Jeremy Hefner gave up five runs in three innings tonight against the Phillies, and actually lowered his career ERA against the Phils to 15.68. His start tonight went better than his zero-inning, seven-run debacle against the Phillies last September, but that's not saying much. The first six batters he faced tonight reached base, and two of those batters hit home runs. Chase Utley crushed a two-run shot to open the scoring and Domonic Brown soon followed with a three-run job of his own. It was 5-0 Phillies before the Mets had even sent their cleanup batter to the plate.
Hefner just wasn't fooling anyone. The Phillies took healthy cuts at pitches thrown at the heart of the strike zone. Perhaps it's just that the Phillies own him. Regardless, Hefner seems more suited to the long-man role but he'll have the opportunity to prove that he belongs in the rotation with Shaun Marcum on the shelf and few reasonable starter options available.
John Buck hit a solo home run in the second inning off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick to cut the lead to 5-1. It was Buck's fifth home run of the season, a number that matches the entire output of the 2012 Mets catcher corps. Lucas Duda also homered off Kendrick, with his shot traveling 427 feet into the right field stands. It was the first of two home runs for Duda on the night; he took tough reliever Mike Adams deep in the eighth inning as well. Let's take a moment to ogle Buck and Duda's slash lines:
Buck still has that odd BA > OBP thing going. Kendrick finished with a respectable six-inning, six-strikeout, two-run performance. It was the kind of game you love to have from your fourth or fifth starter. Remember the days when Kendrick was the butt of so many snarky Internet jokes? When the Phillies gave all those innings to a pitcher with seemingly no strengths? I miss those days.
The Mets' best chance to make it interesting came in the fifth inning when they were down 5-2. Jordany Valdespin led off with one of his three infield singles on the night. Then Daniel Murphy drew a walk. David Wright stepped up to the plate, representing the tying run, but struck out swinging. Ike Davis followed, and Kendrick threw a wild pitch on the second pitch of the at-bat, allowing the runners to move up to second and third. Ike then hit a weak fly ball to center field, which was surely deep enough for Valdespin to score from third base for a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, Murphy committed a bizarre baserunning blunder, as he was doubled off second base before Valdespin could touch home plate. Inning over, comeback chances extinguished. It's also worth noting that Ike doesn't look great at the plate right now. His limbs flail every which way as the pitch is delivered. It's not pretty.
The Phillies put the game out of reach in the seventh inning when Laynce Nix hit a two-run home run off LaTroy Hawkins make the score 7-2. Every run scored in the game, by both teams, came via the home run.
It's early, but Hawkins has failed to impress. He throws basically nothing but fastballs, which is tough to get away with unless you're Mariano Rivera or you throw exceptionally hard. Hawkins tops out around 93 mph these days and sits 91; definitely not exceptional. Yes, he enjoyed a strong 2011 season but he fell off in 2012 and is 40 years old. I don't see him sticking around all season.
With three series in the books, the Mets' record is 5-4. After an off day Thursday, they face the Twins in frigid Minnesota for a three-game set starting Friday. Here is the weather report for Minneapolis this weekend:
Lovely. Is it too late to put a roof on Target Field? Here are the projected pitching matchups:
Harvey and Niese then chances of winning decrease.
Harvey and Niese then hope to get out in one piece.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Lucas Duda +7.8%, Mike Baxter +6.9%
Big losers: Jeremy Hefner (as pitcher) -32.6%, Ike Davis -15.8%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy walk in the fifth inning, +6.6%
Teh sux0rest play: Chase Utley two-run home run in the first inning, -16.2%
Total pitcher WPA: -33.5%
Total batter WPA: -16.5%
GWRBI!: Domonic Brown, three-run home run in the first inning