Some things are best left misunderstood. One of those things is Miguel Batista’s performance last night at Citi Field against the Milwaukee Brewers. After a couple of cringe-inducing starts that had Mets fans like myself begging for Jeremy Hefner to be called up, Batista wove a gem last night with seven shutout innings against the Brewers.
Batista had his sinker working with great movement last night, which resulted in a bunch of ground balls and five strikeouts. Perhaps most surprising was that Batista only issued one walk for the entire outing.
The Mets struggled quite a bit on offense against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, but just as they have all season, they made big plays when it mattered. In fact, the Mets only had three hits for the entire game, but the one of the most patient teams in the majors managed to walk eight times against Milwaukee pitching.
It was Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda drawing walks in the first inning that set the table for Daniel Murphy’s RBI single. In the sixth, the Mets added another run when Ronny Cedeño pulled off a perfect suicide squeeze. Murphy came home on the play after he doubled and moved over to third on an Ike Davis fly out.
In the ninth, David Wright led off with a double and moved to third on Duda’s ground out. Although Wright got caught in a rundown between third and home when Murphy grounded to second base, he miraculously scored when Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez dropped the ball while trying to move it from his glove to his throwing hand.
If you’ve been keeping track, the Mets were able to score in every inning in which they had a base hit. That’s pretty resourceful (and a little lucky).
Of course, things got dicey in the ninth when Frank Francisco came in to pitch. Ryan Braun led off with a ground ball single up the middle. After the reigning NL MVP stole second base, Francisco got the first out when Ramirez grounded to shortstop. Then, Corey Hart singled through the left side to score Braun, bring the tying run to the plate, and incite the wrath of the Citi Field fans.
I don’t think Francisco deserved the boos at that time, because the Mets basically let Braun score on a couple of not-very-hard singles. However, Francisco proceeded to make more trouble by walking Taylor Green to put the tying run on base. Sure, it looked like the 3-2 pitch was right on the inside corner, but Francisco had to earn back some love from the umpires after his outburst on Sunday. At least this one didn’t seem to bother him much.
Francisco came back with a strikeout of Brooks Conrad and a fly out from George Kottaras to end the game. Not that terrible. I thought his fastball looked really good with a couple of swinging strikes, but Francisco’s secondary stuff (splitter, curveball) has been kind of weak so far. I still stand by the fact that he will improve this season. We’ve seen Francisco at his best and at his worst so far. The rest of the season will probably be somewhere in between. Kudos to Terry Collins for not panicking, although he did have Jon Rauch warming up in the ninth (but that’s really necessary even if Francisco’s ERA was 0.00).
Not a bad win for the Mets last night considering the apparent mismatch in the starting pitching. Tonight, there will be another apparent mismatch, as New York will start Dillon Gee, while the Brewers go with Zach Greinke on the mound.