Yes folks. That is not a mistake in the above headline. The Mets did indeed score 10 runs in a 10-3 smackdown of the Astros last night. It was their largest offensive output since an 11-0 whitewash of St. Louis back on June 24. Amazingly, that wasn’t the most important positive headline garnered from the team’s first victory since Monday night. Jon Niese looked brilliant (7 IP, 4H, R, 3K) and one wonders what the heck took the team so long to take another look at this budding young lefty.
In his final seven starts in Triple-A Buffalo before being called up to the big club to replace fallen Fernando Nieve in the rotation, Niese’s numbers were just sick. A 5-0 record with a 0.72 ERA. His name had recently been mentioned in the now what is widely considered false Halladay to the Mets trade offer. Mets fans I have talked to, looking for any glimmer of hope from a young prospect, were eager to see this guy get another shot to strut his stuff……
Hang on, I need to take a deep breath here and frame this moment as I don’t remember what it is like to discuss something both positive and in between the lines, baseball related when it comes to this team. This single victory doesn’t wipe out the Category 5 Hurricane TOMAR that has been pummeling the franchise the past week or so, but it provides at least a brief distraction from the embarrassment all Mets fans have been feeling.
Back to Niese. The 22-year old southpaw silenced a hot Houston lineup, throwing 70 of his 107 pitches for strikes. He used his cut fastball effectively and didn’t fall behind in many counts. He also showcased his signature head to toe curveball. It is this pitch I think that gives team brass and Mets fans hope that they have have something with this guy. The pitch reminds me of Barry Zito’s hook, which for a few years during Zito’s prominence, was one of the most devastating weapons in baseball. Here is a little of what Niese had to say after the game:
“Every time I come back, I try to stay as long as I possibly can,” he said. “I just tried to go back to my Triple-A starts and remember what I did and how I had success there.”
Jerry Manuel gave a nod to the those who have guided Niese along in his development:
“Pitched extremely well,” Manuel said. “I think the people in the development system ought to be applauded for bringing him along the way they did. He looks like a little bit more polished pitcher than we saw the first two times.”
So, smile for a few more hours Mets fans. It wont be long til the black cloud that is hovering over this team thickens again. That you can count on.