It’s been the story of Jon Niese‘s career: promising success in the first half, disappointing mediocrity in the second. Niese owns a career 3.72 ERA before the all-star break, a 4.11 mark afterwards and he continued his career-long struggles Saturday as the Mets fell to Milwaukee 5-2.
Niese breezed through the first four innings without allowing anything more than a light single to Ryan Braun, but after recording two outs in the fifth, he ran into trouble. First, the veteran left-hander tossed a curve ball in the dirt that Travis d’Arnaud failed to block, allowing Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, who had singled earlier in the innings, to score from first. Carlos Gomez then singled, which catcher Jonathan Lucroy followed with a drive to center that just missed clearing the wall and fell in for a double, scoring Gomez. Braun proceeded to bring Lucroy around with a single, before Niese got Aramis Ramirez to line out to end the inning.
Niese left after five decent innings, having fanned four and given up three earned runs, five hits and two walks. Carlos Torres came on to pitch three innings of relief, allowing two earned runs in the process.
But of course, as its been in almost every game since the All Star break, the real culprit behind this loss was the Mets offense.
New York struck first and got out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to a double by Curtis Granderson to lead off the inning and an RBI single by Lucas Duda three batters later. Granderson singlehandedly tacked on another in the top of the fifth. The mets rightfielder drilled a 95 MPH fastball from Milwaukee starter Willy Peralta and tucked it over the wall by the right-field foul pole.
That was it, though, as after Granderson touched home plate, no other Met came around to score for the rest of the game. Not that they didn’t have ample opportunity; two doubles by Chris Young and one by Eric Young Jr. gave New York a runner on second base in the sixth, eighth, and ninth innings.
They were left stranded there, however, as the Mets went just 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
It was a continuation of offensive woes that date back to their return from All Star Break. New York has now scored three runs or fewer in their last eight games and are consequently 3-5 in that span.
David Wright, often immune to the struggles of his peers over the last couple of seasons, has not been blameless. After going 0-3 last night, the team captain is hitting .205 with a .289 on base percentage and zero extra base hits since the break.