Mets Give The Phils Another Blanking

New York – Tuesday evening it was R.A. Dickey and Raul Valdes shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies 8-0.  Last night at Citi Field it was Left hander Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia and Ryota Igarashi shutting down the Phils again 5-0.  Who would have wondered with two thirds of the Mets starting rotation missing that this was possible.

“He’s a great pitcher with great instincts,” said Mets Manager Jerry Manuel about Takahaski who threw six scoreless innings, He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.  Combined with Dickey throwing six shut out innings against the Phillies, suddenly Manuel has two reliable starters that follow Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

And afterwards, Manuel would commit. The 35-year old Takahaski who spent a good part of his career in Japan, has earned a spot in the rotation. “To have a performance such as that especially, against two very good teams, elite teams, it lengthens the opportunity for him,” said Manuel. “He had great command of his pitches.”

Takahaski (4-1) threw six scoreless innings in his big league debut as a starter against the cross-town Yankees last Friday giving up five hits in a no decision. Signed in the off season to a free agent deal, he had 16 relief appearances after 202 career starts in Japan,

“I know my pitching style and I prefer to do the same here,” said Takahaski through a translator. He apparently knows the scouting reports getting Phillies home run hitter Ryan Howard to swing at a third strike on a changeup, and credited Rod Barajas with a good game plan.

But with Oliver Perez regulated to the bullpen, and with Jonathon Niese and John Maine disabled, Takahaski was granted the opportunity. It has become a welcome reprieve for Manuel. Suddenly the Mets, with another four-game wining streak have seen their starters have a Major League leading 1.37 ERA in their last nine games

Dickey has been a sudden surprise also. And then there is Jose Reyes, always a catalyst in the lineup who has resembled the Reyes of old. The legs are strong again and he is taking the extra base.  He made a sparkling play in the fourth inning reaching out and retiring former teammate Brian Schneider on a pop out in the fifth inning

And Reyes for the first time this season, leading off in the third inning hit the ball over the fence to right field off  Phils starter and loser Joe Blanton (1-3) that gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. “We’re playing good baseball,” said Manuel. “Jose Reyes is igniting the club”

“Right now, when I get on base two or thee times I feel like myself, said Reyes who went 2-for-4 and has four consecutive multi-hit games. Since returning to the leadoff spot on May 15th, Reyes is hitting .300 with nine runs scored, a double, one triple, a home run and five runs batted in.

The shutouts and new pitching rotation, along with Reyes, and timely hitting has given the Mets new life. They once again climbed a game over .500 (24-23) and there is no talk of Manuel losing his job.  “Quite an accomplishment of using two starters we hadn’t used in spring training,” said Manuel.

The Mets look for the sweep against the Phillies Thursday evening with Pelfrey taking the mound for New York, looking for his sixth win. Then it is off to Milwaukee and San Diego, but the good play has to continue away from Citi Field as the Mets lead baseball with 18 home wins.

Manuel and the Mets have to get some wins away from Citi Field, especially now with Reyes playing, like himself. Added to the equation is Takahashi, getting another well deserved start now that he is in the rotation.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring 786@aol.com

Posted under Changeup, Cross Town, Elite Teams, Game Plan, Good Game, Home Run Hitter, Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Jose Reyes, League Debut, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Relief Appearances, Rod Barajas, Ryan Howard, Ryota, Scoreless Innings, Scouting Reports, Sudden Surprise, Top Story, Welcome Reprieve

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

Wright, Bay Come Through For Mets

New York – Maybe it is the adrenalin of the New York Mets playing the cross-town Yankees, or the importance of winning inter-league games. Whatever it is, the Mets did something against the Yankees they have not accomplished so far this season scoring all of their runs on two out hits Saturday evening.

The Yankees trailed all game, losing 5-3, and the Mets evened the first installment of the 2010 Subway Series a game apiece. The rubber game is Sunday evening with CC Sabathia taking the mound for the Yankees opposing the Mets Johan Santana.

Mike Pelfrey (6-1) got his sixth win of the season, the earliest he reached that many wins and the Mets also bested Yankees starter Phil Hughes (5-1) who trailed 2-0 after the first inning, the largest deficit the right hander has confronted this season. A good night for the Mets and their manager Jerry Manuel that they hope will continue to carry over.

“I feel very good about big Mike,” said Mets Manuel about his starter. “He has really evolved and matured into a solid, solid pitcher.” So solid that Pelfrey contributed to the Yankees to one run on six hits. The Yankees stranded 13 runners and came into the game leading the American League in batting and slugging percentage,

With runners in scoring position the Mets went 5-for- 12 and go their production from their three, four, five and six hitters in the lineup. That was another change for the struggling Mets Angel Pagan went 2-for-3, so did David Wright who has been struggling.

Instead it was Pelfrey, the rookie Jenrry Mejia, and closer Frankie Rodriquez getting a five-out save that stopped the also struggling Yankees. “I feel terrible,” said the Yankees Mark Teixeira who went 0-4 with three strikeouts, now 1-for-20 in his last five games.

Not terrible for the Mets as they snapped a five game losing streak to the Yankees dating back to last June 14th. Bay tied his career high with four hits and Wright, went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position after coming into the game 2-for- 17 in clutch situations.

“Two out RBI’s” are a killer,” commented Bay. “And then just to try and tack on one here, one there, it ended up we needed those runs at the end.” And the Mets needed those extra runs as the Yankees tacked on two more in the eighth. Manuel called on his closer, Rodriquez, who got his seventh save of the season.

“He did his job,” said Manuel about K-Rod as the Mets once again went to their over used bullpen. “Some people get nervous but I like it instead of coming out to get two outs,” said Rodriquez who struck out his counter part Alex in the ninth. He struck out Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli to end the game.

And for the Yankees, a team looking to find themselves with numerous injuries, it is back to the drawing board and trying to salvage the final game in this first set of games against their rivals from Flushing.

“Its baseball,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi regarding the inability of his team to get runners across the plate. “You are going to go through that as hitters. It’s the reality of the game,” he said.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Cc Sabathia, Cross Town, David Wright, First Installment, Five Games, Game Losing Streak, Johan Santana, League Games, Mark Teixeira, Mejia, Mets New York, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Phil Hughes, Right Hander, Rodriquez, Rubber Game, Slugging Percentage, Subway Series, Th Bay, Top Story

Jerry’s Last (Home) Stand?

FLUSHING, NY – There really wasn’t any surprises in last night’s 2-1 Yankee win to open the 2010 Subway Series.

The Mets didn’t hit, making Javier Vazquez look like a star, while the Yankees were baffled by Hisanori Takahashi, a pitcher they never saw before.

Of course, the game was decided on an error on the Mets second baseman. This time it wasn’t Luis Castillo, but Alex Cora who threw away a tailored made double play ball, which set up Kevin Russo’s game winning double.

And when the Mets did rally against Mariano Rivera, struggling David Wright meekly grounded to second on the first pitch he saw with the tying run on second base.

“He’s a guy that you don’t want to try to work the count against because he’s got great stuff,” Wright said, but the fact remains, the Mets wasted a golden opportunity to silence some of their detractors by beating a Yankees on their own turf.

Instead the Mets decided to emulate the 2000 Mets who were honored before the game by losing this heartbreaker to third cross town rivals.

“If you’ve seen the ballgames we’ve lost, they have all been close,” said center fielder Angel Pagan, one of the few Mets who hasn’t struggled this season. “That has given us the confidence to keep fighting.”

The fight, though, may be over soon for manager Jerry Manuel. Although unfair, the writing is starting to show on the wall. Say a 1-5 home stand against the Yankees and Phillies may be enough to jettison the Mets embattled leader. Although unfair, because not even John McGraw could win with this cast of characters, the signs are there.

First you have John Maine, who started a public war with his manager for being taken out after five pitches on Thursday. Although it was the correct move, and with his track record over the last few years, Maine should be thankful he’s still wearing a major league uniform, Manuel status has been taken into question.

The night before, David Wright wondered why he was benched against Livan Hernandez, a pitcher he’s owned in the past and last Monday Jeff Francoeur had to take a seat with his parents in attendance down in Atlanta.

Sure, both Wright and Francoeur could have used the rest, but you have to wonder about the timing. Did it have to be in Atlanta for Francoeur? Could Wright have another day off?

All of this comes back to Manuel. Omar Minaya went on record yesterday saying the Yankee series won’t determine his manager’s fate, but a winless or even a 1-5 home stand with a griping clubhouse will make it tough for Manuel to keep his job.

Yet, if it is time for Manuel to go, then you have to wonder how the Mets will handle the situation. Firings are not the Mets strong point, just look at Tony Bernazard last year and Willie Randolph back in 2008.

Yet, after this home stand, it will be a Friday and the Mets will be on the road – two factors the Mets look for when they relieve their manager – but it will also put the team in Milwaukee where Randolph will be sitting in the opposing dugout, so it never comes easy.

But something will need to be done soon or 2010 will go down as another lost season.

Posted under Alex Cora, Ballgames, Center Fielder, Correct Move, Cross Town, David Wright, Double Play, Golden Opportunity, Great Stuff, Heartbreaker, Javier Vazquez, Joe Mcdonald, John Mcgraw, Look Like A Star, Luis Castillo, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Play Ball, Public War, Second Baseman, Subway Series, Top Story, Town Rivals