Optimism again for NY Mets with another season home opening win

Perhaps when the New York Mets opened the 2013 season at Citi Field Monday afternoon they resembled teams of the past. One could say the 1982-83 teams at Shea Stadium are comparable, significant, because that became the building block to the championship year of 1986.

When the first pitch against the San Diego Padres was thrown the announced sell-out crowd of 41,053 had that optimism, but the Mets are years away from making an impact in the standings, and that was before all-star pitcher Johan Santana went down again with a season ending injury to his shoulder.

Santana has probably thrown his last pitch as a Met, and there are doubts the two-time Cy Young Award winner will resume his career. His highlight in New York was that 134-pitch no-hitter, and first in franchise history last June 1st at Citi Field. And speculation is that outing may have ruined his shoulder.

Regardless, Santana is no longer the ace of what is now a young and promising pitching staff. Jonathon Niese got the Opening Day nod, a task he prepared for weeks ago when manager Terry Collins informed the left hander that the job may be his.

New York scored seven runs in three innings, and the effective start by Niese led to an 11-2 win over the Padres. It was the Mets 20th win in their last 22 season openers at home.

“The adrenaline was pumping, I’m not going to lie,” said Niese who went 6.2 innings, on two runs, striking out four in getting his first career opening day win. Niese also helped himself at the plate tying a career high with two hits. He also had an RBI single in the second inning and scored in a three-run Mets fourth.

It was so reminiscent of the first half Mets of last season. They scored nine runs with two outs, and went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position.  The clubhouse faces have changed, Collins is a lame duck manager, and a full house certainly helped the adrenaline and the rest of these 2013 New York Mets.

The new captain, David Wright had two stolen bases and drove in a run. This was an opening day win that fueled optimism after that dismal second half of 2012 that led to a fourth straight losing season for the Mets.

“So far, so good,” commented Wright who said he was sure to make the Opening Day roster after sitting out the last weeks of spring training with injuries to his rib cage.

Added Wright, “It was good to bust out offensively and get some breathing room for Jon.”

New York also got contributions from Ruben Tejada, who made his second consecutive home start at shortstop. Tejada doubled to left in the second inning, advanced to third on a bad throw and scored on the first single by Niese. The Padres’ Edinson Volquez once again was ineffective against the Mets and his five losses against New York are tied for the most against any team in his career,

“A good start is important, the spring is over,” said Tejada who struggled in 21 exhibition games, going 5-for-52. Collins approached him towards the latter part of the spring campaign and there was talk of not bringing him back to New York and to get extra work at Triple A, Las Vegas.

And the new faces contributed. Marlon Byrd with two RBI singles and the temporary and new catcher John Buck, in the middle of most of the rallies that saw New York put four more runs on the board in the seventh. The acquisitions of GM Sandy Alderson resemble those Mets teams before the 1986 championship season.

They can quickly become fan favorites, but to do so, as in the past, there has to be consistency. Byrd and Buck had RBI singles in the third inning.

“It definitely helped me settle in a little easier,” said Buck who will eventually sit down when the rookie Travis d’Arnaud arrives, a key player in the deal that saw Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey leave town.

Maybe the biggest impact was the new man in center field, 26-year old Collin Cowgill. The leadoff hitter won the job with a good spring and hit his first career grand slam home run off Brad Bach in the seventh.

“Just a humbling experience today,” he said. “This is a good clubhouse and everyone here can contribute to something nice.” Mets fans have heard that in the past, but the unexpected does happen during the long course of a 162-game schedule.

Just ask Collins, who once again said, “It is day one. We have a long way to go. One thing we want to do is establish credibility to our fans.”

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted under Adrenaline, Citi, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Cy Young Award Winner, Full House, Johan Santana, Lame Duck, Last Pitch, Left Hander, New York Mets, Optimism, San Diego Padres, Seven Runs, Shea Stadium, Top Story

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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A Banner Day For RA

Terry Collins the New York Mets manager celebrated his 63rd birthday Sunday and R.A. Dickey gave him the perfect gift helping with a second straight shutout by a Mets starter and the pen. Saturday, Johan Santana pitched a complete four-hit shutout and win over the San Diego Padres.

Dickey with 7.1 shutout innings paved the way for a New York 2-0 win at Citi Field over the San Diego Padres. New York took three of four from the injury plagued Padres , moving to 27-21, six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2010.

Dickey struck out ten and for the first time in his career had consecutive double digit strikeout games. This past Tuesday he struck out 11 Pirates in a Mets win at Pittsburgh.

“The game is about early flaws and right now I’m in the middle,” he said regarding the early season troubles that were encountered. But that was then and this is now, because Dickey is following Santana in the rotation and the Mets may have the best one-two combination when it comes to starters.

Dickey (7-1,) won his major league leading high-tying seventh game of the season. He extended his winning streak to five games and scoreless streak to a season-high tying 8.1 innings dating back to the win over Pittsburgh,

“It’s nice to be able to celebrate some good outings in a row and hopefully the next guy out feels an obligation to keep it where it’s out right now,” commented Dickey, the first Mets pitcher to have back-to-back games with at least ten strikeouts since Pedro Martinez in May of 2006.

Dickey added, “I certainly did after Johan passed the gauntlet.”

He gave up three hits, walked one, and hit one batter in 7.1 innings.  San Diego got a hit in the first two innings and did not get another hit until a Jesus Guzman single in the seventh inning.

For the Padres, who won the first game of the series Thursday night, with a season high 11-runs, they looked helpless scoring one run on 11-hits the last three games.

“It’s tougher if he’s on,” said Padres manager Bud Black about the way Dickey throws the knuckle ball. “We were making him earn it, pumping strikes with the knuckleball.”

Collins is enthused the way his team has won games in their division and at home. New York is 15-9 at home and showing the National League they can may be around for the long run. They Mets won their first four-game series this season and once again scored in the first inning.

They have got on the board in the first or second inning in nine of their last ten games.

“When you play these teams you raise your level,” said Collins. The Padres, with 13 players on the disabled list are struggling, 17-32, and expect their slugger Carlos Quentin to return from the disabled list when they open a series Monday in Chicago.

Tim Byrdak leading baseball in appearance out of the pen got two outs to finish the eighth inning and Frank Francisco  worked the ninth earning his 13th save and win for Dickey.

But Collins and the Mets have been there also and have managed to win ballgames when they have to.  Still without catcher Josh Thole, shortstop Ruben Tejada, and outfielder Jason Bay, New York has won six of their last eight games and staying competitive in the NL east.

“We got to pick our game up,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. But if we continue to pitch, we’ll be in some games.”

Daniel Murphy had an RBI single and Mike Baxter scored on a passed ball for the Mets runs. Edinson Volquez, (2-5), the losing pitcher, before the game was with Dickey in the bullpen area and getting tips about how to throw a knuckleball.

“It is hard to hit him,” said Volquez who was a teammate of Dickey back in Texas with the Rangers for a brief time. He has noticed that Dickey has an elevated knuckleball that has increased his strikeout ratio.

Right now, it is hard to get runs off Santana and Dickey. Jonathon Niese (3-2) opens the start of a three-game series with the Phillies at Citi Field Monday afternoon. These same Phillies, who are struggling and behind the Mets in the standings, which is something different at the end of May.

“Later this season we’ll evaluate that situation,” added Byrdak about the Phillies.  For now the Mets will take the situation the way it is, and that means being competitive as the month of June approaches.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under First Game, Five Games, Gauntlet, Johan Santana, Major League, New York Mets, Perfect Gift, Rd Birthday, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, Scoreless Streak, Seventh Inning, Six Games, Strikeout, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on May 28, 2012

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More from Citi Field on Getaway Day

So a few hours after we left Citi Field, after a Mets rain delayed and 13- inning win over the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday night into Thursday morning, it was back to normal. Another rain delay that moved the first pitch from the scheduled 1:10pm start to 3:25pm. Do the math right and that is a two-hour and 15-minute delay for everyone at the ballpark. They have to wait and wait.

Because of the interleague schedule, it is difficult to reschedule games. Teams try to avoid the old fashioned doubleheader, but it is getaway day and the Mets are headed to Texas immediately after the game. Oakland with the short hike to Philadelphia, and we heard the contingency plan, had the game been scrapped, Oakland returns to New York next month and again in August for scheduled games with the Yankees in the Bronx. So the A’s could have made a one game trip to Citi Field. Of course, that was all subject to approval…

With another good crowd assembling, advanced tickets and a walk-up the Mets awarded fans for their patience. Tickets from the Thursday game can be redeemed for complimentary tickets to the Mets August 11, Thursday afternoon Matinee game against the San Diego Padres. It includes paid, complimentary and tickets marked “No rain Check.”

One of the great parts of a rain delay is to catch up with some of your friends in the business. Mets radio broadcaster Wayne Hagin has been in the game for 26 years. Prior to the Mets he was with Oakland, San Francisco, Colorado and the St. Louis Cardinals. So he knows a little more or something about the game and a rain delay.

As the grounds grew took the tarp off the infield, Hagin observed the continued delay as the rain seemed to stop. The drying agent was put on the infield. No announcement has been made as to when the game would begin. So Hagin gave the answer looking towards the outfield bullpen areas.

“Look out there,” he said. “Do you see a pitcher warming up?” Meaning that the go-ahead for starting pitchers Graham Godfrey of the A’s, and Chris Capuano of the Mets to throw in the pen indicates that a first pitch would be thrown in a matter of a half hour or less. Hagin was right on the money. But he was more concerned about Mets travel plans to Arlington Texas. Rain delays on getaway day play with the travel schedule.

Said Hagin, “Takes a long time to move a team to the next city. Fans would be surprised.” That would mean rearranging the departure time, security checks at the airport, and making sure that the hotel rooms are booked for the team and personnel.  The team Traveling director and equipment managers have a more difficult job to make sure everything is in place.

Hagin and those traveling get an extensive itinerary that informs departure times to and from the airports, hotels, and ballparks. But once Hagin is up in the air, after a long day he sits back with some of his on air colleagues. “I have a glass of wine and fall asleep,” he says…

The Justin Turner walk-off winning run of Wednesday, attributed to be hitting by a pitch from losing pitcher Brad Ziegler apparently was something that had the Athletics talking until they reached the ballpark Thursday morning Turner was hit in the same spot, in the left thigh, by Godfrey in the first inning. There were no warnings issued by the umpires, Turner and Mets manager Terry Collins downplayed any talk about it being a retaliation pitch…

Angel Pagan is struggling again batting .242, looking like he was before he went on the disabled list on April 22nd.  He struck out, was retired on a fielder’s choice and flied out to right field…As for Jason Bay, after an 0-for-5 evening before and batting in the cleanup spot, he was dropped to the sixth hole, going 1-for-4…

David Wright on the disabled list since 18 with a stress fracture in his lower back has, been cleared to resume baseball activities. In other words the Mets could see their third baseman back in the lineup within three or four weeks. General Manager Sandy Alderson said the rehabilitation will be a “several week process.”

The CT scan Thursday gave Wright clearance and he will report to the Mets team complex in Port St. Lucie Florida to begin the process of returning to the lineup. That was good news because Wednesday it was reported Ike Davis, out with a left ankle sprain and bone bruise will need three more weeks to recover, and if Davis can’t do it,  there is every consideration the first baseman will opt for season ending surgery,,

Until the second installment of the Subway Series with the Yankees, next Friday evening, Citi Field will be ready. By the way, there are tickets still available.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Afternoon Matinee, August 11, Contingency Plan, Drying Agent, Game Trip, Games Teams, Getaway, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Outfield, Radio Broadcaster, Rain Check, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals, Tarp, Thursday Morning, Top Story, Wayne Hagin

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 24, 2011

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Report: Alderson To Be Named Next GM

According to a report on SI.com, the Mets have decided to hire Sandy Alderson as their 12th general manager. An announcement could happen as early as Friday, the day off for the World Series.

After three weeks of interviews, it seems like the Mets Office of the Chairman consisting of Mets CEO Fred Wilpon, President Saul Katz, and COO Jeff Wilpon decided on the 62 year-old Alderson, who will bring instant credibility to the club after building the Oakland A’s in the 1990s as general manager, presiding over the San Diego Padres in the mid to late 2000s and having two stints in the Commissioner’s Office, most recently cleaning up the Dominican Republic.

Alderson’s candidacy comes with the blessing of Commissioner Bud Selig, who has had a very close relationship with the Wilpons over the years.

The new GM, though, will have his work cut out for him as he inherits a Mets club that suffered from dysfunction and bad contracts over the Omar Minaya era. Alderson will need to make decisions on center fielder Carlos Beltran, second baseman Luis Castillo, and pitcher Oliver Perez, all of whom have disappointed in 2010 and have expiring contracts next season.

But his first order of business will be the next Met manager. A pioneer of Sabermatrics, Alderson may want to hire a manger in the mold of the Red Sox Terry Francona, who will implement front office policy, rather than manage from the gut. That would seem to eliminate former Met Wally Backman will not be hired, but past reports indicate the Wilpons would prefer a manager with some Met connections.

That remains to be seen as Alderson probably commands full autonomy and the Wilpons stated publicly the new GM will pick the manager for the club.

An Alderson seems to be up to the job. He is a Vietnam veteran, who has a law degree from Harvard. Alderson’s Oakland A’s won the 1989 World Series, while his shoestring San Diego Padres were strong contenders during his years as CEO.

Posted under Carlos Beltran, Center Fielder, Commissioner Bud Selig, Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, Law Degree, Luis Castillo, Mets Club, New York Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya, Order Of Business, San Diego Padres, Sandy Alderson, Saul Katz, Second Baseman, Shoestring, Stints, Terry Francona, Top Story, Vietnam Veteran, Wally Backman

This post was written by Joe McDonald on October 27, 2010

Mets Get Another Home Win Behind Ike and Mike

New York – Maybe it is the mental aspect of playing at home, or it is the familiarity of playing at Citi Field.  Perhaps the New York Mets still can’t determine why they play so much better at home than they do on the road after their 2-1 eleventh inning walk off win over the San Diego Padres Tuesday evening.

Last week in San Diego the Padres would victimize the Mets in their last at bat. But this is Citi Field where the Mets tied a season high ninth straight win at home, their major league leading 23rd win at home, and it was done on an Ike Davis career first game ending home run leading off the 11th.

And Mets manager Jerry Manuel may have the answer as to the fortunes of his team winning at home as opposed to losing their share of games away from Citi Field. “We’ve played extremely well here,’ said Manuel. “We’re confident here.” New York is 4-0 on the current home stand coming off a three-game sweep over the Florida Marlins.

Confident enough to have the rookie Davis lead off the inning and get the walk-off on a 1-1 pitch that reached the second deck to right field. It was a splitter thrown by padres’ relief pitcher Edward Mujica, (2-1) who got the loss.

“I was trying to hit the ball in the gaps somewhere and maybe get to second base and have someone bunt me over,” said Davis about the situation who was mobbed by teammates at home plate after running the bases..

“He hung the splitter. I saw it pretty early and put a good spin on it.” It was the 7th home run of the season for the Mets rookie who had been struggling at the plate, batting .196 over his last 12 games.

Before the home run it was another interesting game at home for the Mets. Also another impressive outing for starter Mike Pelfrey (8-1) who did not figure in the decision after allowing one run on five hits He became the first Mets pitcher this season to go nine innings.

The only run allowed by Pelfrey was in the first inning, an RBI double to Adrian Gonzalez. Pelfrey over his last five starts has a 1.19 ERA and has pitched with confidence, finally becoming a pitcher the Mets got when they drafted him as their number one pick in 2005.  Pelfrey also knows how to win at Cit Field, 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA in six starts at home this season.

He was able to keep the score tied after Jose Reyes evened things up with his second home run in the seventh, a two out drive to left that was reviewed by the umpires after the ball bounded above the orange line that runs along the wall.  He managed to strand Padres runners at second base in the eighth and ninth innings that got on base with one out.

“ I looked at it that we’ve got guys at second base, so what,” said Pelfrey about keeping the score tied ,with hopes the Mets would get him a win in their half of the eighth or ninth.  “I’m not going to let him score,” he said.

Manuel added about Pelfrey, “He’s now developed enough to become a good pitcher.  The bullpen also kept the Mets close. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless tenth, Pedro Felicano in the 11th and Elmer Dessens (1-1) who struck out the only batter he faced earning his first win since August 26, 2007 against Washington.

“He’s come in some tough situations and given us some good outs,” commented Manuel about Dessens, now with six consecutive scoreless outings since his recall in late May.

Now if the Mets can only get wins on the road. Their next road trip after this series takes them to Baltimore and Cleveland, two of the worse teams in the American League.  We’ve been in a lot of games on the road,” said Pelfrey when asked about the disparity of the Mets home and road record. “Bad breaks,” he said.

Not at home though, as the breaks and now walk off wins keep the Mets rolling at Citi Field.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Edward Mujica, Familiarity, First Game, Florida Marlins, Fortunes, Game Sweep, Gaps, Impressive Outing, Major League, Mental Aspect, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nine Innings, Playing At Home, Relief Pitcher, San Diego Padres, Second Deck, Teammates, Top Story, Tuesday Evening, Winning At Home

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 9, 2010

Audio: A Walk-Off For Ike

Bob Trainor of Trainor Communications offers these soundbites from yesterday’s the Mets 2-1 11th inning win over the San Diego Padres.

Ike Davis hit a 11th inning walk-off homer, backing the strong pitching of Mike Pelfrey who went nine inning, giving up only one run. Jose Reyes also hit a replay aided homer to tie the game in the seventh. It was the Mets ninth straight win at home and fourth straight overall.

We have full audio coverage below.

Ike Davis

Mike Pelfrey

Edward Mujica

Bud Black

For More Info contact Bob at TrainorComm@gmail.com.

Posted under Audio Coverage, Bud, Contact Bob, Game, Homer, Jose Reyes, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Mp3 Audio, Mp3 Info, New York Mets, Replay, San Diego Padres, Soundbites, Top Story, Trainor

This post was written by Bob Trainor on June 9, 2010