In his first start after signing a five-year contract, Jon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Braves.
Niese lost the no-hitter on a Freddie Freeman single after Dan Uggla walked to start the seventh. Matt Diaz followed with a fly to right that Lucas Duda lost in the sun for an error. Jason Heyward then rocketed a two-run double to right-center to knock Niese from the game
The Mets were up 7-0 at the beginning of the seventh, so they couldn’t have been too disappointed by the series of events. Niese gave up his first hit on his 98th pitch, and the Mets weren’t going to want him throwing 120-130 pitches in going for a no-no in his first start of the year.
Niese’s big outing today followed a spring in which he amassed a 5.73 ERA and allowed 28 hits in 22 innings. The league hit .284 against him last year (compared to .251 for MLB as a whole), giving him a mediocre 4.40 ERA despite rather strong peripherals.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.