Mets(courtesy of mlb.com)
Niese, meanwhile, is coming off one of the most effective starts of his career. Niese, who has never faced the Reds, threw seven strong innings and allowed one earned run in his last outing. Now, he’ll try to keep his momentum rolling.
“I’ve pitched in enough games now where I have the confidence to get guys out,” he said. “I think I’m confident in my stuff. I don’t look at hitters any different than any other hitter. I have to treat every hitter the same. I know that there’s a certain way to get them out, and that’s what I go for. The statistics prove that if you pitch certain guys certain ways, you’re going to get him out.”
Still, even with that knowledge, Niese will freely admit that he still feels like a rookie at the game’s greatest level.
“Yeah, because I don’t think I’ve pitched enough to feel like I’m not,” he said. “With me being hurt last year, I didn’t pitch enough. I guess technically I am a rookie. I’ll just go out and do my best, and hopefully it’s good enough.”
The Mets, who went into Tuesday’s game with the fourth-best bullpen ERA (2.60) in the Majors, survived a rare hiccup to post their fourth road win of the season. New York’s relief staff — which had held the opposition to a .215 batting average before that game — has pitched 100 innings this season, which also ranks near the top of the league’s leaderboard.
New York has won or tied this season series in each of the last eight years, and it’s staying afloat right now on the backs of a well-rounded offense. The Mets have successfully stolen 14 straight bases, and they rank fifth in most stolen bases (23) and second-best by percentage (85). And that’s with Jose Reyes, their top speedster, off to a slow start.
Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Gary Matthews, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Jonathon Niese, LHP
Reds(courtesy of mlb.com)
One result doesn’t outweigh two weeks’ worth of momentum. The Reds saw their bullpen give up a key run on Tuesday, a result that flies in the face of their recent workload. Cincinnati’s bullpen has shaved more than a run off its ERA over the last two weeks, and manager Dusty Baker is hoping to see that trend continue in Wednesday’s series finale against the Mets.
Cincinnati has won six of its last nine games and has also come out on top in eight of its last 14, and it’s easy to credit a lot of that success to the bullpen. The Reds worked to a 3.03 ERA over their last 12 games, dropping their season relief mark significantly (from 6.27 to 4.88). Sometimes, Baker said, it’s just a matter of letting things even out.
“Some days, you can’t use guys,” said Baker. “Some days, it’s, ‘Why didn’t you bring in that guy or this guy?’ When you’re in August or September and in a pennant stretch, you take a few more chances. But not now. It appears we’re getting better because our starters are going six [or] seven innings. Before, they were going four [or] five early.”
The Reds will have Johnny Cueto matched up against New York’s Jonathon Niese on Wednesday, and the Reds will be trying to shake off a late collapse from Tuesday’s game. Baker has said that sometimes all the factors aren’t available to fans at large, an element of managing the game that leads to a substantial amount of second-guessing over the course of the year.
“You’re pitching until the off-day,” said Baker of the reality of running a relief staff. “Everybody wants to win, but nobody wants you to overextend them. It doesn’t work like that. We keep a close eye on them, keep tabs on them [and] how many times they’re up. Who’s up, who’s hot, how many days they’ve been [used] for the last week.”
Cincinnati’s bullpen may have given up a go-ahead home run to Rod Barajas on Tuesday night, but the Reds have had more than their share of late-inning success. Cincinnati has scored the winning run in its final at-bat in eight of its last 13 wins, and the Reds have posted a 7-1 record when they lead after seven innings and a 2-11 mark when they trail at that point.
Right fielder Jay Bruce went hitless in Tuesday’s game, but he’s in the midst of a surge that may bail him out of a slow start. Bruce, who’s batting .242 for the season, is batting .320 (16-for-50) with four home runs and nine RBIs in his last 15 games. Cincinnati slotted him fifth Tuesday night, trying to take advantage of his timely hot streak.
Drew Stubbs, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joey Votto, 1B
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jay Bruce, RF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Miguel Cairo, 3B
Johnny Cueto, RHP