Saturday, April 6, 2013

Game #4: Marlins 7, Mets 5

Remember yesterday how the Mets lost a close game to the Padres and everyone was all, "Yeah, that's wasn't so bad." Not so much the feeling tonight.

Ruben Tejada's error and inconsistent relief pitching combined to bury the Mets late, as the Marlins scored five runs in the 7th inning en route to a 7-5 victory, their first of the season.

The Bad Stuff:

  • You knew things were going to go south when the bullpen became a factor, but Ruben Tejada's third error in four games on a Donovan Solano groundball sealed New York's fate. Greg Burke and Scott Rice were helpless to stop the suddenly-potent Miami offense, letting in five runs (two earned) in the top of the 7th inning and turning a 1-0 nail-biter into a 6-0 laugher.
  • LaTroy Hawkins picked out an insurance policy for the Marlins in the form of one more run in the 9th inning, this one coming on a two-out single by Justin Ruggiano.
  • The formerly lively Mets offense once again came up cold on this frigid April evening in New York, hitting 2-11 with RISP and stranding a dozen men.
  • Ike Davis went 0-4 with a walk, run, and strikeout, dropping his average in the first four games to a 2012-esque .063.
The Good Stuff:
  • Jeremy Hefner proved his worth on the mound, allowing just one run (a 2nd inning solo homer to Greg Dobbs that barely cleared the Mo-Zone) on five hits in six innings, walking two and striking out three on 102 pitches. While it was just against the Marlins, it's an encouraging sign from a man the New Yorkers will unexpectedly have to depend heavily on to get through the season.
  • Daniel Murphy did his best to get the Mets back into the swing of things with a three-run opposite field shot in the 7th inning.
  • Other offensive highlights included Jordany Valdespin, who went 2-3 with a walk and a run, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who pinch-hit in the 9th and delivered an RBI double.
  • Arguably the most positive thing about the Mets tonight was the debut of the team's new alternate uniforms: beautiful deep-blue jerseys with bright orange piping and white pants, complete with the classic solid blue caps with the orange "NY" insignia. These new digs were far superior to the black jerseys of the past decade, and hopefully they stay the team's official third uniforms for years to come.
Final Analysis:
The whole evening was accompanied by an uncomfortable sense of deja-vu dating back to last season's great offensive drought. The area the Mets showed the most skill in tonight was making the formerly hapless Miami Marlins find their hap, and their first win of the young season. Whereas at least two of the team's major components (staring pitching, bullpen, offense) needed to show up to win the ballgame, only one third of it was there entirely. The result? A disappointing loss to start the opening weekend.

On the bright side, in four starts this season, the Mets' starters have given up four earned runs in 26 innings. Jeremy Hefner was just as good tonight as Dillon Gee was yesterday and was nearly on par with Jonathon Niese on Monday (no one can touch Matt Harvey's shining performance on Wednesday). If he and his three predecessors in the rotation can keep pitching this well, New York will almost surely compete for a .500 record in 2013.


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