Mets Sweep Nats and head to the Bronx behind Dillon Gee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

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

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

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Alderson Introduced As New Mets GM

Sandy Alderson had an auspicious debut as the new General Manager of the New York Mets Friday afternoon at Citi Field. There was the presence of a baseball veteran, knowledge and experience that obviously made an impression to Mets ownership during the interview process.

And, Alderson, 62, who at one time built the Oakland Athletics teams that played in three consecutive World Series  from 1988-1990, and won the championship in 1989, may be what the Mets need. The immediate impact to slowly begin the process of getting the Mets back to playing baseball in October, though that may take some time.

Alderson is not a new kid on the block and has his own style. That was addressed when the question was asked about how his style would be different from his predecessor Omar Minaya.  “One of the things I like about a job like this is you have to act,” said Alderson.

And act he will. With financial flexibility, to make the Mets a contender again and not being the second team in town to the New York Yankees. Though during the course of his introduction to New York, there was no mention of the cross-town Yankees. Just a commitment to be in the free agent market every year, and not immediately in 2011

He stressed more than once about the job being fun, that baseball was entertainment, and not like Minaya, constantly talked about his job being, a  collaborative effort with ownership, the players and scouting departments.

“All the elements are here, a great area to be, and great fans,” said Alderson about why he took on the opportunity of a four-year contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015.

There is a lot of work to be done from financial flexibility, player personnel, to the hiring of a new manager. There are some candidates to succeed Jerry Manuel that Alderson has in mind. But the managerial situation will begin in a few days so Alderson can have one in place for the upcoming GM and winter meetings that plans a process for the upcoming season.

There is optimism at Citi Field as a new regime takes over. And that word of Collaboration that was so often mentioned will begin in the front office. Alderson saw that happen in his four years as CEO of the San Diego Padres where he led them to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006 and recently working as a special consultant to the Commissioner of Baseball for Latin America.

Alderson, the 13th GM in franchise history reminds many of Frank Cashen, the Mets Hall of Fame inductee who reshaped the organization and built a championship team in 1986. On Friday that renewed spirit of seeing those days again in Flushing Queens came when Alderson spoke.

But every Mets fan knows hope has always been eternal. Since the Cashen years there have been three close opportunities at bringing the prized trophy home. More so, a 2000 Subway World Series loss to the Yankees when Steve Phillips was the GM, and the 2006 NLCS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals under Minaya, a series that every Mets fan refuses to forget.

Will Alderson succeed in what Omar Minaya could not do the past few years?  “There is hope now,” said longtime Mets season ticket holder Eddie Lopez who sat at a table in back of the Caesars Club. “Minaya was around to long and he (Alderson) brings something to the table,” he said.

Lopez was one of the many season ticket holders that were invited to the welcome party because the Mets fan base is so important. The new ballpark, the fans, something also that Alderson reiterated in his remarks that was another reason why he took the job.

“Getting back to being a general manager was something I wanted to do under the right circumstances,” he said.  So whatever Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said to Alderson during the interview process had to be the right circumstance.

It did not work under Minaya, even though he had the liberty to spend money. But you get the feeling there will be no favoritism played, no favors granted to player agents that Minaya had close ties with. The roster comprised from trades and a restructured scouting department that brings in homegrown talent.

Will there be an immediate turnaround?  It will be difficult turning it around in 2011 because the Mets are committed to $130 million in payroll.  Alderson won’t have the liberty to spend but plenty of roster decisions to address. Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, who get some of that payroll, and what to do with the bad image and contract of closer Francisco Rodriquez who was recently reactivated.

Alderson is just settling in. He would not provide much as to who or what for 2011, again hiring a manager he can work with is the first priority. But what every Mets fan wants to know, are our troubles and agonizing days of losing coming to an end?

Time will tell as there is hope. Jeff and Fred Wilpon did not have that concerned look, like they did a day after the season ended three weeks ago when they relieved Minaya and did not bring Manuel back.

This time the Mets hierarchy got it right bringing Alderson to New York.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Auspicious Debut, Club Option, Collaborative Effort, Consecutive World Series, Contender, Cross Town, Financial Flexibility, Free Agent Market, Friday Afternoon, Kid On The Block, Mets Gm, New Kid On The Block, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Omar Minaya, Predecessor, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Winter Meetings, World Series

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

Mancuso: A Boss Like No Other

George Steinbrenner did it best when it came to manipulating the media, all for the benefit of his beloved New York Yankees. It sparked interest and most of all ticket sales. Steinbrenner, love him or hate him, it always came down to doing what was best for the Yankees. In the end it was best for baseball.

They will say that Steinbrenner, named the “boss” by the media and his piers had this passion for winning. But the way he came across at times made the “boss” appear to be what the rival Boston Red Sox would call, his “Evil Empire.” Steinbrenner took the initiative to spend money, all with one goal in mind, to bring the best to New York all for a championship. And for that he became evil.

To the New York Yankee baseball fan, Steinbrenner, on the contrary was not the evil man.  He spent and always got his man. It was Reggie Jackson in the 1970’s, Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, Randy Johnson, Alex Rordriguez and so many more.

And his team delivered the championships he wanted, most of all wanting title after title for the city he loved, New York. Chaos and anarchy in between with fellow owners, managers, coaches and players, and two suspensions from the game would not stop Steinbrenner from becoming the most important and historical owner of  a professional sports franchise.

The tributes immediately came in when word reached from Tampa Florida early Tuesday about the passing of “the boss.”  It was a massive heart attack that ended a life of fulfillment. Because since January 3, 1973, until his last breath, all George Steinbrenner thought about was, his family and the New York Yankees.

He wasn’t seen the last few years around the Bronx. They would say “the boss” was feeling better but we all knew it was not the same Steinbrenner when he handed most of the responsibilities to his sons Hal and Hank.  And statements about a Yankee icon passing on, or about the state of his team would come from his friends at Rubenstein Associates.

We tried to get a glimpse of him when he came to the Bronx for what would be his last time, in October to take in Game 3 of the World Series. Secluded from all with the exception of the captain Derek Jeter, he anointed, and the manager Joe Girardi who was his second choice over Yankee favorite Don Mattingly.  They came to see him in his suite at the new billion dollar Yankee Stadium that is known as the “House That George Built.”

Jeter always referred to his boss as, “Mr. Steinbrenner.” We never knew why, but it had to do with respect, because Jeter considers himself, never wearing any other uniform but Yankee pinstripes and owes that all to Steinbrenner.

The new stadium was always a priority, because Steinbrenner felt his fans deserved a stadium that had all the amenities of all those other new ballparks that were built The Bronx at one time was his enemy, There were harsh words and threats to move his team across the river to the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Cooler heads prevailed and Steinbrenner got his commitment for a new stadium. Those around him say, George would rant and rave, threaten those near him about losing their job, and some would, but he would always make peace and have that compassion to bring them back to the Bronx.

He cared about people, some who he would adopt into the Yankee family. Bill Stimers is a main stay in the Yankees press box. They met in front of the old stadium by the press gate. Stimers, a former employee of Entermann’s Bakery would give Steinbrenner a box of cookies. George would become his friend and assist him with paying off his home in Brentwood New York,

There were numerous and continued contributions to charitable organizations, sitting on boards of foundations, and always a Steinbrenner assist leaving tickets for kids in the Bronx who wanted to go to their first New York Yankee ballgame and could not afford to do so.

Ask Yankees legend Yogi Berra, and just about every player that passed through the Yankee clubhouse.  George would have his say, the football mentality in him from his assistant football coaching days at Northwestern and Purdue. But as they all say, “We kissed and made up.”

After all he was “the boss” that delivered and got the right players in place over the years, good enough for seven world championships. He wanted to win, had the desire and will, and he got it. More so his love-hate relationship with the manager Billy Martin that constantly got headlines.

Who would ever know, that this shipping baron from Cleveland Ohio with no ties to New York would eventually become the most influential and recognized owner of a professional sports franchise.

As for the media we all had some stories. There was a time Steinbrenner could be seen often at the old stadium walking from his private box through the auxiliary press box where we sat.  Jason Giambi, his $19 million a year ballplayer would ground out into a game ending double-play with the bases loaded, and the Yankees would lose a tough one.

Steinbrenner, standing above this writer would put his hands up in dismay and say, “Geez, I pay this guy 19 million for that,” And he would rant and rave later saying, “and don’t you write that or I will remember you,”

It was written, he remembered, and later requested only a select few to sit in that auxiliary box area. It got yours truly to finally have a brief face-to-face with the person they called “The boss.”

‘You were only doing your job,” he would say.”  Yeah, it was his box, his stadium and had the authority to say what he wanted. But bygones were bygones, and Steinbrenner always remembered the face.

They were his Yankees also, for New York City and the Bronx. Yankee fan or not you had to admire that personality and style.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Baseball Fan, Boston Red Sox, Dave Winfield, Early Tuesday, Evil Empire, Evil Man, Fellow Owners, George Steinbrenner, Goal In Mind, Goose Gossage, Last Breath, Mancuso, Massive Heart Attack, New York Mets, New York Yankee, New York Yankee Baseball, New York Yankees, Professional Sports Franchise, Randy Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Rich Mancuso, Rubenstein Associates, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 13, 2010

Gem By Hernandez Good As One Thrown By Lee

Cliff Lee the Seattle Mariners left hander did his job going the route and took care of the New York Yankees the night before. Wednesday night it was Felix Hernandez the right hander pitcher of the Mariners who did his part. He also went the distance but his pitching gem may have been better than the one Lee threw.

It was a two-hit complete game 7-0 shut out over the potent Yankees lineup, 115 pitches and everything in his arsenal. As he said, “the slider, curveball, just tried to throw as many strikes as I could.” The Yankees could do nothing and seemed frustrated as they returned to the dugout.

Hernandez would not compare his performance to Lee. What mattered was the Mariners once again got two consecutive complete games from Lee and Hernandez.  And it was the second time this season that Lee and Hernandez won back-to[back games.

It was the third straight complete game for Hernandez, two of them going as a win. Lee got the win Tuesday evening in the Bronx, his third consecutive complete game. “It happens, it happens,” said Hernandez about what he and Lee accomplished over the Yankees the past two nights.

Was there an incentive to top what Lee did? “We’re different pitchers,” said Hernandez who has a career 15-3 record in the month of June. The 24-year old native of Valencia Venezuela also had 11 strikeouts and as play concluded moved to second in that department in the American League.

More importantly, as the Yankees have discovered, if the Mariners continue to get this type of pitching from Lee and Hernandez, well they can make some noise in the second half of the season.

“You talk about the impact that Lee has on this pitching staff, I think it pushes Felix,” commented Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “I thought it was the best pure stuff that Felix has shown in a game.  He really dominated and kept their hitters off balance. It was a tremendous performance.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Hernandez “He’s as good as we have seen all year. His slider, changeup and curveball, he had it all working tonight. He’s got electric stuff.”

Hernandez finished the month of June with a 4-1 record and a 2.36 ERA and over his last four starts is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. “We knew his ability was there,” added Wakamatsu. “The key thing was getting the complete games.  Every time you have an outing like this it’s something to look back on and learn from it.”

The last time the Yankees had back-to-back complete games thrown against them was back in April of 2000 when Toronto’s Chris Carpenter and Kelvin Escobar did it up in Toronto. And it has not happened in consecutive home games since 1991.

Said Girardi, “Good pitching will always beat good hitting; that’s the bottom line.”  For the Mariners the bottom line is getting the rest of their pitching staff to follow in the footsteps of Lee and Hernandez.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Complete Game, Complete Games, Curveball, Dugout, Felix Hernandez, Game 7, Joe Girardi, Left Hander, Manager Don, Month Of June, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pitchers, Pitches, Seattle Mariners, Second Time, Slider, Top Story, Tuesday Evening, Valencia Venezuela, Wednesday Night, Yankees Lineup

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 1, 2010

Jekyll & Hyde Mets Need to Overcome Road Block to Reach Playoffs

It took about one and one-third seasons, but the New York Mets have finally built a dominant home field advantage in their new home park.

In fact, the Mets are better at home than any team in the major leagues through the first two months of the season.

After a tough 2-6 road trip that began with the Florida Marlins sweeping a four-game series from New York, the Mets returned to Citi Field, where they had already compiled a very solid 14-8 record.

Would the Amazin’s previous home success wane during a six-game homestand against each of last year’s World Series participants?

Hardly. Despite losing the opening game on Friday night, the Mets rebounded to win the final five games of the homestand in impressive fashion, taking two of three games from the New York Yankees before an historic three-game sweep of the defending two-time National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

New York creeped back above the .500 mark at 25-23 and moved to within just two games of the first-place Phillies (26-20) in the National League East.

That in itself is significant, but what was especially remarkable against Philadelphia, was the Mets’ pitching, which shut the Phillies out for the entire series, winning 8-0, 5-0, and 3-0 against one of the more talented and dangerous lineups in the major leagues.

It marked the first time since 2004 that a major league team shut out another over a full three-game set (when current Mets’ pitcher Johan Santana helped Minnesota do that against Kansas City); it was also the first time the Mets threw consecutive shutouts since 1988; and, it was the Mets’ first three-game series shutout over an opponent since New York blanked Philadelphia September 26-28, 1969.

While repeating history more than four decades later, the Mets improved to a major-league best 19-9 at Citi Field.

The problem is that while the Mets lead the majors in home victories, they are last in road wins, with a paltry 6-14 road record.

The dominant starting pitching, able relief help, and timely hitting that the Mets have been getting at home has been much more inconsistent away from the friendly confines of Queens.

While the Mets’ home crowds were fairly sparse and relatively subdued earlier in the year, attendance and the fans’ energy both picked up during the most recent homestand.

Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey, who has surprisingly become the Mets’ ace after improving his season record to 7-1 while lowering his ERA to 2.54 as the winning pitcher to start off and conclude the Mets’ five-game win streak on the homestand, said after Thursday night’s win over the Phillies, that feeding off of the energy of the home crowd has helped the Mets. “We definitely sense [the energy from the fans], and we feel them.”

Shortstop and offensive catalyst at the top of the Mets’ lineup, Jose Reyes, who went 12-for-23 while scoring five runs and driving in three during the five-game win streak, agreed that the Mets seemed to get up for beating the their hometown and divisional rivals in front of their home crowd.

But, when asked by reporters why the Mets have failed to carry over the same level of play away from home, both Pelfrey and Reyes were left puzzled and without answers. They were simply hopeful that New York could continue to play as well in other parks as they have at Citi Field this season.

The Mets don’t actually need to play nearly that well on the road, but they certainly can’t be the polar opposites they’ve been at home versus on the road so far this season.

While it seems that the Mets’ pitchers have finally learned to use the spacious Citi Field to their advantage, they’ll need to perform much better in smaller parks on the road. And, if it’s the home crowd of late which has helped the Mets’ bats come through, New York’s hitters will have to pack some of those clutch hits with them on most of the Mets’ remaining road trips.

As Mets’ rightfielder Jeff Fancoeur said after Thursday night’s win, the Mets have to find a way to at least play close to .500 on the road.

The good news for New York is that it seems as though Citi Field might for the most part this year remain a place that Mets’ opponents will want to stay away from. Yet, those same teams are for now, more than happy to invite the Mets to their places.

Thus, for the time being, it appears that any possible road to the postseason for the Mets will go literally through… the road.   

Posted under Amazin, Consecutive Shutouts, Florida Marlins, Game Homestand, Game Series, Game Sweep, Home Field Advantage, Home Success, Home Victories, Impressive Fashion, Jekyll Hyde, Johan Santana, League Champion, More Than Four Decades, National League East, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Series Shutout, Top Story, World Series Participants