After allowing 15 earned runs in his past two starts, Niese went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs to snap New York’s six-game losing streak, and improve their record to 15-23.
Niese’s ERA ballooned to 5.93 after last Saturday’s debacle against the Pittsburgh Pirates when the left-hander allowed eight earned runs in in 4 1/3 to fall to 2-4. His ERA improved to 5.40 ERA from today’s performance and allowed the Mets to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the NL Central leaders.
So, how did Niese do it? First pitch strikes and ground balls.
Niese threw a first pitch strike to 19 of 29 batters faced against St. Louis. In his previous two starts, he threw a first pitch strike to just 19 of 48 batters faced. Falling behind hitters is certainly not a recipe for success, and Niese paid the price for his mistakes.
He also managed to keep the ball in the park against the Cardinals. He allowed two home runs to Pittsburgh, but none to St. Louis. Niese’s groundball-to-flyball ratio of 14-t0-5 was a key reason that the 26-year-old was able to limit the damage against one of the NL’s best-hitting teams.
The Mets got the bats going as well. Daniel Murphy went 4-of-4 with one RBI and two runs scored to help pull the Mets out of hitting slump. David Wright also added two hits and two RBI, but Niese was the main reason New York finally snapped their losing streak.
After the win over St. Louis, Jonathon Niese appears to have turned a corner on the season. With ace Matt Harvey carrying the pitching staff, the Mets need another starter to provide consistent starts. Niese looks like he could be that guy.