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Making his first start for the Mets in seven weeks, Mike Pelfrey kept the Mets in the game by allowing three runs, two earned, in five innings. Despite struggling with his control at times, Pelfrey revealed signs of a more polished pitcher and one who improved during his time with Class AAA New Orleans. One of the main reasons Pelfrey went 0-5 with a 6.53 earned run average after making the Mets’ roster out of spring training was because he was veering away from his strengths.
The Mets drafted him because they were enthralled with how hard he threw. But Pelfrey, pressed into starting Sunday when Oliver Pérez was scratched because of a stiff lower back, said he spent too much time focusing on where to throw the ball instead of on what had made him successful, which was rearing back and firing. His velocity, in the low 90s during his month with the Mets, has increased by a few miles an hour, and he created a buzz in the stands when he struck out Ryan Howard with a 97-m.p.h. fastball in the second inning.
“The first time up, I was too much of a finesse pitcher,” said Pelfrey, who added that he still threw a lot of changeups and sliders. “I’m supposed to be a power pitcher. So I just let everything go. I got back to throwing hard.”
Randolph said he was impressed by Pelfrey’s composure during the third inning, when he left the bases loaded, and granted him another start, Friday in Houston.
But Randolph said he was not pleased by the high pitch count. Pelfrey threw 103 pitches in five innings, and he allowed the Phillies to tie the score at 1-1 in the second because he could not throw a strike to Pat Burrell, who began the afternoon batting .203. After walking Burrell on four pitches, Greg Dobbs ripped a double into right-center field.
Only one of the Phillies’ next two runs were Pelfrey’s fault. Leading off the third, Kendrick hit a swinging bunt up the third-base line, but David Wright threw the ball away and Kendrink went to second.
“I could have had him,” Wright said. “It was just a bad throw.”
Having seen enough of Maine, Randolph told Peterson to bring in Pelfrey. Randolph did not make any mid-inning pitching changes Thursday night, and he did not come out last night because his right arm is in a sling after his recent shoulder surgery.
“I didn’t want to hobble out there,” Randolph said. “I’m embarrassed enough being in the dugout.”
Not that there would have been any confusion if Randolph did come out to motion with his left arm: Pelfrey, a right-hander, was the only one warming up.
Pelfrey was listed as the Mets’ starter for Monday’s game in San Diego, but Jorge Sosa, out for two weeks with a strained left hamstring, will be activated from the disabled list to make that start instead.
Pelfrey was most likely called in to get some work before he is sent to Class AAA New Orleans, possibly to make room for Sosa. Pelfrey got out of the jam he inherited in the fifth, but given an empty slate to work with in the sixth, he allowed two hits and a run and also plunked a batter. He did not stick around for reporters either.
For Pelfrey, who is 0-7, that sixth inning must have felt like standard fare on a night when not much was.