The Mets squandered another great pitching performance by one of its starters, this time Jon Niese, by failing to score a single run.
Niese bent but didn’t break, except for the fourth inning when he walked Aubrey Huff and gave up a double to rookie catcher Buster Posey. Huff scored on a fielder’s choice ball hit by Pat Burrell. Alex Cora tried to cut down Huff at home but threw it on the first base side of the plate.
That would be the only run scored of the night as Niese went seven innings, walking three and striking out four. As good as Niese was, Giants starter Barry Zito was even better. He struck out 10 batters in eight innings and allowed only two hits and two walks.
The Mets offense was ineffective again as they succumbed many times to Zito’s sweeping curve ball, which was right on target most of the night. Only Carlos Beltran and Ruben Tejada managed hits. Zito made the rest of the batters look lost at the plate.
With Jose Reyes still ailing from a strained oblique, Tejada batted in the leadoff spot for the first time. Because Jeff Francoeur was in the game in right field, that left Angel Pagan on the bench. To compensate, Jerry Manuel moved Jason Bay up to the No. 2 hole. Reyes will be out until at least Sunday.
Things won’t get any easier today as Hisanori Takahashi pitches against Matt Cain. Mike Pelfrey was supposed to pitch today, but he’s been pushed back to Monday due to a sore neck.
It’ll be interesting to see how David Wright reacts to pitches by Cain, who is the one who beaned him in the head last season. Wright says it won’t be a problem, but reflexes and instincts can overcome the noblest of intentions.
The Mets are just six games over .500 and five games behind the Braves in the National League East standings. The Phillies are a half-game behind the Mets. To make matters worse, the Mets are now a game and a half behind the Rockies with three teams in between them.
Other notes: Friday call-up Justin Turner had a successful debut with the Mets. He pinch-hit in the eighth inning and drew a walk. He replaced Cora in the ninth at second base and made a nice play ranging to his right to throw a runner out at first.
Beltran made the last out of the game with Wright the tying runner on base. He struck out against closer Brian Wilson, but looked awkward doing so as his hand seemed to come off the bat at the last second.