Right now the outfield combination is a guess that works for the Mets

New York – Friday night at Citi Field in the New York Mets outfield, Mike Baxter got the start in right field, Lucas Duda was in left, Jordany Valdespin in center. It has been common not to expect the same everyday outfield combination in the lineup put together by manager Terry Collins.

It could cause some issues, but not in the Mets clubhouse. Everyone seems to be content with their playing time. What matters most, Collins is trying to find the right combination that can produce some runs in the lineup. And, if Valdespin keeps coming off big, as he did Wednesday night with a walk-off game winning grand slam home run, he could be in the outfield every day.

However, Collins will not commit to who plays where. As he makes out the lineup a lot has to do also with righty against lefty, and who may have the upper hand. Except Mets fans are becoming acclimated to seeing Valdespin come up big, who can also fill some holes in the infield.

“I took the one guy who has a .400 on base in Mike Baxter and said if we can get him on, we got a guy at number 2 who can handle the bat, and hit behind runners, and hit in the holes and bunt and do the little things,” commented Collins about inserting Baxter in right at the top of the order Friday night.

Baxter was followed in the order by Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright, and then came Duda.  The Mets come to the ballpark and it does matter where, when, or if or not they are in the lineup.

The outfield has learned to work as a unit and in the end it comes down to winning ballgames.

Yes, Sandy Alderson, the general manager suggested to Collins to insert Wright fifth in the order.  The Mets captain, before getting injured, drove home 10-runs in the World Baseball Classic. The outfield, though, that is the discretion of the Mets manager.

“He led off for us last year, he knows what he is doing,” said Collins about inserting Baxter in that role Friday night as the Mets dropped the first of a three-game series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Baxter struck out once and went hitless in four at bats. In the third inning, he also lost a ball in right field that was ruled a double of the bat of Lance Nix.

“It was the twilight out there, hard to read,” commented Baxter about the mixed ball. He said it had nothing to do with the limited playing time out in right, or coming off the bench as a role player.

As for going hitless at the plate, Baxter and the Mets can blame Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick who shut out the Mets for the first time this season limiting them to three hits. Kendrick did not allow a runner to second base after the first inning.

Simply put, Collins is aware that he has to get his guys playing time and find a proper role for them. Baxter, as with rookie Juan Lagares, will get the time. The 24-year old Lagares of the Dominican Republic was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday and recorded his first Major League base hit coming off the bench.

The attitude of Lagares, it fits in with the rest of that crowded outfield. “I am going to try and be here and do whatever they need me to do here, come here to work hard everyday  ” he said after getting his first start in center Wednesday night against the Dodgers.

But in a matter of time, Collins and the Mets should have that outfield set. In the meantime, when the Mets outfield arrives at Citi Field early Saturday morning for another game with the Phillies, as has been the case, they will look on the board and see if their name is in the starting lineup.

“We will come out tomorrow and give it another try,” said Baxter.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dro, Lefty, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Fans, Mets New York, Mike Baxter, New York Mets, Outfield, Playing Time, Right Combination, Ruben, Runners, Sandy Alderson, Tejada, Top Story, Wednesday Night

Second Shutout for Mets Starters leads to 1-0 Victory over Phillies

New York – If a doctor were to sit down and write out a prescription for the Mets it would read like this: “A shutout a day will keep the losing streak at bay.”  The New York Mets (58-57) were able to do just that behind a very strong starting performance from knuckleball specialist R. A. Dickey to blank the Philadelphia Phillies (64-51), by the score of 1-0 in Friday night baseball at Citi Field.

The Mets now have had back-to-back complete game shutouts as Santana and Dickey became the first pair of Mets pitchers to post shutouts since Pedro Astacio and Jeff D’Amico went the distance in consecutive two-hitters on May 14-15, 2002 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Notching their major league-leading 18th shutout this evening, the Mets have had their last four victories all come in shutouts.

Dickey (8-5) was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets in throwing a complete-game shutout against the National League East Rival Phillies. The righty was able to baffle the Phillies batters, striking out seven while only giving up one walk and one hit. The lone hit for Philadelphia came from opposing pitcher Cole Hamels, who laced a single to right field. Hamels (7-9) went eight innings for Philadelphia in a fine start, striking out eight Mets hitters. What hurt the lefty were the five hits that he gave up to the Mets with four of them falling in for extra base hits.

In speaking about his starter Mets manager Jerry Manuel had this to say, “Today he (Dickey) was very impressive for us. He is very much a competitor and he knew what he needed to do and he did it.”

After the game Manuel continued to say how he felt that pitching and defense was also a part of that Mets prescription for leading them to victories in the rest of the 2010 season. Well the Mets got plenty of great defensive plays in the game as in the first two innings shortstop Jose Reyes made two very nice diving plays for New York.

“We put an emphasis on pitching and defense, and we think that is our formula to win games,” Manuel said after the game, “Guys have responded very well to that formula so far.”

Mike Hessman also had two very nice defensive plays for the Mets, both coming in the bottom of the second inning taking care of two very hit ground balls and was able to make the outs against two very speedy runners. Hessman also recorded his first major league triple in the bottom of the fifth inning, but not without help of instant replay.

It seemed as if the rookie was able to hit a first pitch changeup into the crowd in left field which fell for what was originally called a home run.  That call was immediately protested by the Phillies players and manager Charlie Manuel as a fan interference play. In doing the right thing the umpiring crew immediately went into the replay booth inside of Citi Field to make the correct call. The umpires came out after a six minute delay to tell the rookie that he was going to get a triple. After the umpires call was made the 35,440 in attendance very upset immediately voicing their displeasure at the reversed call.

“The umpiring crew went to Major League Baseball for the official ruling,” Manuel explained of the overturned call. “They look at all of the different angels and they made that determination.” Hessman was awarded third base because, “When the ball hit the wall, Mike was already past second base and on his way to third; so I thought it was the right call for us.”

New York wasn’t able to cash in on that extra base hit as Hamels worked out of trouble. It would not stay that way for the Philadelphia starter as consecutive doubles in the bottom of the sixth inning by David Wright (29) and Carlos Beltran (6) was all the Mets needed to win the game.

“Having Beltran and Wright get hits tonight for us was a huge boost to our offense,” Manuel said after the game. “If we can get them both going at the same time it will be a positive thing for us offensively.”

Also contributing to the Mets offense was left fielder Angel Pagan who out hustled a very strong throw by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Pagan continued to show off his speed by stealing second and third base (28). Catcher Henry Blanco was another part of the Mets offense in the bottom of the seventh inning, when scorched a ball down the left-field line for a ground-rule double (5).

The Mets will try to continue to ride this shutout momentum, and keep to the doctor’s prescription in game two against the Phillies on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. Philadelphia will send out their own doctor in Roy “Doc” Halladay (14-8, 2.34 ERA) takes on Pat Misch. The 28-year-old lefty was 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo will be called up to make the first start of the 2010 season. Mish had a taste of action with the Mets last season posting a 4.12 ERA in 59 innings.

Posted under Amico, Batters, Cole Hamels, Complete Game, Defensive Plays, Game Shutout, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Lefty, Los Angeles Dodgers, Losing Streak, Major League, National League East, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pedro Astacio, Philadelphia Phillies, Pitchers, Santana, Shortstop, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 14, 2010

Rayburn and Ordonez Hit Homers to Help the Tigers Edge Mets, 6-5

New York – In a nail biting game at Citi Field on Thursday evening the Detroit Tigers (38-32) defeated the New York Mets (41-30) by the score of 6-5. Despite the loss the Mets were still able to take two-of-three games from one of the American League Central’s best teams.

Mets starter Hisanori Takashi (6-3) could not command the plate today in the loss going 4 innings plus four batters, the lefty gave up eight hits, six runs and four walks while also striking out four batters. Tigers’ starter Armando Galarraga (3-1) pitched well in six innings giving up five hits, four runs, and three walks and striking out one batter. Galarraga looked like he would have another no-hitter but the Mets spoiled his plans in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“The important thing for him (Takashi) is his command” Mets manager Jerry Manuel told reporters after the game. “Overall he has pitched well for us, today though it was just the walks and some hard hit balls, but overall he has pitched well for us.”

Magglio Ordonez had a great day at the plate for the Tigers going 2-for-5 and driving in three runs with two of those runs coming on a long home run to left field. Also having a good day at the plate was Ryan Rayburn who was 3-for-3 with one RBI, while hitting a homer as well.  For the Mets David Wright went 2-for-5 with one RBI, while Jason Bay and Ike Davis also contributed with an RBI each.

The Tigers plated their first run in the top of the first inning as leadoff hitter Austin Jackson worked a walk. Rayburn ripped a single to left field to set up runners on first and second for Magglio Ordonez. During Ordonez’s at bat Jackson and Rayburn would steal second and third to have runners in scoring position for the visitors. The duo of Jackson and Rayburn has now swiped 10 consecutive bags against the Mets without being caught. Ordonez could not cash in as Takahashi got him to strike out swinging. Miguel Cabrera was able to plate the first run one batter later as he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field making the score 1-0 Tigers.

Ryan Raburn would work a walk to start top of the third inning, this was when Ordonez lifted his 10th home run of the season making the score 3-0 in favor of Detroit.

The perfect game was spoilt for the Tigers in the top of the fourth inning as Jesus Feliciano picking up the first double of his career, which was hit over the left fielders reach. David Wright kept the inning alive with a single to left field. Ike Davis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play which scored the Mets first run.

Detroit would answer back in the top of the fifth inning as Raburn would strike with a home run (2) of his own to left field giving the Tigers the 4-1 lead. Back-to-back singles to left field by Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera set the stage for Brennan Boesch who worked a walk to load the bases for Brandon Inge. Mets manager Jerry Manuel then called for righty Elmer Dessens to try to stop the bleeding, but Dessens could not do so at first as he walked Inge which scored the fifth Tiger run. The relief pitcher was able to get Gerald Laird to hit a fly ball to right field before inducing the force out by Danny Worth. Even though there was an out recorded on that play, as Detroit took a 6-1 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning that lead would not stand as Jose Reyes worked the walk to start the inning. Jesus Feliciano singled to right field setting up runners on first and second for David Wright who ripped a double (21) to left field cutting the Tiger lead to 6-2. Ike Davis plated the second run that inning as he was able to hit a grounder to the shortstop which plated Feliciano. Jason Bay ripped a single to center field which would make the score 6-4 in favor of the Tigers.

The Mets comeback would not end there as the drama mounted in the bottom of the seventh inning relief pitcher Ramon Santiago would start by hitting Ruben Tejada with a pitch and throw a wild pitch during Chris Carter’s at bat, which moved Tejada over to second base. Carter would cash that run in with a single to right field and make the score 6-5. Tiger manager Jim Leyland would call for former Yankee reliever Phil Coke to slow down the momentum. At first it seemed as if it would not be successful as Feliciano was able to hit an infield single, but the Mets could not cash in as David Wright struck out and Ike Davis flied out to end the inning.

“One of the characteristics of the team is our ability to come back,” Manuel said. “They felt like they can come back on any given night and they kept fighting and I really liked the fight that I had seen from them tonight.”

Both the Tigers and the Mets had chances during the course of the game. The Mets had chances to get the tie and the win, as well as the Tigers having a chance to add on to their lead. In the end though both bullpens did the job of shutting down the other teams offense and the score would stand at 6-5. Pitcher Jose Valverde converted his 17th straight save opportunity tonight, which dates back to April 9, 2010.

Up next for the Mets is a three game home stand against another tough American League Central foe as the Minnesota Twins come into town. The first game on Friday features Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey (7-4, 4.58 ERA) taking on the Mets ace Mike Pelfrey (9-2, 2.69 ERA) with the first pitch slated at 7:10 p.m.

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Injury Update:  Mets catcher Rod Barajas did not start tonight with a stiff back and Angel Pagan is day-to-day with a muscle spasm.  The team has recalled catcher Josh Thole from Buffalo and optioned lefty Raul Valdes to Buffalo.

“The move was made earlier in the day,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after the game. “We wanted to make sure that we were protected and there is a good chance that Thole will start tomorrow.” He continued by saying, “We need to protect our catchers they have been vital to our success and we need to make sure that we are protecting them.”

This story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under American League Central, Armando Galarraga, Balls, Batters, David Wright, Detroit Tigers, Homer, Homers, Jason Bay, Leadoff Hitter, Lefty, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, New York Mets, Rbi, Runners, Ryan Rayburn, Takashi, Three Games, Top Story, Walks

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 25, 2010