Mets vs. Nationals Preview: Game #121 — Jeremy Hefner vs. Gio Gonzalez

The Hef.

Today's game notes, courtesy of @Mets.

Teams: Mets vs. Nationals
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2012 • 1:35 p.m
Location: Nationals Park • Washington, D.C.
Starters: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-4, 4.76) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-6, 3.29)
TV/Radio: PIX11 • WFAN • WQBU
Info: Game #121 • Road Game #63

Lineup

Andres Torres - CF
Justin Turner - 2B
David Wright - 3B
Scott Hairston - RF
Ike Davis - 1B
Ronny Cedeno - SS
Jason Bay - LF
Kelly Shoppach - C
Jeremy Hefner - RHP

METS AT A GLANCE: The Mets have won two of their last three games and are 4-6 in their last 10 contests...New York is 11-23 since the All-Star break (9-13 on the road)...The Mets are 7-9 this month.

SERIES NOTES: The Mets are 4-6 in rubber games this year, including 0-1 vs. Washington...The Mets are 1-8-1 in 10 series in the second half...New York’s series win during that span was taking three of four from the Giants at San Francisco (July 30-August 2)...Overall, the Mets are 14-21-3 in series this season.

ON THE ROAD: The Mets are 2-3 on this road trip and 29-33 overall on the road this year...New York went 43-38 away from Citi Field last year...David Wright is fifth in the majors with a .344 road batting average.

SUNDAY: Ruben Tejada has the fourth-highest batting average (.392, 20-51) in the majors on Sundays this season.

DAY BASEBALL: Daniel Murphy (.360) and David Wright (.347) own the top two batting averages in the National League during day games ...New York is 25-18 in day games this season...The 25 victories are tied for the fifth-most in the majors.

SHUTOUTS: New York posted its 11th shutout of the season last night...The 11 shutouts are the fourth-most in the majors, behind the Angels (15), Giants (12) and Rays (12)...The Mets have been shut out seven times this year, including three times this month.

ONE RUN OR LESS: The Mets have held their opponents to one run or less 29 times this year, tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most in the majors.

50 IN 50: Last night was New York’s 50th win in team history when collecting three or fewer hits...It was the second time this year the Mets pulled out a victory when collecting three or fewer hits...New York topped Milwaukee, 3-1, on May 14 at Citi Field after registering three hits.

ERROR FREE: The Mets have not made an error in eight straight games, the team’s second-longest stretch of the season...New York went 11 consecutive games without an error from July 3-18...Since July 1, the Mets have the sixth-best fielding percentage in the majors (.986).

IKE DAVIS: Hit a two-run opposite field home run last night...It was his National League-leading 17th home run on the road...Davis is tied for second in the majors in road home runs...The White SoxAdam Dunn is first (22)...According, the Elias Sports Bureau, Carlos Beltran holds the widest road home run margin in team history...Beltran hit 11 more home runs on the road than at home in both 2006 and 2007.

MORE DAVIS NOTES: It was also the seventh go-ahead home run hit by Ike Davis this year, tied with David Wright for the team lead...Davis ranks sixth in the National League with a home run every 17.7 at-bats...It was Davis’ second straight start with a home run after going deep on August 16 at Cincinnati...He pinch-hit and struck out in the series opener.

MILESTONE NOTE: David Wright is one home run from becoming the third player in franchise history to reach the 200 home run plateau... Darryl Strawberry (252) and Mike Piazza (220) are the others.

DAVID WRIGHT: Ranks fourth in the majors with a .412 on-base percentage, is eighth with a .319 batting average and tied for fourth with 35 doubles...Wright is tied for 10th in the National League with 75 RBI and eighth with 73 runs scored...He is tied for sixth in the NL with 53 extra-base hits.

STARTERS/RELIEVERS: Mets starters rank eighth in the majors with a 3.90 ERA...New York’s bullpen has the worst ERA (5.02) in the majors ...The pen has not allow a run over 4.2 innings during this series.

JONATHON NIESE: Has tossed a career-best 13.1 scoreless innings dating back to August 12...Niese has worked 7.0 innings or more in eight of his last 10 starts...Niese posted his 10th win of the year, one shy of his career-high which he established in 2011...Niese is now 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA (10 earned runs/38.0 innings) in five career starts vs. the Nationals.

JON RAUCH: Tossed 0.2 scoreless innings last night...He has allowed one run over his last 21 appearances, spanning 15.0 innings (0.60 ERA) dating back to June 28...Rauch has yielded five hits, issued two walks and notched nine strikeouts during that stretch.

FRANK FRANCISCO: Collected his 20th save last night working a 1-2-3 ninth inning...It is his second 20 save season...Francisco had a career-best 25 saves with Texas in 2009...He is 20-for-23 in save chances this season.

MIKE BAXTER: Went 1-4 last night with a triple...Has hit in a career-best seven straight games, going 9-25 (.360) dating back to August 9.

SCOTT HAIRSTON: Nine of his 14 home runs this year have come off left-handers...His nine home runs vs. lefties are tied for the fifth-most in the National League...Hairston is batting .356 (21-59) over his last 21 games, dating back to July 20.

RISP: The Mets went 0-2 with runners in scoring position last night and are 20-97 (.206) with RISP over their last 15 contests...The Mets are hitting .259 with RISP on the season, ranking 10th in the majors...The Mets are hitting .277 with runners in scoring position and two outs, the highest average in the majors.

TWO-OUTS: The Mets have scored 28 of their last 48 runs with two outs (58 percent)...New York is second in the majors with 235 two-out runs, one behind Atlanta (236)...New York is hitting .265 with two outs, the third-highest average in the majors...New York’s pitching staff has permitted 216 runs with two outs, the sixth-most in the majors.

U.S. AIR FORCE WEEK IN NEW YORK CITY: The Mets will help celebrate United States Air Force Week in New York City Monday, August 20 at Citi Field...More than 1,100 airmen and their families will be in attendance for a special ceremony and pre-game performances ...The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, will execute a pre-game flyover of Citi Field with six F-16 Fighting Falcons...The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Lieutenant General James M. Kowalski, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

LAST START: Earned his second career win in the Mets’ 6-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on August 4...Pitched 6.0 innings, allowing one run earned, and five hits...Struck out two in the 72-pitch outing...Hefner has walked six batter through his first six major league starts.

LAST RELIEF OUTING: Last pitched on August 15 in relief of R.A. Dickey at Cincinnati...Pitched 2.0 innings, allowing one run, earned, and three hits...Struck out one, while picking up a no-decision.

2012 RELIEF: Hefner has made 12 relief appearances this season, most recently on August 15 at Cincinnati...In those 12 appearances Hefner has pitched to a 4.24 ERA (11 earned runs/23.1 innings pitched)...Has walked four and struck out nine in those 23.1 innings.

CAREER AS A STARTER: Hefner has made six career starts, all coming in 2012...In those five starts, the 26-year old rookie has posted a 2-3 record with a 5.13 ERA (19 earned runs/33.1 innings pitched)...Hefner has struck out 24 while issuing just six walks.

HITS: The 10 hits that Hefner surrendered in his start at San Francisco on July 30 were a career- high...His previous high mark occurred on May 24 vs. San Diego when he was allowed nine hits in his major league debut at Citi Field.

SINCE ALL STAR BREAK: Since the All-star break, Hefner is 1-1 with a 3.76 ERA (11 earned runs/26.1 innings pitched) in seven games, three starts...Pitched to a 5.64 ERA (19 earned runs/30.1 innings pitched) in 11 games, three starts before the break...Eight of Hefner’s 10 walks this season have come since the All-star break.

CONTROL: Hefner has walked 10 in 56.2 major league innings this season, including only six walks in six starts...Has a K//BB of 3.30 and a BB/9 of 1.6.

LONGEST RELIEF OUTING: Hefner’s relief appearance on May 19 at Toronto (5.0 innings) was the longest by a Mets pitcher since Raul Valdez went 5.0 innings on May 20, 2010 at Washington.

STRUGGLES WITH RUNNERS ON: Opponents are hitting .305 (32-105) when runners are on base...Furthermore, opponents are hitting .293 (17-58) with four doubles, two home runs, and 25 RBI with runners in scoring position, and .267 (8-30) in such situations with two outs...Hitters are batting .283 (36-127) when he pitches with the bases empty.

FIRST HOME RUN AND WIN: According to Stats LLC, Hefner became the first pitcher to hit his first career home run in his first career win since Dennis Tankersley accomplished the feat while with San Diego in 2002.

2012 MINOR LEAGUE STARTS: In nine minor league starts for Buffalo (AAA) of the International League, Hefner was 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA (19 earned runs/61.2 innings pitched)...Pitched at least 7.0 innings in six of those nine starts, and pitched into the eighth in two of them...Had six quality starts while pitching for Buffalo.

MINOR LEAGUE CAREER TOTALS: In 141 career games, 129 starts, Hefner is 51-36 with a 3.75 ERA (313 earned runs/750.1 innings pitched)...Won a career-high 14 games in 2009 while pitching for Lake Elsinore (A+) of the California League and Portland (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League.

MINOR LEAGUE CAREER: Has pitched in the Mets farm system this season after being claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on November 18, 2011...Was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft...Originally drafted by the Mets in the 46th round of 2004 First-Year Player Draft and again in the 48th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, but did not sign either time.

LAST WIN VS. WASHINGTON: Hefner has never beaten the Nationals.

LAST LOSS VS. WASHINGTON: Lost, 5-2, on July 25 at Nationals Park...Pitched 6.0 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, and six hits...Walked two and struck out a career-high seven.

CAREER VS. WASHINGTON: In two career games, both starts, vs. the Nationals, Hefner is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA (five earned runs/12.0 innings pitched).

KEY MATCHUPS:

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