Sunday, May 13, 2012
TC: Lifting Niese made sense
By Adam Rubin
Terry Collins did not second-guess his decision to pinch-hit for Jon Niese after the southpaw had tossed six scoreless innings Sunday at Marlins Park.
Collins reasoned that Niese was at 99 pitches, had been battling the flu and will be required to pitch every fifth day without extra rest for the foreseeable future because the Mets began on Friday a stretch of playing 20 straight days. Plus, Collins noted, he felt the Mets needed more runs when Niese's turn came up with two out and two in scoring position in the top of the seventh with the Mets holding a 2-0 lead.
"Jon's sick. He's a little sick," Collins said. "Plus, he threw so many pitches early. At that point in the game, I thought if we were going to win this game, we've got to add on, because he only had a couple of more hitters in him anyway."
Niese understood the decision, but was preparing to go out for the seventh inning had his turn to bat not come up.
"I was set to go back out in the seventh," Niese said. "Obviously there is second and third with two outs, I guess it's the thing about the National League -- the pitcher always gets pinch-hit for."
As for how he felt, Niese added: "Kind of like flu symptoms. I wasn't vomiting at all, but it was a runny nose, sore throat, body aches. I've broke out in a fever the last couple of nights."
Ike Davis grounded out as the pinch hitter to end the threat.
Collins said he used Davis rather than fellow lefty hitter Mike Baxter in that spot because he believed Ozzie Guillen would have countered with lefty reliever Randy Choate had Baxter been sent to the plate, which would have forced Collins to use Justin Turner then for Baxter.
Baxter and Turner ultimately got their chance in the ninth inning, as the Mets turned a 2-all tie into a 4-2 lead in the top half of the inning.
With two in scoring position and two out in the ninth -- the identical scenario -- Collins sent up Baxter to pinch hit for Rob Johnson against Heath Bell. Bell predictably intentionally walked Baxter, and Turner pinch hit with the bases loaded.
"I knew they were going to walk Mike," Collins said. "And I actually wanted to have the bases loaded. J.T. has faced him with one of the best at-bats we've had all year, at Citi Field."
Turner, who walked to cap a 13-pitch faceoff with the bases loaded in New York against Bell, knew Baxter would be walked too. The Marlins bench shouted it to him even before Baxter stepped into the batter's box. Turner delivered a go-ahead two-run double.
"It wasn't too long ago, so it was still pretty fresh in my mind," Turner said about the April 26 encounter with Bell. "I feel pretty comfortable in the box up there against him. Again today he didn't really have good command of that breaking ball. So it makes him a little more one-dimensional. I worked the count to a 3-2 count. With the bases loaded, he has to throw a fastball there. I stayed above it and [first baseman] Gaby [Sanchez] couldn't get to hit. So it worked out."