Espo’s Trivia Challenge: Fun Facts 2013 Edition

Getting to know your Mets can be a fun process, especially if you look past the everyday fun stuff of hits, runs, errors, strikeouts, etc., you know…stats.

But ballplayers are people, too, or so they say, so sometimes there are moments in their illustrious past, often baseball related, and laced with stats, that are quite trivial, but can also amuse or entertain on a different level, and makes for interesting “facts” you can pass on to your friends when there’s a lull in your conversation.

For example, did you know that Jonathon Niese, was the last Mets pitcher to enter a game as a pinch-hitter?  He was, on April, 7, 2010, when he was sent up to bat for Hisanori Takahashi.

There you go, you’ll sound just like Ron Darling or Keith Hernandez when they’re tossing out a few tidbits during their SNY telecasts.

For this “Trivia Challenge,” we’re going to focus on the new guys and young players, and see how well you do.  Don’t worry, the first one’s a gimme.

 

 

>>>>> 

 

 

FILL IN THE BLANKS

 

1.___________________ is second to Mariano Rivera in game appearances by current major league pitchers. (No. 2 always tries harder, don’t they?)

 

  1. A.   FRANK FRANCISCO
  2. B.   LATROY HAWKINS
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   PEDRO FELICIANO

 

2.___________________ was once traded for Carlos Beltran in a three-team multi-player deal. (Carlos Who?  Sounds familiar.)

 

  1. A.   JOHN BUCK
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   LATROY HAWKINS
  4. D.   AARON LAFFEY

 

3. ______________ made his major league debut against the Mets in 2002.  (Went 0-3 in a loss to New York, and is still bummed about it)

 

  1. A.   BRANDON LYON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

4._______________ was originally drafted by the Mets in 2005, but chose not to sign with New York. (What? And missed out on all that fun in 2006?)

 

  1. A.   COLLIN COWGILL
  2. B.   ANTHONY RECKER
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   GREG BURKE

 

5._______________ was drafted by the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, but chose to play baseball instead of hockey.  (His dentist was disappointed)

 

  1. A.   MATT HARVEY
  2. B.   GREG BURKE
  3. C.   JAMIE HOFFMAN
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

6._______________ played two years with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Central League.  (Sushi for everyone in the clubhouse!)

 

  1. A.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT RICE
  4. D.   LATROY HAWKINS

 

7.______________ has been traded four times, the greatest amount of times being dealt by any Met on the current 40-man roster.  (And keeps a bag packed at all times)

 

  1. A.   LATROY HAWKINS
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

8.______________ was once voted “Mr. Baseball” by his high school. (Does Tom Selleck know about this assault on his title?)

 

  1. A.   KIRK NIEUWENHUIS
  2. B.   LUCAS DUDA
  3. C.   MIKE BAXTER
  4. D.   COLLIN COWGILL

 

9._______________ is a season ticket holder for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. (Really?  The Chiefs?  And he’ll admit to it?)

 

10.______________ became the 962nd player to appear in a game for the NY Mets on Opening Day.  (Shortly after this “new” Met became No. 962, he was soon followed by Nos. 963, 964, 965, 966, and 967 in that first game of the year.)

 

  1. A.   MARLON BYRD
  2. B.   JOHN BUCK
  3. C.   COLLIN COWGILL
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

 

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ANSWERS

1.B

2.A

3.B

4.D

5.C

6.A

7.C

8.D

9.D

10.C  

 

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Recker, Carlos Beltran, Espo, Everyday Fun, Fun Facts, Greg Burke, Latroy Hawkins, League Debut, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Niese, Ron Darling, Scott Atchison, Top Story, Trivia Challenge

Byrd is the Word For The Mets

New York – Jose Fernandez the 20-year old pitching prospect for the Miami Marlins made his Major League debut at Citi Field Sunday afternoon and the right hander from Cuba was everything that was expected. A good fastball and curve ball from Hernandez limited the New York Mets to one run and three hits in three innings.

“That guy is everything they talked about, outstanding stuff,” commented Mets manager Terry Collins about Fernandez. “Strike one on almost everybody. “ He comprised strike after strike, impressive.”

Fernandez would leave and the Mets would capitalize, but not until the ninth inning. Marlon Byrd hit a two run single that was inside third base and New York would come from behind and get their first walk-0ff win of the young season, 4-3.

The Mets finished their opening home stand of the season 4-2 and embarked on their first road trip, ten games to Philadelphia, Minnesota and Colorado.

Daniel Murphy concluded the first stint at home with success, a solo home run off A.J. Ramos in the sixth inning to center, his second, and drove in his fifth run in the last three games. His production is what the Mets have been looking for and an extra base hit in three straight games is a positive sign.

“That guy’s got good stuff,” said Murphy about Fernandez. “I thought we stayed patient. We were able to kind of get that pitch count up just a bit to get into their bullpen in the sixth. You get in the sixth it gives you four shots at the bullpen and that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”

Fernandez, the youngest pitcher in Marlins franchise history has a good story. The Cuban refugee came to the United States in 2008 and was a 14th round pick out of a Tampa Florida High School in the 2011 amateur draft.  He was 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in the minors last season.

The Marlins have said they intend to keep Fernandez in their rotation, and after his debut there is every reason to do that with a limited pitch count. Fernandez struck out eight, the first victim of his career was Ike Davis in the first.

“I was more nervous watching five through nine than I was pitching,’ he said. It didn’t feel any different. It was more like a spring training game.” But it was a regular season game, one the Marlins were hoping to win, that is until their bullpen gave it up and the fastball at times was clocked at 95.

New York is depending on a revamped pitching staff with the absence of Johan Santana, out for the season with surgery again to his shoulder. And right hander Shaun Marcum has been sidelined with stiffness, so left hander Aaron Laffey  was recalled from AAA Las Vegas after limited appearances with Toronto last season.

Laffey gave up 10-hits and three runs in 4/1-3 innings, but the Mets bullpen was able to keep the game close. Collins used five arms out of the bullpen that threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“We hung in there and didn’t let the game get away which I thought was the biggest factor,” added Collins who saw his team get their second comeback win of the season.

In the end it was Byrd who got his fifth career walk off hit and Scott Rice out of the, pen getting his first Major League win. Byrd was inserted in the fifth when Collins made a double switch also scored some points from Collins. The veteran in an outfield rotation may see more playing time. He kept sharp playing in the Mexican league this winter.

“It’s huge to show we can win close games,” said Byrd who struck out twice before the game winning hit.” More so, a win that was huge early in the season.

“Two games over .500 instead of one,” said Ike Davis.  Because winning series are important and the Mets have come out of the gate and won their first two.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Bullpen, Cuban Refugee, Curve Ball, Daniel Murphy, Fastball, Florida High School, League Debut, Mets New York, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Right Hander, Sixth Inning, Straight Games, Three Games, Top Story

A Slam-Bang Opening with More on the Way

The Mets won on Opening Day, 11-2.

No surprise there, of course they won on Opening Day, as they have been doing so consistently the past 40 years, continuing their mastery of season debuts with the major’s best winning percentage (.654) and an overall mark of 34-18 on Opening Days. And this after losing the first eight Opening Days in franchise history, including the legendary Championship season of 1969, when they welcomed the Montreal Expos to the big leagues with an 11-10 loss.

Can you believe it? They’re 34-10 since that loss to the first Canadian club on Opening Day. They’ve won seven of their last eight openers, and are 20-2 in their last 22 opening days at home, another good reason why tickets to the day the Shea family presents the horseshoe-shaped flower arrangement to the manager go for a premium.

New centerfielder Collin Cowgill reinforced his growing legion of fans and chants of “More Cowgill” with his seventh inning Grand Slam against the Padres in the icebreaker. The only other Met to slice a Grand Salami on Opening Day was Todd Hundley back in 1995, in Colorado against Billy Swift.

And it is certainly not much of a shock to learn Cowgill is the only Met to hit a Grand Slam in his Mets debut.

The other Met to earn a headline of distinction, other than starter Jonathon Niese, who was good, but not great with a 6.2 inning stint (four hits, two earned runs, 2 walks, and four strikeouts), was new Mets pitcher Scott Rice, who made his major league debut after toiling in the minors and professional baseball for 14 years. What a long strange trip it had been for Rice, 31, a lefthanded California native, who had worn system uniforms for the Orioles, Rangers, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, and Cubs, plus several teams in Independent leagues, including the Long Island Ducks.

Amazingly, and understandably, Rice had a few butterflies when he first exited the bullpen for his ninth inning appearance, but he also enjoyed a level of comfort which enabled him to hurl a clean inning with two strikeouts.

“Being with the team all through the spring, I just felt really comfortable,” Rice told the media after the game. “But once batters step in, it’s baseball. So I went out there and just tried to stay relaxed.”

The experience was made that much more special with his father in the stands.

“My dad has been the reason why I played baseball growing up,” Rice added. “He basically taught me the fundamentals and everything I know about baseball. He’s the guy I called after every outing. It’s nice that he was able to be there. It’s just as rewarding for him as it is for me.”

Mr. Rice now has a special souvenir for the trophy case, the baseball which ended the game and his son’s major league debut.

The mastery over the Padres continued in Game 2, as exalted sophomore Matt Harvey looked Goodenesque in the first three innings with five K’s and no hits.

His first appearance continued with a dynamic seven-inning shutout stint, with 10 strikeouts, one hit, and just two walks (94 pitches/63 strikes).

The Harvey Era is just warming up. But…

Manager Terry Collins took him out more so due to the blustery 44 degree weather than his pitching performance.

“He was freezing,” Collins remarked. “Under the circumstances, he threw an unbelievable game.”

When asked about Harvey’s overall ability, Collins was equally complimentary.

“His work ethic is unbelievable. He’s got all the skills. He has plus stuff, an outstanding changeup, and still throws 97, 98. Has command of the fastball.”

And his desire is off the charts.

“No question he enjoys the stage. He likes to be out there. He likes to compete. You don’t say you want to be the best there is unless you’re willing to pay the price.”

Lucas Duda maintained his spring training habit of hitting a few home runs, and launched a two-run blast in the second, his first home run of the year.

John Buck duplicated the feat with a two-run shot of his own in the fourth, scoring Duda, who had doubled to right preceding the new everyday catcher.

Ike Davis extended the home run barrage with his first of the year, denting the Shea-Bridge with a two-run arc in the fifth.

Bobby Parnell closed out what turned out to be a sloppy three-run ninth (not of his making) in a non-save situation for the eventual 8-4 victory, and just like that, the 2013 Mets were 2-0.

You can never tell until the games are played, but the Mets have a chance to get out of the gate with a gallop in April, as their first six games, and 13 of their first 16 games are against teams expected to finish below .500. Then again, the Mets are predicted to finish below .500 as well, but their spring showings have been impressive. If – and there’s the big IF – their starting pitching is as good as advertised, and the bullpen pours water and not gasoline on potential flare-ups, then the potential is evident for a healthy first month.

There’s also back-sliding in the forecast as well, with a resurgent Philadelphia, a money-stuffed Los Angeles, and the new powerhouse Washington on the menu.

But 15 of the first 27 games are against the likes of the Padres, Marlins, Rockies, and Minnesota Twins.

History can predict the future, but it can also paralyze predictions as one day does not always equal the next.

The Mets have done well against San Diego of late, taking four of seven games from the Pads in both 2011 and ’12.

New York also had the goods on those “brand-new” Marlins last year, going 12-6. But this year’s Marlins certainly bear little resemblance to last year’s Marlins, so time will tell if that dominance will be extended.

As for the Twins, they don’t show up on the schedule too often, but the Mets did take two of three in 2010. Overall, with only four seasons of play against the AL club managed by ex-Met Ron Gardenhire, the Twins hold the edge on the Mets, 7-5.

The Mets took the season series with the Phillies last year, 10-8. But the Broad Street bashers have some of their key players back from injuries since last season, so it may be tougher sledding this year.

The Dodgers were a nemesis in 2012, as they arguably always have been unkind to their New York offspring (258-314-1 in franchise history), besting the Mets in four of seven games last year. The Mets, however, “loved” LA in 2011, winning five of seven battles.

Perhaps the less said about the Nationals the better, as they killed the Mets in 14 of 18 contests last seasons. But how can you not love their skipper, Davey Johnson? When he’s managing the Nationals, that’s when. Mets fans will love him again next year, when he retires from managing, as he has stated.

One of the keys to a successful season is a successful April, so the Mets have that doorway open if they take the steps toward more Ws than Ls. The framework forged against the Padres will certainly aid that goal if they continue to blast and pitch.

Posted under Andy Esposito, California Native, Centerfielder, Flower Arrangement, Grand Salami, Grand Slam, Independent Leagues, Jonathon Niese, League Debut, Lefthanded, Long Island Ducks, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Seventh Inning, Shea Family, Slam Bang, Strange Trip, Todd Hundley, Top Story

Mets Starter Collin McHugh Makes a Superlative Major League Debut, but Mets Lose to Rockies, 1-0

The Mets have been in a downward slide since the All-Star break. The most recent debacles were the shutting down of starter Johan Santana for the remainder of the season and being swept in a four game series to the woeful and also injury ridden Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.

The only positive for a losing team in the final weeks of a season is being able to bring up minor league players for the opportunity to test their skills at the major league level during regular season games. Thursday’s starting pitcher for the Mets, Collin McHugh, was making his big league debut in place of Santana.

The 25 year-old hurler’s official journey to the majors began in 2008, when he was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft. He slowly moved up in class since his draft. During the 2012 season, he made 12 starts for Binghamton in AA and then moved up to make 12 additional starts for Buffalo in AAA.

McHugh’s pre-September call-up to start on Thursday afternoon was caused by Santana’s injury that prevented him from making his scheduled start. Thus, one can understand from this situation that one man’s curse can be another man’s blessing.

After the contest ended, Met’s manager Terry Collins spoke about this type of happenstance all season, “When our starting pitching went down, you have to start looking at the younger guys.”

After 2012 Olympic gymnast gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch, McHugh threw his first pitch of the game at 1:11 pm. The first Colorado batter, Charlie Blackmon, doubled to left. The rookie then retired the next three batters, fanning Jordan Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez.

The neophyte continued his excellent work during the next six innings. In his seven frames, McHugh only surrendered two hits. He walked one batter, Gonzalez, and struck out nine. The high level of his performance was very rare. He was the first Met making his debut in the majors since Masato Yoshii on April 5, 1998, to pitch seven scoreless innings. He is only the third hurler making his Major League debut to pitch at least seven innings, give up two hits and strike out nine.

Catcher Josh Thole said of his rookie batterymate’s performance, “He was outstanding today. He hammered the strike zone.”

McHugh described his feelings on the mound, “I felt great. I felt real comfortable out there…My goal was to go out there and give this team a chance to win. This is my debut, but I hope to have a lot more.”

The young pitcher expressed joy in the presence of his immediate family and close friends being in the park to see him perform well, “[Present were] mom, dad, wife, sister, brother, cousin, and a couple of friends that could be family. The Lord has really blessed me more than I deserve.”

McHugh’s outstanding outing did not lead to a Mets win due to the club’s lack of effective offense and the usual ineffective bullpen work. Met batters went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, lowering the club’s clutch output to 25 for 143, a batting average below .180 during the month of August.

The Mets bullpen in the person of Bobby Parnell gave up the only run of the game very quickly in the eighth. Pacheco tripled over the head of Jordany Valdespin in center. Collins admitted of the misplay by the converted infielder, “You have to be careful of putting guys out of position. It’s [a mistake] going to happen at the wrong time.” The next batter, Chris Nelson, singled to score Pacheco. The loss was the 25th by a Mets reliever this year. The Mets bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors.

In contrast to the Mets bullpen, Colorado’s relievers held the Mets scoreless for six innings. Reliever Rex Brothers, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings, earned his seventh straight win.

The Mets have yet to score a run off Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood. The 22 year old has blanked New York for 10 innings of work, giving up only seven hits. He left the game on Thursday after only three innings.

The two teams are moving in opposite directions. The Rockies, although in last place in the N.L. West, have been victorious in 9 of their last 11 contests while the Mets have only won 4 of their most recent 17 games.

Collins spoke very openly of the current play of his team, “We can’t execute. We left 12 guys on base today.” Speaking of the sweep by the Rockies, he admitted, “They [Rockies] got big hits. They just played better.”

The Mets will next play a weekend series with the team with the worst record in the majors, the Houston Astros. Houston, making its final appearances as a National League team at Citi Field, will start Jordan Lyles (2-10) on Friday night. The Mets starter will be Jonathon Niese (10-6).

 

Posted under Batters, Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, Downward Slide, Gabrielle, Game Series, Gold Medalist, Happenstance, Johan Santana, League Debut, Losing Team, Mchugh, New York Mets, Olympic Gymnast, Pacheco, Regular Season Games, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on August 24, 2012

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Vasquez Gets Milestone strikeout as Pelfrey and Mets lose to Marlins

There has been this up and down theory of the New York Mets this season as they continue to count down the end of another season. Their pitching staff depends on starter Mike Pelfrey, who was designated ace of the staff in April as Johan Santana continued to recover from left shoulder surgery.  Pelfrey has showed some spark as the ace but deep into the game, even with the good sinker, he gives up the runs with a high pitch count.

That was the case again Tuesday night at Citi Field. The Florida Marlins had a five-run seventh inning, Pelfrey lost his eighth straight decision to the Fish, Javier Vasquez got a milestone strikeout and win, and New York snapped a four-game winning streak with a 6-0 loss. In between there was a miscue on the field by rookie second baseman Justin turner and the Mets will look to rebound Wednesday evening in the third game of a four-day, five-game series.

“They definitely have my number, that’s for sure,” commented Pelfrey who is 0-8 in 16 starts against the Marlins since pitching a major league debut win against them in July of 2006.  Pelfrey was coming off a career high 125 pitches last Wednesday in Philadelphia and threw scoreless ball for six innings. But in the seventh inning a defensive mistake started the implosion. Vasquez came to bat and a bunt play became a single because the Mets left first base uncovered.

Turner made indication for a pickoff try but Pelfrey went to the plate. Turner would be the culprit that opened the inning for Florida. “I should have stepped off or threw to second,” explained Pelfrey (7-11) as the Mets were shutout for the seventh time this season and second time at home. “The worst thing in that situation is go home. He showed me the open glove, that’s on me.”

“It was a weird play,” said Turner, “and we got caught.”  David Wright, 2-for-3, was in the play. “A couple of different people saw a couple of different things, and that’s why it didn’t work,” he said about the play. Earlier in the day, Wright was a recipient of the first Roberto Clemente Sportsman of the Year Award at a latino Sports awards luncheon at Citi Field. “He (Pelfrey) deserved the win. He challenges hitters. That’s why his pitch count is up.”

Pelfrey got out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth but it was a struggle getting Gaby Sanchez to pop up to Justin turner at second. “Mike pitched very well,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “It’s a perfect example of what is going on the last four games where Mets starters previously allowed four earned runs in 28.0 innings, a 1.29 ERA.

Vasquez, (8-11) in the meantime continued to turn around a season that got off to a bad start. He achieved a career milestone in strikeouts with 2,500 in the sixth inning when he struck out Lucas Duda swinging, his sixth in seven innings pitched. The veteran pitcher of six teams, including two stints with the New York Yankees, became the 30th pitcher in Major League history to achieve that mark.  He retired 13 consecutive Mets before Josh Thole got a two-out single in the fifth, evened his career record at 160-160, walked one and gave up three hits.

It was his seventh straight quality start. “I didn’t know I had it,” he said about the strikeout. He claims teammates informed him of the milestone when he reached the dugout. “I played so many years, it’s an honor,” he said holding a 2004 bottle of Italian wine that was presented to him by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

Vasquez knew, after being informed that he was one of the few to reach the plateau. “I don’t think I’m going to stick around for 3,000,” he commented. “I’m not going to play that long. This might be it,” he said, offering hints that this may be his final season in a uniform. Though he used both sides of the plate well against the Mets and it was good enough to impress Collins and his team.

“He had a good breaking ball and appears to got his strength back,” said Collins. Vasquez, though, would not admit that he is getting stronger and pitching perhaps the best ball of his career after a dull period in New York. “It’s nice to pitch well and finish on a good note,” he said.

But for Pelfrey, pitching well and working the hitters does not seem to add to wins. He has become the hard luck pitcher, especially against the Marlins. “It definitely gives me an incentive,” he said about the losing streak.

NOTES: Gaby Sanchez went 2-for- 5 and a RBI batting .373 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in his career against the Mets…. The Mets pen allowed two more runs and have given up one run in 29 of their last 36 games…. The finale Thursday night will see Miguel Batista get the start for New York, the veteran and former pitcher of the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks….

It was the Marlins eighth shutout of the season and Mike Stanton hit his 31st homer in the ninth inning, a long shot to the Pepsi Porch in right. On the home run, Collins said, “I think he has the most, raw power I have ever seen. I have never seen a guy generate that kind of power before.”

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under David Wright, Florida Marlins, Game Series, Game Winning Streak, High Pitch, Johan Santana, League Debut, Mike Pelfrey, Miscue, New York Mets, Second Baseman, Seventh Inning, Strikeout, Time At Home, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 31, 2011

Tags: , , , , ,

Mets Sweep Nats and head to the Bronx behind Dillon Gee

New York – New York Mets right hander Dillon Gee has seen nothing but success when he faces the Washington Nationals. In his Major League debut last September 7th at Nationals Park Gee got his first career win and allowed one run in 7.0 innings. Back then he flirted with a no-hitter until Willie Harris, now his current teammate, hit a home run in the sixth.

In his second career start against the Nationals at Citi Field Thursday afternoon, Gee once again flirted with a no-hitter. He held Washington hitless for 5.2 innings, the second time in 10 career starts Gee has gone into the sixth inning with a no-hitter against Washington.

And the only run he needed was a Justin Turner RBI single in the fourth inning, one that stood up as the Mets swept a brief two-game series, 1-0 and now head to the Bronx for three games against the cross-town New York Yankees and the start of interleague play.

Francisco Rodriquez converted his 14th straight save in 15  tries and extended his scoreless innings streak to 18.0 innings, despite giving up a one-out double to Laynce Nix in the ninth inning. Gee (3-0) gave up two hits in 7 2/3 innings in striking out three and giving up three walks.

“The whole mindset of this game was to come in and attack hitters,’ said Gee about his performance. The Mets shut out the Nationals for the second straight game coming off a 3-0 win in the opening game Tuesday night. It was New York’s first consecutive shutouts since August 12 and 13 of last season against Colorado and Philadelphia.

Gee also got some help on the field that helped preserve the shutout. Turner, playing third for the injured David Wright leaned over the railing to grab a foul pop, Jason Bay made a sliding catch in left and Joe Reyes charged a ball for an out that could have led to a hit.

“I could have finished it if I had to,” said Gee. “I saw it like in the fourth or fifth,” he said about giving up no hits until that point. It is one of the hardest things to do in baseball but it wasn’t on my mind,” he said.

New York won for the ninth time in their last 13 games and since starting the season 5-13, they are 16-9 and the pitching staff has compiled a 2.96 ERA. Gee appears to have solidified a spot in the rotation and manager Terry Collins said, “He pitched his brains out and I was not going to let him lose this game.

The emphasis of course now for the Mets is the first of six games against the Yankees. Three in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium starting Friday evening and three more at Citi Field in early July. Though the novelty of this series has run its course, those in the Mets clubhouse, who have in the past played in the series still believe it has intensity.

More so for the fans, and maybe not the players, as the Mets feel confident they are going into Yankee Stadium with momentum and a winning formula. While the Yankees have been struggling, amid some controversy, they are still the New York baseball team that is always favored to overtake the Mets in the interleague series.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said the Mets Jason Bay about the Yankees series. Bay had a season high three-hits in the win Thursday which for now ended talk about Collins dropping him from cleanup to a lower spot in the lineup. “It’s fun to be in that atmosphere,” he said.

Collins will be managing a game against the Yankees for the first time since 1999 when he was with the Anaheim Angels. “This is a good way to come in,” he said about going to the Bronx. “Back-to back shutouts. It’s going to be fun tomorrow.”

Fernando Martinez is expected to come off the bench and slotted in the designated hitter spot in the Bronx. R.A. Dickey (1-5) opens the series Friday night, Chris Capuano (3-4) gets the ball in the Saturday night Fox Network game, and Mike Pelfrey (3-3) closes the series Sunday afternoon.

“It’s just another series for us,” said Mets catcher Josh Thole. But to Pelfrey, it is another series of importance, more so for the fans. “It’s either the Yankees or the Mets and it’s fun” stated Pelfrey.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Consecutive Shutouts, Cross Town, David Wright, Francisco Rodriquez, Game Series, Jason Bay, Last September, League Debut, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Ninth Inning, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Scoreless Innings Streak, Sixth Inning, Straight Game, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

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

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Mets Give The Phils Another Blanking

New York – Tuesday evening it was R.A. Dickey and Raul Valdes shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies 8-0.  Last night at Citi Field it was Left hander Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia and Ryota Igarashi shutting down the Phils again 5-0.  Who would have wondered with two thirds of the Mets starting rotation missing that this was possible.

“He’s a great pitcher with great instincts,” said Mets Manager Jerry Manuel about Takahaski who threw six scoreless innings, He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.  Combined with Dickey throwing six shut out innings against the Phillies, suddenly Manuel has two reliable starters that follow Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

And afterwards, Manuel would commit. The 35-year old Takahaski who spent a good part of his career in Japan, has earned a spot in the rotation. “To have a performance such as that especially, against two very good teams, elite teams, it lengthens the opportunity for him,” said Manuel. “He had great command of his pitches.”

Takahaski (4-1) threw six scoreless innings in his big league debut as a starter against the cross-town Yankees last Friday giving up five hits in a no decision. Signed in the off season to a free agent deal, he had 16 relief appearances after 202 career starts in Japan,

“I know my pitching style and I prefer to do the same here,” said Takahaski through a translator. He apparently knows the scouting reports getting Phillies home run hitter Ryan Howard to swing at a third strike on a changeup, and credited Rod Barajas with a good game plan.

But with Oliver Perez regulated to the bullpen, and with Jonathon Niese and John Maine disabled, Takahaski was granted the opportunity. It has become a welcome reprieve for Manuel. Suddenly the Mets, with another four-game wining streak have seen their starters have a Major League leading 1.37 ERA in their last nine games

Dickey has been a sudden surprise also. And then there is Jose Reyes, always a catalyst in the lineup who has resembled the Reyes of old. The legs are strong again and he is taking the extra base.  He made a sparkling play in the fourth inning reaching out and retiring former teammate Brian Schneider on a pop out in the fifth inning

And Reyes for the first time this season, leading off in the third inning hit the ball over the fence to right field off  Phils starter and loser Joe Blanton (1-3) that gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. “We’re playing good baseball,” said Manuel. “Jose Reyes is igniting the club”

“Right now, when I get on base two or thee times I feel like myself, said Reyes who went 2-for-4 and has four consecutive multi-hit games. Since returning to the leadoff spot on May 15th, Reyes is hitting .300 with nine runs scored, a double, one triple, a home run and five runs batted in.

The shutouts and new pitching rotation, along with Reyes, and timely hitting has given the Mets new life. They once again climbed a game over .500 (24-23) and there is no talk of Manuel losing his job.  “Quite an accomplishment of using two starters we hadn’t used in spring training,” said Manuel.

The Mets look for the sweep against the Phillies Thursday evening with Pelfrey taking the mound for New York, looking for his sixth win. Then it is off to Milwaukee and San Diego, but the good play has to continue away from Citi Field as the Mets lead baseball with 18 home wins.

Manuel and the Mets have to get some wins away from Citi Field, especially now with Reyes playing, like himself. Added to the equation is Takahashi, getting another well deserved start now that he is in the rotation.

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

Posted under Changeup, Cross Town, Elite Teams, Game Plan, Good Game, Home Run Hitter, Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Jose Reyes, League Debut, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Relief Appearances, Rod Barajas, Ryan Howard, Ryota, Scoreless Innings, Scouting Reports, Sudden Surprise, Top Story, Welcome Reprieve