Mets attack early, hold D-backs to three hits in shutout
A group of Mets players gathered around the television in the clubhouse to watch a replay of Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ homer a couple of hours earlier.
Off the crack of the bat, one player shouted: "Get in the pool!"
Nieuwenhuis just missed a splashdown but was on the mark in his season debut.
Called up from the minors after Juan Lagares went on the disabled list, Nieuwenhuis had three hits, three RBIs and made a diving catch in center field to lead New York to a 9-0 rout of the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
"Three years ago, he was a guy people thought was going to be an offensive center fielder people thought could run, play the game the right way and had some power," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But some injuries have kept him down a little bit. Hopefully this is his chance to come up and produce."
Struggling heading into the three-game series, the Mets have gotten hot in the desert.
New York had 13 hits to win the opener and had 12 more to ensure a winning record on its nine-game road trip.
Nieuwenhuis had the big highlight, a two-run homer to the pool deck at Chase Field in the Mets’ six-run fourth inning off Bronson Arroyo (1-1). Eric Young Jr. had three hits and two RBIs, and Andrew Brown drove in two.
New York also got solid pitching, something that’s been rare this season.
Jenrry Mejia (2-0) tossed five effective innings before leaving with a torn blister, combining with Gonzalez Germen and Kyle Farnsworth on a three-hitter for a second straight decisive victory over Arizona.
"It was a good win for us," Nieuwenhuis said. "Hopefully we can keep it going."
The Diamondbacks had another awful night on the mound, losing their seventh straight home game and eighth in nine at Chase Field.
Arroyo allowed 10 runs in less than four innings and Arizona has given up 38 — most of those by the starters — through the first five games of a homestand that ends Wednesday against the Mets.
At 4-14, the Diamondbacks have matched the worst start in team history (1998).
"Last year, it was the bullpen giving it up and this year it’s just the inverse," manager Kirk Gibson said. "That part is very frustrating."
Mejia struggled with walks during his first two starts — nine in 11 innings — but was hitting his spots against the Diamondbacks. He was perfect through three innings and didn’t allow a hit until Paul Goldschmidt sneaked a single inside third base with one out in the fourth.
Mejia escaped a jam in the fifth inning and got some defensive help from Nieuwenhuis, who made a sliding catch in center to rob Mark Trumbo of a hit.
Mejia tore a blister on his right index finger and didn’t come out for the sixth after allowing two hits.
"Until the blister started to act up, he threw the ball very well," Collins said. "About the fifth inning, we knew the finger was getting hot and were hoping to get another 20 pitches out of him, but didn’t get that."
Arroyo got an extra day of rest between starts, but it didn’t seem to do him much good.
New York jumped on him from the start, stringing together three straight singles and scoring three runs in the first inning. Nieuwenhuis capped the outburst with a run-scoring single up the middle.
It got much worse for Arroyo in the fourth.
Nieuwenhuis added his pool-deck homer to right-center and Young followed with a two-run single to left. New York scored another run on a single and error by center fielder A.J. Pollock and went up 9-0 on Brown’s fielder’s choice.
Arroyo allowed 10 runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.
"It was 3-0 after the first inning and that’s exactly what we couldn’t have on this ballclub right now," Arroyo said. "It just kills the morale of a team when you’re losing constantly and giving up runs a lot, then you give up a three-spot early on. It just grew from there."
About the only thing that went right for the Diamondbacks came in the fifth inning when Gibson challenged a close play at first and had it overturned on replay — with the score 9-0. Mejia got two weak groundouts with two on to end the inning.