The Flushing Nine and Miami Marlins began a four game series at blustery and crisp Citi Field this evening. New York entered tonight’s action with a 2-9 record in September, and were fresh off losing four straight to the Nationals. The Marlins started the night 5-6 for the month, but similarly limped into tonight’s series opener losers of five of their last six games. What better set up then, for a night of baseball on Friday the 13th?
Superstitions aside, Jonathon Niese took his chances on the mound, opposed by Miami’s Brad Hand. Niese brought a 6-7 record into the game with a 3.86 ERA. Hand, 21, was only making his fourteenth major league start and fourth of this season.
Facing a southpaw, this is the line-up Coach Terry submitted to the umpires: LF-Eric Young; CF-Juan Lagares; 2B-Daniel Murphy; RF-Andrew Brown; 1B-Lucas Duda; 3B-Zach Lutz; C-Travis d’Arnaud; SS-Ruben Tejada; SP-Jonathon Niese.
Jon Niese‘s first pitch to lead-off batter Adeiny Hechavarria was thrown at 7:11pm – a fastball for strike one. He proceeded to retire the side in quick fashion, as Brad Hand’s first pitch of the night came at 7:17pm, likewise for strike one against Mets lead-off hitter Eric Young, who struck out on four pitches. The Mets also went down in order, ending the first inning exactly ten minutes after Jon Niese’s opening pitch.
Jon Niese’s fourth pitch of the second inning was tattooed deep into the left field seats by right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. His twenty-first home run of the season was not a routine souvenir headed some fan’s way. It was a threatening projectile that made patrons scatter. In the bottom of the second inning however, Andrew Brown one-upped Stanton, with a cloud scrapper off Brad Hand which landed in the left field second deck to tie the score at one.
Through three full innings, the score remained tied 1-1, with Giancarlo Stanton’s and Andrew Brown’s home runs standing as the game’s only hits. Jon Niese was up to forty-nine pitches, with 69%, or thirty-four pitches going for strikes. However, he was upwards of sixteen pitches per inning, and using his curve ball extensively – which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I liked it.
In the top of the fourth, Giancarlo Stanton fanned in his second trip to the plate, marking Jon Niese’s fourth strikeout of the night. Daniel Murphy recorded New York’s second hit off Hand in the bottom of the frame.
After retiring ten straight batters, Jon Niese surrendered a one out double to first baseman Ed Lucas in the top of the fifth inning, immediately followed by an RBI double down the right field line by second baseman Donovan Solano. Catcher Koyie Hill was next, and singled to set up first and third, still with only one out. But in the ensuing pitcher versus pitcher confrontation, Jon Niese helped his own cause with his glove, fielding a Brad Hand attempted sacrifice and initiating a 1-6-4 double play to end the threat, but not before the Fish took a 2-1 lead.
Through five full, Brad Hand only allowed Andrew Brown’s home run and a single to Daniel Murphy. He walked one and struck out three. Jon Niese was up to seventy-seven pitches, and found himself on the wrong side of the game after allowing just four hits, no walks and striking out four.
Jon Niese ended the top of the sixth inning with a 90mph fastball, fanning left fielder Christian Yelich. He struck out two in the inning, and was up to six for the game. His efforts were finally rewarded in the bottom of the frame. With Eric Young on second base and Andrew Brown on first and two outs, Lucas Duda stepped in against the lefty Hand, and deposited an offering into the right field netting to give Jon Niese and the Mets a 4-2 lead. A single by Zach Lutz knocked Brad Hand from the game after an otherwise fine five inning performance. He still had the Mets limited to three hits until Duda connected.
In the top of the seventh inning, Giancarlo Stanton faced Jon Niese for the third time, and crushed his second home run of the game to make it a 4-3 affair. After recording an out and surrendering a single to Ed Lucas, to Jon Niese’s dismay, Terry Collins emerged from the dugout to relieve his starter. Scott Atchison was summoned into the game, and closed out the inning with no further harm.
Jon Niese pitched 6.1 innings, was charged with three earned runs on six total hits, but surrendered two jacks to Stanton. Otherwise he walked no batters and struck out seven before departing on the winning side, albeit clearly dissatisfied with Coach’s decision, or his own performance versus Stanton.
Into the ninth they went. LaTroy Hawkins climbed the hill tasked with preserving a slim Mets lead. The first batter he faced was Giancarlo Stanton, who struck out on five pitches. After Justin Ruggiano flied to Matt den Dekker playing center, pinch-hitter Logan Morrison topped out, Hawkins to Duda, ending the game and giving the Mets a 4-3 victory.
LaTroy Hawkins earned his ninth save of the season, while Jon Niese grudgingly won his seventh game to even his record. His ERA rose marginally to a 3.88 mark.
- Andrew Brown’s last two hits have been home runs. He broke an 0 for 9 slump when he connected on his second home run in five games.
- Jon Niese’s curve ball – the fact that he showcased it tonight pleased me very much. In fact, I need more curve balls throughout the Mets staff.
- Any time Lucas Duda homers – this time, it came with two outs, and put the Mets in the lead. This was only the second time Duda has homered with runners on base, and his first three run crush of the season.
- Want to criticize Coach Collins for removing Jon Niese when he did? Otherwise, there were no low lights to speak of.
Saturday will feature an old fashioned twi-night double-header at Citi Field – that’s right, two for the price of one. In the first game scheduled for 4:00pm, Daisuke Matsuzaka will face-off against Miami’s Henderson Alvarez. In the night-cap, Carlos Torres will take on Jacob Turner.