Niese went nearly 8 innings and got all the offense he needed from Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and David Wright, as the Mets took the rubber game against the Pirates 3-1.
The Good Stuff:
- After giving up 4 home runs in 3 innings in Toronto on Friday, Jon Niese was looking for a bounceback effort. And oh, did he bounce back: 7.2 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts to pick up his first W since his second start of the year.
- New York's offense was able to give Niese a lead before he even took the mound: Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled with 1 out in the 1st, went to second on a wild pitch, took third on David Wright's flyout, and came home on a hard-hit single by Lucas Duda.
- Nieuwenhuis returned the favor at the plate in the 5th, launching a long sac fly to left to score Rob Johnson. On the very next pitch, Wright took Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton deep, missing a home run by just a couple feet off the 20+ foot wall in right; he would have to settle for the RBI double that scored Mike Baxter and provided a comfortable cushion against the worst offensive team in the National League.
- The Mets had that cushion and more on Monday and couldn't hold it, but Niese kept from imploding and the bullpen took care of the rest: Bobby Parnell struck out Andrew McCutchen with runners on second and third to end the 8th, and Frank Francisco delivered another 1-2-3 save, striking out 2. Frank-Frank's circus act has become less, um, "entertaining" the last few outings, as he has retired 8 men in a row. I like excitement as much as the next guy, but when it comes to my closer, I'd prefer just a stroll through the park. Francisco's headed in the right direction.
- Had to fish for some Bad today but here it is: David Wright dropped under .400 for the year, going 1-4 to bring his average down to "just" .399. Wright's in what we would consider a "mini-slump": 1 for his last 8 at the plate. But if this is as rough as it gets for David this year, he'll win MVP.
It's a simple equation: Great Pitching + Clutch Hitting = Win. The Mets rode that formula all the way twice in the last 24 hours and escaped Pittsburgh with a well-deserved series win.
As tumultuous as this road trip seemed, the Mets held their own, going 3-3 and winning 3 of their last 4. The team is back up to 4 games over .500 and feeling good going home to face the hapless San Diego Padres. If they take 3 of 4 against the Friars, they'll have won 6 of 8 when the rival Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals come to town; with the momentum from the past week, New York should be able to "wipe out that excess red from their ledgers."