He doesn't have a win to show for it, but Jonathon Niese pitched his best game of the season Monday night.
Niese limited the Yankees to just one run in seven innings of work, giving the Mets a chance to come from behind and earn a 2-1 victory at Citi Field in the opening game of the 2013 Subway Series.
Niese was the only Mets pitcher to beat the Yankees last season. His career ERA against the Yanks is now 2.05 over four starts.
"He gave up some hits, but he hung in there and got outs when he had to," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "He got us to where we needed to get, he didn’t let the game get out of control, and that allowed us to at least get a chance to tie it."
Niese did surrender eight hits on the night. But he worked out of jams in both the second and seventh innings, with multiple runners in scoring position each time. And the Yankees' lone run, in the sixth, was set up by a bloop triple by Brett Gardner that Lucas Duda dived for but just missed in left field.
Niese's record remained at 3-5, but his ERA dropped to 4.40. And over his past three starts, his ERA is 1.33 (just three earned runs in 20 1/3 innings).
"It’s just getting my arm angle up," Niese said, explaining his recent success. "I think [I'm] staying behind the baseball a lot more. It’s getting a lot better -- each bullpen it’s getting better and better. And obviously with that there’s a lot more confidence."
Once Johan Santana was lost for the season in spring training, the Mets' starting rotation suddenly looked very weak. But Collins thought he could at least count on two guys -- Niese and Matt Harvey -- to deliver solid outings on a regular basis.
But after starting out 2-0, Niese went more than a month without a victory before earning his third win against the Cardinals on May 16.
Niese didn't collect win No. 4 against the Yankees. But the Mets won the ballgame, and they may have that second reliable starting pitcher back in the fold.