By Paul DiSclafani:
The Mets (31-26) dropped both ends of a double-header to the Pirates (32-26) in Pittsburgh following yesterday’s rain out by identical 3-1 scores.
Old friend Jonathan Niese (W, 6-2) shut out his former teammates with seven strong innings in a 3-1 win, besting Steven Matz (L, 7-2) in the first game. In the nightcap, Juan Nicasio gave up just three hits as the Mets offense struggled again, scoring just one run in another 3-1 loss.
Mets have now lost nine straight to the Pirates.
The Mets offense has scored just two runs and managed 13 hits in the last 27 innings, which included a 1-0 loss to Jose Fernandez and the Marlins on Sunday.
Depending on your perspective, you can ask one of two questions that will give you the same answer: How dominant were the Pirates in this doubleheader? -or- How futile was the Mets offense in this doubleheader?
Answer: The Mets went down 1-2-3 in 10 of their 18 innings.
Mets have now lost seven of their last ten, scoring just 23 runs.
In the opener, Niese was superb, allowing just four hits against his former mates in seven innings with two walks and w strikeouts. Niese is 3-0 over his last five starts with a 1.74 ERA. Niese was traded in the off-season for 2B Neil Walker, who was making his return to his hometown of Pittsburgh. Although he was involved in a controversy for what he said about his time with the Mets after he was traded, Niese had nothing for love for the only organization he knew since being drafted in 2005.
“It was a little weird because It’s the only organization I knew,” Niese said. “All those guys are great over there. I got along with all of them. I definitely miss them but I’m enjoying my time here, too. I had a good game plan going on. I tried to live at the bottom of the strike zone.”
Walker was a first round draft choice in 2004 by the Pirates and has 14 home runs in a Mets uniform.
Matz lost for the first time since April 11, allowing two runs on eight hits while lasting only five innings. He did strike out eight, but without any support from the Mets offense, he suffered his first career loss on the road in nine starts (6-0). Matz surrendered two runs in the first inning.
Much of the same in the nightcap for the Mets offense. They were stymied by Pirates starter Nicasio (W, 5-4), who was perfect through the first four innings before Walker singled to lead off the fifth.
The Bucs got to starter Jacob deGrom for two runs in their half of the second inning, scoring runs on a ground out and an infield single after putting runners on second and third with one out. The Mets got their only run in the fifth when Kevin Plawecki singled in Michael Conforto with two outs.
“He threw the ball good and kept us in a game”, Manager Terry Collins said about deGrom. “We’re not scoring runs and they score two or three and we are in trouble.” DeGrom (L, 3-2) pitched well, giving up just three runs on six hits with nine strikeouts, but he ran his pitch count up and was gone after just six innings and 107 pitches.
Mets struck out 14 times and managed just four hits in the second game. “We have to put the ball in play and do a better job”, Collins said. “There’s no instant fix. We’ve got some guys struggling. There’s no question.”
Noah Syndergaard (6-2, 1.91) tries to avoid the sweep tomorrow against rookie Jameson Tailon, making his major league debut. Tailon was the #2 pick in the 2010 draft, between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Pirates system.
POSITIVES: Granderson hit a home run (10) for the Mets only run in the opening game. It’s his first home run in Pittsburgh in his career, the last stadium in the league he has not hit a home run in … Bullpen was pressed into service for five innings in the double-header, keeping the Bucs off the scoreboard … Conforto and De Aza doubled in the second game …
NEGATIVES: Asdrubal Cabrera was 0-8 and Yoenis Cespedes was 0-7 in the doubleheader. Cespedes is mired in a 3-35 funk in his last 11 games … Granderson is 3-24, Cabrera is 6-40 and Conforto is 4-38 … Mets are 8-21 in games that they score 3 or fewer runs.