One Bad Inning Dooms Santana

New York -Prior to the rubber game of their three game series in the Bronx Sunday against the Yankees, New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel was asked about his starting pitcher Johan Santana.  Is this the typical first half of the season for Santana, 5-3 and a 3.13 earned run average?

“That’s just his history,” commented Manuel “Just hoping it’s the same thing,” he said when asked about the usual strong second half that comes from his ace.   Santana still has about four more starts before the All-Star break next month after losing to the Yankees Sunday. The damage was giving up his third grand slam of the season to Mark Teixeira. That gave the Yankees their four runs and taking two of three from the Mets at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s a guy I’m never concerned with, said Manuel.  However the Santana fastball has seemed to have lost some speed. Teixeira off a 1-1 pitch hit a low fastball to left clocked at 89. It may have not cleared the wall at Citi Field.

The ball kept going to left and bounced off the wall into the stands, a typical Yankee Stadium home run. The home run by Teixeira, his 12th of the season gave the Yankees the 4-0 lead. It was the Yankees seventh grand slam hit this season, the seventh given up by the Mets pitching staff.

“In this ballpark it’s a home run,” said Manuel. In defense of Santana Manuel added, “In out ballpark, it’s a different story.” But it was still a home run and it goes in the books. An inning that started with a Derek Jeter single, an infield hit, and the bunt by Nick Swisher that Santana and first baseman Ike Davis could not handle.

Those plays happen sometimes to Santana, who has allowed four runs in his last three outings, “We have a routine play, one we were not able to make it,” he said about the play at first that was followed by the Teixeira slam.

“I stayed focused after the home run and was able to throw my fastball,” added Santana who has allowed 17 earned runs in 16.2 innings pitched in three career starts , and a 1-2 record in games at Yankee Stadium.

If the Mets were going to send a message, or provide some dominance to this inter league subway series, the one to cement that was Santana.  With the exception of that home run Santana was able to hold the Yankees to eight hits, striking out three.

“He’s historically been a second half pitcher,” said Manuel “I think he’s starting to gear up for that and, not that he’s not trying but that’s been his history. But I’ll take what he’s been giving us. A few bloop hits and then he gives up a fly ball that ends up going out here because of the ballpark, I still see a guy who competes,”

For now Manuel will count on his ace to close out the first half with a strong finish.  Maybe it is the rubber game of a series that also hindered Santana, because the Mets are now 2-8 in those situations this season.

“When all is said and done, however, if you would have told me that we’d go 7-2 on this nine game road trip, I’d take it,” said Manuel when asked about coming into the Yankee series with a 6-0 trip and then Mike Pelfrey and Santana losing the last two games.

Manuel said putting that into perspective, he was satisfied. But the Mets can never be satisfied unless Santana gives them a solid outing.

ADDED NOTE: After the game the Mets optioned 20-year old right hander Jenrry Mejia to Double A Binghampton to prepare him as a starter and recalled right hander Bobby Parnell from Triple A Buffalo. Mejia threw a scoreless sinning of relief Sunday and it is obvious now that the Mets want to groom him as a starter.

“We felt that his development and progression kind of leveled off,” said Manuel about the move. “But to get him to the next level he needs to pitch on a regular basis.”

Added general manager Omar Minaya, “The only way he’s going to get better is to throw more.  We just feel we have to stretch him out a little bit more.”  Minaya also added it was something planned and Mejia was enthusiastic about the opportunity to pitch more that would help with his development.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Ace, All Star, Bunt, Derek Jeter, Different Story, Dooms, Fastball, First Baseman, Game Series, Grand Slam, Johan Santana, Mark Teixeira, New York Mets, Nick Swisher, Pitch, Play One, Rubber Game, Starting Pitcher, Top Story, Yankee Stadium, Yankees New York

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 21, 2010

Mets Win Round One Against Yankees

New York – Frankie Rodriquez always had the best of Alex Rodriguez when he was a closer for the Angels in the American League. And with drama unfolding in the ninth inning at Citi Field Sunday evening, Frankie, now a closer for the New York Mets got the best of A-Rod again.

This time it was K-Rod working hard on the mound and A-Rod swinging for a third strike with two runners on. The Mets and Johan Santana took the rubber game of a three-game series over the cross-town Yankees 6-4, in the first installment of their inter league Subway Series  The two teams will play again the Bronx at Yankee Stadium June 18-20.

The other battle on the mound this time went to Santana (4-2) who was previously bested twice by Yankees starter CC Sabathia (4-3) when the two opposed each other in the American League. Santana was better going 7 2/3 innings on six hits, striking out five.

Santana got early run support aided by the two home runs from Jason Bay, a two run shot to left in the second inning, and another solo shot to right in the fifth that put the Mets up 5-0, the only home runs hit in the three games. It was the 14th multi home run game for Bay in his career The Bay home runs tied for the least amount hit since this series started back in 1997.

The Yankees, now six games back of Tama Bay in the AL East once again struggled at the plate, while the Mets in the last two games found a way to get runners home, going 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position that helped Santana.

“Right now we are struggling a little offensively,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. His team is without starting catcher Jorge Posada and outfielder Curtis Granderson. And first baseman Mark Teixiera continues to struggle, though going 2-for 4 and another strike out, including an infield hit that set the stage for K-Rod against A-Rod in the ninth

“We put the best guys out there that we feel can win every night,” said Girardi when asked about contemplating any lineup changes. The Yankees continue this road trip to Minnesota for three games starting Tuesday before returning home to the Bronx for a holiday weekend series against Cleveland.

“It’s a Frustrating week for us going 2 and 5 this week, not what we wanted,” said Girardi. He added, “The sun will come up tomorrow. We go to Minnesota and try and get some wins.”

For the Mets, who seemed to find a way to get runners home in the three-game series there is a day off Monday and then a three- game home series with the first place Philadelphia Phillies.” I think what we have to do is continue to play good baseball,” said Manager Jerry Manuel. “We have had some things obviously surrounding us especially the pitching staff.”

Manuel was referring to two-thirds of his pitching rotation. Oliver Perez is regulated to bullpen duty, with John Maine and Jonathon Niese on the disabled list. “It doesn’t affect us but you still have to play on the field,” he said.

Will the momentum continue for the Mets with the Phillies coming to town? “It’s more of a carry over effect of beating a good team,” said Bay regarding the Mets taking their first rubber game series of the season.

Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Alex Rodriguez, Cc Sabathia, Cross Town, Curtis Granderson, First Baseman, Game Series, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixiera, New York Mets, Rodriquez, Rubber Game, Run Game, Six Games, Subway Series, Third Strike, Three Games, Top Story, Yankee Stadium, Yankees New York