Blister May Hold Harvey Out Saturday

Call it the blister heard around New York.

When word got out that new New York Mets golden boy Matt Harvey may miss a start due to a blister, the Mets held their collective breaths and hoped for the best because without Harvey, New York Mets Tickets may have a problem being moved.

But last night manager Terry Collins downplayed the concern.

“His finger looked tremendous,” Collins said. “I’m very, very happy with what the results after he had it worked on (Monday) night and (Tuesday). He’ll be fine.”

Even more so, the Mets want and may even need Harvey to showcase himself on Tuesday at the All-Star game where the Citi Field Seating Chart will be filled to capacity, so therefore, they may just skip him on Saturday to have him well rested for the All-Star Game.

With his 7-2 record and  2.35 ERA, Harvey is considered the favorite to start the game, although NL Manager Bruce Bochy isn’t saying who he is going to give the nod to.

“I know which way I’m leaning,” Bochy said Monday afternoon. “I’ll leave it at that. But this kid is having a special year and, I know, he’s from New York. All that’s been discussed. I’ll just leave it at that right now.”

Harvey, though, doesn’t seem concerned.

“Whatever they decide is their call,” Harvey said. “I’ll prepare like I have a start.”

The Mets have struggled the fill their new ballpark over the last few seasons, but with a homegrown talent like Harvey, the club is hoping to go back to the days of Doc Gooden or even Pedro Martinez when he first signed in 2005, where the ballpark was filled to capacity and New York Ticket Brokers had bonanzas when the aces pitched.

Highlighting Harvey on Tuesday may move the Mets into that direction.

Even if the Mets decide to let him pitch on Saturday, Harvey will have short leash on him, with a pitch count kept way down, so he can pitch on Tuesday.

He threw a career high 121 pitches Monday night, and there is a growing concern with 130 innings under his belt so far. The Mets are looking to keep their ace fresh in the second half, and also not have him shut down in September.

Last season he threw 169.1 innings between the majors and minors and this season the Mets probably not going to allow their ace more than 220 innings.

“[Pitching Coach] Dan [Warthen] and I are talking about trying to figure out how to start to cut this guy back a little bit,” Collins said. “We’ll have to decide what happens on Saturday.”

If Harvey is skipped the Mets will probably tap Carlos Torres to make the spot start.

Posted under Breaths, Doc Gooden, Homegrown Talent, Joe Mcdonald, New York Mets, New York Mets Tickets, Pitches, Seating Chart, Ticket Brokers, Top Story, York Mets Tickets

Mets Need To Do Something With Ike

Flushing, NY – Before the season if you said ‘51’ to Ike Davis, he would probably think that’s the number of homers he would have this season.

Come next week, ‘51’ will be the name of his team.

Davis looks terrible at the plate, swinging pitches out of the zone for his first two at bats tonight making him halfway to the Golden Sombrero.  It’s just an example of a player that who it and because the Mets are not performing as a whole, Davis has become public enemy No. 1 at Citi Field with the daily chatter about his woes.

“It’s certainly tough on Ike. At this level, every player puts an added amount of pressure on themselves when they’re the go-to guys,” manager Terry Collins said.  “Now, with all the focus and all the questions, there’s even more pressure on Ike. And that’s why we’ve tried to take a little bit off with the conversation Sandy [Alderson] had last week in Chicago with him, to try to ease his mind a little bit — ‘Hey, look, focus on the game. Don’t focus on the stuff off the field.’ That’s why I took him out of the fourth hole. He’s got enough heat on him, let alone hit in the fourth hole and struggle.”

If he doesn’t perform, Davis will be sent to the minors. It’s just a matter of time. It may even be an indictment on the Mets that he is still starting at first base, because they just don’t have anyone else.

However, that’s not true either according to Collins, who said they do have options. “Have we discussed them? No, because he’s the first baseman still,” Collins explained.  “But you’ve got Lucas, you’ve got Dan Murphy, you’ve got Justin Turner. We’ve got options. But no one has discussed anything about any replacements yet.”

Even with no true replacement, the Mets have to do something. With Ruben Tejada hitting .211 going into tonight’s game, the team has a bottom third of the lineup with what could be considered automatic outs, which isn’t going to help the team win any games. They can get by with Tejada not hitting because of his defense, but need offensive production out of first base, especially streaky lineup the Mets tend to produce.

What about accountability? Collins came in two and a half years ago preaching the players will be held accountable but what kind of message does it send when you trot Davis out there day after day? What kind of message is it sending to the Mets younger players?

Yet, Davis’s play is screaming “Vegas Baby” and unless he has a huge weekend, won’t be facing his Dad’s former team next week.

And if he goes down, then what’s next for Ike?

“I’ve had a few players of Ike’s stature that came back to the minor leagues,” Collins said. “And I used to tell them: Look, you’ve got 24 hours to be unhappy. And, after that, your job is to get back. You have two choices: They’re either going to be right by sending you down or they’re going to be wrong by sending you down. What do you want to do? Now, we’ve got to go to work. Complain, do all the stuff you want to do for 24 hours. And then we’ve got to get back to work.

“Obviously, in this situation, where we’re going to Vegas, it could be that Ike Davis hits five fly balls and hits five home runs. Does that mean he’s ready to come back? I don’t know. If he is sent out, the reports have got to be his swing is more consistent. He’s driving balls to left field, left-center field, staying on the ball better, not swinging at balls out of the strike zone. Those types of things are the reports you want to hear. But in the development of those types of guys, the first thing you have to do is make sure their mind is right. ‘I got off to a bad start. I’ve got to fix it. Let’s go get it fixed and I’ll get back there.’ …

“Sometimes you send them to a place like Vegas, that confidence will come back in a hurry. I’ve seen some guys go down there and hit the ball pretty good and all of a sudden, ‘Boy, I’m ready now.’ … But in Ike’s case, I don’t want, if something should happen and he goes to Vegas, to look up and have him hit a home run tonight and a home run tomorrow and a home run the next day and all of a sudden say, ‘He’s back.’ I think the process is going to be a little longer than that.”

Well, maybe Davis is an Elvis fan. Viva Las Vegas.

Posted under Bats, First Baseman, Fourth Hole, Homers, Joe Mcdonald, Mets, New York Mets, Pitches, Public Enemy, Public Enemy No 1, Sandy Alderson, Struggle, Tejada, Top Story, Wit

Sports Beat “Did Sandy’s impatience hurt Santana?”

Granted, no one should have expected onetime Mets ace Johan Santana to be a difference-maker in 2013. The general consensus from baseball prognosticators is that the Mets would finish in fourth place in the National League East with or without him.

In most years, the Mets would be picked to finish in the cellar with the kind of team that they have but the Miami Marlins have earned that dubious distinction from most of the baseball media because their owner, Jeff Loria, decided to gut their roster in order to save a ton of payroll. It should be pointed out that Loria has done this kind of thing before and the Marlins always seem to surprise when they put on the field a lineup of unknowns so Mets fans can’t rest that easy.

 Now we’ll never know what caused Johan Santana’s left shoulder to tear again requiring surgery as it did in 2011. It is obvious that the 135 pitches that he threw against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1 in the first-ever Mets’ no-hitter greatly accelerated the depreciation, to use an accounting term, on it since Johan was hit hard by opposing teams from that point on last year before being put on the disabled list in August.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told the press then that he expected Johan to be the team’s 2013 Opening Day starter. I thought that he was being unrealistic at the time.

Early in spring training Alderson went public with his frustration about Johan arriving at the Mets  base at Port St. Lucie, Florida in far less than game-ready shape. Three weeks ago I wrote a column about how Mets executives were being delusional if they were counting on Santana, and that they should trust him to work out at his own pace. To his immense credit, Mets manager Terry Collins stood up for Johan as soon as Alderson made his statement.

Anyone who has ever met Johan Santana knows that he is a hard worker and a man of immense pride. Even with his Powerball-like contract, he never just goes through the motions. It wouldn’t surprise me if Johan may have done too much throwing too soon just to prove Sandy Alderson wrong.

Santana’s absence from the Mets goes beyond mere wins and losses. He is a proven leader in the clubhouse on a team where that is a rare commodity. I have always been impressed by how he makes himself available for interviews for not just the big fish in the sports media pond but those from smaller outlets as well. He will be missed.

*****

Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap was the St. John’s Red Storm interim head coach last year when Steve Lavin was recuperating from prostate cancer. Last Friday night I had a chance to chat with him before the Bobcats game with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

He was well aware of how the Red Storm season fell apart when the team suspended their star point guard, D’Angelo Harrison, in early March. “It shows that they have a system of discipline in place that doesn’t favor good players nor does it concern itself with the calendar. I know that D’Angelo will learn from this experience,” Dunlap said. He added that he expected both Steve Lavin and D’Angelo Harrison to return to the Red Storm next fall.

Last Friday night was Walt “Clyde” Frazier bobblehead doll night at Madison Square Garden. The former Knicks superstar and current team broadcaster on MSG Network has long been known for his outrageous threads. Clyde’s bobblehead had him dressed in a suit that looked as if it came off of a Holstein cow. Frazier obliged the fans at the Garden by wearing the same outfit for his popular “Clyde’s Closet” game segment with MSG reporter Tina Cervasio. To his credit, Walt pointed that his suit was synthetic so that the PETA folks could relax. No bovine were hurt for Frazier’s sartorial splendor!

Could the Islanders have finally turned a corner? Last Thursday night I witnessed the Isles give up two early goals to the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia and then come back to win in an overtime shootout, 4-3, thanks to Josh Bailey’s goal. Star center John Tavares had a goal and an assist. “It is gratifying to be able to win in a building we’re we’ve had trouble in the past,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. The Flyers have been so awful this year that they are routinely booed by their fans but this was a big game for the Islanders who actually have a shot at making the playoffs for the first time in five years.

I was disappointed to hear that this will be Tim McCarver’s final year of calling baseball games for Fox. Pete Hamill once called Tim McCarver one of the brightest men that he ever met and I wholeheartedly agree. Tim always treats the viewer with intelligence and provides insight into the game that is never cliched.

Since 2000 he has been the host of “The Tim McCarver Show,” a 30-minute interview show where he conducts candid in-depth interviews with athletes and sports media types. The show has aired on an array of cable networks across the country. It’s on MSG here in New York but one never knows what time that it is going to be broadcast. It would be nice if Fox Sports could find a place on its schedule for the show.

R.A. Dickey’s “Wherever I Wind Up” has just been released in paperback (Plume Books). Dickey and co-writer Wayne Coffey have added a new chapter about his 2012 Cy Young Award-winning season with the Mets, although there is nothing about his subsequent trade to the Toronto Blue Jays since the book production deadline preceded it.

MSG Network reporter Jill Martin who is best known for her “Gimme A Minute” interviews with celebrities during halftime at Knicks games, has written her latest book on fashion, “Weekend Makeover” (Rodale Books).

I am beginning to wonder if it was wise for the federal government to bail out General Motors after all after attending the Chevrolet media presentation at the New York International Auto Show that concludes this Sunday. Instead of promoting safe, fuel-efficient cars, Chevy executives were proudly touting the revival of dangerous gas-wasting male mid-life crisis cars as the Corvette Stingray and the Camaro Z-28.

Lacoste, the Paris-based company that made the salmon-colored polo shirt with the alligator logo an iconic fashion statement, is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. Company founder  Rene Lacoste was a pioneer in tennis fashion literally from head to toe as he created everything from hats to tennis shoes. Andy Roddick was Lacoste’s most famous tennis endorser for years but now that he has retired, the next great American hope, John Isner, will be wearing Lacoste at the US Open in Flushing Meadows this year.

Mayor Bloomberg has taken a lot of ridicule for trying to limit the serving of sugar-based sodas to 16-ounce servings. I believe that the mayor is overstepping his bounds even if his knowledge of nutrition is correct.

The bottom line is that sugar-filled soft drinks are not good for one’s health but thankfully there are a lot of refreshing beverages in the marketplace that are for superior to Coke and Pepsi. Bai 5 makes a line of one gram of sugar fruit drinks that are called anti-oxidant infusions. Harney Teas has a line of bottled organic iced teas and juices that are perfect for the warmer weather which finally appears to be upon us. For those who like juices, upstate New York’s Red Jacket Orchards produces a number of blends of cold-pressed apple juices and ciders while Miami-based Raaw Foods has a line of nine fruit and vegetable juices such as Very Berry Wheatgrass and Strawberry Purple Carrot that have only natural sugars and plenty of vitamins.

Cable’s FX Network has done well appealing to a wide array of audiences with shows as “Justified,” “Archer,” and “The Americans” as well as movies that have just finished their runs on premium cable channels such as HBO, Starz, and Showtime. Last week FX announced that they will be starting a sister network, FXX, that will be aimed at the 18-34 market. FXX will try to revive a long dormant form of television programming, the mini-series.

Posted under Accounting Term, Depreciation, Dubious Distinction, Immense Credit, Immense Pride, Jeff Loria, Johan Santana, Lloyd Carroll, Mets Fans, National League East, New York Mets, Own Pace, Pitches, Port St Lucie Florida, Powerball, Prognosticators, Sandy Alderson, Spring Training, St Louis Cardinals, St Lucie Florida, Top Story

Audio: Johan’s No-No

The Curse Is Over! Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history against the St. Louis Cardinals with the Mets winning 8-0. The story of the game, of course, was Santana, who threw a career high 134 pitches for his second shutout in a row.

Below is reaction from the clubhouse.

Johan Santana

David Wright

Josh Thole

Mike Baxter

Mike Matheny

Jose Oquendo

Carlos Beltran

Adam Wainwright

Posted under Bob Trainor, Carlos Beltran, Clubhouse, Curse, David Wright, Game, Johan Santana, Jose Oquendo, Josh Thole, Mike Baxter, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Pitches, Shutout, St Louis Cardinals, Top Story

This post was written by Bob Trainor on June 2, 2012

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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

Tags: , ,

Brett Myers and Carlos Lee Make Their Mark in the Astros 4-1 Victory over the Mets

New York – Righty Brett Myers pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros (59-70) to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets (64-65) in Saturday night baseball at Citi Field. First baseman Carlos Lee was all the offense and defense Houston needed to help the Astros take Game Two on a very long road stretch.

Myers (10-7) would toss a milestone in the game as he now has pitched six or more innings in all 27 starts this season. The righty also established a new club record for six plus innings appearances at any point in the season, breaking the previous mark of 26 straight games held by Larry Dierker who accomplished the feat on June 20, 1969 to April 17, 1970. The streak for Myers is the longest to start a season since Curt Schilling had 35 straight appearances of at least six innings in 2002 with Arizona.

“Myers had another outstanding outing and put us in a position to win the game,” Astros manager Brad Mills said after the game. “Throwing the ball like he did was outstanding; what he is doing, what he has done and what he was able to do tonight was outstanding.”

The righty would have this to say of his seven innings, six strikeout performance tonight, “I was just following the plan; I just followed what my catcher (Humberto Quintero) put down. He is a smart catcher and followed the plan well and we work well together.” Myer would continue by saying, “A lot of credit goes to him and pitching coach (Brad Arnsberg) and tonight I just tried to follow my plan and execute my pitches.”

On his milestone he had this to say, “It is not a big deal I just try to go out and give the team the best chance to win, I’m not trying to break any records. If it happens it happens, I am not looking too much into it. I am just trying to go out every six days and do the job again. Anything I can do to go out there and help the team win and help the bullpen as much as possible then that is what I am going to do.”

Houston would get on the board early, jumping all over starter Johan Santana (10-9) getting four hits and plating the first two runs. Carlos Lee and shortstop Tommy Manzella were the two key hits to give the Astros the 2-0 lead.

Carlos Lee would hit a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning over the left field wall to give the Astros a 4-0 lead. That combined with a ‘web gem’ play in the bottom of the third inning to dive to his right and rob Mets starter Johan Santana of a hit was one of the two crucial defensive plays to lead Houston to a win.

“We beat a tough pitcher tonight,” Lee said of the victory. “It was good to be able to win today and now we need to come out tomorrow and keep the momentum going.” The first baseman would continue to say, “Santana had a rough first inning and we took advantage and anytime you have a lead with Myers going out there you know that he is guaranteed to go seven and pitch well for us.”

For Santana it was a tough loss as he has suffered his third consecutive loss this evening. It is only the fourth time in his career that he has dropped at least four straight decisions and only the second time since the 2004 season.

New York would have plenty of opportunities throughout the game to try to cash in on runs and cut into that lead. Rookie Ike Davis laced a double (23) off the right field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning, but two ground outs ended the Mets hopes.  It had seemed as if throughout the night every time the Mets had a man on base Myers would have an answer to shut the offense down.

“The Mets had a runner on base every inning it seemed,” Myers said. “I just tried to make pitches and wanted them to hit the ball at people. If I executed I figured I would be able to get outs, and it just worked out that way.”

New York had left nine runners on base this evening, while over the last five games they have stranded 46 men on bases. The Mets finally scored the first run in the bottom of the eighth inning as second baseman Luis Castillo started the frame with an infield single. Carlos Beltran would move the runner over on a ground ball that was fielded by relief pitcher Wilton Lopez.

Castillo would eventually score on a David Wright single to right field. It had seemed as if hope and a rally would come for the 33,024 in attendance as Ike Davis would hit a single to right field. Sadly Jeff Francoeur trying to hit a home run struck out swinging to leave the runners on first and second for rookie catcher Josh Thole.  Thole would hit a scorching line drive to speedy outfielder Jason Bourgeois to end the inning.

“Everyone wants to step up and get the big hits,” Wright said after the game. “They want to be the guy that steps up and help us win the game, but sometimes that works against you because you try to do too much instead of getting a hit.” On the offensive struggles as of late, “You can’t label one thing as the reason for our struggles. When you look up and down the lineup you see different things and different guys struggling. We have a lot of our key guys out due to injury; combine that with the young players and the guys that are injured; all of that combined is a huge part of our offensive struggles.”

New York hopes to take Game Three of this series, which will take place on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Houston will send out starter Bud Norris (6-7, 5.03 ERA) to take on the knuckleball of R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.64 ERA)

Posted under Brad Arnsberg, Bullpen, Carlos Lee, Curt Schilling, First Baseman, Houston Astros, Humberto Quintero, Larry Dierker, Mets Baseball, Mets New York, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pitches, Pitching Coach, Road Stretch, Shutout, Six Days, Straight Appearances, Straight Games, Strikeout, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 29, 2010

Snakes Continue To Bite Mets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

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

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

Mancuso: Santana Comes Up Aces In Mets Win

New York – Joey Votto swung, missed and struck out off a Johan Santana fastball in the first inning.  The Cincinatti Reds would strand Brandon Phillips at third who led off the game with a double. Santana would only get better as the game went along, because his fastball was that good and it allowed his other pitches to work Tuesday evening at steamy Citi Field.

Santana, (6-5) who has been struggling got the Reds to swing and miss, also getting them to hit the ball to center.  In the end it was a complete game shutout thrown by Santana, a 3-0 win, and in the process the Mets discovered that he also can contribute to the lineup.

The Mets pitching ace hit his first career home run in the third inning off Reds rookie pitcher Matt Maloney That got cheers from the crowd and also a coronation of sorts from his teammates in the dugout. “I hit it and started running,” Santana said about the home run. “I’m on the board. At least I hit one.”

It was a 12- pitch at bat for Santana. The home run ball banged off the foul pole and Santana gave his team a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. Santana had the fastball, as well as the changeup and breaking ball working to perfection.

“I felt better throwing my fastball and it makes my other pitches better,” said Santana who won one game in his last seven starts. After the Phillips hit in the first, he would not allow another until Orlando Cabrera singled in the sixth.

The key was the fastball. It has always been a vintage pitch that has lost some velocity. But this night, Santana was throwing hard and had the command. He would allow three hits, walked three, and struck out five in throwing the Mets’ second complete- game shutout of the season.

And it wasn’t until the ninth inning before Mets manager Jerry Manuel contemplated taking Santana out of the game. But he let him finish off the Reds after a brief visit to the mound. Scott Rolen singled with one out, and then left fielder Jason Bay dropped a Jay Bruce fly ball for an error.

Bay snapped a personnel string of 263 games of errorless ball and also drove in two of the Mets runs as he continues his resurgence at the plate. As to what was said at the mound, Santana said to Manuel, “I’ll finish it, simple.”

And finish it he did. Jonny Gomes lined out and Drew Stubbs ended the game on a ground out force. “I wanted him to hear him tell me that he wanted to finish it,” explained Manuel about his visit that got some boos from the remaining 27,473 fans that braved the game time temperature of 96 degrees.

“I hate to remove a guy because of a defensive mistake,” added Manuel who said he expects big things from Santana in the second half of the season. “You see a little more in the fastball. You saw it challenging Brandon Phillips,” he said about Santana retiring the Reds .307 leadoff hitter to fly out three times to center and right.

Ready in the pen was Frankie Rodriguez the Mets stopper with 20 saves, but, as of late, having trouble closing the door. In the end, he wasn’t needed. “Of course I know what type of competitor he is and it paid off,” said Rodriguez about Santana completing the game.

Santana got his home run ball for keeps and is undefeated in four career starts against the Reds. A win for the Mets also that kept them two games in back of first place Atlanta. For Santana, even without great stuff he proves to be a competitor.

Now that the stuff is back, he also has the bat to go with it.

NOTES FROM CITI FIELD:  It was the 45th home run by a Mets pitcher in their history and first since John Maine did it against Pittsburgh on July 24, 2007 at Shea Stadium…  The three hits tied the fewest Santana has allowed in a complete game, his seventh career complete-game shutout, and the second Mets pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run in the same game. The last to do that, Pete Falcone on September 29, 1981 over the Phillies 7-0 also at Shea…

Jose Reyes returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sore right oblique, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored. The Mets improved to 30-9 when Reyes scores a run… It was the Mets 12th shutout of the season which tied San Diego for most in baseball…

Oliver Perez threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs, two hits and three walks and striking out seven in his second rehabilitation start for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League… Final game of the series is this evening with Bronson Arroyo (8-4) on the mound for the Reds opposing lefthander Jonathan Niese (6-2) for New York.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Brandon Phillips, Breaking Ball, Changeup, Cincinatti Reds, Complete Game, Dugout, Fastball, Foul Pole, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Johan Santana, Left Fielder, Mancuso, Matt Maloney, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Orlando Cabrera, Pitches, Rich Mancuso, Rookie Pitcher, Scott Rolen, Top Story, Tuesday Evening

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 7, 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