Friday, March 22, 2013
Mets 4, Marlins 2: Niese gets opener tuning
By Adam Rubin
JUPITER, Fla. -- A day after being officially tabbed Opening Day starter, Jonathon Niese surrendered two runs in five innings.
The Mets ultimately beat the Miami Marlins, 4-2, Friday night at Roger Dean Stadium. Farmhand Josh Rodriguez delivered a tiebreaking two-run single against Ryan Webb in a three-run eighth. Anthony Recker’s RBI double earlier in the inning had evened the score.
Jordany Valdespin had a game-opening triple against Ricky Nolasco and Andrew Brown (2-for-4) drove him in with a one-out single.
Niese’s line: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. He issued one wild pitch while throwing 92 pitches (49 strikes).
“It’s obviously getting in a little bit better shape,” Niese said about his arm strength after logging a regular-season-like workload. “It feels really good.”
Niese, who entered having allowed only one run in 12 2/3 innings, had his Grapefruit League ERA creep upward to 1.53.
He stranded two Marlins in scoring position in the third by striking out Placido Polanco. An inning later, however, Niese was burned after issuing three walks. Rob Brantly and Nick Green followed with RBI singles, the latter a bloop into shallow right field. The Marlins grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Right fielder Mike Baxter ended that inning by throwing out Brantly at the plate attempting to score from first base.
“That was a bad fourth inning there,” Niese said. “I was nibbling with my offspeed pitches and fell behind. I was forced to make a pitch and I missed with a few of them. But besides those three walks in the fourth inning there, I thought overall it was pretty good.”
Niese has one more start before facing the San Diego Padres on April 1. He said the spring-training finale will be capped at 40 to 50 pitches to ensure him being fresh for the regular-season opener.
• LaTroy Hawkins recorded two outs in the sixth, then handed the ball to Pedro Feliciano for a matchup with lefty-hitting Casey Kotchman. Feliciano, whose fate will be determined by Tuesday, coaxed a groundout.
Fellow left-handers Robert Carson and Scott Rice contributed scoreless frames.