Mets Roll Dice To Eat Innings

It’s all about the innings.

It’s also about the future, which is why the Mets signed veteran righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka on Thursday and slotted him into the rotation right away after injuries and the impending innings count put a dent in the staff.

The countdowns are already underway for young hurlers Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler, and with Jeremy Hefner and Jennry Mejia lost for the season due to injuries, the next day’s starters might have soon been announced as TBA. Carlos Torres was again drafted out of the bullpen for spot starts, and would have started tonight against the Tigers, but with the signing of Matsuzaka, the effective reliever (2-2, 3.00ERA/1.45 ERA in relief) was dispatched back to the pen.

Reliever Greg Burke was optioned back to Sin City to make room for the 32-year-old Matsuzaka, with the verbal promise of a return ticket when September call-ups are made.

Matsuzaka’s signing made sense from a cost-effective point of view. They signed him for just the remainder of the season, and if he pitches well over the course of the next five weeks or so, and helps ease the burden of the staff with innings at a premium in September, he could become a bargain.

Trouble is, the start to his Mets/National League career was anything but a bargain, giving up five runs – including two home runs, to the Tigers in just the first two innings. With starts like that, the Mets would be better served hanging a Help Wanted sign outside the gates of Citi Field for a spot starter.

Matsuzaka settled down for a bit after that, throwing three additional zeros, but those first two frames were pretty ugly. He threw 86 pitches in the five innings, 58 for strikes. Dice-K racked up four Ks, with one walk.

At his request, Matsuzaka was released from his contract with the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 20th. He had been relegated to their minor league system, languishing in Triple-A all season after migrating to the Indians when his manager from the only major league team he had known, Boston’s former leader, Terry Francona, returned to the skipper’s chair in Cleveland.

With the Columbus Clippers of the International League this season, Matsuzaka was just 5-8 in 19 starts (3.92 ERA), striking out 95 and walking 39 in 103.1 innings. In 13 of his IL starts, Matsuzaka lasted at least five innings, in seven of them at least seven innings, hence the attraction.

However, another line on his stat sheet displays his 1-7, 8.28 ERA record the last time he pitched in the majors, in 2012 with the BoSox, yielding 45 earned runs in 45.2 innings. For his career, all in Boston, Matsuzaka is 50-37, 4.52 in 117 games, all but one as starts. His best season came in 2008, when he notched a 18-3 mark, 2.90, in 29 starts.

The 6-foot, 185-pound native of Tokyo, Japan, becomes the 12th Japanese-born player to appear in at least one game with the Mets, the 11th pitcher to have hailed from the Far East, and the first since Ryota Igarishi in 2011.

With the Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki making news earlier this week as only the third professional baseball player to reach 4,000 hits – combining his accomplishments on two continents, it is also interesting to note there have now been 59 players born in Japan to have played in the majors, although some of those are players you might not have guessed were born in Japan. That list includes the likes of Craig House, Dave Roberts, Jeff McCarry, and Keith McDonald.

Matsuzaka was assigned No. 16, made famous a generation ago in Mets history by Dwight Gooden, and if you want to go back a little further, Lee Mazzilli. Matsuzaka wore No. 18 with Boston, and why that’s significant is that No. 18 carries some sort of prestige in Japan for pitchers. They often request it. But right now, Mets third base coach Tim Teufel is occupying the number, first popularized in Met lore by Darryl Strawberry.

What? You’ve forgotten Al Luplow?

Igarishi wore 18 in 2011.

Matsuzaka is not the first Japanese-born Met hurler to wear 16. Hideo Nomo wore it in New York in 1998, interestingly the first Met to wear it since Gooden last wore it in 1994.

Getting back to the original point, Matsuzaka is here to eat innings. The Mets desperately want to protect both Harvey and Wheeler from throwing too many innings beyond their 2012 results, which recent history suggests, protects young arms. There still are no guarantees (see Stephen Strasburg), but as long as the theory is believed, innings limits will take precedent.

Going into the weekend, Wheeler was at 138.1 combined innings majors and minors for the season. The Mets would like to see him top of at around 170-175. In 2012, he threw 149 innings for two minor league affiliates – Binghamton and Buffalo.

Harvey is at 171.2 innings. Last year he threw a combined 169.1 innings. His target is about 210-215.

With the Mets not exactly in the pennant race, at some point there going to shut down both dynamic arms. And they’re going to need new arms to show up on the mound every day.

There appears to be a general reluctance to call up other promising prospects to do so, one due to their own innings limits, and two, the eyes that watch them say they’re just not ready.

Jason deGrom is an arm the scouts have been raving about lately (4-2, 3.93 in Las Vegas) but he’s not even on the 40, so they would have to lose someone to call him up. Don’t be surprised if another major league castoff from some distant shore also washes up on a Mets beach before this campaign is over.

*****

ADVANCE NOTICE:

Saturday’s matchup of Matt Harvey against Detroit’s Matt Scherzer represents the first time in baseball’s history the two starting pitchers from that year’s All-Star game opposed each other in a regular season game. Of course, this rare occurrence is primarily a byproduct of the 17-season history of interleague play. Credit the Elias Sports Bureau with the research which confirmed the rarity.

Also of note : Wednesday’s ninth inning loss to the Braves represented the 22nd time the Mets had lost this season in the game’s last at-bat. In all of 2012, they lost just 16 games in this manner.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Bullpen, Countdowns, Greg Burke, Major League, Mets, New York Mets, Return Ticket, Roll Dice, Top Story, Verbal Promise

Byrd is the Word For The Mets

New York – Jose Fernandez the 20-year old pitching prospect for the Miami Marlins made his Major League debut at Citi Field Sunday afternoon and the right hander from Cuba was everything that was expected. A good fastball and curve ball from Hernandez limited the New York Mets to one run and three hits in three innings.

“That guy is everything they talked about, outstanding stuff,” commented Mets manager Terry Collins about Fernandez. “Strike one on almost everybody. “ He comprised strike after strike, impressive.”

Fernandez would leave and the Mets would capitalize, but not until the ninth inning. Marlon Byrd hit a two run single that was inside third base and New York would come from behind and get their first walk-0ff win of the young season, 4-3.

The Mets finished their opening home stand of the season 4-2 and embarked on their first road trip, ten games to Philadelphia, Minnesota and Colorado.

Daniel Murphy concluded the first stint at home with success, a solo home run off A.J. Ramos in the sixth inning to center, his second, and drove in his fifth run in the last three games. His production is what the Mets have been looking for and an extra base hit in three straight games is a positive sign.

“That guy’s got good stuff,” said Murphy about Fernandez. “I thought we stayed patient. We were able to kind of get that pitch count up just a bit to get into their bullpen in the sixth. You get in the sixth it gives you four shots at the bullpen and that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”

Fernandez, the youngest pitcher in Marlins franchise history has a good story. The Cuban refugee came to the United States in 2008 and was a 14th round pick out of a Tampa Florida High School in the 2011 amateur draft.  He was 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in the minors last season.

The Marlins have said they intend to keep Fernandez in their rotation, and after his debut there is every reason to do that with a limited pitch count. Fernandez struck out eight, the first victim of his career was Ike Davis in the first.

“I was more nervous watching five through nine than I was pitching,’ he said. It didn’t feel any different. It was more like a spring training game.” But it was a regular season game, one the Marlins were hoping to win, that is until their bullpen gave it up and the fastball at times was clocked at 95.

New York is depending on a revamped pitching staff with the absence of Johan Santana, out for the season with surgery again to his shoulder. And right hander Shaun Marcum has been sidelined with stiffness, so left hander Aaron Laffey  was recalled from AAA Las Vegas after limited appearances with Toronto last season.

Laffey gave up 10-hits and three runs in 4/1-3 innings, but the Mets bullpen was able to keep the game close. Collins used five arms out of the bullpen that threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“We hung in there and didn’t let the game get away which I thought was the biggest factor,” added Collins who saw his team get their second comeback win of the season.

In the end it was Byrd who got his fifth career walk off hit and Scott Rice out of the, pen getting his first Major League win. Byrd was inserted in the fifth when Collins made a double switch also scored some points from Collins. The veteran in an outfield rotation may see more playing time. He kept sharp playing in the Mexican league this winter.

“It’s huge to show we can win close games,” said Byrd who struck out twice before the game winning hit.” More so, a win that was huge early in the season.

“Two games over .500 instead of one,” said Ike Davis.  Because winning series are important and the Mets have come out of the gate and won their first two.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Bullpen, Cuban Refugee, Curve Ball, Daniel Murphy, Fastball, Florida High School, League Debut, Mets New York, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Right Hander, Sixth Inning, Straight Games, Three Games, Top Story

Mets lose Santana for the season and another one to the Rockies

Johan Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation of his lower back and the New York Mets ace is done for the season. That decision was made prior to the Mets latest loss, 5-2 to the last place Colorado Rockies at Citi Field Wednesday night.

And, because Santana had been ineffective in his last six starts this is a major reason why New York is one game away from last place in the National league east. There are other reasons attributed as to why the team continues to sink further with the lack of hitting and a torrid bullpen.

But since that historic no-hitter by Santana on June 1st, first in the Mets 50-year existence, he has not been the same pitcher. The team has not been the same when Santana fell apart as he seemed to inspire the hitting and propel the pitching staff.

“Something is not right and they don’t want it to get worse,” said a dismal Santana to the media when results of the MRI to his back were revealed. There had been speculation he would get the bad news, and shutting him down for the season makes perfect sense.

The Mets are out of contention and would want the left hander healthy and ready for 2013. He is due $31 million next year which includes a buyout for the following season.  The back problem is not related to shoulder surgery, extensive rehab assignments, or a stint on the DL in July due to a sprained right ankle.

And GM Sandy Alderson, along with Santana, said his latest ailment had nothing to do with a career high 134-pitch count when he pitched the no-hitter before the home crowd at Citi Field.

“That’s a long time ago and this just happened a couple days ago,” explained Santana, knocking down any speculation that the high pitch count contributed to his back problem.

He added, “It’s tough to go back and look at that no-hitter and blame it for this.”

Since that no-hitter, Santana is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA in 10 starts, allowing six runs in his last five starts, 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA. Not numbers that reflect a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Thus the speculation, something was wrong as Santana said he began experiencing tightness a few weeks ago and it progressed during his last start at Washington last week. After he threw a bullpen session Monday, he addressed the issue with team personnel and a decision was made to undergo an MRI.

The 33-year old Santana was scheduled to start the finale of a four-game series against the Rockies Thursday afternoon. He will be replaced on the roster by right hander Collin McHugh. The 25-year old was promoted from Triple- A Buffalo where he went 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.

Surgery will not be required, just rest and medication and that had Santana and Alderson relieved as it is not a disc problem that has caused the inflammation.

“I want to keep pitching,” commented Santana. I felt I could pitch, but at the same time I am listening to them.”

It is not the starting pitching that has caused New York to lose the first three of four games against the Rockies. They got two quality starts Monday and Tuesday night from R.A. Dickey and Chris Young before the bullpen and sloppy fielding gave the games away.

And, Wednesday night it was the same situation as the Rockies won their seventh straight game at Citi Field. Rookie Matt Harvey, with a fastball clocked over 95, struck out nine Rockies in six innings. He gave up three hits.

New York fell to 57-67, lost their fourth straight and ten games below the .500 mark for the first time since finishing that way in the 2009 season. The numbers have not been good since the all-star break, 11-27, worst in baseball, and the team has scored two or fewer runs in five consecutive games something that has not happened since the 2003 season.

“I feel like there’s more that I could’ve done and more I could’ve helped the team with like going eight innings and not giving up a run would’ve been nice,” said Harvey.

But Mets manager Terry Collins realizes Harvey has an entire career ahead, and 102 pitches was more than enough for the flame thrower.

“Extremely impressed tonight with the way he handled himself, pitching out of trouble , electric stuff again,” said Collins. “During an absolute brutal stretch there’s been a bright spot and he’s been one of them.”

Harvey has 43 strikeouts in his first six games which surpassed the club record of Nolan Ryan of 42. So there is something to look forward to for the Mets when it comes to pitching with or without Santana.

To that Collins said, “And we think we got some more coming.”  Time will tell as the 2012 season in other ways becomes more miserable for the Mets and their fans.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol,.com  Listen and watch Rich tonight live at 10:30pm, keep it in the Ring on www.inthemixxradio.com also available on phone apps.

Posted under 31 Million, Ailment, Bullpen, Citi, Colorado Rockies, Contention, Couple Days, High Pitch, Johan Santana, National League East, New York Mets, Perfect Sense, Rich Mancuso, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wednesday Night

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 23, 2012

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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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K-Rod Trade Had To Be Made

As free agent signings go, Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t a bad one for the Mets.

Sure, he had the incident last season with his girlfriend’s father, but even that worked out well for the club. K-Rod received the proper counseling, the Mets were off the hook for the rest of his 2010 salary and he came as a model citizen this year.

Oliver Perez, K-Rod was not.

But the fact is the Mets needed to trade their now erstwhile closer. With $17 million looming in 2012 and Scott Boras wringing his hands in the background, Sandy Alderson needed to ship his closer away for any price and as quickly as he could.

Boras could have made the Mets life miserable over the next few weeks. Already he boasted Rodriguez wasn’t going to be a set-up man and would be “unhappy” in the clubhouse if he didn’t get the ball in the ninth.

Enter Milwaukee, who is tied in the Central with the Cardinals using John Axford who is 23 out of 25 as their closer. With 23 saves on the season, manager Ron Roenicke can use both pitchers in the ninth as he sees fit or just use K-Rod in the eight. With 34 games finished so far, Rodriguez probably won’t get to the vesting option of 55 games.

So this trade needed to be made. The Mets will get back two player yet to be named, but it doesn’t matter if they are Rickie Weekes and Prince Fielder or two A-Ball relievers, as the deal is about the addition losing K-Rod brings to the Mets.

“We thank Frankie for his contributions to the Mets and wish him well with the Brewers,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief, as well.”

Now the club can see if Bobby Parnell or even Pedro Beato are the answers at closer, or does the team have to look elsewhere next year. By giving their young pitchers a chance in the ninth this season with only an outside shot to contend, the Mets will avoid an Aaron Heilman situation where a good reliever melted as a closer when forced into the pennant race.

More importantly, though, losing Rodriguez give the Mets a much better chance of keeping Jose Reyes. Without K-Rod’s albatross option looming, the club have some cost certainty when it comes to 2012. After Carlos Beltran walks or even gets traded, Alderson will have around $55 million coming off the books, not including Reyes’s $11 million. That means there may be some wriggle room to pay the shortstop in the high teens to low $20 million range in the off-season, while dropping the payroll to a more comfortable level for the Wilpons.

This is exactly what the Wilpons hired Alderson to do. He’s cleaning up Omar Minaya’s mess. Beltran will probably be the next to go – more than likely when David Wright and/or Ike Davis come off the disabled list at the end of the month – and heck, if some insane team wants to take Jason Bay off his hands, Alderson will more than likely drive the left fielder to the airport himself.

So sure the Mets lost a closer last night, but as trade go, this is a good one.

Posted under Aaron Heilman, Bullpen, Cardinals, Clubhouse, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Mcdonald, John Axford, Model Citizen, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Parnell, Payroll, Pitchers, Sandy Alderson, Scott Boras, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 13, 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 Rip Off Second In Row

Friday night in his fifth outing of the season Mike Pelfrey became the ace the New York Mets expected at Citi Field. Against the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he had an unsuccessful 0-5 career mark, Pelfrey had his command and he did it not feeling well on the mound. But his seven innings of good pitching helped the Mets get their second consecutive win, 4-1, as New York took the first game of a three-game series.

He overcame a first inning jam with one out and runners on first and third. And to Mets manager Terry Collins, that was impressive. “That first inning set the tone for the whole club,” said Collins.  He would pitch seven good innings and an Ike Davis go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning that was reviewed was enough to get Pelfey (1-2) his first win of the season.

Palfrey gave up five hits and a run, walked two and struck out four. The command on his fastball and use of other pitches got him through the evening as he fought a stomach ailment that developed prior to the game. Said Pelfrey, “While in the pen, I said, ‘I’m just going to throw strikes. I don’t feel great. We’re going to grind through this and we’re going to get through it.’”

“If he continues like this I don’t think there’s any question he will continue to get people out,” said Collins. Pelfrey used a variety of pitches including the sinker and the fastball to perfection. “He had a great game,” added Collins.

The bullpen tossed two scoreless innings, including a perfect eighth from Jason Isringhausen. Francisco Rodriguez got his third save with a scoreless ninth walking two and striking out one. Isrinhausen has become the new man for the Mets out of the pen in late innings now that Bobby Parnell is on the 15-day disabled lit.

“He’s not afraid and he’s making the pitches,” commented Collins about the veteran Isringhausen who was a spring training invite and was signed to a minor league contract before being called up. “He’s going to be big for us,” he said.

And for the second consecutive game Davis got the home run, the second go-ahead home run for the Mets in consecutive games. At first the ball hit by Davis to center off eventual loser Esmerling Vasquez (0-1) was ruled a double that hit above the orange line on the black wall. Collins asked for a review and it was ruled a homer, his third of the season and team leading 16th RBI.

Prior to the home run, the improved Diamondbacks pen had not allowed an earned run in the last six games. Starter Joe Saunders who entered the game with a 0-2 record was shutting down the Mets allowing two hits and a run in six innings. Saunders, making his first career start against New York felt he had enough to stay in the game but Arizona manager Kirk Gibson stuck with his decision.

“It was my decision and it didn’t work out,” he said about pulling his starter. “I accept that.” Saunders was pulled after walking David Wright and after Davis struck out twice. “I’m just a little mad at myself,” he said about the walk to Wright.

Added Saunders, “As a pitcher and competitor out there you don’t want to come out of there. And up until the walk to Wright, and eventual home run to Davis, Saunders was able to set down a Mets team that came into the game hitting .212 against left handed pitching.

“I knew about their problems hitting,” he said. “When the weather is like this you have to go after the guys and be aggressive.”  It was the first Mets win in the opening game of a series at home this season. Carlos Beltran went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and in his last 13 games is hitting .333 with seven RBI and it was the Mets first victory in which they trailed following the sixth inning.

The return of Jason Bay to the lineup has added a spark of optimism who follows Carlos Beltran batting fifth. “We knew one-to six from spring training was going to be pretty good,” said Collins as Bay adds a different dimension to the order.

But the key is Pelfrey, and for the first time this season two good back-to-back pitching outings from Mets starters as Chris Capuano got the win the evening before in the series finale with Houston.

Notes: Righty Dillon Gee (1-0) gets the start Saturday afternoon in game two of the series…. Angel Pagan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique and outfielder Jason Pridle was called from Triple- A Buffalo. Pridle got the start in center and went hitless in three at bats…

Catcher Ronnie Paulino on a rehab assignment with Buffalo left the game Friday night after five innings with a strained left oblique… Henry Blanco, one of three catchers on the Mets roster last season returned to New York as a member of the Diamondbacks.

The 40 year-old, veteran said he was disappointed that the Mets did not renew his contract, however he has adapted to his new surroundings. “They are a great bunch of guys in here,” he said about his new team. “I miss it here, but it is a good situation for me and my family,” and the Diamondbacks welcome his veteran leadership.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Arizona Diamondbacks, Bullpen, Career Mark, Fastball, First Game, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Series, Mike Pelfrey, New Man, New York Mets, Palfrey, Parnell, Scoreless Innings, Seventh Inning, Spring Training, Stomach Ailment, Top Story, Win 4

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 23, 2011

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More Woes For Mets After Latest Loss

FLUSHING, NY – Jon Niese pitched six innings and his defense helped a bit. However the New York Mets starter, in his fourth outing, threw a season high 113 pitches and walked five which did not help. More so, the Mets offense has become a concern as they were limited to four hits as the Houston Astros took a 6-1 win at Citi Field Tuesday evening.

Coming off a win Sunday in Atlanta, that snapped a seven-game losing streak, New York returned home before a slim crowd in the first of four against Houston, and now have dropped 11 of their last 13 games. Last week the talk was frustration from Mets manager Terry Collins. Now there is the talk about being concerned.

“We’ve got to stop it. I’m very concerned about it,” said Collins regarding the latest loss which matched the third worst start in team history at 5-12. “Late in the game we continue to give up big hits.” He was referring to 3-1 Houston lead that got away in the eighth when the Astros scored three.

Until then, the Mets could not get to Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez. His fourth outing of the young season was his best, seven innings, and after an Angel Pagan double in the second inning he held New York hitless until Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning hit a solo home run. The ball hit to left center-field was his third of the season, all coming at Citi Field, and three of his seven career hits against Rodriguez have been home runs.

The concern is about Bobby Parnell and the Mets bullpen. The pen has pitched the most innings among all teams in baseball in three weeks and Parnell has been ineffective after a strong spring. Parnell balked in a run and allowed a two-run single to Angel Sanchez.

The right hander Parnell revealed later that he has been quietly struggling with feeling in the middle finger of his pitching hand. It is a concern, as Parnell has been slated as the eighth inning guy out of the pen. “It’s a concern of mine,” said Collins who would not comment about Parnell undergoing an MRI on Wednesday before the Mets take on the Astros in the second game of four. “I haven’t seen the real good fastball and I want to know why.”

“I’ve been fighting it and felt I could get through it,” said Parnell afterwards about the discomfort. In eight outings, Parnell has given up nine runs with a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings.  “I’m having a hard time gripping the baseball and feeling it,” he said. Though Collins would not offer any comments about whether the team would have an MRI done or give the struggling reliever a rest.

Rodriguez (1-2) allowed three hits, on three walks, and struck out a season high seven with an effective curve. David Wright struck out once and went 0-for-4, now hitless in his last 16 at bats and among the top three among strikeout victims in the National League.

“I had excellent location tonight,” said Rodriguez who allowed one run in 7.0 innings in his lone start against the Mets last August. “Everything was good. “I want to stay consistent, throw a lot of quality starts.”  He said about the Beltran home run ball, “It was a changeup, more like a batting practice fastball.”

But the Mets may need more batting practice to generate runs because their starting pitching has been keeping them in games until the late innings and the offense has scored six runs in their last four games. The five walks were also a season high for Niese (0-3) as the Mets dropped to 1-7 at home including losing their last six at Citi Field.

“I didn’t feel right,” he said. “I felt a little off.” His defense helped a bit in the third inning, thanks to Wright who dived and tagged Carlos Lee on a close play at third. But Scott Hairston did not help Pedro Beato out of the pen in the seventh. He was charged with an error when he could not catch a Lee ball that was hit deep to left,   glancing off his glove. The play resulted in a Houston run.

Pagan is also struggling at the plate. The double was his only hit in four at bats, and he stranded three runners. Another of the four Mets hits was a double by Ike Davis, the 16th in 17 games for the team and fourth in the league.

“He like a lot of these guys is a key part to this club,” commented Collins about Pagan’s struggles at the plate and about many of the Mets hitters possibly being too aggressive with their bats. “We got to get him going,” he said. And that includes Hairston, who went 0-for-2 striking out twice, another player that Collins would like to see revert to the short swing that was seen in the spring.

Said Pagan, “Tonight was a tough night for the whole team. We have to keep battling. It will change, it will change.” There may be some help, at least some optimism as the injured Jason Bay is slated to return Thursday night at Citi Field. Bay went 4-for-4 and with two home runs and four RBI playing for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League in a rehab assignment.

“I know with him in the lineup, when healthy, he will do a lot of damage,” added Pagan about Bay who is 5-for 9 in three games down in Florida.  But the Mets need more than Bay at this point.

Because Collins is no longer frustrated and now expressing concern as they give the ball to knuckleballer (1-2) R.A. Dickey Wednesday evening in game three of the series against Houston.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Angel Sanchez, Bullpen, Career Hits, Carlos Beltran, Eighth Inning, Game Losing Streak, Houston Astros, Jon Niese, Middle Finger, New York Mets, Pagan, Parnell, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Seventh Inning, Strong Spring, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 20, 2011

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Long day for Mets in Twin Bill Loss to Rockies

The four-game series for the New York Mets at Citi Field with the Colorado Rockies is one that could epitomize where the season is going. New York had leads of two runs in all four that would not last long which contributed to a Colorado sweep.

And the Mets are glad they won’t see Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki until the two teams meet again at Coors Field next month. He homered in four consecutive games at Citi Field, a record at the three-year old park for a visiting or home player. The 26 year old finished the series with a .625 batting average (10-16) with five runs scored, one double, four walks and eight runs batted in.

That was one of the contributing factors that led to New York dropping a twin bill to the Rockies concluding a losing first home stand of the season. They have lost eight of nine, including five straight.  Pitching and defense has not been what manager Terry Collins envisioned as the team embarked on a brief three-game road series in Atlanta.

“We are going to Atlanta and think about what needs to be addressed,” said Collins after a long day at Citi Field .The Mets dropped the first game 6-5, and the nightcap 9-4. The second game was in reach after another two run lead. Then a chopped ground ball to Brad Emas at second, one he could not handle allowed a run to score.

That would lead to more opportunity for the Rockies, who managed to get many of them in the series because of costly miscues by the Mets. Dexter Fowler got a single giving Colorado the 5-4 lead, starter Chris Capuano (1-1) was lifted. And then Taylor Buchholz allowed Jonathan Herrera to hit a three-run homer to right, second of his career.

So the first seven home games at Citi Field have had a recurring theme. The bullpen leaves a lot to be desired, and on the field the Mets are making too many costly mistakes that allowed the opposing team to score and get the win. Earlier this week, Collins admitted it was frustrating. It got worse when he was asked about the losing streak, and how his team played before the home fans the past week after starting the season with a 3-3 road trip at Florida and Philadelphia.

“Depressing,” was the word now used by Collins. “We’re better than this and we’ll play better than this. I still believe we are going to straighten this out. We showed too much promise in spring training. This is not or how we wanted to show our fans.”

However there were some positives in an otherwise dismal Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a fourth inning two-run single to center field in the second game. He had two triples in the series and is getting on base with the extra base hit.

“We need to play better baseball,” said Reyes when asked if there was any sign of panic with the Mets heading to Atlanta with a 4-9 mark. “We have a better team. A loss is a loss. We need to turn this around.”

The four-game home run streak tied the longest stretch of Tulowitzki’s career. He had a similar streak from September 15-19 in 2009. “I definitely had a good series,” he said. The Rockies doubleheader win extended their best 12 game start (10-2) in franchise history and it was their first road series win on the road against the Mets since May of 2002.

“A lot of times you come on the road, you get down late, sixth, seventh inning,” commented Tulowitzki, “and you shut it down, get ready to go home. This team does not do that at all. We’re a bunch of guys who don’t quit.”

“When he gets hot, he’s a very talented player,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy about Tulowitzki.  Reyes and the Mets also know that Tulowitzki is a talented player who can make an impact as three of the four games were lost by one run.

New York lost the opener Thursday afternoon, a game that opened the twin bill caused by a Tuesday rain out that was supposed to open the series. In that game Reyes homered closing the gap to 6-3, but Huston Street closed the win for Colorado as R.A. Dickey dropped his second consecutive start after going six innings.

For the Mets, now it is frustration and according to Collins,” We can win 10 in a row, five in a row. That’s baseball. The object is to play better, that’s my job.” It has to get better soon or quickly in April this season will be meaningless come June.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring766@aol.com

Posted under Bullpen, Colorado Rockies, Consecutive Games, Coors, Coors Field, Costly Mistakes, Dexter, Emas, First Game, Game Road, Game Series, Home Games, Miscues, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Second Game, Shortstop, Starter Chris Capuano, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 15, 2011

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Names May Have Changed But The Met Bullpen Is The Same

FLUSHING, NY – Terry Collins has now managed seven games for the New York Mets. Friday in the opening home game loss to the Washington Nationals he said frustration was not an issue this early in the season. Perhaps he is thinking differently now after an 11-inning 7-3 loss to Washington Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

Frustration though won’t come from Collins, at least this early. But his bullpen may change the mood fast after they spoiled a terrific second outing for starting pitcher Chris Young.  After Young was removed after seven innings, giving up one run, the pen and a defensive miscue opened the door for Washington to take the rubber game.

“He got us to where we wanted to go,” said Collins about his starter who retired 15 of 21 on fly balls. “He got us to the eighth inning and we couldn’t hold it for him. It’s a shame, but he pitched great.”  But the pen did not, and that may be leading to early season frustration for the news Mets manager.

An outfield error for the second straight game also gave this one to the Nationals in the eighth inning. Lucas Duda misjudged a ball by leadoff hitter Ivan Rodriguez that led to a double. D.J. Carrasco then gave up a walk and a single. That would tie the game at 3-3.

From there the Mets pen took it from there, maybe more horrific than the pen that blew so many games in 2010 at Citi Field. And it wasn’t Frankie Rodriguez who retired one batter. It was Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, and Blaine Boyer who added to the pen woes of the Mets that gave up 11 walks and 10 hits in 11 innings in the three-game series.

Four runs in the 11th including a tie breaking single by Rodriguez, and a three-run homer from Laynce Nix off the loser, Boyer( 0-2) made Young’s outing a short term memory. And most of the 35,157 fans left in the ballpark headed for the exits, changes were made on the roster, and Collins offered some frustration.

Duda was optioned to Triple- A Buffalo after the game and changes were made in the pen. Pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Jason Isringhausen, the 38-year old home grown Met, signed to a spring training contract will be at Citi Field Monday evening when the Mets begin a four-game series with Colorado.

“I guess you’ve got to convince them that they got to get beat by somebody swinging the bat,” commented Collins. After seven games, the (3-4) Mets have plenty of time to find a way to get the outs in late innings. Carrasco has been doing the job, so has Bobby Parnell for the most part.

Bur Collins said he avoided using Parnell after two straight appearances out of the pen.  On using Rodriguez to get an out in the eighth, Collins said, “We are not going to wear Frankie out.”  Not using K-Rod has nothing to do with the new performance clause in his revamped contract of innings pitched.

“This is the big leagues and they’ve got to be able to land some pitches,” offered Collins when asked about concern of the Mets pen not able to pick up a win for Young.  “I’m not saying you’re never going to walk somebody, but we’re walking at too high a rate right now.”

Young who spent most of last season with San Diego on the disabled list, due to a sore right shoulder, had a second outing with his new team in his first start at Citi Field, “It was a great experience to be out there,” he said about the crowd and view of the ballpark.

His shoulder felt fine on another cold day at Citi Field, but Collins opted for his pen, going to Carrasco, after Young threw 108 pitches. “You have to have a short memory and it’s something to build on,” he said about the day.

But Collins also was concerned about the defense. Daniel Murphy is still learning how to handle second base. He replaced Brad Emaus and Rodriguez got a hit past him in that 11th inning. Said Carrasco, “Its horrible man to just come in there and give the game away like that is very frustrating.”

Frustrating right now is the word for the Mets after seven games. Collins won’t say it, but if things don’t get better this week against the Rockies you get the feeling the Mets manager will also be using that word more often.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

Posted under Bullpen, Eighth Inning, Fly Balls, Game Loss, Game Series, Home Game, Leadoff Hitter, Miscue, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Rubber Game, Seven Games, Short Term Memory, Starting Pitcher, Straight Game, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 10, 2011

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