Mets starter Jeremy Hefner solid in debut, but Mets fall short to lowly Marlins

The New York Mets dropped the series opener to the last win-less team in the majors, the Miami Marlins, 7-5. A seventh inning bullpen implosion and plenty of missed opportunities at the plate wasted a solid pitching performance for the second straight game.

Mets starting pitchers have now compiled a 1.38 ERA (4 ER/26 IP) over the clubs first four contest.

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TOUGH-LUCK LOSER: With injuries to the Mets starting rotation, Jeremy Hefner has been given an opportunity to prove he belongs. So-far, so-good.  Hefner allowed just one run — a solo homer to Greg Dobbs in the second inning — during his season debut, but  his efforts were rewarded with a loss.

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Hefner

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

After allowing a solo blast to start the second, Hefner worked his way out of a first and second, one-out jam by inducing Donovan Solano to pop out to third and Miami starter Alex Sanabia to ground out, ending the Marlins threat.  Then again in the fourth, with a runners on first and second and two-outs, Sanabia grounded weakly to second base to end the frame. The 27-year-old starter would allow just one-hit while retiring six straight over the next two-innings before exiting the game for a pinch hitter in the bottom half of the sixth.  Following the game, manager Terry Collins spoke to reporters about his starting pitcher, saying:

“I thought Jeremy pitched very well. It was tough circumstances to pitch in the wind and the cold…We didn’t make the plays we needed to make after we took him out. One thing we know about Hefner is he’s going to pound the strike zone, he’s going to change speeds and you’ve got to catch the baseball behind him.”

SPIN-CITY: Jordany Valdespin got his first start of the season on Friday night, playing center field and leading off.  The 25-year-old made the most of his opportunity, collecting two hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch, reaching base safely a career-best four times. Valdespin picked up an outfield assist on Friday night and was also picked off first in the third.

Prior to the contest, Mets manager Terry Collins said the following of Valdespin.

“He brings the same thing that Collin Cowgill does — they make a bad pitch, it’s 1-0. He gets on base, he scores runs, he can steal bases — if you have him in your lineup, that’s probably where he needs to be.”

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Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

BULLPEN WOES: Greg Burke and Scott Rice imploded to allow five runs — two earned — on three hits in the top half of the seventh inning. Burke, who relieved Hefner, induced Donovan Solano to hit a routine grounder to short that Ruben Tejada bobbled and tossed wildly to first. The error was Tejada’s third of the season to which manager Terry Collins said the following after the game:

“He’s made some very good plays but he’s let a couple plays get away. We’re so accustomed to him making every play. It’s shocking when he doesn’t make a play.”

Burke followed the error with a five-pitch walk to pinch-hitter Austin Kearns. With runners on first and second, lead-off hitter Juan Pierre bunted the first-pitch of his at-bat right back to Burke.  With no wasted motion, Burke fielded the bunt and fired to third, but the throw was not in time; loading the bases for Placido Polanco. With the count 0-1, Polanco drilled the 0-1 offering up the right-field line to score two.  With one-out and two runners in scoring position, 30-year-old reliever, Scott Rice, relieved Burke and served up a sacrifice fly before and back-to-back RBI doubles to Justin Ruggiano and Rob Brantley to gave Miami a 6-0 lead they would not relinquish.

The Marlins added another run in the ninth, when Ruggiano delivered an RBI single off LaTroy Hawkins.

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AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

RUNNERS IN STRANDED POSITION: The Mets put runners on base in each of the first six innings — including the lead-off man three times — but failed to get the big hit.  After scoring 19 runs during their first two games of season, New York scored just one over their next 18 innings.  It wasn’t until the bottom half of the seventh inning that their offense showed some life. With two aboard, Daniel Murphy delivered an opposite field, three-run jack to pull the Amazins’ to within three.  One inning later, New York got the tying runs on base after two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases.  This time, however, Murphy couldn’t get it done, hitting a grounder to second to end the inning and the New York threat.

The home run was Murphy’s first of the year.  He finished the game 1 -for-4 with 3 RBI and is now hitting .214 over the clubs first four games.

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The Mets plated two more in the ninth with back-to-back hits from Kirk Nieuwenhuis — a double to left center — and Lucas Duda — a single up the middle — but their threat was ended when Marlins reliever Steve Cishek retired John Buck and Justin Turner to end the contest.

The Mets stranded 12 runners on base while going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

THERES ALWAYS TOMORROW: New York will look to stop the skid when they send Jonathon Niese to hill to face Ricky Nolasco tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 p.m. in Citi Field.

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  • Midwestropolitan Jason

    Ruben Tejada does not look comfortable in the field and at the plate. My guess is it is due to the colder weather.