Mike Pelfrey definitely didn't look like the Mike Pelfrey of old in his first outing of the season. With eight strikeouts in five-and-two-third innings of work, Pelfrey has a very un-Pelfrey 12.6 K/9 after the start. His swinging strike rate on the night was 12.5%, too, and both rates sit significantly higher than his career norms.
It would be foolish to think that Pelfrey is capable of maintaining such rates over the course of a full season, but the whole point of bringing them up in the first place is that he probably deserved better than the 4.76 ERA he wound up with at the end of his outing. They were also entirely out of line with the way Pelfrey has pitched over the entire course of his big league career.
All three of the runs Pelfrey allowed came before the Mets got on the board. In their fourth game of the year, it was the Mets' first deficit of the season, but they came back. Pelfrey's double in the third inning was as unexpected as his stellar strikeout performance, and David Wright continued his excellent play with a rib-eye single to bring him in. The next inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuis sent a laser into the Mo's Zone, scoring two runs to knot the game at three.
Pelfrey got two outs in the sixth inning but was pulled in favor of Miguel Batista with runners on first and second and two outs. One of the runners was Xavier Nady, who apparently plays for the Nationals now.
Before the game, Terry Collins told the press that he was strongly considering using Batista as his alternative closer on Frank Francisco's off nights, but that's not a good idea. He did, however, strike out Ian Desmond to end Washington's threat in the sixth.
With the game still tied, Batista remained in the game to begin the seventh and promptly walked the first two batters he faced. Ramon Ramirez came in to put out the fire, though, and got Adam LaRoche to fly out and Jayson Werth to ground into an inning-ending double play. For what it's worth, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy looked like a perfectly capable duo while turning it.
Jon Rauch allowed only one baserunner as he pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning. As a group, the Mets' bullpen has been virtually flawless over the first four games of the year.
Rauch wasn't exactly in a jam in the ninth, but with a runner on first and two outs, Ryan Zimmerman hit a grounder up the middle that could have easily been a single. Luckily for Rauch and the Mets, Daniel Murphy made a diving stop behind the bag and flipped the ball to Tejada at second base to get the out and end the inning. It will take a long time to get any significant statistical data about Murphy's ability to play second base, but he's passed the eye test so far.
The bottom of the ninth inning got a bit crazy. Mike Baxter walked to begin the inning, a relatively normal occurrence compared to what came next. Ruben Tejada put down a bunt to advance Baxter, but the Nationals horribly misplayed it. Baxter advanced to third base, and Tejada reached second with ease. Murphy came up next and lined a single to right-center field, plating Baxter for the Mets' fourth consecutive victory.
Had the Mets lost this one, there might have been some chatter about Ike Davis' ice cold start or the inability of Duda and Nieuwenhuis to play the ball off the outfield wall. Davis should be fine, though, and the Mets weren't exactly expecting an outstanding defensive outfield this year anyways.
The series continues with the Nationals tomorrow night at 7:10 pm at Citi Field with Dillon Gee taking the mound for the Mets.
Big winners: Daniel Murphy, +28.1% WPA, Jon Rauch, +23.6% WPA, Ramon Ramirez, +23.3% WPA, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, +17.2% WPA
Big losers: Ike Davis, -21.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Captain Kirk's two-run home run in the fourth inning, +24.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman's run-scoring double in the third, -11.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +32.2% WPA
Total batter WPA: +17.8% WPA
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy
Nice job by MetsFan4Decades; her effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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