Jeremy Hefner won his first game in the majors and helped his own cause with a home run and Omar Quitanilla made a splash in his return to the bigs to inspire the Mets to a solid yet soggy 6-3 win over the Phillies.
The Good Stuff:
- He gave up a couple runs early but Jeremy Hefner was not discouraged, picking up a quality start with 6 innings of 3-run, 6-hit ball, including no walks and 4 strikeouts in his first career W. It was only Hefner's fourth major-league appearance, but it was the third in normal circumstances and the third which impressed. Last time's trouncing against the Padres was a fluke because of the rain he had to sit through; tonight's outing is closer to the Jeremy Hefner we will likely see in the future, as the Pride of Perkins, Oklahoma has earned himself another start for the orange and blue.
- Hefner also had a big night at the plate: in the 2nd he bunted Omar Quintanilla (we'll have more on him later) to third, which set up Mike Baxter for the go-ahead RBI double. By the 4th, Hef was having so much fun out there today he said, "Hey, why don't I help out my own cause?" Not even seconds after guest Bud Harrelson declared his support for the DH, Hefner launched his first career home run to deep left to make it 4-2.
- Speaking of having fun out there, welcome back to the major leagues, Omar Quintanilla. The 30-year-old journeyman was brought up to be shortstop after Justin Turner's placement on the DL and made a splash right of the bat. When the dust settled, he was 3-4 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. Hefner's earned himself another start tonight, and I'd say Mr. Q has earned himself one too.
- Quintanilla's second two-bagger came in the 6th, just before Scott Hairston pinch-hit for Hefner. Keith Hernandez on SNY just finished expressing his preference to leave Jeremy in there to bunt again when Hairston took a 3-2 changeup from Joe Blanton and deposited it in the left field stands. It was the last pitch Blanton would throw on the night and Hairston's 6th round-tripper of the year, giving him the team lead. Said Keith: something to the tune of "Well, that's better than a bunt."
- David Wright and Ike Davis each had RBI singles in the 1st inning to get the scoring going for New York.
- When Hefner made his exit, the suddenly rock-solid Mets bullpen took care of the rest. Bobby Parnell got through the 7th inning in just 8 pitches and Jon Rauch gave up a leadoff single but otherwise breezed through the 8th. A rain delay of just over an hour looked like it would wash out the final frame, but when it stopped pouring, Frank Francisco took care of business with his 14th save to send those soaked few remaining from the crowd of 25,487 home happy.
The Bad Stuff:
- Lucas Duda continues to struggle at the plate, going 0-3 with a walk and 2 Ks before being lifted for a defensive sub in the 8th. Big Dude is now down to a .245 batting average and is hitless in his last 4 games.
This is the kind of win that would've been considered Amazin' earlier in the season, especially with the lineup that was sent out to start. But dare I say it, this was a routine win for the Mets tonight. Solid pitching, clutch hitting, reliable bullpen work. It's also another case of the team not getting down on itself after a tough loss the day before.
These kinds of wins are becoming commonplace at Citi Field, thanks to the hard work of the 25 men who put on a Mets uniform. Terry Collins had it right earlier today: "When you put that uniform on, there's a certain expectation about how you're going to play." Two years ago that kind of sentiment would've gotten a laugh at the local papers, but nowadays it's becoming a matter of fact. Today, those expectations were realized. Tomorrow we expect their best as well, and we'll get it no matter the result.