That's why he was throwing him a curveball in the first place. Unfortunately for Niese, he left it hanging over the plate, and the Cubs starter launched a grand slam to right field in the top of the fourth inning on Monday.
It was the second grand slam allowed to an opposing pitcher by the Mets this season, making them the first team to do so since the 1977 Cubs. On June 24, the Mariners' Felix Hernandez launched a four-run shot off Oliver Perez. It was also the third in two years. On July 7, 2006, while with the Marlins, Dontrelle Willis hit a grand slam against the Mets at Shea.
Niese had succeeded in inducing a groundout from Marquis in their first meeting, in the second inning. So again, he handed his opponent a first-pitch breaking ball.
"I knew he was a good hitting pitcher. That's the reason I threw breaking balls to him," Niese said. "Obviously, I threw that first breaking ball, and he rolled it over. So I figured I'd throw another breaking ball. Obviously, I didn't want to hang it. I hung it, he put a good swing on it."
"They made some adjustments, and he struggled," Jerry Manuel said of Niese, to whom the manager would not commit for his next scheduled start, on Saturday. "Obviously, that was the blow we couldn't overcome."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less