Dickey gets win Number 20 and Mets end home finale on a promising note

R. A. Dickey heard the ovation from the 31,508 fans at CitiField Thursday afternoon. They cheered when he took the mound, came to bat, and was removed from the game with two outs in the seventh inning with the New York Mets holding a 6-3 lead.

It was the final home game of the season for the Mets and significant because Dickey had his turn moved up with an opportunity to win number 20. He did not disappoint and became the first knuckleball pitcher to win twenty games since 1980.

The Mets took the finale from the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-4.taking two of three games and it was a celebration for Dickey, his manager, team, and the fans. And it looked and sounded like a playoff atmosphere, even though the Mets will conclude their fourth straight losing season.

His manager, Terry Collins, as he has done all season with the knuckleball pitcher asked him an inning before, “I said look this ballpark is filled with energy today use it to your advantage. These people deserve to see you walk off the mound.”

Dickey left to standing ovation and tipped his hat to the crowd in that seventh inning. He was relieved by Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell, and watched from the clubhouse.  Rauch would give up a one-out two run home run to Alex Presley.

Had the Mets eventually lost and if Dickey failed to achieve the milestone, as he always says, getting his team getting a win would be more important.

When it was over, Dickey said, “It’s like a big exhale.” He did not want his exploits to be a center of attention as he got closer to the 20th win. After all, the 37-year-old right hander, who has overcome adversity, had never won more than 11 games in his big league career.

“This was about R.A. Dickey today,” said Collins. “It was about him. It was about his connection with the fans, with the city.’ Collins has this respect for Dickey that was heard all season. He reiterated more than once, before Dickey arrived in the conference room to meet with media, that this was a day for his pitcher.

He told Dickey he had to walk off the mound, just when Dickey knew he was running out of energy. Collins was telling him that the connection had to be used. A connection, because this has been a Mets season of futility that will conclude with the good vibes and memories that now come with the first Mets pitcher to win 20- games since Frank Viola went 20-12 in 1990.

“Had R.A. not done what he did, it’s hard to tell where we’d be,” commented Collins.

Now, Dickey will also be in the discussion for the National League CY Young Award along with Gio Gonzlaez of the Nationals, another 20-game winner and Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds.

“That is a little surreal,” commented Dickey about the top award for a pitcher. “But who doesn’t want to win a CY Young Award. I want to be the best, but who doesn’t want to be the best. I want to enjoy this before I think about that.

He said he was an example of a mediocre pitcher that was signed to a spring training contract in 2010 by prior Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. The true story was told with his best seller book “Where ever I wind up” that hit the stores in March and prior to the Mets giving him an opportunity, the career was just about over.

But the knuckleball saved him.

“But it wasn’t about him, it was never about him, “said Collins who like any manager and opposing player is marveled about a pitch that flutters and tends to constantly fool the hitter.

The Pirates were fooled as Dickey also struck out a career tying 13 that increased his National League best total to 222. It was the seventh time this season he reached double figures, also a league best and the 12 pitches thrown were the second most in his career.

“It’s not an easy pitch to hit and he is so good at what he does,” commented Pirates’ third baseman Pedro Alvarez, a victim of three Dickey strikeouts.” And even if Dickey does not go on and win the CY Young, the players will say what a great story this has been.

Travis Snyder who made the catch of the year in right at Citi Field that robbed a home run from Mike Baxter in the second as the ball appeared to go over the fence, “Congratulations to him (Dickey) on a great year and a great story.”

David Wright continued his strong finish with an opposite field home run to right for his 21st home run of the season that gave Dickey and the Mets a 6-3 lead in the fifth.

“There were times he picked us up and really carried us as a team on his back,” he said about Dickey. “I was happy to provide the hit that made the difference.”

Dickey allowed three runs and eight hits. He claimed, “About the fourth or fifth inning I felt exasperated. I was not myself today for the most part.”  The Pirates would score two runs in the second and another in the fourth.

He said the fans changed his ability to throw the proper knuckler that was clocked at 78. “And then I would come out for an at bat and I would hear this kind of growing surge and it was really neat. I don’t know if I have experienced something like that before.”

“Although I wasn’t distracted from the moment, how could you not be motivated to go out there and give the fans, and well your teammates and yourself all that you have?”

Dickey certainly gave the fans all he had, and something they had to smile about as they went home. A season like this may be difficult to duplicate for him, and in sports that may be asking too much.

And for a season that went well for the Mets in the first half and crumbled in the second, seeing Dickey at Citi Field win Number 20 was good enough for them.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring76@aol.com  or Facebook.com/Keep it In the Ring

 

Posted under Adversity, Center Of Attention, Clubhouse, Energy Today, Exhale, Home Game, Knuckleball Pitcher, Losing Season, New York Mets, Parnell, Pittsburgh Pirates, Promising Note, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Seventh Inning, Standing Ovation, Three Games, Top Story

K-Rod Trade Had To Be Made

As free agent signings go, Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t a bad one for the Mets.

Sure, he had the incident last season with his girlfriend’s father, but even that worked out well for the club. K-Rod received the proper counseling, the Mets were off the hook for the rest of his 2010 salary and he came as a model citizen this year.

Oliver Perez, K-Rod was not.

But the fact is the Mets needed to trade their now erstwhile closer. With $17 million looming in 2012 and Scott Boras wringing his hands in the background, Sandy Alderson needed to ship his closer away for any price and as quickly as he could.

Boras could have made the Mets life miserable over the next few weeks. Already he boasted Rodriguez wasn’t going to be a set-up man and would be “unhappy” in the clubhouse if he didn’t get the ball in the ninth.

Enter Milwaukee, who is tied in the Central with the Cardinals using John Axford who is 23 out of 25 as their closer. With 23 saves on the season, manager Ron Roenicke can use both pitchers in the ninth as he sees fit or just use K-Rod in the eight. With 34 games finished so far, Rodriguez probably won’t get to the vesting option of 55 games.

So this trade needed to be made. The Mets will get back two player yet to be named, but it doesn’t matter if they are Rickie Weekes and Prince Fielder or two A-Ball relievers, as the deal is about the addition losing K-Rod brings to the Mets.

“We thank Frankie for his contributions to the Mets and wish him well with the Brewers,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief, as well.”

Now the club can see if Bobby Parnell or even Pedro Beato are the answers at closer, or does the team have to look elsewhere next year. By giving their young pitchers a chance in the ninth this season with only an outside shot to contend, the Mets will avoid an Aaron Heilman situation where a good reliever melted as a closer when forced into the pennant race.

More importantly, though, losing Rodriguez give the Mets a much better chance of keeping Jose Reyes. Without K-Rod’s albatross option looming, the club have some cost certainty when it comes to 2012. After Carlos Beltran walks or even gets traded, Alderson will have around $55 million coming off the books, not including Reyes’s $11 million. That means there may be some wriggle room to pay the shortstop in the high teens to low $20 million range in the off-season, while dropping the payroll to a more comfortable level for the Wilpons.

This is exactly what the Wilpons hired Alderson to do. He’s cleaning up Omar Minaya’s mess. Beltran will probably be the next to go – more than likely when David Wright and/or Ike Davis come off the disabled list at the end of the month – and heck, if some insane team wants to take Jason Bay off his hands, Alderson will more than likely drive the left fielder to the airport himself.

So sure the Mets lost a closer last night, but as trade go, this is a good one.

Posted under Aaron Heilman, Bullpen, Cardinals, Clubhouse, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Mcdonald, John Axford, Model Citizen, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Parnell, Payroll, Pitchers, Sandy Alderson, Scott Boras, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 13, 2011

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Mets Rip Off Second In Row

Friday night in his fifth outing of the season Mike Pelfrey became the ace the New York Mets expected at Citi Field. Against the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he had an unsuccessful 0-5 career mark, Pelfrey had his command and he did it not feeling well on the mound. But his seven innings of good pitching helped the Mets get their second consecutive win, 4-1, as New York took the first game of a three-game series.

He overcame a first inning jam with one out and runners on first and third. And to Mets manager Terry Collins, that was impressive. “That first inning set the tone for the whole club,” said Collins.  He would pitch seven good innings and an Ike Davis go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning that was reviewed was enough to get Pelfey (1-2) his first win of the season.

Palfrey gave up five hits and a run, walked two and struck out four. The command on his fastball and use of other pitches got him through the evening as he fought a stomach ailment that developed prior to the game. Said Pelfrey, “While in the pen, I said, ‘I’m just going to throw strikes. I don’t feel great. We’re going to grind through this and we’re going to get through it.’”

“If he continues like this I don’t think there’s any question he will continue to get people out,” said Collins. Pelfrey used a variety of pitches including the sinker and the fastball to perfection. “He had a great game,” added Collins.

The bullpen tossed two scoreless innings, including a perfect eighth from Jason Isringhausen. Francisco Rodriguez got his third save with a scoreless ninth walking two and striking out one. Isrinhausen has become the new man for the Mets out of the pen in late innings now that Bobby Parnell is on the 15-day disabled lit.

“He’s not afraid and he’s making the pitches,” commented Collins about the veteran Isringhausen who was a spring training invite and was signed to a minor league contract before being called up. “He’s going to be big for us,” he said.

And for the second consecutive game Davis got the home run, the second go-ahead home run for the Mets in consecutive games. At first the ball hit by Davis to center off eventual loser Esmerling Vasquez (0-1) was ruled a double that hit above the orange line on the black wall. Collins asked for a review and it was ruled a homer, his third of the season and team leading 16th RBI.

Prior to the home run, the improved Diamondbacks pen had not allowed an earned run in the last six games. Starter Joe Saunders who entered the game with a 0-2 record was shutting down the Mets allowing two hits and a run in six innings. Saunders, making his first career start against New York felt he had enough to stay in the game but Arizona manager Kirk Gibson stuck with his decision.

“It was my decision and it didn’t work out,” he said about pulling his starter. “I accept that.” Saunders was pulled after walking David Wright and after Davis struck out twice. “I’m just a little mad at myself,” he said about the walk to Wright.

Added Saunders, “As a pitcher and competitor out there you don’t want to come out of there. And up until the walk to Wright, and eventual home run to Davis, Saunders was able to set down a Mets team that came into the game hitting .212 against left handed pitching.

“I knew about their problems hitting,” he said. “When the weather is like this you have to go after the guys and be aggressive.”  It was the first Mets win in the opening game of a series at home this season. Carlos Beltran went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and in his last 13 games is hitting .333 with seven RBI and it was the Mets first victory in which they trailed following the sixth inning.

The return of Jason Bay to the lineup has added a spark of optimism who follows Carlos Beltran batting fifth. “We knew one-to six from spring training was going to be pretty good,” said Collins as Bay adds a different dimension to the order.

But the key is Pelfrey, and for the first time this season two good back-to-back pitching outings from Mets starters as Chris Capuano got the win the evening before in the series finale with Houston.

Notes: Righty Dillon Gee (1-0) gets the start Saturday afternoon in game two of the series…. Angel Pagan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique and outfielder Jason Pridle was called from Triple- A Buffalo. Pridle got the start in center and went hitless in three at bats…

Catcher Ronnie Paulino on a rehab assignment with Buffalo left the game Friday night after five innings with a strained left oblique… Henry Blanco, one of three catchers on the Mets roster last season returned to New York as a member of the Diamondbacks.

The 40 year-old, veteran said he was disappointed that the Mets did not renew his contract, however he has adapted to his new surroundings. “They are a great bunch of guys in here,” he said about his new team. “I miss it here, but it is a good situation for me and my family,” and the Diamondbacks welcome his veteran leadership.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Arizona Diamondbacks, Bullpen, Career Mark, Fastball, First Game, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Series, Mike Pelfrey, New Man, New York Mets, Palfrey, Parnell, Scoreless Innings, Seventh Inning, Spring Training, Stomach Ailment, Top Story, Win 4

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 23, 2011

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More Woes For Mets After Latest Loss

FLUSHING, NY – Jon Niese pitched six innings and his defense helped a bit. However the New York Mets starter, in his fourth outing, threw a season high 113 pitches and walked five which did not help. More so, the Mets offense has become a concern as they were limited to four hits as the Houston Astros took a 6-1 win at Citi Field Tuesday evening.

Coming off a win Sunday in Atlanta, that snapped a seven-game losing streak, New York returned home before a slim crowd in the first of four against Houston, and now have dropped 11 of their last 13 games. Last week the talk was frustration from Mets manager Terry Collins. Now there is the talk about being concerned.

“We’ve got to stop it. I’m very concerned about it,” said Collins regarding the latest loss which matched the third worst start in team history at 5-12. “Late in the game we continue to give up big hits.” He was referring to 3-1 Houston lead that got away in the eighth when the Astros scored three.

Until then, the Mets could not get to Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez. His fourth outing of the young season was his best, seven innings, and after an Angel Pagan double in the second inning he held New York hitless until Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning hit a solo home run. The ball hit to left center-field was his third of the season, all coming at Citi Field, and three of his seven career hits against Rodriguez have been home runs.

The concern is about Bobby Parnell and the Mets bullpen. The pen has pitched the most innings among all teams in baseball in three weeks and Parnell has been ineffective after a strong spring. Parnell balked in a run and allowed a two-run single to Angel Sanchez.

The right hander Parnell revealed later that he has been quietly struggling with feeling in the middle finger of his pitching hand. It is a concern, as Parnell has been slated as the eighth inning guy out of the pen. “It’s a concern of mine,” said Collins who would not comment about Parnell undergoing an MRI on Wednesday before the Mets take on the Astros in the second game of four. “I haven’t seen the real good fastball and I want to know why.”

“I’ve been fighting it and felt I could get through it,” said Parnell afterwards about the discomfort. In eight outings, Parnell has given up nine runs with a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings.  “I’m having a hard time gripping the baseball and feeling it,” he said. Though Collins would not offer any comments about whether the team would have an MRI done or give the struggling reliever a rest.

Rodriguez (1-2) allowed three hits, on three walks, and struck out a season high seven with an effective curve. David Wright struck out once and went 0-for-4, now hitless in his last 16 at bats and among the top three among strikeout victims in the National League.

“I had excellent location tonight,” said Rodriguez who allowed one run in 7.0 innings in his lone start against the Mets last August. “Everything was good. “I want to stay consistent, throw a lot of quality starts.”  He said about the Beltran home run ball, “It was a changeup, more like a batting practice fastball.”

But the Mets may need more batting practice to generate runs because their starting pitching has been keeping them in games until the late innings and the offense has scored six runs in their last four games. The five walks were also a season high for Niese (0-3) as the Mets dropped to 1-7 at home including losing their last six at Citi Field.

“I didn’t feel right,” he said. “I felt a little off.” His defense helped a bit in the third inning, thanks to Wright who dived and tagged Carlos Lee on a close play at third. But Scott Hairston did not help Pedro Beato out of the pen in the seventh. He was charged with an error when he could not catch a Lee ball that was hit deep to left,   glancing off his glove. The play resulted in a Houston run.

Pagan is also struggling at the plate. The double was his only hit in four at bats, and he stranded three runners. Another of the four Mets hits was a double by Ike Davis, the 16th in 17 games for the team and fourth in the league.

“He like a lot of these guys is a key part to this club,” commented Collins about Pagan’s struggles at the plate and about many of the Mets hitters possibly being too aggressive with their bats. “We got to get him going,” he said. And that includes Hairston, who went 0-for-2 striking out twice, another player that Collins would like to see revert to the short swing that was seen in the spring.

Said Pagan, “Tonight was a tough night for the whole team. We have to keep battling. It will change, it will change.” There may be some help, at least some optimism as the injured Jason Bay is slated to return Thursday night at Citi Field. Bay went 4-for-4 and with two home runs and four RBI playing for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League in a rehab assignment.

“I know with him in the lineup, when healthy, he will do a lot of damage,” added Pagan about Bay who is 5-for 9 in three games down in Florida.  But the Mets need more than Bay at this point.

Because Collins is no longer frustrated and now expressing concern as they give the ball to knuckleballer (1-2) R.A. Dickey Wednesday evening in game three of the series against Houston.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Angel Sanchez, Bullpen, Career Hits, Carlos Beltran, Eighth Inning, Game Losing Streak, Houston Astros, Jon Niese, Middle Finger, New York Mets, Pagan, Parnell, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Seventh Inning, Strong Spring, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

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

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Mets Crush Tigers, 14-6

New York – The New York Mets (40-30) returned to Citifield in fine fashion defeating the Detroit Tigers (38-31) by the score of 14-6 in a wet and wild game. As at one point things were delayed fifty eight minutes due to a downpour, as the Mets were able to pour in some key hits and runs against one of the American League’s best pitchers in righty Justin Verlander.

Centerfielder Angel Pagan had a great day at the plate going four-for-six matching a career-high in hits tonight while also driving in four RBI. Also having a good night for the Mets offensively was Ike Davis who was three-for-six while driving in three runs.

“Angel has been playing extremely well for us,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after the game. “He got big hits for us tonight, he hit that fastball for a triple and he’s just played extremely well.”

Mets starter Jonathon Niese had a great start but could not hold on to get the win. Niese pitched a three inning shutout before finding trouble in the fourth inning. Relief pitcher Fernando Nieve had a solid outing in getting his second win of the season going 2 and one-third innings striking out four batters while only giving up one walk.  The rest of the Mets bullpen was solid as well as Bobby Parnell who made his 2010 Mets debut this evening had a scoreless eighth inning striking out two batters.

“Nieve looked really well out on the mound the last two outings,” Manuel said. “He has pitched very well for us; he was really able to stretch out a couple of innings for us and gave us a chance to score runs which was huge.”

New York got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the first inning as Jose Reyes hit a leadoff infield single. Pagan ripped a triple (5) to center field. David Wright plated the second run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

In the bottom of the third was a huge one for the Mets as they were able to plate eight runs and bat around the order. Wright started the offense that inning with a walk. Ike Davis continued with a single to left-center field. Jason Bay plated the third run by scorching a double to the exact same spot. That was when the rain began to pour along with more Mets runs as Tigers Pitcher Jay Sborz making his Major League Debut in the worst possible manner by hitting both Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur to plate the fourth run. Ruben Tejada hit into a fielder’s choice play which plated the fifth run. Back-to-back singles by Reyes and Pagan continued the inning for the Mets, while Pagan plated two more runs. Wright would bat for the second time this inning and cashed in with a single to center field.  The Tigers would call in Brad Thomas to try to shut down the offense, but it would not work out as Davis would plate two more runs by ripping a double to left field to plate the final two runs and make the score 10-0 in favor of the Mets.

The top of the fourth inning was when Niese the perfect game was spoiled, as Miguel Cabrera ripped a double (20) to right-center field for the first Tigers hit. Brennan Boesch hit a home run (11) to right-center field to cut into the lead. In the bottom half of the inning the runs would continue to pour in as Pagan would plate another run with a double (14) to center field, which plated Reyes who singled to center earlier in the inning.

Niese continued to find trouble in the top of the fifth inning as he hit pitch hitter Ryan Rayburn. Austin Jackson doubled (18) to plate Rayburn. Gerald Laird placed a single to center field which would plate Jackson cutting the Mets lead to 11-4. The fifth Detroit run would be plated one batter later as Brennan Boesch hit a single to center field. Mets manager Jerry Manuel had to make the call to the pen as Fernando Nieve would come into the game. Nieve would give up a hit to Danny Worth which would plate the sixth and final run before striking out the side.

“Niese was trying to be too careful with the lead,” Manuel said to reporters of his starters’ performance. “It was a good lesson for him tonight on the mound. To have a big lead and not go back out right away and pitch, and it was a good lesson.”

Reyes and Pagan would get the Mets offense going in the bottom of the sixth. Reyes struck out was able to get to first as the final strike went wide and hit the backstop. Pagan ripped a single to right field setting up runners on first and second for David Wright who hit a double (19) to left field and plating Reyes. Ike Davis hit a single to left field to plate Pagan and finally the third and final run was scored as Jason Bay lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to make the score 14-6 Mets.

Game two between these two teams will happen on Wednesday as righty R.A. Dickey (5-0, 2.82 ERA) takes on Jeremy Bonderman (3-4, 4.06 ERA) the first pitch for game two is slated for 7:10 p.m.

This story was originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under Batters, Bullpen, Centerfielder, David Wright, Detroit Tigers, Downpour, Eighth Inning, Fastball, Fernando Nieve, Inning Shutout, Jonathon Niese, Jose Reyes, Justin Verlander, New York Mets, Pagan, Parnell, Pitchers, Relief Pitcher, Sacrifice Fly, Top Story, Wild Game

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 23, 2010