Santana Suffers A Twin Killing

New York- One bad inning was all the Minnesota Twins (41-33) needed to shutout the New York Mets (42-32) by the score of 6-0 in Saturday afternoon baseball at Citi Field. The Twins snapped a season-long four-game losing streak, as the Mets have been shut out four different times this season.

The top of the first inning was that one inning as the scored four runs off Mets starter Johan Santana and never looked back as starter Carl Pavano (9-6) went the distance in his second-complete game. The last time Pavano had a complete-game shutout was on June 5, 2009 against the Chicago White Sox. The former Yankee starter struck out four batters while only giving up one walk in the victory. Santana (5-5) allowed five runs for the fourth straight start, and has still not defeated his former team.

“They (the Twins) came out early and put some good at bats on him (Santana) early in the game,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I thought he made some nice adjustments, he had to use his slider today due to so many lefties in the lineup today and it is a pitch that he can now use to get outs on a consistent basis.”

Double plays along with some key doubles led to the victory for Minnesota as Orlando Hudson got the game going in the top of the first with a two base hit to center field. Joe Mauer laced a single to center field to plate the speedy Hudson to make the score 1-0 Twins. Later in the inning Michael Cuddyer worked the walk to set the stage for Jason Keble who hit a ground rule double (11) down the left field line going into the stands which plated the second Minnesota run. Delmon Young followed up with a double (19) to center field, which made the score 4-0 Twins.

“It was the line drives and double plays that hurt us offensively” Manuel said. “We hit it hard but they were able to make the plays behind Pavano, who pitched very well today.” He would continue by saying, “All of Johan’s starts are usually different as he starts against the other teams’ aces, and there are a lot of good pitchers in MLB this season.”

In the bottom of the second inning the Mets would try to strike back as Ike Davis worked a walk. Unfortunately for the 37,510 fans in attendance Jason Bay would hit a screaming line drive right to shortstop Nick Punto, who turned the six-six-three double play. The first of two for the Twins, as Punto would turn the second double play in the bottom of the third as Cora would pop up to the shortstop, who would throw out Francoeur at first.

Punto would continue his fine day by starting the top of the fourth inning with a single to right field. Carl Pavano laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second for Denard Span who placed a double to right field (12), Span who plated the fifth run.

The Mets would try to get a rally going again in the bottom of the fifth inning. After a strikeout to Davis and a Bay fly out to right field, back-to-back hits by Rod Barajas, who is returning from a bad back and Jeff Francoeur set the stage for Alex Cora. The rally would soon end as Cora hit a ground ball for the final out.

Minnesota would add the last run in the top of the ninth inning as Mets manager Jerry Manuel called for relief pitcher Fernando Nieve who gave up a home run to Jason Kubel (10) who lifted a 1-0 over the wall in right field.

Pavano who looked as sharp in throwing 110 pitches, with 75 of were in the strike zone, came out in the bottom of the ninth inning and sat the Mets down in order to end the game, and secure the complete-game shutout bid.

These two teams will face each other again in the rubber game on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. as Scott Baker (6-6, 4.61 ERA) takes on Jonathon Niese (4-2, 4.17 ERA)

This story originally posted on

Posted under Batters, Carl Pavano, Chicago White Sox, Complete Game, Consistent Basis, Delmon Young, Different Times, Former Team, Game Losing Streak, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Keble, Lefties, Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Saturday Afternoon, Slider, Top Story, Twin Killing, Yankee

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 27, 2010

The Return of WallyBall

This was where Wally Backman wants to be most.  Where he “oughta be”, as the slogan used to go.  Twenty-five years later, those simple words still hold true.

Those old enough to remember New York’s championship in 1986 celebrated his return.  They appreciated his nine years with the Mets, which included a .283 career batting average and 106 stolen bases, both Top 10 numbers on the franchise’s all-time list.

In the interim, Backman had bounced around as a minor league manager, most notably winning a Southern League title with the 2002 Birmingham Barons (the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) and the Sporting News’ 2004 Minor League Manager of the Year, upon leading the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Lancaster Jethawks squad (A) to an 86-54 record.

But, within 96 hours after he was tabbed as the Diamondbacks’ manager later that year, all hell broke loose.  Reports surfaced that Backman’s recent history included several legal and financial issues.  Management -obviously embarrassed for conducting a less-than-stellar background check- retracted its offer and promptly axed him before the week was over.

Still, he continued to persevere.  In 2007, Backman led the South Georgia Peanuts, an independent team, to the South Coast League’s inaugural title.  The following year, he was with the Joliet JackHammers of the Northern League.

In November 2009, Backman was chosen to take the Brooklyn Cyclones into their 10th season.

That began on Friday, with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory in Staten Island.  A 1-0 record was, at the least, a good start.  At the most, it pushed his highly anticipated managerial debut at MCU Park that much closer.

“I am thrilled and grateful to be coming back to the Mets’ organization,” Backman said when he was introduced as manager.  “The greatest days of my professional career were spent here in New York, and I have always felt a special connection to the city.  Brooklyn is a major minor-league team, and I know the borough’s fans are – like me – intensely passionate about baseball and about winning.”

Backman knows how baseball in this town is supposed to be played.  After all, he epitomized the player who maximized his ability, and never -ever- cheated his audience.  His return to the metropolis was, at first, a curious one because Jerry Manuel’s tenure as Mets’ skipper was in jeopardy;  now it is lauded for what it actually is -a chance for young men to learn the right way to play the game.

By chance, this is where he had received his start after New York drafted him 16th overall in the 1977 Draft.  Fresh out of Aloha High School in Orgeon, the 18 year-old newbie hit .325 over 69 games for Little Falls, then a New York-Penn League affiliate.

Thus, it was inevitable that when the 50 year-old former second baseman emerged one-half hour before Saturday’s opening pitch, fans alongside the Cyclones’ dugout cheered wildly.  Instantly, Backman was besieged by autograph seekers.

“The fans haven’t changed,” he said, after Brooklyn won its second straight over the rival Yankees, 9-6, which drew a franchise record crowd of 9,888.  “It was a good reception; even better that we got the win for them.”

Do not be fooled by the nine runs.  Staten Island committed five errors, which produced a wild line score of 6-7-5.  Only five of the Cyclones’ runs were earned, lending even more credence that WallyBall will be very much in play over the summer.

“I was told, from Day One, that -when the wind blows in- a ball hit to rightfield is not going anywhere,” Backman noted.  “We will have to manufacture runs here.  We don’t have a lot of power guys, so we’ll have to hit-and-run, and move guys over.  And, try to force the defense to make some mistakes.”

After all the miles in between, he is finally back home -to a place where everyone knows his name, as that famous lyric goes- and doing what he likes to do.  And, at this moment, it doesn’t get much better.

John Buro covers the New York Mets for

Posted under Arizona Diamondbacks, Background Check, Birmingham Barons, Boro, Brooklyn Cyclones, Career Batting Average, Chicago White Sox, Georgia Peanuts, Independent Team, Issues Management, Joliet Jackhammers, Lancaster Jethawks, Minor League Manager, Minor League Team, New York Mets, Professional Career, Recent History, South Coast League, Sporting News, Th Season, Top Story, Twenty Five Years, Wally Backman

This post was written by John J. Buro on June 21, 2010

Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 06/05/10

ITEM: Kansas defensive tackle Jamal Greene is dismissed from the team after he and former teammate Vernon Brooks are arrested in connection with an attempted aggravated robbery (Brooks had ALREADY been dismissed from the team before spring practices for violating various team rules). My first thought? This will simply give these ‘outstanding’ young men more time to work on term papers, visit the school library, take additional/challenging classes, and help old ladies across the street………TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1979 Chicago White Sox were led in wins by a pitcher whose victory total that season was more than one-third of his CAREER total. Can you name this individual? Answer to follow……….Just thinking: If Ken Griffey Jr. of the Mariners had aged HALF as well as actresses Jennifer Aniston and Sharon Stone, then Seattle would be leading the AL West by 5 games at this juncture……….I’d love to see LPGA golfer Angela Stanford hook up with New Mexico State infielder Joel Cardinal; if they ever tied the knot, fans of a Palo Alto, CA school would surely delight in her full married name of Angela Stanford Cardinal……….This week in sports history, June 8, 1968: L.A. Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale’s 58-inning scoreless streak comes to an end as a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Philadelphia’s Howie Bedell scores Tony Taylor in a game played at Dodger Stadium. Just two innings earlier, Drysdale had passed Walter Johnson’s previous mark of 55 2/3 scoreless innings–drawing a standing ovation from more than 50,000 fans in attendance. Philadelphia ended up scoring three runs off Drysdale during the game, but he ultimately improved his record to 8-3 during a 5-3 Dodgers victory………. Regarding the disaster better-known as Oliver Perez: Don’t you think this guy should at LEAST donate a few million bucks worth of Sominex to the Mets–who can then distribute the sleep-aid to fans who’ve endured so many restless nights since his ridiculous signing?……….Did you know that the 1979 Los Angeles Dodgers had FIVE players with 20 or more home runs apiece–but finished with a sub-.500 record? Joe Ferguson, Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, and Steve Garvey all homered at least 20 times, but the team finished 79-83 under manager Tom Lasorda–11 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Cincinnati Reds………. Answer to trivia question: KEN KRAVEC–who went 15-13 in 1979 while winning just 43 games over his entire eight-year career……….Just wondering: Do you think a muscled-up “A-ROID” thought of his past steroid use after hitting that scorching line drive off the head of Indians pitcher David Huff last weekend? Wait a second–a member of the MLB player’s union with a true CONSCIENCE??? Nahhhhhh…………Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA center Bryant “Big Country” Reeves–who blows out 37 candles on June 8th. While at Oklahoma State, Reeves averaged more than 17 points and 8 rebounds per game over his four-year college career and led his team to the Final Four in 1995. Reeves became the first-ever draft pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies and spent six seasons with them from 1995-2001–averaging 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds over the course of his NBA career. One of the highlights of Reeves’ career was setting a Grizzlies club record in March of 2000 when he converted 11 straight field goal attempts against the Seattle SuperSonics. Sadly, weight and injury problems took their toll on Reeves in the late 90′s–causing him to retire at a very young age. Best wishes, “Big Country”……….Finally, condolences go out to former Oklahoma coach Ray Thurmond–who passed away recently at the age of 89. Thurmond was named as OU’s golf coach and freshman basketball coach back in 1967; while working under Sooners head basketball coach John McLeod, Thurmond helped develop such star players as Clifford Ray and Garfield Heard. A World War II veteran, Thurmond attended North Texas State and went on to coach FIVE different sports at the high school level (in Texas, Georgia, and California) before joining OU’s physical education staff in 1960. Any person familiar with “Sooner Country” will attest to the fact that Ray Thurmond undoubtedly was one of the most popular figures in Oklahoma sports history; he’ll surely be missed. Rest in peace, “Coach.”

Posted under Bob Lazzari, Chicago White Sox, Dodger Stadium, Don Drysdale, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Griffey Jr, Lazzari, New Mexico State, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Palo Alto Ca, S Sports, Sacrifice Fly, Scoreless Streak, Sominex, Sports History, Spring Practices, Standing Ovation, Teammate Vernon, Tony Taylor, Top Story, Trivia Question, Walter Johnson

This post was written by Bob Lazzari on June 5, 2010