Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Home Park, Houston Astros, Managerial Responsibilities, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Rockland County, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

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Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Harrel, Home Park, Houston Astros, Interim Manager, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Seton Hall University, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story, Winning Shot

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

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Frustration and friction for the Mets as they conclude winless home stand

A second half collapse has once again left the New York Mets frustrated as they left town for an 11-game road swing to Arizona, San Francisco, and San Diego. Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, after a series finale loss and three-game sweep to the first place Washington Nationals, manager Terry Collins was trying to find some answers.

Perhaps, like last season, when the Mets also collapsed after the all-star break, hitting the road was the best remedy. But this slide has come earlier as the Mets fail to get the hits, the bullpen gives up the runs, while a patched up starting rotation tries to put in some innings.

This time, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (11-4) fanned 11 in seven innings. And for the second straight game, Adam LaRoche hit a home run. His 18th of the season, a two-run shot to right field off Tim Byrdak broke the game open in what became a 5-2 win and series sweep.

Jeremy Hefner (1-4) took the loss striking out a season high and allowed three runs including back-to-back home runs in the second inning from Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa.

And that home run by LaRoche also became an added part of the frustration, a season high sixth straight loss for New York, 12 of their last 13 games, and 1-11 since the all-star break. And for the eighth time in their 50-year history, New York had a winless homestand of six or more games.

Frustration also, because the pitch that Byrdak threw to LaRoche was a fastball down the middle. His catcher, Josh Thole set up for an outside pitch that was reportedly called from the bench by pitching Coach Dan Warthen. ‘

Not the pitch Thole expected, and it led to a dugout confrontation that saw David Wright intervene to defuse the situation. The Mets say it is a part of the frustration and all they need is some wins to restore some order and get back in the race.

However, it is getting more difficult to win because the Mets are not doing anything right like they did in the first half. In a very quiet Mets clubhouse, Wright tried to explain what has been going wrong.

“It’s what happens when two competitors disagree with something,” said Wright about the dugout squabble. “That happens regularly, but when it happens, you don’t want it to be in front of everybody like that. I’d be more upset if they weren’t upset about it, because obviously Thole wanted one pitch and Byrdak wanted a different one.”

Said Byrdak, “We need to go out there and win ballgames. We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. There’s frustration all around the clubhouse. From what he did in the first half to come out in the second half and have this happen…”

He added, “There are a lot of guys that are pissed off. Everybody is pissed off. I made a mistake on the mound and I apologized to Josh about it. It never should’ve happened.”

Byrdak also said it was a pitch that wasn’t executed well, and the bullpen needed to keep the game close in the situation with LaRoche at bat.

Thole also said it was the emotion of frustration that has set in the Mets clubhouse, a totally different reaction that Collins and the team were portraying when they won ballgames in the first half and became a surprise team in baseball.

“It’s one of those things when you are not winning ballgames,” said Thole when asked about the pitch that Byrdak threw. “Emotions get the best of you sometimes. That’s what happens when you give up runs and lose games. Stuff like that happens.”

Thole added, the pitch caught him off guard and there was no elaboration about further dissension with Byrdak or Warthen. But he did say, “I don’t think anything can get any worse than it is right now. We can’t wait to get out of here.”

Before being swept by the Nationals, the Mets dropped three straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers and finished the stand,0-6, now their last seven at home with a loss to the Cubs before the break. New York is four games under .500 at 47-51, and further away from the Nationals in the NL east, 11/1-2 games and seven in the wildcard.

Frustration, yes, and a way to fix what is wrong and do what they did right in the first half is something that Collins and his coaching staff were going to contemplate on the long plane ride to Phoenix.

The Mets start a four- game series with the Diamondbacks Thursday night and Matt Harvey, their first round draft pick of 2010 will get the start.

“We’re gonna get through it and your gonna see a different team in the next two weeks,” said Collins about his team that was 36-29 on July 7th. He held a team meeting this week and would not comment about what happened with Thole and Byrdak in the dugout.

There is no sense of panic, but it is frustration.

“I deal with accountability,” he commented. The manager held a team meeting earlier this week sensing something was wrong.“Standing up and being a man and playing the game right. We’re gonna get back on track,” he said.

And getting back on track, is what Collins alluded to with getting big  hits and making the right pitches, just like his team did a month ago. “We’re better than the way we’re playing and we’re gonna prove it.”

For the Mets they have to prove it the next 11-game or the frustration will get worse.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring 786@aol.com

Posted under David Wright, Fastball, Game Road, Game Sweep, Hitting The Road, Michael Morse, New York Mets, Pitching Coach, Rich Mancuso, Road Swing, Straight Game, Strasburg, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wednesday Afternoon

Mets Sweep Gives Team Hope

New York – A prevailing mood in the New York Mets clubhouse is that they can win and have an impact in the National League East. And after completing a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Citi Field over the division rival Atlanta Braves, 7-5, there is every reason to put things in another perspective.

Winning ballgames, and more than the experts predicted has put a different perspective on what is expected to be another dismal season in Flushing. This was the first time in a 50 –year history of the club when a Mets team started the season with a three- game sweep over a division rival.

At 3-0, and with the cross- town Yankees off to a 0-3 start, this is something the organization is hoping will regenerate some interest. More so, if the wins can continue in the next three games at home with the Washington Nationals, getting a good start out of the gate is what will convince fans that this may not be dismal as was expected.

“This means everything,” said Manager Terry Collins when asked about the three games against Atlanta that saw his team pitch effectively, use the long ball, and also get the timely hit. “We’ve done a lot of talk in spring training about getting ready to compete. I told those guys in the first meeting ‘you’re professional baseball players and there are expectations in this town and in this clubhouse.’”

Numerous times last season, his first, Collins reiterated about expectation but the message did not carry into wins. A second half finish saw New York finish fourth in the division with 77 wins, and then losing Jose Reyes to free agency, now with the Miami Marlins, made the outlook look more dismal for 2012.

However, Reyes, for the moment has quickly not been a topic at Citi Field. His replacement, 22-year old shortstop Ruben Tejada, had a career day Sunday with a career high four hits with two doubles, driving in two runs.

“We have to keep working hard every day,” commented Tejada. “We play hard and together as a team,” he said.

And that was a prevailing attitude of this Mets team after the season opening series sweep Sunday afternoon. They believe in themselves as a team and despite what the prognosticators say, they have no intention of making this a dismal season.

And if the Mets get good starting pitching, as they did Sunday from Jonathon Niese, Saturday from R.A. Dickey, and in the opener Thursday, five strong innings from Johan Santana, well this could become a special season. But will the pitching stay consistent? Can Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee, who start the first two games with the Nationals Monday and Tuesday, be just as good?

“You can’t ask for better than that,” said Collins about the starts that have put the Mets at 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they won their first four. “We saw that in spring training even though our starters did not go deep. We like our rotation,” he said also referring to Gee and Pelfrey.

Niese, in particular, who signed a long term contract Saturday, struggled often last year.  At times there were doubts he could be a quality starting pitcher. The return of Santana has inspired the pitching staff, and according to guys in the clubhouse the entire roster.

“They want to compete and do what he does,” said Collins. “He creates a great atmosphere. It spreads.

Niese flirted with a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Freddie Freeman singled to right field with no outs.  He would allow four runs, two earned, seven strikeouts and two walks. He lasted two more batters after the hit by Freeman. Atlanta scored four runs in the seventh. Lucas Duda lost a ball in the sun, and Jason Howard had a two-run double.

“It would have been hard to take me out,” said Niese who had a 93 mile fastball and control that was rare last season. The Mets after 7,911 games still remain one of four teams in baseball that have never had a no-hitter pitched. “We have a staff that likes to compete with each other and that is a good thing,” said Niese.

And this start has also been attributed to a revamped bullpen. Frank Francisco closed his third consecutive game becoming the first player in franchise history to save his first three games. Prior to a Brian McCann home run in the eighth inning it was the first Mets run surrendered by the pen. In three games the pen has allowed  one earned run in 10.0 innings.

“We have to pitch,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a long way to go.  All we want to do is stay competitive.”

They have come out of the gate with this good start. That is what every Mets fan needed to see, and this team believes it will continue. David Wright is hitting with authority and showing signs of his old self. Daniel Murphy picked up a couple of hits and two RBI, including a two-run double in the three-run Mets sixth.

Now they need Ike Davis to get it going as well as Jason Bay, two silent bats in the first three games. But they feel like everyone else in the Mets clubhouse. It will come.

“I’m just a little off right now, I’m not worried,” said Davis. His feeling is the hits will come and go five for his next ten, and there will be no reason for concern. “It’s only three games,” he says about going hitless in his first eleven times at the plate.

Last season that would have been a concern. But for now, with the three- game sweep coming out of the gate, there is not one player in that Mets clubhouse who will think otherwise. Winning and a different perspective of what they are capable of doing is here to stay,

Jose Thole the rookie catcher said in that clubhouse Sunday, “We have a team that can win and we will continue to do it.”  And for the first three games the Mets have certainly proved they can be competitive.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Career Day, Cross Town, Different Perspective, Dismal Season, Division Rival, Game Sweep, Hope New York, Jose Reyes, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Team, National League East, New York Mets, Professional Baseball Players, Rich Mancuso, Shortstop, Spring Training, Team Hope, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2012

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Brewers Sweep Weekend Series over the Mets; Mets Drop 9 of Last 11 Games

Flushing, NY—The Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 victory over the Mets completed a three game sweep over the Mets at Citi Field. The two clubs are presently heading in very different directions. The Brewers are in first place in the N.L. Central Division after winning 22 of the last 25 games. The Mets have dropped nine of the last eleven contests and are only three games in front of the last place Florida Marlins in the N.L. East.

The weekend games provided very happy birthdays for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke (Friday) and Milwaukee’s ace pinch hitter, Craig Counsell (Sunday). Roenicke is enjoying a successful rookie season as manager of the Brewers.  Counsell, as a pinch hiller, led off the ninth with a single to right. The plate appearance as a pinch hitter and the base hit raised his career team marks to 161 and 40 respectively. Counsell, 41, is the sixth oldest player currently active in MLB.

The two starters, R.A. Dickey and Yovani Gallardo statistically threw almost identical games. Each pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, both earned, and surrendered six hits. Gallardo walked one, intentionally and fanned six. Dickey did not walk a batter and struck out three. Neither hurler figured in the decision.

The first run of the contest was scored on a two-out home run hit by Casey McGehee in the fourth. The second run for the Brewers were scored by the superstar combo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. One day earlier, both homered in the 11-9 Brewers comeback victory, the 33rd game in which each blasted a four bagger. On Sunday, Braun led off the sixth with a single, stole second and scored on a single to center by Fielder.

The Mets tied the score in the seventh. David Wright singled to lead-off. The next batter, Lucas Duda drove in two as he homered to right on the first pitch. The Mets did not score again as former Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez in the eighth and former Yankee LaTroy Hawkins In the ninth retired all the batters they faced.

The four Mets relievers, Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen and Pedro Beato surrendered four runs and five hits in two innings. After the contest, Mets manager Terry Collins expressed his regret over removing Dickey from the game, “R. A. Pitched a great game. I have to take this one [blame]. I should have stayed with R.A.”

Ryan Braun did the greatest damage to the Mets. He hit safely three times, stole two bases, his 25th and 26th, score two runs and drove in a third. Collins said, “You have to give Braun credit.”

Collins spoke of his team’s recent failings, “When Jose and Murph went down, we had to pick ourselves up and we just have not done that. We haven’t played well enough to win. We have to get them [players] to believe in themselves again.”

Fielder explained to reporters his team’s confidence and success, “I think we finally got that feeling [that we can find a way to win] on the road. I never saw that [22 of 25 wins] since Little League.”

The difference between the two teams may have been best expressed by Frankie Rodriguez, who has played for both in 2011. When Queens reporter Lloyd Carroll said to Rodriguez, “I’ll bet you’re just glad to be over here [Brewers] than over there [Mets], K-Rod emphatically replied, “Hell Yeah!”

Posted under Comeback Victory, David Wright, Florida Marlins, Game Sweep, Happy Birthdays, Latroy Hawkins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Plate Appearance, Rookie Season, Ryan Braun, Three Games, Top Story, Weekend Games

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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Snakes Continue To Bite Mets

New York – Last week at Chase Field in Phoenix Arizona the Diamondbacks handed the New York Mets a three-game sweep. That continued, in what would be a dismal 2-9 west coast trip for New York that had them looking for redemption at Citi Field Friday evening,

However, Mike Pelfrey continued to have his first inning struggles and Arizona picked up where they left off last week taking the opening game of a three- game weekend set 9-6. Another loss for the Mets that left them at 52-51, 7-1/2 games behind first pace Atlanta and in a fourth place tie with Florida in the NL East.

It is starting to get dismal at Citi Field.  And the Mets also have to wonder what has happened to Pelfrey who surrendered three runs in the first inning. The Mets would get even in their half of the first on the first of two home runs from David Wright. It was a three- run blast off winning pitcher Ian Kennedy (6-8).

As for Pelfrey (10-5) who failed to get the decision, the Mets have to hope their right hander can return to form if they have any chance of making the postseason. And once again the Diamondbacks had his number, 0-5 in his last seven starts against them. In his last start at Arizona on July 19th he threw 51 pitches in the first inning and was removed after getting four outs in the shortest outing of his career.

“Everybody else in the rotation has been throwing the ball great and I’ve kind of taken a step back from early in the year,” said Pelfrey. In his last six starts, he’s worked 25.1 innings, allowing 54 hits, 28 runs, 27 earned with 14 walks and 13 strikeouts.

“I definitely plan on getting this thing turned around and back on track so we can plan on winning some games,” he said.  Mets manager Jerry Manuel said adjustments will have to be made. There is the high pitch count, “still confident we have a young pitcher and don’t think it’s demoralizing,” said Manuel about his starter.

Wright drove in five runs and with his second home run in the third off Kennedy, 17th of the year with two on, gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. After retiring seven straight D-backs with one out in the sixth, Kennedy reached first on an error from shortstop Jose Reyes.

“A routine ground ball, I have to make that play,” said Reyes who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first. Pelfrey after throwing 118 pitches had a chance to win. Enter Raul Valdes (2-3) who failed to retire the four batters he faced. The home run to center off the bat of Kelly Johnson gave Arizona a 6-5 lead.

Two more singles and on the 14th pitch thrown by Valdes, Miguel Montero hit a home run off the second deck in right field, a five-run Diamondbacks inning that helped his team snap a seven-game losing streak. “I’m swinging  at better pitches, I think,” said Montero about his fourth home run.

As to why the Diamondbacks have the Mets number, he said, “I honestly don’t know; it’s just baseball I guess.”  Montero has hit two home runs and driven in six in his last two games. Thursday evening he connected against the Phillies and has now hit a home run in consecutive games for the second time this year.

Manuel said it was the right situation for Valdes who warmed up in the pen four times before coming in. “It was a good match up in that situation,” said Manuel about the home run ball thrown to Johnson.

But the Mets still have two more games with the Diamondbacks and have to figure out how to take this series against the second worst team in the National League. If not the road trip next week against Atlanta and the surging Philadelphia Phillies could determine their season.

“Anytime one or two of their hitters gets hot they can give us trouble,” explained Manuel about his team troubles with Arizona.

Notes:  Before the game outfielder Jason Bay was laced on the 15-day disabled list from the minor concussion he sustained crashing into the outfield wall out in Los Angeles last Friday evening. The Mets recalled outfielder Jesus Felicano from Triple- A Buffalo.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chase Field, Citi, David Wright, Diamondbacks, Friday Evening, Game Sweep, Game Weekend, High Pitch, Home Runs, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Number 0, Phoenix Arizona, Pitches, Place Tie, Right Hander, Top Story, West Coast Trip, Young Pitcher

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 31, 2010

Mets Get Another Home Win Behind Ike and Mike

New York – Maybe it is the mental aspect of playing at home, or it is the familiarity of playing at Citi Field.  Perhaps the New York Mets still can’t determine why they play so much better at home than they do on the road after their 2-1 eleventh inning walk off win over the San Diego Padres Tuesday evening.

Last week in San Diego the Padres would victimize the Mets in their last at bat. But this is Citi Field where the Mets tied a season high ninth straight win at home, their major league leading 23rd win at home, and it was done on an Ike Davis career first game ending home run leading off the 11th.

And Mets manager Jerry Manuel may have the answer as to the fortunes of his team winning at home as opposed to losing their share of games away from Citi Field. “We’ve played extremely well here,’ said Manuel. “We’re confident here.” New York is 4-0 on the current home stand coming off a three-game sweep over the Florida Marlins.

Confident enough to have the rookie Davis lead off the inning and get the walk-off on a 1-1 pitch that reached the second deck to right field. It was a splitter thrown by padres’ relief pitcher Edward Mujica, (2-1) who got the loss.

“I was trying to hit the ball in the gaps somewhere and maybe get to second base and have someone bunt me over,” said Davis about the situation who was mobbed by teammates at home plate after running the bases..

“He hung the splitter. I saw it pretty early and put a good spin on it.” It was the 7th home run of the season for the Mets rookie who had been struggling at the plate, batting .196 over his last 12 games.

Before the home run it was another interesting game at home for the Mets. Also another impressive outing for starter Mike Pelfrey (8-1) who did not figure in the decision after allowing one run on five hits He became the first Mets pitcher this season to go nine innings.

The only run allowed by Pelfrey was in the first inning, an RBI double to Adrian Gonzalez. Pelfrey over his last five starts has a 1.19 ERA and has pitched with confidence, finally becoming a pitcher the Mets got when they drafted him as their number one pick in 2005.  Pelfrey also knows how to win at Cit Field, 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA in six starts at home this season.

He was able to keep the score tied after Jose Reyes evened things up with his second home run in the seventh, a two out drive to left that was reviewed by the umpires after the ball bounded above the orange line that runs along the wall.  He managed to strand Padres runners at second base in the eighth and ninth innings that got on base with one out.

“ I looked at it that we’ve got guys at second base, so what,” said Pelfrey about keeping the score tied ,with hopes the Mets would get him a win in their half of the eighth or ninth.  “I’m not going to let him score,” he said.

Manuel added about Pelfrey, “He’s now developed enough to become a good pitcher.  The bullpen also kept the Mets close. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless tenth, Pedro Felicano in the 11th and Elmer Dessens (1-1) who struck out the only batter he faced earning his first win since August 26, 2007 against Washington.

“He’s come in some tough situations and given us some good outs,” commented Manuel about Dessens, now with six consecutive scoreless outings since his recall in late May.

Now if the Mets can only get wins on the road. Their next road trip after this series takes them to Baltimore and Cleveland, two of the worse teams in the American League.  We’ve been in a lot of games on the road,” said Pelfrey when asked about the disparity of the Mets home and road record. “Bad breaks,” he said.

Not at home though, as the breaks and now walk off wins keep the Mets rolling at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Edward Mujica, Familiarity, First Game, Florida Marlins, Fortunes, Game Sweep, Gaps, Impressive Outing, Major League, Mental Aspect, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nine Innings, Playing At Home, Relief Pitcher, San Diego Padres, Second Deck, Teammates, Top Story, Tuesday Evening, Winning At Home

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 9, 2010

Jekyll & Hyde Mets Need to Overcome Road Block to Reach Playoffs

It took about one and one-third seasons, but the New York Mets have finally built a dominant home field advantage in their new home park.

In fact, the Mets are better at home than any team in the major leagues through the first two months of the season.

After a tough 2-6 road trip that began with the Florida Marlins sweeping a four-game series from New York, the Mets returned to Citi Field, where they had already compiled a very solid 14-8 record.

Would the Amazin’s previous home success wane during a six-game homestand against each of last year’s World Series participants?

Hardly. Despite losing the opening game on Friday night, the Mets rebounded to win the final five games of the homestand in impressive fashion, taking two of three games from the New York Yankees before an historic three-game sweep of the defending two-time National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

New York creeped back above the .500 mark at 25-23 and moved to within just two games of the first-place Phillies (26-20) in the National League East.

That in itself is significant, but what was especially remarkable against Philadelphia, was the Mets’ pitching, which shut the Phillies out for the entire series, winning 8-0, 5-0, and 3-0 against one of the more talented and dangerous lineups in the major leagues.

It marked the first time since 2004 that a major league team shut out another over a full three-game set (when current Mets’ pitcher Johan Santana helped Minnesota do that against Kansas City); it was also the first time the Mets threw consecutive shutouts since 1988; and, it was the Mets’ first three-game series shutout over an opponent since New York blanked Philadelphia September 26-28, 1969.

While repeating history more than four decades later, the Mets improved to a major-league best 19-9 at Citi Field.

The problem is that while the Mets lead the majors in home victories, they are last in road wins, with a paltry 6-14 road record.

The dominant starting pitching, able relief help, and timely hitting that the Mets have been getting at home has been much more inconsistent away from the friendly confines of Queens.

While the Mets’ home crowds were fairly sparse and relatively subdued earlier in the year, attendance and the fans’ energy both picked up during the most recent homestand.

Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey, who has surprisingly become the Mets’ ace after improving his season record to 7-1 while lowering his ERA to 2.54 as the winning pitcher to start off and conclude the Mets’ five-game win streak on the homestand, said after Thursday night’s win over the Phillies, that feeding off of the energy of the home crowd has helped the Mets. “We definitely sense [the energy from the fans], and we feel them.”

Shortstop and offensive catalyst at the top of the Mets’ lineup, Jose Reyes, who went 12-for-23 while scoring five runs and driving in three during the five-game win streak, agreed that the Mets seemed to get up for beating the their hometown and divisional rivals in front of their home crowd.

But, when asked by reporters why the Mets have failed to carry over the same level of play away from home, both Pelfrey and Reyes were left puzzled and without answers. They were simply hopeful that New York could continue to play as well in other parks as they have at Citi Field this season.

The Mets don’t actually need to play nearly that well on the road, but they certainly can’t be the polar opposites they’ve been at home versus on the road so far this season.

While it seems that the Mets’ pitchers have finally learned to use the spacious Citi Field to their advantage, they’ll need to perform much better in smaller parks on the road. And, if it’s the home crowd of late which has helped the Mets’ bats come through, New York’s hitters will have to pack some of those clutch hits with them on most of the Mets’ remaining road trips.

As Mets’ rightfielder Jeff Fancoeur said after Thursday night’s win, the Mets have to find a way to at least play close to .500 on the road.

The good news for New York is that it seems as though Citi Field might for the most part this year remain a place that Mets’ opponents will want to stay away from. Yet, those same teams are for now, more than happy to invite the Mets to their places.

Thus, for the time being, it appears that any possible road to the postseason for the Mets will go literally through… the road.   

Posted under Amazin, Consecutive Shutouts, Florida Marlins, Game Homestand, Game Series, Game Sweep, Home Field Advantage, Home Success, Home Victories, Impressive Fashion, Jekyll Hyde, Johan Santana, League Champion, More Than Four Decades, National League East, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Series Shutout, Top Story, World Series Participants