With Miguel Batista possibly set to come off the DL in time to make his next start, pitcher Jeremy Hefner knows his current run with the New York Mets could soon come to an end.
But until he feels that roster squeeze, the 26-year-old Hefner has vowed to "do everything I can to win ballgames." It was a pledge that the right-hander wasn't kidding about on Tuesday, notching not only his first win with six innings of three-run ball but also his first career home run in a 6-3 win over the Phillies at Citi Field.
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Mark that down as a Hugh — excuse me, huge — effort for Hefner. STATS LLC said that Hefner is the first pitcher to hit his first home run during his first career win since San Diego's Dennis Tankersley did it in 2002. He's the first Mets pitcher to achieve the feat.
Hefner's homer came in the fourth inning off Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton, providing a nice wrinkle to the story as the Mets originally drafted him as a hitter out of high school. (He opted not to sign and was ultimately selected by the Padres in 2007. He was claimed from the Pirates organization by the Mets last winter.)
"I almost missed first base watching the ball," Hefner told reporters. "I was just trying to get a hit, trying to extend the inning, and I happened to get lucky and catch it good."
Because Hefner doesn't quite have the name recognition to barter — at least not yet — the Mets traded a Johan Santana autograph to get the home run ball back. That and the game's lineup card will serve as the main mementos from Hefner's great night.
It was a great night for the Mets, too, as the win — coupled with the Nationals loss — moved them to just 1 1/2 games behind first-place Washington. Though New York has suffered its share of injuries, it's getting good performances from fill-in players and they're allowing the team to stay competitive through the season's first two months. Jeremy Hefner is definitely proof of that.
Watch Hefner go yard: