In game two this evening against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, Shaun Marcum climbed the mound in search of his first victory. He was opposed by the Bucs’ Wandy Rodriguez. Marcum is still trying to get his 2013 season started in earnest. In three previous appearances and ten innings pitched, he posted an 0-2 record, and entered the game with a 7.20 ERA. He threw eighty-one pitches in his last outing, which only lasted 4.1 innings against the Braves.
Catcher Anthony Recker joined Marcum to form Friday’s battery. With a day game scheduled for Saturday, John Buck was given a well deserved night off. Daniel Murphy was also given the game off, as he continues to struggle mightily at the plate. Two weeks ago, Murphy was batting .357, but has since suffered a precipitous fall to his current .266 level. Justin Turner started at second base in Murph’s place and batted second behind Ruben Tejada. Ike Davis returned to the line-up after Coach Terry kept him idle (pinch hit) on Thursday, but was inserted into the sixth spot of the order behind Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd.
Upon the order to Play Ball! - Marcum’s first offering to left fielder Starling Marte was a strike. Two pitches later, Marte headed back towards the visiting dugout after looking at an inside fastball for strike three. Marcum then struck out Jordy Mercer, and retired Andrew McCutchen on a fly to center. Seven of Shaun Marcum’s opening eight pitches went for strikes.
Things went very differently for Marcum in the second inning. Juan Lagares made a diving attempt at Garrett Jones‘ deep fly to center which landed safely for a lead-off double. Jose Tabata followed with a single, but Jones was given the sign to hold up at third. Pedro Alvarez then singled to drive in the game’s first run, while the Mets helped themselves on the play when Marlon Byrd cut down Tabata attempting third. Next up, catcher Michael McKenry hit a ground rule double to put runners on second and third with one out. Shaun Marcum then hit shortstop John McDonald with a pitch to load the bases. Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez was next, and grounded to Tejada at short, but when Ruben double-clutched, Wandy reached safely, as Alvarez scored from third with Pittsburgh’s second run. Back to the top of the order again, Starling Marte punched a seeing-eye base hit passed a diving Tejada, which scored McKenry to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead. Jordy Mercer kept things going with another single to load the bases yet again. However, Andrew McCutchen, who ended the first inning, finally ended the second inning on a fly to Lucas Duda in left. Shaun Marcum wound up throwing thirty pitches in the inning. By all indications, the Mets bullpen was certain to receive an early call.
In the top of the third, Shaun Marcum recovered to set down the Bucs in order on two fly balls and a grounder to Turner. After three full innings, Wandy Rodriguez had the Mets limited to back to back singles by Ike Davis and Anthony Recker in the second.
Remarkably, Shaun Marcum retired the side in order in three of his first four innings worked. However, the fifth inning ushered in a new round of troubles. Leading off, Starling Marte became the second batter struck by a Marcum pitch. With the hit-and-run play on, second baseman Jordy Mercer slapped a single between the first and second base hole. With runners on first and third, Andrew McCutchen made out a third time in the game by popping up to Turner. Garrett Jones then stepped in against Marcum, and grooved a liner off the right field wall, which required a video review. The ball appeared to hit the black portion of the wall, slightly above the orange line of demarcation, and just beyond the reach of an outstretched Marlon Byrd, but bounced back into play causing doubt. When the umpiring crew returned with a decision, Garrett Jones‘ fifth home run of the season was confirmed – a three run shot. The Mets now trailed by a 6-0 margin. After recording an out and allowing another single to Pedro Alvarez, Terry Collins decided Shaun Marcum’s night was through. Coach made the slow trek to the mound and summoned Robert Carson for relief. Andrew Brown was double-switched into right field replacing Marlon Byrd.
With Wandy Rodriguez still pitching in the home fifth, Anthony Recker ruined the shutout with his first home run as a Met, hit just inside the left field foul pole. Juan Lagares promptly followed by hooking his first major league double to left, but was stranded as Wandy Rodriguez retired the next three batters in order.
Robert Carson completed 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing a lone single to Starling Marte. Scott Atchison assumed pitching duties in the seventh. With one out, Garrett Jones laced his third extra base hit of the evening – a double to left. Otherwise, no harm done. Atchison pitched two innings, allowed one hit, and struck out two.
Into the ninth inning they went. Scott Rice took over, and immediately pitched himself into a jam. With no outs, a walk, single, wild pitch, and another walk loaded the bases. Andrew McCutchen continued his personal plight at the plate by bouncing into a 6-4-3 double-play. However, lead runner Gaby Sanchez scored on the play, and extended the Pirates lead by a 7-1 margin.
In the bottom of the frame, Jordany Valdespin was not going to be denied last licks. Pinch-hitting for Atchison’s spot in the order, the Mets mercurial youth launched a Jose Contreras offering deep, and way back into the Pepsi Porch seats. The Mets continued a rally that chased Contreas after just six batters. Andrew Brown delivered Ike Davis who previously singled. The final out however, came on a liner to center fielder Andrew McCutchen off the bat of Ruben Tejada.
The Pirates defeated the Mets in a 7-3 final to gain a split of their four game set. Wandy Rodriguez pitched six innings to earn his third win of the season. He allowed one earned run on six scattered hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two.
* With a 2 for 4 night, David Wright (.306) upped his average back over the .300 mark. He was removed late in the game, hopefully as a precaution, after earlier fouling a ball off the inside of his left thigh.
* Jordany Valdespin hit his third home run of the season, which amazingly is his one-millionth as a pinch hitter.
* Ike Davis was 2 for 4. He has no where to go but up.
* Pittsburgh punished Marcum by remaining disciplined against his slider, causing him to throw his fast ball more. In 4.2 innings this evening, he surrendered six earned runs on nine hits. He did not walk a batter, and struck out two. He threw eighty-one pitches for the second consecutive start, and watched his ERA grow to an 8.59 mark. He made one relief appearance this season, otherwise, Marcum has failed to complete five innings pitched in any of his three starts. In his first start of the season on April 27th, he lasted four innings and surrendered three earned runs. His next start came on May 3rd, in which he lasted 4.1 innings, and surrendered an additional three earned runs. Then of course there was today’s 4.2 inning, six earned runs effort. During the post-game media session, Terry Collins shared his fear that Shaun Marcum might have broken his hand (or thumb) when struck by a come-backer in the second inning. Marcum continued pitching seemingly with no lingering effects. Marcum admitted after the game his left hand felt sore, but okay. X-rays taken were negative. He went on to blame his poor outing on failure to locate pitches.
* The Mets were an astonishing 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
* Daniel Murphy grounded out to second base pinch hitting for Robert Carson.
* Can’t be happy with Scott Rice‘s performance this evening.
* Jordany Valdespin pimping out his home run……, C’mon man!