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

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

It’s Now Collins Turn To Lead The Mets

New York – Now it is up to Terry Collins to lead the New York Mets, at least for the next two years with an option for a third at least to 2013.  He was introduced as the 20th manager of the New York Mets at Citi Field Tuesday morning and the questions were asked.

What must be done to turn the tide in Flushing? After two consecutive losing seasons and questions about who will be where in the lineup, Collins certainly has a huge task. Expectations for the Mets to contend in 2011 are very slim with limited payroll flexibility, and probably no significant additions to the roster.

The new manager immediately said he wants to win. He emphasized speed on the bases and mentioned how important it was for Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay to stay healthy.  Previous manager Jerry Manuel knew how important that was, but for Collins to see success it will require more than Beltran and Bay playing at full strength.

“I want to win, and there is no doubt in my mind we have the talent to win,” said the 61-year old Collins, an intense and competitive individual who expects nothing more than winning. He reminds you of a general leading his troops to war. A veteran baseball man with expertise coming back to the dugout after an 11-year hiatus should not be an issue.

Collins knows the game, so adjusting to a new situation, in the big city will be the question. Can he handle a losing situation?  Time will tell because Collins will always have a skeptical past to his resume after dismissing himself from his managerial duties with the California Angels with 29 games remaining in 1999.

But that had no bearing on the decision to bring him on board. He beat out Mets homegrown favorite Wally Backman, third base coach Chip Hale, and minor league instructor Bob Melvin who had the previous managerial background to lead.

“We believe Terry’s knowledge of our players, intensity and direct approach will make an immediate, positive impact both in the clubhouse and on the field,” said new General Manager Sandy Alderson.

There is also intensity that comes with Collins. An emotional man in the dugout when he piloted the Houston Astros before the Angels, and perhaps what his predecessor Jerry Manuel could not do, Collins will be able to. That is bringing the intensity and fire to the Mets clubhouse.

Though we can’t put the entire blame on Manuel’s personality and Collins will inherit most of the mess that Manuel had to work with. Luis Castillo with the big contract, probably no way Oliver Perez gets traded, and if the Mets can’t eat the remaining $36 million of his contract, Collins may have to put him back on the mound. And he has to deal with a controversial closer Francisco Rodriguez who is coming off thumb surgery and a legal issue of assault.

An immediate impact will be on the youngsters that Collins knows well. He served as the Mets minor league field coordinator this past season and is familiar with Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Josh Thole.  No doubt Alderson and the new Mets regime, all familiar with Alderson, took that into consideration when they hired their new manager.

What Mets fans will see is a more intense and feisty individual, something Manuel lacked. There will be no laugh in the pre and post game meetings with members of the media that symbolized Manuel during his tenure as manager. Collins is straight to the point and on a mission to try and turn things around at Citi Field.

“I really hope that when we get together as a team in spring training that the lines of communication open up,” stated Collins. “They have to be open on a daily basis and the players have to realize my passion for the game and my passion for excellence.”

Time will tell how the Terry Collins managerial reign will unfold. “We want to be the last team standing net October,” said Collins who definitely has proved to have a passion for the game.

A bold statement for sure, and an experienced leader who immediately took charge as a new era has officially started at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Bob Melvin, California Angels, Carlos Beltran, Citi, Doubt In My Mind, Dugout, Full Strength, Hiatus, Homegrown, Jason Bay, Managerial Background, Managerial Duties, Mets New York, Minor League, New Situation, New York Mets, No Doubt, Rich Mancuso, Third Base Coach, Top Story, Tuesday Morning, Wally Backman

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on November 25, 2010

Long Day At The Park For The Mets

NEW YORK – There were perhaps less than 1,000 fans in the seats at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon when New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathan Niese threw the first pitch to Milwaukee Brewers leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks at 4:10pm. It was a rare twin bill of baseball in New York City courtesy of a Monday evening rain out that required two games.

Even if the games meant nothing towards post season implications, they had to be played. The Mets are finishing up another dismal campaign, third in the NL east, and the Brewers sitting fourth in the NL central also playing out the string and ready to pack their bags for the winter

Because net receipts from the gate and concessions are so important to the teams, the schedule must be played out. Even if there is a rain out the makeup game gets on the schedule if agreed by the teams this late in the season. With concession stands closed in the upper decks at Citi Field, and the noticeable empty seats it was time to play ball.

When the first pitch was thrown, and for a good part of the first game, fans in the stands and media in the press box could hear sounds of the game. A crack of the bat, fastball in the catcher’s mitt, and even players on the field heard saying “got it” or “go to first.”

“Rather play one game because as a player you are used to preparing for one,” said the Mets Chris Carter.  He would single and drive in two runs in the Mets two-run third inning of the first game. Those in the slim crowd could be heard, as the Mets started to cut the deficit after Niese surrendered six runs in the Milwaukee top of the inning.

That was one perspective of a long afternoon that went into the late evening in Flushing Queens.  The Mets would lose the first game of the double dip, 8-7. Niese (9-10) would throw 2.2 innings, on 10 hits and six runs, The Mets would battle back scoring five more runs in the fourth.

So what about those loyal fans who have once again witnessed another losing season at Citi Field? Carter, a first year Met loves their loyalty. “I love New York fans,” he said. “They’re tough, they know what to expect. I really appreciate the fans. As a player you block out the fact that there is nobody in the stands,” he said.

David Wright would hit a two-run homer in that fourth, his 28th and third game in a row with a homer, done four other times in his career and now the fifth time he has 100 or more ruins batted in, But he failed to connect in the nightcap when the Mets could not score runs, could only get 5 hits in a 3-1 second game loss.

It was not the 13 hits they had in the first game. Starter R.A. Dickey concluded a successful first season in New York. A surprise who was signed after spring training, Dickey (11-8) was talking about coming back next season. The 35-year old right hander has earned a role to start with a knuckleball that has revived his career.

“Feel I have a lot to offer and age is no consequence,” commented Dickey who gave up six hits in seven innings. “Priority number one was the ability and consistency to throw strikes.” The fans saw what Dickey offered and many times showed their appreciation.

It was a storybook season for a pitcher who got a role when Oliver Perez and John Maine left the rotation, “I feel this is what I can offer over the next five or six years of my career,” said Dickey who certainly can hang around more with a knuckleball that has consistency.

“What impressed me the most was his consistency,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel who may not be making a decision about Dickey’s role with every expectation that Sunday will be his last game at the helm. “Every time he took the ball, he gave us a chance to win.”

When the first game was over, about 7:40pm, Manuel had used eight pitchers which tied a franchise record for a nine inning game.  The supposed 28,284 in attendance, more about tickets sold, than who showed, made as much noise as they could as the Mets staged another comeback in the eighth inning that once again failed short.

And when the second game began, a half hour later at 8:16PM, many of those empty seats were still visible and another Mets player Carlos Beltran was shut down for the final four games.  Beltran would say the mild inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee would require what the doctor ordered,

“I’m happy, actually the knee’s better, I’m happy for that part” said Beltran who was having a strong September which provided optimism for next season, that is, if the Mets don’t decide to trade him in what would be the final year of a $119 million dollar contract.

“The part that I’m not happy about is just that I wanted to finish the season playing but by the recommendation by the doctor they don’t want me to play.”

Ninth inning of game two and the Mets have one last chance to make this worthwhile in another meaningless game.  The “Cowbell Man” Ed Bison was doing his usual thing in a now almost desolate Citi Field, urging fans for one last push. You would think those doing the chanting were in a late season pennant race with their team.

They did cheer for Pedro Feliciano who pitched in both ends of the doubleheader. The lefthander has 91 appearances this season which extended his franchise record that he established the night before.  And they gave Angel Pagan his usual applause when he swiped his 37th base of the season in the first inning of game two, becoming the first Mets outfielder with that many since Rickey Henderson and Roger Cedeno in 1999.

Trevor Hoffman the career saves leader got number 601 for the Brewers and Mets fans went home seeing a double dip loss.  New York, (77-81) needs to win their last four games to avoid their second consecutive losing season. Count four, when including the collapses of 2007, 2008, and of course the injury plagued Mets of 2009.

A long day at the ballpark and there are those loyal Mets fans who are willing to be patient about winning again. And the good thing about it, they have a team that knows they are around to give them support even when ballgames mean nothing in late September.

e-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Chris Carter, Double Dip, Evening Rain, Fastball, First Game, Game Fans, Late Evening, Leadoff Hitter, Losing Season, Loyal Fans, Makeup Game, Mets New York, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Niese, Nl Central, Nl East, Starting Pitcher, Top Of The Inning, Top Story, Upper Decks

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 30, 2010

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

Snakes Continue To Bite Mets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

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

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

Mancuso: Home Sweet Home For The Mets

New York – After a 2-9 west coast road trip where they batted .181 as a team, the New York Mets were happy to see the friendly confines at home Tuesday evening. Citi Field is where they have achieved most of their success prior to the all-star break with a 30-16 mark.

And once again home field advantage was the remedy. The Mets used the long ball, the timely hit, and got a good pitching effort from Jonathan Niese as they took the first of a three-game series over the central division leading St. Louis Cardinals 8-2.

They won also without their manager Jerry Manuel. Prior to the game Manuel was suspended for one game, fined an undisclosed amount arguing a final out in the top of the second inning in a Mets loss out in Los Angeles last Friday evening.

“We needed to do the things tonight to spring back the confidence from that road trip,” said Manuel who handed the managerial duties to bench coach Dave Jauss. “Home field advantage takes the guys to another level,” he said.

Jason Bay who batted .215 on the road trip, striking out 15 times also sat down and it was not because of his continued struggles at the plate. He sustained a minor concussion running into the wall at Dodger Stadium Friday night. That enabled Jeff Francoeur to get a start in right field.

Francoeur has been the odd man out in the four man outfield. And his placement in the lineup paid dividends as he smacked a three-run homer to left center off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the fourth that gave the Mets a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish.

“I want to be here,” commented Francoeur. A subject of trade rumors, he may now have his job back if he continues to slug the ball like he did against Wainwright. “It’s a crazy place to play, a fun place to play,” he said.

For the first time this season the Citi Field crowd saw Carlos Beltran in the lineup. Beltran sliced a double off Wainwright his first time up in the second and would also walk and score a run in the fourth. “He’s the type of player that can take us if he gets hot,” commented Manuel about the way Beltran looked more confident at the plate.

“Our time will come as a team, my time will come,” said Beltran who also hustled and impressed Manuel running from first to third in the fourth. “Those are the types of things we have to do continually,” added Manuel elaborating further that the Mets success at home as opposed to the road, is knowing, how to play their field.

Jose Reyes also hit a two-run homer in the sixth, his 7th, that gave the Mets their final two runs of the evening.  Runs the Mets are not used to scoring, the team’s biggest offensive game since defeating the Nationals 9-5 on July 4th.  Prior to the game the Mets were held to four or fewer runs in 15 of their last 16 games, distancing themselves further from first place Atlanta in the NL east.

Niese, 7-4, went 6.0 innings giving up one run in the first and retired slugger Albert Pujols three times. Pujlos went 0-5 amid reports that he is suffering from a right muscle pull.  The Mets, shutout four times on the road trip also ended a 17 inning scoreless streak in the second inning with the run off Wainwright (14-6) who got the loss.

The run also snapped his scoreless streak at 26.0 innings which tied for the fifth longest in the majors. “We got the runs off a\ good pitcher and that’s a good start,” said Beltran.

A good start at home again for the Mets, a win they needed to perhaps getting them back in the divisional and wild card race.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Adam Wainwright, Bench Coach, Carlos Beltran, Coach Dave, Crazy Place, Dave Jauss, Dodger Stadium, Friendly Confines, Game Series, Home Field Advantage, Home Sweet Home, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Managerial Duties, Mets New York, Minor Concussion, New York Mets, Niese, Odd Man, Rich Mancuso, St Louis Cardinals, Top Story

Fortunate Fifth leads Reds to 8-6 Victory over Mets

New York – A fortunate fifth inning led to six runs as the Cincinnati Reds (48-36) defeated the New York Mets (46-37) by the score of 8-6 at Citi Field on Friday Night. As the umpires reversed a foul tip strikeout of Scott Rolen to a hit by a pitch, which plated one of the crucial runs in that fortunate top of the fifth inning.

The Reds continued their hot hitting tonight as first baseman Joey Votto, who is making a bid to get into the 2010 All-Star game as a part of the Final Vote process happening now, hit two home runs, and one double while also working a walk to help his cause in the voting process. Extra base hits by Corky Miller and tonight’s starting pitcher Travis Wood were all a part of the Reds victory in Queens. The Reds did all of this against starter Mike Pelfrey (10-3) tonight is going to be a part of the maturation process, as he will have to learn from tonight’s tough loss as he went four and two-thirds innings, gave up nine hits and seven runs.

“He will grow and become a better pitcher because of tonight’s game and the lessons that he will learn,” Manuel said of his starter. “We ran into a hot team offensively tonight and Mike probably didn’t have some of the pitches he had early. I think he is pitching very well and in the end I think he will be fine.”

On pyrotechnics night it didn’t take Votto long to provide Cincinnati with his own display as in the first inning he lifted a ball into the home run apple well to score the first run for the Reds. The Mets fought back in the bottom of the inning as singles by David Wright, Ike Davis and Jason Bay tied the score at one.

The two teams would remain tied until the fifth inning as back-to-back singles by Brandon Phillips and Orlando Cabrera would set the stage for Votto, who would work the walk and pass the baton to Rolen. This was when fortune smiled down on the Reds as it had seemed that Rolen struck out on a foul tip. The All-Star third baseman protested to the umpire that he was hit in the arm, as well as Reds manager Dusty Baker. The umpires gathered near the pitching mound after the strike out call was made to get the call correct, and actually reversed the call to a hit by a pitch which plated the first run in that inning.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel speed out of the dugout to protest the call passionately and was ejected by second base umpire Dan Iassogna. It had seemed that after Manuel’s pyrotechnic display that Pelfrey had calmed down and proceeded to get the next two outs. Pelfrey was not out of trouble as the bases were loaded still for Drew Stubbs who laced a single to center field which would plate two more runs. Corky Miller ripped a double (2) to right field, which would plate two more runs giving the Reds the 6-1 lead. Pitcher Travis Wood scorched a triple (1) to center field and gave Cincinnati the 7-1 lead. Relief pitcher Raul Valdez came in and got a ground ball to end the inning.

“The second base umpire admitted that he saw the ball hit the batter, which from the angel that I had I refuse to believe. I believe what he saw was a reaction to the batter-not what really happened which was wrong.” He continued by saying, “maybe the home plate umpire missed the call and that is part of the game, but I don’t know if you can make it right by saying you saw something you didn’t see. I know that the powers that control the team will write letters from whoever is in charge for an explanation. Essentially we would like to make sure things like this don’t happen on a regular basis. Everyone is going to make mistakes. These guys are good umpires and you want them to do the right thing, and in the end I just think that they just got caught up in the emotion of it all.”

Angel Pagan would provide pyrotechnics of his own as the Mets responded back in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the center fielder hit a home run (5) to left field to start cutting into the lead. David Wright lifted a ball to the center field wall for a triple (2) to set the stage for Ike Davis. Davis would lay down a bunt that could not be handled by Wood. That error would not only plate another run but continue the offensive momentum for the Mets. Later in the inning Jeff Francoeur would work a walk to place runners on first and second for Rod Barajas who hit a single to left field, which scored the fourth Met run. Alex Cora would plate two more runs by hitting a double (5) to center field, while also cutting the Reds lead to 7-6.

“It was good to see the team fight like that,” Manuel said of the way his team responded. “That is one of the characteristics we talk about is how we want the team tonight and tonight they did just that.”

Relief pitcher Fernando Nieve was called in to keep the game close things started out well as Orlando Cabrera lifted a fly ball out to center field. Joey Votto struck for his second home run (21) on a 1-0 pitch to make the score 8-6 for the Reds.  Votto who reached the 20 home run plateau in the first inning became the second player in the National League to accomplish the feat this season. Nieve got into a good groove for the rest of the evening getting two more fly ball outs, while striking out three batters in the top of the eighth inning.

For the 36.764 the top of the ninth inning started out rocky as Votto laced a double (14) to left field. But Jeff Francoeur lifted everyone up after catching a Scott Rolen fly ball, the right fielder was able to gun down Votto, who was thrown out at third base by the strong throw. A ground ball by the Reds ended that inning and set the stage for the Mets in the bottom half. Reds closer Francisco Cordero (S, 23) came in and shut down any hopes the fans may have had and secured the victory for the Reds.

These two teams will square off again tomorrow as Johan Santana (5-5, 3.41 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets. The Reds have not decided who will take the hill but it should be an interesting game two as these two teams will go at it again with a 7:10 p.m. start time.

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Injury update: Utility man Fernando Tatis was placed on the disabled list today with a right shoulder AC joint sprain. The return of Jose Reyes can come as soon as tomorrow. “Reyes is ready but can only bat right handed.” Manuel said both before and after today’s game.

This story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under Bottom Of The Inning, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Corky Miller, David Wright, Fifth Inning, First Baseman, Foul Tip, Hot Team, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Maturation Process, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Rolen, Seven Runs, Star Third Baseman, Top Story, Travis Wood

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on July 6, 2010

Wright, Bay Come Through For Mets

New York – Maybe it is the adrenalin of the New York Mets playing the cross-town Yankees, or the importance of winning inter-league games. Whatever it is, the Mets did something against the Yankees they have not accomplished so far this season scoring all of their runs on two out hits Saturday evening.

The Yankees trailed all game, losing 5-3, and the Mets evened the first installment of the 2010 Subway Series a game apiece. The rubber game is Sunday evening with CC Sabathia taking the mound for the Yankees opposing the Mets Johan Santana.

Mike Pelfrey (6-1) got his sixth win of the season, the earliest he reached that many wins and the Mets also bested Yankees starter Phil Hughes (5-1) who trailed 2-0 after the first inning, the largest deficit the right hander has confronted this season. A good night for the Mets and their manager Jerry Manuel that they hope will continue to carry over.

“I feel very good about big Mike,” said Mets Manuel about his starter. “He has really evolved and matured into a solid, solid pitcher.” So solid that Pelfrey contributed to the Yankees to one run on six hits. The Yankees stranded 13 runners and came into the game leading the American League in batting and slugging percentage,

With runners in scoring position the Mets went 5-for- 12 and go their production from their three, four, five and six hitters in the lineup. That was another change for the struggling Mets Angel Pagan went 2-for-3, so did David Wright who has been struggling.

Instead it was Pelfrey, the rookie Jenrry Mejia, and closer Frankie Rodriquez getting a five-out save that stopped the also struggling Yankees. “I feel terrible,” said the Yankees Mark Teixeira who went 0-4 with three strikeouts, now 1-for-20 in his last five games.

Not terrible for the Mets as they snapped a five game losing streak to the Yankees dating back to last June 14th. Bay tied his career high with four hits and Wright, went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position after coming into the game 2-for- 17 in clutch situations.

“Two out RBI’s” are a killer,” commented Bay. “And then just to try and tack on one here, one there, it ended up we needed those runs at the end.” And the Mets needed those extra runs as the Yankees tacked on two more in the eighth. Manuel called on his closer, Rodriquez, who got his seventh save of the season.

“He did his job,” said Manuel about K-Rod as the Mets once again went to their over used bullpen. “Some people get nervous but I like it instead of coming out to get two outs,” said Rodriquez who struck out his counter part Alex in the ninth. He struck out Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli to end the game.

And for the Yankees, a team looking to find themselves with numerous injuries, it is back to the drawing board and trying to salvage the final game in this first set of games against their rivals from Flushing.

“Its baseball,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi regarding the inability of his team to get runners across the plate. “You are going to go through that as hitters. It’s the reality of the game,” he said.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Cc Sabathia, Cross Town, David Wright, First Installment, Five Games, Game Losing Streak, Johan Santana, League Games, Mark Teixeira, Mejia, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Phil Hughes, Right Hander, Rodriquez, Rubber Game, Slugging Percentage, Subway Series, Th Bay, Top Story