Have The Mets Turned the Corner?

New York- A four-game winning streak for the New York Mets and you ask, does that provide a legitimate reason of contention that they are beginning to turn things around? For the moment, especially with a win against Atlanta, and three wins over the Yankees, there is optimism.

Added to the equation, the Mets go for a four-game series sweep, or two consecutive two game sweeps tomorrow night in the Bronx. Then, it is three games down in Miami with the Marlins, a team that continues to tumble with the second worst record in baseball.

The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse Wednesday evening, after the Mets third straight win over the Yankees, to say the least exhibited optimism.  The tide has changed from a week ago when a timely hit, scoring runs and good pitching was hard to find.

“We’ve won three very important ballgames in a row,” said Collins. “There is a different attitude in the clubhouse.” Because the Mets have put a string of wins together and doing it against the Yankees made it more fun in that clubhouse.

It could be the start of the summer for the Mets, according to Collins, alluding to how important it was to win these games against the Yankees.

And with Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, a part of their infield on thin ice, it was so important for them to be a part of that five-run first inning that quickly put the Mets ahead.  Tejada led off the game with a single and would score on a Daniel Murphy double.

“Nice to get some runs early especially against this team,” commented Davis. He drove the ball the other way in that first inning.

He said, “If I can keep getting better at bats, I can turn this around. We have a better team than we have showed and we can turn this around.” And it has to be Davis and the bat to turn the season around.

Collins said, David Wright referred to Davis as the guy who can turn it around.  There is some type of optimism because Davis struck out once after 24 strikeouts in his last 16- games.

Tejada did get hurt in the ninth inning, so he is staying put for the moment.  He may miss a few games pending an X-Ray to a quad injury he sustained sliding for a ball down the third base line with two outs in the Yankees ninth inning.

“If we have any chance to win here, Ike Davis has to be hitting in the lineup,” said Collins. Lucas Duda and John Buck also got hits going the other way. Again, Collins said this was a big series.

Perhaps, a bigger part of this being an important series is because the Mets have started to hit the ball with more authority. “And they are doing it against the Yankees.

Later in the inning, Davis, with that .152 average would single to left center and drive in two of those five runs. Davis got some batting tips from manager Terry Collins before the game.  Mets fans can’t remember the last game when he drove in two important runs, even if it was early in the game.

Jermey Hefner, with that 0-5 record coming in, had runs to work with and finally got a win. And to him that must have been, as they say, a gift from heaven,

“Important to win, more importantly to keep our team winning,” said Hefner who broke the streak of not getting a win a day after the ace Matt Harvey gets the ball.

What it means is, the Mets will in all probability continue to struggle. The important thing is to continue this renewed momentum with three games down in Miami. But, as the captain David Wright said Tuesday night, at Citi Field in Flushing Queens, “We have a hard time capitalizing on games like this.”

Meaning, as Wright insinuated, the two Mets come from behind wins against the Yankees, Monday and Tuesday in their home park had to continue some type of momentum.

Wednesday night, the Mets continued that brand of good baseball with good pitching, timely hitting, and hitting quality pitches. They did not swing for the fences. They hit at the right time, and it meant another win against a Yankees team that has not resembled the Bronx Bombers they have faced in the past.

Davis handled the sinker much better thrown by David Phelps, and was more comfortable at the plate. Tejada started the onslaught in that first inning. Perhaps, the private meeting with Collins had with Davis and Tejada earlier in the day, where he reportedly told them, they were close to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas was the beginning of a remedy?

After all, who wants to play baseball in Las Vegas with the famed strip in the background instead of the Empire State Building and other New York City landmarks?

It went down as a two-game series sweep in Queens and a revival of sorts for the Mets in Queens. They go for another two-game series sweep tomorrow night in the Bronx

And, doing it against the mighty cross- town Yankees does not necessarily mean it won’t be as gloomy in Flushing as we have seen. But, time will tell.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ballgames, Bats, Clubhouse, Contention, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Game Series, Game Sweeps, Game Winning Streak, Legitimate Reason, Marlins, New York Mets, Optimism, Rich Mancuso, Ruben, Tejada, Thin Ice, Three Games, Tomorrow Night, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

Mets continue to struggle, so does Ike as Reds sweep series

With Matt Harvey on the mound Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, there was every opportunity for the New York Mets to get a win. But with the team struggling to score runs, Harvey had to be at his best and sometimes in baseball that is hard to do.

Harvey allowed a career high nine hits and left with the fifth no decision in his last six starts. Ike Davis continued to struggle at the plate, and on the field as the Cincinnati Reds completed their second consecutive three-sweep over the Mets at Citi Field with a 7-4 win.

New York scored four runs which snapped a nine-game string at home with three runs or less, but Davis remained hitless in his last 25 at bats with runners in scoring position, with an 0-for-2 day at the plate. That extended his drought to one hit in his last 38 –at-bats.

Adding to the struggles at the plate for Davis was a play at first base in the ninth inning that appeared to be a double-play ball. That resulted in the Reds scoring and breaking a tie, and a three-run inning.

Overall, it seems the Mets can’t get out of a losing pattern when at home. What appears to be going their way turns out different, even the play at first that involved Davis, one that is epitomizing the first few months of his season.

“I could not get the out at home plus I was trying to get off the bag to get in the hole because it was a right hand hitter,” said Davis about the play to first on a ball hit by Brandon Phillips.

He added, “Right before the bounce I thought it bounced foul.  In my head when I thought I saw it bounce foul I put my glove back. I still can’t tell if it was foul or fair on replays. Everything could go wrong for me now, could go wrong.”

To his defense, it was a difficult play to get two outs. But, with the way things have been going for Davis at the plate, the question is, are mental lapses now hindering Davis on the field?

“If it is a chopper, you got to get it,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “The way things are going that typifies everything that has been happening. He has to try and get the play at the plate. You are not going to get a double play on that. The ball took a tough hop and Ike thought it would go foul.”

“I don’t,” commented Collins regarding Davis possibly taking his struggles from the plate to the field.  “I discussed it with him. Don’t ever take your offense to the field. You’re struggling, make them struggle.”

Davis did reach base twice with base on balls, and in the sixth inning made good contact hitting a ball deep to center that was caught. That renewed some optimism that he could be slowly coming out of a tailspin which hindered him the first part of last season.

“I thought that ball to center might go out, maybe that will get him started,” said Collins, who also added Davis’ walks off Reds starter Mat Latos were a good sign.

Harvey would allow a season high four runs, the second time he has allowed more than three runs in his young career. His start snapped a string of 16 consecutive starts allowing three runs or less. The Mets staked him to a rare lead, a first inning run on consecutive doubles from Daniel Murphy and Rick Ankiel.

“Obviously it wasn’t a good start,” said Harvey. “I had to battle through a couple of things. “I’ll take my 24- hours and move on and get ready for my next start. I wasn’t locating, throwing as many strikes as I wanted to.”

He threw 116-pitches in 6.1 innings, and his next start will come at home against the New York Yankees Tuesday night at Citi Field. The velocity on his fastball was not where he wanted it to be, and Joey Votto reached Harvey for a two-run homer in the third to left field that gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who saw his team win their eight of their last nine against the Mets, “  Harvey has god stuff and power pitches. “He pitches a lot older than his experience.

Baker compared Harvey’s [itches to Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry, past pitching greats in franchise history of the Mets. “ He’s in that mode,” he said.

In the end it was the Davis play at first and Bobby Parnell out of the pen in the ninth who gave up the deciding runs. Parnell (4-1) got the loss, allowing three runs in an inning pitched. It was the third time in 20 appearances he has been scored upon.

And as the Mets manager said, the record of 17-27, is not the focus of a season quickly going down the drain.

“We got to get caught up on playing the game right and not the record,” said Collins. With one of the better teams in the National League, the Atlanta Braves coming to Citi Field Friday night for three, and four more with the Yankees home-and home, the record is not as important.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted under Baseball, Bats, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Citi, Double Play, Game, Mental Lapses, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Play Ball, Replays, Rich Mancuso, Runners, Score, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

Dickey the CY Young Award winner and Reyes gone in a fire sale

The R.A. Dickey story continues with his National League CY Young Award that was announced Wednesday evening. The New York Mets pitcher and first knuckle ball recipient of the award, third pitcher in Mets history with that distinction, gets a well deserved honor.

Some will say a knuckle ball thrower is not deserving of CY Young Award status. However, a 20-win season, to go along with taking the ball for a struggling team, is enough to vouch for the landslide first ballot among voters with the baseball Writers of America.

It is a success story. Dickey was on the verge of leaving the game of baseball, adversity on his side, now in an elite group of a few with the distinction of becoming the best at what he does.

The game of baseball is made for a story like this even if the knuckle ball has been made to prolong the career of a 38-year old pitcher. For the Mets, and their fans, a team of disappointment, the award is also for them

Dickey was the first to say, “This is for the Mets organization and for the fans.” In reality, the award is for Dickey who is never one to say “I” and always refers to accomplishments as, “We.”

Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden were previous CY Young Award recipients for the New York Mets. The fastball, curve, and a variety of other pitches were a part of their image. So, it is not unusual for the skeptics to claim that the knuckle ball is not a regular pitch.

Perhaps, to a certain degree the knuckler is not in the class of a fastball or curve, the slider, or changeup. Dickey, as often stated so many times says, “It’s a pitch like a butterfly, coming at you and trying to catch it.”

So forget the notion that Dickey and the knuckle ball are not deserving of the award. That, Geo Gonzalez, and his 21-wins with the Washington Nationals were more deserving. Or that Dodgers’ left hander Clayton Kershaw and his NL leading ERA should have gave him two straight CY Young Award seasons.

Dickey with three shutouts, leader in NL quality starts, (27) with only four poor outings, said his storybook season can also be attributed to what was behind him. The catcher Josh Thole handling the knuckle ball so effectively, the third baseman David Wright handling the plays at third, but leading the league in strikeouts, 230, and innings pitched, 233, are something that should not go unnoticed.

Yes, this is a success story that deserves attention, for a pitcher who left spring training in 2010 without a team. And then, the Mets offered him a contract as he perfected the knuckler to overcome the adversity,

“It brings a real degree of legitimacy to the knuckleball fraternity,” said Dickey Wednesday evening from his home in Nashville Tennessee. “I’m glad to represent them,” he said about Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield and Charlie Huff.

He may not be able to duplicate the season that was, as it becomes more difficult for a pitcher to do so, even if the knuckle ball works to Dickey’s advantage. And there is that distinct possibility, now that he is a good trade commodity, that the Mets could get some value in return with a proper offer.

But, Dickey is not thinking about that, neither are the Mets for the moment. They will make every attempt to re-sign him, an incentive for fans to attend Mets games at Citi Field in 2013.

JOSE REYES AND THE MARLINS FIRE SALE:  An immediate question is, should Jose Reyes have stayed in New York and took the initial  deal of less money and a shorter stint of time instead of opting to take the deal with the Marlins?

Yes and no, because it is sports “Ego-Nomics” as the Miami Marlins have discovered after their last place finish and 69 wins, in a lost 2012 season of spending, a new ballpark and now a fire sale.

There is no guarantee that spending will buy a championship. The Marlins are well aware, the owner Jeffrey Loria is under fire for buying and selling off $163.75 million in contracts with a multi-player deal involving the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto becomes an immediate favorite to overtake the New York Yankees in the AL East acquiring the contracts of Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrie and Josh Johnson, plus the Jays get some cash with other players in the deal.

But the trade brings up any number of questions, one being does this send a message to owners that spending and offering long term deals may be a thing of the past? Ask the Yankees, who may not be able to trade away an aging and declining Alex Rodriguez with five years remaining on a $250 million dollar contract.

As for Reyes, who did his part with the Marlins, is this, his last stop? Probably not, as a player of his value in the game is worthy for any team that is willing to pick up pieces of a contract.

There is a factor for Reyes, who played in 161 games for Miami. He goes to a new league and will play on artificial turf, something that could hinder his hamstrings which caused numerous problems during his tenure in New York.

It is baseball and sports “Ego-Nomics.”  And next to the Dodgers-Red Sox mega trade in September, this one could be sending the message. The era of a huge and long term deal with the players and owners may be over.

E-Mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Listen and watch Rich Thursday evening live 8-10pm www.inthemixxradio.com or log on Facebook.com/Keep it in the Ring

Posted under Award Recipients, Baseball Writers, Changeup, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Award Winner, Deserved Honor, Doc Gooden, Elite Group, Fastball, Fire Sale, Knuckle Ball, Landslide, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Tom Seaver, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wednesday Evening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the knuckleball saved him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Home Park, Houston Astros, Managerial Responsibilities, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Rockland County, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

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Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Harrel, Home Park, Houston Astros, Interim Manager, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Seton Hall University, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story, Winning Shot

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

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Mets lose Santana for the season and another one to the Rockies

Johan Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation of his lower back and the New York Mets ace is done for the season. That decision was made prior to the Mets latest loss, 5-2 to the last place Colorado Rockies at Citi Field Wednesday night.

And, because Santana had been ineffective in his last six starts this is a major reason why New York is one game away from last place in the National league east. There are other reasons attributed as to why the team continues to sink further with the lack of hitting and a torrid bullpen.

But since that historic no-hitter by Santana on June 1st, first in the Mets 50-year existence, he has not been the same pitcher. The team has not been the same when Santana fell apart as he seemed to inspire the hitting and propel the pitching staff.

“Something is not right and they don’t want it to get worse,” said a dismal Santana to the media when results of the MRI to his back were revealed. There had been speculation he would get the bad news, and shutting him down for the season makes perfect sense.

The Mets are out of contention and would want the left hander healthy and ready for 2013. He is due $31 million next year which includes a buyout for the following season.  The back problem is not related to shoulder surgery, extensive rehab assignments, or a stint on the DL in July due to a sprained right ankle.

And GM Sandy Alderson, along with Santana, said his latest ailment had nothing to do with a career high 134-pitch count when he pitched the no-hitter before the home crowd at Citi Field.

“That’s a long time ago and this just happened a couple days ago,” explained Santana, knocking down any speculation that the high pitch count contributed to his back problem.

He added, “It’s tough to go back and look at that no-hitter and blame it for this.”

Since that no-hitter, Santana is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA in 10 starts, allowing six runs in his last five starts, 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA. Not numbers that reflect a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Thus the speculation, something was wrong as Santana said he began experiencing tightness a few weeks ago and it progressed during his last start at Washington last week. After he threw a bullpen session Monday, he addressed the issue with team personnel and a decision was made to undergo an MRI.

The 33-year old Santana was scheduled to start the finale of a four-game series against the Rockies Thursday afternoon. He will be replaced on the roster by right hander Collin McHugh. The 25-year old was promoted from Triple- A Buffalo where he went 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.

Surgery will not be required, just rest and medication and that had Santana and Alderson relieved as it is not a disc problem that has caused the inflammation.

“I want to keep pitching,” commented Santana. I felt I could pitch, but at the same time I am listening to them.”

It is not the starting pitching that has caused New York to lose the first three of four games against the Rockies. They got two quality starts Monday and Tuesday night from R.A. Dickey and Chris Young before the bullpen and sloppy fielding gave the games away.

And, Wednesday night it was the same situation as the Rockies won their seventh straight game at Citi Field. Rookie Matt Harvey, with a fastball clocked over 95, struck out nine Rockies in six innings. He gave up three hits.

New York fell to 57-67, lost their fourth straight and ten games below the .500 mark for the first time since finishing that way in the 2009 season. The numbers have not been good since the all-star break, 11-27, worst in baseball, and the team has scored two or fewer runs in five consecutive games something that has not happened since the 2003 season.

“I feel like there’s more that I could’ve done and more I could’ve helped the team with like going eight innings and not giving up a run would’ve been nice,” said Harvey.

But Mets manager Terry Collins realizes Harvey has an entire career ahead, and 102 pitches was more than enough for the flame thrower.

“Extremely impressed tonight with the way he handled himself, pitching out of trouble , electric stuff again,” said Collins. “During an absolute brutal stretch there’s been a bright spot and he’s been one of them.”

Harvey has 43 strikeouts in his first six games which surpassed the club record of Nolan Ryan of 42. So there is something to look forward to for the Mets when it comes to pitching with or without Santana.

To that Collins said, “And we think we got some more coming.”  Time will tell as the 2012 season in other ways becomes more miserable for the Mets and their fans.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol,.com  Listen and watch Rich tonight live at 10:30pm, keep it in the Ring on www.inthemixxradio.com also available on phone apps.

Posted under 31 Million, Ailment, Bullpen, Citi, Colorado Rockies, Contention, Couple Days, High Pitch, Johan Santana, National League East, New York Mets, Perfect Sense, Rich Mancuso, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wednesday Night

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 23, 2012

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Collins says it’s inexcusable about miscues that cost Mets another game

One word from New York Mets manager Terry Collins explained their latest loss to the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night at Citi Field. “Inexcusable,” he said after his team dropped their second consecutive game to the Rockies, 6-2. Like the night before, when it looked like R.A. Dickey would get his 16th win, Chris young pitched perfect baseball for five innings before things imploded on the field.

Young retired the first 15 batters he faced before D.J. LeMahieu singled to start the sixth inning. And then the implosion of mistakes that caused Collins to meet with his team after the game, in what he described in a “professional tone.”

Young cased a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Rockies’ starter Jhoulys Chacin that led to a four-run sixth inning. New York could not surmount any type of threat against Chacin, (1-3) who made his first start since May 1st after going on the disabled list with inflammation to his right shoulder.

And to young, (3-7) who struck out his first four batters, the loss was just as frustrating to him.

“That bunt cost us the game,” he said. “It’s frustrating. “We’re here to win.  “I’m certainly frustrated because I helped contribute to a loss.” It was the Mets third straight loss, losers in 13 of their last 16.

Collins’ team has the second worst record in baseball since the All-star break, and it is almost assured this will be the fourth consecutive year of a second half collapse for New York.

Before the Mets try to take one of four games in this series with the Rockies, they also await word Wednesday morning as to the result of an MRI that Johan Santana had Tuesday on his lower back. As of late Tuesday night, Santana was still scheduled to make his start in the series finale Thursday afternoon.

“He has an appointment in the morning, we will have an answer in the morning,” commented Collins.”

However there seems to be no answer as to what Collins is describing as inexcusable play.  In the ninth the Rockies got another run on a ball that first baseman Ike Davis threw home. Andrew Brown retreated back to third and was chased by David Wright. But the run scored on a high toss, another botched play that Collins saw from his office after being tossed from the game on a disputed play in the fifth.

“When you talk about effort, I’m not sure it’s lack of effort. Its lack of execution, it’s lack of preparation, it’s lack of thought,” said Collins. “I saw some things tonight where pitchers were standing in the middle of the infield with the ball being thrown around. That’s inexcusable.”

He mentioned how pitchers are taught to make proper plays during rundowns in the infield. Collins says he will take the blame for the lack of preparation, as he did last season when the Mets had their second half adventures.

“We have not packed it,” said Collins when asked if his team has quit on him. “But, as I told the guys perception is a reality.  And when you sit on the outside and watch a game like tonight perception is they packed it in and I won’t stand for it.”

“I believe in accountability. I believe in playing the game right. I’m the manager here and when you have a game like that it looks like they’re not prepared, that’s my fault. And that’s where I come in.”

He told his team the right pieces will be found. Collins said again, “My teams play the right way.”

“I don’t think we’re a bad team we just need to execute better,” claimed David Wright who has become the spokesperson for the coaching staff. He says they prepare the team well.

The Mets certainly played the right way for Collins in the first half. It is the dog days of August, and more so appearing more like players that need to be accountable for their miscues on the field.  Playing for their jobs next season seems to be the case, with payroll tied up only with Santana and Jason Bay, who has become a platoon outfielder.

But accountability is one thing and inexcusable play is another. Two more games with the Rockies and Collins may have to start thinking about who returns next season.

Email Rich Mancuso; Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Batters, Chacin, Collapse, Colorado Rockies, Four Games, Fourth Consecutive Year, Game One, Implosion, Johan Santana, Miscues, New York Mets, Professional Tone, Rich Mancuso, Sixth Inning, Top Story

Frustration and friction for the Mets as they conclude winless home stand

A second half collapse has once again left the New York Mets frustrated as they left town for an 11-game road swing to Arizona, San Francisco, and San Diego. Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, after a series finale loss and three-game sweep to the first place Washington Nationals, manager Terry Collins was trying to find some answers.

Perhaps, like last season, when the Mets also collapsed after the all-star break, hitting the road was the best remedy. But this slide has come earlier as the Mets fail to get the hits, the bullpen gives up the runs, while a patched up starting rotation tries to put in some innings.

This time, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (11-4) fanned 11 in seven innings. And for the second straight game, Adam LaRoche hit a home run. His 18th of the season, a two-run shot to right field off Tim Byrdak broke the game open in what became a 5-2 win and series sweep.

Jeremy Hefner (1-4) took the loss striking out a season high and allowed three runs including back-to-back home runs in the second inning from Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa.

And that home run by LaRoche also became an added part of the frustration, a season high sixth straight loss for New York, 12 of their last 13 games, and 1-11 since the all-star break. And for the eighth time in their 50-year history, New York had a winless homestand of six or more games.

Frustration also, because the pitch that Byrdak threw to LaRoche was a fastball down the middle. His catcher, Josh Thole set up for an outside pitch that was reportedly called from the bench by pitching Coach Dan Warthen. ‘

Not the pitch Thole expected, and it led to a dugout confrontation that saw David Wright intervene to defuse the situation. The Mets say it is a part of the frustration and all they need is some wins to restore some order and get back in the race.

However, it is getting more difficult to win because the Mets are not doing anything right like they did in the first half. In a very quiet Mets clubhouse, Wright tried to explain what has been going wrong.

“It’s what happens when two competitors disagree with something,” said Wright about the dugout squabble. “That happens regularly, but when it happens, you don’t want it to be in front of everybody like that. I’d be more upset if they weren’t upset about it, because obviously Thole wanted one pitch and Byrdak wanted a different one.”

Said Byrdak, “We need to go out there and win ballgames. We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. There’s frustration all around the clubhouse. From what he did in the first half to come out in the second half and have this happen…”

He added, “There are a lot of guys that are pissed off. Everybody is pissed off. I made a mistake on the mound and I apologized to Josh about it. It never should’ve happened.”

Byrdak also said it was a pitch that wasn’t executed well, and the bullpen needed to keep the game close in the situation with LaRoche at bat.

Thole also said it was the emotion of frustration that has set in the Mets clubhouse, a totally different reaction that Collins and the team were portraying when they won ballgames in the first half and became a surprise team in baseball.

“It’s one of those things when you are not winning ballgames,” said Thole when asked about the pitch that Byrdak threw. “Emotions get the best of you sometimes. That’s what happens when you give up runs and lose games. Stuff like that happens.”

Thole added, the pitch caught him off guard and there was no elaboration about further dissension with Byrdak or Warthen. But he did say, “I don’t think anything can get any worse than it is right now. We can’t wait to get out of here.”

Before being swept by the Nationals, the Mets dropped three straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers and finished the stand,0-6, now their last seven at home with a loss to the Cubs before the break. New York is four games under .500 at 47-51, and further away from the Nationals in the NL east, 11/1-2 games and seven in the wildcard.

Frustration, yes, and a way to fix what is wrong and do what they did right in the first half is something that Collins and his coaching staff were going to contemplate on the long plane ride to Phoenix.

The Mets start a four- game series with the Diamondbacks Thursday night and Matt Harvey, their first round draft pick of 2010 will get the start.

“We’re gonna get through it and your gonna see a different team in the next two weeks,” said Collins about his team that was 36-29 on July 7th. He held a team meeting this week and would not comment about what happened with Thole and Byrdak in the dugout.

There is no sense of panic, but it is frustration.

“I deal with accountability,” he commented. The manager held a team meeting earlier this week sensing something was wrong.“Standing up and being a man and playing the game right. We’re gonna get back on track,” he said.

And getting back on track, is what Collins alluded to with getting big  hits and making the right pitches, just like his team did a month ago. “We’re better than the way we’re playing and we’re gonna prove it.”

For the Mets they have to prove it the next 11-game or the frustration will get worse.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring 786@aol.com

Posted under David Wright, Fastball, Game Road, Game Sweep, Hitting The Road, Michael Morse, New York Mets, Pitching Coach, Rich Mancuso, Road Swing, Straight Game, Strasburg, Top Story, Washington Nationals, Wednesday Afternoon

Santana no-hitter one of those good moments for a Mets fan

There I was, night off from the ballpark, listening and watching my favorite  alternative rock band “Weezer”  in Atlantic City New Jersey in the Bogata Hotel showroom. It was planned, the birthday gift from three weeks ago. What wasn’t in the plan was Johan Santana throwing a no-hitter at Citi Field on the first day of June.

A Friday evening at Citi Field where, I would usually be situated, upstairs in my perch in the comfortable press box, but the first no-no in New York Mets history, 50-years of futility and I was not there to see it.

Yes, frustration. And moments after Mets SNY Television voice Gary Cohen said after being questioned, ‘did he ever think it would happen, his response, ‘No, but now it has’ Weezer would finish their last number.

That number, “Say it Ain’t So.”

But it is true. After 8,020 games, Mets radio voice Howie Rose, and fans of the second baseball team in New York, can now say, the New York Mets have made baseball history. They are no longer one of two teams to not have a pitcher throw the illustrious no-hitter.

It is so, and the San Diego Padres have that lone distinction.

Mike Baxter, the kid from Queens, crashed into the center field wall on the warning track to keep the suspense going. The Carlos Beltran ball that hit the chalk beyond third base appeared to be an extra base hit. The umpire, according to replays may have got it wrong.

To Mets’ fans, and to Santana, the call went their way. The no-hitter is in the record books and well deserved for a pitcher who many said was finished.

It was back in late March. Santana was not supposed to come north with the team at the end of spring training. The comeback from shoulder surgery, which shut Santana down all last year, was slow and cautious. However, it was soon, according to Santana, working according to the plan.

That plan, which was heard since his opening day start in early April, was continue to make adjustments as this Mets team had trouble scoring runs, but staying competitive. Then the last three starts you sensed the plan was ahead of schedule.

Santana was throwing more pitches, going deeper into games. The changeup was effective, so was the slider. The fastball was getting close to his velocity, clocked close to 90, or more.

The manager, Terry Collins was more concerned about the pitch count. Last Saturday, at Citi field, Santana threw 94 pitches, the complete game shutout over the San Diego Padres. Collins let him continue, as he did Friday night with a career high 134 pitches, concerned about the shoulder.

After that sixth inning, Collins asked Santana, “How do you feel?” The ace, who said afterwards, he came to New York “to win a championship for the organization and fans,” told his manager, ‘I feel good, let me continue.’

It was a momentous occasion for a franchise that has been troubled with financial issues .And nothing has seemed to go right since that last game of 2006, when Beltran struck out with runners on base, at Shea Stadium, in game seven of the National League Championship Series.

That was against the same St. Louis Cardinals who go in the record book as victims of the Santana no-hitter.

It was the first and real significant moment at Citi Field for Mets baseball. Santana erased the close calls of Tom Seaver, the last Mets pitcher to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning. The first one, of three close calls, a perfect game broke up by Jimmy Qualls of the Chicago Cubs in 1969.

It will be remembered what Johan Santana did Friday night. The umpire, Adrian Johnson, at third base, may have missed that Beltran call in the sixth inning. But that does not matter now. Johan Santana may have put the New York Mets back on the map with that outing on the mound at Citi Field.

Just hope “Weezer” does not get in the way again for another possible and maybe another no-hitter in New York Mets baseball history, or perhaps another first, a perfect game as they go into game number 8,021.

E-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Alternative Rock Band, Band Weezer, Baseball Team, Bogata Hotel, Carlos Beltran, Gary Cohen, Hotel Showroom, Johan Santana, Mets Fans, Mets Team, Mike Baxter, New York Mets, Radio Voice, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, Sny, Top Story, Warning Track

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 3, 2012

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