Mets Starter Collin McHugh Makes a Superlative Major League Debut, but Mets Lose to Rockies, 1-0

The Mets have been in a downward slide since the All-Star break. The most recent debacles were the shutting down of starter Johan Santana for the remainder of the season and being swept in a four game series to the woeful and also injury ridden Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.

The only positive for a losing team in the final weeks of a season is being able to bring up minor league players for the opportunity to test their skills at the major league level during regular season games. Thursday’s starting pitcher for the Mets, Collin McHugh, was making his big league debut in place of Santana.

The 25 year-old hurler’s official journey to the majors began in 2008, when he was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft. He slowly moved up in class since his draft. During the 2012 season, he made 12 starts for Binghamton in AA and then moved up to make 12 additional starts for Buffalo in AAA.

McHugh’s pre-September call-up to start on Thursday afternoon was caused by Santana’s injury that prevented him from making his scheduled start. Thus, one can understand from this situation that one man’s curse can be another man’s blessing.

After the contest ended, Met’s manager Terry Collins spoke about this type of happenstance all season, “When our starting pitching went down, you have to start looking at the younger guys.”

After 2012 Olympic gymnast gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch, McHugh threw his first pitch of the game at 1:11 pm. The first Colorado batter, Charlie Blackmon, doubled to left. The rookie then retired the next three batters, fanning Jordan Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez.

The neophyte continued his excellent work during the next six innings. In his seven frames, McHugh only surrendered two hits. He walked one batter, Gonzalez, and struck out nine. The high level of his performance was very rare. He was the first Met making his debut in the majors since Masato Yoshii on April 5, 1998, to pitch seven scoreless innings. He is only the third hurler making his Major League debut to pitch at least seven innings, give up two hits and strike out nine.

Catcher Josh Thole said of his rookie batterymate’s performance, “He was outstanding today. He hammered the strike zone.”

McHugh described his feelings on the mound, “I felt great. I felt real comfortable out there…My goal was to go out there and give this team a chance to win. This is my debut, but I hope to have a lot more.”

The young pitcher expressed joy in the presence of his immediate family and close friends being in the park to see him perform well, “[Present were] mom, dad, wife, sister, brother, cousin, and a couple of friends that could be family. The Lord has really blessed me more than I deserve.”

McHugh’s outstanding outing did not lead to a Mets win due to the club’s lack of effective offense and the usual ineffective bullpen work. Met batters went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, lowering the club’s clutch output to 25 for 143, a batting average below .180 during the month of August.

The Mets bullpen in the person of Bobby Parnell gave up the only run of the game very quickly in the eighth. Pacheco tripled over the head of Jordany Valdespin in center. Collins admitted of the misplay by the converted infielder, “You have to be careful of putting guys out of position. It’s [a mistake] going to happen at the wrong time.” The next batter, Chris Nelson, singled to score Pacheco. The loss was the 25th by a Mets reliever this year. The Mets bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors.

In contrast to the Mets bullpen, Colorado’s relievers held the Mets scoreless for six innings. Reliever Rex Brothers, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings, earned his seventh straight win.

The Mets have yet to score a run off Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood. The 22 year old has blanked New York for 10 innings of work, giving up only seven hits. He left the game on Thursday after only three innings.

The two teams are moving in opposite directions. The Rockies, although in last place in the N.L. West, have been victorious in 9 of their last 11 contests while the Mets have only won 4 of their most recent 17 games.

Collins spoke very openly of the current play of his team, “We can’t execute. We left 12 guys on base today.” Speaking of the sweep by the Rockies, he admitted, “They [Rockies] got big hits. They just played better.”

The Mets will next play a weekend series with the team with the worst record in the majors, the Houston Astros. Houston, making its final appearances as a National League team at Citi Field, will start Jordan Lyles (2-10) on Friday night. The Mets starter will be Jonathon Niese (10-6).

 

Posted under Batters, Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, Downward Slide, Gabrielle, Game Series, Gold Medalist, Happenstance, Johan Santana, League Debut, Losing Team, Mchugh, New York Mets, Olympic Gymnast, Pacheco, Regular Season Games, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on August 24, 2012

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Mets bullpen causes another loss and K-Rod arrested for assault after the game

New York -  As ugly as the New York Mets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies was Wednesday evening at Citi Field, things got worse moments later in the family room when closer Frankie Rodriguez assaulted his father-in-law and was charged with third degree assault.

Rodriguez took his anguish out on reporters in the clubhouse when asked “If he was ready to pitch.”  Because the Mets bullpen imploded and squandered a lead, as K-Rod with two outs in the eighth inning was not called on by manager Jerry Manuel to get a four-out save.

“I didn’t pitch,” said an angered Rodriguez. “I don’t have to talk to you guys,” as he stormed out of the clubhouse and is now known, he assaulted his father-in-law. With the bases loaded, Manuel opted to use the seldom used Manny Acosta who threw a 2-2 curve to Melvin Mora that went over the left field wall.

The grand slam for Mora, the fourth of his career and a National League leading ninth given up by Mets pitchers this season, also epitomized another night of frustration that may have also put a final dent in any hopes for a Mets postseason. The Mets failed to win back-to-back games for the 42nd straight time, and the K-Rod incident also indicates a frustration and implosion of a season gone bad.

Acosta followed the grand slam with a walk and two singles, including a run scoring single hit by Clint Barmes to short left. “It was a slider, a good pitch,” commented Acosta about the home run ball thrown to Mora.

“I’ve been in this situation many years, and I know the pressure isn’t on me it’s on the pitcher,” said Mora about his grand slam. The former Met added, : “I love that pressure and I love that situation.”

“I knew he had a chance when he swung the ball, it was a big hit, a big win,” said Carlos Gonzalez,” ranked in the top five of the National League in average, home runs, RBI and ruins scored.

Manuel defended his reason for not using K-Rod in the situation, way before his closer had his eruption in the clubhouse and then taken into custody. “Usually when we use K-Rod the night before we wouldn’t take that shot,” he said referring to Rodriguez working the previous evening when he notched his 25th save with a perfect ninth inning.

“We have to find a way to get that out,” he said. “We have no margin of error.” And Mets fans, many of the 30,554 who left after the bullpen implosion let Manuel know they were displeased not bringing in K-Rod by chanting a “Fire Jerry” chant. The Mets trail first place Atlanta by 9-1/2 games and need to jump over six other teams in the wild card race.

“That’s part of it,” Manuel said. “When you make decisions and they don’t work out New York will let you know.”  The Mets were limited to three hits as the offense continues to struggle. David Wright also heard it from the fans, striking out four times which tied a career high. Since the all-star break, Wright is hitting .196 and .061 in the month of August.

After a first inning where the Mets scored their two runs on the 10th home run of the season hit by Angel Pagan, a career high, the Mets would produce one walk and one other hit.  At one point Rockies pitching struck out seven straight, including winning pitcher Matt Belisle (5-4) who came out of the pen and struck out three in the seventh.

The Mets did not get a base runner after the fifth inning. “I’m not having much fun right now,” said Wright, its rough.” As for the fans also getting on his case, he said “They are obviously frustrated as we are. The fans have every right to voice their opinion.”

Jonathon Niese gave up one run in seven innings and struck out seven failing to get the decision as the Mets bullpen gave up five Colorado runs in the eighth inning with two outs. “This is rough,” said Niese. “It’s tough to watch.”

Manuel said Niese was complaining about pain in his lower hamstring, a reason he did not come out for the eighth, But, like so many negative conditions that exist with the Mets, Niese contradicted what his manager said when asked if there was a problem again with his hamstring.

More so, much tougher to watch a team implode as they may be without their closer. Rodriguez has more pressing issues to deal with as Johan Santana (9-6) takes the mound Thursday afternoon and tries to earn the Mets a series win in what will probably be a very hush Mets clubhouse.

A season on the brink and very little to save, no pun intended.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Acosta, Anguish, Big Win, Bullpen, Carlos Gonzalez, Clint Barmes, Clubhouse, Colorado Rockies, Degree Assault, Eighth Inning, Grand Slam, Home Runs, Implosion, Melvin Mora, New York Mets, Pitchers, Slider, Straight Time, Third Degree, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 12, 2010