6 hits in 5.1 innings and no runs? Perhaps Niese had the luck of the Irish on his side (or the BABIP Goddess).
Meet the O'Mets
On St. Patrick's Day, Jon Niese took to the mound and tossed 5.1 shutout innings, allowing six hits while striking out three. Niese's performance was easily one of the best from a Mets starter this spring but his teammates had trouble pushing runs across the plate for the majority of this game. Fittingly, "The Irish Hammer" Daniel Murphy put together a solid day as he knocked in both Mets runs and worked flawlessly around the second base bag. With a 2-0 lead in the eighth, Atlanta scored three runs combined off of Chuck James and Ramon Ramirez and this one ended soon thereafter in a 3-2 defeat for New York. Not to be forgotten, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco combined to toss a scoreless 1 2/3 of relief.
This afternoon, the Mets take on the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Game time is at 1:00 PM and the pitching matchup features Mike Pelfrey on the mound up against the ageless Livan Hernandez. This one will not be televised but you can listen to the action on WFAN.
The long-awaited Bernie Madoff clawback case against the Mets ownership is set to begin on Monday and the Daily News has a primer of the trial, in case you are confused with regards to some of the details.
With Johan Santana throwing every 5th day and popping 90 MPH fastballs, it should be a lock that he starts on Opening Day, right? Terry Collins says "WRONG!". While Santana is progressing well, the team is leaving their options open for the first game in case Santana needs extra rest.
Minor league spring training games began on Saturday and the prospect hype machine was running full steam for Zack Wheeler's first spring start. Adam Rubin's got some video of Wheeler throwing in the game against the Cardinals AA team and he's also got his first Around the Minors segment of the season, in case you'd like to know how non-Zack Wheeler prospects performed.
Jon Niese's confidence is growing, according to those who've been around him this spring. Not sure how to read into this but needless to say, a breakout season from the lefty would be a huge lift to the team's rotation.
Around the NL McEast
While the Braves were busy defeating the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Saturday, they were also in the midst of defeating the Blue Jays 5-3 in Orlando. Two wins in one day? That's grission! Twenty-two year old shortstop Tyler Pastornicky had a big hand in the victory.
Jordan Zimmermann threw four shutout innings against a split-squad Marlins team but the two teams ended the day deadlocked at one apiece. Interesting note about the Nats bullpen from Davey Johnson: it looks as if the team will carry two long relievers in their seven man bullpen.
The other Marlins squad defeated the Twins 5-2, as Hanley Ramirez hit a home run. Ramirez is hitting .474 with a pair of bombs this spring. Meanwhile, Ricky Nolasco is sort of a forgotten man in the Marlins rotation but he's gradually working himself into regular season shape.
A walk off single by Hector Luna in the 10th inning gave the Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays. If you're a Phillies fan, I'd imagine you have to be worried about the team's infield (considering that you're not already worried about your lack of a soul, considering you're a Phillies fan). Ryan Howard is shelved for months, Chase Utley, who hopes to be on the field within a week, has yet to play a spring game due to his degenerative knee condition and now 3B Placido Polanco left their game on Sunday with a jammed finger. They'd better hope that Roy Halladay's arm is not ITWSOHL.
Around the O'Majors
Via NotGraphs, I wanted to pass along this music video called "The Ballad of Rey Ordonez". The lyrics are pretty true. Goodness, Rey was an awful hitter. But he was a pretty ridiculous fielder, as shown in this one (and only) clip from MLB.com. That one was obviously not a can o' corn.
Vin Scully is cutting down his travel schedule this season, his 63rd with the Dodgers, though he will still be behind the mic for over 100 games. Scully had only stuck to doing west coast games for a few years now but this season, he will cut out trips to Colorado and an interleague visit to Seattle.
Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is going to miss the first couple of weeks of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
Jake Peavy's career has been torn apart by injuries the last couple of seasons and the righty says that he'd be interested in closing games in the future if he continues to struggle to throw full seasons in the rotation. What? He's got 0 games finished and 0 saves. He's not a Proven Closer™. How will teams know if he has the Closer Gene?