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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Eveland nets first save since '05, lifts Mets

By Adam Rubin

ST. LOUIS -- Dana Eveland presumed Jenrry Mejia would handle the entire ninth inning once the closer entered with a two-run lead. When Matt Carpenter opened with a leadoff double, however, the southpaw was informed that he would be facing Matt Adams if the lefty slugger’s turn in the order came up.

That’s exactly what happened.

Eveland entered with a runner on first and two outs and the Mets leading the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2, Wednesday afternoon. Adams, who had game-winning RBIs in each of his other four starts since returning from the disabled list last weekend, grounded out to David Wright to end the game.

Eveland, 30, earned his second career save. The other came on Sept. 5, 2005 with the Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati.

“Nine years,” Eveland said. “It’s pretty cool."

Still, he added: "It’s not something that I obviously collected over my career, so it’s not a huge deal.”

Collins said he does not plan to make a habit of pulling the closer Mejia against a dangerous lefty. It was just a special case, because Adams had been so dangerous of late.

“You read every day in the notes that he’s won game after game with a home run or a big hit, and they’ve all been off right-handed pitching,” Collins said. “So he was going to have to get a hit off a lefty.”

The manager added: “Jenrry actually has great numbers against lefties. It’s just that this guy has killed ’em this past week. Even the first night we came in here, he got the game-winning hit. He had four in a row. Two of them were homers. I wasn’t going to let him do it again.”

Said Eveland: “Once Mejia is in the game, obviously you assume your closer is in there to stay. But Adams has been swinging the bat pretty well and I could throw a decent slider, I guess, so they figured it was a decent matchup.”

Lefty batters are now 2-for-15 with a walk against Eveland since his June 1 promotion. Asked if that was gratifying in light of the fact that he was forced to pitch in Korea last season, Eveland noted the production has been meaningful for even a more current reason.

“I look back to this offseason, when my struggles just to find a job were going on,” Eveland said. “The Mets signed me, and I was so thrilled just to get an opportunity to be in affiliated baseball again. I went into spring training with the idea, ‘You know what? If I can stay in Triple-A all year this year and throw OK, I’d be happy,’ because it would line me up to hopefully get a job next year and possibly compete to get back to the big leagues. It happened so fast this year.”

What clicked for the journeyman, who already has appeared in the majors with eight different major league teams?

He said he was watching Jacob deGrom throw earlier this season with Las Vegas when he realized deGrom had the perfect arm angle for him. So Eveland copied deGrom from the left side, dropping down somewhat. It felt like sidearm at first, even though it was not that extreme.

It’s worked, putting more sweep in his slider.

“It’s nice to remind myself that I can succeed at this level,” Eveland said. “There have been obviously plenty of times in my career where I’ve had my struggles. So to throw well so far, it’s been pretty nice.”

Eveland admitted he is “slightly surprised” to have remained with the Mets this long, even if he was pitching well. He survived one cut when righty Buddy Carlyle was dropped to clear a spot for Andrew Brown. And he survived another when Scott Rice was demoted once Gonzalez Germen returned from the disabled list.

“When Buddy went, I thought there was a decent chance [of a demotion], because that was right after that tough game I had in Chicago,” Eveland said. “So I thought there was a chance it would be me that day. And Buddy threw the ball so well. And Scott had been going pretty well at the time. Obviously it’s an option thing and whatnot and part of the business.”