Niese sharpens stuff but tough luck continues

Niese sharpens stuff but tough luck continues

NEW YORK -- Jon Niese has been one of the unluckiest pitchers in the Major Leagues this season.

That continued Thursday, and helped cost Niese the victory in the Mets' 5-4 win over the Giants at Citi Field.

The Mets have committed 13 errors behind Niese in the lefty's 12 starts. That's the second most any team has committed behind any single pitcher. Only Oakland has made more errors behind Jesse Chavez.

"It is what it is," Niese said. "A lot more balls are put in play against me, more so than against some of the other high-strikeout guys we have. I guess the more opportunities for that ball to be put in play, the more chances there are for errors. I guess it just happens."

When it has happened, Niese has had a hard time stopping it from snowballing. Of the 44 runs allowed by Niese this season, 11 have been unearned, a whopping 25 percent. Two of those came Thursday after Eric Campbell's error extended what should have been a 1-2-3 sixth inning. With the Mets holding a one-run lead, Niese surrendered a two-run homer to the next batter, Brandon Crawford.

"It's tough," Niese said. "You want to pick up your guys when they make errors but it's part of the game. I made a bad pitch. I went away from my game plan. Travis d'Arnaud called a cutter away and I threw a slider. I tried to be cute and he made sure it cost me."

d'Arnaud said of Niese: "He executed every single pitch but one."

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Niese ended up allowing four runs (two earned) in seven innings. But dig deeper and it's clear he's found the movement that eluded him over his previous five starts, all losses. Niese induced 15 groundouts against just one fly out.

"He used the cutter and the two-seam mix to get their hitters' eyes moving," d'Arnaud said. "Those pitches start at the same spot but tail off in different directions."

d'Arnaud played in just his second game back since landing on the disabled list April 19, so he missed all of Niese's recent struggles. He had no reason for nostalgia.

"His stuff was exactly what I remember it being," d'Arnaud said.

Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.