Capuano Hurls two-hitter as Mets wait for Irene to pass

Some of the New York Mets coaching staff and players who live in low lying areas of the New York metropolitan area planned to stay at Citi Field the next few days as Hurricane Irene approaches New York City. Hours before the Mets started a scheduled three-game series with the Atlanta Braves, the club announced that afternoon games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoon had been postponed because of the approaching category 1 hurricane. The two games will be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on September 8.

“I am going to head inland a little bit and head to high ground,” said Chris Capuano moments after he pitched a career best game, shutting out the Atlanta Braves 6-0 in the one game suspended series. New York hopefully will resume play Monday afternoon at Citi Field against the Florida Marlins, a twin-bill from a previous rain out, a four-game series in three days.

As the Mets made plans heading to higher grounds, there was a buzz in the clubhouse. Capuano (10-11) struck out a career high 13 Braves, retired 22 of the first 23 Braves. He threw 122 pitches and did not allow a walk, a two-hit shutout and best pitching effort from a Mets pitcher this season.  It was the Mets first win on a home stand this season, after going 0-10, a big league record.

“A fun game to watch, he certainly deserved it,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. The manager was watching the pitch count. Had Capuano got a man on in the ninth he was ready to remove him. The 33-year old, and All-Star with Milwaukee in 2006 has recovered from two previous Tommy John surgeries, and Collins did not want to do anything to ruin the evening. Capuano did not allow a runner get on base until Dan Uggla got a broken bat single leading off the fifth inning.

He was asked about the pitch count. “I purposely kept not looking,” said Capuano who had great command of his off-speed pitches all night. “It was exhilarating to get that last out,” he said about the last pitch, ending the game that saw Michael Bourn strike out a fourth time. “I wasn’t conscious of the no-hitter,” he said before Uggla got the hit.

New York, as has often been the situation this season with two-outs, scored two runs in the fifth inning on a single from Nick Evans and on two-run doubles by Justin Turner and one from Lucas Duda in the eighth, one of his three hits. “He’s earned it,” commented Collins about Duda and his role in the lineup batting cleanup in right. “The confidence is there. He’s grown into a player we all thought he would be.”

But the talk was about Capuano who faced one batter over the minimum. “He’s been a good pitcher for us,” stated Collins. However, Capuano has been a hard luck pitcher having quality starts in seven of his last 14 outings, is third best in strikeouts per nine innings, and had another no-decision in a Mets 11-0 loss against Milwaukee On August 20th.

“The first two innings he made a statement and he had good rhythm tonight,” said catcher Josh Thole who was packed and ready to ride out the impending storm upstate in upstate Binghamton with his wife. Starter Dillon Gee was also planning to take the ride with him.

Ruben Tejada had three hits, and scored on the Evans single in the fifth that broke a scoreless tie, followed by a Thole RBI single. Tejada was going to wait out Irene at a nearby Holiday Inn by the ballpark with family in town from his country of Panama. The starting shortstop has become a consistent hitter since getting the start when Jose Reyes went down again with an injured hamstring on August 8th.

“Better safe than sorry,” said Capuano regarding the next two games being cancelled because of the storm, “you can’t take any chances.”  The Mets can only hope the high pitch count did not hurt their starter as Collins took a chance.

NOTES: Braves starter Tim Hudson (13-8) lost to the Mets for the third time this season and allowed 11 hits, the most since 2008… Jason Bay sat out the game with a jammed right shoulder and is expected back in the lineup Monday…Reyes is also expected back in the lineup Monday after going 1-for-3 in another rehab start up in Binghamton and Collins said he would rest Reyes often to keep the hamstring healthy for next season…

Before the game New York selected the contract of Right hander Miguel Batista from Buffalo (AAA) and placed outfielder Scott Hairston on the 15-day disabled list. Batista, the 40-year old veteran started the season with St. Louis and is widely remembered as being a major part of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks World Series championship team that defeated the New York Yankees.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Afternoon Games, Atlanta Braves, Category 1 Hurricane, Fifth Inning, Florida Marlins, Fun Game, Game Series, Higher Grounds, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Shutout, Tommy John, Top Story, Two Games