Have The Mets Turned the Corner?

New York- A four-game winning streak for the New York Mets and you ask, does that provide a legitimate reason of contention that they are beginning to turn things around? For the moment, especially with a win against Atlanta, and three wins over the Yankees, there is optimism.

Added to the equation, the Mets go for a four-game series sweep, or two consecutive two game sweeps tomorrow night in the Bronx. Then, it is three games down in Miami with the Marlins, a team that continues to tumble with the second worst record in baseball.

The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse Wednesday evening, after the Mets third straight win over the Yankees, to say the least exhibited optimism.  The tide has changed from a week ago when a timely hit, scoring runs and good pitching was hard to find.

“We’ve won three very important ballgames in a row,” said Collins. “There is a different attitude in the clubhouse.” Because the Mets have put a string of wins together and doing it against the Yankees made it more fun in that clubhouse.

It could be the start of the summer for the Mets, according to Collins, alluding to how important it was to win these games against the Yankees.

And with Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, a part of their infield on thin ice, it was so important for them to be a part of that five-run first inning that quickly put the Mets ahead.  Tejada led off the game with a single and would score on a Daniel Murphy double.

“Nice to get some runs early especially against this team,” commented Davis. He drove the ball the other way in that first inning.

He said, “If I can keep getting better at bats, I can turn this around. We have a better team than we have showed and we can turn this around.” And it has to be Davis and the bat to turn the season around.

Collins said, David Wright referred to Davis as the guy who can turn it around.  There is some type of optimism because Davis struck out once after 24 strikeouts in his last 16- games.

Tejada did get hurt in the ninth inning, so he is staying put for the moment.  He may miss a few games pending an X-Ray to a quad injury he sustained sliding for a ball down the third base line with two outs in the Yankees ninth inning.

“If we have any chance to win here, Ike Davis has to be hitting in the lineup,” said Collins. Lucas Duda and John Buck also got hits going the other way. Again, Collins said this was a big series.

Perhaps, a bigger part of this being an important series is because the Mets have started to hit the ball with more authority. “And they are doing it against the Yankees.

Later in the inning, Davis, with that .152 average would single to left center and drive in two of those five runs. Davis got some batting tips from manager Terry Collins before the game.  Mets fans can’t remember the last game when he drove in two important runs, even if it was early in the game.

Jermey Hefner, with that 0-5 record coming in, had runs to work with and finally got a win. And to him that must have been, as they say, a gift from heaven,

“Important to win, more importantly to keep our team winning,” said Hefner who broke the streak of not getting a win a day after the ace Matt Harvey gets the ball.

What it means is, the Mets will in all probability continue to struggle. The important thing is to continue this renewed momentum with three games down in Miami. But, as the captain David Wright said Tuesday night, at Citi Field in Flushing Queens, “We have a hard time capitalizing on games like this.”

Meaning, as Wright insinuated, the two Mets come from behind wins against the Yankees, Monday and Tuesday in their home park had to continue some type of momentum.

Wednesday night, the Mets continued that brand of good baseball with good pitching, timely hitting, and hitting quality pitches. They did not swing for the fences. They hit at the right time, and it meant another win against a Yankees team that has not resembled the Bronx Bombers they have faced in the past.

Davis handled the sinker much better thrown by David Phelps, and was more comfortable at the plate. Tejada started the onslaught in that first inning. Perhaps, the private meeting with Collins had with Davis and Tejada earlier in the day, where he reportedly told them, they were close to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas was the beginning of a remedy?

After all, who wants to play baseball in Las Vegas with the famed strip in the background instead of the Empire State Building and other New York City landmarks?

It went down as a two-game series sweep in Queens and a revival of sorts for the Mets in Queens. They go for another two-game series sweep tomorrow night in the Bronx

And, doing it against the mighty cross- town Yankees does not necessarily mean it won’t be as gloomy in Flushing as we have seen. But, time will tell.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ballgames, Bats, Clubhouse, Contention, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Game Series, Game Sweeps, Game Winning Streak, Legitimate Reason, Marlins, New York Mets, Optimism, Rich Mancuso, Ruben, Tejada, Thin Ice, Three Games, Tomorrow Night, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

Mets Sweep D-backs and Complete Successful Homestand

New York- So much for talk that the New York Mets could not hit the home run at Citi Field, or win many ballgames in their home park. After their 8-4   win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Easter Sunday, taking a three-game sweep, the Mets have won four consecutive games after taking the final game of the three- game series that started the stand earlier this week against the Houston Astros.

And this season high winning streak, the longest since last September 13-16 of last season, was done with good pitching and timely hitting. Plenty of two out hits and getting Jason Bay back in the lineup seemed to propel the offense. Jonathon Niese (1-3) pitched seven solid innings, snapping a six-game losing streak in the series sweep Sunday, and Mets starting pitching in the six games went 6-0 innings or more.

Plus the Mets offense produced three more home runs Sunday, two by David Wright and one from Jason Pridie. It was the first Major League round tripper for Pridie. The 27-year old center fielder was called up from Triple-A Buffalo Friday when Angel Pagan went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle.

So what has transpired in the past few days? Good pitching and hitting will win ballgames, and all of a sudden Citi Field has become home run friendly for the Mets. It has the team riding with optimism as they head for a six game trip to Washington and Philadelphia on Tuesday. And their most effective starter in the young season, Chris Young comes off the disabled list and will open game one of the series against the Nationals.

“It’s really good,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. When the Mets were 5-13 earlier in the week, and with the worst record in baseball, Collins was frustrated and concerned but said, “I promise you it will get better.” It certainly has improved because David Wright has also come around at the plate. Carlos Beltran went 9-for-23 with a home run and three RBI in six games, Ike Davis reached base four times Sunday and had three home runs, two doubles and six RBI in the six games.

In the streak New York scored 27 runs and outscored the opposition 27-10. “I think the brightest sign has been our starting pitching,” added Collins. “It’s really stepped up here and gotten us to where we need to get to. I think you see a difference in the bullpen where they can just pitch to certain guys. I think it makes everyone more comfortable.”

The pen found itself a bit when Collins used the combination of rookie Pedro Beato, the veteran Jason Isringhausen and closer Frankie Rodriguez to close the door when the Mets had the lead in three of the six games. Sunday, Collins went with D.J. Carrasco who gave up a run in the eighth, Tim Byrdak and Ryota Igarashi. He credited the use of starters Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey out of the pen in Atlanta on the last road trip as to a reason why starters Capuano and Dickey had success this week.

“We got some really big hits, two-out hits and that makes a difference,” he said. His team scored five two-out runs in the series finale with Arizona, and the day before had six two-out runs. And Wright has been a major catalyst of the resurged offense. His second home run Sunday, fifth of the season, came with two outs and no runners in in the fourth inning that gave the Mets an 8-1 lead.

New York scored two runs off Arizona starter Armando Galarraga (3-1) in the first and four more runs off him in the third. In the past four games, Wright has home runs and he credits the starting pitching for the 4-2 homestand. “We’ll go as far as our starting pitching carries us,” he said.

His home run in the fourth was high and got over the fence on the left field line and right of the pole. “He’s tireless and when you hit the ball hard things are going to happen,” explained Collins regarding how Wright came around in the six games. “Even though I wasn’t getting good results I was getting good at bats,’ said Wright who also had a multi –home run game against the Diamondbacks last season on July 30th.

Niese retired the first six Arizona hitters in the lineup and had good command with the fastball. He gave up six hits and three runs, of which two were earned. Collins and pitching Coach Dan Warthen said he was rushing his pitches in three previous starts. “Rushing is probably a good word to describe the problems,” said Niese. “I thought I’d take my time today.”

New York also hit two more doubles.one by Beltran and at least one in 21 of their 22 games, fourth in the majors. So of the ball is not going over the fence at Citi Field, there are the extra base hits that led to runs on the homestand. The Beltran double, on his 34th birthday would lead to one of the four runs in the fourth inning and he started all six games.

Four guys can cause damage in the lineup. Collins said Beltran. Wright, Davis and Bay are capable of doing that every game and also Jose Reyes is the catalyst leading off. It has led to optimism this week. But as Collins said, “There is a long way to go. Washington plays well and the Phillies are the Phillies.”

Yes, Collins looks forward to Tuesday. Now the determination is, can the Mets continue the momentum as they leave their sudden friendly confines of Citi Field?

Notes: After the game GM Sandy Alderson said the team optioned Carrasco to Buffalo to make room for Young to make his start Tuesday….Alderson also said that for the moment Dillon Gee, who got the win Saturday in game two versus Arizona, would not be sent down, though it is not determined if he will be in the rotation with the return of Young….

And Alderson said, catcher Ronnie Paulino will stay on the disabled list as he is still sustaining problems with an oblique muscle pull while rehabbing down in Florida.

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Posted under Arizona Diamondbacks, Ballgames, Carlos Beltran, Center Fielder, Consecutive Games, David Wright, Final Game, Game Losing Streak, Game One, Game Series, Game Sweep, Game Trip, Houston Astros, Jason Bay, Left Oblique Muscle, New York Mets, Niese, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 26, 2011

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Jerry’s Last (Home) Stand?

FLUSHING, NY – There really wasn’t any surprises in last night’s 2-1 Yankee win to open the 2010 Subway Series.

The Mets didn’t hit, making Javier Vazquez look like a star, while the Yankees were baffled by Hisanori Takahashi, a pitcher they never saw before.

Of course, the game was decided on an error on the Mets second baseman. This time it wasn’t Luis Castillo, but Alex Cora who threw away a tailored made double play ball, which set up Kevin Russo’s game winning double.

And when the Mets did rally against Mariano Rivera, struggling David Wright meekly grounded to second on the first pitch he saw with the tying run on second base.

“He’s a guy that you don’t want to try to work the count against because he’s got great stuff,” Wright said, but the fact remains, the Mets wasted a golden opportunity to silence some of their detractors by beating a Yankees on their own turf.

Instead the Mets decided to emulate the 2000 Mets who were honored before the game by losing this heartbreaker to third cross town rivals.

“If you’ve seen the ballgames we’ve lost, they have all been close,” said center fielder Angel Pagan, one of the few Mets who hasn’t struggled this season. “That has given us the confidence to keep fighting.”

The fight, though, may be over soon for manager Jerry Manuel. Although unfair, the writing is starting to show on the wall. Say a 1-5 home stand against the Yankees and Phillies may be enough to jettison the Mets embattled leader. Although unfair, because not even John McGraw could win with this cast of characters, the signs are there.

First you have John Maine, who started a public war with his manager for being taken out after five pitches on Thursday. Although it was the correct move, and with his track record over the last few years, Maine should be thankful he’s still wearing a major league uniform, Manuel status has been taken into question.

The night before, David Wright wondered why he was benched against Livan Hernandez, a pitcher he’s owned in the past and last Monday Jeff Francoeur had to take a seat with his parents in attendance down in Atlanta.

Sure, both Wright and Francoeur could have used the rest, but you have to wonder about the timing. Did it have to be in Atlanta for Francoeur? Could Wright have another day off?

All of this comes back to Manuel. Omar Minaya went on record yesterday saying the Yankee series won’t determine his manager’s fate, but a winless or even a 1-5 home stand with a griping clubhouse will make it tough for Manuel to keep his job.

Yet, if it is time for Manuel to go, then you have to wonder how the Mets will handle the situation. Firings are not the Mets strong point, just look at Tony Bernazard last year and Willie Randolph back in 2008.

Yet, after this home stand, it will be a Friday and the Mets will be on the road – two factors the Mets look for when they relieve their manager – but it will also put the team in Milwaukee where Randolph will be sitting in the opposing dugout, so it never comes easy.

But something will need to be done soon or 2010 will go down as another lost season.

Posted under Alex Cora, Ballgames, Center Fielder, Correct Move, Cross Town, David Wright, Double Play, Golden Opportunity, Great Stuff, Heartbreaker, Javier Vazquez, Joe Mcdonald, John Mcgraw, Look Like A Star, Luis Castillo, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Play Ball, Public War, Second Baseman, Subway Series, Top Story, Town Rivals