Andrelton Simmons, who led off last night’s game with a homer off Carlos Torres, led off tonight with a single under the glove of Omar Quintanilla. It wouldn’t matter, however, as Jason Heyward would ground a ball to Daniel Murphy, who tagged Simmons and threw to first for the double play. A Justin Upton pop-up would close out a 9-pitch first inning for Jeremy Hefner, who is looking to rebound from a 2-inning, 8-run start against the Phillies last week.
Murphy then launched a one-out ground-rule double to dead center, but was left there by a David Wright ground out to short and a Marlon Byrd popup to first. Freddie Freeman, who worked a long count in the second, eventually struck out and Brian McCann grounded to Ike. Unfortunately, Jeremy couldn’t escape the inning unscathed though, as Evan Gattis launched a moonshot to the Left Field Landing. Dan “Youth Small Jersey” Uggla struck out to end the frame. Tim Hudson, working with the 1-0 lead, would strike out the Mets 5-6-7 in the second. Ike Davis and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both worked full counts before watching fastballs hit the outside corner for strike three. Anthony Recker fouled off an 0-2 pitch before swinging at one outside the zone.
Hefner got two quick outs on a pair of groundouts to the left side of the infield to get back to the top of the order. The third out came in similar, though interesting fashion. Andrelton Simmons appeared to line out to Quintanilla, though the third base umpire initially ruled it a short-hop. Quintanilla’s quick throw beat Simmons to first anyway, but the initial call was corrected. Hudson again pitched a 1-2-3 inning, although Eric Young seemed to have beaten out a ground ball that was the third out.
Hefner’s fourth featured a pair of groundouts, including one that David Wright snagged on a weird hop off the bat of Justin Upton. Freddie Freeman connected on a ball that went to the deepest part of the park, where it met Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ glove for out number three. The bottom half had plenty of interesting notes, including an unfortunate potential injury to David Wright. Following a Daniel Murphy walk, Wright hit a routine double-play ball to short, but never ran the ball out. On his follow through, David’s bat snapped at the handle, and the barrel caught him in the back of the head. He walked off in good spirits though, so hopefully that’s a good sign. After seeing the trainers, he would stay in the game.
Following the injury, the Mets started a rally with a Marlon Byrd infield hit and a 4-pitch walk to Ike Davis. It was stopped, unfortunately, by KKirKK Nieuwenhuis striking out swinging. The fifth would spell disaster for the Mets, as Hefner allowed a pair of baserunners on a Daniel Murphy error and a single before Dan Uggla put a hanging slider into the left field seats. Chris Johnson followed with another single. Tim Hudson would strike out bunting, but Andrelton Simmons would put up another two runs with another no-doubt home run to left. A walk to Jason Heyward then ended Hefner’s night, with Terry Collins double-switching in Juan Lagares and Gonzalez Germen, who closed the frame without incident.
Jul 24, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner (53) heads to the dugout after being relieved during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Recker led off the bottom half with a single, and was replaced at first by an Omar Quintanilla fielder’s choice. Lagares, in on the double switch, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to send it to the sixth.
Germen and Hudson would trade 1-2-3 sixths, with Germen getting a strikeout and Hudson getting a pair. Germen would start off the seventh striking out Chris Johnson and walking Tim Hudson. He would rebound nicely, getting a pop-out from Simmons and striking out Heyward to end the seventh. Germen pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Hefner, allowing a walk and striking out three.
Tim Hudson, on a roll, struck out both Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis looking before Andrew Brown, pinch hitting, flew out to left on an 0-2 pitch. Josh Edgin would pitch a scoreless eighth, working around plunking Brian McCann.
The Mets got the first two runners on, with a walk to Recker and a single by Quintanilla. Juan Lagares would watch strike 3, and Eric Young grounded to first on what ended up a terrible play. The ball bounced off Freeman’s chest. Freeman recovered to throw to Hudson covering at first, but Young’s foot came down on Hudson’s leg, bending it in a way reminiscent of Joe Theismann. Hudson stayed down for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher.
Luis Avilan came in for Hudson and eventually gave up a 2-run double to Daniel Murphy. Jordan Walden ended the eighth by striking out David Wright. Scott Atchison, pitching the top of the ninth, was the victim of some poor defense on an infield hit that ate up Quintanilla, and a double play ball that Murphy couldn’t handle. Atchison would get two outs before walking Heyward to load the bases. A passed ball would score the 7th Atlanta run. Justin Upton singled in another run, but Juan Lagares would, for the second straight night, throw out Jason Heyward trying to score.
> What a terrible break for Hudson. He had been dominant through 7.2 innings before leaving with an apparently terrible leg injury. Wish him a quick recovery, but an injury like that could very well be career-threatening at his age.
> Ike Davis had a rough night, picking up a pair of strikeouts. Hard to hold it against him with how Hudson was pitching tonight, racking up 9 strikeouts in 7.2 innings of work.
> Back to back poor outings for Hefner. The home run, a demon to him early on, has come back to hurt him again. The Braves launched three of them, all to left, to run the score up on Hefner.
> Gonzalez Germen has been great so far. He threw 2.2 scoreless innings, and has now pitched 5.2 scoreless innings since suffering a loss in Pittsburgh. He’s walked two and struck out seven over that span. He features a good repertoire for relief, with three solid pitches at a 3/4 arm angle. Hopefully he can stick around for the future.
It’s discouraging to see Jeremy Hefner struggle again. He’s allowed 14 runs in two starts in the second half, after allowing only 13 in his last 8 starts of the first half. Hopefully he can recover soon, as the Mets need him to be successful to make a run at relevance.