One out away from a Mets home win but they kept Phillies in the race

New York – Before their game with the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night at Cit Field, New York Mets manager Terry Collins was again discussing how things went right in the first half and what went wrong in the second half of another dismal season in Flushing.

With rookie pitcher Matt Harvey on the mound for his final start, the right hander was a topic. Collins was pleased with the first round 2010 draft pick. Again, Harvey had a superb outing, but did not figure in the decision as the Phillies came from behind and scored two runs in the eighth inning on a Ryan Howard two run homer for a 3-2 win.

Harvey wanted the win and it appeared New York was on their way to getting their first win at home since August 26th against the Houston Astros.

But another rookie out of the pen, Josh Edgin with two outs in the ninth threw what he said was a “meatball,” a- 93-mile fastball that went to the Pepsi Porch in right. The Phillies got their third win when trailing after eight innings and kept pace for one of two wild card spots in the National League.

Edgin  (1-2) filled in for Frank Francisco, who is bothered with shoulder tendinitis and is day-to-day. He walked Chase Utley on a full count, Howard connected, Jonathon Pabelbon got his 36th save, and the Mets extended their home losing streak to eight games, 4-23 in the second half.

The runs charged to Edgin were his first earned in his last 16 appearances. “

“That’s the Howard we are accustomed to,” commented Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels who struck out 10, in six innings. Monday night, Cliff Lee also fanned 10- Mets in the opening game of three in eight innings.

So with eight games remaining at Citi Field, with the Mets concluding their schedule on the road, they hope to not establish a baseball record with the least wins at home in the second half. And they continued to be effortless when it comes to scoring runs at home

New York extended their franchise record by scoring three runs or less in 15 consecutive home games.

David Wright hit his first home run since August 24th off Hamels in the sixth inning, now with two home runs and 12 RBI since July 28th. Daniel Murphy knocked in another run with an RBI tying single to left center in the third that scored Ruben Tejada who got to second on a steal.

Tejada went 3-for-5, including two hits of Hamels and helped Harvey with some more outstanding plays at shortstop with two double plays.

Harvey would allow one hit in seven innings, a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins in the first inning, and he became the first Mets pitcher to allow a leadoff home run as his only hit over seven innings.

In ten starts Harvey finished 3-5, with a 2.73 ERA. He had 70 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings with 42 hits and 26 walks.

“There was definitely some excitement,” he said. Collins and the Mets project him to be in the starting rotation next season and he could be an eventual ace of the staff. “I had some tingles. It was kind of a sad moment, I guess, because I knew I was done. It was a good experience.”

He walked three and threw a career high 112 pitches, receiving a standing ovation from the slim Citi Field crowd of 21,741.

Said Harvey,” I left it all out there. Part of the reason I don’t want to stop pitching is because I have so much fun with these guys. Even though we’re struggling right now it’s still a big league ballclub. Being up here for the first time and getting to see how everyone plays the game every day, it’s been the biggest excitement for me. I’m going to miss it. The last two weeks are going to be tough.”

It was tough for Collins also to see his rookie pitcher conclude. He has seen Harvey pitch as a minor league instructor before taking over managerial duties. However, Collins knows the Mets have a future ace and expects big things ahead for the youngster.

“I wish we would have got a win for him,” said Collins. “But Matt Harvey ought to spend the winter feeling pretty good about himself and the way he’s handled everything up here, the way he’s pitched.”

With that, Collins will continue to look at his other youngsters on the pitching staff as the Mets get closer to finishing their fourth straight losing season after a 46-40 first half.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Baseball Record, Cole Hamels, Dismal Season, Eighth Inning, Fastball, Franchise Rec, Houston Astros, Losing Streak, Meatball, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Right Hander, Rookie Pitcher, Ryan Howard, Shoulder Tendinitis, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 20, 2012

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Davis Finishes Mets-Astros NL Chapter with a Bang (… and with Another)

Given the state of this year’s major league baseball standings, Sunday’s late-August meeting between the then-fourth-place New York Mets and the MLB-worst-Houston Astros at Citi Field obviously lacked the drama produced by the same two franchises during their extremely memorable 1986 National League Championship Series, but it nonetheless provided an exciting finish as the NL chapter of the all-time Mets-Astros series came to a close.

In an otherwise uneventful game involving a pair of clubs simply playing out the string, a late Houston rally, a nice play by New York to nab a runner at the plate, and two blasts over the right field wall by first baseman Ike Davis provided recollections of some thrilling moments when a lot more was once at stake – for one last time – with the Mets and Astros as NL opponents, prior to Houston becoming a member of the American League’s western division next year.

Neither the of the largely punch-less offenses – the Astros, the statistically lightest-hitting team in the majors, nor the Mets, who had been mired in their worst offensive stretch in three decades – could hit their way out of a paper bag, making a pair of non-descript, young starters – Houston’s Lucas Harrell (in his fourth season, but basically a rookie in terms of big league experience) and New York’s rookie Jeremy Hefner – look like a classic re-match of former aces Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden (who opposed each other in a classic Game 1 pitching duel in the 1986 NLCS, with Scott and the Astros edging the Mets, 1-0).

Harrell (seven innings, two hits, one run, seven strikeouts, two walks) and Hefner (eight-plus innings, five hits, one run, seven strikeouts, two walks) kept their respective non-threatening opposing lineups in check throughout a rapidly-paced contest that – because of the deficiency of offensive production – through eight innings, was on pace to finish in an unheard of (by today’s standards) two hours or less, and which still completed in a very tidy 2 hours and 19 minutes, even with a 24-minute ninth inning.

Five innings after Davis’ first home run of the afternoon – a crushing drive in the bottom of the fourth inning, just below Citi Field’s Pepsi Porch, and well into the upper deck in right field – gave the Mets a 1-0 lead that stood up until the final inning, the Astros tied the game on a run-scoring double by second baseman Marwin Gonzalez, who smacked a liner toward the left field corner.

Gonzalez’s hit glanced off of the glove of left fielder Lucas Duda, who was returning to the majors from a short stint in the minor leagues, where he was converted from a right fielder. That play forced an exit – to a standing ovation from many of the 25,071 fans in attendance (myself included) – for Hefner, who was bidding for the first shutout and first complete game of his career.

It appeared that the Astros would instead take their first lead three batters later however, when right fielder Ben Francisco singled against closer Bobby Parnell to left field, in front of Duda, until the Mets’ third-year outfielder redeemed himself with a good throw that allowed newly acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach just enough time to make a nice play of his own.

Shoppach blocked home plate with his left leg and applied a game-saving tag on Gonzalez, who was trying to score from second base. Gonzalez argued the call (which was a correct one) and was promptly tossed from the game by home plate umpire David Rackley.

That set the stage for Davis, who got just enough of a pitch from reliever Wilton Lopez to send a fly ball barely over the right field fence and just past the glove of a leaping Francisco for Davis’ second home run of the game and a walk-off 2-1 win for New York – the same score the Mets beat the Astros by, in 12 innings, in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS at Shea Stadium, just steps from where Davis and New York beat Houston in an NL contest for the final time.

Just as in that Game 5 victory, the Mets won despite mustering a mere four hits and being outhit by the Astros, but none were bigger than the two home runs from Davis, who did a jumping spin before landing on home plate, where he was mobbed by his teammates.

The win meant little for the Mets in the big picture of the 2012 season, especially when contrasted against those exhilarating October victories against the Astros 26 years earlier.

Instead of paving a way toward their first World Series title since 1986, New York simply avoided suffering what would have been their worst embarrassment of this season – a possible second home loss in three games to MLB’s most futile team, on the heels of getting swept in a four-game series at home by Colorado, the NL’s third-worst team.

And that, during a disappointing second-half swoon which has already caused New York’s season to slip away after an overachieving first half that had the Mets surprisingly in postseason contention by the all-star break, after setting a MLB offseason record for shedding payroll.

Due to those circumstances, Davis’ heroics could hardly be compared to that of ex-Met Lenny Dykstra’s ninth-inning, two-run, homer off of the Astros’ Dave Smith, inside of what is now the Citi Field parking lot, to rally the Mets to a dramatic 6-5 win and a 2-1 series lead in the 1986 NLCS.

Nor was the importance of New York’s last NL win over Houston anything like one of the greatest games in the Mets’ 51-season history – their 1986 NLCS-clinching victory in Game 6 (which led to their remarkable rally to a World Series title against the Boston Red Sox), when New York erased a 3-0 ninth-inning deficit in Houston before hanging on for a rousing 7-6 victory in a then-postseason record 16 innings (ironically, Houston broke that mark with a 2005 divisional series win in 18 innings, over the Atlanta Braves, by the same score, in a win that helped the Astros reach the only World Series in their history).

Certainly, the Mets’ rivalries with teams like the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and others have also far outweighed the intensity of what they shared with the Astros in the 26 years since.

Still, it was an exciting conclusion to a Mets-Astros NL era that included more than 600 games since the teams each joined the majors (the Astros, initially as the Colt .45’s) in 1962.

While they will meet again in interleague play, the Astros took the all-time NL series, 308-258, with the Mets going 150-132 at home (including 8-4 at Citi Field) against Houston.

What is remembered most over that time though, is that lone playoff matchup between the teams in 1986, and in another lost season for both clubs, the way the final Mets-Astros meeting as NL foes was decided, rekindled thoughts of the historic playoff magic that occurred in a pair of well-remembered NL ballparks – Shea Stadium in Queens, and the famed Astrodome in Houston.

Yet, as with the Mets and Astros moving on to new home stadiums since then, their series with each other will now similarly forge ahead with the teams continuing play in opposite leagues. If they can each turn things around in the coming years and once again meet in the postseason, they would do something they couldn’t do even as long-time NL opponents in 1986 or in any other year thus far – meet in a World Series.

Posted under Baseball Standings, Blasts, Classic Game, Dwight Gooden, First Baseman, Game 1, Houston Astros, League Championship Series, League Experience, Major League Baseball, National League Championship Series, New York Mets, Offensive Production, Recollections, Three Decades, Top Story

This post was written by Jon Wagner on August 31, 2012

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Davis Finishes Mets-Astros NL Chapter with a Bang (… and with Another)

Given the state of this year’s major league baseball standings, Sunday’s late-August meeting between the then-fourth-place New York Mets and the MLB-worst-Houston Astros at Citi Field obviously lacked the drama produced by the same two franchises during their extremely memorable 1986 National League Championship Series, but it nonetheless provided an exciting finish as the NL chapter of the all-time Mets-Astros series came to a close.

In an otherwise uneventful game involving a pair of clubs simply playing out the string, a late Houston rally, a nice play by New York to nab a runner at the plate, and two blasts over the right field wall by first baseman Ike Davis provided recollections of some thrilling moments when a lot more was once at stake – for one last time – with the Mets and Astros as NL opponents, prior to Houston becoming a member of the American League’s western division next year.

Neither the of the largely punch-less offenses – the Astros, the statistically lightest-hitting team in the majors, nor the Mets, who had been mired in their worst offensive stretch in three decades – could hit their way out of a paper bag, making a pair of non-descript, young starters – Houston’s Lucas Harrell (in his fourth season, but basically a rookie in terms of big league experience) and New York’s rookie Jeremy Hefner – look like a classic re-match of former aces Mike Scott and Dwight Gooden (who opposed each other in a classic Game 1 pitching duel in the 1986 NLCS, with Scott and the Astros edging the Mets, 1-0).

Harrell (seven innings, two hits, one run, seven strikeouts, two walks) and Hefner (eight-plus innings, five hits, one run, seven strikeouts, two walks) kept their respective non-threatening opposing lineups in check throughout a rapidly-paced contest that – because of the deficiency of offensive production – through eight innings, was on pace to finish in an unheard of (by today’s standards) two hours or less, and which still completed in a very tidy 2 hours and 19 minutes, even with a 24-minute ninth inning.

Five innings after Davis’ first home run of the afternoon – a crushing drive in the bottom of the fourth inning, just below Citi Field’s Pepsi Porch, and well into the upper deck in right field – gave the Mets a 1-0 lead that stood up until the final inning, the Astros tied the game on a run-scoring double by second baseman Marwin Gonzalez, who smacked a liner toward the left field corner.

Gonzalez’s hit glanced off of the glove of left fielder Lucas Duda, who was returning to the majors from a short stint in the minor leagues, where he was converted from a right fielder. That play forced an exit – to a standing ovation from many of the 25,071 fans in attendance (myself included) – for Hefner, who was bidding for the first shutout and first complete game of his career.

It appeared that the Astros would instead take their first lead three batters later however, when right fielder Ben Francisco singled against closer Bobby Parnell to left field, in front of Duda, until the Mets’ third-year outfielder redeemed himself with a good throw that allowed newly acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach just enough time to make a nice play of his own.

Shoppach blocked home plate with his left leg and applied a game-saving tag on Gonzalez, who was trying to score from second base. Gonzalez argued the call (which was a correct one) and was promptly tossed from the game by home plate umpire David Rackley.

That set the stage for Davis, who got just enough of a pitch from reliever Wilton Lopez to send a fly ball barely over the right field fence and just past the glove of a leaping Francisco for Davis’ second home run of the game and a walk-off 2-1 win for New York – the same score the Mets beat the Astros by, in 12 innings, in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS at Shea Stadium, just steps from where Davis and New York beat Houston in an NL contest for the final time.

Just as in that Game 5 victory, the Mets won despite mustering a mere four hits and being outhit by the Astros, but none were bigger than the two home runs from Davis, who did a jumping spin before landing on home plate, where he was mobbed by his teammates.

The win meant little for the Mets in the big picture of the 2012 season, especially when contrasted against those exhilarating October victories against the Astros 26 years earlier.

Instead of paving a way toward their first World Series title since 1986, New York simply avoided suffering what would have been their worst embarrassment of this season – a possible second home loss in three games to MLB’s most futile team, on the heels of getting swept in a four-game series at home by Colorado, the NL’s third-worst team.

And that, during a disappointing second-half swoon which has already caused New York’s season to slip away after an overachieving first half that had the Mets surprisingly in postseason contention by the all-star break, after setting a MLB offseason record for shedding payroll.

Due to those circumstances, Davis’ heroics could hardly be compared to that of ex-Met Lenny Dykstra’s ninth-inning, two-run, homer off of the Astros’ Dave Smith, inside of what is now the Citi Field parking lot, to rally the Mets to a dramatic 6-5 win and a 2-1 series lead in the 1986 NLCS.

Nor was the importance of New York’s last NL win over Houston anything like one of the greatest games in the Mets’ 51-season history – their 1986 NLCS-clinching victory in Game 6 (which led to their remarkable rally to a World Series title against the Boston Red Sox), when New York erased a 3-0 ninth-inning deficit in Houston before hanging on for a rousing 7-6 victory in a then-postseason record 16 innings (ironically, Houston broke that mark with a 2005 divisional series win in 18 innings, over the Atlanta Braves, by the same score, in a win that helped the Astros reach the only World Series in their history).

Certainly, the Mets’ rivalries with teams like the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and others have also far outweighed the intensity of what they shared with the Astros in the 26 years since.

Still, it was an exciting conclusion to a Mets-Astros NL era that included more than 600 games since the teams each joined the majors (the Astros, initially as the Colt .45’s) in 1962.

While they will meet again in interleague play, the Astros took the all-time NL series, 308-258, with the Mets going 150-132 at home (including 8-4 at Citi Field) against Houston.

What is remembered most over that time though, is that lone playoff matchup between the teams in 1986, and in another lost season for both clubs, the way the final Mets-Astros meeting as NL foes was decided, rekindled thoughts of the historic playoff magic that occurred in a pair of well-remembered NL ballparks – Shea Stadium in Queens, and the famed Astrodome in Houston.

Yet, as with the Mets and Astros moving on to new home stadiums since then, their series with each other will now similarly forge ahead with the teams continuing play in opposite leagues. If they can each turn things around in the coming years and once again meet in the postseason, they would do something they couldn’t do even as long-time NL opponents in 1986 or in any other year thus far – meet in a World Series.

Posted under Baseball Standings, Blasts, Classic Game, Dwight Gooden, First Baseman, Game 1, Houston Astros, Late August, League Championship Series, Major League Baseball, National League Championship Series, New York Mets, Offensive Production, Three Decades, Top Story

This post was written by Jon Wagner on August 31, 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, 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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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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More Woes For Mets After Latest Loss

FLUSHING, NY – Jon Niese pitched six innings and his defense helped a bit. However the New York Mets starter, in his fourth outing, threw a season high 113 pitches and walked five which did not help. More so, the Mets offense has become a concern as they were limited to four hits as the Houston Astros took a 6-1 win at Citi Field Tuesday evening.

Coming off a win Sunday in Atlanta, that snapped a seven-game losing streak, New York returned home before a slim crowd in the first of four against Houston, and now have dropped 11 of their last 13 games. Last week the talk was frustration from Mets manager Terry Collins. Now there is the talk about being concerned.

“We’ve got to stop it. I’m very concerned about it,” said Collins regarding the latest loss which matched the third worst start in team history at 5-12. “Late in the game we continue to give up big hits.” He was referring to 3-1 Houston lead that got away in the eighth when the Astros scored three.

Until then, the Mets could not get to Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez. His fourth outing of the young season was his best, seven innings, and after an Angel Pagan double in the second inning he held New York hitless until Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning hit a solo home run. The ball hit to left center-field was his third of the season, all coming at Citi Field, and three of his seven career hits against Rodriguez have been home runs.

The concern is about Bobby Parnell and the Mets bullpen. The pen has pitched the most innings among all teams in baseball in three weeks and Parnell has been ineffective after a strong spring. Parnell balked in a run and allowed a two-run single to Angel Sanchez.

The right hander Parnell revealed later that he has been quietly struggling with feeling in the middle finger of his pitching hand. It is a concern, as Parnell has been slated as the eighth inning guy out of the pen. “It’s a concern of mine,” said Collins who would not comment about Parnell undergoing an MRI on Wednesday before the Mets take on the Astros in the second game of four. “I haven’t seen the real good fastball and I want to know why.”

“I’ve been fighting it and felt I could get through it,” said Parnell afterwards about the discomfort. In eight outings, Parnell has given up nine runs with a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings.  “I’m having a hard time gripping the baseball and feeling it,” he said. Though Collins would not offer any comments about whether the team would have an MRI done or give the struggling reliever a rest.

Rodriguez (1-2) allowed three hits, on three walks, and struck out a season high seven with an effective curve. David Wright struck out once and went 0-for-4, now hitless in his last 16 at bats and among the top three among strikeout victims in the National League.

“I had excellent location tonight,” said Rodriguez who allowed one run in 7.0 innings in his lone start against the Mets last August. “Everything was good. “I want to stay consistent, throw a lot of quality starts.”  He said about the Beltran home run ball, “It was a changeup, more like a batting practice fastball.”

But the Mets may need more batting practice to generate runs because their starting pitching has been keeping them in games until the late innings and the offense has scored six runs in their last four games. The five walks were also a season high for Niese (0-3) as the Mets dropped to 1-7 at home including losing their last six at Citi Field.

“I didn’t feel right,” he said. “I felt a little off.” His defense helped a bit in the third inning, thanks to Wright who dived and tagged Carlos Lee on a close play at third. But Scott Hairston did not help Pedro Beato out of the pen in the seventh. He was charged with an error when he could not catch a Lee ball that was hit deep to left,   glancing off his glove. The play resulted in a Houston run.

Pagan is also struggling at the plate. The double was his only hit in four at bats, and he stranded three runners. Another of the four Mets hits was a double by Ike Davis, the 16th in 17 games for the team and fourth in the league.

“He like a lot of these guys is a key part to this club,” commented Collins about Pagan’s struggles at the plate and about many of the Mets hitters possibly being too aggressive with their bats. “We got to get him going,” he said. And that includes Hairston, who went 0-for-2 striking out twice, another player that Collins would like to see revert to the short swing that was seen in the spring.

Said Pagan, “Tonight was a tough night for the whole team. We have to keep battling. It will change, it will change.” There may be some help, at least some optimism as the injured Jason Bay is slated to return Thursday night at Citi Field. Bay went 4-for-4 and with two home runs and four RBI playing for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League in a rehab assignment.

“I know with him in the lineup, when healthy, he will do a lot of damage,” added Pagan about Bay who is 5-for 9 in three games down in Florida.  But the Mets need more than Bay at this point.

Because Collins is no longer frustrated and now expressing concern as they give the ball to knuckleballer (1-2) R.A. Dickey Wednesday evening in game three of the series against Houston.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Angel Sanchez, Bullpen, Career Hits, Carlos Beltran, Eighth Inning, Game Losing Streak, Houston Astros, Jon Niese, Middle Finger, New York Mets, Pagan, Parnell, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Seventh Inning, Strong Spring, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 20, 2011

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Audio: Astros Top Mets

The New York Mets fell to the worst team in the National League after their 6-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Although Jon Niese pitched well in the game Wandy Rodriguez who has been awful this year, looked like Cy Young out there against the hapless Mets.

Bob Trainor’s post-game sound is below:

Jon Niese

Angel Pagan

Terry Collins

Bobby Parnell

Wandy Rodriguez

Brad Mills

Posted under Angel, Bob Trainor, Brad Mills, Cy Young, Game Mp3, Game Sound, Houston Astros, Houston Post, Jon Niese, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Pagan, Top Story, Trainor

This post was written by Bob Trainor on April 20, 2011

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Brett Myers and Carlos Lee Make Their Mark in the Astros 4-1 Victory over the Mets

New York – Righty Brett Myers pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros (59-70) to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets (64-65) in Saturday night baseball at Citi Field. First baseman Carlos Lee was all the offense and defense Houston needed to help the Astros take Game Two on a very long road stretch.

Myers (10-7) would toss a milestone in the game as he now has pitched six or more innings in all 27 starts this season. The righty also established a new club record for six plus innings appearances at any point in the season, breaking the previous mark of 26 straight games held by Larry Dierker who accomplished the feat on June 20, 1969 to April 17, 1970. The streak for Myers is the longest to start a season since Curt Schilling had 35 straight appearances of at least six innings in 2002 with Arizona.

“Myers had another outstanding outing and put us in a position to win the game,” Astros manager Brad Mills said after the game. “Throwing the ball like he did was outstanding; what he is doing, what he has done and what he was able to do tonight was outstanding.”

The righty would have this to say of his seven innings, six strikeout performance tonight, “I was just following the plan; I just followed what my catcher (Humberto Quintero) put down. He is a smart catcher and followed the plan well and we work well together.” Myer would continue by saying, “A lot of credit goes to him and pitching coach (Brad Arnsberg) and tonight I just tried to follow my plan and execute my pitches.”

On his milestone he had this to say, “It is not a big deal I just try to go out and give the team the best chance to win, I’m not trying to break any records. If it happens it happens, I am not looking too much into it. I am just trying to go out every six days and do the job again. Anything I can do to go out there and help the team win and help the bullpen as much as possible then that is what I am going to do.”

Houston would get on the board early, jumping all over starter Johan Santana (10-9) getting four hits and plating the first two runs. Carlos Lee and shortstop Tommy Manzella were the two key hits to give the Astros the 2-0 lead.

Carlos Lee would hit a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning over the left field wall to give the Astros a 4-0 lead. That combined with a ‘web gem’ play in the bottom of the third inning to dive to his right and rob Mets starter Johan Santana of a hit was one of the two crucial defensive plays to lead Houston to a win.

“We beat a tough pitcher tonight,” Lee said of the victory. “It was good to be able to win today and now we need to come out tomorrow and keep the momentum going.” The first baseman would continue to say, “Santana had a rough first inning and we took advantage and anytime you have a lead with Myers going out there you know that he is guaranteed to go seven and pitch well for us.”

For Santana it was a tough loss as he has suffered his third consecutive loss this evening. It is only the fourth time in his career that he has dropped at least four straight decisions and only the second time since the 2004 season.

New York would have plenty of opportunities throughout the game to try to cash in on runs and cut into that lead. Rookie Ike Davis laced a double (23) off the right field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning, but two ground outs ended the Mets hopes.  It had seemed as if throughout the night every time the Mets had a man on base Myers would have an answer to shut the offense down.

“The Mets had a runner on base every inning it seemed,” Myers said. “I just tried to make pitches and wanted them to hit the ball at people. If I executed I figured I would be able to get outs, and it just worked out that way.”

New York had left nine runners on base this evening, while over the last five games they have stranded 46 men on bases. The Mets finally scored the first run in the bottom of the eighth inning as second baseman Luis Castillo started the frame with an infield single. Carlos Beltran would move the runner over on a ground ball that was fielded by relief pitcher Wilton Lopez.

Castillo would eventually score on a David Wright single to right field. It had seemed as if hope and a rally would come for the 33,024 in attendance as Ike Davis would hit a single to right field. Sadly Jeff Francoeur trying to hit a home run struck out swinging to leave the runners on first and second for rookie catcher Josh Thole.  Thole would hit a scorching line drive to speedy outfielder Jason Bourgeois to end the inning.

“Everyone wants to step up and get the big hits,” Wright said after the game. “They want to be the guy that steps up and help us win the game, but sometimes that works against you because you try to do too much instead of getting a hit.” On the offensive struggles as of late, “You can’t label one thing as the reason for our struggles. When you look up and down the lineup you see different things and different guys struggling. We have a lot of our key guys out due to injury; combine that with the young players and the guys that are injured; all of that combined is a huge part of our offensive struggles.”

New York hopes to take Game Three of this series, which will take place on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Houston will send out starter Bud Norris (6-7, 5.03 ERA) to take on the knuckleball of R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.64 ERA)

Posted under Brad Arnsberg, Bullpen, Carlos Lee, Curt Schilling, First Baseman, Houston Astros, Humberto Quintero, Larry Dierker, Mets Baseball, Mets New York, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pitches, Pitching Coach, Road Stretch, Shutout, Six Days, Straight Appearances, Straight Games, Strikeout, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 29, 2010