On this chilly Friday evening, in a steady rainy mist, the New York Mets hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a weekend series at Citi Field.
Mar 1, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) at bat against the Miami Marlins in the spring training game at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
After a spring training battle in which he won the fifth starter role over Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jenrry Mejia climbed the hill for his much anticipated first start of the 2014 season. He was opposed by Cincinnati’s Mike Leake.
Mejia was a little wild, but otherwise performed well in less than desirable weather conditions. Lucas Duda registered a break-out game with 4 RBI, and the bullpen finally gained their bearing, as the Mets defeated the Reds by a 4-3 final.
You can put this one in the books. It is now my privilege to finally present you with this evening’s happy recap of the Mets first victory of 2014.
Mets Starting Line-Up:
Jenrry Mejia‘s first pitch of the evening was a fastball, slightly outside, to center fielder Roger Bernadina. Four pitches later, Mejia caught him looking at a curveball for strike three. Eric Young then made a nice grab at the base of the left field wall off a Brandon Phillips drive. Mejia followed that by striking out Joey Votto swinging.
Jenrry continued featuring an effective curveball in the second inning, and collected three more strikeouts.
He allowed just one hit and struck out 5 his first time through the lineup. His second time through however, resulted in a come backer off his foot, 2 walks, and a run scored.
By the end of the fourth inning, Mejia increased his pitch count to 71, with 65% or 46 pitches going for strikes. He issued 4 walks, and struck out 6 batters.
The 5th inning represented Mejia’s all-important third time through the order. He issued his 5th walk to lead-off batter, Bernadina, who was promptly erased when Brandon Phillips grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play. After a Joey Votto single, Mejia caught Jay Bruce looking at strike three, for his 7th strike out of the evening. He threw 86 pitches to that point, 54 (63%) for strikes.
Jenrry Mejia fanned pitcher Mike Leake to end the 6th inning, and established a new career high with 8 strikeouts. He additionally ended the inning having thrown his 101st pitch of the night, also a career high. He threw 66 pitches (65%) for strikes.
Five walks is a bit much, otherwise, Jenrry Mejia’s first performance of the season was a resounding success. He limited the Reds to just 4 hits.
Mejia’s curveball was very effective early. In the 3rd inning, he started featuring his change-up more. Jenrry’s fastball topped out at 92/93 mph, with a change-up in the 86 mph range. He was still hitting 90 mph in his final frame.
Bullpen Anxiety Be Gone!
John Lannan took over for Mejia in the 7th inning, but did not last the frame. He is known for not faring well against lefties. When he faced back-to-back lefties in the 7th inning, he effectively had Joey Votto looking somewhat befuddled, but then promptly surrendered a home run to Jay Bruce.
Kyle Farnsworth entered the game with two outs in the 7th, and retired his man. He stayed in the game to pitch an effective 8th inning.
Stand-in closer, Jose Valverde was summoned to pitch the 9th inning. With one out, he walked Bernadina, putting the tying run on base. Brandon Phillips followed with a solid single to center. Joey Votto then flied weakly to left for out number two. Finally, Jay Bruce stepped in, and struck out swinging through a 1-2 change-up to end the game.
- Top 2nd inning – Roger Bernadina drew a one out walk. First baseman Joey Votto drew a two out walk. Right fielder Jay Bruce gave the Reds an early lead with a single to drive home Bernadina.
- Bot 4th inning – Curtis Granderson lined a double down the left field line. Lucas Duda followed by pulling a first pitch home run off the Wise potato chips sign beyond right field, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.
- Bot 6th inning – David Wright reached on an infield single. After Granderson flied to right, Lucas Duda launched his second home run of the night into the Mo-Zone this time, to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.
- Top 7th inning – With Brandon Phillips on, Jay Bruce crushed a John Lannan offering to make it a 4-3 game.
Highlights And Low Lights:
- Travis d’Arnaud and Eric Young Jr. each struck out for the 6th time this season, tying for the team lead. Travis has yet to register his first hit of the season.
- Daniel Murphy botched a relatively easy grounder in the 6th inning, to negate a potential double-play.
- The Mets failed to convert two other potential 3-6-1 double-play attempts.
- Lucas Duda’s pair of home runs came with runners on base!
- Jose Valverde recorded the Mets first save of the 2014 regular season.
- Unlike Lucas Duda, in four games so far, Citi Field is conspiring against Curtis Granderson. Several well hit balls during this short sample have been contained by the still spacious dimensions of the Mets home field.
- Lucas needs to play first base with a slightly higher sense of urgency. He was slow to initiate two double play opportunities.
- Mike Leake consistently pitched high and inside to David Wright. That’s a situation that warrants monitoring this season. In recent years, teams, and pitchers, have taken their liberties with David Wright, and that must stop! Mets pitchers must be willing to protect him this season, better than they have in years past.
4/5 Saturday – Reds @ Mets; 1:10pm