In tonight's matchup, it was the battle of two Opening Day starters who had lost a lot of their luster in 2013. Jonathon Niese had missed much of the season due to shoulder soreness and had been ineffective when he was healthy. Ian Kennedy's story was even worse, having gone from being the Diamondbacks' ace to pitching so poorly that the team traded him for a LOOGY.
It turned out to be a one-sided matchup, as Niese dominated the Friars and Kennedy gave up three homers in less than five innings, as the Mets prevailed 5-2 in the second game of their series with the Padres. In his second start off the disabled list, Niese allowed just a single run over six innings while notching nine strikeouts and exhibiting better control and velocity than he had at any point this season.
This was Kennedy's second start of the season against the Mets. The first time around, on July 4, he allowed just two runs in seven innings while striking out eight. It was clear from the get-go that this outing wouldn't be so smooth. After retiring the first two batters of the game, Kennedy walked Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis, and then gave up an infield hit to Josh Satin to load the bases. However, the Mets would be unable to cash in as Mike Baxter popped up to Chase Headley to end the threat.
Niese, perhaps jealous of Zack Wheeler's 12 strikeout masterpiece the night before, followed a leadoff single to Chris Denorfia by striking out the next three batters, all swinging.
The Mets again made life difficult for Kennedy in the second. Anthony Recker, playing in place of John Buck who left on paternity leave, led off the inning with a double off the wall in left-center. Omar Quintanilla followed with a looper into right, putting runners on the corners. After a failed Niese bunt, Eric Young hit a slow grounder to the right side, allowing Recker to score from third and make it 1-0 Mets. Daniel Murphy would ground out to end the inning.
Jedd Gyorko hit a leadoff double in the second, but Niese once again struck out the next three batters to strand the runner.
Having tired of the whole "small ball" routine, the Mets decided to go the old-fashioned route for runs in the third: homers. Byrd hit Kennedy's second pitch of the inning over the wall in dead-center, making it 2-0. Davis followed that by blasting Kennedy's first pitch to him well into the seats in right. It was the fourth homer for Davis off Kennedy in eight career at-bats.
The Padres decided to get in on a little of the action as Will Venable hit a solo shot off Niese in the bottom of the third to cut the Mets lead to 3-1.
Kennedy took the very smart route of walking Niese to lead off the fourth, and it came back to bite him two batters later, as Murphy hit a shot just inside the right field foul line, making it 5-1 Mets
The Padres put two on in the fourth and the fifth, but Niese was able to make it out of both innings unscathed. Niese finished off his night by striking out Rene Rivera with a runner on.
The Mets had a chance to add to their lead in the seventh, but wasted it by having two runners thrown out trying to steal.
San Diego would cut their deficit in the eighth as Headley led off with a double against Scott Rice, and Alonso followed with an RBI single, making it 5-2. However, Carlos Torres would come in and retire the next three batters without any trouble.
LaTroy Hawkins, coming off his "delicate" injury in Los Angeles, would pitch the ninth for the Metropolitans. Jaff Decker hit a single to lead off the inning, but Hawkins would set down the next three batters, ending the game by getting Venable to chase a pitch in the dirt.
The Mets continue their four-game series with the Padres tomorrow night, as Mets catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud makes his MLB debut.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jonathon Niese, +15.1%, Marlon Byrd, +11.5%
Big losers: Mike Baxter, -9%, Jonathon Niese (as a batter), -5.2%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy two-run homer in fourth, +13.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Will Venable solo homer in third, -8.8%
Total pitcher WPA: +21.7%
Total batter WPA: +28.3%
GWRBI!: Ike Davis