Terry Collins Post Game Press Conference

Terry Collins speaks to the media after the Mets 5-3 win on Tuesday over the Atlanta Braves. Zach Wheeler pitched 6 2/3 strong innings for the win, while Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis homered. Travis d’Arnaud had his first Major League hit.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Audio Mp3, First Major League, Game Press, Mets, New York Mets, Sounds of the Game, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on August 21, 2013

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Not everything was great out of the pen for Francisco in a close call as Mets beat Braves

Jonathon Niese was cruising along at Citi Field Sunday night. The New York Mets starter pitched eight effective innings, allowed one run and struck out six Atlanta Braves. And then the call to the bullpen and everything went wrong, but, according to closer Frank Francisco, everything went right.

Francisco, who has had his problems closing games, making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list Friday, was ineffective. He walked two with the bases loaded in the ninth, and gave up a two-run double to Martin Prado.

He squandered a 6-1 lead, could not find the strike zone and gave the ball to Jon Rauch with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. Afterwards, as the Mets dressed and left town with a 6-5 win, losing two of three to Atlanta, Francisco could not be serious.

“They wore me out a little bit, and I’m a little bit out of shape,” said Francisco. That was the serious part. After that, you wonder how much Francisco is serious about being an effective closer.

A major part of the Mets second half collapse has been their inability to drive in runs with two outs, and ineffective starting pitching. Sunday night, Niese (9-6) bounced back from a bad outing against the Marlins on Tuesday.

As the Mets did so effectively in the first half, Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis drove in a run apiece with two outs. Thursday, in their only win against the Marlins, R.A. Dickey got the complete game win, his 15th, and New York drove in five of their six runs with two out hits.

Jordany Valdespin continued to make an impression with manager Terry Collins. Inserted in left field, Valdespin hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, his eighth off losing pitcher Ben Sheets (4-2) that built a 5-1  lead. Collins intends to give him more playing time.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be given the chance and show why I can play here,” said Valdespin about a role in the outfield and also being used in the infield.

However, a constant for the Mets woes is having the most ineffective pen in the game. Before Francisco got the ball, rookie Josh Edgin got the call. He walked two and hit a batter. Francisco could not get the third out and Rauch put out the fire when Jason Heyward swung and missed a slider in the dirt.

But, according to Francisco, the Mets got a win and everything is alright.

The closer, after his comments Sunday night may be the laughing stock of New York baseball. He could not provide the proper answer as to his inability to throw strikes, and make it easy for his manager Terry Collins and those left in the crowd of 24, 891.

“We got a win, that’s the important thing, “commented Francisco about his shaky outing. And then, he ridiculed media by his locker when he said, “It was easy. I’m a bit out of shape. I just got tired. I feel great. You know why, I feel good. That’s it, no more questions?”

Of course, no more questions because Francisco can’t give the answers. Niese watched from the dugout hoping it was not another collapse.

“That was tough,” he said. “I can’t sugarcoat that by any means. But they got the job done,” commenting about the pen, “and that’s all that matters.”

And Collins, looking forward to a day off in Cincinnati Monday, before New York begins a three-game series with the NL Central leading Reds, needed the win. Then it is three more at NL east leading Washington.

It was the Mets ninth win in their last 30 games that has put them out of contention.

“We needed this, we have not played well,” said Collins. “I am not making any excuses. We have not played well on any side of the ball. So this win helped. I don’t care how It came about. I’m glad to get it.”

And for Francisco, apparently he does not care how the win came. The Mets won, however, their closer, ineffective as he was, said he feels good. Though Mets fans, and Collins can’t continue to have that good feeling about his inability to close games.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com and at facebook.com/Keep It in the Ring.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bullpen, Collapse, Complete Game, Jonathon Niese, Marlins, New York Mets, Outfield, Playing Time, Second Half, Sixth Inning, Strike Zone, Tejada, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 13, 2012

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Mets Sweep Gives Team Hope

New York – A prevailing mood in the New York Mets clubhouse is that they can win and have an impact in the National League East. And after completing a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Citi Field over the division rival Atlanta Braves, 7-5, there is every reason to put things in another perspective.

Winning ballgames, and more than the experts predicted has put a different perspective on what is expected to be another dismal season in Flushing. This was the first time in a 50 –year history of the club when a Mets team started the season with a three- game sweep over a division rival.

At 3-0, and with the cross- town Yankees off to a 0-3 start, this is something the organization is hoping will regenerate some interest. More so, if the wins can continue in the next three games at home with the Washington Nationals, getting a good start out of the gate is what will convince fans that this may not be dismal as was expected.

“This means everything,” said Manager Terry Collins when asked about the three games against Atlanta that saw his team pitch effectively, use the long ball, and also get the timely hit. “We’ve done a lot of talk in spring training about getting ready to compete. I told those guys in the first meeting ‘you’re professional baseball players and there are expectations in this town and in this clubhouse.’”

Numerous times last season, his first, Collins reiterated about expectation but the message did not carry into wins. A second half finish saw New York finish fourth in the division with 77 wins, and then losing Jose Reyes to free agency, now with the Miami Marlins, made the outlook look more dismal for 2012.

However, Reyes, for the moment has quickly not been a topic at Citi Field. His replacement, 22-year old shortstop Ruben Tejada, had a career day Sunday with a career high four hits with two doubles, driving in two runs.

“We have to keep working hard every day,” commented Tejada. “We play hard and together as a team,” he said.

And that was a prevailing attitude of this Mets team after the season opening series sweep Sunday afternoon. They believe in themselves as a team and despite what the prognosticators say, they have no intention of making this a dismal season.

And if the Mets get good starting pitching, as they did Sunday from Jonathon Niese, Saturday from R.A. Dickey, and in the opener Thursday, five strong innings from Johan Santana, well this could become a special season. But will the pitching stay consistent? Can Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee, who start the first two games with the Nationals Monday and Tuesday, be just as good?

“You can’t ask for better than that,” said Collins about the starts that have put the Mets at 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they won their first four. “We saw that in spring training even though our starters did not go deep. We like our rotation,” he said also referring to Gee and Pelfrey.

Niese, in particular, who signed a long term contract Saturday, struggled often last year.  At times there were doubts he could be a quality starting pitcher. The return of Santana has inspired the pitching staff, and according to guys in the clubhouse the entire roster.

“They want to compete and do what he does,” said Collins. “He creates a great atmosphere. It spreads.

Niese flirted with a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Freddie Freeman singled to right field with no outs.  He would allow four runs, two earned, seven strikeouts and two walks. He lasted two more batters after the hit by Freeman. Atlanta scored four runs in the seventh. Lucas Duda lost a ball in the sun, and Jason Howard had a two-run double.

“It would have been hard to take me out,” said Niese who had a 93 mile fastball and control that was rare last season. The Mets after 7,911 games still remain one of four teams in baseball that have never had a no-hitter pitched. “We have a staff that likes to compete with each other and that is a good thing,” said Niese.

And this start has also been attributed to a revamped bullpen. Frank Francisco closed his third consecutive game becoming the first player in franchise history to save his first three games. Prior to a Brian McCann home run in the eighth inning it was the first Mets run surrendered by the pen. In three games the pen has allowed  one earned run in 10.0 innings.

“We have to pitch,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a long way to go.  All we want to do is stay competitive.”

They have come out of the gate with this good start. That is what every Mets fan needed to see, and this team believes it will continue. David Wright is hitting with authority and showing signs of his old self. Daniel Murphy picked up a couple of hits and two RBI, including a two-run double in the three-run Mets sixth.

Now they need Ike Davis to get it going as well as Jason Bay, two silent bats in the first three games. But they feel like everyone else in the Mets clubhouse. It will come.

“I’m just a little off right now, I’m not worried,” said Davis. His feeling is the hits will come and go five for his next ten, and there will be no reason for concern. “It’s only three games,” he says about going hitless in his first eleven times at the plate.

Last season that would have been a concern. But for now, with the three- game sweep coming out of the gate, there is not one player in that Mets clubhouse who will think otherwise. Winning and a different perspective of what they are capable of doing is here to stay,

Jose Thole the rookie catcher said in that clubhouse Sunday, “We have a team that can win and we will continue to do it.”  And for the first three games the Mets have certainly proved they can be competitive.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Career Day, Cross Town, Different Perspective, Dismal Season, Division Rival, Game Sweep, Hope New York, Jose Reyes, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Team, National League East, New York Mets, Professional Baseball Players, Rich Mancuso, Shortstop, Spring Training, Team Hope, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2012

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Mets Feel The Pain of the Red Sox Faithful

Move over, 2007 New York Mets. You now have some company.

Four years after the Mets endured what was then the worst September swoon in major league baseball history, the 2011 versions of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves simultaneously completed their own colossal collapses of historic proportions on the final evening of the regular season on Wednesday.

On a night when baseball truly put the “wild” in “wild-card,” the Red Sox and Braves were eliminated from the playoffs after each held what appeared to be earlier insurmountable leads in their respective wild-card playoff chases.

One day before seeing his team lose its hold for good on its playoff aspirations, Boston manager Terry Francona said of the Red Sox’ chase with the Tampa Bay Rays’ down the stretch, “It’s great for baseball, not so good for my stomach.”

If he was already feeling that way on Tuesday, Francona probably wanted to throw up after witnessing the manner in which his team finally coughed up what at one time, seemed to be a certain postseason berth.

The same could probably be assumed for Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, who took over for Bobby Cox this season after Gonzalez’s predecessor managed the Braves (during his second stint with the franchise) for 21 straight seasons while guiding Atlanta to 14 division titles, five World Series appearances, but just a lone World Series title.

Before Boston bowed out, Atlanta first concluded its own demise.

With the St. Louis Cardinals already having beaten up on the Astros, 8-0, in Houston, the Braves needed to win to force a one-game playoff with the team that had amazingly caught them in the wild-card standings.

After a pre-game pep-talk from 39-year-old starting third baseman Chipper Jones (the only remaining member from the Braves’ 1995 world championship team), the Braves and 16-game winner Tim Hudson led the National League eastern division champion Philadelphia Phillies, 3-1, entering the seventh inning at home. But a double, a single, and a one-out fielding error trimmed the Braves’ lead to 3-2.

Atlanta still figured to be in decent shape though, with hard-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel starting the ninth inning, especially since Kimbrel was tied for the NL lead in saves and had set the all-time record for saves by a rookie (he played in only 21 games in 2010) with 46 this season.

But, Kmbrel, who admitted after the game that his mind “was rushing” due to the pressure of the situation, allowed a shallow single and consecutive one-out walks before giving up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Phillies’ star second baseman Chase Utley, The wildness was rare, considering Kimbrel had walked just 30 batters while striking out 127 in 76 previous innings this season.

Meanwhile, the punchless Braves, who scored just seven runs while losing their final five games of the season, were unable to push across another run after the third inning.

On it went, deep into the Atlanta night, four more Brave relievers after Kimbrel left the game, and into the top of the 13th inning, when a weak, two-out single by right fielder Hunter Pence gave the Phillies the lead for good, 4-3.

A short while later, the Braves’ season was done as Cardinal players watching on television in their clubhouse in Houston, popped champagne corks.

As tough as that was for Braves’ fans to take, it was nothing compared to the stomach-churning events that were unfolding for the Red Sox Nation in Baltimore and St. Petersburg.

Boston was in the same predicament in the American League wild-card pursuit as Atlanta was in the NL, having seen the Tampa Bay Rays storm back to tie the Red Sox in the wild-card standings heading into Wednesday.

However, even a loss to the Baltimore Orioles could be endured for one more day if the Rays would also lose to the AL eastern division champion New York Yankees.

For a good while, all seemed perfect for the Red Sox to be in position to salvage their season and keep it from slipping away.

The Rays trailed the Yankees 7-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, at home, and the Red Sox had rallied from a 2-1 deficit to lead the Orioles, 3-2 in the fifth inning.

But, miraculously, the Rays countered with a 6-run, eighth-inning uprising to set the stage for even further drama later.

Incredibly, seldom-used pinch-hitter Dan Johnson, a career .235 hitter, batting just .119 this season, smacked only his second home run of the season – his first since April 8th and only his ninth over the past four seasons – with the Rays down to their last strike, to send the game to extra innings, tied 7-7.

While that was going in Florida, similar to the Braves’ situation, the Red Sox had their closer – Jonathan Papelbon, one of baseball’s best closers over the past six years – pitching the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead, something that would have appeared to be safe against the last-place, 93-loss Orioles.

It should also be noted that Boston had never lost in 76 previous tries this season when leading after the eighth inning.

So naturally, on a crazy night, it became time for Papelbon (4-1, 31 saves) to lose his only game of the season.

One strikeout. Then another. Two quick outs, and then two strikes, with no one on base.

No problem. Even if the Rays pull off the improbable, the Red Sox would still beat the Orioles and force a one-game playoff, right?

Well…

Inexplicably, what followed was three straight hits – back-to-back doubles and a single – by a trio of hitters, all average career hitters at best, none of whom hit any higher than .263 this year.

A short time later, the Red Sox’ nightmare was finally over when Rays’ star third baseman Evan Longoria barely put a screaming lined drive over the left field wall and inside the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 12th inning, to send Tampa Bay to the playoffs and mercifully end Boston’s monumental meltdown.

Of course, any team can, and often does, have many single nights like the Red Sox and Braves suffered on Wednesday night. But, the significance of those two losses lies in that they represented each team’s last-gasp chances to right respective ships that had gone horribly and unexpectedly off-course in such a relatively short time.

Not long ago, the Red Sox had the second-best record in MLB. Through August, they were 83-52 and as many believed, destined to meet the Yankees in this year’s ALCS.

But, the Red Sox finished the season 5-16, going 7-20 in September.

How improbable was Boston’s collapse?
Coolstandings.com shows that following Boston’s 12-7 win over Texas on September 3rd, the Red Sox, who led the Rays by nine games in the AL wild-card race, had a season-high 99.6 percent chance of reaching the playoffs: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?id=BOS&sn=2011.
Even as recently as last Sunday, Boston still had an 88.4 percent of making the postseason.

And, as shown by statistician Nate Silver, the Rays overcame the inconceivable combined odds of 278 million-to-one, taking into account their nine-game deficit and then everything that had to go wrong, going wrong the way it did for Boston on the last day of the regular season:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/You-won-8217-t-believe-the-actual-odds-the-Rays?urn=mlb-wp21395&active_dimension=carousel_ept_sports_mlb_experts&ysp_frm_woah=1.

The Braves’ implosion was no easier for them, or their fans to stomach (to use a term that would draw a parallel to how Francona felt about his own team).

Shockingly, Atlanta broke the Mets’ record for choking (staying with Francona’s indigestion theme) only moments before the Red Sox broke the Braves’ record for giving up a September playoff chase lead.

Atlanta led St. Louis by 10½ games on August 26th, and by 8½ games on the morning of September 6th. Coolstandings listed the Braves as having a 98.2 percent chance of making the playoffs at that point: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?id=ATL&sn=2011.

Following a 5-2 win over Washington on September 1st, the Braves were a season-high 26 games over .500 (81-55) before finishing the season 8-18.

Recalling the events of four years ago, Met fans can relate all too well to what fans of the Red Sox and Braves just went through.

It was of course their own team, one year after coming within a hit or two from making the World Series (while losing the 2006 NLCS in heartbreaking fashion, to St. Louis, in seven games), that blew a seven-game lead with 17 games to play, to miss the playoffs – like Boston and Atlanta this year – on the regular season’s final day.

The Mets stumbled to a 5-12 finish that season while the Phillies concluded with a hot 13-4 stretch to edge New York by a game for the NL East title.

Coolstandings shows the Mets had a 99.5 percent chance of being a playoff team prior to beginning their own historic fall in 2007: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?sn=2007&id=NYM.

So, perhaps Mets, Red Sox, and Braves fans can all unite in some sort of collective September Slide therapy group.

On one hand, Met fans can now find solace in the fact that it wasn’t just their team blowing a lead of at least seven games in the season’s final month.

And, in return, fans in Boston and Atlanta can take heart knowing that unless something similar happens to their teams again next year, Met fans still have them beat when it comes to stumbling in September.

In 2008, the Phillies once again caught the Mets for the NL East crown, that time, after trailing New York by 3½ games in September, thus giving New York a distinction which no other team holds (not even Boston or Atlanta… yet) – the worst consecutive September collapses in baseball history.

And, here’s one final nugget for fans of all three teams to discuss at their group remedial sessions…

Ironically waving around the winning run that ended the Red Sox’ season on Wednesday night, was none other than Orioles’ third base coach Willie Randolph, the Mets’ manager in 2007, and for the first 69 games the following year, before he was fired in 2008.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Boston Red Sox, Division Champion, Fredi Gonzalez, Game Playoff, Major League Baseball, Manager Terry Francona, New York Mets, Pep Talk, Philadelphia Phillies, Postseason Berth, Second Stint, St Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Top Story, World Championship Team, World Series Appearances

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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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

Phillies push Mets further back; Reyes expected back on Tuesday

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey knew he threw a bad pitch to Michael Martinez, the 28-year old rookie of the NL east division leading Philadelphia Phillies. He got hold of a Pelfrey fastball in the fifth inning, a three-run shot for his first career home run.

“I made a mistake, it was supposed to be fast and down,” said Pelfrey about the home run to right off a 2-0 pitch. It was enough for the Phillies to take two of three from the Mets with an 8-5 win at Citi Field Sunday afternoon. Pelfrey (5-9) went five innings, gave up four runs and the home run to Martinez was the 16th he gave up this season. When Pelfrey gives up the home run ball, as seems to be a frequent part of his game this season, the right hander has obvious control issues.

“The long ball is what is killing him,” said Mets Manager Terry Collins about his ace starter. Pelfrey has assumed that role more with Johan Santana not slated to return to the rotation anytime soon. Consistency has been an issue for Pelfrey who is 0-2 and with a 9.47 ERA against the Phillies this season. “He’s our guy,” added Collins who saw Pelfrey have two other good outings this month.

Martinez, in for the injured all-star third baseman Placido Polanco, would finish with a career best four RBI game. The Rule-5 pick from the Washington Nationals and native of Santo Domingo DR, said through a translator, “it was worth the wait. I am not a power hitter so I am surprised it left the yard.”

But it was not just Pelfrey that continued to put the Mets further back to the Phillies in the standings, and to the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild card standings. The Mets did make a game of it scoring three runs in the eighth and one run in the ninth, but went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position. They scored one run off Phils starter and winner Kyle Kendrick (5-4) a,nd three runs off a battered Philadelphia pen, including a run scoring triple by Lucas Duda in the ninth off closer Antonio Bastardo who got his sixth save.

It is obvious, with the Phillies not throwing starters Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, a combined 20 wins between the two, that to beat them you need to have good pitching. Pelfrey and Collins know that they have a lineup of potent hitters. “I thought the guys fought hard today,” said Collins. “We just didn’t pitch today. That was the difference. You have to hold these guys down to keep them from scoring because they have a good pitching staff.”

In the three game series, New York went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position. Part of that could be attributed to the absence of Carlos Beltran from the lineup the past two games. Beltran has been sidelined with a severe flu, and Collins said, the weakened Beltran would not be available Monday night when the Mets host the Florida Marlins in a makeup game that was postponed by rain on May 17th.

Philadelphia opened the game with a three-run eighth inning when Jason Bay in left came in on a Ryan Howard liner and the ball hit off the top of his glove for an error. The Citi Field crowd booed Bay again, as he also went 0-for-4 at the plate.

“I missed it,” commented Bay when asked about the play. “It’s one of those things where I missed it. And with Scott Hairston driving in another run with a pinch hit single in the seventh, hitting .375 with two home runs and 10 RBI over his last 10 games, Bay was asked if he was concerned about losing his spot in the lineup.

To that Bay said, “It’s not my job, not my decision to make. Before the break started I had the momentum going.” Bay was on a streak before the all-star break and the Mets lineup seemed to click with Beltran hitting also, even without the injured Jose Reyes out of the lineup.

“When you saw Jason swing the bat last week, thought he was coming out of it,” said Collins. “When we get Carlos (Beltran) back, that should help.” However Beltran left the ballpark after receiving another IV treatment for loss of fluids because of the flu, and Collins said he was almost sure the outfielder will miss another game.

Leaving 11 men on base did not help. And Collins did have another chance to mix and match out of the bullpen, but did not use Bobby Parnell as the closer with the now traded Francisco Rodriguez now in Milwaukee.  One with Florida Monday night, and then three with the St. Louis Cardinals and he can only hope that Beltran returns to the lineup.

NOTES: Chris Capuano (8-8) gets the start against the Marlins who came to New York Sunday night after a Sunday game in Chicago. After the game Florida will go home and play San Diego for three, and the Mets for three more…Duda with two more hits  upped his average to .328 with nine RBI in his last 19 games…Daniel Murphy with a single in the first extended his hitting streak to seven games…

It was the fourth series loss for the Mets against the Phillies this season…Now the good news. Jose Reyes ran before the game and tested the injured hamstring. He is slated to start Monday afternoon for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the Penn league and if all goes well Reyes could come off the DL and start Tuesday night at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Fastball, Fifth Inning, Johan Santana, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Philadelphia Phillies, Power Hitter, Right Hander, Runners, Santo Domingo Dr, Star Third Baseman, Starting Pitcher, Sunday Afternoon, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wild Card

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 18, 2011

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Dickey gives Mets a going away win as Beltran goes down

New York – Consider that the New York Mets took two of three games from the Atlanta Braves with their 6-4 win Sunday evening at Citi Field. It concluded a 5-5 home stand, losing two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies and splitting a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It could have been four more wins if it were not for the seventh and eighth inning failures that cost them ballgames.

“We had some tough times but to come in here and beat the Braves two out of three, leave here on a positive note, win the series, you’ve got to look at it positively,” said Mets manager Terry Coillins. A highlight was overcoming a 7-0 deficit to the Pirates Thursday afternoon and doing something a Mets team had not accomplished since the season of 2000.

The starting pitching has been respectable. Collins could not ask for more from his starters who have posted a 3.04 ERA in their last 11 games. The latest was R.A. Dickey (3-6) making his second start with an injury to his right foot. The knuckleball was effective as Dickey pitched eight solid innings. His four hits allowed included a solo home run to Brian McCann in the seventh inning.

And before the McCann home run, Dickey had not allowed a runner past second. He has thrown at least 5.0 innings in 35 of his last 37 starts since joining the Mets last season. “Physically, it’s just an issue we’re going to have to work through for who knows how long,” he said about the injury.  “But it’s manageable.”

And what has been recently been constant, a failure of the bullpen continued in the late innings. Before Dickey could get the win, Manny Acosta gave up two runs in the ninth and closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up the second career pinch hit home run to Diory Hernandez, a three-run shot to left centerfield.

Jose Reyes continued to be the hottest hitter in baseball as constant chants of “Don’t trade Reyes” could be heard during the course of the game from the Sunday night crowd of 21.015.He had an RBI double to left center in the fourth Inning that put New York up 5-0 and scored twice, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, a league leading 28th multi-hit game and batting .465 during the streak.

Before that, New York put two runs on the board in the first and another two in the second. They have plated 36 first inning runs, tied for fourth in baseball. That alone should have been enough to build on this past week, but the late inning mistakes from the bullpen and on the field cost them, leading to a tirade and team meeting called by Collins after a loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday evening.

Reyes’ ninth consecutive run scored equaled the longest streak of his career, the second longest streak in baseball this season. In the last season of a contract and subject of trade rumors, for the moment the Mets are content that he is still with them and possibly playing the best ball of his career.

“I’ve never been that consistent and that’s a big part,” said Reyes about his success. “So hopefully I can continue to feel that way all season long. I am going to continue to do my job and help this team,” he said

But with David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, and no closer to returning, and as the Mets embarked on a 10-game road trip to Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, there was concern for outfielder Carlos Beltran. He left the game in the second inning after sustaining a bruise to his lower leg.

The foul ball was hit off Braves starter Tim Hudson (4-5) who gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings, his first loss at Citi Field after going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Beltran would strike out and admitted there was pain. He is now listed as day-to-day with a right leg contusion.

“Anytime you get hit in the muscle it’s going to be sore,” said Collins. He was concerned because Jason Bay got the night off, and losing Beltran for any significant amount of time, minus Wright and Davis, would make the Mets that much more thinner in the lineup

“Maybe the best thing for me was to strike out because it was painful,” said Beltran. The Mets have a day off Monday and Beltran hopes to be in the lineup when they open a three-game series with Milwaukee. “I was worried because when I came down the stairs I could barely put my foot on the floor,” he said about going to the clubhouse, and he also experienced some dizziness before undergoing an X-Ray.

Collins can only hope Beltran is good to go. And the Mets, who would fly to Chicago and then bus to Milwaukee, because a runway is under construction at nearby LaGuardia Airport, were satisfied. It’s always good to hit the road after leaving home on a satisfactory note.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol,.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Brian Mccann, Bullpen, Chants, Eighth Inning, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Series, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Mets Team, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seventh Inning, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 6, 2011

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Mets Feeling Izzy after 6-3 loss to Braves

New York- There was no comeback in the cards for the New York Mets (26-31) on this night as they dropped a 6-3 heartbreaker to the Atlanta Braves (32-26) on Thursday night baseball at Citi Field. New York lost for the fifth time overall, and for the fourth time on their current 10-game home stand, when leading after seven innings.

New York has gone from the slogan “You’ve got to believe” to “You never know what is going to happen.” As bad news broke for many Mets fans after the game as third baseman David Wright is expected to be out three more weeks due to the fracture in his spine.

General Manager Sandy Alderson sat in front of the Metropolitan Area reporters and broke the news, “David didn’t have any X-Rays or any additional test, but due to the nature of the original picture that we took the doctors recommended that he remain inactive from baseball action for another three weeks.” He continued by saying, “

Wright had this to say of his trip to the doctors today, “The doctors obviously know what they are doing. There is only so much you can do when a specialist says that you need to do something. I was hopeful that the healing process would have started sooner, but it was wishful thinking on my part.” He continued to say, “In the end they are looking out for my best interest, it is better that I take these next three weeks off and completely heal versus going out there and hurting myself again.”

Atlanta struck for the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning as Freddie Freeman started the frame by lacing a single to center field. Braves right fielder Joe Mather plated the first run by driving a single past Jose Reyes for the 1-0 lead.

New York answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning as Reyes would energize the team by ripping a triple (9) to center field. Carlos Beltran brought the shortstop home on a single to right field. Jason Bay worked out a walk before Daniel Murphy gave New York a 2-1 lead on a single to left field. Angel Pagan drove home the third run of a game with a single to center for the 3-1 lead.

Atlanta remained quiet with their bats until the top of the eighth inning when Met killer Chipper Jones struck for his fifth home run of the season as he lifted one to left field in the top of the eighth inning. The third baseman took a 2-2 fastball and ripped it over the left field wall to make the New York lead 3-2

Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese was able to record his seventh strike out of the game by getting rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman to swing at a fastball in the top of the eighth inning for the second out of the game. It was after that out that Manager Terry Collins made a call to the bullpen, before exiting Niese got a nice ovation from the 28, 301 in attendance.

Sadly for the Mets fans a hard hit ball by the Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez could not be fielded by Jose Reyes, which allowed the Braves to tie the game up at 3-3. Isringhausen was finally able to record the final out by getting the Atlanta right fielder Joe Mather to swing at a cutter to end the inning.

On the miscue in the infield the shortstop had this to say, “I tried to do the best that I could to make that play. I did everything I could and will do everything in my power to make that play the next time out.”

Collins made another move calling in closer Francisco Rodriguez to try to stop the bleeding. The move was unsuccessful as Atlanta turned the tables on the Mets on this night. Replacement outfielder Eric Hinske lifted a home run (6) over the right field wall to give the Braves the 4-3 lead, to open the dam of offense for the Braves.

Isringhausen and Rodriguez combined to allow four runs, three of them being earned runs tonight. Over the last 12 games Mets relievers have an ERA of 10.57

Rodriguez had this to say on his effort tonight, “I need to go out there and be more aggressive; I need to make these pitches count. I am not happy with my effort tonight at all, I didn’t get it done there are no excuses with my performance tonight.”

Left fielder Martin Prado doubled (17) to center field to set up a runner in scoring position for the ever-so-dangerous Chipper Jones. The Braves third baseman struck out swinging, to leave the stage set for catcher Brian McCann. In a surprising move the Mets decided to intentionally walk McCann to get to Freeman.

After the game the Mets skipper Terry Collins had this to say on the move, “According to the scouting reports McCann is the hottest guy on the team so you have got to get someone else to beat you aside from their hot hitters.”

Freeman made the Mets pay for that move by lacing a double (14) to left center field, giving the Braves the eventual 6-3 victory.

Niese had this to say of the tough loss, “This is a really tough loss for our team tonight; this is why baseball is a beautiful game though. It is a collective effort out there on the field every night and obviously we weren’t able to get it done.”

Atlanta had some bad news injury wise on their end as center fielder Jordan Schafer bunted a ball right into his upper lip and nose area; he was taken to a hospital for x-rays and was replaced by Hinske who had the momentum-changing homer in the top of the ninth inning.

These two teams will go at it again for Game Two on Saturday, as it is righty-versus-righty as Dillon Gee (5-0, 3.83, ERA) takes on Jair Jurrjens (7-1, 1.51 ERA). First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Baseball Action, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Fifth Time, Healing Process, Heartbreaker, Izzy, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Mather, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Sandy Alderson, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 4, 2011

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Home Runs Ruin Mets Extra Inning Affair

Men and women of the military were honored by the New York Mets at Citi Field before their game with the San Francisco Giants Tuesday evening and the team wore patriotic hats. And it looked like it would go the Mets way in the ballgame just like it was at Shea Stadium 10-years ago when baseball returned after the events of September 11, 2001.

Carlos Beltran got the Mets off to a good start with a three-run home run in the first inning, his fourth of the year. Mets starter R.A. Dickey struggled with his knuckleball as the Giants scored four runs in the third inning. Ike Davis hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning as the Mets took the lead again, 5-4.

But the Mets could not capitalize later on when they had a chance. Dickey (1-3) allowed six runs and did not get the loss. The bullpen gave it away in the 10th inning, when Taylor Buchholz had his season high 8.2 scoreless inning streak snapped when Aubrey Huff hit a solo home run to right, this after closer Francisco Rodriguez got out of a jam without allowing a run in the ninth.

That was the difference as New York, in their second straight extra- inning game lost to the Giants 7-6 in 10 innings. Brian Wilson, National League saves leader of the Giants notched his ninth save with his only mistake a single by Jose Reyes in the bottom of the 10th.

“I made a mistake with a ball I threw right down the middle,” said Buchholz about the 10th home run allowed by the Mets pitching staff in the seventh inning or later. It was a different ending from that September evening at Shea Stadium in 2001, when Mike Piazza hit the game winning home run that beat the Atlanta Braves.

The Mets were 2-12 with runners in scoring position, 3-for-28 in their last two games and left the bases loaded in the ninth. There was not much to say in the clubhouse afterwards after another disappointing lost. Because the next two games they will see NL CY Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and 2-1 lefthander Jonathan Sanchez.

So it won’t be an easy task for the Mets the next few days as they face two of the top pitchers on the Giants staff that were a nucleus to their 2010 World Series championship.

Mets manager Terry Collins addressed that issue before the game. “If you are going to win you have to face the best,” he said. “You have to take care of business,” he commented about Tuesday’s Giants starter Mike Fontenot who did not figure in the decision. “Worry about Lincecum tomorrow,” he said.

However, Collins has to be concerned about Dickey. Other than the first inning where he retired the Giants in order, it was another start at home where he struggled. “I didn’t have a good knuckleball,” said Dickey. “I wanted to get the team a win. There were some things I regret not doing.”

He commented that the first pitch knuckleball could have been more effective or he could have, went with that pitch more often against a Giants offense that is struggling. They entered the game 28th in baseball in runs scored and their seven runs were the most since scoring eight on April 18th against Colorado.  Dickey went 11-9 last season and was the most effective starter on a Mets starting pitching staff that struggled.

So on an evening when the Mets honored members of the military, also distributing 4,000 tickets to military members and their families, they hoped for a different outcome.   They hope for better results against Lincecum Tuesday evening and send (2-2) Chris Capuano to the mound.

Notes: Jason Bay will not be with the team again Wednesday who is on a paternity leave to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s third child… Angel Pagan, on the disabled list with a strained oblique pull, went 1-for-5 in an extended spring game in Port St. Lucie Florida and could return by Friday when the Mets face the Los Angeles Dodgers….

Jose Reyes reached base all six times at the plate with three walks, a double and two singles, the three walks tied a career high… Beltran with a double also got his 188th as a Met and moved into sole possession of seventh place on the Mets all-time list, one ahead of Darryl Strawberry,

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bottom Of The Inning, Carlos Beltran, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Award Winner, Francisco Rodriguez, Inning Game, Knuckleball, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Scoreless Inning Streak, September 11 2001, Shea Stadium, Top Story

Mets Don’t Look Good Despite Changes At Top

Sandy Alderson is the new General Manager and Terry Collins shortly followed as the new manager. A new regime is in command of the New York Mets amid a financial mess that may eventually force owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon to sell a portion of the team or their entire interests.

The Wilpon financial mess is just one of the issues that await the New York Mets as they begin the 2011 season Friday night down in Miami with the Florida Marlins. Gone are pitcher Oliver Perez and infielder Luis Castillo, two holdovers of previous GM Omar Minaya. Some payroll will eventually be free, and there are two less popular Mets at Citi Field when the team has their home opener.

So what should be expected from the 2011 New York Mets? They can be competitive if their starting pitching and bullpen steps up. They will be without their injured ace Johan Santana who may throw his first pitch in early July. And how far the Mets can go will depend on how long they stay injury free. In particular there is concern for outfielders Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran.

Yes, questions again for the team and fans, even with a new regime, a fan has to be patient. There is optimism for the future but not winning expectations this year even with a manager like Collins. He is different than previous manager Jerry Manuel, knows the game and will tell it like it is without hesitation.

The team is capable of winning 80 games, coming off a dismal fourth place finish at 79-83, finishing 18 games behind the division winning Philadelphia Phillies. And the Phillies on paper look like the team that will dominate, and the Atlanta Braves will be in the hunt.

If pitching and key players stay away from the disabled list the Mets could be in the wildcard race. But the first month, April, where the Mets will have many home games is important. They need to have a good start or for sure there will be nothing to play for and a fire sale will come in late July.

Beltran will start in right field assuming his left knee is healthy. In the last year of his contract he could be traded. And so could Jose Reyes, though the Mets shortstop came to camp healthy and had an outstanding spring. It is realistic to assume that ownership, with all of their financial issues won’t be able to afford Reyes who is also in a walk year of his contract.

If the Mets get off to a good start there is reason for optimism. And if Reyes and Beltran are performing to expectations, and if the team is still in contention, then by late July you can expect Reyes and Beltran to finish out the season in New York. Reyes hit .282 last season drove in 54 runs and still had a .321 on base percentage which shows he can get on base when in the lineup.

Beltran in 2010 once again had limited playing time, 64 games, with the bad right knee. Now it is the left side that is hurting. His production in the lineup is vital if the Mets want to contend, and the .254 average of last year, 7 home runs and 27 RBI reflects one of the reasons why the Mets were 13th in hitting and third to last in the National League when driving in runs.

But Mets fans will come to expect that by the end of the season, and going into 2012 the team payroll will go from $150 million to $75 million or less, and in New York sometimes that is not acceptable. Minus Reyes and Beltran it could be less however every game the Mets play they will have, viable MVP candidates in Reyes and David Wright.

Other important factors to consider are David Wright, Angel Pagan and Ike Davis. Wright showed an adjustment to hitting the ball out of Citi Field. 29 home runs and 103 RBI, but he has to cut down on the strike outs, 151. Pagan had a comeback year and proved how important he has become and will take over center. He adds speed to the position and on the bases. Can Pagan again hit around .290 and increase his numbers of 11 home runs and 69 RBI?

Davis had an outstanding rookie season, 19 home runs, 71 RBI and developed as an outstanding big league first baseman. Josh Thole is the starting catcher and has to play a bulk of games. Backup Ronnie Paulino starts the season with a suspension stemming from abusing illegal body enhancing drugs and he has come down with a blood condition. So the backup will be Michael Nickeas who tasted a cup of coffee with the team in September and the second base job, at least for now goes to Brad Emaus a Rule 5 player who impressed Collins. If Reyes should get traded then expect youngster Ruben Tejada to be recalled form Buffalo and take control of his natural position,

And the cog in the lineup to how far the Mets will go in 2011 is Jason Bay The left fielder, with a huge contract, went down with a concussion in mid season and was limited to 95 games, 6 home runs and drove in 47. The Mets had to use a variety of players to fill the void using Nick Evans and Lucas Duda. Bay will probably start the long campaign on the DL after sustaining an injury to his rib cage Tuesday so Duda or Evans could be on the opening day roster.

In fact, some baseball experts are picking the Mets to finish last because they don’t expect Beltran, Wright and Bay to play 95 games apiece because of injuries that have plagued this team the past three years.

The pitching staff that had a combined 3.70 ERA last season, surprisingly sixth in the league and perhaps that was due to the emergence of knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey who finished 11-9 coming off a spring training contract. Though one can’t expect the 35-year old Dickey to have similar numbers and if he does than the pitching will be that much better,

The ace, until Santana returns is right hander Mike Pelfrey, 15-9, .366 ERA and with a much improved slider.  Jonathon Niese will follow after a full year under his belt and hopefully will improve on his 9-10 record and 4.20 ERA. Chris Young pitched two games with San Diego last year, was shut down and now the Mets see some arm strength and a good fastball to provide some spark in the rotation as another minor investment.

And the surprise could be Chris Capuano, 2-0 this spring. He is another of the “cheap” investments that Alderson made when taking over and the former Milwaukee Brewer provides insurance as a fifth starter and long reliever out of the pen.

If the starters can go deep, then what will the suspect Mets pen do? They were next to last in saves last season. The Mets can only hope that Frankie Rodriguez is back to form, that his shoulder has recovered, and most of all that his anger management issues are a thing of the past. K-Rod is not expected to save 62 games, but if the Mets want to make anything interesting, if they are in close games, then K-Rod needs to close the door.

If not, Collins has to work with a revolving door of arms out of the pen which was what Manuel had to do last season. The key loss was Pedro Feliciano now with the cross-town Yankees, and for the past three years Feliciano was the most used pitcher in baseball coming out of the pen.

Bobby Parnell has been groomed to be the set up man, D.J. Carasco, another minor investment can assist with a good fastball, and as it appears, a replacement for Feliciano.

The Mets will miss the versatility of Chris Carter off the bench, now with Tampa Bay. But their bench also minor investments made by Alderson is vastly improved Willie Harris for the outfield, a veteran who was with the Washington Nationals, Scott Hairston, once with San Diego, an infielder and outfielder Yes Daniel Murphy, who until last week was in the running for the start at second base.

The 2011 New York Mets full of questions as to how far they will go. Can they contend and will Citi Field be an interesting place to visit by August?  Surprises do happen often in baseball and with the Mets they will have to do the unexpected to make it an interesting 2011.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bullpen, Carlos Beltran, Financial Mess, Fire Sale, Florida Marlins, Hesitation, Home Games, Home Opener, Infielder, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Luis Castillo, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Optimism, Outfielders, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wildcard Race

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 1, 2011