The Juice: Jason Heyward saves the day for the Braves; Dodgers claim first place after rout (Big League Stew)

The Juice returns for season No. 6! It’s almost eligible for free-agency! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.

Jason Heyward had to make the catch.
With his Atlanta Braves clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth , the ball dropping would have meant the New York Mets tied the game — maybe even won it.
Runners were at first and second base for the Mets and Justin Turner’s fly ball was headed toward the left-center gap. So Heyward, all 6-foot-5 of him, stretched out for a spectacular catch that ended the game.
Afterward, Heyward told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman :

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Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11) (The SportsXchange)

PITTSBURGH — Sooner or later, the Pittsburgh Pirates had to get a hit with runners in scoring position.

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Braves come through in clutch in win vs. Mets (The SportsXchange)

ATLANTA — After failing repeatedly with runners on in a doubleheader loss to the New York Mets the day before, the Atlanta Braves came through when it counted Wednesday night.

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Braves 5, Mets 3 (The SportsXchange)

ATLANTA — After failing repeatedly with runners on in a doubleheader loss to the New York Mets the day before, the Atlanta Braves came through when it counted Wednesday night.

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Cubs, Mets and umpires team up for complicated and confusing force out (Video) (Big League Stew)

The Chicago Cubs and New York Mets played a relatively uneventful game for eight innings on Saturday afternoon. In the top of the ninth inning, however, the two teams, along with the four umpires led by crew chief Gary Cederstrom, were involved in possibly the most complicated and confusing fielder’s choices you’ll ever see.
The play happened with the bases loaded, nobody out and Chicago’s Darwin Barney at the plate. Barney would end up hitting a soft liner to shallow center field that Juan Lagares appeared to trap at first look, but probably caught after further review. It was a tough, flip-of-the-coin type call any way you slice it, which might explain why none of the four umpires offered an initial ruling. Eventually, first base umpire Lance Barrett signaled the ball was trapped, but at that point there were three baserunners trapped in no man’s land, nine fielders that didn’t know which way was up, and three other umpires still deciding in their own minds what just happened.
It was, in a word, chaotic, and when all was said and done, only one out was recorded and no runners advanced.
I don’t know that I could do this play justice with a full play-by-play, but I can confidently tell you that after coming up with the ball, Lagares quickly fired to second base for what he thought was a potential double play. However, runner Ryan Sweeney made it back in time so he was ruled safe, which would have been true regardless of the call in center field. What actually ended up happening on the throw, Justin Turner caught it and stepped on second, which forced out the runner at first, Nate Schierholtz, and essentially ended the play right there because there were no longer any force outs in play.

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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

Right now the outfield combination is a guess that works for the Mets

New York – Friday night at Citi Field in the New York Mets outfield, Mike Baxter got the start in right field, Lucas Duda was in left, Jordany Valdespin in center. It has been common not to expect the same everyday outfield combination in the lineup put together by manager Terry Collins.

It could cause some issues, but not in the Mets clubhouse. Everyone seems to be content with their playing time. What matters most, Collins is trying to find the right combination that can produce some runs in the lineup. And, if Valdespin keeps coming off big, as he did Wednesday night with a walk-off game winning grand slam home run, he could be in the outfield every day.

However, Collins will not commit to who plays where. As he makes out the lineup a lot has to do also with righty against lefty, and who may have the upper hand. Except Mets fans are becoming acclimated to seeing Valdespin come up big, who can also fill some holes in the infield.

“I took the one guy who has a .400 on base in Mike Baxter and said if we can get him on, we got a guy at number 2 who can handle the bat, and hit behind runners, and hit in the holes and bunt and do the little things,” commented Collins about inserting Baxter in right at the top of the order Friday night.

Baxter was followed in the order by Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright, and then came Duda.  The Mets come to the ballpark and it does matter where, when, or if or not they are in the lineup.

The outfield has learned to work as a unit and in the end it comes down to winning ballgames.

Yes, Sandy Alderson, the general manager suggested to Collins to insert Wright fifth in the order.  The Mets captain, before getting injured, drove home 10-runs in the World Baseball Classic. The outfield, though, that is the discretion of the Mets manager.

“He led off for us last year, he knows what he is doing,” said Collins about inserting Baxter in that role Friday night as the Mets dropped the first of a three-game series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Baxter struck out once and went hitless in four at bats. In the third inning, he also lost a ball in right field that was ruled a double of the bat of Lance Nix.

“It was the twilight out there, hard to read,” commented Baxter about the mixed ball. He said it had nothing to do with the limited playing time out in right, or coming off the bench as a role player.

As for going hitless at the plate, Baxter and the Mets can blame Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick who shut out the Mets for the first time this season limiting them to three hits. Kendrick did not allow a runner to second base after the first inning.

Simply put, Collins is aware that he has to get his guys playing time and find a proper role for them. Baxter, as with rookie Juan Lagares, will get the time. The 24-year old Lagares of the Dominican Republic was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday and recorded his first Major League base hit coming off the bench.

The attitude of Lagares, it fits in with the rest of that crowded outfield. “I am going to try and be here and do whatever they need me to do here, come here to work hard everyday  ” he said after getting his first start in center Wednesday night against the Dodgers.

But in a matter of time, Collins and the Mets should have that outfield set. In the meantime, when the Mets outfield arrives at Citi Field early Saturday morning for another game with the Phillies, as has been the case, they will look on the board and see if their name is in the starting lineup.

“We will come out tomorrow and give it another try,” said Baxter.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

 

Posted under Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dro, Lefty, Mets Clubhouse, Mets Fans, Mets New York, Mike Baxter, New York Mets, Outfield, Playing Time, Right Combination, Ruben, Runners, Sandy Alderson, Tejada, Top Story, Wednesday Night

Toronto’s Mark Buehrle overcomes ‘crazy’ feelings to beat White Sox (Big League Stew)

Mark Buehrle accomplished so much with the Chicago White Sox — a no-hitter, a perfect game, a World Series victory — that watching him pitch against his old team must have been surreal. For slugger and former teammate Paul Konerko, it definitely was.
Behind 6 1/3 effective innings by Buehrle , the Toronto Blue Jays beat the White Sox 4-3 on Monday night. Both of the runs Buehrle allowed came in the first inning. It was Buehrle’s first win for the Blue Jays in his first career appearance against the White Sox, for whom he pitched from 2000-2011. For them, he is fourth all-time in starts and strikeouts.
Against them, Buehrle allowed nine hits and wasn’t particularly dominant; he was just good enough to win. Konerko had seen that before — just not while standing in the batter’s box. Via Ian Harrison of the Associated Press:
The White Sox put runners at the corners with two out in the fifth but Buehrle escaped by fanning Konerko.
”Big situation right there and I just knew I had to make a pitch,” Buehrle said. ”I know how great a hitter (Konerko) is.”
Konerko said the experience of facing his teammate of 12 years wasn’t particularly enjoyable for either one of them.
”I didn’t have much fun with it, and I don’t think he did, either,” Konerko said. ”But it was a good game, and he pitched well.”
Reading between the lines, Konerko probably is still a little peeved the White Sox let Buehrle go via free agency, no matter that the Miami Marlins appeared to be the only team offering a four-year deal before the 2012 season. Miami of course traded him to the Jays during the offseason in its most recent purge, but it’s not as though Chicago still couldn’t use him, too.
In addition to “crazy,” Buehrle called facing his old team “different” and “weird”:

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