The field at Citi Field was a swamp, rain pouring down steadily and puddles bubbling up all over the field and deep mud forming in the infield and on the mound. And with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and two out, Jonathon Niese was desperately trying to get his last out of the night and preserve a 3-0 lead.
But the footing was growing unsteady and his grip on the ball was tenuous. He fell behind three balls and no strikes, and now his arsenal was down to one pitch -- a fastball that he tried to somehow will into the strike zone amid the increasingly difficult conditions. And somehow he fired in a called strike and then another. He threw another strike that Roger Bernadina fouled off and then another foul ball. Finally, with his fifth straight strike, this one a cut fastball, he got Bernadina to ground out, ending the inning, the threat and his night in a 3-0 Mets win.
"I've never pitched in anything like that," Niese said. "That's the wettest I've ever been. Every ball the umpire gave me was soaking wet. Keep trading them out. It was tough to get a grip on the ball."
"I thought he was outstanding," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I couldn't take him out. He's earned the right. That's when he needs to step up. Getting the out, going 3-0 and getting the out, that's a growing area."
Niese threw seven shutout innings Wednesday in a gutsy -- and waterlogged -- performance. And he appreciated getting the chance to finish that inning.
"It meant a lot, especially in the situation with the weather and all the variables. It's pretty exciting to be out there and finish the inning."
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