Hefner Shines But Bucs Prevail In Extra-Inning Heartbreaker
Pedro Alvarez Homers In Pirates 3-2 Win
In front of a full house tonight at beautiful PNC Park, we were treated to a good, old fashioned (and quite frankly unexpected) pitcher’s duel between Jeremy Hefner and Charlie Morton, as the Mets battled the Pirates to open up their last set before the All-Star break.
The Bucs got off to a quick start in the bottom of the first when Pedro Alvarez (oh, the irony) hit the first pitch he saw to dead center for his 24th dinger of the year. Alvarez brought in Jose Tabata as well to make the score 2-0.
Both pitchers traded zeroes for the next four innings until the Mets finally got to Morton in the top of the sixth. With one out, Eric Young Jr. slapped a double down the left field line, barely edging out a strong throw from Starling Marte.
Unfortunately it was Ike Davis‘ spot in the order again, and to literally nobody’s surprise he struck out on- what else- an off-speed pitch in the dirt to end the inning. Davis is now 2 for his last 16 with zero home runs and five strikeouts. He seems to have picked up right where he left off prior to his demotion to Vegas.
Hefner had retired 14 straight when, in the bottom of the sixth, Marte drove a double down the left field line. Hefner worked out of that jam though, making a slick play on a comebacker to nab Marte in between second and third, and then inducing Andrew McCutchen to ground out to short to end the frame.
The Mets struck again in the top of the seventh when Kirk Nieuwenhuis smacked a fastball over the right field fence to even the score at 2-2, though that was all they could scratch across in what turned out to be Morton’s last inning. Morton’s final line was impressive: 7IP, 6 hits, 2ER, 4K, 1BB.
Hefner was pulled after seven as well. I’m not sure I agreed with pulling him, but nonetheless, his line was an impressive one: 7IP, 3 hits, 2ER, 3K, 0 BB. He allowed only one runner on base after Alvarez’ first inning moonshot.
Hefner has been absolutely dominant as of late; he hasn’t allowed more than 2 earned runs in a start since May 29th. His WHIP since then has been a ridiculous .98.
After both bullpens traded goose eggs in the eighth and Jason Grilli tossed a perfect top of the ninth for Pittsburgh, the Met bullpen came through maybe the biggest they have all year. Starling Marte led off with a double, and after Tabata bunted him over, the Mets faced the heart of the Pirates order, one of the most feared in baseball.
After an intentional walk to McCutchen by David Aardsma, Scott Rice entered and came up with a HUGE strikeout of Alvarez to secure the second out. And after Greg Burke walked Russell Martin to load the bases and give us all a minor cardiac episode, Josh Edgin entered and got Gaby Sánchez to ground out to end the threat.
For the 12th time this year, off we went to extra innings.
After a relatively quiet 10th on both sides, a win just wasn’t in the cards for the Amazin’s. They went 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th, and in the bottom, Gonzalez Germen issued a leadoff walk to McCutchen. As happens 40% of the time, the leadoff walk ended up scoring, this time coming from a single up the middle by Jordy Mercer.
Overall, not really a loss to be ashamed of. The Pirates are tied for the third most wins in the MLB, and to bring them to eleven innings is something this team wouldn’t have dreamed of even a month ago.
The Mets will try to bounce back tomorrow night, first pitch at 7:15.
About the Author: Robert Costello
I'm a journalism/communication major at George Washington University with dreams of becoming a sports writer one day. Born in Forest Hills and lucky enough to have a diehard fan for a father, naturally I've been watching and rooting for the Mets my entire life. My favorite player of all-time is Mike Piazza, but Matt Harvey is quickly catching up. I also write baseball blogs for Fanonomics.com. Follow me @RobCostello_MMO.
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