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Mets vs. Reds recap: Niese makes his glorious return, offense gets shut down

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The Mets dropped the series finale against the Reds on Sunday afternoon by a score of 2-1. Jon Niese pitched well in his season debut but the Mets could only scratch out one run against Alfredo Simon.

Al Bello

On the first Bark in the Park day of the season at Citi Field, Mets fans brought their pooches to watch the Mets of Puppy Avenue go for what could've been their first series sweep of the season. After getting swept by the Nationals in their first series of the year, the Mets rallied back, taking the first two from the Reds. With Jon Niese on the hill, the Mets hoped they could make it three straight with the puppies watching from the stands. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as Alfredo Simon shut the Mets offense down and the Mets were defeated 2-1.

There were some positives to take from the loss, however. The first positive was the return of lefty Jon Niese, who made his season debut after spending the first five days of the season on the disabled list. Niese's spring training was stop and go but once he hit the mound on Sunday, it looked like he'd had a totally normal spring. The lefty disposed of the Reds hitters easily through the first five innings, needing around 60 pitches to get through the lineup. His velocity was also there, as he sat in the low 90's with his fastball. The sixth inning brought some trouble as he began to tire and he ultimately allowed a pair of runs, the first on a Joey Votto sacrifice fly, and the second on a Ryan Ludwick single. But it was an encouraging start for Niese, whose health is incredibly important to the Mets' rotation.

Another positive was the work from the bullpen, who once again threw scoreless ball. Gonzalez Germen was the first summoned from the pen and even though he came in to immediately walk the first batter on four pitches (Gary Cohen and Ron Darling surmised it was a pitch-around), Germen was extremely effective, retiring the next four batters and striking out a pair of them. Kyle Farnsworth followed up with a scoreless eighth and his fastball hit 94 MPH a few times. He did allow a single and a walk but was able to wriggle out of that slight jam. Finally, Jose Valverde struck out two in a clean inning, allowing one hit. It's a small sample but maybe the Mets' bullpen is finally starting to settle in.

It's hard to consider the offense a positive when you only manage a run on four hits all day but there were some positive signs to take from the game. First of all, the Mets scored their lone run of the day in second inning. Ike Davis, fresh off of his game-winning slam on Saturday, started Sunday by smacking a double down the third base line, effectively beating the shift. Juan Lagares then came up and singled to left field, plating Davis from second. Davis picked up two hits in four trips and Lagares had himself a 1-3 day. Eric Young also collected his first hit, lining a double into left center field. Then there's catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who had another hitless day. Don't let that fool you, though. The catcher made solid contact on a couple of balls, hitting one hard to straight away center field and then in the seventh inning, launching one to deep left that Ryan Ludwick caught at the wall. Off the bat it looked like a sure home run but fell a little short. The good news was that he put a solid swing on the ball and if he keeps swinging like that, the hits will come soon.

SB Nation GameThreads

* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Red Reporter GameThread

Win Probability Added

(What's this?)

Big winners: Gonzalez Germen (10.2%), Ike Davis (7.7%)
Big losers: Daniel Murphy (-13.8%), Curtis Granderson (-13.2%)
Teh aw3s0mest play: Eric Young doubles to left center in the 3rd inning.
Teh sux0rest play: Ike Davis struck out swinging to end the game (0%)
Total pitcher WPA: 4.5%
Total batter WPA: -54.5%
GWRBI!: Ryan Ludwick