PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jon Niese likened Wednesday's outing to a start against a Major League All-Star team. The results were more akin to a Home Run Derby.
Showcasing one of the World Baseball Classic's most potent lineups, Team Venezuela rapped out 11 runs and 14 hits over the first four innings of the exhibition game at Tradition Field. Backed by Miguel Cabrera's two homers, the Venezuelans finished with a 14-10 victory over the Mets, propelling them into Thursday night's Pool B opener against the Dominican Republic.
"There were some of those guys that I haven't faced before, and some that I had faced," said Niese, who was charged with four earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. "It's a really good lineup all the way down, and they made me work hard today, and they made me throw a lot of pitches. I thought I executed some good ones, and I didn't execute a few of them, and they made me pay for them."
Most of the heavy damage occurred after Niese left the game. Entering in the third with a chance to limit Venezuela's early offensive output, Mets reliever Carlos Torres served up a two-out, two-run double to Omar Infante.
Torres returned for the fourth inning and allowed the first seven Venezuela batters he faced to reach base. Cabrera's two-run homer and Gerardo Parra's three-run shot highlighted the scoring off Torres, who gave up seven earned runs on eight hits over 1 2/3 innings.
Batting third in a lineup that also includes All-Stars Asdrubal Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Gonzalez, Cabrera added a solo shot off Elvin Ramirez in the fifth.
The Mets fought back with six runs of their own in the bottom of that inning, half of them coming on a hitless sequence that included a Zach Lutz walk, a Ruben Tejada hit by pitch and a Mike Baxter double play -- all with the bases loaded. Collin Cowgill added an RBI double later in the inning and Marlon Byrd smashed a three-run homer off Romulo Sanchez, but it was not enough for the Mets to complete their comeback.
Up next: Pool play begins for the Venezuelans with a showdown of Caribbean powers at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Luis Sojo's squad will take on the Dominican Republic in a 6:30 p.m. ET game that will feature not just the two favorites in Pool B, but two of the best teams in the entire tournament. Two clubs in total will advance from Pool B, which also includes Spain and Puerto Rico.