St. Lucie 8, Dunedin 5
With his right forearm recovered after a bout of tendinitis that sidelined him during spring training, Jenrry Mejia can now focus on recapturing his effectiveness on the mound. Mejia, currently on the Mets’ 60-day disabled list, took another positive step Thursday night during his second rehab start with Class A St. Lucie, and provided the parent club with additional signs that he is ready to join the rotation at Triple-A Las Vegas when he is eligible to be activated at the end of the month.
The right-hander overcame a sluggish start and limited host Dunedin to two runs and five hits over five sharp innings while taking a no-decision, while the Mets rallied for an 8-5 victory in the final contest of their four-game series against the Blue Jays. It also concluded a grueling nine-game road trip for St. Lucie, which posted a 3-6 mark and saw its record away from home dip below .500 for the first time this season.
After walking three batters in his first rehab outing last Friday, Mejia greatly improved his command, especially after the second inning, as he issued just one walk and struck out eight of the 20 batters he faced. He fired 72 pitches after being restricted to 61 pitches (41 strikes) over just three innings in a no-decision against Bradenton. Mejia kept his blazing fastball in the mid-90s throughout the night and mixed in a biting changeup, reaching a three-ball count on only two batters but also uncorking a wild pitch. Six of Mejia’s eight strikeouts were swinging. His fastball topped off at 96 mph during the first inning when he also tallied two strikeouts
After permitting a run in each of the first two innings, the 23-year-old settled into a groove and flashed the dominant form that made him an enticing prospect during his previous stint with St. Lucie in 2009 when he was ascending through the organizational ranks. Mejia retired the final 10 batters he faced and notched two strikeouts in each of his last three innings. He did not throw more than 12 pitches in either frame (34 total) after hurling 27 pitches in the first inning alone when he had trouble pinpointing his off-speed pitches.
The Mets spotted Mejia three runs in the first inning on a home run by Aderlin Rodriguez — his ninth of the season — off veteran pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who is toiling in Class A at 28 years old. The offense was stagnant over the next six innings before Rodriguez hit a run-scoring single in the eighth inning to tie the game at 4 and spark the come-from-behind victory. The slugging corner infielder now has 36 RBI on the season, pulling him into a tie with teammate Dustin Lawley for fourth-most in the Florida State League and just one behind Twins top prospect Miguel Sano (Fort Myers).
Mejia departed the game with a 3-2 lead, but reliever Randy Fontanez surrendered a run in the sixth inning and another in the seventh, leaving Mejia with his second no-decision in two outings before he likely moves to another level in his rehab assignment. St. Lucie then plated five runs on six hits in the eighth inning as it batted around off two Dunedin pitchers. Every hitter in the lineup had at least one hit in the game except for center fielder Gilbert Gomez, who did reach base on a walk. The Mets had just five hits total during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss.
St. Lucie opens a six-game homestand Friday against Bradenton, which sits fifth in the FSL South Division. The Mets are 5-4 versus the Marauders this season, and will face Jupiter in the following series. Domingo Tapia is scheduled to be activated from the 7-day disabled list to start Friday’s game, according to the team’s radio broadcast.
Robbie Shields: 2-for-5, 1 2B, 1 R
Aderlin Rodriguez: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Travis Taijeron: 2-for-3, 1 RBI
Cam Maron: 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI
Jenrry Mejia: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 8 K
Randy Fontanez: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 2 ER, 3 K
Ryan Fraser: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB
T.J. Chism: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 ER