WHAT IT MEANS: Jon Niese surrendered a three-run homer to Jay Bruce in the first inning and the Mets stranded runners in scoring position three straight frames en route to a 4-1 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday night at Citi Field.
Niese’s line: 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP.
STRANDED: The Mets actually left runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings, including a first-and-third, no-out opportunity in the second. After Scott Hairston doubled and Josh Thole moved him to third with a single, Omar Quintanilla popped out to second baseman Brandon Phillips in shallow right field, Niese’s bunt attempt resulted in a fielder’s choice that retired Thole at second base, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis flied out to end the threat.
The Mets’ lone run came on consecutive first-inning doubles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright.
HIT PARADE: A day after Wright was grazed in the stomach by Sean Marshall, likely in response to Dillon Gee plunking Joey Votto, the teams traded hit-by-pitches again. Niese plunked Bruce in the fourth inning, in the slugger’s next plate appearance after his homer. In the sixth, Homer Bailey drilled Lucas Duda in the back.
WHAT’S NEXT: Chris Young (1-0, 3.38 ERA) will try to prevent the Mets from getting swept for the second time in three series when he opposes Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (7-3, 2.46) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale. The Reds have not swept a three-game series in Queens since 2001, when Steve Trachsel, Al Leiter and Kevin Appier were charged with the losses and future Met Danny Graves saved all three games.
Two series ago, the Mets were swept in the Bronx. They then went to St. Petersburg, Fla., and swept the Rays.