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 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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Mets Tame The Tigers Behind Reyes and Dickey

New York -   R.A. Dickey could have completed the game and after eight innings Wednesday evening at Citi Field he had the ability to do so. The knuckleball was working, and so was the fastball. But New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel had another intention. Bring in closer Francisco Rodriquez for the ninth even though the Mets had a 5-0 lead over the Detroit Tigers.

“I know that we have to keep Frankie on some type of game regimen and it’s a difficult, difficult decision that you have to deprive a guy of a complete game shutout,” said Manuel about his decision. Dickey once again was superb throwing 97 pitches, allowing four hits and two walks.

He retired 13 consecutive Tiger batters from the fourth inning on.  Again Dickey, now 6-0 proved he will have to be forced out of the Mets starting rotation. And the only way that will happen is if Dickey suddenly loses control of the knuckleball which had the Tigers struggling.

“He’ll have to have a number of bad outings to take him out of the rotation,” admitted Manuel. The 35-year old Dickey who was bypassed in spring training after signing a minor league deal has come up big. He is one of the reasons the Mets are back in contention, and got a spot in the rotation when Oliver Perez and John Maine went on the disabled list.

But why not let Dickey go the route and use your closer with a secure lead in the ninth?  “If we don’t do that,” said Manuel about using Rodriguez, “we fall back into a category of not having him sharp and he needs to be sharp. And we found out if he doesn’t get those innings it becomes very difficult for him to close out games.”

Perhaps the correct answer from Manuel, because the last appearance for Rodriquez out of the pen was last Friday evening when he recorded his 16th save against the Yankees where he stranded two inherited runners. Rodriguez also made it known before the game, to Manuel that he needed to pitch It was a decision that Dickey accepted when he did not go out for the ninth, even though he would have loved to have finished off the Tigers.

Said, Dickey “I was unsuccessful,” regarding his request to Manuel about taking the mound for the ninth.

But this is a Mets team, and a clubhouse that is unified and will do anything positive that will lead to another win. “Keeping Frankie sharp is going to win us ballgames,” said Dickey the first Mets pitcher to go 6-0 in his first seven starts with the team.  It was also the Mets major league leading 10th shutout of the year and Dickey has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his seven starts.

The Mets, now 11 games over .500 at 41-30 also picked up a game on the Atlanta Braves now trailing them by a half game in the NL east. And once again the Mets got on the board early because of Jose Reyes. He led off the first inning with a triple, but his single and stolen base in the third led to a run off the double from David Wright giving them a 1-0 lead.

New York would add another run in the fifth off Detroit starter and loser Jeremy Bonderman (3-5). They would put three more runs on the board in the seventh. And Reyes, like Angel Pagan the night before, fell short of hitting for the cycle. Besides the single and triple, Reyes hit a two-out solo home run off Bonderman in the fifth, his sixth of the season.

“I feel like I am back for sure,” said Reyes reiterating that he has rebounded from his injury shortened season of last year.  He has scored at least one run in 11 of his last 14 games, and the Mets are 28-7 when Reyes scores at least one run.

Surly he is the catalyst, as has always been known to the Mets lineup.

NOTES:  Angel Pagan who had four runs batted in the night before and was a home run short of the cycle was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Jesus Feliciano replaced him and got his first big league RBI on fielder’s choice induced by a groundout.

There is a concern that Pagan, the most consistent hitter in the Mets lineup, could miss some playing time because of spasms in his right side. Manuel will sit down Pagan in the series finale Thursday evening.  “I’ve played through pain before,” said Pagan. “This situation I am trying to be smart to keep playing,” he said realizing that Carlos Beltran will return soon and the Mets will have three spots and four outfielders More so for precautionary reasons…

With the win, the Mets improved to 11-3 in inter league play…David Wright with his RBI, 19 in inter league play, leads the majors in that category… The Mets scored four of their five runs with two outs including a two-out, two-run single by Ike Davis in the seventh…

New York is 26-10 at home and 12-2 over its last three homestands…Ruben Tejada, rumored to be sent down soon when Luis Castillo returns from the disabled list extended his career high hitting streak to seven games with a single in the Mets three-run seventh, He is batting .348 during that span…

Series finale will see (2-1) Armando Galarraga, the near perfect game pitcher taking the mound for Detroit opposing Lefthander Hisanori Takahashi (6-2, 3.13 ERA) who threw six scoreless innings against the Yankees Friday evening…

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Batters, Complete Game, Contention, Correct Answer, Detroit Tigers, Difficult Decision, Fastball, Francisco Rodriquez, Friday Evening, Game Shutout, Knuckleball, Last Friday, Minor League Deal, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Pitches, Regimen, Runners, Spring Training, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 24, 2010