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

Mets Sweep Nats and head to the Bronx behind Dillon Gee

New York – New York Mets right hander Dillon Gee has seen nothing but success when he faces the Washington Nationals. In his Major League debut last September 7th at Nationals Park Gee got his first career win and allowed one run in 7.0 innings. Back then he flirted with a no-hitter until Willie Harris, now his current teammate, hit a home run in the sixth.

In his second career start against the Nationals at Citi Field Thursday afternoon, Gee once again flirted with a no-hitter. He held Washington hitless for 5.2 innings, the second time in 10 career starts Gee has gone into the sixth inning with a no-hitter against Washington.

And the only run he needed was a Justin Turner RBI single in the fourth inning, one that stood up as the Mets swept a brief two-game series, 1-0 and now head to the Bronx for three games against the cross-town New York Yankees and the start of interleague play.

Francisco Rodriquez converted his 14th straight save in 15  tries and extended his scoreless innings streak to 18.0 innings, despite giving up a one-out double to Laynce Nix in the ninth inning. Gee (3-0) gave up two hits in 7 2/3 innings in striking out three and giving up three walks.

“The whole mindset of this game was to come in and attack hitters,’ said Gee about his performance. The Mets shut out the Nationals for the second straight game coming off a 3-0 win in the opening game Tuesday night. It was New York’s first consecutive shutouts since August 12 and 13 of last season against Colorado and Philadelphia.

Gee also got some help on the field that helped preserve the shutout. Turner, playing third for the injured David Wright leaned over the railing to grab a foul pop, Jason Bay made a sliding catch in left and Joe Reyes charged a ball for an out that could have led to a hit.

“I could have finished it if I had to,” said Gee. “I saw it like in the fourth or fifth,” he said about giving up no hits until that point. It is one of the hardest things to do in baseball but it wasn’t on my mind,” he said.

New York won for the ninth time in their last 13 games and since starting the season 5-13, they are 16-9 and the pitching staff has compiled a 2.96 ERA. Gee appears to have solidified a spot in the rotation and manager Terry Collins said, “He pitched his brains out and I was not going to let him lose this game.

The emphasis of course now for the Mets is the first of six games against the Yankees. Three in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium starting Friday evening and three more at Citi Field in early July. Though the novelty of this series has run its course, those in the Mets clubhouse, who have in the past played in the series still believe it has intensity.

More so for the fans, and maybe not the players, as the Mets feel confident they are going into Yankee Stadium with momentum and a winning formula. While the Yankees have been struggling, amid some controversy, they are still the New York baseball team that is always favored to overtake the Mets in the interleague series.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said the Mets Jason Bay about the Yankees series. Bay had a season high three-hits in the win Thursday which for now ended talk about Collins dropping him from cleanup to a lower spot in the lineup. “It’s fun to be in that atmosphere,” he said.

Collins will be managing a game against the Yankees for the first time since 1999 when he was with the Anaheim Angels. “This is a good way to come in,” he said about going to the Bronx. “Back-to back shutouts. It’s going to be fun tomorrow.”

Fernando Martinez is expected to come off the bench and slotted in the designated hitter spot in the Bronx. R.A. Dickey (1-5) opens the series Friday night, Chris Capuano (3-4) gets the ball in the Saturday night Fox Network game, and Mike Pelfrey (3-3) closes the series Sunday afternoon.

“It’s just another series for us,” said Mets catcher Josh Thole. But to Pelfrey, it is another series of importance, more so for the fans. “It’s either the Yankees or the Mets and it’s fun” stated Pelfrey.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Consecutive Shutouts, Cross Town, David Wright, Francisco Rodriquez, Game Series, Jason Bay, Last September, League Debut, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Ninth Inning, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Scoreless Innings Streak, Sixth Inning, Straight Game, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on May 20, 2011

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Names May Have Changed But The Met Bullpen Is The Same

FLUSHING, NY – Terry Collins has now managed seven games for the New York Mets. Friday in the opening home game loss to the Washington Nationals he said frustration was not an issue this early in the season. Perhaps he is thinking differently now after an 11-inning 7-3 loss to Washington Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

Frustration though won’t come from Collins, at least this early. But his bullpen may change the mood fast after they spoiled a terrific second outing for starting pitcher Chris Young.  After Young was removed after seven innings, giving up one run, the pen and a defensive miscue opened the door for Washington to take the rubber game.

“He got us to where we wanted to go,” said Collins about his starter who retired 15 of 21 on fly balls. “He got us to the eighth inning and we couldn’t hold it for him. It’s a shame, but he pitched great.”  But the pen did not, and that may be leading to early season frustration for the news Mets manager.

An outfield error for the second straight game also gave this one to the Nationals in the eighth inning. Lucas Duda misjudged a ball by leadoff hitter Ivan Rodriguez that led to a double. D.J. Carrasco then gave up a walk and a single. That would tie the game at 3-3.

From there the Mets pen took it from there, maybe more horrific than the pen that blew so many games in 2010 at Citi Field. And it wasn’t Frankie Rodriguez who retired one batter. It was Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, and Blaine Boyer who added to the pen woes of the Mets that gave up 11 walks and 10 hits in 11 innings in the three-game series.

Four runs in the 11th including a tie breaking single by Rodriguez, and a three-run homer from Laynce Nix off the loser, Boyer( 0-2) made Young’s outing a short term memory. And most of the 35,157 fans left in the ballpark headed for the exits, changes were made on the roster, and Collins offered some frustration.

Duda was optioned to Triple- A Buffalo after the game and changes were made in the pen. Pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Jason Isringhausen, the 38-year old home grown Met, signed to a spring training contract will be at Citi Field Monday evening when the Mets begin a four-game series with Colorado.

“I guess you’ve got to convince them that they got to get beat by somebody swinging the bat,” commented Collins. After seven games, the (3-4) Mets have plenty of time to find a way to get the outs in late innings. Carrasco has been doing the job, so has Bobby Parnell for the most part.

Bur Collins said he avoided using Parnell after two straight appearances out of the pen.  On using Rodriguez to get an out in the eighth, Collins said, “We are not going to wear Frankie out.”  Not using K-Rod has nothing to do with the new performance clause in his revamped contract of innings pitched.

“This is the big leagues and they’ve got to be able to land some pitches,” offered Collins when asked about concern of the Mets pen not able to pick up a win for Young.  “I’m not saying you’re never going to walk somebody, but we’re walking at too high a rate right now.”

Young who spent most of last season with San Diego on the disabled list, due to a sore right shoulder, had a second outing with his new team in his first start at Citi Field, “It was a great experience to be out there,” he said about the crowd and view of the ballpark.

His shoulder felt fine on another cold day at Citi Field, but Collins opted for his pen, going to Carrasco, after Young threw 108 pitches. “You have to have a short memory and it’s something to build on,” he said about the day.

But Collins also was concerned about the defense. Daniel Murphy is still learning how to handle second base. He replaced Brad Emaus and Rodriguez got a hit past him in that 11th inning. Said Carrasco, “Its horrible man to just come in there and give the game away like that is very frustrating.”

Frustrating right now is the word for the Mets after seven games. Collins won’t say it, but if things don’t get better this week against the Rockies you get the feeling the Mets manager will also be using that word more often.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

 

Posted under Bullpen, Eighth Inning, Fly Balls, Game Loss, Game Series, Home Game, Leadoff Hitter, Miscue, New York Mets, Rich Mancuso, Rubber Game, Seven Games, Short Term Memory, Starting Pitcher, Straight Game, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 10, 2011

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