Mets continue to struggle, so does Ike as Reds sweep series

With Matt Harvey on the mound Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, there was every opportunity for the New York Mets to get a win. But with the team struggling to score runs, Harvey had to be at his best and sometimes in baseball that is hard to do.

Harvey allowed a career high nine hits and left with the fifth no decision in his last six starts. Ike Davis continued to struggle at the plate, and on the field as the Cincinnati Reds completed their second consecutive three-sweep over the Mets at Citi Field with a 7-4 win.

New York scored four runs which snapped a nine-game string at home with three runs or less, but Davis remained hitless in his last 25 at bats with runners in scoring position, with an 0-for-2 day at the plate. That extended his drought to one hit in his last 38 –at-bats.

Adding to the struggles at the plate for Davis was a play at first base in the ninth inning that appeared to be a double-play ball. That resulted in the Reds scoring and breaking a tie, and a three-run inning.

Overall, it seems the Mets can’t get out of a losing pattern when at home. What appears to be going their way turns out different, even the play at first that involved Davis, one that is epitomizing the first few months of his season.

“I could not get the out at home plus I was trying to get off the bag to get in the hole because it was a right hand hitter,” said Davis about the play to first on a ball hit by Brandon Phillips.

He added, “Right before the bounce I thought it bounced foul.  In my head when I thought I saw it bounce foul I put my glove back. I still can’t tell if it was foul or fair on replays. Everything could go wrong for me now, could go wrong.”

To his defense, it was a difficult play to get two outs. But, with the way things have been going for Davis at the plate, the question is, are mental lapses now hindering Davis on the field?

“If it is a chopper, you got to get it,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “The way things are going that typifies everything that has been happening. He has to try and get the play at the plate. You are not going to get a double play on that. The ball took a tough hop and Ike thought it would go foul.”

“I don’t,” commented Collins regarding Davis possibly taking his struggles from the plate to the field.  “I discussed it with him. Don’t ever take your offense to the field. You’re struggling, make them struggle.”

Davis did reach base twice with base on balls, and in the sixth inning made good contact hitting a ball deep to center that was caught. That renewed some optimism that he could be slowly coming out of a tailspin which hindered him the first part of last season.

“I thought that ball to center might go out, maybe that will get him started,” said Collins, who also added Davis’ walks off Reds starter Mat Latos were a good sign.

Harvey would allow a season high four runs, the second time he has allowed more than three runs in his young career. His start snapped a string of 16 consecutive starts allowing three runs or less. The Mets staked him to a rare lead, a first inning run on consecutive doubles from Daniel Murphy and Rick Ankiel.

“Obviously it wasn’t a good start,” said Harvey. “I had to battle through a couple of things. “I’ll take my 24- hours and move on and get ready for my next start. I wasn’t locating, throwing as many strikes as I wanted to.”

He threw 116-pitches in 6.1 innings, and his next start will come at home against the New York Yankees Tuesday night at Citi Field. The velocity on his fastball was not where he wanted it to be, and Joey Votto reached Harvey for a two-run homer in the third to left field that gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who saw his team win their eight of their last nine against the Mets, “  Harvey has god stuff and power pitches. “He pitches a lot older than his experience.

Baker compared Harvey’s [itches to Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry, past pitching greats in franchise history of the Mets. “ He’s in that mode,” he said.

In the end it was the Davis play at first and Bobby Parnell out of the pen in the ninth who gave up the deciding runs. Parnell (4-1) got the loss, allowing three runs in an inning pitched. It was the third time in 20 appearances he has been scored upon.

And as the Mets manager said, the record of 17-27, is not the focus of a season quickly going down the drain.

“We got to get caught up on playing the game right and not the record,” said Collins. With one of the better teams in the National League, the Atlanta Braves coming to Citi Field Friday night for three, and four more with the Yankees home-and home, the record is not as important.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted under Baseball, Bats, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Citi, Double Play, Game, Mental Lapses, New York Mets, Ninth Inning, Play Ball, Replays, Rich Mancuso, Runners, Score, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

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

Reyes’ Batting Crown a Bittersweet, Confusing Moment for Met Fans

In his native Spanish, the surname of New York Mets’ Dominican star shortstop Jose Reyes translates to “kings.”

Somewhat appropriately, Reyes was crowned a hitting king.

Yet, somewhat inappropriately, Reyes acted with anything but the honor a king is normally shown, when he bunted and quickly bolted from the game to secure the 2011 National League batting title in his team’s final game of the season at Citi Field, in Queens, NY, on Wednesday afternoon.

One thing’s for sure. Ted Williams never would have accomplished the feat same the way Reyes did.

Ironically, it was 70 years ago to the day, that the former Boston Red Sox legend Williams decided to risk a .400 season batting average on the final day of the season, on September 28, 1941.

Some advised Williams not to play that day with an average of .39955, which would have officially been rounded up to .400. But, with a much different attitude than Reyes showed seven decades later, Williams thought he didn’t deserve to hit .400 if he sat out.

Williams instead played both games of a doubleheader and went 6-for-8 to finish with a season average of .406, and remain to this day, the last major leaguer to hit over .400 for a season.

On the other end of that spectrum was Reyes, who decided that doing just enough to win a batting title before leaving unceremoniously, was sufficient.

Reyes is of course entitled to use any offensive weapon in his arsenal. Yet, there was something weak about him bunting – rather than swinging away – for a base hit in his first at-bat during the Mets’ 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, especially since Reyes subsequently took himself out of the game.

Worse, knowing he had raised his season batting average to a league-leading .337 and that Milwaukee Brewers’ leftfielder Ryan Braun would probably need three hits in no more than four at-bats later the same night, Reyes decided to become a spectator for the rest of the afternoon.

Classy move? No way, Jose – even though Reyes gave the Mets (77-85) their first batting title in franchise history.

There were several better options which Reyes could have followed. The best would have had Reyes trying to get a swinging single or an extra-base hit not only his first time up, but to stay in the game, and try to do the same for a few more plate appearances – the way Williams did in his pursuit of the .400 mark, and the way a batting champion would be expected to do.

And, even if Reyes decided that was still too risky, he could have at least returned to the field to play shortstop for another inning or two, before taking a walk from the Citi Field infield while acknowledging what would surely have been a standing ovation from the 28,816 fans who sat through light rain on a weekday afternoon, in large part to see Reyes for what might have been the last time in a Mets’ uniform.

Instead, Reyes very routinely walked from first base to the Mets’ dugout under a chorus of boos with manager Terry Collins taking the blame from a bewildered and disgruntled crowd for taking out the star the fans came to see.

The free agent Reyes, who makes his home close to Citi Field, on Long Island, has publicly stated that he wants to be a Met, but New York general manager Sandy Alderson expects Reyes to test a free agent market that appears to include a few teams who could be willing to pay Reyes more than the Mets (who are strapped with financial issues) might be able to afford.

Met fans have long been aware of those facts, and it’s partly why they booed Reyes, thinking that if it was indeed the last time Reyes played as a Met, it was no way for him to go out.

Braun went 0-for-4 for the NL Central champion Brewers to finish with a season average of .332, but of course, Reyes didn’t know that when he bunted himself on base on the first inning earlier in the day.

Still, Reyes’ actions were a major disappointment for Met fans.

Rather than truly competing for the batting title like Williams did for the .400 mark, Reyes took the easy, cowardly route to his hitting crown on the season’s final day.

He disrespected the game, Met fans, and himself, even though in his own misguided thinking, Reyes believed that by playing a lone inning while recording no fielding chances at shortstop and a bunt single on what has traditionally been Fan Appreciation Day, he was treating the fans to something special.
“A lot of people told me I shouldn’t play,” Reyes said. “I said, ‘Oh, no. I want to play.’ I want to be there for the fans.”
That statement was obviously laughable.
That’s not to say that ensuring the only batting title in Met history wasn’t significant, but how many Met fans have ever showed up at the park to see any Met, let alone a star like Reyes (in possibly is final game for the franchise), hoping they could catch a glimpse of that player in the field for the first inning, and in the dugout for the remainder of the game?

In the coming months, Mets fans will find out just how much Reyes truly wants to play “for the fans” in New York.

If he works out a reasonable deal with the financially troubled Mets, then this year’s batting title was as Reyes said, as much for Met fans as it was for himself, and those fans would be prepared to forever treat Reyes as the King of Queens.

But, if Reyes takes his batting crown and seeks more riches (in the form of a bigger contract) elsewhere, then like he showed after his last at-bat this year, the batting king will be all about himself while saying goodbye to the fans he so casually treated like peasants on Wednesday.

Posted under Bats, Batting Average, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dominican Star, Final Game, Jose Reyes, Major Leaguer, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Offensive Weapon, Queens Ny, Ryan Braun, Spectator, Ted Williams, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Jon Wagner on October 1, 2011

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The last day at Citi Field with the Mets had some highlights

Jose Reyes was the major agenda at Citi Field Wednesday afternoon as the New York Mets concluded their third straight losing season with a 3-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Playing his last game as a New York Met, because Reyes is a free agent, he entered the game as the National League batting leader. And it became an interesting story in the first inning, when Reyes, leading off, hit a bunt single and was removed for Justin Turner.

A majority of the slim crowd immediately offered their displeasure at manager Terry Collins. But it was Collins answering for his star shortstop. Reyes asked his manager to remove him from the game if he got a hit in the first inning. So Reyes left Citi Field in the late afternoon as the NL hit leader at .337 and was going to watch how Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers faired later in the evening, second at .335 and would need at least three hits to surpass Reyes.

“I wanted to stay in the game, but Mets fans have to understand, too , what’s going on,” said Reyes who planned to watch the Brewers game against Pittsburgh with a circle of  family and friends at his home in Long Island. If Reyes wins the batting title he would be the first Met to do so, and according to his Major League baseball contract there would be no extra incentives granted.

Reyes, doing what he did, made for plenty of controversy. He admitted after a Mets 13-inning loss, the night before to the Reds, that he would not get much sleep. He said the batting title would be a significant accomplishment and something his people in the Dominican Republic would want. And, Reyes made no reference to his free agency having more value if he secured the batting title.

Collins, who had respect of his players all season, and rewarded with an option on his contract to manage through the 2013 season said, “I heard some comments in the stands. I don’t blame them. People pay a good price to come to these games. “You’ve got to understand that I ask these players to do a lot. We worked hard to get their respect this year and they deserve ours.”

It was an emotional Collins making that statement in his last post game press conference. When asked about Reyes, Collins was obviously holding back tears. His teammate David Wright had no objection to what Reyes did, though some Major League players had their opinion in social media circles and did not agree what Reyes decided to do.

“I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion but in order to win a batting title you have to have a certain number of plate appearances during the course of a year,” said David Wright a teammate of Reyes the past eight years. “I don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t think it’s fair criticism to get one more plate appearance?  He had a great year and we are all rooting for him to win the batting title.”

Reyes was trying to become the 11th different shortstop to win the batting title and first since Florida’s Henley Ramirez hit .342 that led the National League in 2009. As to this being his last game as a New York Met, said Reyes, “A lot of stuff is going through my mind. At the same time, I know what is going on. I am going to be a free agent. So we are going to see what happens in the next few weeks.”

And Reyes heard the fans during the game, chant, “Please stay, Jo-se” They chanted again when Reyes sprinted out of the dugout after Miguel Batista threw the last pitch and got the complete game victory. “I want to stay here,” he said. “We see what happens.”

Alderson said the decision to pick up the option of Collins; contract was attributed to a lot of factors. “The way he communicates in the clubhouse and is appreciated by the players was a large part of it and he is committed to the organization,” he said.  You heard the words from Mets players all season, and most who don’t know where they will be next season were all in agreement that Terry Collins was a player’s manager.

“He is patient, taught me a lot this year,” said Ruben Tejada who Collins has always said was developing into a fine player. Tejada could be a successor to Reyes at short, if not he certainly has earned a spot to be the regular second baseman in 2012. Tejada has one hit in 15 of the last 17 games and finished the season hitting .284. He also showed a flashy glove in the infield and has developed plenty of respect in the clubhouse…

Collins said about his contract, “It’s certainly an honor. I’m very proud of the way the player’s have played. Manager’s we get extended and we get a contract because you team plays well and hard. As I said in spring training we asked them to come out and play the game right, and they have.”  He added the wins and losses could have been better, and enjoyed the experience of his first year in New York and watching young players develop….

Alderson is holding a post season press conference with the media Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. Surely questions will be asked about Collins’ coaching staff and word is all should return including pitching coach Dan Warthen though reportedly third base coach Chip Hale will take a coaching job with good friend Bob Melvin, manager of the Oakland Atheltics. Mets are leaning to returning starter Chris Capuano, a spring training signee who made over 31 starts and was the bad luck starter Tuesday night and did not fair in the decision.

“I am proud of pitching a full season and pitching every fifth day,” said Capuano who enjoyed New York City and finished with a 11-12 record and 4.55 ERA. “That was a big positive for me. The last time I threw a full season was ’06, 07. I threw over 200 inning s in ’06 and had less in ’07. There are some numbers I’d like to improve on. I guess I’d like to get that ERA a little lower….”

One uncertain player in the Mets clubhouse is outfielder Angel Pagan. Team doctors shut him down for the final three games with the Reds after Pagan sustained a mild concussion in the previous series with the Phillies. Though Pagan claimed it was not serious and wanted to play the final games. But there is more.

If Alderson can’t find another outfielder in the offseason there is talk he will be looking to convert Jason Bay into a centerfielder. Pagan, a close confident of the traded Carlos Beltran, fell in bad flavor with teammates on three separate occasions  including a game in July when he asked to be removed from a game in Texas because of the excessive heat.

He had the boxes packed Tuesday evening and was ready to return home to Puerto Rico early Thursday morning. As players packed their bags, hugged each other and said their goodbyes, Pagan quickly got dressed and stayed away from the media. A fan of welterweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Pagan plans to rest for a few weeks, go into an offseason workout plan and attend the Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas in November. It won’t be his last visit to New York this year as Pagan plans to attend the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight at Madison Square Garden in December.

“I have seven good years left in me,” he said. Packing two pairs of Nike shoes sent by Pacquiao, he said, “Someone will pick me up if I am not here next year.” He was not petitioning to keep his roster spot, and as players walked in and out of a back room to the clubhouse, it seemed the only communication was Pagan and getting out of town….

Miguel Batista, the 40-year old former Arizona Diamondback pitched the season ending two-hit shutout and was raving about his former team that is headed to the post season for the fifth time in their young history. As to his future, signed as a late season addition when cut by the St. Louis Cardinals, he said, “This is an organization with talent that will win. I felt good, my pitches had velocity and I know I can help these guys next year …

Mets finished the season with a final 77-85 record good for fifth place in the National League east, 25 games behind the first place Phillies… A final wrap up on the season with the Alderson press conference, and more from behind the scenes on the final game of the 2011 season at Citi Field coming tomorrow.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Baseball Contract, Bunt, Cincinnati Reds, Displeasure, Inning Loss, Interesting Story, Jose Reyes, Last Game, Late Afternoon, Losing Season, Major League Baseball, Mets Fans, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Ryan Braun, Top Story, Wednesday Afternoon

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on September 29, 2011

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