In a game that pitted Jonathon Niese against Detroit ace Justin Verlander, the Mets beat the Tigers 6 to 2. Both Niese and Verlander tossed three scoreless innings (Verlander didn’t allow a baserunner).
The game remained scoreless until the fourth, when Jordany Valdespin led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a bunt by Ruben Tejada, and scored on an error by Tigers second baseman Jeff Kobernus. After an Ike Davis single, Marlon Byrd made it 2-0 Mets with a single up the middle.
The Tigers fought back in the fifth by knocking Gonzalez Germen around for five hits and two runs, tying the game in the process. The Mets immediately took the lead back in the bottom of the inning when David Wright‘s RBI single made it 3-2. In the sixth, Justin Turner lined a single up the middle that drove in a pair, making the score 5-2. Collin Cowgill helped to widen the gap in the seventh. He doubled high off the wall and scored on an infield hit by Brian Bixler to bring the lead to 6-2 and cap the scoring.
Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory.
The Mets are now 2-3-2 this spring.
- Jonathon Niese got the start and looked sharp over his three innings. He held the Tigers scoreless while allowing three hits. He walked none and struck out three.
- Terry Collins put Jordany Valdespin in the leadoff spot, and he went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a run scored.
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis continues to struggle mightily. He was hitless in four plate appearances (he was hit by a pitch in his third at bat), and hasn’t gotten a hit since his first at bat of the spring.
- Marlon Byrd delivered an RBI single in the fourth and finished the game 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
- Justin Turner went 2 for 3 with two RBI’s and a run scored.
- Collin Cowgill continues to rake. He entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and missed a home run by about six inches, driving the second pitch he saw high off the left center field wall for a double. He finished 1 for 2.
- Matt den Dekker, who started in place of Lucas Duda (who had a non baseball related medical issue) went 0 for 4.
- Jeurys Familia, who is battling for a spot in the bullpen, came in for the fourth inning and tossed an impressive scoreless frame. He struck out two and showed great control. His fastball sat between 93 and 95 MPH and and his slider (that he used as his strikeout pitch) was around 87 MPH and had sharp bite.
- Gonzalez Germen, a long shot bullpen candidate, came in for the fifth inning and was dreadful. He gave up two runs on five hits.
- David Wright, playing in his last game before departing for the World Baseball Classic, went 1 for 3 with an RBI single and a run scored.
- Scott Atchison came in with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, and induced an inning ending fly out to center with his first pitch. Atchison stayed in for the eighth and looked sharp. He retired the side in order (with his fastball topping out at 92 MPH), and struck out one. If healthy, Atchison is a lock to open the year in the bullpen.
- Anthony Recker continues to impress at the plate. He smoked a double down the left field line in his only at bat.
- Bobby Parnell retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the victory.
It was interesting to see Jordany Valdespin in the leadoff spot. Of those in the mix for outfield jobs, only Collin Cowgill has stepped up. Terry Collins noted that Valdespin will soon get some time in the outfield. That, coupled with his hot start, may make him a serious candidate to break camp with the team. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been viewed as close to a lock to make the team, but if he continues to struggle as badly as he has been, Kirk could end up starting the year in AAA – opening a roster spot for Valdespin or someone else.
Jeurys Familia was extremely impressive today, striking out two in a scoreless fourth. His stuff has always been there, but this afternoon’s outing stood out because he displayed great control while using his fastball and slider. If Familia is able to harness his control, he deserves to be in the opening day bullpen.
The Mets continue to be aggressive on the bases…stealing, taking the extra base, advancing on balls in the dirt, and moving up on long fly outs.
Something that has been evident the last few games, is the fact that the home plate umpires seem to be completely mailing it in. In the first inning today, Jordany Valdespin was called out for going around on a pitch that he clearly didn’t offer at. David Wright was then called out looking on a pitch that was both a foot off the plate and high. Yesterday, Matt den Dekker was called out on a check swing when the bat barely moved off his shoulder – it was a comically bad call. The home plate umpires are making the outcome of these games more meaningless than they already were.
The Mets host the Marlins tomorrow at Tradition Field at 1:10 PM. The game can be seen on WPIX.