The New York Mets can breathe easy, at least for a moment until the next time they look at the National League East standings. After getting outclassed by the St. Louis Cardinals for three straight games, the Mets were able to salvage the final game of their series in St. Louis with a win heading into their weekend series against the Chicago Cubs. But more importantly, the Mets got the win behind a strong effort from starter Jon Niese, who gave the Mets his first quality start in two weeks.
Niese was absolutely abysmal in his last two starts, giving up seven runs to the Atlanta Braves and eight runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, both in less than five innings of work. Niese had obvious mechanical issues during those starts, and also he complained of back pain which may have adversely affected his performance. But there was no sign of those issues during his start against the Cardinals as he pitched 7.1 innings, allowing just two runs on six hits.
Niese’s strong performance is an encouraging sign for the Mets, especially after Shaun Marcum had his best outing of the season Wednesday night, as the Mets are desperate for quality starts from someone in their rotation other than Matt Harvey. The long outings by Marcum and Niese at the end of the series with the Cardinals have given the bullpen some much-needed rest as they have been severely overworked for the past two weeks, and the extra rest should help the Mets moving forward.
The Mets’ win over the Cardinals is also attributed to Daniel Murphy, who broke out of a slump in a big way during his four games in St. Louis, culminating in a four for four game with two doubles and two runs scored on Thursday. Murphy and David Wright carried the Mets offense which is still looking for consistent production from the middle of the order.
It’s going to take a lot more than one win to arouse some hope for the Mets, but they did avoid getting swept at the hands of the Cardinals and they put an end to their six-game losing streak. The win against the Cardinals on Thursday, as well as Niese and Murphy getting back on track, are steps in the right direction, and right now, the Mets will take any reason they can get to feel good and breathe easy, however brief it may be.