Despite a single by the Cubs’ Cody Ransom, who then reached second on a Jordany Valdespin error, when he missed Niese attempting to throw the ball back to the mound, yes you read that right, Niese retired Starlin Castro looking on a backdoor breaking pitch and then got Alfonso Soriano to ground out to third to end the first.
Despite David Wright reaching base for his eighth straight plate appearance, the longest streak for the Mets since 2011 when Jose Reyes did it, the Mets could not cash him in as Feldman pitched a solid inning.
Niese again got into trouble in the second inning when former Met Scott Hairston singled to left and catcher Wellington Castillo walked with one out. Niese got out of the trouble with a fielder’s choice and a strikout of Feldman. Feldman came back out and promptly put the Mets down 1-2-3 in the bottom half.
Niese again kept the Cubs off the board in the third with a solid inning of work. He was helped by a great running catch by center fielder Juan Lagares. In the bottom half, Feldman again kept the Mets off base.
Although things were going well for Niese early, the fourth gave Niese fits. Anthony Rizzo and Hairston walked with nobody out and Cubs quickly threatened. Feldman who had already hurt the Mets with the bat earlier in the year, came up with a two-out two RBI single, and the Cubs went up 2-0. Darwin Barney then blooped a hit into right and Cody Ransom walked to load to bases. Niese did get out of the jam, striking out Castro for the third time in as many at-bats.
The Mets answered right back in the second with a leadoff double from Murphy, who then stole third, which was followed by a double off of the wall in right center which just alluded to the glove of Hairston. The double was Wright’s ninth time in a row reaching base safely. However, the Mets could do no more as Marlon Byrd fanned, Lucas Duda popped up and Justin Turner grounded out ending the threat.
While neither team scored in the fifth or sixth, there were some fireworks. With two outs in the sixth, Terry Collins pulled Niese, and the young lefty was visibly displeased. Niese was seen slamming his glove in the dugout afterwards. Regardless, LaTroy Hawkins came in and induced a groundout keeping the score at 2-1. The Mets were kept off in the bottom half. David Wright’s consecutive on base streak ended as he missed a home run by inches as the ball fell into Soriano’s glove.
Hawkins stayed on for the seventh and despite making a fielding error himself, worked out of the jam and kept the Mets in the game. Feldman again kept the Mets off base in the seventh. Duda unwisely attempted to bunt for a hit but did not get the ball down the third base line but instead right to the catcher for an easy out.
The Cubs added three runs in the eighth off of the bullpen. Scott Rice started the inning and was eventually replaced by Brandon Lyon after Rice allowed a single and a walk. Lyon gave up a single to Barney and walked Ransom which brought in a run. Castro drove in two with a ground-rule double making the score 5-1. Lyon got out of the jam but the damage was already done.
The Mets made noise in the eighth as Lagares and pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit back-to-back one out singles which was followed with an RBI bloop hit from Valdespin. The Mets had their top two hitters up in a perfect spot but they couldn’t come through. Murphy grounded out to first and Wright went down swinging and the score stayed 5-2.
An interesting top of the 9th saw the Cubs load the bases off of Greg Burke but not push a runner across. Barney hit a line drive to center which appeared to be caught by Lagares, which was called a trap very late by the umpires, that eventually turned into the Mets only getting one out on the play, which could have easily been a triple play. Burke did allude the trouble and escaped the inning.
Kevin Gregg came on for the save in the ninth, and despite the Mets getting Byrd and Turner on base, they could not push any more runners in as the Cubs take game number two from the Mets.
> Niese went 5.2 innings today, losing his sixth game of the year. He only gave up two runs, but had trouble with command throughout.
>Scott Feldman continues to dominate the Mets with both his pitching arm and with the bat. It’s his second win against the Mets this year.
>Kirk Nieuwenhuis was 0 for his last 21 until he came through with a pinch hit single.
>Valdespin finally broke his hit-less streak as well, and is now one for his last 16.
>The Mets bullpen was burned again for three runs, although the Cubs did strand 16 runners on base.
>Lucas Duda continues to struggle, and is hitting only .184 for the month of June, not something the Mets expected out of him.
It was another tough game to watch as the team squandered the few opportunities that they had. While Scott Feldman is a quality pitcher and is having a solid season, the Mets lineup made him look like a CY Young Award winner.
It seems like all of the the little things have not been going the Mets way. A bases loaded walk, missed tags, and a ball that missed the pitcher on a throw back to the mound. It’s unbelievable that things like that continue to happen.
Despite Valdespin getting an RBI single, his one for 16 skid might just usher him out of the everyday role.
The Mets look to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon as they’ll send out Jeremy Hefner to face the Cubs’ Matt Garza. Hefner has pitched well of late but has not been helped out by his defense or offense as evidenced by his last start against the Cardinals.