Brewers’ Nelson returns to top form versus Mets
MILWAUKEE — The cure for what ailed Jimmy Nelson was the struggling offense of the New York Mets.
Nelson snapped out of a two-start slump by limiting the slumping Mets to just one run on two hits over eight innings to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-1 victory Wednesday at Miller Park.
"He was just good all night . . ." Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That’s what gets you so excited about him. He’s been a little uneven this year, but he’s still a young pitcher and it was a great night for him to build on and to know what’s in there."
Nelson entered Wednesday’s start against the Mets having allowed 10 runs on 21 hits in his previous two outings. The right-hander carried a 6.06 ERA in six starts since giving up just one run in eight innings against Detroit on May 19.
With the help of a double play to erase a leadoff single in the third, Nelson faced the minimum through three innings Wednesday before Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson led off the fourth with a solo home run.
Nelson then retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. A two-out walk to Granderson in the sixth was the only blemish on his line over his four innings of work.
"I was able to execute my pitches better today than I have in my last couple of starts," Nelson said. "(Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy) called a good game (Wednesday). The defense was great. They made some pretty good plays that picked me up pretty big."
Like the Brewers, the Mets have struggled offensively all season. New York has now scored just nine runs over its current seven-game losing streak.
The Mets trotted out a lineup that had Wilmer Flores hitting cleanup and Darrell Ceciliani behind him in the fifth spot. While New York didn’t pose much of an offensive threat, Nelson made sure the Mets’ offense continued to struggle by pounding the strike zone.
"I think that’s a credit to Jimmy," Counsell said. "You face different lineups, sometimes you feel like your stuff matches up against a lineup. To me, it’s more Jimmy has this in him. It’s similar to the game against Detroit. It’s not the lineup, it’s Jimmy. I think he can control that and he showed it (Wednesday)."
Nelson did admit to making a slight mechanical adjustment following his June 18 outing against Kansas City in which he allowed three runs on 11 hits in five innings.
"It’s hard to explain," Nelson said. "I just kind of stayed in my delivery a little bit better and kept my line to the plate. When I walked Granderson, I was coming out of it a little bit early. I was able to make the adjustment as opposed to letting that inning go as it has in the past. Just being able to make quick adjustments during the game as it’s going on . . . you’re never going to throw every pitch with a perfect delivery."
The next step for Nelson is stringing successful outings together, something he has not been able to do in his young career. Nelson will look to record consecutive quality starts for the first time this season when he pitches in Philadelphia on Monday.
"It’s building on it," Counsell said. "It’s consistency. It’s knowing what’s in there. The big-league game, for young players, is about adjustments. They’re going to fail, and you have to adjust. Jimmy came out from a night against Kansas City where he didn’t pitch well and he came in, made an adjustment and probably had his best game of the year."
After allowing one run in eight innings against Cincinnati on April 22, Nelson was hit for seven runs on six hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings by the Reds in his next start.
Nelson followed up his dominant outing against the Tigers by walking five in 5 2/3 innings in Atlanta on May 24. The 26-year-old held the Pirates scoreless over six innings on June 8, but surrendered seven runs on 10 hits in five innings his next time out.
"It’s just a consistency thing," Nelson said. "I know I have the ability to go out there and perform like that, or close to that, every time I go out there. It’s not so much the ups and downs, the really highs and really lows, it’s just trying to stay on a level plane."
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