No, the title isn't a reference to Phillies fans' weapon of choice, but good guess. The Jon Niese-Rod Barajas tandem starred tonight, and the Mets combined great pitching, hitting and defense to beat the Philth.
Niese had his finest start of the season, striking out seven in seven innings while giving up just four hits and one run. He faltered in the 2nd, allowing three base hits and a run, but Jeff Francoeur and Jason Bay made a pair of great catches at the wall to bail him out. From that point forward, Niese took the reins, striking out six and inducing five groundouts in his final five innings of work. He deployed the curveball more often than he had in his previous four starts, and it was sharp. Add in that he threw 70 of 107 pitches for strikes and his performance was just a pleasure to watch. The season is a Jonathon, not a sprint, but it's hard to not to be pleased with Niese so far.
David Wright, Francoeur and Barajas entered the game tied for the team lead in home runs with three. Wright jumped to head of the pack with a 420+ foot two-run bomb to center field in the 2nd inning, and Francoeur soon followed with one of his own (on an 0-2 pitch!). Barajas felt left out and crushed one too, capping a nine pitch battle with Kyle Kendrick. It's very possible this was the best at-bat of the free-swinging Barajas's career. Andy Martino noted that Barajas may have had extra motivation to produce:
Kendrick is one of the worst pitchers in baseball (or maybe just forgot to order the Code Red tonight). But considering the Mets have been shut down this season by Livan Hernandez and Nate Robertson, it's reassuring to see them tee off against a 3rd division pitcher. A new Mets home run leader emerged in the 9th inning -- Barajas welcomed back Brad Lidge with his second homer of the night. All told, the Mets had eight extra base hits.
Jenrry Mejia did a fine job mopping up and absolutely owned the $125 million man in the 8th inning. In a four-pitch strikeout, Mejia used the following sequence:
- 96 mph fastball low in the strike zone; swing-and-miss
- 80 mph unhittable curveball that's illegal in Arizona, outside corner; called strike
- 96 mph fastball, high and outside portion of the strike zone; fouled off
- 83 mph curveball in the dirt; swing-and-miss
It's just one at-bat, but it was satisfying to watch especially considering the big money thrown around this week.
Francoeur suffered an elbow injury after being hit by a Danys Baez pitch. He was removed from the game, but X-rays revealed that it's just a bruise. Frenchy should be back in the lineup sometime this weekend.
The Mets opened April with a feel-good win and closed it with a feel-great win. It's still too early to be overly excited but the start of the season has surpassed expectations. Regardless, winning is straight-up fun. Roy Halladay and potential victim of the McCracken Effect Mike Pelfrey face off tomorrow at 3:10 on FOX.
Are these the Phillies? Where is their Phight?
By the third inning they called it a night
As challenges go, Kendrick was slight
Homers from Barajas, Francoeur and Wright
Unlike past years, I had no phright
That Phils would come back and make this one tight
And how about this for a welcome sight
First place is Mets' place for another night
Big winners: Jon Niese +24.5%, Rod Barajas +12.2%
Big losers: Luis Castillo -5.0%, Jose Reyes -3.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: David Wright two-run homer +13.1%
Teh sux0rest play: Jose Reyes foul-out to third -2.3%
Total pitcher WPA: +26.6%
Total batter WPA: +23.4%
GWRBI!: David Wright
Nice job by Gina; her effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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