And then there was one — one reliable starter on the New York Mets. Jonathon Niese can no longer be considered as such after another dreadful outing on Sunday against the Braves. After two solid starts to begin the season, Niese has had just one positive outing in his last five starts.
The third inning was one of the uglier innings for the Mets this season. With one out Andrelton Simmons doubled to left. Niese walked Chris Johnson. Justin Upton singled to score the game’s first run and put runners on first and second. Freddie Freeman then hit a long drive to the warning track in left. Lucas Duda looked absolutely lost and the ball ended up dropping over his head. Both runs scored to give the Braves a 3-0 lead. A ground out advanced Freeman to third. Niese then threw a pitch low that John Buck just didn’t catch. It went all the way to the backstop and Freeman scored to make it 4-0. It was ruled a wild pitch, but it never hit the dirt and Buck should have caught it. Niese then walked Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton followed with a hot shot to third. It hit off of David Wright’s glove and was properly ruled a hit. Reed Johnson singled to plate Uggla to make it 5-0. Niese walked opposing pitcher Tim Hudson but got Simmons on a ground out to end the awful inning.
Back to the Duda play for a moment. The ball was well hit, and this is not to say that he should have caught it, but a competent outfielder would have had at least had a chance. Instead, it cost the Mets two direct runs, and possibly more because the inning would have ended earlier. You could live with such outfielder butchering if Duda were in turn producing runs at the plate, but he is not doing that, either.
Anway, the Mets got two of the runs back in the top of the fourth. Daniel Murphy led off with a walk and Wright followed with a two-run blast to center to cut the Braves lead to 5-2. It was the third straight game in which Wright has homered. He looks like he is about to enter one of those grooves in which he seems to get a hit every time up. Those are always fun.
But the game was lost in the fifth. Evan Gattis singled to lead off the inning. Niese then walked Uggla and B.J. Upton to load the bases and that was all for Jonathon Niese. Jeurys Familia came on and allowed a single to Reed Johnson to score two to extend the lead to 7-2. Familia was able to close out the inning without allowing any more runs to score.
So the linescore on Niese was not pretty — four innings, seven runs on seven hits, six walks and three strikeouts. Jonathon Niese now has a record of 2-3 with an ERA of 4.66.
Freeman homered in the sixth to make it 8-2.
The Braves needed four pitchers to get out of an eighth inning that featured two hits, two walks (one of them with the bases loaded), a hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch, Justin Turner pinch hitting for Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd striking out with the bases loaded to end the inning. They managed to score just two runs to make it 8-4.
The Braves added a run in the eighth to bring the final score to 9-4.