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

Delcos: Pelfrey’s Season Turns Rocky

The replays didn’t show whether, or where, Mike Pelfrey’s errant fastball clipped Scott Rolen, but how the Mets’ pitcher responded to not getting that call, and not getting a later call on a strike to Drew Stubbs was the backdrop of Cincinnati’s six-run fifth inning and subsequently last night’s loss to the Reds.

Pelfrey didn’t lose last night because he didn’t get a couple of calls. He lost because of his reaction to not getting those calls.

Whereas Pelfrey had been composed most of this season, he became flustered and unnerved. Whereas he had minimized damage he dug himself into a hole the Mets could not dig out of. His body language spoke of frustration and anger.

Pelfrey couldn’t stop the bleeding. He didn’t do his job, which, is when things go awry to remember he still needs to get outs.

“I thought, for the first time in over a year, I let my emotions get the best of me,’’ Pelfrey said. “And, that wasn’t very good on my part.’’

Pelfrey’s last few starts did not have the crispness he’s had all season.  He gave up seven runs last night and 11 in his past two starts, neither of which he made it out of the fifth. He’s given up runs in the first inning of his last six games. All of a sudden, he’s been susceptible to the home run.

While the All-Star talk has died down, it’s too early to say if he’s regressed of simply hit a rough patch. Maybe he’s going threw a dead arm period. I don’t know. But, what I do know is Pelfrey has pitched too good for too long in the first half for panic.

That he acknowledged his downfall and accepted responsibility is a great sign, another step in his ascension to becoming an All-Star caliber pitcher.

Perhaps more than any other start he’s made in the first half, Saturday’s game against Atlanta could be his most interesting if not revealing.

Posted under All Star, Anger, Ascension, Backdrop, Body Language, Caliber, Dead Arm, Downfall, Drew Stubbs, Emotions, Fastball, Fifth Inning, Frustration, John Delcos, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Reds, Replays, Rough Patch, Scott Rolen, Seven Runs, Six Games, Top Story

This post was written by John Delcos on July 6, 2010

Fortunate Fifth leads Reds to 8-6 Victory over Mets

New York – A fortunate fifth inning led to six runs as the Cincinnati Reds (48-36) defeated the New York Mets (46-37) by the score of 8-6 at Citi Field on Friday Night. As the umpires reversed a foul tip strikeout of Scott Rolen to a hit by a pitch, which plated one of the crucial runs in that fortunate top of the fifth inning.

The Reds continued their hot hitting tonight as first baseman Joey Votto, who is making a bid to get into the 2010 All-Star game as a part of the Final Vote process happening now, hit two home runs, and one double while also working a walk to help his cause in the voting process. Extra base hits by Corky Miller and tonight’s starting pitcher Travis Wood were all a part of the Reds victory in Queens. The Reds did all of this against starter Mike Pelfrey (10-3) tonight is going to be a part of the maturation process, as he will have to learn from tonight’s tough loss as he went four and two-thirds innings, gave up nine hits and seven runs.

“He will grow and become a better pitcher because of tonight’s game and the lessons that he will learn,” Manuel said of his starter. “We ran into a hot team offensively tonight and Mike probably didn’t have some of the pitches he had early. I think he is pitching very well and in the end I think he will be fine.”

On pyrotechnics night it didn’t take Votto long to provide Cincinnati with his own display as in the first inning he lifted a ball into the home run apple well to score the first run for the Reds. The Mets fought back in the bottom of the inning as singles by David Wright, Ike Davis and Jason Bay tied the score at one.

The two teams would remain tied until the fifth inning as back-to-back singles by Brandon Phillips and Orlando Cabrera would set the stage for Votto, who would work the walk and pass the baton to Rolen. This was when fortune smiled down on the Reds as it had seemed that Rolen struck out on a foul tip. The All-Star third baseman protested to the umpire that he was hit in the arm, as well as Reds manager Dusty Baker. The umpires gathered near the pitching mound after the strike out call was made to get the call correct, and actually reversed the call to a hit by a pitch which plated the first run in that inning.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel speed out of the dugout to protest the call passionately and was ejected by second base umpire Dan Iassogna. It had seemed that after Manuel’s pyrotechnic display that Pelfrey had calmed down and proceeded to get the next two outs. Pelfrey was not out of trouble as the bases were loaded still for Drew Stubbs who laced a single to center field which would plate two more runs. Corky Miller ripped a double (2) to right field, which would plate two more runs giving the Reds the 6-1 lead. Pitcher Travis Wood scorched a triple (1) to center field and gave Cincinnati the 7-1 lead. Relief pitcher Raul Valdez came in and got a ground ball to end the inning.

“The second base umpire admitted that he saw the ball hit the batter, which from the angel that I had I refuse to believe. I believe what he saw was a reaction to the batter-not what really happened which was wrong.” He continued by saying, “maybe the home plate umpire missed the call and that is part of the game, but I don’t know if you can make it right by saying you saw something you didn’t see. I know that the powers that control the team will write letters from whoever is in charge for an explanation. Essentially we would like to make sure things like this don’t happen on a regular basis. Everyone is going to make mistakes. These guys are good umpires and you want them to do the right thing, and in the end I just think that they just got caught up in the emotion of it all.”

Angel Pagan would provide pyrotechnics of his own as the Mets responded back in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the center fielder hit a home run (5) to left field to start cutting into the lead. David Wright lifted a ball to the center field wall for a triple (2) to set the stage for Ike Davis. Davis would lay down a bunt that could not be handled by Wood. That error would not only plate another run but continue the offensive momentum for the Mets. Later in the inning Jeff Francoeur would work a walk to place runners on first and second for Rod Barajas who hit a single to left field, which scored the fourth Met run. Alex Cora would plate two more runs by hitting a double (5) to center field, while also cutting the Reds lead to 7-6.

“It was good to see the team fight like that,” Manuel said of the way his team responded. “That is one of the characteristics we talk about is how we want the team tonight and tonight they did just that.”

Relief pitcher Fernando Nieve was called in to keep the game close things started out well as Orlando Cabrera lifted a fly ball out to center field. Joey Votto struck for his second home run (21) on a 1-0 pitch to make the score 8-6 for the Reds.  Votto who reached the 20 home run plateau in the first inning became the second player in the National League to accomplish the feat this season. Nieve got into a good groove for the rest of the evening getting two more fly ball outs, while striking out three batters in the top of the eighth inning.

For the 36.764 the top of the ninth inning started out rocky as Votto laced a double (14) to left field. But Jeff Francoeur lifted everyone up after catching a Scott Rolen fly ball, the right fielder was able to gun down Votto, who was thrown out at third base by the strong throw. A ground ball by the Reds ended that inning and set the stage for the Mets in the bottom half. Reds closer Francisco Cordero (S, 23) came in and shut down any hopes the fans may have had and secured the victory for the Reds.

These two teams will square off again tomorrow as Johan Santana (5-5, 3.41 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets. The Reds have not decided who will take the hill but it should be an interesting game two as these two teams will go at it again with a 7:10 p.m. start time.

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Injury update: Utility man Fernando Tatis was placed on the disabled list today with a right shoulder AC joint sprain. The return of Jose Reyes can come as soon as tomorrow. “Reyes is ready but can only bat right handed.” Manuel said both before and after today’s game.

This story originally posted on www.latinosports.com

Posted under Bottom Of The Inning, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Corky Miller, David Wright, Fifth Inning, First Baseman, Foul Tip, Hot Team, Jason Bay, Joey Votto, Maturation Process, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Rolen, Seven Runs, Star Third Baseman, Top Story, Travis Wood

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on July 6, 2010