Coming off of a split series with the Pirates, the New York Mets knew that they had to turn it around. The Braves were coming in, so there was no question about the fact that if this were to be a victory, it would not be an easy one. Before the game, a lot of attention was put on Rookie of the Month of May, Justin Turner, but the true star of the night would prove to be Jonathon Niese.
Leading off the game with a strikeout–one of seven–and only allowing 2 runs in 7 2/3 innings, Niese was on point in his 50th career start. Pitching 111 pitches after having pitched over 120 last outing, Niese remained consistent, even helping himself out by fielding his position remarkably. Although the Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2nd, the Mets turned it around in the 4th with a lead off triple by lucky # 7. A “Keep Jose,” “Don’t Trade Reyes” rally congregated on the Shea Bridge beyond the outfield wall to watch their cause hit his 9th triple of the year to lead the Major Leagues. His triple sparked a 3 run rally against Derek Lowe, which would be the last runs scored of the game until the 8th inning.
Jon Niese came back out for the 8th, and despite giving up a homerun to every Mets fan’s favorite, Larry “Chipper” Jones, Terry Collins let him go until he had two outs. Brian McCann popped out to Turner, Freddie Freeman struck out, and at this point it seemed necessary to remove Niese, because Dan Uggla was coming in; it was a lefty/righty thing. Or, at least, it would have been, had Uggla, who was batting .175 for the season coming into the game, not been batting a mere .107 against left handers with all his home runs against righties. What was the point of taking out Niese now? Why not let him get the last out? If they were going to take him out, why didn’t they take him out after Chipper’s home run? Well, Isringhausen is our 8th inning guy, and then we’ve got Frankie. So out comes Niese, and in goes Isringhausen. Izzy walked the easy out in Dan Uggla, who moved up on what was marked as a wild pitch. After going 1-2 on Gonzalez, Isringhausen gets the grounder to Reyes, and #7 makes error #7 for himself on the year, allowing the Braves to tie it up, and taking any shot at a win away from Jonathon Niese’s impeccable outing.
Mather went on to strike out, ending the top of the 8th, and the Mets went relatively quietly in the bottom of the inning, with only a single by Justin Turner. The excitement continued for the Bravos in the 9th, as Hinske came to the plate to face Francisco Rodriguez. Hinske, who joined the game in the top of the 5th after Jordan Schafer fouled a bunt off of his face, blasted a solo shot over the right field wall. Martin Prado continued the scoring with a stand-up double, eventually taking a trip to the plate accompanied by McCann on a double by Freeman. Entering the bottom of the 9th it was 6-3 Braves, and Craig Kimbrel set down the Mets with only a single off the bat of Pagan. Pagan would get to second on a fielder’s choice, but that’s as far as he would get as Willie Harris would make the final out. Frankie Rodriguez took the devastating loss, but hey, at least his save streak is still in tact.
With this loss comes a record that the Mets should have never hoped to set. In their last six straight losses, they’d been winning going into the 7th inning, to only have the bullpen give it away. Aside from the reversal that was yesterday’s game, the starting pitching has been fine, but something needs to change with this bullpen. The only person who may have been more frustrated than the fans were today is Jonathon Niese and his 7 2/3 inning, 7 strikeout, 2 run no decision.