6/19 Recap – Marcum Struggles Again as Mets Fall to Braves 5-3
The newly-acquired Eric Young, Jr. got his Mets career off to a great start by singling off Kris Medlen on the game’s second pitch. He didn’t get much opportunity to make his presence felt on the basepaths though, as Daniel Murphy flew out to right and David Wright grounded sharply at short stop Andrelton Simmons, who started a clean 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the first.
Lucas Duda, wanting to establish his glove at first base, snagged a rocket off the bat of Jordan Schafer on the first pitch. Marcum, wanting to reestablish himself on the mound, followed that up with a strikeout of Simmons, painting the inside corner with his not-so-fastball. He walked Freddie Freeman, but cleaned up quickly when Justin Upton grounded into a fielder’s choice on the next pitch.
And the pitchers’ duel was on.
June 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (38) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The no-longer-hot-just-flat-out-raking Marlon Byrd struck out to open the second, as did Lucas Duda on a pitch that just caught the inside corner and John Buck on a pitch that appeared inside, but was rung up nonetheless.
Omar Quintanilla, playing into the shift, caught a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann, who received a second chance after watching what should’ve been a called third strike (to the ire of John Buck, who was rung up on a pitch in the exact same location). BJ Upton walked on a full count, with ball four coming on a fairly obvious strike. He rebounded to strike out Dan Uggla (on a pitch in the opposite batter’s box), and Chris Johnson on a diving slider (both swinging).
The top of the third went quickly, with a pair of flyouts (featuring an athletic grab by Schafer to rob Kirk Nieuwenhuis of extra bases) and a groundball to third. Marcum struck out Kris Medlen to open the bottom half. A ground out by Jordan Schafer got under a diving Lucas Duda, but Daniel Murphy backed him up cleanly and got it to the covering Marcum in time. Andrelton Simmons singled to left for the first Braves hit, but Marcum got Freeman swinging to end it.
The fourth inning opened with a strikeout of Young, Murphy fly ball and a David Wright groundout to third.
And there went the pitchers’ duel.
Justin Upton, leading off in the bottom half, launched a prodigious fly ball to deep left that hooked foul before popping up to Duda in foul territory. Omar Quintanilla, in the shift, once again made an excellent play on McCann, snagging a low drive on the first hop and throwing him out at first. BJ Upton and Dan Uggla both singled before Chris Johnson broke it open with a three-run shot to left field.
Marlon Byrd singled to left to start the fifth and Duda got plunked before the Braves went all Barves on us. John Buck grounded sharply back to Medlen. Medlen fired to third in hopes of starting a triple play, but Medlen threw it into left field allowing Byrd and Duda to both score as Buck made it safely to second. Kirk Nieuwenhuis looped a high single into shallow right to bring Buck in and tie the game at three. They would fail to sustain the rally beyond that though, because Omar Quintanilla would ground into another double play and Marcum would strike out.
The bottom of the fifth opened up with a Jordan Schafer double just over Duda’s head. Simmons then bunted him to third. Marcum issued a semi-intentional walk to Freddie Freeman to put runners at the corners with one out. He caught Justin Upton looking at a slider and got Brian McCann to 2-2 before a pitch in the dirt allowed Jordan Schafer to narrowly score at home. He walked McCann on the next pitch, and on the next pitch BJ Upton (who had been 0-28 with two outs and runners in scoring position) sent an outside fastball into center for an RBI double to end Marcum’s day. His line: 4.2 innings pitched, 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 earned runs, 6 strikeouts, and could’ve been much worse were it not for Carlos Torres striking out Dan Uggla with runners on second and third.
The sixth opened with a pair of ground outs before David Wright doubled but was stranded by Marlon Byrd, who struck out. Torres, who began the sixth, surrendered a one-out walk to Medlen and ran the count full on Schafer before perfectly placing a cutter for strike three.
Kris Medlen stole a base. That just happened.
Simmons grounded out to end the inning without further incident.
Duda, after nearly getting plunked again, laced a sharp single off the glove of Freddie Freeman. John Buck struck out on three pitches on a high fastball, Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Omar Quintanilla got one to the warning track to end the mini-threat.
Carlos Torres threw a great seventh inning, coaxing a groundout from Freddie Freeman before striking out both Justin Upton and Brian McCann. He threw 2.1 no-hit innings with four strikeouts and a walk.
Josh Satin pinch hit for Torres and lofted a single that fell in largely due to a poor effort from Upton, ending Medlen’s outing. 7+ innings, 7 strikeouts, 3 runs (one earned) on 6 hits. Medlen’s biggest enemy was himself, as his errant throw on what would’ve been an easy double play (had he gone to second) scored two of the three runs he allowed. He also stole a base. A confusing at bat in which Eric Young tried to drop a bunt twice ended in the Mets’ third double play of the night before Daniel Murphy grounded out to first.
David Aardsma started the eighth and got two quick outs before Chris Johnson laced a single to center field. He was removed for Scott Rice when Jason Heyward was announced as a pinch hitter. Heyward walked on five pitches before Reed Johnson, pinch hitting for Schafer, grounded out to short.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save, picking up a pair of strikeouts before Lucas Duda flied out to the warning track.
- Forgive me for editorializing, but there have been significant inconsistencies in the strike zone. Two pitches thrown by Shaun Marcum in the second inning (one of which deemed ball four) caught much more plate than a called strike three to Buck just prior. Similarly, last night, Josh Satin was rung up on a pitch several inches outside and low shortly before Brian McCann was awarded a walk on a pitch he swung through.
- Kris Medlen stole a base. In case you missed that.
- Lucas Duda has been experiencing a mini-resurgence at first base. He’s now 5-10 in this series (4 singles, 1 double) with a pair of walks and a hit by pitch.
- New bullpen members Carlos Torres and David Aardsma have been very good so far. After pitching three scoreless innings tonight, they’ve combined to allow only a single run in 11 innings with four hits and a walk against 12 strikeouts.
Another rough outing for Shaun Marcum, his second in a row. Normally fantastic FIP-wise (FIP, or ‘fielding independent pitching’ is a metric that measures a pitcher’s performance based on the ‘three true outcomes’ – home runs, walks, and strikeouts), Marcum paired six strikeouts walked four and gave up a three-run home run. Marcum’s struggles, paired with Jeremy Hefner’s consistency and Dillon Gee’s recent dominance, have to start to put his spot in the rotation in jeopardy. It’s somewhat tough to see it happening, given the financial commitment made to Marcum, but he’s been the weak link in an otherwise excellent June for the Mets rotation (MLB-best 2.78 FIP in June coming into tonight’s game).
The Mets will try to take the five-game series tomorrow, with Jonathon Niese opposing Mike Minor. Niese has been great of late, pitching to a 1.93 ERA over his last five starts (32.2 innings).
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