The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

The Time Has Come For d’Arnaud

After the 1974 season, the Mets – sensing their catcher Jerry Grote was starting to show his age – needed to find a younger option.

Without any in the organization, the team shipped popular but quirky pitcher Tug McGraw to the Philadelphia Phillies for catching prospect John Stearns, among other players.

Although McGraw went on to pitch in Philly for nine more seasons, the trade worked out as Stearns went on to become a four-time All-Star for the Mets over the next seven years and his tough play made him one of the few reasons to watch the club during those lean years of the late 1970s.

Sandy Alderson is hoping history will repeat itself.

Because this past off-season, the organization shipped popular but quirky pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, among other players.

D’Arnaud is supposed to be the real deal, a player that will fit right in with an organization with a history of All-Star catchers. And coming into the year, he looked like he was ready after hitting .333 and 16 homers in Triple-A during the 2012 season.

But after breaking his foot the first month of the year, questions started popping up about d’Arnaud’s health and if he may not be the next big thing for the Mets.

It’s now time, though, to find out. After John Buck came back from paternity leave, the Mets decided to keep d’Arnaud on the roster, optioning Anthony Recker and having their prize in the lineup every day.

“There are six weeks left and we have games against the Braves, Washington, who is still fighting and Cincinnati,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have games against a lot of teams still in the hunt. So we are going to learn a lot. We are going to see a lot of people who player (in the majors) every day. So we will get a nice sample here to see if Travis can handle it.”

In his first four games, the 24 year-old didn’t embarrass himself. Defensively he seems very comfortable behind the plate, and after going 0-10 to start the season, he finally got his first hit tonight.

“The job he did yesterday with Dillon [Gee], and the job he did today, I think his pitch selection is outstanding,” Collins said. “Now that he knows he’s going to be here, I think he’s relaxed more behind the plate, he’s receiving the ball better and, yes, I think that hit is going to make a huge difference.

“He’s got a quick bat, he’s had some good at-bats, but I know that one means a lot to him and I’m really glad he got it.”

That doesn’t mean the kid is embarrassing himself. D’Arnaud also walked five times his first three games, the most in team history and some of those outs were just by a step.

And the Mets know that, which is why they kept d’Arnaud and made Buck his backup, which is fine because Buck has some wisdom when it comes to the National League.

“(Buck) knows this league, especially this division after being in it for the past few years,” Collins said. “He’s here to be a teammate and when he is in the lineup, he will produce.”

No one knows if Buck will be back next year. That’s another decision. The Mets, though, need to find out now if d’Arnaud is the real deal or if he will need more seasoning in the minors.

Posted under Anthony Recker, Four Games, Homers, Jerry Grote, Joe Mcdonald, Lean Years, Mets, Month Of The Year, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Stearns, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

One out away from a Mets home win but they kept Phillies in the race

New York – Before their game with the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night at Cit Field, New York Mets manager Terry Collins was again discussing how things went right in the first half and what went wrong in the second half of another dismal season in Flushing.

With rookie pitcher Matt Harvey on the mound for his final start, the right hander was a topic. Collins was pleased with the first round 2010 draft pick. Again, Harvey had a superb outing, but did not figure in the decision as the Phillies came from behind and scored two runs in the eighth inning on a Ryan Howard two run homer for a 3-2 win.

Harvey wanted the win and it appeared New York was on their way to getting their first win at home since August 26th against the Houston Astros.

But another rookie out of the pen, Josh Edgin with two outs in the ninth threw what he said was a “meatball,” a- 93-mile fastball that went to the Pepsi Porch in right. The Phillies got their third win when trailing after eight innings and kept pace for one of two wild card spots in the National League.

Edgin  (1-2) filled in for Frank Francisco, who is bothered with shoulder tendinitis and is day-to-day. He walked Chase Utley on a full count, Howard connected, Jonathon Pabelbon got his 36th save, and the Mets extended their home losing streak to eight games, 4-23 in the second half.

The runs charged to Edgin were his first earned in his last 16 appearances. “

“That’s the Howard we are accustomed to,” commented Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels who struck out 10, in six innings. Monday night, Cliff Lee also fanned 10- Mets in the opening game of three in eight innings.

So with eight games remaining at Citi Field, with the Mets concluding their schedule on the road, they hope to not establish a baseball record with the least wins at home in the second half. And they continued to be effortless when it comes to scoring runs at home

New York extended their franchise record by scoring three runs or less in 15 consecutive home games.

David Wright hit his first home run since August 24th off Hamels in the sixth inning, now with two home runs and 12 RBI since July 28th. Daniel Murphy knocked in another run with an RBI tying single to left center in the third that scored Ruben Tejada who got to second on a steal.

Tejada went 3-for-5, including two hits of Hamels and helped Harvey with some more outstanding plays at shortstop with two double plays.

Harvey would allow one hit in seven innings, a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins in the first inning, and he became the first Mets pitcher to allow a leadoff home run as his only hit over seven innings.

In ten starts Harvey finished 3-5, with a 2.73 ERA. He had 70 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings with 42 hits and 26 walks.

“There was definitely some excitement,” he said. Collins and the Mets project him to be in the starting rotation next season and he could be an eventual ace of the staff. “I had some tingles. It was kind of a sad moment, I guess, because I knew I was done. It was a good experience.”

He walked three and threw a career high 112 pitches, receiving a standing ovation from the slim Citi Field crowd of 21,741.

Said Harvey,” I left it all out there. Part of the reason I don’t want to stop pitching is because I have so much fun with these guys. Even though we’re struggling right now it’s still a big league ballclub. Being up here for the first time and getting to see how everyone plays the game every day, it’s been the biggest excitement for me. I’m going to miss it. The last two weeks are going to be tough.”

It was tough for Collins also to see his rookie pitcher conclude. He has seen Harvey pitch as a minor league instructor before taking over managerial duties. However, Collins knows the Mets have a future ace and expects big things ahead for the youngster.

“I wish we would have got a win for him,” said Collins. “But Matt Harvey ought to spend the winter feeling pretty good about himself and the way he’s handled everything up here, the way he’s pitched.”

With that, Collins will continue to look at his other youngsters on the pitching staff as the Mets get closer to finishing their fourth straight losing season after a 46-40 first half.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Baseball Record, Cole Hamels, Dismal Season, Eighth Inning, Fastball, Franchise Rec, Houston Astros, Losing Streak, Meatball, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Right Hander, Rookie Pitcher, Ryan Howard, Shoulder Tendinitis, Starting Pitcher, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 20, 2012

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Mets Feel The Pain of the Red Sox Faithful

Move over, 2007 New York Mets. You now have some company.

Four years after the Mets endured what was then the worst September swoon in major league baseball history, the 2011 versions of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves simultaneously completed their own colossal collapses of historic proportions on the final evening of the regular season on Wednesday.

On a night when baseball truly put the “wild” in “wild-card,” the Red Sox and Braves were eliminated from the playoffs after each held what appeared to be earlier insurmountable leads in their respective wild-card playoff chases.

One day before seeing his team lose its hold for good on its playoff aspirations, Boston manager Terry Francona said of the Red Sox’ chase with the Tampa Bay Rays’ down the stretch, “It’s great for baseball, not so good for my stomach.”

If he was already feeling that way on Tuesday, Francona probably wanted to throw up after witnessing the manner in which his team finally coughed up what at one time, seemed to be a certain postseason berth.

The same could probably be assumed for Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, who took over for Bobby Cox this season after Gonzalez’s predecessor managed the Braves (during his second stint with the franchise) for 21 straight seasons while guiding Atlanta to 14 division titles, five World Series appearances, but just a lone World Series title.

Before Boston bowed out, Atlanta first concluded its own demise.

With the St. Louis Cardinals already having beaten up on the Astros, 8-0, in Houston, the Braves needed to win to force a one-game playoff with the team that had amazingly caught them in the wild-card standings.

After a pre-game pep-talk from 39-year-old starting third baseman Chipper Jones (the only remaining member from the Braves’ 1995 world championship team), the Braves and 16-game winner Tim Hudson led the National League eastern division champion Philadelphia Phillies, 3-1, entering the seventh inning at home. But a double, a single, and a one-out fielding error trimmed the Braves’ lead to 3-2.

Atlanta still figured to be in decent shape though, with hard-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel starting the ninth inning, especially since Kimbrel was tied for the NL lead in saves and had set the all-time record for saves by a rookie (he played in only 21 games in 2010) with 46 this season.

But, Kmbrel, who admitted after the game that his mind “was rushing” due to the pressure of the situation, allowed a shallow single and consecutive one-out walks before giving up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Phillies’ star second baseman Chase Utley, The wildness was rare, considering Kimbrel had walked just 30 batters while striking out 127 in 76 previous innings this season.

Meanwhile, the punchless Braves, who scored just seven runs while losing their final five games of the season, were unable to push across another run after the third inning.

On it went, deep into the Atlanta night, four more Brave relievers after Kimbrel left the game, and into the top of the 13th inning, when a weak, two-out single by right fielder Hunter Pence gave the Phillies the lead for good, 4-3.

A short while later, the Braves’ season was done as Cardinal players watching on television in their clubhouse in Houston, popped champagne corks.

As tough as that was for Braves’ fans to take, it was nothing compared to the stomach-churning events that were unfolding for the Red Sox Nation in Baltimore and St. Petersburg.

Boston was in the same predicament in the American League wild-card pursuit as Atlanta was in the NL, having seen the Tampa Bay Rays storm back to tie the Red Sox in the wild-card standings heading into Wednesday.

However, even a loss to the Baltimore Orioles could be endured for one more day if the Rays would also lose to the AL eastern division champion New York Yankees.

For a good while, all seemed perfect for the Red Sox to be in position to salvage their season and keep it from slipping away.

The Rays trailed the Yankees 7-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, at home, and the Red Sox had rallied from a 2-1 deficit to lead the Orioles, 3-2 in the fifth inning.

But, miraculously, the Rays countered with a 6-run, eighth-inning uprising to set the stage for even further drama later.

Incredibly, seldom-used pinch-hitter Dan Johnson, a career .235 hitter, batting just .119 this season, smacked only his second home run of the season – his first since April 8th and only his ninth over the past four seasons – with the Rays down to their last strike, to send the game to extra innings, tied 7-7.

While that was going in Florida, similar to the Braves’ situation, the Red Sox had their closer – Jonathan Papelbon, one of baseball’s best closers over the past six years – pitching the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead, something that would have appeared to be safe against the last-place, 93-loss Orioles.

It should also be noted that Boston had never lost in 76 previous tries this season when leading after the eighth inning.

So naturally, on a crazy night, it became time for Papelbon (4-1, 31 saves) to lose his only game of the season.

One strikeout. Then another. Two quick outs, and then two strikes, with no one on base.

No problem. Even if the Rays pull off the improbable, the Red Sox would still beat the Orioles and force a one-game playoff, right?

Well…

Inexplicably, what followed was three straight hits – back-to-back doubles and a single – by a trio of hitters, all average career hitters at best, none of whom hit any higher than .263 this year.

A short time later, the Red Sox’ nightmare was finally over when Rays’ star third baseman Evan Longoria barely put a screaming lined drive over the left field wall and inside the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 12th inning, to send Tampa Bay to the playoffs and mercifully end Boston’s monumental meltdown.

Of course, any team can, and often does, have many single nights like the Red Sox and Braves suffered on Wednesday night. But, the significance of those two losses lies in that they represented each team’s last-gasp chances to right respective ships that had gone horribly and unexpectedly off-course in such a relatively short time.

Not long ago, the Red Sox had the second-best record in MLB. Through August, they were 83-52 and as many believed, destined to meet the Yankees in this year’s ALCS.

But, the Red Sox finished the season 5-16, going 7-20 in September.

How improbable was Boston’s collapse?
Coolstandings.com shows that following Boston’s 12-7 win over Texas on September 3rd, the Red Sox, who led the Rays by nine games in the AL wild-card race, had a season-high 99.6 percent chance of reaching the playoffs: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?id=BOS&sn=2011.
Even as recently as last Sunday, Boston still had an 88.4 percent of making the postseason.

And, as shown by statistician Nate Silver, the Rays overcame the inconceivable combined odds of 278 million-to-one, taking into account their nine-game deficit and then everything that had to go wrong, going wrong the way it did for Boston on the last day of the regular season:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/You-won-8217-t-believe-the-actual-odds-the-Rays?urn=mlb-wp21395&active_dimension=carousel_ept_sports_mlb_experts&ysp_frm_woah=1.

The Braves’ implosion was no easier for them, or their fans to stomach (to use a term that would draw a parallel to how Francona felt about his own team).

Shockingly, Atlanta broke the Mets’ record for choking (staying with Francona’s indigestion theme) only moments before the Red Sox broke the Braves’ record for giving up a September playoff chase lead.

Atlanta led St. Louis by 10½ games on August 26th, and by 8½ games on the morning of September 6th. Coolstandings listed the Braves as having a 98.2 percent chance of making the playoffs at that point: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?id=ATL&sn=2011.

Following a 5-2 win over Washington on September 1st, the Braves were a season-high 26 games over .500 (81-55) before finishing the season 8-18.

Recalling the events of four years ago, Met fans can relate all too well to what fans of the Red Sox and Braves just went through.

It was of course their own team, one year after coming within a hit or two from making the World Series (while losing the 2006 NLCS in heartbreaking fashion, to St. Louis, in seven games), that blew a seven-game lead with 17 games to play, to miss the playoffs – like Boston and Atlanta this year – on the regular season’s final day.

The Mets stumbled to a 5-12 finish that season while the Phillies concluded with a hot 13-4 stretch to edge New York by a game for the NL East title.

Coolstandings shows the Mets had a 99.5 percent chance of being a playoff team prior to beginning their own historic fall in 2007: http://www.coolstandings.com/baseball_team.asp?sn=2007&id=NYM.

So, perhaps Mets, Red Sox, and Braves fans can all unite in some sort of collective September Slide therapy group.

On one hand, Met fans can now find solace in the fact that it wasn’t just their team blowing a lead of at least seven games in the season’s final month.

And, in return, fans in Boston and Atlanta can take heart knowing that unless something similar happens to their teams again next year, Met fans still have them beat when it comes to stumbling in September.

In 2008, the Phillies once again caught the Mets for the NL East crown, that time, after trailing New York by 3½ games in September, thus giving New York a distinction which no other team holds (not even Boston or Atlanta… yet) – the worst consecutive September collapses in baseball history.

And, here’s one final nugget for fans of all three teams to discuss at their group remedial sessions…

Ironically waving around the winning run that ended the Red Sox’ season on Wednesday night, was none other than Orioles’ third base coach Willie Randolph, the Mets’ manager in 2007, and for the first 69 games the following year, before he was fired in 2008.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Boston Red Sox, Division Champion, Fredi Gonzalez, Game Playoff, Major League Baseball, Manager Terry Francona, New York Mets, Pep Talk, Philadelphia Phillies, Postseason Berth, Second Stint, St Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Top Story, World Championship Team, World Series Appearances

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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Phillies push Mets further back; Reyes expected back on Tuesday

New York Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey knew he threw a bad pitch to Michael Martinez, the 28-year old rookie of the NL east division leading Philadelphia Phillies. He got hold of a Pelfrey fastball in the fifth inning, a three-run shot for his first career home run.

“I made a mistake, it was supposed to be fast and down,” said Pelfrey about the home run to right off a 2-0 pitch. It was enough for the Phillies to take two of three from the Mets with an 8-5 win at Citi Field Sunday afternoon. Pelfrey (5-9) went five innings, gave up four runs and the home run to Martinez was the 16th he gave up this season. When Pelfrey gives up the home run ball, as seems to be a frequent part of his game this season, the right hander has obvious control issues.

“The long ball is what is killing him,” said Mets Manager Terry Collins about his ace starter. Pelfrey has assumed that role more with Johan Santana not slated to return to the rotation anytime soon. Consistency has been an issue for Pelfrey who is 0-2 and with a 9.47 ERA against the Phillies this season. “He’s our guy,” added Collins who saw Pelfrey have two other good outings this month.

Martinez, in for the injured all-star third baseman Placido Polanco, would finish with a career best four RBI game. The Rule-5 pick from the Washington Nationals and native of Santo Domingo DR, said through a translator, “it was worth the wait. I am not a power hitter so I am surprised it left the yard.”

But it was not just Pelfrey that continued to put the Mets further back to the Phillies in the standings, and to the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild card standings. The Mets did make a game of it scoring three runs in the eighth and one run in the ninth, but went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position. They scored one run off Phils starter and winner Kyle Kendrick (5-4) a,nd three runs off a battered Philadelphia pen, including a run scoring triple by Lucas Duda in the ninth off closer Antonio Bastardo who got his sixth save.

It is obvious, with the Phillies not throwing starters Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, a combined 20 wins between the two, that to beat them you need to have good pitching. Pelfrey and Collins know that they have a lineup of potent hitters. “I thought the guys fought hard today,” said Collins. “We just didn’t pitch today. That was the difference. You have to hold these guys down to keep them from scoring because they have a good pitching staff.”

In the three game series, New York went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position. Part of that could be attributed to the absence of Carlos Beltran from the lineup the past two games. Beltran has been sidelined with a severe flu, and Collins said, the weakened Beltran would not be available Monday night when the Mets host the Florida Marlins in a makeup game that was postponed by rain on May 17th.

Philadelphia opened the game with a three-run eighth inning when Jason Bay in left came in on a Ryan Howard liner and the ball hit off the top of his glove for an error. The Citi Field crowd booed Bay again, as he also went 0-for-4 at the plate.

“I missed it,” commented Bay when asked about the play. “It’s one of those things where I missed it. And with Scott Hairston driving in another run with a pinch hit single in the seventh, hitting .375 with two home runs and 10 RBI over his last 10 games, Bay was asked if he was concerned about losing his spot in the lineup.

To that Bay said, “It’s not my job, not my decision to make. Before the break started I had the momentum going.” Bay was on a streak before the all-star break and the Mets lineup seemed to click with Beltran hitting also, even without the injured Jose Reyes out of the lineup.

“When you saw Jason swing the bat last week, thought he was coming out of it,” said Collins. “When we get Carlos (Beltran) back, that should help.” However Beltran left the ballpark after receiving another IV treatment for loss of fluids because of the flu, and Collins said he was almost sure the outfielder will miss another game.

Leaving 11 men on base did not help. And Collins did have another chance to mix and match out of the bullpen, but did not use Bobby Parnell as the closer with the now traded Francisco Rodriguez now in Milwaukee.  One with Florida Monday night, and then three with the St. Louis Cardinals and he can only hope that Beltran returns to the lineup.

NOTES: Chris Capuano (8-8) gets the start against the Marlins who came to New York Sunday night after a Sunday game in Chicago. After the game Florida will go home and play San Diego for three, and the Mets for three more…Duda with two more hits  upped his average to .328 with nine RBI in his last 19 games…Daniel Murphy with a single in the first extended his hitting streak to seven games…

It was the fourth series loss for the Mets against the Phillies this season…Now the good news. Jose Reyes ran before the game and tested the injured hamstring. He is slated to start Monday afternoon for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the Penn league and if all goes well Reyes could come off the DL and start Tuesday night at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Fastball, Fifth Inning, Johan Santana, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl East, Philadelphia Phillies, Power Hitter, Right Hander, Runners, Santo Domingo Dr, Star Third Baseman, Starting Pitcher, Sunday Afternoon, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wild Card

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 18, 2011

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Dickey gives Mets a going away win as Beltran goes down

New York – Consider that the New York Mets took two of three games from the Atlanta Braves with their 6-4 win Sunday evening at Citi Field. It concluded a 5-5 home stand, losing two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies and splitting a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It could have been four more wins if it were not for the seventh and eighth inning failures that cost them ballgames.

“We had some tough times but to come in here and beat the Braves two out of three, leave here on a positive note, win the series, you’ve got to look at it positively,” said Mets manager Terry Coillins. A highlight was overcoming a 7-0 deficit to the Pirates Thursday afternoon and doing something a Mets team had not accomplished since the season of 2000.

The starting pitching has been respectable. Collins could not ask for more from his starters who have posted a 3.04 ERA in their last 11 games. The latest was R.A. Dickey (3-6) making his second start with an injury to his right foot. The knuckleball was effective as Dickey pitched eight solid innings. His four hits allowed included a solo home run to Brian McCann in the seventh inning.

And before the McCann home run, Dickey had not allowed a runner past second. He has thrown at least 5.0 innings in 35 of his last 37 starts since joining the Mets last season. “Physically, it’s just an issue we’re going to have to work through for who knows how long,” he said about the injury.  “But it’s manageable.”

And what has been recently been constant, a failure of the bullpen continued in the late innings. Before Dickey could get the win, Manny Acosta gave up two runs in the ninth and closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up the second career pinch hit home run to Diory Hernandez, a three-run shot to left centerfield.

Jose Reyes continued to be the hottest hitter in baseball as constant chants of “Don’t trade Reyes” could be heard during the course of the game from the Sunday night crowd of 21.015.He had an RBI double to left center in the fourth Inning that put New York up 5-0 and scored twice, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, a league leading 28th multi-hit game and batting .465 during the streak.

Before that, New York put two runs on the board in the first and another two in the second. They have plated 36 first inning runs, tied for fourth in baseball. That alone should have been enough to build on this past week, but the late inning mistakes from the bullpen and on the field cost them, leading to a tirade and team meeting called by Collins after a loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday evening.

Reyes’ ninth consecutive run scored equaled the longest streak of his career, the second longest streak in baseball this season. In the last season of a contract and subject of trade rumors, for the moment the Mets are content that he is still with them and possibly playing the best ball of his career.

“I’ve never been that consistent and that’s a big part,” said Reyes about his success. “So hopefully I can continue to feel that way all season long. I am going to continue to do my job and help this team,” he said

But with David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, and no closer to returning, and as the Mets embarked on a 10-game road trip to Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, there was concern for outfielder Carlos Beltran. He left the game in the second inning after sustaining a bruise to his lower leg.

The foul ball was hit off Braves starter Tim Hudson (4-5) who gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings, his first loss at Citi Field after going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Beltran would strike out and admitted there was pain. He is now listed as day-to-day with a right leg contusion.

“Anytime you get hit in the muscle it’s going to be sore,” said Collins. He was concerned because Jason Bay got the night off, and losing Beltran for any significant amount of time, minus Wright and Davis, would make the Mets that much more thinner in the lineup

“Maybe the best thing for me was to strike out because it was painful,” said Beltran. The Mets have a day off Monday and Beltran hopes to be in the lineup when they open a three-game series with Milwaukee. “I was worried because when I came down the stairs I could barely put my foot on the floor,” he said about going to the clubhouse, and he also experienced some dizziness before undergoing an X-Ray.

Collins can only hope Beltran is good to go. And the Mets, who would fly to Chicago and then bus to Milwaukee, because a runway is under construction at nearby LaGuardia Airport, were satisfied. It’s always good to hit the road after leaving home on a satisfactory note.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol,.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Brian Mccann, Bullpen, Chants, Eighth Inning, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Series, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Mets Team, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seventh Inning, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 6, 2011

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Audio: Mets Downed By Phillies In The Ninth

The New York Mets lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 thanks to a three run ninth off Francisco Rodriguez. The Mets led 3-2 in the eighth when Jason Isringhausen gave up the tying run and thanks to a misplayed ball by Daniel Murphy in the ninth, the flood gates opened for the Phillies.

K-Rod

Izzy

Daniel Murphy

Charlie Manuel

Posted under Bob Trainor, Charlie Manuel, Daniel Murphy, Flood Gates, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Mp3, Lost, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Top Story

This post was written by Bob Trainor on May 28, 2011

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Baseball Reacts To The Death of Bin Laden

PHILADELPHIA – There was the chant from the 45,000 fans, Sunday night at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia. They repeated “U-S-A! U-S-A!, as the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies continued to play a baseball game on a Sunday evening in early May. The game on national television, ESPN, at this point in the season meant more for the Mets who were trying to snap another brief but significant three-game losing streak.

We got word in the press box, through the technology of social media, and the on the press box televisions, that Osama bin Laden had been killed as the Mets were at bat in the top of the ninth inning. Fans checked their phones, and media in the press box went to the CNN and Fox News web sites to verify what was going on.

It was that type of night in Philadelphia, and another memorable one for the Mets as it pertained to the events of September 11, 2001.  “Probably a night I will never forget,” said Mets’ pitcher Chris Young who was back in the training room after pitching seven strong innings.

“I got chills hearing that crowd,” he said, as once again, baseball and the New York Mets were a part of history. “It’s a historic night and a great victory for the United States,” said Young. He wasn’t on the Mets team, neither were any members of the current roster when baseball returned at Shea Stadium 10 days later after the attacks of September 11.

However, as news reverberated around the stadium, and into the ears of the players, coaches, and manager, the events of that night of September 21, 2001 were recalled. Once again baseball was being played but the events taking place were more important.  The Mets and Phillies, rivals in the National league east, just like the Mets and Braves in that game when baseball returned 10 years ago, were no longer rivals.

“This is a good win for us and obviously a huge win for America tonight,” said Mets manager Terry Collins in his post- game press conference with the media. Collins did not immediately talk about the game. The Mets would win in 14-innings, maybe not as dramatic to the Mike Piazza home run at Shea Stadium that beat the Braves that night, when baseball became the healing process for New York City and all of America.

Collins heard the chants. “You almost want to stop the game,” he said. “You almost want to just stop the game and have that girl come and sing another beautiful rendition of ‘God Bless America,’” he said. But the game did not stop. And up in the press box, the media continued to monitor how it all unfolded.

They, too, got caught up in what was now more than reporting about a baseball game. It was news again, historic, as America finally got retribution and took down the most sought after mass murderer of this era. Baseball was still being played but those who lost their lives in New York City, Washington D.C. and in Pennsylvania, the brave military and uniform service personnel, and all who have been a part of this mission, they, were the story this evening.

Baseball was being played as scheduled. The military mission to end this 10-year hunt of searching, capturing, or killing bin Laden on the same night was a coincidence. And the Mets happened to be around this story again, the New York impact where the events of September 11, 2001 were mostly captured.

This was no longer going to be a night when the Mets snapped their latest losing streak and not a story about the Mets avoiding a three-game sweep by the first place Phillies. It was about America, and all the victims, and heroes of that tragic day of September 11, 2001.

And when David Wright of the Mets scored on a double hit by Ronnie Paulino in the top of the 14th inning, for the go- ahead run, there probably weren’t that many still tuned into the game on ESPN. They were watching the network news feeds and determining where do we go from here?  Are the threats against America over?

Probably not we were saying up in the press box. We will still have to be scanned before going into the ballpark, and be conscious of threats to our security. The implications will always be a part of our lives due to that tragic day of 10-years ago.

And for one night again, baseball was a part of the story. Except this time we were not the victims and America stayed strong. Some of us at times wonder why at the ballpark, in particular every seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, do we stand and sing the words, “God Bless America?”

It won’t be questioned again next week at Yankee Stadium, or this week at Citi Field. Baseball was significant for America 10-years ago and again Sunday night May 1, 2011. We cheered what was going on the playing field and more so for those who help keep us protected.

Most of all, we never forget the victims of September 11, 2011.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Baseball Game, Chills, Citizens Bank Ballpark, Cnn, Fox News, Game Losing Streak, Game Press, Mets Team, National League East, National Television, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Baseball, Rich Mancuso, September 11 2001, Shea Stadium, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on May 2, 2011

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Bin Laden’s Death Unites Fans of Bitter NL East Rivals

There normally exists a strong, mutual dislike, and even hatred, between fans of the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, especially when their teams are playing each other.

But, on Sunday night, during the Mets’ 2-1, 14-inning victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, fans of each of those clubs were briefly united behind the same team, as Americans first.

That’s when chants of “U! S! A!” broke out as the Mets batted in the top of the ninth inning, shortly before United States’ president and commander-in-chief Barack Obama later addressed the nation on television with news of the successful capture and death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“I got chills hearing that,” said Mets’ starting pitcher, Chris Young.

In the age of smart phones and instant information, fans at the ballpark didn’t need to wait for the announcement after the game. As soon as the news broke everywhere else, it likewise permeated the stands, linking Met and Phillie fans in something much bigger than baseball.

Perhaps due to its timeless nature, as a game played without a clock, with more of a focus on individual heroes as much as on teams, baseball, seemingly more than any other sport, has often been connected to and remembered in that way with historical events occurring outside of the sport.

Such was the case on Sunday night.

Appropriately, while President Obama broke the news from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, the only major league game of what used to be (or perhaps still is) America’s past time, was being played within the state of Pennsylvania.

And, in some sense, it was even more fitting to have a team from New York play a team from Pennsylvania while the President spoke from the nation’s capitol about the death of bin Laden, who claimed ultimate responsibility for the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil, on September 11, 2001.

On that horrific and fateful day almost a decade ago, two hijacked planes took down the famed Twin Towers in the city from which the Mets hail, while another plane struck the Pentagon not far from the site of president Obama’s White House speech on Sunday night, and a fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylanvia.

Thus, as before, baseball on Sunday night was again tied at least in some small way to an historic moment in U.S. history.

As for something of far less significance, the last-place Mets (12-16) avoided a three-game sweep in Philadelphia against the first-place Phillies (18-9), to end a three-game losing streak while snapping Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak.

Young (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7K) and Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee (7 IP, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K) were locked in a pitcher’s duel and each team’s bullpen, for the most part, continued to shut down their opposing teams’ lineups.

New York right-fielder Carlos Beltran gave the Mets a 1-0 lead on an RBI double to right-center field as third baseman David Wright singled before racing home from first on Beltran’s hit.

After Young exited, reliever Jason Isringhausen allowed a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter John Mayberry to start the bottom of the eighth inning.

Mayberry was sacrificed to second base but Isringhausen induced a pop out from third baseman Placido Polanco for the second out.

Pitcher Tim Byrdak then relieved Isringhausen and allowed a shallow single to left field by first baseman Ryan Howard. Mayberry beat a throw home on the hit to even the score, 1-1.

The game stayed that way until Wright led off the top of the 14th inning with a single to shallow left field before moving to third base with two outs, after a one-out single by leftfielder Jason Bay and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Ike Davis.

Catcher Ronny Paulino, who had a career-high five hits in seven at-bats while making his first start as a Met, sent Wright home with a game-winning, RBI double to left field off of pitcher Kyle Kendrick (who fell to 1-2).

Reliever Taylor Bucholz (1-0) pitched a perfect bottom of the 14th inning to post his first win as a Met in the third game to last as many as fourteen innings in the majors this year.

That bit of history along with Paulino recording the most hits of any player while making an initial start for the franchise made it a momentous night for the Mets.

However, for the Mets’ city, that of their opponent, and for the rest of the world, it was a night in which Bucholz, Paulino, and the Mets didn’t mind being overshadowed.

Posted under Barack Obama, Fateful Day, Historical Events, Inning Victory, Instant Information, Mutual Dislike, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Nl East, Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia Phillies, September 11 2001, Starting Pitcher, State Of Pennsylvania, Timeless Nature, Top Story, Worst Terrorist Attack

This post was written by Jon Wagner on May 2, 2011

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Mets Don’t Look Good Despite Changes At Top

Sandy Alderson is the new General Manager and Terry Collins shortly followed as the new manager. A new regime is in command of the New York Mets amid a financial mess that may eventually force owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon to sell a portion of the team or their entire interests.

The Wilpon financial mess is just one of the issues that await the New York Mets as they begin the 2011 season Friday night down in Miami with the Florida Marlins. Gone are pitcher Oliver Perez and infielder Luis Castillo, two holdovers of previous GM Omar Minaya. Some payroll will eventually be free, and there are two less popular Mets at Citi Field when the team has their home opener.

So what should be expected from the 2011 New York Mets? They can be competitive if their starting pitching and bullpen steps up. They will be without their injured ace Johan Santana who may throw his first pitch in early July. And how far the Mets can go will depend on how long they stay injury free. In particular there is concern for outfielders Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran.

Yes, questions again for the team and fans, even with a new regime, a fan has to be patient. There is optimism for the future but not winning expectations this year even with a manager like Collins. He is different than previous manager Jerry Manuel, knows the game and will tell it like it is without hesitation.

The team is capable of winning 80 games, coming off a dismal fourth place finish at 79-83, finishing 18 games behind the division winning Philadelphia Phillies. And the Phillies on paper look like the team that will dominate, and the Atlanta Braves will be in the hunt.

If pitching and key players stay away from the disabled list the Mets could be in the wildcard race. But the first month, April, where the Mets will have many home games is important. They need to have a good start or for sure there will be nothing to play for and a fire sale will come in late July.

Beltran will start in right field assuming his left knee is healthy. In the last year of his contract he could be traded. And so could Jose Reyes, though the Mets shortstop came to camp healthy and had an outstanding spring. It is realistic to assume that ownership, with all of their financial issues won’t be able to afford Reyes who is also in a walk year of his contract.

If the Mets get off to a good start there is reason for optimism. And if Reyes and Beltran are performing to expectations, and if the team is still in contention, then by late July you can expect Reyes and Beltran to finish out the season in New York. Reyes hit .282 last season drove in 54 runs and still had a .321 on base percentage which shows he can get on base when in the lineup.

Beltran in 2010 once again had limited playing time, 64 games, with the bad right knee. Now it is the left side that is hurting. His production in the lineup is vital if the Mets want to contend, and the .254 average of last year, 7 home runs and 27 RBI reflects one of the reasons why the Mets were 13th in hitting and third to last in the National League when driving in runs.

But Mets fans will come to expect that by the end of the season, and going into 2012 the team payroll will go from $150 million to $75 million or less, and in New York sometimes that is not acceptable. Minus Reyes and Beltran it could be less however every game the Mets play they will have, viable MVP candidates in Reyes and David Wright.

Other important factors to consider are David Wright, Angel Pagan and Ike Davis. Wright showed an adjustment to hitting the ball out of Citi Field. 29 home runs and 103 RBI, but he has to cut down on the strike outs, 151. Pagan had a comeback year and proved how important he has become and will take over center. He adds speed to the position and on the bases. Can Pagan again hit around .290 and increase his numbers of 11 home runs and 69 RBI?

Davis had an outstanding rookie season, 19 home runs, 71 RBI and developed as an outstanding big league first baseman. Josh Thole is the starting catcher and has to play a bulk of games. Backup Ronnie Paulino starts the season with a suspension stemming from abusing illegal body enhancing drugs and he has come down with a blood condition. So the backup will be Michael Nickeas who tasted a cup of coffee with the team in September and the second base job, at least for now goes to Brad Emaus a Rule 5 player who impressed Collins. If Reyes should get traded then expect youngster Ruben Tejada to be recalled form Buffalo and take control of his natural position,

And the cog in the lineup to how far the Mets will go in 2011 is Jason Bay The left fielder, with a huge contract, went down with a concussion in mid season and was limited to 95 games, 6 home runs and drove in 47. The Mets had to use a variety of players to fill the void using Nick Evans and Lucas Duda. Bay will probably start the long campaign on the DL after sustaining an injury to his rib cage Tuesday so Duda or Evans could be on the opening day roster.

In fact, some baseball experts are picking the Mets to finish last because they don’t expect Beltran, Wright and Bay to play 95 games apiece because of injuries that have plagued this team the past three years.

The pitching staff that had a combined 3.70 ERA last season, surprisingly sixth in the league and perhaps that was due to the emergence of knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey who finished 11-9 coming off a spring training contract. Though one can’t expect the 35-year old Dickey to have similar numbers and if he does than the pitching will be that much better,

The ace, until Santana returns is right hander Mike Pelfrey, 15-9, .366 ERA and with a much improved slider.  Jonathon Niese will follow after a full year under his belt and hopefully will improve on his 9-10 record and 4.20 ERA. Chris Young pitched two games with San Diego last year, was shut down and now the Mets see some arm strength and a good fastball to provide some spark in the rotation as another minor investment.

And the surprise could be Chris Capuano, 2-0 this spring. He is another of the “cheap” investments that Alderson made when taking over and the former Milwaukee Brewer provides insurance as a fifth starter and long reliever out of the pen.

If the starters can go deep, then what will the suspect Mets pen do? They were next to last in saves last season. The Mets can only hope that Frankie Rodriguez is back to form, that his shoulder has recovered, and most of all that his anger management issues are a thing of the past. K-Rod is not expected to save 62 games, but if the Mets want to make anything interesting, if they are in close games, then K-Rod needs to close the door.

If not, Collins has to work with a revolving door of arms out of the pen which was what Manuel had to do last season. The key loss was Pedro Feliciano now with the cross-town Yankees, and for the past three years Feliciano was the most used pitcher in baseball coming out of the pen.

Bobby Parnell has been groomed to be the set up man, D.J. Carasco, another minor investment can assist with a good fastball, and as it appears, a replacement for Feliciano.

The Mets will miss the versatility of Chris Carter off the bench, now with Tampa Bay. But their bench also minor investments made by Alderson is vastly improved Willie Harris for the outfield, a veteran who was with the Washington Nationals, Scott Hairston, once with San Diego, an infielder and outfielder Yes Daniel Murphy, who until last week was in the running for the start at second base.

The 2011 New York Mets full of questions as to how far they will go. Can they contend and will Citi Field be an interesting place to visit by August?  Surprises do happen often in baseball and with the Mets they will have to do the unexpected to make it an interesting 2011.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Bullpen, Carlos Beltran, Financial Mess, Fire Sale, Florida Marlins, Hesitation, Home Games, Home Opener, Infielder, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Luis Castillo, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Optimism, Outfielders, Philadelphia Phillies, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wildcard Race

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 1, 2011