Jon Niese mastered the wet ball better than the Nationals could their slick bats at underwater Citi Field. In a game which probably should have been delayed about a half dozen times due to rain, Niese threw seven scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking just one. It was by far his best start of the season and an encouraging sign considering his lagging peripherals. Jason Isringhausen and Frank Rodriguez each threw a scoreless inning in support of their starter.
A Jason Bay sacrifice fly in the first inning and a Justin Turner two-run double in the sixth accounted for the offense. Jose Reyes and Turner combined to reach base 7 times in 10 plate appearances at the top of the lineup. Unfortunately, the Mets' 3-4-5-6 batters went 1-for-13 with two walks, stranding the on-base machines on the quicksand basepaths.
Some bullet thoughts:
- Niese entered tonight with a poor 5.6% swinging strike rate, fourth worst among National League starters and well below the 8.4% mark he posted last season. The stat is a useful indicator, as it correlates strongly with strikeout rate and, by extension, runs allowed. So the 16 swinging strikes he induced tonight out of 112 pitches (14.3%) were a welcome sight.
- Nick Evans was recalled before the game but didn't start against lefthanded Nats starter Tom Gorzelanny. If Evans is useful for anything, it's mashing lefties. A start at first base over Daniel Murphy was the sound process but Terry Collins didn't pencil Evans in. The results were also poor, as Murphy went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, dropping his OPS to .675. Evans pinch-hit in the eighth inning, drawing a walk.
- Scott Hairston collected two hits, including a scorching double off the left field wall which would have been gone in most stadiums. The maligned Hairston has not been a fan favorite this season but he can hit lefties. I didn't like giving him a guaranteed contract this offseason. However, he has a track record of success. Calls for his head, which have been raining down since opening weekend, are premature. Mets fans have endured established suckage on the bench like Alex Cora, Gary Matthews Jr. and Jeremy Reed in recent seasons. It's understandable that the fans have their collective finger on the eject button at the first sign of a struggling reserve. But dropping him after 54 plate appearances would be an emotional "I want some butts!"-type overreaction.
- Gary, Keith and Ron briefly discussed Endy Chavez, who started and hit leadoff tonight for the Rangers. He suffered a brutal leg injury in 2009 and has battled to come back. Few players are as universally beloved by Mets fans as Endy and justifiably so. I wish him nothing but success in Texas.
The Nats will try for revenge Thursday afternoon at 1:10. Tickets are still available but the weather forecast is ugly. Both teams are 20-22, so to the victor goes sole possession of fourth place in the NL East. Dillon Gee vs. Livan Hernandez is the pitching matchup.
Big winners: Jon Niese +30.6% (as pitcher), Justin Turner +27.9%
Big losers: Daniel Murphy -8.6%, Jason Bay -5.8%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Justin Turner two-run double +17.1%
Teh sux0rest play: Mike Morse double -7.0%
Total pitcher WPA: +43.9%
Total batter WPA: +6.1%
GWRBI!: Jason Bay
Nice job by fxcarden; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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