Two Side to a Future

It isn’t often when fans at an All-Star game can sincerely root for both teams without guilt, but that’s what transpired at Citi Field this afternoon as Mets fans, who primarily made up the fairly well attended Futures Game crowd, as they were there to cheer on three Mets prospects with healthy futures – Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo for the USA team, and Rafael Montero for the World Team.

The Mets connections even extended themselves to the coaching staffs. The USA team was managed by Mookie Wilson. His batting coach was Howard Johnson, who now serves in that capacity for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The World Team was managed by Edgardo Alfonzo. His pitching coach was Neil Allen, who Mets fans remember primarily as the chip that brought Keith Hernandez to New York back in 1983. Allen is now the pitching coach for the Durham Bulls, a Tampa Bay affiliate.

USA topped the World club, 4-2, backed by a solid pitching staff that limited the international squad to just three hits. And a longball by Diamondback future infielder Matt Davidson.

The scoring began in the second, when USA’s DH, Christian Yelich, a Marlins prospect, belted a doubled to left center, scoring the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, who had singled.

Syndergaard started the game for USA, and was impressive as advertised, picking up one strikeout – Arismendy Alcantara, who later homered off Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo. Syndegaard yielded one hit in his brief one-inning scoreless stint, but the runner was erased trying to steal.

The lanky righthander exhibited distinctive poise and confidence when dealing with the herd of media prior to the game.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Syndegaard. “I’m here to have fun with it, learn as much as I can and work on getting to the next level.”

Nimmo was the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store, soaking it all in and enjoying every moment. “I’m loving it. There’s a lot more going on here, a whole different experience.”

After a first half with the Savannah Sand Gnats in the Sally League, Nimmo was thrilled to be voted onto the prestigious squad. “I feel like this is a good reward for a good first half (.261, one homer, eight doubles, five triples, 23 RBIs), I’m happy with it, and just want to soak up this atmosphere, learn what I can, keep working hard, and the rest will take care of itself.”

He was even assigned David Wright’s locker. “All I can say is, David, thank you, and hope that I can have an amazing career like you’ve had.”

Ex-Met Mike Piazza was a welcomed guest, on hand to play in the celebrity softball game which followed the Futures Game, and was met by the media with an eager group of cameras and recorders.

Asked about his days in New York, Piazza recognized that when you retire, there’s something missing.

“Playing golf never replicates that excitement,” Piazza pined. “I hold my time here very fondly. I was blessed to play here, and to have had the tremendous support of the fans.”

No. 31 still follows the Mets closely and knows they’ve been going through a rough patch. “I love the character of this organization, with its history and fans, but as I’ve said many times before, sometimes the hard times define you. When you have had that roller coaster history, it’s about character.”

Of course Piazza creamed a home run in the softball game that followed, helping his National League collection of former ballplayers and celebrities beat an AL roster, 8-5.

The orange-clad NLers, “managed” by WFAN’s Boomer Esiason, who is also better known as an NFL quarterback, “drafted” a team filled with ex-Mets and Mets fans, including Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and which was “captained” by Johnny Franco. The roster also featured Kevin James, Andre Dawson, Jennie Finch, George Lopez, Ozzie Smith, Miss America Mallory Hagan, and Alyssa Milano.

The AL team, managed by Esiason’s morning radio partner, Craig Carton, lined up ex-Met Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams, Frank Thomas, Fred Lynn, Rollie Fingers, AJ Calloway, and actors James Denton, and Chord Overstreet.

James was named one of the game’s MVPs, for a headfirst slide into second that extended a rally. The other MVP was Josh Wege, a member of the nation’s Wounded Warrior softball team, which plays over 100 games per year. Wege lost both legs in the service of his country, but continues to play on prosthetics. He hit a home run in the game, too.

On deck: The main events, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Ranaudo, Durham Bulls, Edgardo Alfonzo, Exper, Joc, Longball, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Pederson, Pitching Coach, Proverbial Kid, Seattle Mariners, Strikeout, Tacoma Rainiers, Top Story, Usa Team

Two Side to a Future

It isn’t often when fans at an All-Star game can sincerely root for both teams without guilt, but that’s what transpired at Citi Field this afternoon as Mets fans, who primarily made up the fairly well attended Futures Game crowd, as they were there to cheer on three Mets prospects with healthy futures – Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo for the USA team, and Rafael Montero for the World Team.

The Mets connections even extended themselves to the coaching staffs. The USA team was managed by Mookie Wilson. His batting coach was Howard Johnson, who now serves in that capacity for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The World Team was managed by Edgardo Alfonzo. His pitching coach was Neil Allen, who Mets fans remember primarily as the chip that brought Keith Hernandez to New York back in 1983. Allen is now the pitching coach for the Durham Bulls, a Tampa Bay affiliate.

USA topped the World club, 4-2, backed by a solid pitching staff that limited the international squad to just three hits. And a longball by Diamondback future infielder Matt Davidson.

The scoring began in the second, when USA’s DH, Christian Yelich, a Marlins prospect, belted a doubled to left center, scoring the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, who had singled.

Syndergaard started the game for USA, and was impressive as advertised, picking up one strikeout – Arismendy Alcantara, who later homered off Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo. Syndegaard yielded one hit in his brief one-inning scoreless stint, but the runner was erased trying to steal.

The lanky 6’ 6” righthander exhibited distinctive poise and confidence when dealing with the herd of media prior to the game.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Syndegaard. “I’m here to have fun with it, learn as much as I can and work on getting to the next level.”

Nimmo was the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store, soaking it all in and enjoying every moment. “I’m loving it. There’s a lot more going on here, a whole different experience.”

After a first half with the Savannah Sand Gnats in the Sally League, Nimmo was thrilled to be voted onto the prestigious squad. “I feel like this is a good reward for a good first half (.261, one homer, eight doubles, five triples, 23 RBIs), I’m happy with it, and just want to soak up this atmosphere, learn what I can, keep working hard, and the rest will take care of itself.”

He was even assigned David Wright’s locker. “All I can say is, David, thank you, and hope that I can have an amazing career like you’ve had.”

Nimmo went 0-2, with a groundout and a liner out to short.

Montero started for Fonzie’s World Team, setting down the USA team in quick order in his one inning appearance – fly out, popup, groundout.

Ex-Met Mike Piazza was a welcomed guest, on hand to play in the celebrity softball game which followed the Futures Game, and was met by the media with an eager group of cameras and recorders. It was announced that Piazza would be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Sept. 29.

Asked about his days in New York, Piazza recognized that when you retire, there’s something missing.

“Playing golf never replicates that excitement,” Piazza pined. “I hold my time here very fondly. I was blessed to play here, and to have had the tremendous support of the fans.”

No. 31 still follows the Mets closely and knows they’ve been going through a rough patch. “I love the character of this organization, with its history and fans, but as I’ve said many times before, sometimes the hard times define you. When you have had that roller coaster history, it’s about character.”

Of course Piazza creamed a home run in the softball game that followed, helping his National League collection of former ballplayers and celebrities beat an AL roster, 8-5.

The orange-clad NLers, “managed” by WFAN’s Boomer Esiason, who is also better known as an NFL quarterback, “drafted” a team filled with ex-Mets and Mets fans, including Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and which was “captained” by Johnny Franco. The roster also featured Kevin James, Andre Dawson, Jennie Finch, George Lopez, Ozzie Smith, Miss America Mallory Hagan, and Alyssa Milano.

The AL team, managed by Esiason’s morning radio partner, Craig Carton, lined up ex-Met Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams, Frank Thomas, Fred Lynn, Rollie Fingers, AJ Calloway, and actors James Denton, and Chord Overstreet.

James was named one of the game’s MVPs, for a headfirst slide into second that extended a rally. The other MVP was Josh Wege, a member of the nation’s Wounded Warrior softball team, which plays over 100 games per year. Wege lost both legs in the service of his country, but continues to play on prosthetics. He hit a home run in the game, too.

On deck: The main events, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Ranaudo, Candy Store, Diffe, Durham Bulls, Edgardo Alfonzo, Exper, Joc, Longball, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Pederson, Pitching Coach, Proverbial Kid, Seattle Mariners, Strikeout, Tacoma Rainiers, Top Story, Usa Team

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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Vasquez Gets Milestone strikeout as Pelfrey and Mets lose to Marlins

There has been this up and down theory of the New York Mets this season as they continue to count down the end of another season. Their pitching staff depends on starter Mike Pelfrey, who was designated ace of the staff in April as Johan Santana continued to recover from left shoulder surgery.  Pelfrey has showed some spark as the ace but deep into the game, even with the good sinker, he gives up the runs with a high pitch count.

That was the case again Tuesday night at Citi Field. The Florida Marlins had a five-run seventh inning, Pelfrey lost his eighth straight decision to the Fish, Javier Vasquez got a milestone strikeout and win, and New York snapped a four-game winning streak with a 6-0 loss. In between there was a miscue on the field by rookie second baseman Justin turner and the Mets will look to rebound Wednesday evening in the third game of a four-day, five-game series.

“They definitely have my number, that’s for sure,” commented Pelfrey who is 0-8 in 16 starts against the Marlins since pitching a major league debut win against them in July of 2006.  Pelfrey was coming off a career high 125 pitches last Wednesday in Philadelphia and threw scoreless ball for six innings. But in the seventh inning a defensive mistake started the implosion. Vasquez came to bat and a bunt play became a single because the Mets left first base uncovered.

Turner made indication for a pickoff try but Pelfrey went to the plate. Turner would be the culprit that opened the inning for Florida. “I should have stepped off or threw to second,” explained Pelfrey (7-11) as the Mets were shutout for the seventh time this season and second time at home. “The worst thing in that situation is go home. He showed me the open glove, that’s on me.”

“It was a weird play,” said Turner, “and we got caught.”  David Wright, 2-for-3, was in the play. “A couple of different people saw a couple of different things, and that’s why it didn’t work,” he said about the play. Earlier in the day, Wright was a recipient of the first Roberto Clemente Sportsman of the Year Award at a latino Sports awards luncheon at Citi Field. “He (Pelfrey) deserved the win. He challenges hitters. That’s why his pitch count is up.”

Pelfrey got out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth but it was a struggle getting Gaby Sanchez to pop up to Justin turner at second. “Mike pitched very well,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “It’s a perfect example of what is going on the last four games where Mets starters previously allowed four earned runs in 28.0 innings, a 1.29 ERA.

Vasquez, (8-11) in the meantime continued to turn around a season that got off to a bad start. He achieved a career milestone in strikeouts with 2,500 in the sixth inning when he struck out Lucas Duda swinging, his sixth in seven innings pitched. The veteran pitcher of six teams, including two stints with the New York Yankees, became the 30th pitcher in Major League history to achieve that mark.  He retired 13 consecutive Mets before Josh Thole got a two-out single in the fifth, evened his career record at 160-160, walked one and gave up three hits.

It was his seventh straight quality start. “I didn’t know I had it,” he said about the strikeout. He claims teammates informed him of the milestone when he reached the dugout. “I played so many years, it’s an honor,” he said holding a 2004 bottle of Italian wine that was presented to him by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

Vasquez knew, after being informed that he was one of the few to reach the plateau. “I don’t think I’m going to stick around for 3,000,” he commented. “I’m not going to play that long. This might be it,” he said, offering hints that this may be his final season in a uniform. Though he used both sides of the plate well against the Mets and it was good enough to impress Collins and his team.

“He had a good breaking ball and appears to got his strength back,” said Collins. Vasquez, though, would not admit that he is getting stronger and pitching perhaps the best ball of his career after a dull period in New York. “It’s nice to pitch well and finish on a good note,” he said.

But for Pelfrey, pitching well and working the hitters does not seem to add to wins. He has become the hard luck pitcher, especially against the Marlins. “It definitely gives me an incentive,” he said about the losing streak.

NOTES: Gaby Sanchez went 2-for- 5 and a RBI batting .373 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in his career against the Mets…. The Mets pen allowed two more runs and have given up one run in 29 of their last 36 games…. The finale Thursday night will see Miguel Batista get the start for New York, the veteran and former pitcher of the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks….

It was the Marlins eighth shutout of the season and Mike Stanton hit his 31st homer in the ninth inning, a long shot to the Pepsi Porch in right. On the home run, Collins said, “I think he has the most, raw power I have ever seen. I have never seen a guy generate that kind of power before.”

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under David Wright, Florida Marlins, Game Series, Game Winning Streak, High Pitch, Johan Santana, League Debut, Mike Pelfrey, Miscue, New York Mets, Second Baseman, Seventh Inning, Strikeout, Time At Home, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 31, 2011

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Brett Myers and Carlos Lee Make Their Mark in the Astros 4-1 Victory over the Mets

New York – Righty Brett Myers pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros (59-70) to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets (64-65) in Saturday night baseball at Citi Field. First baseman Carlos Lee was all the offense and defense Houston needed to help the Astros take Game Two on a very long road stretch.

Myers (10-7) would toss a milestone in the game as he now has pitched six or more innings in all 27 starts this season. The righty also established a new club record for six plus innings appearances at any point in the season, breaking the previous mark of 26 straight games held by Larry Dierker who accomplished the feat on June 20, 1969 to April 17, 1970. The streak for Myers is the longest to start a season since Curt Schilling had 35 straight appearances of at least six innings in 2002 with Arizona.

“Myers had another outstanding outing and put us in a position to win the game,” Astros manager Brad Mills said after the game. “Throwing the ball like he did was outstanding; what he is doing, what he has done and what he was able to do tonight was outstanding.”

The righty would have this to say of his seven innings, six strikeout performance tonight, “I was just following the plan; I just followed what my catcher (Humberto Quintero) put down. He is a smart catcher and followed the plan well and we work well together.” Myer would continue by saying, “A lot of credit goes to him and pitching coach (Brad Arnsberg) and tonight I just tried to follow my plan and execute my pitches.”

On his milestone he had this to say, “It is not a big deal I just try to go out and give the team the best chance to win, I’m not trying to break any records. If it happens it happens, I am not looking too much into it. I am just trying to go out every six days and do the job again. Anything I can do to go out there and help the team win and help the bullpen as much as possible then that is what I am going to do.”

Houston would get on the board early, jumping all over starter Johan Santana (10-9) getting four hits and plating the first two runs. Carlos Lee and shortstop Tommy Manzella were the two key hits to give the Astros the 2-0 lead.

Carlos Lee would hit a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning over the left field wall to give the Astros a 4-0 lead. That combined with a ‘web gem’ play in the bottom of the third inning to dive to his right and rob Mets starter Johan Santana of a hit was one of the two crucial defensive plays to lead Houston to a win.

“We beat a tough pitcher tonight,” Lee said of the victory. “It was good to be able to win today and now we need to come out tomorrow and keep the momentum going.” The first baseman would continue to say, “Santana had a rough first inning and we took advantage and anytime you have a lead with Myers going out there you know that he is guaranteed to go seven and pitch well for us.”

For Santana it was a tough loss as he has suffered his third consecutive loss this evening. It is only the fourth time in his career that he has dropped at least four straight decisions and only the second time since the 2004 season.

New York would have plenty of opportunities throughout the game to try to cash in on runs and cut into that lead. Rookie Ike Davis laced a double (23) off the right field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning, but two ground outs ended the Mets hopes.  It had seemed as if throughout the night every time the Mets had a man on base Myers would have an answer to shut the offense down.

“The Mets had a runner on base every inning it seemed,” Myers said. “I just tried to make pitches and wanted them to hit the ball at people. If I executed I figured I would be able to get outs, and it just worked out that way.”

New York had left nine runners on base this evening, while over the last five games they have stranded 46 men on bases. The Mets finally scored the first run in the bottom of the eighth inning as second baseman Luis Castillo started the frame with an infield single. Carlos Beltran would move the runner over on a ground ball that was fielded by relief pitcher Wilton Lopez.

Castillo would eventually score on a David Wright single to right field. It had seemed as if hope and a rally would come for the 33,024 in attendance as Ike Davis would hit a single to right field. Sadly Jeff Francoeur trying to hit a home run struck out swinging to leave the runners on first and second for rookie catcher Josh Thole.  Thole would hit a scorching line drive to speedy outfielder Jason Bourgeois to end the inning.

“Everyone wants to step up and get the big hits,” Wright said after the game. “They want to be the guy that steps up and help us win the game, but sometimes that works against you because you try to do too much instead of getting a hit.” On the offensive struggles as of late, “You can’t label one thing as the reason for our struggles. When you look up and down the lineup you see different things and different guys struggling. We have a lot of our key guys out due to injury; combine that with the young players and the guys that are injured; all of that combined is a huge part of our offensive struggles.”

New York hopes to take Game Three of this series, which will take place on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Houston will send out starter Bud Norris (6-7, 5.03 ERA) to take on the knuckleball of R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.64 ERA)

Posted under Brad Arnsberg, Bullpen, Carlos Lee, Curt Schilling, First Baseman, Houston Astros, Humberto Quintero, Larry Dierker, Mets Baseball, Mets New York, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Pitches, Pitching Coach, Road Stretch, Shutout, Six Days, Straight Appearances, Straight Games, Strikeout, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on August 29, 2010