It was deja vu for manager Terry Collins who watched starter Jeremy Hefner last only three innings, a day after Dillon Gee was ineffective and lasted the same amount of innings in last night’s defeat against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies. Some Mets fans may recall Hefner’s poor outing against the Phillies last September, as Hefner failed to record an out in his worst start of the 2012 season. Although Hefner was able to record nine outs, he struggled greatly in the first inning, allowing five runs on four hits, which included home runs off the bat of Chase Utley and Domonic Brown.
After Hefner allowed five runs in the first inning, the Mets got on the board quickly thanks to John Buck‘s solo homer to left field. Later that inning, the Mets had the bases loaded, but failed to cut the deficit, as Kyle Kendrick struckout Jordany Valdespin looking after a nine-pitch at-bat to retire the side. Despite Hefner’s first inning struggles, Hefner recorded a 1-2-3 second inning and did not allow another run in his short outing, thanks in large part to Valdespin’s shoestring running catch in center field to help Hefner escape a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.
In the fourth inning, Lucas Duda launched a solo homer to right field to bring the Mets within three runs. In the inning that followed, the Mets wasted an additional scoring opportunity after Daniel Murphy poorly read a fly ball off the bat of Ike Davis, as he was inbetween the bases when center fielder Ben Revere made the running catch, which as a resulted, ended in an inning-ending double play that prevented Valdespin to tag up and score which, at the time, would have brought the Mets within two runs and allowed John Buck to bat up with a runner in scoring position.
The Phillies expanded their lead in the sixth inning, when Lance Nix hit a two-run pinch-hit homer to right field off reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Duda continued to show off his power in the eighth inning, hitting a solo homer — his second of the game — off reliever Mike Adams.
Jonathon Papelbon came in the game for the ninth inning and shut the door on the Mets after allowing a leadoff single to Ruben Tejada, who was quickly retired as the following batter Marlon Byrd grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Papelbon then got Valdespin to strike out looking during heavy rainfall to seal the 8-3 victory for the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Jordany Valdespin got the start in center field and batted leadoff going 3-for-5 with three singles, which included a heads-up bunt which caught the Phillies’ infield off guard. Although Valdespin made two nice defensive catches in center, he also showed a lack of hustle while tagging up from third to home while Murphy’s baserunning ended the inning for the Mets.
- John Buck collected his team-leading 16th RBI on his sixth home run of the season.
- Ike Davis continued to struggle at the plate, as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Bobby Parnell entered the game in the eighth inning, retiring all three batters faced while striking out John Mayberry Jr. and Erik Kratz
- Lucas Duda had a strong game, going 3-4 with a pair of solo home runs and a double to right field in the second inning.
- David Wright went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Josh Edgin looked sharp in two innings of work, collecting four strikouts while only allowing one hit.
What a frustrating game to watch. After the Mets’ starting rotation was off to a strong start to begin the season, Gee and Hefner only go three innings on consecutive nights. Despite Hefner’s first inning struggles, what was more painful to watch was the fact that the Mets had multiple opportunities to get back into the game, but with Valdespin striking out with the bases loaded early and Daniel Murphy’s base running blunder, the Mets took themselves out of the game.
Tomorrow’s off day for the Mets is greatly needed as the bullpen has had a heavy workload early in the season. Outside of Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey, I have genuine concerns for the rest of the rotation. The other Mets’ starters must go deeper into games if the Mets have any hopes of being competitive this season. Mets starting pitchers have combined for a 8.31 ERA in the last four games.
Following tomorrow’s off day the Mets (5-4) will travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins (4-4) for a three-game series. Friday’s matchup will include Jon Niese against the former Philly Vance Worley. Game time is scheduled for 8:10 Eastern time and can be seen on SNY.