- Last Updated: 5:30 AM, June 17, 2012
- Posted: 1:23 AM, June 17, 2012
Jon Niese surrendered just two homers to left-handed hitters all of last season. Going into last night, the Mets left-hander hadn’t allowed any this season.
If you swing left-handed and looking to go yard, root for one of the Mets’ other starters to be on the hill.
Last night, though, Niese had his homer-less stretch to lefties shattered in the first inning when Reds slugger Jay Bruce crushed a curveball into the upper deck in right field for a three-run homer, putting the Mets in an early hole en route to a 4-1 loss at Citi Field.
“One pitch, one mistake can cost you the game,” Niese said, “and it did.”
Niese didn’t pitch poorly last night, logging seven innings of four-run, six-hit ball and striking out seven. As manager Terry Collins said: “He made one bad pitch.”
But the Bruce home run was a killer.
The first inning started with leadoff singles from Zack Cozart and Wilson Valdez, though the latter was an infield hit that could have been an out. Niese was in early trouble, with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Bruce due up — a trio Collins would later rave about.
But Niese caught Votto looking at a fastball, then got Phillips to fly out. He proceeded to get ahead of Bruce 0-2, poised for a momentum-changing, inning-ending escape.
“That’s what I thought, obviously,” Niese said. “But then you make a mistake and all of a sudden it’s 3-0.”
Niese had gone 38 at-bats to lefties this year without being taken out of the yard. Coincidentally, when he last gave up a lefty longball on July 26 last season, it was Votto who did it.
The 25-year-old Niese is emerging into a top starter for the Mets, but lefties haven’t been able to furnish much power against him. In 181 at-bats against lefties since last season, Niese had surrendered just two home runs — none since July 26, 2011.
Last night, Niese lamented his pitch selection and location.
At first he said of the curve to Bruce: “I don’t regret throwing the pitch. I regret hanging it on the inside part of the plate.”
But he later admitted the right pitch was more likely an inside fastball. Or, as catcher Josh Thole said: “We should have bounced a curveball.”
Either way, Bruce’s homer marked the first earned runs Niese allowed in 13 innings over his last two starts.
The Mets offense supplied nothing last night. They managed only one run on six hits, going 2-for-12 with men in scoring position and stranding eight runners.
After pounding out 29 runs in their three-game sweep of the Rays, the Mets have managed a total of just four runs in two nights against Cincinnati.
“We’re sitting in our position [in the standings] because we hit with two outs,” Collins said. “And today we didn’t.”
Thus, the Mets have dropped the first two games of this series and could be swept this afternoon if they don’t beat Reds ace Johnny Cueto (2.46 ERA). It would mark the third straight Mets series that’s been a sweep — a losing one to the Yankees, a winning one over the Rays and now this. At this rate, they should take three over the Orioles starting tomorrow.Follow @NYPostsports