen his average to an even .400, and continuing to make his case for an all-star selection. On the pitcher’s mound, Jonathon Niese continued the solid starting pitching for New York, and the triple threat that is Ramirez, Acosta, and Francisco continued to foil the Mets late inning rallies with their inability to hold a lead.
Collins made some comments to the media that he will be re-evaluating the closer position before Monday night’s contest against the Brewers, but would not be making a decision tonight since the loss is still fresh and emotions are high. I mean, something has to be done; Francisco’s 8.56 ERA has not earned him the right to keep that role, even though he thinks so: “He’s the boss. He can do whatever he wants. I’m here to help the team, and I guess I’m not doing that.”
…You guess? No, Frank, you’re not helping the team. End of story.
Probable Pitchers for tomorrow:
The Mets welcome the Brewers to Citi Field tomorrow evening for their first head-to-head meeting of the season. Yovanny Gallardo (2-3, 5.35 ERA) will be taking the hill against Miguel Batista (0-1, 5.89). Gallardo has pitched well against everyone this year, except for the Cardinals (22.24 ERA) and even though Batista didn’t start off well in his last start, he settled down, and the coaching staff is committed to giving him a chance in the rotation. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm.