Mets Roll Dice To Eat Innings

It’s all about the innings.

It’s also about the future, which is why the Mets signed veteran righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka on Thursday and slotted him into the rotation right away after injuries and the impending innings count put a dent in the staff.

The countdowns are already underway for young hurlers Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler, and with Jeremy Hefner and Jennry Mejia lost for the season due to injuries, the next day’s starters might have soon been announced as TBA. Carlos Torres was again drafted out of the bullpen for spot starts, and would have started tonight against the Tigers, but with the signing of Matsuzaka, the effective reliever (2-2, 3.00ERA/1.45 ERA in relief) was dispatched back to the pen.

Reliever Greg Burke was optioned back to Sin City to make room for the 32-year-old Matsuzaka, with the verbal promise of a return ticket when September call-ups are made.

Matsuzaka’s signing made sense from a cost-effective point of view. They signed him for just the remainder of the season, and if he pitches well over the course of the next five weeks or so, and helps ease the burden of the staff with innings at a premium in September, he could become a bargain.

Trouble is, the start to his Mets/National League career was anything but a bargain, giving up five runs – including two home runs, to the Tigers in just the first two innings. With starts like that, the Mets would be better served hanging a Help Wanted sign outside the gates of Citi Field for a spot starter.

Matsuzaka settled down for a bit after that, throwing three additional zeros, but those first two frames were pretty ugly. He threw 86 pitches in the five innings, 58 for strikes. Dice-K racked up four Ks, with one walk.

At his request, Matsuzaka was released from his contract with the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 20th. He had been relegated to their minor league system, languishing in Triple-A all season after migrating to the Indians when his manager from the only major league team he had known, Boston’s former leader, Terry Francona, returned to the skipper’s chair in Cleveland.

With the Columbus Clippers of the International League this season, Matsuzaka was just 5-8 in 19 starts (3.92 ERA), striking out 95 and walking 39 in 103.1 innings. In 13 of his IL starts, Matsuzaka lasted at least five innings, in seven of them at least seven innings, hence the attraction.

However, another line on his stat sheet displays his 1-7, 8.28 ERA record the last time he pitched in the majors, in 2012 with the BoSox, yielding 45 earned runs in 45.2 innings. For his career, all in Boston, Matsuzaka is 50-37, 4.52 in 117 games, all but one as starts. His best season came in 2008, when he notched a 18-3 mark, 2.90, in 29 starts.

The 6-foot, 185-pound native of Tokyo, Japan, becomes the 12th Japanese-born player to appear in at least one game with the Mets, the 11th pitcher to have hailed from the Far East, and the first since Ryota Igarishi in 2011.

With the Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki making news earlier this week as only the third professional baseball player to reach 4,000 hits – combining his accomplishments on two continents, it is also interesting to note there have now been 59 players born in Japan to have played in the majors, although some of those are players you might not have guessed were born in Japan. That list includes the likes of Craig House, Dave Roberts, Jeff McCarry, and Keith McDonald.

Matsuzaka was assigned No. 16, made famous a generation ago in Mets history by Dwight Gooden, and if you want to go back a little further, Lee Mazzilli. Matsuzaka wore No. 18 with Boston, and why that’s significant is that No. 18 carries some sort of prestige in Japan for pitchers. They often request it. But right now, Mets third base coach Tim Teufel is occupying the number, first popularized in Met lore by Darryl Strawberry.

What? You’ve forgotten Al Luplow?

Igarishi wore 18 in 2011.

Matsuzaka is not the first Japanese-born Met hurler to wear 16. Hideo Nomo wore it in New York in 1998, interestingly the first Met to wear it since Gooden last wore it in 1994.

Getting back to the original point, Matsuzaka is here to eat innings. The Mets desperately want to protect both Harvey and Wheeler from throwing too many innings beyond their 2012 results, which recent history suggests, protects young arms. There still are no guarantees (see Stephen Strasburg), but as long as the theory is believed, innings limits will take precedent.

Going into the weekend, Wheeler was at 138.1 combined innings majors and minors for the season. The Mets would like to see him top of at around 170-175. In 2012, he threw 149 innings for two minor league affiliates – Binghamton and Buffalo.

Harvey is at 171.2 innings. Last year he threw a combined 169.1 innings. His target is about 210-215.

With the Mets not exactly in the pennant race, at some point there going to shut down both dynamic arms. And they’re going to need new arms to show up on the mound every day.

There appears to be a general reluctance to call up other promising prospects to do so, one due to their own innings limits, and two, the eyes that watch them say they’re just not ready.

Jason deGrom is an arm the scouts have been raving about lately (4-2, 3.93 in Las Vegas) but he’s not even on the 40, so they would have to lose someone to call him up. Don’t be surprised if another major league castoff from some distant shore also washes up on a Mets beach before this campaign is over.

*****

ADVANCE NOTICE:

Saturday’s matchup of Matt Harvey against Detroit’s Matt Scherzer represents the first time in baseball’s history the two starting pitchers from that year’s All-Star game opposed each other in a regular season game. Of course, this rare occurrence is primarily a byproduct of the 17-season history of interleague play. Credit the Elias Sports Bureau with the research which confirmed the rarity.

Also of note : Wednesday’s ninth inning loss to the Braves represented the 22nd time the Mets had lost this season in the game’s last at-bat. In all of 2012, they lost just 16 games in this manner.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Bullpen, Countdowns, Greg Burke, Major League, Mets, New York Mets, Return Ticket, Roll Dice, Top Story, Verbal Promise

A Banner Day For RA

Terry Collins the New York Mets manager celebrated his 63rd birthday Sunday and R.A. Dickey gave him the perfect gift helping with a second straight shutout by a Mets starter and the pen. Saturday, Johan Santana pitched a complete four-hit shutout and win over the San Diego Padres.

Dickey with 7.1 shutout innings paved the way for a New York 2-0 win at Citi Field over the San Diego Padres. New York took three of four from the injury plagued Padres , moving to 27-21, six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2010.

Dickey struck out ten and for the first time in his career had consecutive double digit strikeout games. This past Tuesday he struck out 11 Pirates in a Mets win at Pittsburgh.

“The game is about early flaws and right now I’m in the middle,” he said regarding the early season troubles that were encountered. But that was then and this is now, because Dickey is following Santana in the rotation and the Mets may have the best one-two combination when it comes to starters.

Dickey (7-1,) won his major league leading high-tying seventh game of the season. He extended his winning streak to five games and scoreless streak to a season-high tying 8.1 innings dating back to the win over Pittsburgh,

“It’s nice to be able to celebrate some good outings in a row and hopefully the next guy out feels an obligation to keep it where it’s out right now,” commented Dickey, the first Mets pitcher to have back-to-back games with at least ten strikeouts since Pedro Martinez in May of 2006.

Dickey added, “I certainly did after Johan passed the gauntlet.”

He gave up three hits, walked one, and hit one batter in 7.1 innings.  San Diego got a hit in the first two innings and did not get another hit until a Jesus Guzman single in the seventh inning.

For the Padres, who won the first game of the series Thursday night, with a season high 11-runs, they looked helpless scoring one run on 11-hits the last three games.

“It’s tougher if he’s on,” said Padres manager Bud Black about the way Dickey throws the knuckle ball. “We were making him earn it, pumping strikes with the knuckleball.”

Collins is enthused the way his team has won games in their division and at home. New York is 15-9 at home and showing the National League they can may be around for the long run. They Mets won their first four-game series this season and once again scored in the first inning.

They have got on the board in the first or second inning in nine of their last ten games.

“When you play these teams you raise your level,” said Collins. The Padres, with 13 players on the disabled list are struggling, 17-32, and expect their slugger Carlos Quentin to return from the disabled list when they open a series Monday in Chicago.

Tim Byrdak leading baseball in appearance out of the pen got two outs to finish the eighth inning and Frank Francisco  worked the ninth earning his 13th save and win for Dickey.

But Collins and the Mets have been there also and have managed to win ballgames when they have to.  Still without catcher Josh Thole, shortstop Ruben Tejada, and outfielder Jason Bay, New York has won six of their last eight games and staying competitive in the NL east.

“We got to pick our game up,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. But if we continue to pitch, we’ll be in some games.”

Daniel Murphy had an RBI single and Mike Baxter scored on a passed ball for the Mets runs. Edinson Volquez, (2-5), the losing pitcher, before the game was with Dickey in the bullpen area and getting tips about how to throw a knuckleball.

“It is hard to hit him,” said Volquez who was a teammate of Dickey back in Texas with the Rangers for a brief time. He has noticed that Dickey has an elevated knuckleball that has increased his strikeout ratio.

Right now, it is hard to get runs off Santana and Dickey. Jonathon Niese (3-2) opens the start of a three-game series with the Phillies at Citi Field Monday afternoon. These same Phillies, who are struggling and behind the Mets in the standings, which is something different at the end of May.

“Later this season we’ll evaluate that situation,” added Byrdak about the Phillies.  For now the Mets will take the situation the way it is, and that means being competitive as the month of June approaches.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under First Game, Five Games, Gauntlet, Johan Santana, Major League, New York Mets, Perfect Gift, Rd Birthday, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, Scoreless Streak, Seventh Inning, Six Games, Strikeout, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on May 28, 2012

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The More Things Change….

Opening day has come and gone.  On the plus side the Mets have one  of the  best  all time winning percentages  in opening day games – and we all know how  that has worked out over 50 years.

On the down side, it looks an awful  lot like they could  use today’s game as  the oft referenced “microcosm” game for what looks like the inevitable 48th year of futility.

Pelfrey being hyped as ready to assume the mantle of staff “ace”?  In reality, he would not legitimately be looked at as the ace of any number of college teams and most,  if not all,  minor league teams. He may end up having a serviceable Bobby Jones like career, and may turn out to be a serviceable 5th starter on a major league team, but he has never found a bat that he could not hit. He may get 27 people to hit the ball directly at fielders over a 3 hour period, but he can never be really good unless and until  he can get HIMSELF out of trouble on occasion. This will not happen unless and UNTIL  he learns to change speeds.  Every pitch looks exactly the same. OK  sometimes he has good movement. Sometimes he throws a heavy ball all game – but he never changes speeds. Hell, even if he couldn’t get people out with it he should learn to do it just to put something in a hitters mind.

Which brings me to the next problem. Who does Dan Warthen have pictures of  in the Met’s organization. My guess is Jeff Wilpon. Can’t be any of the triumvirate. What are his qualifications as a pitching coach? At least Peterson had the whole kinetic research combined with psycho babble thing going – and some  sort of strategy regarding the art of pitching. Hell Leo Mazzone is out  there begging for a job. I know, I know, he doesn’t fit the mold as a speak when spoken to guy – but  he sure knows how  to be a pitching coach, with years and years of proven  results. Is Warthen’s plan to have the pitchers pound the strike zone = which they still don/t do enough. Round  up and  develop 95 MPH pitchers and teach them secondary pitches? Seems it is more like the Mets 50 year plan – just throw as much crap against the wall as you  can and hope something  sticks.

It would be considered noble, heroic, insightful, moneyballish, whatever – watching  a front office assemble a rag tag team of  no names, cast offs, rule 5’s (come on 2 out of your 9  players on the field on opening day are rule 5 players), but  this is New York. Even being the second city team in New York should make you a Billion Dollar Franchise. Not Northeast Kansas City.

Which brings us to the biggest problem. Ownership. There is no sympathy. They pocketed millions from Met fans – not  counting  Madoff’s  money  and what they knew or didn’t know. They always did just enough to act like they cared but never went all in like Steinbrenner. They never had the whatever it takes mentality like Steinbrenner and now the Red Sox and Phillies. Why? General principles?  Good business skills – which we already know they do not possess? Why? Because you can only sell so many tickets and once  you  sell them all, or all you think you  are going to sell in the best case scenario, you can stop trying to impress anybody, you can stop trying to win, you can stop spending or investing as there is no  ROI  left for you to squeeze out. The actual pennants, world series, winning and all that comes with that culture  and reputation is not important to them-and never has been for the entire  Mets history.

From the time they were born they were a joke, an attraction. They hired a guy Casey Stengel who by  that time was a washed up carnival hawker and he toured the land with his Metsies, Metsies schtick and his fabulous one liners about why they drafted a catcher first in the expansion draft – your gonna need somebody to go get the balls. They were known point blank as lovable losers. And they marketed the hell out of it  for all it  was worth. And it lasted for  50 years.

 

1969 was a MIRACLE. No other way to describe it. No other explanation for it. But it  happened and so did 1986. And that should  have been enough to open somebody’s eyes to what could be. What should  be. But it didn’t. Again, lovable losers that they are, ROI focused  as ever, just getting into the Subway Series was enough. Winning it didn’t matter. Getting maybe one curveball away from the world series in 2006 insured the max ROI for the next 3 years minimum, and take out the unscripted colossal collapses in 2007 and 2008 and they would still be living off 2006. Just like  SNY  still  lives off  1986 replays – and Yankee info and commercials. (could  you ever  imagine Steinbrenner allowing a David Wright  commercial  airing during  a YES broadcast?) The Met’s  don’t care  about that kind of stuff. They care about the  bottom line. Hell if the  Yankees  don’t pay them to run their commercials who else will?

Now having said all this, I always hated people who criticized for the sake of bitching and moaning alone.  I always felt if you weren’t part of the solution, you were part of the problem. Or at least if you didn’t have any ideas on what the solutions should be – then shut the hell up.

In this case however, the answers are obvious and can no longer be ignored or  tip-toed around.

Selig needs to have the Wilpons  sell the team – immediately if not already in the process. Otherwise he needs to move up his date and leave tomorrow and let the next guy make them divest themselves of what should be the  Pinta  or  Santa  Maria  of  MLB,  if  not the Nina itself.

The front office needs to bring in all their own people. And not shopping in Filenes Basement. It  is killing the Phillies  they can’t  go right  after  Michael Young  to fill in at 2nd base. Of  course,  they paid  more than the GNP of ¾ of  the  world for their  starting  rotation, and Howard and Utley. But don’t be shocked if  they get  desperate  enough they don’t  go  ahead  and get  him anyway.  It’s called doing whatever  it takes.

Start selling high on players  like Pagan, Pelfrey (based on last year), Reyes if he starts looking like  his old self, Beltran to an AL team if he  proves he can DH, and David Wright before he completely  flops.

Trade these guys  for aces, or  potential  aces,  or  potential  all stars. Restock the farm with top talent.  Get established  talent.   Reyes  or  Wright could have  brought a Lincecum a few years ago. They can still bring monster packages from the Red Sox,  Giants,  Dodgers, etc. Move them. Move on. Rebuild in your own image and see what happens.

We have already seen what happens  with  50 years of the wrong vision, or  no vision whatsoever. And it ain’t pretty. Somebody has to lead the poor Met  fans out of the desert. 50 years of  futility is enough.

And if we can’t go to the mountain – then we should bring the mountain  to them,  in the  form of balled up  season ticket  applications.  Stop supporting the same people who make fools out of us year after year after year after year. Stop buying 6 game packages. Stop going to the games altogether. Stop watching them on SNY. Stop watching SNY. It is the only thing these people respond to and unless and until we show them we understand how they operate the vicious cycle will continue in perpetuity. And the best we could hope for is some sort of purgitory if not outright baseball fan hell.

Posted under Bobby Jones, Dan Warthen, Fielders, Futility, Hyped, Jeff Wilpon, Leo Mazzone, Major League, Mantle, Mets, Microcosm, Minor League Teams, Mold, New York Mets, Percentages, Pitchers, Pitching Coach, Psycho Babble, Strike Zone, Top Story, Triumvirate

This post was written by Frank Salamone on April 2, 2011

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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

Dickey and Davis Lead the Way in 4-0 Victory over Cardinals

New York – Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey went a season-high eight and one-thirds innings, giving up only four hits to help the New York Mets (52-50) blank the St. Louis Cardinals (56-46) by the score of 4-0 in afternoon baseball at Citi Field on Thursday.

Dickey (7-4) was able to stretch his scoreless streak this afternoon, to a career-best 17.0 consecutive innings, which dates back to the fifth inning of his start on July 20th at Arizona. Along with stretching his scoreless streak Dickey helped to lead the Mets to their major-league leading 14th shutout of the year.

It was noticed by Dickey along with young catcher Josh Thole saw that sometimes the knuckleball wasn’t going to always make the other team swing and miss, so instead today the two were able to have a game plan which kept the Cardinals off balance.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel was impressed with how the starter could recognize that saying, “Yes, especially for a pitch like the knuckleball, which is difficult to tell what direction it is going to go, even for the catcher. He and Josh have worked very well together to identify what makes them successful.”

Thole who has had the opportunity to catch Dickey in Triple-A affiliate Buffalo noticed one change in the starter, “His secondary pitches make the difference.  It helps to have those secondary pitches and he has really worked on them and it has made him a more successful pitcher.”

“I tried to change speeds and was able to keep them (the Cardinals off balance today,” Dickey said of his start. “The trend for anytime a pitcher has a shutout is when that pitcher has command of the strike zone and I was able to do that today.”

For St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth was the recipient of a tough loss in this afternoon’s game (4-7) going six innings, giving up seven hits and four runs along with three walks and three strike outs.

In a game which featured many ground balls along with some fine defensive plays neither team was able to get on the board until the bottom of the third inning. Jose Reyes got the Mets going by ripping a double (18) to right field. Reyes was able to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, which dates to July 19th 2010. Outfielder Angel Pagan followed with a ground ball infield single, which thanks to his speed he was able to beat out and set the stage for rookie sensation Ike Davis.

Davis lifted the first pitch in his at bat over the Nikon sign in center field for his 15th home run of the season, and gave the Mets a comfortable 3-0 lead. For Davis, who had a day off in yesterday’s game,  the 15 homers are the fifth-most by a Mets rookie in franchise history, holding the overall record is the future Met Hall of Famer Darryl Strawberry with 26 in 1983.

On being able to provide clutch hitting in his first year with the club Davis said, “It is all about the confidence you have as a hitter, you need to be able to go up to the plate and have confidence in your swing. You can have that exact same swing but if you don’t have confidence it won’t go very far.” The first baseman continues by saying, “If I hit it well enough I expect the ball to go out of the park. If I am able to get the barrel of the bat to center or to right, I know for sure it will go out. I just wanted to stay through it and not roll it over.”

Dickey would continue to keep the Cardinals guessing in the top of the fifth inning. One huge ground out was when second baseman Skip Schumaker to hit into a infield double play, along with getting  Yadier Molina to hit into another ground out on a nice backhanded play by rookie Mike Hessman, who was playing third base for New York in the game. Hessman looked good making two nice backhanded grabs in the hot corner in this afternoon’s game.

The Mets would get on the board one last time in the bottom of the fifth inning as Angel Pagan ripped a triple (7) to the right field crevice. Center fielder Carlos Beltran would plate that fourth New York run by lacing a single to left field to give New York the 4-0 lead.

“I am good to go and I just want to be out there and help the team win,” Beltran said after the game. “The main thing for me is that I need to come into the ballpark before the game and do my pre-game routine, which started in St. Lucie, and it will be something that stays with me for the rest of my career.”

Ground balls would continue to greet the Mets infielders as Dickey would induce seven alone in the later innings to keep the Cardinals off the board. In the top of the eighth inning the starter found some trouble as the rain started to come down as Schumaker hit a single to right field to try to start the Cardinals offense, a wild pitch placed the runner on second for pitch hitter Randy Winn. Dickey was able to get out of trouble by getting a hard hit ground ball to Alex Cora to end the inning.

“It is great for us to play behind Dickey,” Davis said after the game. “It is hard sometimes when the pitchers throw the balls outside the strike zone then we stay on your heels a little, but Dickey works so fast and he keeps us on our toes.”

New York would try to add one last run in the bottom of the eighth as Hessman was hit in the shoulder by Cardinal reliever Mike MacDougal. Jose Thole worked a walk to have runners on first and second for Jeff Francoeur. Unfortunately for the 40,087 the outfielder hit a high pop up to first base for the first out. Alex Cora worked a walk, before Dickey hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. The bases were loaded for Jose Reyes, who hit a hard ground ball for the final out of the inning.

Top of the ninth inning was greeted by a huge cheer as Dickey took the hill to close out the game. Pinch hitter Colby Rasmus singled to center for the fourth St. Louis hit. Felipe Lopez advanced Rasmus on a ground ball to Ike Davis for the first out. A walk to rookie Jon Jay placed runners on first and second for the dangerous duo of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Dickey would not find out how he would have fared against the two big bats as manager Jerry Manuel called for reliever Francisco Rodriguez who got the last two outs and sealed the 4-0 victory for New York.

“This is one of those wins that you point too and hope that it can turn your season around, “Dickey said. “Yesterday was a heartbreaker, but we had no time to think about it. Today you really saw the character of this team and we really have a shot until the end of the season.”

The Mets will now open a three game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks as righty Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.00 ERA) takes on Ian Kennedy (5-8, 4.10 ERA) in a 7:10 p.m. Friday night game at Citi Field.

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Trade News: The National League East got a whole lot tougher today as the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt in a trade with the Houston Astros in exchange for pitcher J.A. Happ and minor league prospects Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.

Story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under Baseball, Blake Hawksworth, Buffalo, Fifth Inning, Game Plan, Ground Balls, Josh Thole, Knuckleball, Major League, New York Mets, Pitch, Pitches, Recipient, Scoreless Streak, Shutout, St Louis Cardinals, Starting Pitcher, Strike Zone, Top Story, Victory, Walks

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on July 30, 2010

Mets Get Another Home Win Behind Ike and Mike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

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

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