Game No. 2 of Subway Series is a Near Duplicate of Game No. 1, Mets Win, 2-1

Flushing, NY—Game #2 of the Subway Series on Tuesday night was delayed for 1 hour and 31 minutes by heavy showers, but there was never an intention to postpone the contest.

A phalanx of camera operators was gathered behind home plate to capture the ceremonial first pitch. Mariano Rivera, the premier closer in baseball history, was being honored on the occasion of his final game at Citi Field by tossing the ball to John Franco, the finest closer in Mets history.

Pitching continued to be in the spotlight when the regular season game began. Starters Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Harvey have, thus far, been the aces of their staffs. The possibility of a perfect game or a no-hitter by either hurler was eliminated early in the game.

The second Met batter in the game, Daniel Murphy, singled to right. The hit was the 24th in his previous 60 at bats, .400, for the hot hitting infielder. Yankee shortstop Reid Brigniac led off the third with a single to right, his first hit as a Yankee.

Although the pitching of the two starters was not perfect, it is only fair to state it was excellent. In a replica of the game of the night before, neither team scored during the first five frames.

As also took place on the night before, the Yankees scored their only run of the game in the top of the sixth. Another similarity was that both run scoring rallies were begun by a base hit by Brett Gardner. On Wednesday, Gardner singled and went to second on an error by rightfielder Marlon Byrd. A single by Lyle Overbay drove Gardner across the plate. Of the hit by Overbay, Mets manager Terry Collins remarked, “He [Harvey] made a mistake and it cost him.” After the game, Harvey agreed, “as soon as I let it go, I wanted to take it back.”

Although both starting pitchers pitched well enough to earn the win, they were not involved in the decision. Kuroda pitched seven innings, allowed no runs, walked no batters, gave up only four singles and fanned seven. Harvey, Kuroda’s junior by 14 years, pitched equally well. He yielded six hits, all singles, fanned 10 and did not issue a base on balls, but did give up one run in the sixth.

This season, the 24 year-old has compiled superlative stats, 5-0 won/loss mark, 1.85 ERA, opponents’ batting average of 1.72, 9.7 strikeouts per 9 innings. Smiling, Collins commented, “He’s really going to be fun to watch in the years to come.”

The outcome was determined in a strikingly similar manner to the game the day before. On Wednesday, the victim was not reliever David Robertson but surprisingly was the seemingly prefect closer Mariano Rivera. With a 1-0 lead in the ninth and Rivera going for his 19th consecutive save of the season, ran into trouble. In only nine pitches, Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda got consecutive hits to score two runs. Rivera admitted, “It did happen quick.” The humble baseball great took the responsibility, “There’s no excuse. Kuroda pitched an excellent game. For me to do that is unacceptable.”

The final two games of this year’s Subway Series now shift to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two righties will face off on Wednesday night. David Phelps (3-2) will start for the Yanks against winless Jeremy Hefner (0-5) for the Mets.

 

 

Posted under Batters, Camera Operators, Daniel Murphy, Final Game, John Franco, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Phalanx, Staffs, Subway Series, Top Story, Yankee Shortstop

Reyes’ Batting Crown a Bittersweet, Confusing Moment for Met Fans

In his native Spanish, the surname of New York Mets’ Dominican star shortstop Jose Reyes translates to “kings.”

Somewhat appropriately, Reyes was crowned a hitting king.

Yet, somewhat inappropriately, Reyes acted with anything but the honor a king is normally shown, when he bunted and quickly bolted from the game to secure the 2011 National League batting title in his team’s final game of the season at Citi Field, in Queens, NY, on Wednesday afternoon.

One thing’s for sure. Ted Williams never would have accomplished the feat same the way Reyes did.

Ironically, it was 70 years ago to the day, that the former Boston Red Sox legend Williams decided to risk a .400 season batting average on the final day of the season, on September 28, 1941.

Some advised Williams not to play that day with an average of .39955, which would have officially been rounded up to .400. But, with a much different attitude than Reyes showed seven decades later, Williams thought he didn’t deserve to hit .400 if he sat out.

Williams instead played both games of a doubleheader and went 6-for-8 to finish with a season average of .406, and remain to this day, the last major leaguer to hit over .400 for a season.

On the other end of that spectrum was Reyes, who decided that doing just enough to win a batting title before leaving unceremoniously, was sufficient.

Reyes is of course entitled to use any offensive weapon in his arsenal. Yet, there was something weak about him bunting – rather than swinging away – for a base hit in his first at-bat during the Mets’ 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, especially since Reyes subsequently took himself out of the game.

Worse, knowing he had raised his season batting average to a league-leading .337 and that Milwaukee Brewers’ leftfielder Ryan Braun would probably need three hits in no more than four at-bats later the same night, Reyes decided to become a spectator for the rest of the afternoon.

Classy move? No way, Jose – even though Reyes gave the Mets (77-85) their first batting title in franchise history.

There were several better options which Reyes could have followed. The best would have had Reyes trying to get a swinging single or an extra-base hit not only his first time up, but to stay in the game, and try to do the same for a few more plate appearances – the way Williams did in his pursuit of the .400 mark, and the way a batting champion would be expected to do.

And, even if Reyes decided that was still too risky, he could have at least returned to the field to play shortstop for another inning or two, before taking a walk from the Citi Field infield while acknowledging what would surely have been a standing ovation from the 28,816 fans who sat through light rain on a weekday afternoon, in large part to see Reyes for what might have been the last time in a Mets’ uniform.

Instead, Reyes very routinely walked from first base to the Mets’ dugout under a chorus of boos with manager Terry Collins taking the blame from a bewildered and disgruntled crowd for taking out the star the fans came to see.

The free agent Reyes, who makes his home close to Citi Field, on Long Island, has publicly stated that he wants to be a Met, but New York general manager Sandy Alderson expects Reyes to test a free agent market that appears to include a few teams who could be willing to pay Reyes more than the Mets (who are strapped with financial issues) might be able to afford.

Met fans have long been aware of those facts, and it’s partly why they booed Reyes, thinking that if it was indeed the last time Reyes played as a Met, it was no way for him to go out.

Braun went 0-for-4 for the NL Central champion Brewers to finish with a season average of .332, but of course, Reyes didn’t know that when he bunted himself on base on the first inning earlier in the day.

Still, Reyes’ actions were a major disappointment for Met fans.

Rather than truly competing for the batting title like Williams did for the .400 mark, Reyes took the easy, cowardly route to his hitting crown on the season’s final day.

He disrespected the game, Met fans, and himself, even though in his own misguided thinking, Reyes believed that by playing a lone inning while recording no fielding chances at shortstop and a bunt single on what has traditionally been Fan Appreciation Day, he was treating the fans to something special.
“A lot of people told me I shouldn’t play,” Reyes said. “I said, ‘Oh, no. I want to play.’ I want to be there for the fans.”
That statement was obviously laughable.
That’s not to say that ensuring the only batting title in Met history wasn’t significant, but how many Met fans have ever showed up at the park to see any Met, let alone a star like Reyes (in possibly is final game for the franchise), hoping they could catch a glimpse of that player in the field for the first inning, and in the dugout for the remainder of the game?

In the coming months, Mets fans will find out just how much Reyes truly wants to play “for the fans” in New York.

If he works out a reasonable deal with the financially troubled Mets, then this year’s batting title was as Reyes said, as much for Met fans as it was for himself, and those fans would be prepared to forever treat Reyes as the King of Queens.

But, if Reyes takes his batting crown and seeks more riches (in the form of a bigger contract) elsewhere, then like he showed after his last at-bat this year, the batting king will be all about himself while saying goodbye to the fans he so casually treated like peasants on Wednesday.

Posted under Bats, Batting Average, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dominican Star, Final Game, Jose Reyes, Major Leaguer, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Offensive Weapon, Queens Ny, Ryan Braun, Spectator, Ted Williams, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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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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A Storm is Coming

NEW YORK – It got dark and ominous as the usual bus ride approached Main Street in Flushing for the trip to Citi Field. We were warned to be careful as this unexpected storm hit this part of New York City. Never been in the battle of such a vicious storm as this was, and it certainly appeared to be a tornado.

Garbage bins went to the other corner, so did the newspaper bins. Wind swept rains gusting like a 100- mph fastball coming to the plate. A bolt of low level lightning and the steeple of historic St. Michaels Church came down. Parts leveled, thankfully on a vacant city bus and parts of the structure blown on Main Street adjacent to stores in that busy business district area of Flushing.

This was going to be another form of reporting and not about a baseball game in Flushing with all of the police activity and closed roads. Rather the carnage left behind from an unexpected storm that in all probability will be diagnosed as a level-1 tornado was going to be the story. Forget about the final game of a four-game series between the New York Mets and last place Pittsburgh Pirates.

The only way to the ballpark, with the 7 train effected with loss of power, a walk down Roosevelt Avenue. Commuters finding an alternative to get home walked past Citi Field under the 7 line to nearby Corona and other neighborhoods in the vicinity of Citi Field.

The ballpark had power. That was noticeable as the lights from Citi Field were clearly visible as we walked down Roosevelt Avenue and made detours around the carnage of downed trees and wind swept broken fences. Destination Citi Field and it looked like a ghost town.

As it was, those who braved the elements witnessed the storm from sheltered areas in the ballpark. There weren’t many in the ballpark when the first pitch, amazingly was thrown at 7:20pm. Only a 12-minute rain delay, because there is a good drainage system at Citi Field and an amazing grounds crew.

“You could not see from here to there,” said veteran reporter Bob Trainor who watched the event unfold from his press box seat where, he of course had the windows closed. “But it was frightening,” he said in the press dining room that also was effected as many members of the media who take the 7 train did not arrive until the sixth inning.

Grace the cashier had to leave because a tree fell in front of her home in nearby Flushing. Maureen the hostess made her phone calls to make sure everything was safe and sound at her home across the river in Bergen County New Jersey.

The official scorer Howie Karpin drove in from Manhattan, battled the gridlock and just made it for the first pitch. Yours truly reviewed the scary ride to Flushing eating the usual and satisfactory Citi Food press meal. And as the first pitch was thrown, there were about 1,000 hearty souls in their seats ready to watch a baseball game.

The upper decks were closed and, later the Mets rewarded those loyal fans to another game to one of the September 27-30 games against the Milwaukee Brewers. Because they got the game in as rain continued to fall, though not as vicious and ominous as the storm that passed.
Later credit Mets management for updating fans about travel conditions that shut down service on most parts of the Long Island Rail Road and an advisory that the 7 line resumed service. Fans felt more at ease, and also pleased about their team even if the sweep was against the worst team in baseball.

“It was unusual playing before so few fans and they are loyal to come out in weather like that,” said third base coach Chip Hale when the night was over. Another Mets win, 6-2 that put them over the .500 mark. A four- game sweep over Pittsburgh and the Mets first over the Pirates since June 19-22 1997

A night to remember this trip to Citi Field, a safe and sound ride home on the usual 7 train ride with Mets radio voice Wayne Hagin who compared the storm to the many he has witnessed in Chicago and the Midwest.

THE GAME AND NOTES:  Mile Pelfrey became the 10th Mets right hander in franchise history to win 15 games in a season and improved to 10-0 at Citi Field…. Rookie Lucas Duda snapped a 0-23 streak with a fourth inning two-run double and also double din the sixth inning for the first multi-hit game of his career…

Angel Pagan finished with three hits and drove in two runs, also extended his career high in steals with 34. He also picked up his ninth outfield assist when he as involved in an 8-4-3 double play in the fourth inning. The assists tied him for second in the National League after making a sliding catch in center that was nearly impossible.

“I am used to playing center field,” he said as Pagan has been used in right and left this season. “I couldn’t believe I made that catch.” He added the catch was done with his eyes closed and was glad it kept John Bowker from getting a triple which kept Pelfrey out of a jam…

Mets manager Jerry Manuel got his laugh of the night that was needed also from the small contingent of media members in his post game conference. When asked if Pagan was in the plans as a starting outfielder next season: “Sure would like to make that decision,” said the embattled Manuel who in al probability will not be making that decision next season…

Manuel also said that he and his team look forward to competing against the Atlanta Braves who are battling first place Philadelphia.  Atlanta comes to Citi Field for a three-game series that begins Friday evening. “We are playing the best baseball in a while even if it was against the Pirates. We will male them suffer a little and there will be that intensity,” he added about the Mets-Braves rivalry…

Pirates remained winless, 0-7 at Citi Field… Their rookie third baseman, Pedro Akvarez of the Dominican Republic and New York got his first hit in the series, a double, and scored a run as many in the slim crowd were friends, from his alma mater Horace Mann Academy in the Bronx.

“It was good coming home,” he said. “I am optimistic about the opportunity to be playing regularly. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Alvarez was a fan of the Boston Red Sox and attributed his success to the family atmosphere and competitive spirit of other ballplayers from the Dominican Republic.

“We went through our adversity and made our sacrifices,” said Alvarez who is batting ,233 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI… The Mets have decided to shut down rookie pitcher Jenrry Mejia. Lifted after 2.1 innings Wednesday night, Mejia had an MRI that revealed rhomboid strain of the right shoulder blade….

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Baseball Game, Bus Ride, Business District, City Bus, Drainage System, Fastball, Final Game, Game Series, Garbage Bins, Ghost Town, Minute Rain Delay, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Police Activity, St Michaels Church, Steeple, Top Story, Trainor, Unexpected Storm, Veteran Reporter, Vicious Storm

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 17, 2010

Mancuso: Mets End A Bright First Half

Four days from now for the New York Mets to think about what is ahead for the remaining 75 games. At the All-Star break they are 48-40 and four games back of the second place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.  They will take it, so will their fans.

An accomplishment because last season at the break the team was 42-45, in fourth place trailing first place Philadelphia by 6-1/2 in the standings. The Mets know they are contending, and know extra help is here with Carlos Beltran coming off the disabled list and making his season debut in San Francisco Thursday evening,

Though Beltran, out since surgery on his right knee, does present some type of dilemma for manager Jerry Manuel. Well sort of, four outfielders and three spots. Someone will have to sit among Jason Bay, Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur.

The plan, according to Manuel is to bat Beltran fourth, a spot currently held by the rookie Ike Davis who will be dropped to the sixth spot. And you can’t sit Pagan down, the Mets most consistent hitter who got another three hits Sunday as New York took the final game over Atlanta salvaging their three-game series.

So what will be the situation when the Mets reconvene Thursday for an 11-game three- city trip that also takes them to Arizona and Los Angeles, a trip the Mets say is crucial as the second half begins. The Mets proved to be a good team at home, 30-16 but their fortunes away from Citi Field not as good at 18-24.

“We didn’t want to go onto the break the way we played the past few days,” commented Manuel after another pitching gem by his ace Johan Santana, which ended the first half on a positive note. New York looked lethargic at the plate the past two games against the division leading Braves, and their other pitcher with first half success, Mike Pelfrey, on Saturday once again could not get past the fifth inning.

But Beltran passed through the Mets clubhouse prior to the finale Sunday, afternoon and Santana gave the team an added lift, more so optimism for a good second half. Nothing but a spot for October baseball is what the Mets want. And they believe with Beltran healthy, and the usual second half success of Santana will get them there.

Francoeur was told by Manuel that he would most likely be regulated as a bench player. Occasionally he will get the start in right, that is, if Pagan hits a tailspin and all indications are that’s not going to happen. Pagan is healthy and shows continually, he is a key offensive cog at the beginning of the lineup.

“It’s not my decision,: commented Pagan about the lineup decisions Manuel has to make, He finished the first half with a string of four consecutive multi-hit games and batted .484 with three doubles, a triple, and two home runs since July 4th in a seven game span.

Pagan added he would like to stay in the lineup. Manuel only indicated that Beltran will get the start and Francoeur will probably sit for the moment, but there is every reason to believe that there will be a platoon of Francoeur and Pagan. Jason Bay, who sat down Sunday, on his bobble head give-away day has been an offensive disappointment but his multi-million dollar contract leaves him in the lineup.

It is no problem for Francouer, He will go with the plan, and the return of Beltran will not disrupt a Mets clubhouse that has good chemistry and has looked forward to his bat back in the lineup.  You heard the comments from the players and realize how important it is to win.

“We’re not satisfied to be three or four games out of first place,” said David Wright who entered Sunday tied for the National League lead in runs batted in with 65 and starts at third base for the NL all stars.  “Our goal is to win the division. There is need for improvement.”

Santana has improved and has thrown shutout baseball the last two starts. The fastball is back and it is helping his other pitches. Now the Mets need to get Pelfrey back into form and with R.A. Dickey and Jonathan Niese having good first halves, perhaps GM Omar Minaya will try and get another starter,  to, compliment them before the trading deadline.

There is the possible return of pitchers Oliver Perez and John Maine from the disabled list, one or the other could be going to the pen. It has been the pitching that has put the Mets in this position of contention and they would like it to stay that way.

With or without Francouer in the lineup, they know what lies ahead in the coming weeks and months. Jose Reyes also is a part of the plan and needs to stay healthy as that catalyst in the lineup.

“Obviously it’s a good problem we have, it’s a good thing to see,” said Francoeur about Beltran. A good problem for this clubhouse if indeed, Beltran stays healthy and shows signs of once again being the run producer that the Mets have lacked since April.

Francoeur said he will do his part when he is in the lineup to make sure “this team wins.”  So do the rest of these New York Mets who feel they are on the footsteps of their first postseason since 2006.

Beltran won’t hurt their chances and neither would a platoon of Pagan and Francoeur. Now if Bay can finally find his home run swing the way Santana rediscovered his fastball.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Carlos Beltran, City Trip, Fifth Inning, Final Game, Fortunes, Four Games, Game Series, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Johan Santana, Mancuso, Mets Clubhouse, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Outfielders, Reconvene, Rich Mancuso, Season Debut, Top Story, Two Games

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