Have The Mets Turned the Corner?

New York- A four-game winning streak for the New York Mets and you ask, does that provide a legitimate reason of contention that they are beginning to turn things around? For the moment, especially with a win against Atlanta, and three wins over the Yankees, there is optimism.

Added to the equation, the Mets go for a four-game series sweep, or two consecutive two game sweeps tomorrow night in the Bronx. Then, it is three games down in Miami with the Marlins, a team that continues to tumble with the second worst record in baseball.

The mood in the visitor’s clubhouse Wednesday evening, after the Mets third straight win over the Yankees, to say the least exhibited optimism.  The tide has changed from a week ago when a timely hit, scoring runs and good pitching was hard to find.

“We’ve won three very important ballgames in a row,” said Collins. “There is a different attitude in the clubhouse.” Because the Mets have put a string of wins together and doing it against the Yankees made it more fun in that clubhouse.

It could be the start of the summer for the Mets, according to Collins, alluding to how important it was to win these games against the Yankees.

And with Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, a part of their infield on thin ice, it was so important for them to be a part of that five-run first inning that quickly put the Mets ahead.  Tejada led off the game with a single and would score on a Daniel Murphy double.

“Nice to get some runs early especially against this team,” commented Davis. He drove the ball the other way in that first inning.

He said, “If I can keep getting better at bats, I can turn this around. We have a better team than we have showed and we can turn this around.” And it has to be Davis and the bat to turn the season around.

Collins said, David Wright referred to Davis as the guy who can turn it around.  There is some type of optimism because Davis struck out once after 24 strikeouts in his last 16- games.

Tejada did get hurt in the ninth inning, so he is staying put for the moment.  He may miss a few games pending an X-Ray to a quad injury he sustained sliding for a ball down the third base line with two outs in the Yankees ninth inning.

“If we have any chance to win here, Ike Davis has to be hitting in the lineup,” said Collins. Lucas Duda and John Buck also got hits going the other way. Again, Collins said this was a big series.

Perhaps, a bigger part of this being an important series is because the Mets have started to hit the ball with more authority. “And they are doing it against the Yankees.

Later in the inning, Davis, with that .152 average would single to left center and drive in two of those five runs. Davis got some batting tips from manager Terry Collins before the game.  Mets fans can’t remember the last game when he drove in two important runs, even if it was early in the game.

Jermey Hefner, with that 0-5 record coming in, had runs to work with and finally got a win. And to him that must have been, as they say, a gift from heaven,

“Important to win, more importantly to keep our team winning,” said Hefner who broke the streak of not getting a win a day after the ace Matt Harvey gets the ball.

What it means is, the Mets will in all probability continue to struggle. The important thing is to continue this renewed momentum with three games down in Miami. But, as the captain David Wright said Tuesday night, at Citi Field in Flushing Queens, “We have a hard time capitalizing on games like this.”

Meaning, as Wright insinuated, the two Mets come from behind wins against the Yankees, Monday and Tuesday in their home park had to continue some type of momentum.

Wednesday night, the Mets continued that brand of good baseball with good pitching, timely hitting, and hitting quality pitches. They did not swing for the fences. They hit at the right time, and it meant another win against a Yankees team that has not resembled the Bronx Bombers they have faced in the past.

Davis handled the sinker much better thrown by David Phelps, and was more comfortable at the plate. Tejada started the onslaught in that first inning. Perhaps, the private meeting with Collins had with Davis and Tejada earlier in the day, where he reportedly told them, they were close to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas was the beginning of a remedy?

After all, who wants to play baseball in Las Vegas with the famed strip in the background instead of the Empire State Building and other New York City landmarks?

It went down as a two-game series sweep in Queens and a revival of sorts for the Mets in Queens. They go for another two-game series sweep tomorrow night in the Bronx

And, doing it against the mighty cross- town Yankees does not necessarily mean it won’t be as gloomy in Flushing as we have seen. But, time will tell.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ballgames, Bats, Clubhouse, Contention, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Game Series, Game Sweeps, Game Winning Streak, Legitimate Reason, Marlins, New York Mets, Optimism, Rich Mancuso, Ruben, Tejada, Thin Ice, Three Games, Tomorrow Night, Top Story, Wednesday Evening

Byrd is the Word For The Mets

New York – Jose Fernandez the 20-year old pitching prospect for the Miami Marlins made his Major League debut at Citi Field Sunday afternoon and the right hander from Cuba was everything that was expected. A good fastball and curve ball from Hernandez limited the New York Mets to one run and three hits in three innings.

“That guy is everything they talked about, outstanding stuff,” commented Mets manager Terry Collins about Fernandez. “Strike one on almost everybody. “ He comprised strike after strike, impressive.”

Fernandez would leave and the Mets would capitalize, but not until the ninth inning. Marlon Byrd hit a two run single that was inside third base and New York would come from behind and get their first walk-0ff win of the young season, 4-3.

The Mets finished their opening home stand of the season 4-2 and embarked on their first road trip, ten games to Philadelphia, Minnesota and Colorado.

Daniel Murphy concluded the first stint at home with success, a solo home run off A.J. Ramos in the sixth inning to center, his second, and drove in his fifth run in the last three games. His production is what the Mets have been looking for and an extra base hit in three straight games is a positive sign.

“That guy’s got good stuff,” said Murphy about Fernandez. “I thought we stayed patient. We were able to kind of get that pitch count up just a bit to get into their bullpen in the sixth. You get in the sixth it gives you four shots at the bullpen and that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”

Fernandez, the youngest pitcher in Marlins franchise history has a good story. The Cuban refugee came to the United States in 2008 and was a 14th round pick out of a Tampa Florida High School in the 2011 amateur draft.  He was 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA in the minors last season.

The Marlins have said they intend to keep Fernandez in their rotation, and after his debut there is every reason to do that with a limited pitch count. Fernandez struck out eight, the first victim of his career was Ike Davis in the first.

“I was more nervous watching five through nine than I was pitching,’ he said. It didn’t feel any different. It was more like a spring training game.” But it was a regular season game, one the Marlins were hoping to win, that is until their bullpen gave it up and the fastball at times was clocked at 95.

New York is depending on a revamped pitching staff with the absence of Johan Santana, out for the season with surgery again to his shoulder. And right hander Shaun Marcum has been sidelined with stiffness, so left hander Aaron Laffey  was recalled from AAA Las Vegas after limited appearances with Toronto last season.

Laffey gave up 10-hits and three runs in 4/1-3 innings, but the Mets bullpen was able to keep the game close. Collins used five arms out of the bullpen that threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“We hung in there and didn’t let the game get away which I thought was the biggest factor,” added Collins who saw his team get their second comeback win of the season.

In the end it was Byrd who got his fifth career walk off hit and Scott Rice out of the, pen getting his first Major League win. Byrd was inserted in the fifth when Collins made a double switch also scored some points from Collins. The veteran in an outfield rotation may see more playing time. He kept sharp playing in the Mexican league this winter.

“It’s huge to show we can win close games,” said Byrd who struck out twice before the game winning hit.” More so, a win that was huge early in the season.

“Two games over .500 instead of one,” said Ike Davis.  Because winning series are important and the Mets have come out of the gate and won their first two.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Bullpen, Cuban Refugee, Curve Ball, Daniel Murphy, Fastball, Florida High School, League Debut, Mets New York, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Right Hander, Sixth Inning, Straight Games, Three Games, Top Story

Dickey gets win Number 20 and Mets end home finale on a promising note

R. A. Dickey heard the ovation from the 31,508 fans at CitiField Thursday afternoon. They cheered when he took the mound, came to bat, and was removed from the game with two outs in the seventh inning with the New York Mets holding a 6-3 lead.

It was the final home game of the season for the Mets and significant because Dickey had his turn moved up with an opportunity to win number 20. He did not disappoint and became the first knuckleball pitcher to win twenty games since 1980.

The Mets took the finale from the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-4.taking two of three games and it was a celebration for Dickey, his manager, team, and the fans. And it looked and sounded like a playoff atmosphere, even though the Mets will conclude their fourth straight losing season.

His manager, Terry Collins, as he has done all season with the knuckleball pitcher asked him an inning before, “I said look this ballpark is filled with energy today use it to your advantage. These people deserve to see you walk off the mound.”

Dickey left to standing ovation and tipped his hat to the crowd in that seventh inning. He was relieved by Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell, and watched from the clubhouse.  Rauch would give up a one-out two run home run to Alex Presley.

Had the Mets eventually lost and if Dickey failed to achieve the milestone, as he always says, getting his team getting a win would be more important.

When it was over, Dickey said, “It’s like a big exhale.” He did not want his exploits to be a center of attention as he got closer to the 20th win. After all, the 37-year-old right hander, who has overcome adversity, had never won more than 11 games in his big league career.

“This was about R.A. Dickey today,” said Collins. “It was about him. It was about his connection with the fans, with the city.’ Collins has this respect for Dickey that was heard all season. He reiterated more than once, before Dickey arrived in the conference room to meet with media, that this was a day for his pitcher.

He told Dickey he had to walk off the mound, just when Dickey knew he was running out of energy. Collins was telling him that the connection had to be used. A connection, because this has been a Mets season of futility that will conclude with the good vibes and memories that now come with the first Mets pitcher to win 20- games since Frank Viola went 20-12 in 1990.

“Had R.A. not done what he did, it’s hard to tell where we’d be,” commented Collins.

Now, Dickey will also be in the discussion for the National League CY Young Award along with Gio Gonzlaez of the Nationals, another 20-game winner and Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds.

“That is a little surreal,” commented Dickey about the top award for a pitcher. “But who doesn’t want to win a CY Young Award. I want to be the best, but who doesn’t want to be the best. I want to enjoy this before I think about that.

He said he was an example of a mediocre pitcher that was signed to a spring training contract in 2010 by prior Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. The true story was told with his best seller book “Where ever I wind up” that hit the stores in March and prior to the Mets giving him an opportunity, the career was just about over.

But the knuckleball saved him.

“But it wasn’t about him, it was never about him, “said Collins who like any manager and opposing player is marveled about a pitch that flutters and tends to constantly fool the hitter.

The Pirates were fooled as Dickey also struck out a career tying 13 that increased his National League best total to 222. It was the seventh time this season he reached double figures, also a league best and the 12 pitches thrown were the second most in his career.

“It’s not an easy pitch to hit and he is so good at what he does,” commented Pirates’ third baseman Pedro Alvarez, a victim of three Dickey strikeouts.” And even if Dickey does not go on and win the CY Young, the players will say what a great story this has been.

Travis Snyder who made the catch of the year in right at Citi Field that robbed a home run from Mike Baxter in the second as the ball appeared to go over the fence, “Congratulations to him (Dickey) on a great year and a great story.”

David Wright continued his strong finish with an opposite field home run to right for his 21st home run of the season that gave Dickey and the Mets a 6-3 lead in the fifth.

“There were times he picked us up and really carried us as a team on his back,” he said about Dickey. “I was happy to provide the hit that made the difference.”

Dickey allowed three runs and eight hits. He claimed, “About the fourth or fifth inning I felt exasperated. I was not myself today for the most part.”  The Pirates would score two runs in the second and another in the fourth.

He said the fans changed his ability to throw the proper knuckler that was clocked at 78. “And then I would come out for an at bat and I would hear this kind of growing surge and it was really neat. I don’t know if I have experienced something like that before.”

“Although I wasn’t distracted from the moment, how could you not be motivated to go out there and give the fans, and well your teammates and yourself all that you have?”

Dickey certainly gave the fans all he had, and something they had to smile about as they went home. A season like this may be difficult to duplicate for him, and in sports that may be asking too much.

And for a season that went well for the Mets in the first half and crumbled in the second, seeing Dickey at Citi Field win Number 20 was good enough for them.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring76@aol.com  or Facebook.com/Keep it In the Ring

 

Posted under Adversity, Center Of Attention, Clubhouse, Energy Today, Exhale, Home Game, Knuckleball Pitcher, Losing Season, New York Mets, Parnell, Pittsburgh Pirates, Promising Note, Rich Mancuso, Right Hander, Seventh Inning, Standing Ovation, Three Games, Top Story

Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Home Park, Houston Astros, Managerial Responsibilities, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Rockland County, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 2012

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Hefner gives Mets another good start and Davis hit the walk off for the win

A four game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies this week at Citi Field made it a miserable week for the New York Mets and their manager Terry Collins. In come the Houston Astros Friday night with the worst record in baseball and 47- games under .500

So, one has to figure that New York would gladly welcome the Astros to their home park.  However, the way things have been going for the Mets, the Astros welcomed their trip to Citi field.

As so it went Friday night as interim manager Tony DeFrancesco of the Astros got his first win and the Mets dropped a season tying sixth straight, 3-1.

DeFrancesco, who took over managerial responsibilities last week when Brad Mills was dismissed, was born in the Bronx and spent most of his youth up in nearby Rockland County and played college ball as a catcher at Seton Hall University.

it appeared that DeFracesco would get his second win Sunday afternoon, and that Houston was on the way taking two of three games. That is until Ike Davis, with a .223 average, hit his second home run of the day in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave New York a 2-1 win.

It was the second home run of the afternoon for Davis, his 24th, the Mets fifth walk off win of the season and their first home series win since the first week of July.

Davis said about his day at the plate and the game winning shot that cleared the right field wall, “I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit. Thought I’d look like a fool because I didn’t run out of the box”.

Considering that Davis was hitting .199 that first week of July, and with rumors of him being sent down, he will take a two- home run day

“First one I got pretty good,” he said. That fourth inning home run gave New York the early 1-0 lead. And it was tough getting hits and runs off Astros starter Lucas Harrel who came in the game leading rookie pitchers in the National League with innings pitched.

Jeremy Hefner was just as good for the Mets. The rookie took a shutout into the ninth inning and gave up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

“I thought he got great rhythm and I loved the pace, the way he went about things today,” said Collins who saw all his starters on the home stand do their job. Starters in the seven games compiled a 1.65 ERA, striking out 10, allowing 29 hits.

The issue has been the Mets inability to score runs, scoring two or less runs in eight of their last nine games

“We need it bad,” said Collins about the win. His team is out of contention and playing out the string with a goal to get back to .500 and finish respectable. “You look up in the ninth and guys really pitching good. We got one run on the board again, three hits, someone’s got to get this going and fortunately that’s what Ike did today.”

DeFancesco came out to argue a bang-bang play at home plate in the Astros’ ninth. Ben Francisco got a single through the hole at shortstop off Bobby Parnell, (3-3), who got the win. A throw from left by the Mets’ Lucas Duda nailed Marvin Gonzalez. Had the run scored, the Astros would have taken a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

But Duda could not handle the double to left that put Gonzalez on base which tied the game.

“It was a hell of a play by their catcher,” said DeFrancesco who would know something about a play that was handled well by the veteran Kelly Shoppach. Duda, making his first start after being recalled Saturday from Buffalo, started in left and Collins said he appeared to be comfortable at the position.

The Astros got five hits off Hefner. At one point, he was cruising and retired 12-straight Houston batters. “He was good at changing speeds,” commented DeFrancesco.

In his office the congratulatory bottle of champagne from Friday night was still sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He was planning to put it in the luggage for the trip back to Houston.

Mom and dad met him again before boarding the team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The 17-year minor league manager has a week in the big leagues and enjoying every minute of it.

“One thing I am pleased with is the way they are playing,” he said about his team. And with two consecutive wins, Collins is feeling better as the Mets embarked on a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia Miami, and St. Louis.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Watch and listen to Rich every Thursday live @ 10:30pm  on Keep it in the Ring: www.inthemixxradio.com

Posted under Colorado Rockies, Game Sweep, Harrel, Home Park, Houston Astros, Interim Manager, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Outfielder, Pitchers, Rich Mancuso, Seton Hall University, Sunday Afternoon, Three Games, Top Story, Winning Shot

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on August 27, 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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Mets Sweep Gives Team Hope

New York – A prevailing mood in the New York Mets clubhouse is that they can win and have an impact in the National League East. And after completing a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Citi Field over the division rival Atlanta Braves, 7-5, there is every reason to put things in another perspective.

Winning ballgames, and more than the experts predicted has put a different perspective on what is expected to be another dismal season in Flushing. This was the first time in a 50 –year history of the club when a Mets team started the season with a three- game sweep over a division rival.

At 3-0, and with the cross- town Yankees off to a 0-3 start, this is something the organization is hoping will regenerate some interest. More so, if the wins can continue in the next three games at home with the Washington Nationals, getting a good start out of the gate is what will convince fans that this may not be dismal as was expected.

“This means everything,” said Manager Terry Collins when asked about the three games against Atlanta that saw his team pitch effectively, use the long ball, and also get the timely hit. “We’ve done a lot of talk in spring training about getting ready to compete. I told those guys in the first meeting ‘you’re professional baseball players and there are expectations in this town and in this clubhouse.’”

Numerous times last season, his first, Collins reiterated about expectation but the message did not carry into wins. A second half finish saw New York finish fourth in the division with 77 wins, and then losing Jose Reyes to free agency, now with the Miami Marlins, made the outlook look more dismal for 2012.

However, Reyes, for the moment has quickly not been a topic at Citi Field. His replacement, 22-year old shortstop Ruben Tejada, had a career day Sunday with a career high four hits with two doubles, driving in two runs.

“We have to keep working hard every day,” commented Tejada. “We play hard and together as a team,” he said.

And that was a prevailing attitude of this Mets team after the season opening series sweep Sunday afternoon. They believe in themselves as a team and despite what the prognosticators say, they have no intention of making this a dismal season.

And if the Mets get good starting pitching, as they did Sunday from Jonathon Niese, Saturday from R.A. Dickey, and in the opener Thursday, five strong innings from Johan Santana, well this could become a special season. But will the pitching stay consistent? Can Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee, who start the first two games with the Nationals Monday and Tuesday, be just as good?

“You can’t ask for better than that,” said Collins about the starts that have put the Mets at 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they won their first four. “We saw that in spring training even though our starters did not go deep. We like our rotation,” he said also referring to Gee and Pelfrey.

Niese, in particular, who signed a long term contract Saturday, struggled often last year.  At times there were doubts he could be a quality starting pitcher. The return of Santana has inspired the pitching staff, and according to guys in the clubhouse the entire roster.

“They want to compete and do what he does,” said Collins. “He creates a great atmosphere. It spreads.

Niese flirted with a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Freddie Freeman singled to right field with no outs.  He would allow four runs, two earned, seven strikeouts and two walks. He lasted two more batters after the hit by Freeman. Atlanta scored four runs in the seventh. Lucas Duda lost a ball in the sun, and Jason Howard had a two-run double.

“It would have been hard to take me out,” said Niese who had a 93 mile fastball and control that was rare last season. The Mets after 7,911 games still remain one of four teams in baseball that have never had a no-hitter pitched. “We have a staff that likes to compete with each other and that is a good thing,” said Niese.

And this start has also been attributed to a revamped bullpen. Frank Francisco closed his third consecutive game becoming the first player in franchise history to save his first three games. Prior to a Brian McCann home run in the eighth inning it was the first Mets run surrendered by the pen. In three games the pen has allowed  one earned run in 10.0 innings.

“We have to pitch,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have a long way to go.  All we want to do is stay competitive.”

They have come out of the gate with this good start. That is what every Mets fan needed to see, and this team believes it will continue. David Wright is hitting with authority and showing signs of his old self. Daniel Murphy picked up a couple of hits and two RBI, including a two-run double in the three-run Mets sixth.

Now they need Ike Davis to get it going as well as Jason Bay, two silent bats in the first three games. But they feel like everyone else in the Mets clubhouse. It will come.

“I’m just a little off right now, I’m not worried,” said Davis. His feeling is the hits will come and go five for his next ten, and there will be no reason for concern. “It’s only three games,” he says about going hitless in his first eleven times at the plate.

Last season that would have been a concern. But for now, with the three- game sweep coming out of the gate, there is not one player in that Mets clubhouse who will think otherwise. Winning and a different perspective of what they are capable of doing is here to stay,

Jose Thole the rookie catcher said in that clubhouse Sunday, “We have a team that can win and we will continue to do it.”  And for the first three games the Mets have certainly proved they can be competitive.

E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Career Day, Cross Town, Different Perspective, Dismal Season, Division Rival, Game Sweep, Hope New York, Jose Reyes, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Team, National League East, New York Mets, Professional Baseball Players, Rich Mancuso, Shortstop, Spring Training, Team Hope, Three Games, Top Story, Washington Nationals

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on April 9, 2012

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Brewers Sweep Weekend Series over the Mets; Mets Drop 9 of Last 11 Games

Flushing, NY—The Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 victory over the Mets completed a three game sweep over the Mets at Citi Field. The two clubs are presently heading in very different directions. The Brewers are in first place in the N.L. Central Division after winning 22 of the last 25 games. The Mets have dropped nine of the last eleven contests and are only three games in front of the last place Florida Marlins in the N.L. East.

The weekend games provided very happy birthdays for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke (Friday) and Milwaukee’s ace pinch hitter, Craig Counsell (Sunday). Roenicke is enjoying a successful rookie season as manager of the Brewers.  Counsell, as a pinch hiller, led off the ninth with a single to right. The plate appearance as a pinch hitter and the base hit raised his career team marks to 161 and 40 respectively. Counsell, 41, is the sixth oldest player currently active in MLB.

The two starters, R.A. Dickey and Yovani Gallardo statistically threw almost identical games. Each pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, both earned, and surrendered six hits. Gallardo walked one, intentionally and fanned six. Dickey did not walk a batter and struck out three. Neither hurler figured in the decision.

The first run of the contest was scored on a two-out home run hit by Casey McGehee in the fourth. The second run for the Brewers were scored by the superstar combo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. One day earlier, both homered in the 11-9 Brewers comeback victory, the 33rd game in which each blasted a four bagger. On Sunday, Braun led off the sixth with a single, stole second and scored on a single to center by Fielder.

The Mets tied the score in the seventh. David Wright singled to lead-off. The next batter, Lucas Duda drove in two as he homered to right on the first pitch. The Mets did not score again as former Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez in the eighth and former Yankee LaTroy Hawkins In the ninth retired all the batters they faced.

The four Mets relievers, Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen and Pedro Beato surrendered four runs and five hits in two innings. After the contest, Mets manager Terry Collins expressed his regret over removing Dickey from the game, “R. A. Pitched a great game. I have to take this one [blame]. I should have stayed with R.A.”

Ryan Braun did the greatest damage to the Mets. He hit safely three times, stole two bases, his 25th and 26th, score two runs and drove in a third. Collins said, “You have to give Braun credit.”

Collins spoke of his team’s recent failings, “When Jose and Murph went down, we had to pick ourselves up and we just have not done that. We haven’t played well enough to win. We have to get them [players] to believe in themselves again.”

Fielder explained to reporters his team’s confidence and success, “I think we finally got that feeling [that we can find a way to win] on the road. I never saw that [22 of 25 wins] since Little League.”

The difference between the two teams may have been best expressed by Frankie Rodriguez, who has played for both in 2011. When Queens reporter Lloyd Carroll said to Rodriguez, “I’ll bet you’re just glad to be over here [Brewers] than over there [Mets], K-Rod emphatically replied, “Hell Yeah!”

Posted under Comeback Victory, David Wright, Florida Marlins, Game Sweep, Happy Birthdays, Latroy Hawkins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Plate Appearance, Rookie Season, Ryan Braun, Three Games, Top Story, Weekend Games

Mets Get To Mo and Win in 10th

The final three games of the cross-town New York interleague Subway Series with the Mets and Yankees centered on the shortstops. The Yankees Derek Jeter was rehabbing in Trenton for his return Monday in Cleveland. His backup, Eduardo Nunez had to sit down Sunday with a tight right hamstring after going 7-for-8 in two games with a homer and three doubles.

And then there was the Mets’ Jose Reyes who earlier was elected to start at short for the National League in the All-Star game July 12th. Diagnosed with tightness and a Grade-1 strain of his left hamstring, Reyes watched as Yankees shortstop Ramiro Pena, filling in for Nunez, made an error in the ninth that would enable the Mets to eventually score and tie their game with the Yankees.

And it was Pena, with his second error of the game with two outs that set up Jason Bay to get his fourth career walk-off hit in the 10th, as the Mets managed to avoid being swept by the Yankees with a 3-2 win with many of the 41,513 fans still in attendance at Citi Field.

It was that type of series for the Yankees and Mets with shortstop issues, and the Yankees winning the season series 4-2. Both concluded their interleague play portion of the schedule, the Yankees going 13-5, the Mets 9-9. The Yankees head to Cleveland for a brief three-game series and the Mets to the west coast for a road trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco before the All-Star break.

And they hope their starting shortstops will be available to conclude the first half of the season. “Just a little bit of a strain, I mean nothing big,” commented Reyes who sat on the bench and watched as Bay got the winning hit off Yankees losing pitcher Luis Ayala (1-2). “I know we’re going to take it one day at a time and see what happens. But it’s real good news. Today when I got up I felt even better than yesterday so that’s very good news.”

However, Mets manager Terry Collins is being cautious. Reyes, who leads baseball in hitting, hits, multi-hit games and triples, will want to play and not miss the All-Star game, his 12th. He, in essence is a leading candidate for the National League MVP and no doubt a catalyst and most valuable player for the Mets. ”The doctors did not want him to play today and we will take this one day at a time,” said Collins. The manager also said Reyes was making the five-hour trip to Los Angeles and it all depends on how his shortstop feels before making a determination for Monday.

The Yankees were 46-1 this season when leading after eight, primarily because of their bullpen and The Mets, 1-35 after eight. But that seemed to mean nothing when Mariano Rivera tried to close the door in a tight game. Prior to the ninth, Yankees starter Freddy Garcia handled the Mets for seven innings. On a full count with two outs Bay walked and went to third on a Lucas Duda single. He came home with the tying run when Ronnie Paulino got hold of a 1-2 Rivera pitch and hit the ball through the right side.

It may have been the best game for Bay as a Met. He has not been productive and missed most of last season after sustaining a concussion going after a ball and hitting an outfield wall at Dodgers Stadium. “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs,” commented Bay about the walk and game winning hit. “It was nice, A, to be in that spot, and B, to come through. It was great.”

Coillins, in particular could have not been happier for Bay and his team. “I just said, ‘nice going’”, he said when greeting Bay after the game. “It’s nice to see this guy smile. Nobody cares more to help this team than Jason Bay does. And about his team showing resiliency, “They play, they take blows and just come back.”

The Mets broke a three game slide. The Yankees had their seven-game winning streak stopped. But there was concern for Mets starter R.A. Dickey who left after five innings due to tightness in his left buttock area. General Manager Sandy Alderson expects Dickey to make his next start, but as always with the Mets, especially after a win against the Yankees, there had to be something to calm the optimism.

“It’s a big relief,” said outfielder Carlos Beltran, regarding the news about Reyes possibly not being out for the long run. Beltran also was elected to play for the National League All-Stars and said it all about Reyes. “We depend so much on him.”

Notes: Angel Pagan went 0-for-10 in the series and let a ball get hit by Robinson Cano get by him in the 10th that went for a triple. Francisco Rodriguez was able to strand two that got the Mets to their half of the inning….It was Rivera’s fourth blown save of the season and he was also selected for his 12th All-Star team…

The Yankees trailed and tied the game in the fifth with a Robinson Cano double, the first hit off Dickey and Nick Swisher got the RBI single…The start of the game was delayed for 89 minutes as rain was in the forecast, though not one drop fell until the seventh inning. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “It was a frustrating loss for us.”

Girardi complained that the delay did not give enough time for Garcia to warm up and he said it was miscommunication about the start time caused by the delay….The Yankees optioned right handed starter Ivan Nova to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre setting up the return of righty Phil Hughes who was on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. The justification, Nova would get more pitching time at Scranton because the Yankees would have no need for a six-man rotation…

The combined three-day crowd set a Citi Field attendance record of 125,575…Dickey was 5-0 in interleague starts since joining the Mets last season…Yankees got the 2-1 lead in the eighth with a Brett Gardner triple off Jason Isringhausen and sac fly RBI from Curtis Granderson.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Better Than Yesterday, Cross Town, Day At A Time, Derek Jeter, Game Series, Interleague Play, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Luis Ayala, Mets, New York Mets, News Today, One Day At A Time, Ramiro Pena, Shortstops, Subway Series, Three Games, Top Story, Two Games

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 4, 2011

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Dickey gives Mets a going away win as Beltran goes down

New York – Consider that the New York Mets took two of three games from the Atlanta Braves with their 6-4 win Sunday evening at Citi Field. It concluded a 5-5 home stand, losing two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies and splitting a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It could have been four more wins if it were not for the seventh and eighth inning failures that cost them ballgames.

“We had some tough times but to come in here and beat the Braves two out of three, leave here on a positive note, win the series, you’ve got to look at it positively,” said Mets manager Terry Coillins. A highlight was overcoming a 7-0 deficit to the Pirates Thursday afternoon and doing something a Mets team had not accomplished since the season of 2000.

The starting pitching has been respectable. Collins could not ask for more from his starters who have posted a 3.04 ERA in their last 11 games. The latest was R.A. Dickey (3-6) making his second start with an injury to his right foot. The knuckleball was effective as Dickey pitched eight solid innings. His four hits allowed included a solo home run to Brian McCann in the seventh inning.

And before the McCann home run, Dickey had not allowed a runner past second. He has thrown at least 5.0 innings in 35 of his last 37 starts since joining the Mets last season. “Physically, it’s just an issue we’re going to have to work through for who knows how long,” he said about the injury.  “But it’s manageable.”

And what has been recently been constant, a failure of the bullpen continued in the late innings. Before Dickey could get the win, Manny Acosta gave up two runs in the ninth and closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up the second career pinch hit home run to Diory Hernandez, a three-run shot to left centerfield.

Jose Reyes continued to be the hottest hitter in baseball as constant chants of “Don’t trade Reyes” could be heard during the course of the game from the Sunday night crowd of 21.015.He had an RBI double to left center in the fourth Inning that put New York up 5-0 and scored twice, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, a league leading 28th multi-hit game and batting .465 during the streak.

Before that, New York put two runs on the board in the first and another two in the second. They have plated 36 first inning runs, tied for fourth in baseball. That alone should have been enough to build on this past week, but the late inning mistakes from the bullpen and on the field cost them, leading to a tirade and team meeting called by Collins after a loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday evening.

Reyes’ ninth consecutive run scored equaled the longest streak of his career, the second longest streak in baseball this season. In the last season of a contract and subject of trade rumors, for the moment the Mets are content that he is still with them and possibly playing the best ball of his career.

“I’ve never been that consistent and that’s a big part,” said Reyes about his success. “So hopefully I can continue to feel that way all season long. I am going to continue to do my job and help this team,” he said

But with David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, and no closer to returning, and as the Mets embarked on a 10-game road trip to Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, there was concern for outfielder Carlos Beltran. He left the game in the second inning after sustaining a bruise to his lower leg.

The foul ball was hit off Braves starter Tim Hudson (4-5) who gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings, his first loss at Citi Field after going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Beltran would strike out and admitted there was pain. He is now listed as day-to-day with a right leg contusion.

“Anytime you get hit in the muscle it’s going to be sore,” said Collins. He was concerned because Jason Bay got the night off, and losing Beltran for any significant amount of time, minus Wright and Davis, would make the Mets that much more thinner in the lineup

“Maybe the best thing for me was to strike out because it was painful,” said Beltran. The Mets have a day off Monday and Beltran hopes to be in the lineup when they open a three-game series with Milwaukee. “I was worried because when I came down the stairs I could barely put my foot on the floor,” he said about going to the clubhouse, and he also experienced some dizziness before undergoing an X-Ray.

Collins can only hope Beltran is good to go. And the Mets, who would fly to Chicago and then bus to Milwaukee, because a runway is under construction at nearby LaGuardia Airport, were satisfied. It’s always good to hit the road after leaving home on a satisfactory note.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol,.com

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Brian Mccann, Bullpen, Chants, Eighth Inning, Francisco Rodriguez, Game Series, Jose Reyes, Knuckleball, Mets Team, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seventh Inning, Three Games, Top Story

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 6, 2011

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