Mejia struggles with control in first start since '10

Mejia struggles with control in first start since '10

Mejia struggles with control in first start since '10
MILWAUKEE -- It's difficult to pitch effectively when you continue to fall behind hitters. And it's even harder to win games that way.

Jenrry Mejia found that out on Saturday, as he made his first Major League start in two years and the Mets lost, 9-6, at Miller Park.

Expecting Mejia to toss about 85 pitches against the Brewers, the Mets hoped the 22-year-old right-hander could give six good innings. Mejia did not reach either number.

"I felt pretty good, but today was not my day," Mejia said. "Tomorrow is another day."

Mets manager Terry Collins admitted before the game that Mejia may not reach 85 pitches if the Brewers started hitting him hard, and that's exactly what happened in the fourth. Walks and first-pitch balls finally caught up to Mejia in the frame, as the Brewers put up a five-run inning on just three hits.

After Mejia issued a leadoff walk to Nyjer Morgan, he gave up a single and pinch-hit triple to Brewers rookies Jean Segura and Logan Schafer. After he walked the next batter, Mejia's night was done.

"His command was off," Collins said. "It's tough to pitch up here behind in the count."

With a runner on, Rickie Weeks then crushed a 1-2 pitch from reliever Jeremy Hefner into the left-field bullpen, capping the big inning.

Mejia finished with five runs allowed on six hits and five walks over three-plus innings. Considering he allowed three baserunners in each of the first two innings and came away with the game still tied after three frames, Mejia was fortunate to go as deep in the game with as little damage as he did.

"He was behind hitters. I was happy with the way he made an adjustment and was able to throw his curveball for strikes," catcher Kelly Shoppach said. "That bailed him out a few times. His fastball command just wasn't there tonight."

Mejia fell behind 14 of the 19 batters he faced. Of those five batters he did not start with a ball, three put the first pitch in play, and another was fouled off. The third inning was the only one of the four in which Mejia did not walk at least one batter.

All told, Mejia threw just 32 strikes out of 68 pitches.

"That happens sometimes," Mejia said of his lack of command. "I felt pretty good in the bullpen, but when I got out there, I tried to throw strikes and I threw balls."

Before the Brewers' big fourth inning, the Mets had a three-run frame of their own in the top half, and looked to be headed for a second straight win.

Lucas Duda got the Mets on the board early, driving in a run in the first with a single. That hit scored Daniel Murphy, who contributed an RBI double in the fourth. Ruben Tejada and Mejia also had RBIs in the inning. Ike Davis added a two-run homer in the ninth, his team-leading 27th of the season.

For the second straight night, the Mets' offense provided plenty of run support. But the pitching just couldn't keep the Brewers off the basepaths.

After Mejia exited in the fourth, the Mets called on seven relievers to record the final 15 outs. Only three -- Hefner, Manny Acosta and Jeurys Familia -- tossed a full inning. Two others, Collin McHugh and Robert Carson, recorded two outs. And two, Elvin Ramirez and Justin Hampson, pitched just one-third of an inning each.

Between the two teams, the Mets and Brewers used 12 relievers. Only two -- Jose Veras and Familia -- of the 14 total pitchers did not allow a runner to reach base. And every time the Brewers got a runner on, their red-hot offense seemed like a threat to put up a big number.

"What momentum can do is unbelievable," said Schafer, who had one of two pinch-hit triples in the game for Milwaukee. "It's really evident with this team. It's something that's fun to be a part of and keep it rolling."

Jordan Schelling is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.