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

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