July 24, 2009

We've moved!

uhaul.jpgJust as the Mets moved into state-of-the-art Citi Field, this blog has relocated to its shiny new digital home over at the redesigned Newsday.com.

Just click here to be magically transported to the new On The Mets blog. Don't forget to bookmark it.

July 22, 2009

Gameday Live 94: Mets at Nationals

Mike Pelfrey (7-5, 5.07) vs. Craig Stammen (2-5, 4.46).

Pelfrey had been relatively effective for the past six weeks until his blowup against the Braves on July 17. Allowing nine earned runs in less than five innings of work. Prior to that, Pelfrey hadn't given up more than four earned runs in a start since June 4.

The Mets season is relatively over at this point, with the Phillies on fire and the Braves with a shot at a postseason birth still. But Pelfrey needs to establish himself as at least a No. 3 starter on this staff if the Mets are going to feel comfortable with him going into next season. He showed great promise last year, but needs to prove he's not a one-season wonder.

Stammen hasn't given up more than three earned in four straight outings coming into tonight, and has given up three or less earned runs in seven of his last 10 starts. He's not a strikeout artist by any means, but pitches to contact and exhibits good control in the zone, leading to a low amount of walks - 12 in his last 10 starts combined, as opposed to 26 strikeouts. In two previous starts against the Mets this season, he's 0-2, allowing three runs in five innings on May 26 and five runs in as many innings on June 7. But that was when Reyes and Beltran were still playing.

Back at 7:05 for first pitch.

- Cody Derespina

Today's lineup

Pagan ............ CF
Castillo .......... 2B
Murphy ............1B
Wright ............ 3B
Francoeur ........RF
Sullivan ........... LF
Berroa ............ SS
Schneider .........C
Pelfrey ........... SP

July 21, 2009

Gameday Live 93: Mets at Nationals

Look on the bright side Met fans, at least you get to play the Nationals 18 times a year. With last night's 6-2 victory, the Mets improved to 8-2 against baseball's worst team. They'll look to make it a winning streak tonight when Oliver Perez (2-2, 7.99) takes on Long Beach's own John Lannan (6-7, 3.64). You'd think the Nationals are the perfect team for Ollie P to rediscover his form against. But take a look at the lineups, do the Mets even have an advantage over the Nats?

Mets:
A. Pagan cf .320, 0, 5
L. Castillo 2b .291, 0, 20
D. Wright 3b .318 , 5, 44
J. Francoeur rf .258, 6, 42
F. Tatis lf 0 .246, 4, 20
D. Murphy 1b .242, 5, 31
O. Santos c .258, 4, 25
A. Cora ss .245, 0 ,12
O. Perez p .300

Washington:
N. Morgan cf .289 AVG, 2 HR, 32 RBI
C. Guzman ss .297 , 3 ,24
R. Zimmerman 3b .282, 15, 56
A. Dunn 1b .265, 24, 54
J. Willingham lf .284, 12, 26
A. Kearns rf .201, 3, 16
A. Gonzalez 2b .315, 1, 23
W. Nieves c .267, 0, 13
J. Lannan p .125

Definitely more power on the Nationals side and probably also a lineup with more potential. Can the Mets be considered the favorites today? What do you guys think?
-Mark Macyk

Today's lineup

Pagan - cf
Castillo - 2b
Wright - 3b
Francoeur - rf
Tatis - lf
Murphy - 1b
Santos - c
Cora - 2b
Perez - lhp

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets and answers your questions today in a live chat at noon.

July 20, 2009

Source: Manuel, Minaya jobs are safe

With nine players on the disabled list, including three members of the Mets' core, it became apparent early on that neither Jerry Manuel nor Omar Minaya was going to take the fall for the team's dismal performance this season.

Manuel is signed through 2010, and Minaya's three-year contract extension doesn't even begin until next season. So it wasn't surprising that a source confirmed today that COO Jeff Wilpon already has assured both Manuel and Minaya that their jobs are safe. The story was first reported by SI.com.

If you want to read more about why Wilpon came to this decision, check out this Mets Insider from July 9, entitled "Mets' Manuel, Minaya will get pass thanks to injuries."

Gameday Live 92: Mets at Nationals

Good evening! Adam Ronis here to bring you through Injuries 101 and Mets therapy. What's another day without another injury in Mets land? We'll get to that in a bit. First, here are the lineups.

Mets (43-48)
Pagan (CF)
Castillo (2B)
Murphy (1B)
Wright (3B)
Francoeur (RF)
Reed (LF)
Cora (SS)
Schneider (C)
Hernandez (P)

Nationals (26-65)
Morgan (CF)
Belliard (2B)
Johnson (1B)
Dunn (LF)
Guzman (SS)
Kearns (RF)
Harris (3B)
Bard (C)
Martin (P)

On Livan Hernandez: It was good while it lasted. Hernandez was pitching better than anyone could have anticipated, but he has been awful lately. He has lost four straight and hasn't won since June 7, which came against the Nationals. He has thrown a total of seven innings over his past two starts allowing 21 hits and 15 runs. In 17 starts, he is 5-5 with a 5.10 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

On J.D. Martin: With Scott Olsen just placed on the disabled list, Martin gets the start as he makes his major league debut. Martin went 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse and gets to face a lineup not much better than a Triple-A caliber. Martin, 26, was in the minor leagues for eight years with the Indians before signing with the Nationals this season.

More injuries: It didn't look good when Fernando Nieve was carted off the field on Sunday and he was placed on the disabled list with a torn quad muscle. He could be out for the season. Nieve was 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA. Outfielder Corey Sullivan was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. Sullivan, 29, was hitting .290 with two homers and 24 RBIs. Jon Niese is expected to take Nieve's spot Saturday. He is 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA in his last seven starts at Triple-A...Gary Sheffield, who said he has cramps, is out of the lineup again and hasn't played since leaving the game Friday night.

News and notes: The Nationals designated reliever Julian Tavarez for assignment Sunday. The Nationals have lost 10 of 11. The Mets have dropped 9 of 13. The Mets are nine games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East. The Nationals are in last place; 26 games out.

Today's lineup (still no Sheff)

The Mets might want a do-over on their diagnosis of cramps for Sheffield's hamstring. Just a thought. Anyway, here's the lineup:

Pagan ............ CF
Castillo ........... 2B
Murphy ........... 1B
Wright ............ 3B
Francoeur ....... RF
Reed .............. LF
Cora .............. SS
Schneider ...... C
Hernandez ...... SP


Sell-offs? Are you kidding me? Sell-offs?

selloffs.jpgSorry, but I have to laugh when people start talking about how the Mets should just become sellers as they approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Like that's going to help them rebuild for next season or restock their farm system.

Right. We all agree that the season is over. There's no debating that. But if you're a contending team, is there anyone on the Mets you would even want? Even if Omar Minaya bought the plane ticket and sent the player to you?

Forget the players on the DL. It's tough to trade guys that can't run on dry land. Unless other teams are looking for someone to vacuum their pool, count out Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.

There's about three guys the Mets have that would interest other teams: Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez and David Wright. I highly doubt the Mets are moving any of them.

Who's next in line? Jeff Francoeur? Gary Sheffield? Alex Cora? Brian Schneider? Jeremy Reed?

And if the Mets were able to move any of these players, who will replace them from Triple-A Buffalo? Jonathan Malo? Cory Sullivan? Robinson Cancel? Emil Brown?

Even if the Mets have a 0.00 chance of making the playoffs, they still have to field a major-league team of some sort to play out the remaining 71 games on the schedule. Let's not overrate Citi Field as a gate attraction. You can get Shack Burgers in Madison Square Park, too.

July 19, 2009

Gameday Live 91: Mets at Braves

Welcome to another evening on the Mets Gameday Live blog fans. Marcus Henry will take you through tonight's action. The Mets (43-47) take on the Braves (45-46) in Atlanta tonight in the final matchup of this four-game set.

Fernando Nieve (3-3, 3.03 ERA) faces the Braves Javier Vazquez (6-7, 2.95).

Johan Santana got the Mets back in the winner's circle yesterday, tossing seven innings of scoreless baseball in a 5-1 win for his team. The Mets dropped the first two of the series and had lost 13 of 18 prior to the win.

Nieve started off hot winning his first three starts. He dropped his last three starts, including a 3-0 loss to the Reds on July 10. Nieve can hardly be blamed for all three losses. In his three losses the Mets have scored a grand total of one run.

Offensively, the Mets will be without Gary Sheffield again. Jeremy Reed gets the start again in the left field. He went 0-for-4 yesterday. The hope is that Angel Pagan, who went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI can pick up where he left off. The Mets will also rely on Luis Castillo, who in addition to being the team's hottest hitter lately, is 24-for-70 lifetime against Vazquez.

We'll see everyone after the top of the first.

Mets fail to get run in from third with one out. Angel Pagan doubled down the rightfield line to start the game for the Mets. Luis Castillo sacrificed Pagan to third. Daniel Murphy lined to the pitcher for the second out. David Wright lined out to right to end the inning. Braves 0, Mets 0 - Middle of 1st.

Nieve has smooth first inning. Nate McLouth popped out to rightfield. Martin Prado grounded out to third. Chipper Jones walked. Brian McCann flied out to shallow center to end the inning. Mets 0, Braves 0 - End of 1st.

Former Brave Jeff Francoeur grounded out to short. Jeremy Reed struck out swinging. Alex Cora singled to right. Brian Schneider singled to left. Nieve grounded out to the pitcher for the third out and hurt himself as he landed awkwardly on first. Tim Redding is in to pitch for the Mets. Mets 0, Braves 0 - Middle of 2nd.

Tim Redding is pitching for the Mets. Garrett Anderson flied out to centerfield. Escobar hit a solo homer to left to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. Kotchman grounded out for the second out. Church flied out to center. Braves 1, Mets 0 - End of 2nd.

Pagan struck out looking. Castillo singled to shallow center. Murphy flied out to center. Wright walked. Francoeur singled to right, scoring Castillo. Wright moved to third.Reed grounded out to second to end the inning. Mets 1, Braves 1 - Middle of 3rd.

Redding gets out of trouble for Mets. Vazquez singled to center. McLouth walked. Prado grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Vazquez moved to third. Chipper Jones grounded out to first to end the inning. Mets 1, Braves 1 - End of 3rd.

Cora flied out to center. Schneider grounded out to the pitcher. Redding struck out swinging to end the inning. Mets 1, Braves 1 - Middle of 4th.

Braves get run off Redding. McCann flied out to right. Anderson doubled down the rightfield line and moved to third after Francoeur had trouble picking up the ball. Escobar singled to left, scoring Anderson. Kotchman grounded into a double play to end the inning. Braves lead 2-1. Braves 2, Mets 1 - End of 4th.

Mets fail to get a run across. Pagan flied out to deep center on a nice running catch by McLouth. Castillo reached on an infield single. Castillo was caught stealing for the second out. Murphy flied out to right to end the inning. Braves 2, Mets 1 - Middle of 5th.

Mets relief pitching breaks down. Church walked. Vazquez reached on a fielder's choice error, Cora dropped a throw from Murphy, allowing Church to second safely. McLouth walked, loading the bases. Redding was lifted for Elmer Dessens. Prado singled to left, scoring Church. Braves lead 3-1. Jones flied out to deep left, scoring Vazquez. Braves lead 4-1. Dessens was lifted for Pat Misch. McCann singled to center. Prado to second, McLouth moves to third. Anderson flied out to short left. Escobar doubled to right, scoring McLouth and Prado. Kotchman singled to right, scoring McCann. Escobar was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Braves 7, Mets 1 - End of 5th.

Mets go down in order in sixth. Wright struck out swinging. Francoeur popped out to left. Reed grounded out to first to end the inning. Braves 7, Mets 1 - Middle of 6th.

Church walked. Vazquez sacrificed Church to second. McLouth walked. Prado lined into a double play on a nice diving stop by Murphy, who tagged first to get McLouth out. Braves 7, Mets 1 - End of 6th.

Mets down in order for the second straight inning. Cora grounded out to second. Schneider lined out to the pitcher. Angel Berroa struck out to end the inning. Braves 7, Mets 1 - Middle of 7th.

Mets get through 7th unscathed. Brian Stokes is pitching for the Mets. Jones grounded out to second. McCann flew out to left. Anderson singled to right. Escobar grounded into a force play to end the inning. Braves 7, Mets 1. End of 7th.

Braves cruise in 8th. Mike Gonzalez is pitching for the Braves. Pagan popped out to second. Castillo flied out to deep right. Murphy struck out to end the inning. Braves 7, Mets 1 - Middle of 8th.

Parnell gets through 8th. Kotchman grounded out to first. Church grounded out to first. Norton walked. McLouth walked. Prado flied out to deep right. Braves 7, Mets 1 - End of 8th.

Soriano is pitching for the Braves. Wright flied out to center. Francoeur flied out to center. Reed grounded out to third to end the game. Braves win, 7-1.

The Mets drop to 43-38 and are 9 games behing the Phillies, while the Braves improve to .500 46-46. The Mets are in Washington tomorrow to take on the Nationals in a three-game set. Tim Redding gets the loss (1-4, 7.16 ERA) and Javier Vazquez (7-7, 2.86) gets the win.

Mets starting pitcher Fernando Nieve left the game in the second inning with a quad injury, running out a ground ball. He will have an MRI done on Monday.

It was a pleasure. Good night everyone.


Today's lineup

Sheffield still out.

Pagan - cf
Castillo - 2b
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Francouer - rf
Reed - lf
Cora - ss
Schneider - c
Nieve - sp

July 18, 2009

Gameday Live 90: Mets at Braves

Good afternoon Mets fans. Today the Mets turn to their ace, All-Star Johan Santana to try and halt a two game losing streak at the hands of the hated Atlanta Braves. Opposing him will be the Japanese righthander Kenshin Kawakami (5-6, 4.26 ERA). Kawakami's been pitching very well of late, he's won his last two decisions and lowered his ERA, which was at 5.74 on May 16, in 10 of his last 12 starts. The Mets are sending out the perfect lineup for him to lower that further, Gary Sheffield is not in the lineup, which boasts a combined 19 home runs this season (and five of those came while Jeff Franceour was a Brave). Luckily Santana (10-7, 3.09 ERA), who shutout the Reds in seven innings last start, doesn't typically need too many runs to win.
-Mark Macyk

Today's lineup

Pagan - cf
Castillo - 2b
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Francoeur - rf
Reed - lf
Santos - c
Cora - ss
Santana - sp

Want to see what a winner looks like at Citi Field?

While the Mets were getting waxed in Atlanta, Paul McCartney was performing the first concert at Citi Field -- or as he called it once,"New Shea Stadium." Here's a snap from section 403.

paul1.jpg

July 17, 2009

Gameday Live 89: Mets at Braves

Good evening Mets enthusiasts! Welcome to a Friday night of New York Metropolitan baseball!

48123792.jpg

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Mets (42-46), 7.5 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East (and seven behind San Fran in the wild card), take on the Braves (44-45), six games behind the Phillies, in the second game of a four-game set at Turner Field in Atlanta.

This season, the Mets are 17-26 on the road, including a 2-1 mark at Turner Field. Overall, they are 3-3 against the Braves.

Last night, the Mets dropped a 5-3 decision to the Braves despite six innings of three-run ball from Oliver Perez. Yunel Escobar and Garret Anderson each homered for the Braves. The Mets have lost seven of their last nine and they won't be receiving reinforcements anytime soon.

Said David Wright: "It's easy to look at the big picture and be disappointed. But you have to try and simplify things and worry about winning tomorrow."

Tonight, Mike Pelfrey (7-4, 4.47), pictured right with Kidsday reporters Madison Rudzinski, Max Ryder and Emily Dedoyard at Citi Field, takes the hill. Pelfrey earned a win in his last outing (on Sunday), as he allowed three runs in seven innings against Cincinnati. In July, he is 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA. Here are the Braves' numbers against Pelfrey, a collective .273 average, led by Brian McCann, who is 8-for-20 with three RBIs off the 6-7 righty. Pelfrey has six balks on the year, the most by any pitcher since 2001.

For the Braves, it'll be righty Jair Jurrjens (7-7, 2.91), who has won just two of his last eight starts. The Braves have averaged just 3.4 runs in his starts.

Said McCann to the AP: "He could easily have 12 or 13 wins, that's how good he has been pitching all season long. We just really haven't been scoring for him."

Jurrjens, seventh in the NL in ERA, helped himself out in his last start by going 2-for-3 (his first career multi-hit game) with an RBI and a run. He also pitched six innings of two-run ball on five hits and three walks with three K's. The 23-year old has struck out just 78 batters in 114 1/3 innings, but he's gone at least six innings in his last five starts. Here are the Mets' numbers against him, a combined .227 average, led by David Wright's 4-for-11 with a homer and three RBIs.

These two faced each other on May 12 at Citi Field, a 4-3 extra-inning win for the Mets, but neither earned a decision. Jurrjens allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings, while Pelfrey gave up two runs in seven innings.

Finally, here are tonight's starting lineups:

Mets
1. Pagan, CF
2. Castillo, 2B
3. Wright, 3B
4. Sheffield, LF
5. Francoeur, RF
6. Murphy, 1B
7. Cora, SS
8. Santos, C
9. Pelfrey, RHP

*Tonight's Mets lineup has a total of 29 home runs on the season.

Braves
1. McLouth, CF
2. Prado, 2B
3. Jones, 3B
4. McCann, C
5. Anderson, LF (11-for-26 with three homers and four RBIs in his last seven home games)
6. Escobar, SS
7. Church, RF
8. Kotchman, 1B
9. Jurrjens, RHP

*Note: The Mets called up shortstop Angel Berroa yesterday to take the place of Argenis Reyes.

**The weather tonight in Atlanta should be great for baseball, with little chance of rain and temperatures in the high 70s.

***The Braves are retiring Greg Maddux's No. 31 in a ceremony before tonight's game.

Okay, that's all for now. But let's get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.

I'll be back after each half-inning with updates.

We're about 10 minutes from baseball on WPIX 11!

Top of the 1st: A 1-2-3 inning for Jurrjens, as Pagan grounded out to first, Castillo did the same to second and Wright flew out to right.

Bottom of the 1st: After McLouth popped out to Wright on the mound, Prado ripped his 20th double of the year to left-center. Then Chipper Jones walked, putting runners on first and second for McCann, who ripped a double off the wall in right to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.

It was McCann's 20th double and 38th and 39th RBIs of the year. He hit it on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

Anderson struck out swinging, but then Escobar singled up the middle to score McCann and make it 3-0 Braves. It was Escobar's 46th RBI.

Church flew out to left for the third out.

Pelfrey threw 33 pitches in the inning.

Top of the 2nd: Sheffield led off the inning with a double to right-center (his ninth of the year), but then Francoeur popped out to short. Murphy walked to put runners on first and second for Cora, who grounded into a 6-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Bottom of the 2nd: A 1-2-3 inning for Pelfrey, as Kotchman lined out to center, Jurrjens grounded out to first and McLouth struck out swinging (Pelfrey's second of the game).

Top of the 3rd: A 1-2-3 inning for Jurrjens (his second of the game), as Santos flew out to center, Pelfrey grounded out to short and Pagan grounded back to the mound (nice stop by Jurrjens).

Bottom of the 3rd: On the 11th pitch of his at-bat, Prado lined a solo homer just over the wall in left-center to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.

Prado, who has two extra-base hits tonight, has five homers and 19 RBIs on the season. That was the first homer Pelfrey has allowed to a righthander this year.

Then Chipper Jones singled to left and McCann followed with a two-run blast to the first row in right to give the Braves a 6-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the year and 40th and 41st RBIs. He's 2-for-2 with four RBIs already tonight.

Anderson popped out to shallow center, Escobar grounded out to second and Church grounded out to first to end the inning.

Top of the 4th: Castillo grounded out to short before Wright hit a double down the left-field line (his 25th of the year). But Sheffield grounded out to short (moving Wright to third) and Francoeur did the same for the third out.

Bottom of the 4th: A 1-2-3 inning for Pelfrey (surprisingly his second tonight), as Kotchman, Jurrjens and McLouth all grounded out to second.

Top of the 5th: A third 1-2-3 inning for Jurrjens, as Murphy flew out left, Cora grounded out to short and Santos flew out to right to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th: Prado struck out looking (Pelfrey's third K) before Chipper doubled to right-center (his 16th of the year). Then McCann blooped a single to left (his third hit of the night — he's a triple shy of the cycle), putting runners on the corners for Anderson, who one-hopped a double off the wall in right to score Jones and give Atlanta a 7-0 lead.

Anderson has 15 doubles and 34 RBIs on the season.

That prompted Jerry Manuel to lift Pelfrey in favor of righty Tim Redding (1-3, 7.14). Escobar doubled to left on the first pitch Redding threw to score two and give the Braves a 9-0 lead.

On the play, Gary Sheffield came up limping. He grabbed his right hamstring, but walked off on his own power. He was replaced by Jeremy Reed.

Then Church singled to left to put runners on the corners for Kotchman, who singled to right to score Escobar and make it a 10-0 game. Jurrjens and McLouth struck out swinging to end the inning.

Pelfrey allowed nine runs on nine hits and a walk with three strikeouts and two homers allowed in 4 1/3 innings. He threw 104 pitches.

Top of the 6th: Berroa grounded out to third and Pagan flew out to right before Castillo walked (only the Mets' fourth baserunner). But Wright struck out swinging for the third out (the first K for Jurrjens).

Bottom of the 6th: Righty Elmer Dessens (0-0, 2.70) came on in relief of Redding, who allowed a run on three hits in 2/3 of an inning with two K's.

Dessens did a nice job with the 3-4-5 hitters, as he got Prado to pop to second, Jones to ground to short and McCann to ground to second.

Top of the 7th: Lefty Boone Logan (1-0, 2.57) came on in relief of Jurrjens, who allowed just two hits in six innings of work with two walks and one K. He threw just 85 pitches and lowered his season ERA to 2.77.

Logan threw a 1-2-3 inning, as Reed grounded out to first, Francoeur popped to second and Murphy struck out swinging.

Bottom of the 7th: Anderson struck out swinging before Escobar hit a ground-rule double to right-center (his 19th of the year). Church struck out swinging but Kotchman doubled down the right-field line (his 19th of the year) to score Escobar and give the Braves an 11-0 lead. It was Kotchman's 33rd RBI of the year.

Pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad flew out to left to end the inning.

Top of the 8th: Righty Luis Valdez (0-1, 9.00) came on in relief of Logan, who threw a hitless seventh. He got Tatis to ground out to third before Santos walked. But Berroa grounded into a force at second and Pagan grounded out to first to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th: Righty Sean Green (1-2, 5.40) came on in relief of Dessens, who allowed a run on two hits with two K's in two innings.

Green threw a 1-2-3 inning, as McLouth flew out to center, Prado grounded out to third and pinch-hitter Matt Diaz grounded out to short.

Top of the 9th: Righty Kris Medlen (2-3, 5.67) came on in relief of Valdez, who pitched a scoreless eighth.

Medlen tossed a 1-2-3 inning, as Castillo grounded out to the pitcher, pinch-hitter Brian Schneider grounded out to first and Reed grounded to second to end it.

That's all for tonight's game folks, as the Mets lose for the eighth time in 10 games, 11-0.
Mets: 42-47
Braves: 45-45

WP--Jurrjens (8-7)
LP--Pelfrey (7-5)

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:
1. McCann: 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs
2. Escobar: 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs
3. Jones: 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs

And a bonus fourth star: Jurrjens, who earned his eighth win by allowing just two hits and two walks with one K in six innings of work. He threw 85 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.77.

*The Mets scratched out just two hits and were shut out for the fourth time in the last nine games.

Okay, that's all for tonight's game. Thanks to all for coming out. As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action.

We'll see ya'll back here tomorrow, as the Mets and Braves play the third game of this four-game set at 4 p.m.

We'll see everyone then. Goodnight!

(Newsday photo by Patrick Mullooly)

Tonight's lineup vs. Braves

First pitch is delayed until 7:45 tonight because the Braves will have a pregame ceremony to retire Greg Maddux's number. Here's the lineup:

Pagan ......... CF
Castillo ....... 2B
Wright ......... 3B
Sheffield ...... LF
Francoeur .... RF
Murphy ........ 1B
Cora ............ SS
Santos ......... C
Pelfrey ......... SP

"We didn't actually beat ourselves"

falsestart.jpgWow.

Talk about setting the bar low. That's what Jerry Manuel had to say after the Mets fell to the Braves, 5-3, last night at Turner Field.

Translation: Look Ma, no errors!

Give it up to the Mets, folks. They threw to the right base, ran out every batted ball and didn't wear their caps backward on the field. Well, that and $6.50 will get you a Shack Burger at Citi Field if there isn't a W at the end of the day.

There's 74 games remaining in the season, and at this rate, about five or six meaningful ones left. A few more losses, combined with a few more Phillies' wins, and the Mets' deficit will hit double-digits. Then what?

I'm jumping ship on the whole treading-water-until-they-get-healthy thing. I was on board for a while, guzzling the Kool-Aid about the Mets reloading for the second half, but Omar Minaya's "updates" yesterday finally changed my mind.

I'm with David Wright, who had this to say last night about waiting for the likes of Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran:

"I’m so tired of talking about hurt guys," Wright said. "I’m just worried about what’s going on here. it’s to the point where, if we get them back great, if not we have to find a way. It’s just too much talk about the hurt guys. These guys aren’t having any outcome on our game and somehow we need to talk about them."

He's right, of course. But what's left to talk about?


July 16, 2009

Gameday Live 88: Mets at Braves

After a rash of injuries and comedy of errors during the first half of the season, a once formidable Mets lineup resembled a team that should be playing at Citibank Park rather than Citifield. At 42-45 and 6 1/2 games back of the division and wild card leads, the Mets are looking up in the standings at the midway point, rather than down, which may not be a bad thing considering the way the past two seasons have ended.

Met fans should take solace in the fact that they were able to stay competitive despite the loss of key components. Should those missing pieces come back healthy, perhaps the Mets will be the beneficiary of a second half collapse rather than the victim.

The Mets kick off the second half of the season in Atlanta as they send Oliver Perez (2-2, 8.77 ERA) to the mound against Derek Lowe (8-7, 4.39 ERA). First pitch is just minutes away....

Today's lineup; Berroa up

Angel Berroa has been called up to fill the roster spot vacated by Argenis Reyes. Here's today's lineup:

Pagan - cf
Castillo - 2b
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Francoeur - rf
Murphy - 1b
Cora - ss
Schneider - c
Perez - lhp

F-Mart has surgery and other not-so-great news

Just wrapped a conference call with Omar Minaya, who provided updates on the Mets' numerous injuries. Not much good news. Here's a recap:

-- Fernando Martinez had surgery two days ago to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out six to eight weeks. Looks like he'll be staying out through the trade deadline.

-- Minaya said Jose Reyes is probably the closest to returning from the DL. He took live batting practice off John Maine today in Port St. Lucie, but had yet to run the bases. Reyes has been limited to agility drills with some hard running in the outfield.

-- Maine is probably next in line as the Mets remain hopeful he can pitch in a rehab game in a week to 10 days. Minaya said he no longer has pain behind his right shoulder.

-- Carlos Delgado also is in Port St. Lucie, where he is taking BP as well as infield practice. Minaya was optimistic with his progress, but does not anticipate him returning before August.

-- As for Carlos Beltran, he had another MRI that showed the bone bruise did not shrink "sufficiently" to allow him to resume full baseball activity. Beltran is mostly running in the hydrotherapy pool and riding a stationary bike.

July 13, 2009

Manny and the Mets (Acta, that is)

Now that Manny Acta has been cut loose by the Nationals, could a reunion with the Mets be far off? Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazard, the VP of player development, are both close with Acta, and while there are no immediate openings, it would not be surprising to see him rejoin the organization in some capacity after the season is over.

Here's a story about Acta that I wrote during spring training of 2008 in which he talks about his lasting ties with the Mets.

VIERA, Fla.-- A torrential rain had forced the Nationals to retreat to their clubhouse inside the claustrophobic alleyways of Space Coast Stadium, and in the middle of all the music and card games, Manny Acta was shoveling food onto his plate from the buffet line.

Acta was hardly noticed. At the age of 39, he's young enough to still be playing baseball - at least on a geriatric team like the Mets - but he's been far more successful as a coach and manager. Acta was a career .236 hitter in the Astros' organization and never made it higher than Class A Osceola. That's not exactly championship pedigree, and yet Acta was mentioned in conversations for Manager of the Year last season for the Nationals' 73-89 finish. He received four third-place votes for the award, in fact, the only manager with a losing record to do so.
mannya.jpg
That .451 winning percentage looks a little better when you consider that it was Acta's first job as manager and that many predicted that low-budget Washington might actually break the 1962 Mets' record for futility (120 losses). Instead, the Nationals, hopelessly out of the NL East race, still rallied for a 15-12 mark in September by pounding away at the Phillies and Mets. Acta went 9-9 against his former team, 5-1 in that final month, which was like firing torpedoes through the hull of the Mets' sinking ship.

The events of that fateful September were interesting for a couple of reasons. Not only did Acta motivate his Nationals to embrace the spoiler role - something that's difficult to do in today's game - but he still was greeted warmly by the spiraling Mets when the team visited RFK Stadium during their terrible swoon.

Acta was well-liked during his two-year stint as the third-base coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph. But to see the players venture over to the opposing dugout during batting practice to say hello to Acta was very unusual, even with the rampant fraternization that goes on between clubs.

"I will always feel that connection because I had two wonderful seasons there," Acta said last Thursday. "It was first-class. I was treated like a king and I built some good relationships with [Jose] Reyes, [Carlos] Beltran and Carlos Delgado, just to mention a few of them."

Maybe so, but Acta's popularity seems to transcend the usual barriers that separate the manager's office from the rest of the clubhouse. Every manager wants the respect of his players. It's relating to them that can be the most challenging part, and Acta believes he did that during his time in Flushing.

"I treated them the way I want to be treated, and our relationship was professional," Acta said. "I can relate to them a little bit because of the age thing. We can talk about the same topics and stuff, and I get the best out of them that way, too, when it comes down to getting our job done. You have their trust through friendship but always have to draw the line."

It didn't happen only with the Mets. Acta made an immediate impact on the Nationals, and he left an impression on Ryan Church, one of his former players who was shipped to the Mets along with Brian Schneider in the Lastings Milledge trade.

"I enjoyed every single minute with that guy," Church said. "He's a players' manager and I think it showed with what we did at the end of the season. How we played was really a reflection of him. He's very straightforward and shoots from the hip about what he wants and what he expects. It was amazing for a first-year manager to come in and do what he did with what he had. It makes you wonder what he could do for a team like this one, like the Mets. The sky's the limit with what he can do as a manager."

Acta will have his hands full this season. General manager Jim Bowden made a very controversial trade for Elijiah Dukes - the troubled but talented outfielder - and Milledge's own growing pains were well-documented in New York. Acta does have the advantage of already knowing Milledge, and he's been pleased with what he's seen from him in camp to this point.

"Outstanding," Acta said. "He's working very hard. I really do think that he matured a lot after his first year over there [in New York]. He's all business over here - so far."

Acta did advise Milledge to tone down the anti-Mets rhetoric, however, and Milledge was nowhere to be found when the Mets made the trip up to Viera on Thursday for a game that was rained out.

As for the offseason swap with the Mets and the signing of catcher Paul Lo Duca, Acta said there's been a "continuity" between the teams.

After all, Acta started with the Nats before GM Omar Minaya hired him as part of Randolph's first coaching staff in 2005. It's not easy moving from the penthouse of the NL East to a lower-tier franchise, but Acta isn't buying into all the "team to beat" talk coming out of his division rivals in New York, Philly and Atlanta.

"Everybody has the right to make all of those predictions, and on paper, every one of those teams looks like they're the team to beat," he said. "But I think we proved something to them last year. As terrible as we are at making predictions, we're even worse at believing them. So we're just going to play hard the whole 162 and see what happens."

After what Acta's crew did to the Mets last September, it would be dangerous to underestimate his Nationals again this year.

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets and takes your questions today in a live chat at noon.

July 12, 2009

Gameday Live 87: Mets vs. Reds

Welcome to another afternoon of Mets baseball on the Gameday Live blog. Marcus Henry is here to take you through today's action. The Mets (41-45) take on the Reds (42-44) in the rubber match of a three-game set at Citi Field.

Mike Pelfrey (6-4, 4.52 ERA) takes on Cincinatti's Aaron Harang (5-8, 3.89) in the final game for both teams before the all-star break. Pelfrey wasn't good in his last start as he walked three, gave up eight hits and five runs in three innings in a 8-0 loss to the Dodgers on July 7.

The Mets got a big-time effort from Johan Santana in a 4-0 win over the Reds last night. Although the Mets still couldn't add anything in the late innings after scoring the four runs over the first two innings, they will take any win they can. Newly acquired Jeff Francoeur endeared himself to the Citi Field faithful with two hits and two RBIs last night.

The Mets, who trail the Philadelphia by 6 1/2 games, didn't gain any ground last night thanks to the Phillies, who scored five runs in the ninth to top the Pirates 8-7.

We'll see everyone after the first pitch.

Mike Pelfrey got himself out of a 1st-and-2nd jam. Chris Dickerson grounded out to first. Willy Taveras lined a single to right. Joey Votto struck out looking. Brandon Phillips singled to right. Laynce Nix grounded out to short to end the inning. Mets 0, Reds 0 - Middle of 1st.

Wright gives Pelfrey a little breathing room. Angel Pagan grounded out to second. Luis Castillo reached on an infield single. David Wright followed with a run-scoring double to dead centerfield. Gary Sheffield line out to second. Jeff Francoeur grounded out to first. Mets 1, Reds 0 - End of 1st.

Pelfrey has easy second. Ramon Hernandez popped out to short. Encarnacion grounded out to third. Jerry Hairston fouled out to first as Pelfrey gets 1-2-3 inning. Mets 1, Reds 0 - Middle of 2nd.

Harang settles in. Daniel Murphy flied out to centerfield. Brian Schneider grounded out to the pitcher. Alex Cora singled up the middle. Mike Pelfrey struck out swinging to end inning. Mets 1, Reds 0 - End of 2nd.

Pelfrey cruises through third. Harang grounded out to first. Dickerson grounded out to first on a nice sliding play by Murphy. Willie Taveras flied out to end the inning. Mets 1, Reds 0 - Middle of 3rd.

Mets tack on four more. Pagan struck out swinging. Castillo singled up the middle. Wright singled to shallow center, Castillo advanced to third. The Reds contested that centerfielder caught the ball, but replays showed he trapped it. Wright moved to third on a wild pitch with Sheffield batting. Sheffield singled to center, scoring Castillo and Wright. Sheffield moved to second on the throw home. Mets lead 3-0. Francoeur flied out to center, Sheffield moved to third. Murphy doubled down the rightfield line, scoring Sheffield to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. Schneider walked. Cora singled, scoring Murphy for a 5-0 lead. Pelfrey grounded into fielder's choice, forcing Cora at second. Mets 5, Reds 0 - End of 3rd.

Pelfrey retired 10 straight. Votto struck out looking and was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Phillips fouled out to the catcher. Nix grounded out to second to end the inning. Mets 4, Reds 0 - Middle of 4th.

Mets continue to punish Cincy's pitching. Josh Roenicke relieved Aaron Harang for the Reds. Pagan flied out to left. Castillo singled to left and stole second. Wright struck out swinging for the second out. Sheffield singled up the middle, scoring Castillo. Francoeur singled to centerfield. Murphy singled to right, scoring Sheffield. Danny Herrera is pitching for the Reds. Schneider grounded out to second to end the inning. Mets 7, Reds 0 - End of 4th.

Pelfrey runs into trouble in 5th. Hernandez walked. Hernandez advanced to second on a balk by Pelfrey. Encarnacion walked. Hairston flied to right. Rosales, hitting in the pitcher's spot, hit a ground-rule double to rightcenter, scoring Hernandez. Encarnacion moved to third. Dickerson reached on an infield single, scoring Encarnacion. Taveras singled up the middle, scoring Rosales. Dickerson and Taveras advanced to 3rd and second on a double steal. Pinch hitter Micah Owings struck out swinging. Phillips grounded out to short to end the inning. Mets 7, Reds 3 - Middle of 5th.

Pelfrey tosses perfect 6th. Robert Manuel is pitching for the Reds. Cora flied to left. Pelfrey grounded out. Pagan singled to right. Nix grounded out to first. Hernandez struck out looking. Encarnacion grounded out to third to end the inning. Mets 7, Reds 3 - Middle of 6th.

Wright grounded out to third. Sheffield flied out to centerfield. Francoeur doubled to leftcenter. Murphy flied out to center to end the inning. Mets 7, Reds 3 - End of 6th.

An easy 7th for Pelfrey. Hairston grounded out to third. Rosales grounded out to short. Paul Janish fouled out on a nice play by Murphy, who reached into the photographer's pit to catch the ball. Mets 7, Reds 3 - Middle of 7th.

The Mets got off the home run drought in a big way in the 7th. David Weathers is in to pitch for the Reds. Schneider homered to right. It was the Mets first home run since July 2nd. Cora grounded out to third. Fernando Tatis homered to left. Pagan struck out looking. Castillo walked. Wright grounded into a force play to end the inning. Wright Mets 9, Reds 3 - end of 7th.

The Reds keep coming and add three runs in 8th. Sean Green is pitching for the Mets. Taveras reached on an infield single. Johnny Gomes, pinch-hitting for the Reds, singled to left. Phillips singled to left, scoring Taveras. Pedro Feliciano is coming on to pitch for Green. Nix reaches on an infield single, loading the bases with no one out. Bobby Parnell is in to pitch for the Mets. Hernandez singled to center, scoring Gomes. Encarnacion struck out looking. Hairston grounded into a force play, scoring Phillips. Nix moved to third. Rosales grounded into a force play to end the inning. Mets 9, Reds 6 - Middle of 8th.

Reds cruise through bottom 8th. Nick Masset is pitching for the Reds. Sheffield line out to centerfield. Francoeur grounded out to short. Murphy grounded to first to end the inning. Mets 9, Reds 6 - End of 8th.

K-Rod makes 'em sweat. Francisco Rodriguez is pitching for the Mets. Janish walked. Taveras popped out to first. Rob Hanigan singled to deep left, Janish moved to third. Phillips grounded into a force play, scoring Janish and forcing Hanigan at second. Nix struck out swinging to end the threat. Mets win 9-7.

The Mets (42-45) end the three-game set and the all-star break with a much needed win. The Reds dropped to 42-45. Mike Pelfrey, who improved to 7-4, had a solid outing, allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings. Francoeur continued his hot hitting since the trade, going 2-for-5. Sheffield had another solid day with two hits and three RBIs, while Schneider and Tatis ended the Mets home run drought. It was a good weekend for the Mets, who take 2 of 3 from the Reds and stay within 6 1/2 games of the Phillies, who beat the Pirates, 5-2, today.

See everyone after the all-star break!


Today's lineup

Here's what the Mets' lineup will look like in their final game before the All-Star break:

Angel Pagan CF
Luis Castillo 2B
David Wright 3B
Gary Sheffield LF
Jeff Francoeur RF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Brian Schneider C
Alex Cora SS
Mike Pelfrey P

July 11, 2009

Gameday Live 86: Mets vs. Reds

Today’s matchup features a pairing of pitchers whose last starts were both losses to the Phillies.

Johnny Cueto, who had been having a pretty good year until Monday, couldn’t get out of the first inning against Philly, which ultimately beat the Reds 22-1. Don’t be fooled, though. Cueto (8-5, 3.45) is a legitimate top of the rotation starter and against a depleted Mets lineup that made Jamie Moyer look like Cy Young, he should fare well.

If he doesn’t, that will be because he’s facing Johan Santana (9-7, 3.29). Though Santana also lost his last time out to the defending World Champs, his loss was much more tolerable. Two runs in seven innings, both coming on homers, is usually enough to get you a win. But when David Wright and Gary Sheffield are the only real bats in your lineup, it might be time to revise your definition of quality start (how does complete game shutout sound?).

Santana was “outdueled” in that game by an inferior pitcher in Joe Blanton, and the same could happen today if the lineup is it’s same old self.

The Mets did manage five runs against the Dodgers on Wednesday, but they’re averaging 2.5 runs per game this month after posting 4 runs per contest in June.

The Mets opened the year against Cincinnati and went 2-1 in that series, albeit with a much, much different team.

See below the chat window for some stats on the two teams, and I'll be back before first pitch.

- Cody Derespina

STATS:

OPS:
The only active Met position players with an OPS over .800 are Gary Sheffield (.876) and David Wright (.885). The next highest Met? Brian Schneider (.732).

The Reds have Brandon Phillips (.820), Ryan Hanigan (.821), Jonny Gomes (.970) and Joey Votto (1.033).

OBP:

The only active Met position players with an OBP over .350 are Gary Sheffield (.389) David Wright (.416) and Luis Castillo (.378).

The Reds have Chris Dickerson (.369), Jonny Gomes (.400), Ryan Hanigan (.422) and Joey Votto (.439).

BA:
David Wright (.328) is the only active position player with a batting average over .300.

The Reds have Jonny Gomes (.314), Ryan Hanigan (.333) and Joey Votto (.354).

PITCHING:

The Mets have seven active members of their pitching staff with ERA’s under 4.00 (Brian Stokes, Pat Misch, Johan Santana, Fernando Nieve, Elmer Dessens, Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Rodriguez – two members of the rotation and five relievers).

The Reds have nine (Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Fisher, Daniel Herrera, David Weathers, Nick Masset, Arthur Rhodes, Francisco Cordero, Josh Roenicke).

The Good News: Four members of the Met starting rotation have at least five wins (Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Livan Hernandez, John Maine-DL-). The Bad News: Two members of the starting rotation have at least five losses (Johan Santana, Livan Hernandez).

Red starters Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Micah Owings and Aaron Harang all have at least five wins. But they also have at least five losses, too.

Saturday night lineup, now with extra Jeff Francoeur!

Mets debut for Francoeur:

Pagan - CF
Castillo - 2B
Wright - 3B
Sheffield - LF
Francoeur - RF
Murphy - 1B
Santos - C
Cora - SS
Santana - P

Jerry Manuel said Pagan will lead off tonight and tomorrow to see what he can do heading into the All-Star break.

July 10, 2009

New lineup for tonight's game vs. Reds

Here's the adjusted lineup for tonight's game.

Pagan ........ CF
Cora ........... SS
Murphy ....... 1B
Wright ......... 3B
Reed ........... RF
Tatis ............ LF
Schneider ..... C
A. Reyes ...... 2B
Nieve ............ SP

Mets trade Church for Francoeur

The Mets just announced minutes ago that they have traded Ryan Church to the Braves for Jeff Francoeur.

Like Church in New York, Francoeur was no longer in favor in Atlanta, hitting .250 with five home runs and 35 RBI in 82 games.

Minaya said Francoeur, 25, makes sense as another righthanded bat and, as a former Gold Glove winner, to help with the outfield defense in right.

Gameday Live 85: Reds at Mets

Happy Friday Mets fans and welcome to another night of baseball on Newsday.com. Tonight the Metropolitans, losers in five out of their last six and 10 of 13, will look to rediscover their winning ways before the All-Star Break, in the first of a three game set with the Reds (41-43) at CitiField.

The Mets (40-44) were Livan dangerously last night, in an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers, and Met fans, Jim Baumbach feels your pain.

Tonight it will be Fernando Nieve (3-2, 2.73 ERA), who in his last two starts has allowed six earned runs and 17 hits in innings against Bronson Arroyo (8-8, 5.85 ERA), who beat the Mets on April 9 and does a pretty decent version of Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike."

For more bad news, rookie Fernando Martinez joined the All-Star team known as the Mets disabled list, with the Mets calling up Argenis Reyes, who will play second tonight. They sent down Nick Evans, for Angel Pagan, who will leadoff and play centerfield.

Is tonight the start of a turnaround? We'll be back at 7 p.m. to find out.
-Mark Macyk

Pagan up, Evans down and today's lineup vs. Reds

Angel Pagan up, playing CF. Nick Evans has been demoted. John Maine had a side session today in PSL and Jerry Manuel is hoping he can return "as early as the end of this month."

Here's the lineup:

Pagan - cf
Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Reed - lf
A. Reyes - 2b
Schneider - c
Nieve - sp

Night of the Livan Dead

livandead.jpgGot a chuckle from this morning's back page. Not so funny is the state of the Mets' rotation, which may need an overhaul during the All-Star break.Fernando Nieve will be pitching for his job tonight against the Reds. Another flop, and it's bullpen city for Nieve, if he's lucky.

As for Livan Hernandez, it's time for him to start working on his issues outside the rotation. Last night's 11-2 loss was just ridiculous. Look for Jon Niese to get the call-up after the break, and at some point, John Maine has to eventually return from his mysterious shoulder ailment. If the team's best guess remains a pinched nerve, this seems to be costing him too much time on the DL.

Without Maine, along with the addition of Niese after the break, the Mets would be looking at a lefty-heavy rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Nieve/Hernandez and Niese. The order could depend on splitting up the lefthanders.

In other news, my colleague Jim Baumbach tracks down hitting coach Howard Johnson, who understandably has been keeping a low-profile these days. Hey, it's not HoJo's fault. Not when the lineup is missing three of its top four hitters, with backups and Four-A players filling in. Guess it shouldn't surprise anyone that Fernando Martinez wound up on the DL yesterday, too.

As for this week's Mets Insider, don't expect Jerry Manuel or Omar Minaya to take the fall this season for the fact that this $147-million MASH unit is in fourth place and four games under .500. The DL count should give them a pass, but expect the entire organization to be re-evaluated this offseason, from top to bottom.

July 9, 2009

Gameday Live 84: Dodgers at Mets

Greetings, Mets fans! I’m David Cassilo, and I will be taking you through tonight’s rubber game between the Mets and the Dodgers.

The Mets are coming off a victory (a rare thing to say these days), and tonight will look to win their first series since taking three of four from St. Louis from June 22-25. Since the first of June, the Mets have won just two series.

Last night, Oliver Perez tiptoed his way around seven walks to earn the victory after allowing just two runs over five innings. He was helped out by what can be considered an offensive explosion for this Mets lineup, as they were able to score five runs, which were enough to beat the Dodgers by one.

PITCHING MATCHUP: Tonight the Mets will send Livan Hernandez (5-4, 4.56 ERA) to the hill. Last time out, Hernandez had his worst start of the season, giving up seven runs and ten hits in three innings in a loss to Philadelphia.

However, the good news for the Mets is that Hernandez pitched very well against the Dodgers earlier in the season, allowing just one run over seven innings in a no decision on May 20.

In 29 career starts against the Dodgers, Hernandez is 9-13 with a 4.30 ERA. He may want to pitch around Manny Ramirez tonight, as the right fielder is 5-for-8 with a home run in his career against Hernandez.

For the Dodgers, 32-year old left-hander Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.49 ERA) will try to pitch the team to victory tonight. Wolf gave up just one run in six innings in a no decision against San Diego in his last start.

Wolf has dominated the Mets during his career, going 11-5 with a 3.30 ERA against New York in 29 career starts. Earlier this season, Wolf gave up two runs in 7.2 innings against the Mets in a no decision on May 18. In his last eight starts against the Mets, Wolf is 5-0.

It is a bit shocking to see Fernando Tatis in the lineup tonight for the Mets. In 28 career at-bats against Wolf, Tatis has just two hits and nine strikeouts.

I’ll be back for first pitch.

Top of the first: Rafael Furcal hits a ground rule double off the left field line that skipped into the crowd in foul territory. Andre Ethier singles to left field. Manny Ramirez singles up the middle to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Casey Blake flies out to center field. James Loney walks. Russell Martin strikes out swinging. Orlando Hudson hits a 3-RBI double to make the score 4-0. Hudson is caught trying to advance to third.

Bottom of the first: Luis Castillo grounds out to second base. Nick Evans walks. David Wright singles to right field. Gary Sheffield hits an RBI single to center field, and the Mets trail 4-1. Fernando Tatis flies out the warning track in left field. Ryan Church grounds out to second base.

Top of the second: Matt Kemp singles to left field. Randy Wolf sacrifices to the pitcher. Kemp is picked off second base. Furcal singles into left field. Ethier walks. Ramirez hits an RBI single to left field on the first pitch to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead. With runners on first and second, Blake hits an RBI single to left field to extend the lead to 6-1. Loney flies out to center field.

Bottom of the second: Omir Santos grounds out to shortstop. Alex Cora grounds out to shortstop. Livan Hernandez singles into left field. Castillo walks. Evans grounds out to the pitcher.

Top of the third: Martin lines out to first. Hudson grounds out to first. Kemp singles into right field. Wolf grounds out to second base.

Bottom of the third: Wright singles to right field. Sheffield flies out to right field. Tatis doubles to left field to give the Mets runners on second and third with one out. Church hits an RBI groundout to make the score 6-2 Dodgers. Santos strikes out swinging.

Top of the fourth: Furcal doubles over Sheffield's head in right field. Ethier strikes out swinging. Ramirez walks. Blake lines out to second base, and the Mets appeared to have doubled up Furcal at second, but the umpire called him safe. Loney walks to load the bases. Martin hits a 2-RBI single to right field to give the Dodgers an 8-2 lead. Loney is thrown out trying to go first to third, although it looked like he may have been safe.

Bottom of the fourth: Cora grounds out to first base. Argenis Reyes pinch-hits for Hernandez and grounds out to second base. Castillo flies out to right field.

Final line for Hernandez: 4 IP 11 H 8 ER 4 BB 2 K

Top of the fifth: Pat Misch comes in to pitch for the Mets. Hudson grounds out to shortstop. Kemp lines out to shortstop. Wolf strikes out swinging.

Bottom of the fifth: Evans flies out to right field. Wright grounds out to third base. Sheffield doubles into the left-center gap. Tatis strikes out swinging.

Top of the sixth: Furcal walks. Ethier grounds into a fielder's choice. Jerry Manuel pulls Misch from the game.

Brian Stokes is in to pitch. Ramirez walks. Blake grounds out to shortstop. Loney walks. Martin grounds out to shortstop.

Bottom of the sixth: Church pops out to shortstop. Santos pops out to second base. Cora grounds out to third base.

Top of the seventh: Stokes hits Hudson in the knee with the first pitch. He has to come out of the game, and Juan Castro will replace him. Kemp walks. Wolf strikes out trying to bunt. Furcal strikes out swinging. Ethier strikes out swinging.

Bottom of the seventh: Juan Pierre replaces Ramirez in left field. Daniel Murphy pinch hits for Stokes and strikes out looking. Castillo hits a ground rule double over the right field wall. Wolf is pulled from the game.

James McDonald comes in to pitch for the Dodgers. Evans strikes out swinging. Wright walks. Sheffield strikes out looking, and then is ejected for arguing the third strike call.

Final line on Wolf: 6.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 3 K

Top of the eighth: Murphy stays in to play first base, and Tatis moves to right field. Tim Redding is in to pitch. Pierre grounds out to first base. Blake singles down the right field line. Loney doubles to left field. Martin is intentionally walked to load the bases. Juan Castro hits a 2-RBI single to right field, and the score is 10-2. Matt Kemp hits an RBI single to center field to make it 11-2. McDonald strikes out looking. Furcal grounds out to second base.

Bottom of the eighth: Blake DeWitt replaces Blake at third base. Tatis walks. Church grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Santos flies out to center field.

Top of the ninth: Ethier singles to center field. Pierre singles to left field, despite a diving effort by Evans. DeWitt strikes out looking. Loney flies out to center field.

Bottom of the ninth: Claudio Vargas in to pitch for the Dodgers. Cora singles to center field. Murphy grounds into a fielder's choice. Castillo walks. Evans grounds into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Final score: 11-2 Dodgers

W- Wolf (4-3)
L- Hernandez (5-5)

Player of the game: Manny Ramirez 2-2 2 RBI 2 R 2 BB

This one was over before it started as Hernandez had nothing for the Mets on the mound, and the talented Dodger hitters jumped all over him. Ramirez led the way, as he reached base in all four at-bats. Furcal also played a crucial role in getting things started, as he scored three runs.

The loss coupled with a Philadelphia win drops the Mets to 5.5 back in the division. It is the furthest back they have been this season.

Tomorrow the Mets open a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Fernando Nieve will face Bronson Arroyo on the mound.

-David Cassilo


F-Mart on DL; Today's lineup

Another day, another player on the DL. This time it's Fernando Martinez, who was placed on the disabled list today with inflammation behind his right knee. Argenis Reyes, demoted after Tuesday's game for Oliver Perez, has been rushed back to take the roster spot.

Here's the lineup:

Castillo ............ 2B
Evans .............. LF
Wright ............. 3B
Sheffield .......... RF
Tatis ................ 1B
Church ............. CF
Santos .............. C
Cora ................ SS
Hernandez ....... SP

Bad Ollie or Good Ollie?

wildollie.jpgI was a little surprised last night by how defensive a few of the Mets were about Oliver Perez, who threw 108 pitches in five innings and was extremely lucky to exit with a 5-2 lead.

Brian Schneider, fresh off watching the SNY postgame show somewhere in the catacombs of the clubhouse, swatted away questions about Perez's wildness and instead focused on his ability to get "big" outs.

Fine. I understand that wins for the Mets these days are about as frequent as Donald Trump sightings in Flushing, so I shouldn't expect Ollie's teammates to be overly critical of his performance. Even Jerry Manuel, who must have going crazy in the dugout, bit his tongue after the game and went easy on Perez. The same can't be said for Newsday's own Wally Matthews.

But for $36 million, a supposedly healthy Perez has to do a better job. He pitched like a 20-year-old kid rushed up from Double-A Binghamton for a spot start. And when Perez missed the strike zone, which he did often, it wasn't even close. Pitching coach Dan Warthen will have his hands full fine-tuning Perez for his next start, which, mercifully, won't be until after the All-Star break.

In other news, Carlos Delgado, who is the only one actually making progress on the DL, took ground balls at first base yesterday and appears to be ahead of schedule. How about Daniel Murphy's behind-the-back alley-oop to Bobby Parnell? Newsday's David Casillo has all the details here.

July 8, 2009

Gameday Live 83: Dodgers at Mets

Good evening! Adam Ronis here to take you through tonight's game. Forget about the Mets winning a game right now. The bigger question is will the Mets score a run? They haven't done so in 22 innings. When they score, a parade will be held.

The lineups
Mets (39-43)

Cora (SS)
Murphy (1B)
Wright (3B)
Sheffield (LF)
Church (RF)
Reed (CF)
Schneider (C)
Castillo (2B)
Perez (P)

Dodgers (53-30)
Furcal (SS)
Hudson (2B)
Ramirez (LF)
Blake (3B)
Loretta (1B)
Martin (C)
Ethier (RF)
Kemp (CF)
Kuroda (P)

On Oliver Perez:Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Perez returns. Which Perez will show up? He is 1-2 with a 9.97 ERA in five starts and makes his first start since May 2 when he was placed on the disabled list with patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Perez walked nine in 9 1/3 innings in two starts at Triple-A Buffalo.


On Hiroki Kuroda: Ok, Mets fans. Here's a ray of hope. The Mets are hitting .441 against Kuroda in two career starts. He is 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA and didn't last longer than 3 1/3 innings in either start. I know that this lineup can't even hit Rodrigo Lopez, but I am trying really hard to give you guys some hope. I'm sure it didn't work. Kuroda started April 6 and was on the disabled list until June 1. He is 3-4 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and has allowed 40 hits, walked nine and struck out 37 in 48 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .223 off him.

Stats and notes.Manny Ramirez is batting .273 (3-for-11) with a homer and four RBIs since returning from his suspension...The Mets have lost four straight and 9 of 11...David Wright has no hits in his last 16 at-bats. He has six hits in his last 46 at-bats (.130).

A look at the standings. The Mets are now in fourth place in the NL East trailing the first-place Phillies by 4 1/2 games. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and lead the wild-card leading Giants (46-37) by 7 1/2 games in the NL West. The Giants lost to the Marlins, 7-0 this afternoon. The Braves defeated the Cubs, 4-1.


Today's lineup; Delgado takes grounders

Interesting development today: Carlos Delgado was taking ground balls at first base. Looked pretty good, too.

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Church - rf
Reed - cf
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b
Perez - sp

Video: Omar on the state of the Mets

July 7, 2009

Gameday Live 82: Dodgers at Mets


Good evening everyone. Adam Ronis here to take you through tonight’s game. If you’re a Mets fans, it’s not a good time right now. The injuries, a putrid offense, lack of fundamental baseball and a three-game sweep by the first-place Phillies over the weekend have fans feeling down as the Mets have lost eight of 10. Things don’t appear much brighter with the Dodgers, the best team in the majors, visiting for three games with Manny Ramirez back.

The lineups
Mets (39-42)
Castillo (2B)
Cora (SS)
Wright (3B)
Sheffield (RF)
Tatis (1B)
Church (CF)
Evans (LF)
Santos (C)
Pelfrey (P)

Dodgers (52-30)
Furcal (SS)
Hudson (2B)
Ramirez (LF)
Blake (3B)
Loney (1B)
Martin (C)
Ethier (RF)
Kemp (CF)
Kershaw (P)


On Mike Pelfrey: Pelfrey is coming off a great start against the Brewers. He went 7 2/3 innings and allowed six hits for just his second win in 10 starts. He is 6-3 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. In 88 2/3 innings, he has allowed 97 hits, walked 31 and struck out just 43. Pelfrey is not missing many bats, but he keeps the ball on the ground and has allowed just six home runs. Pelfrey had a 6.39 ERA in June.

On Clayton Kershaw: The lefthander is 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He has allowed just 63 hits in 87 2/3 innings and opponents are batting just .207 off him. Kershaw has great stuff, especially his curveball. He’s 21 and hasn’t pitched above Double-A, so he can be inconsistent. His biggest problem is control. He tends to walk a lot of hitters preventing him from going deep in games. He has issued at least four walks in 7 of his last 10 starts and leads the NL with 52 walks. He has allowed two runs in his last four starts and has struck out 26 in 23 2/3 innings. On Wednesday against the Rockies, he went five innings and allowed one hit, walked five and struck out five. Kershaw faced the Mets last season on May 30 and went 3 2/3 innings giving up five hits and four runs. He has lasted just six innings twice since the beginning of June.

Injury news.
Jose Reyes still feels pain in his right leg and had a cortisone shot in his torn right hamstring today and there is no timetable for his return. Carlos Beltran will need a rehabilitation assignment before he returns. Carlos Delgado is hitting off a tee, but isn't expected back until mid-August.

Give me amnesia please! The Dodgers bring back bad memories and I’m not even talking 1988. The Mets were swept in a three-game series in Los Angeles in May, highlighted by Ryan Church failing to touch third base and a five-error extra inning loss.

Wright is wrong. David Wright was elected to start at third base by the fans for the National League All-Star game but his streaky season has hit another low. He is 5-for-40 with one homer and three RBIs in his last 10 games. He has started all but one of the Mets’ 81 games and went 0-for-11 against the Phillies over the weekend.

Mannywood comes to New York. Manny Ramirez returned from his 50-game suspensions on Friday and will garner a lot of the spotlight tonight. Ramirez is hitting .333 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 30 games. He went 1-for-7 with a homer over the weekend against the Padres. The Dodgers are 22-8 when Ramirez plays.

O-Dog lacking bite.
A lot of Mets fans clamored for Orlando Hudson and the second baseman made the All-Star team. He hasn’t been very good lately and didn’t start Saturday and Sunday. He has no hits in his past 22 at-bats and is 1-for-28 in the past eight games.

Niese on the way? Lefthander Jon Niese was named the International League Pitcher of the Week. He shutout Triple-A Rochester on Sunday.

Notes and stats. The Dodgers are 18-8 in one-run games…The Dodgers swept a three-game series from the Mets in May and held the Mets to six runs…Rafael Furcal has had a disappointing season, but went 8-for-16 with four runs against the Padres over the weekend…Fernando Tatis has hit into 11 double plays…Oliver Perez will make his return and start tomorrow.

A look at the standings. The Mets are 4 ½ games behind the first-place Phillies (43-37), who won 22-1 over the Reds yesterday. The Marlins are second (43-41) and the Braves (39-43) are ½ game behind the Mets…The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and lead the NL West by seven games over the wild-card leading Giants (45-37).

Today's lineup and . . . pop-up drills???

Mets are currently taking infield, which involves a drill calling for shallow pop-ups. I'm not joking. Haven't seen this since spring training. They've got the machine out and everything.

Anyway, here's the lineup:

Castillo - 2b
Cora - ss
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - rf
Tatis - 1b
Church - rf
Evans - lf
Santos - c
Pelfrey - sp

Not to worry: Perez, Pagan and (maybe) Niese on way

mannywood.jpgSorry for the sarcasm, but it's baby steps first for the Mets, who should have some injured players return gradually over the next few weeks. Say what you want about Oliver Perez, but I'll take him over Tim Redding. And for $36 million, so will the Mets at this point, who have left him on the DL as long as possible.

Don't underestimate the value of Angel Pagan, either. Pagan is a good outfield defender -- something in short supply on these Mets -- and should add a spark to the slumping lineup if he returns later this week. That also will mercifully end the inconsistent run for Fernando Martinez, who at age 20 has continued to struggle during his second stint in the majors.

Don't look now but Jon Niese could be ready to help soon, too, with the clock ready to strike midnight on Fernando Nieve. Funny, but I just noticed it's the same name with the 's' and 'v' swapped. Weird.

As for the whole Manny fiasco, which kicks off tonight at Citi Field, the guy is a cheat -- bottom line. Why he is being hailed as some kind of conquering hero is beyond me. I assume that the fans at Citi tonight, as well as over these three days, will do their best to remind Manny of that. Not that it really matters. Ramirez seems incapable of remorse.

July 5, 2009

Four Mets named to All-Star team

wright-beltran-0706-96.jpg
Kathy Kmonicek, Newsday

David Wright and Carlos Beltran were voted in by the fans.

Beltran is injured and will not be able to play (sorry, fans).

Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana were selected to be on the NL pitching staff. The All-Star Game is July 14 in St. Louis.

Gameday Live 81: Mets at Phillies

Good afternoon Mets fans and happy Fourth of July weekend. Unfortunately for the Mets this weekend has been anything but a happy one. The Mets (39-41) take on the first-place Phillies (41-37) at Citizens Bank Park in the final matchup of a three-game set.

Johan Santana (9-6, 3.34 ERA) will take on Phillies righty Joe Blanton (4-4, 5.08).

In a slight change from yesterday, Sheffield was held out of today's lineup. Nick Evans will be starting in left field and Jeremy Reed will get the start in center. Ryan Church will man is usual right field position.

Keys to the game: Offense, offense, offense. The Mets need to score and do it early. They've scored a total of three runs over their last two games. Scoring less than three runs against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park usually won't get it done. The hope is that Santana can provide the spark today. But he hasn't been great lately. Outside of two solid starts against the Cardinals on June 25 and Tampa Bay on June 20, he's been less than average the last month.

We'll see everyone after the top of the 1st.

It was an easy first inning for Blanton. Alex Cora grounded out to second for the first out. Daniel Murphy popped out to short rightfield. David Wright struck out to end the inning. Mets 0, Philles 0 - Middle of 1st.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first for Philly with a solo home run. It was the 30th time he's done that in his career. Shane Victorino popped out to shortstop. Chase Utley walked. Ryan Howard lined into a double play to first base to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - End of 1st.

The Mets are making it too easy for the Phillies. Ryan Church struck out. Nick Evans flew out to deep right. Jeremy Reed grounds out to first to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - Middle of 2nd.

Santana bounced back with a solid second inning. Jayson Werth struck out swinging. Pedro Feliz flew out to deep right on a nice running play by Church. John Mayberry grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - End of 2nd.

Blanton stayed in control in the third, despite the Mets first hit on the day. Brian Schneider grounded out to the pitcher. Luis Castillo singled down the leftfield line. Santana sacrificed Castillo to second. Cora grounded out to first on a diving stop by Ryan Howard to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - Middle of 3rd.

Santana is starting to cruise, although Rollins stayed hot. Carlos Ruiz popped out to shortstop. Blanton grounded out to second. Rollins stayed hot with a single to right. Victorino grounded out to second on a nice play by Castillo. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - End of 3rd.

It was another relatively easy frame for Blanton. Murphy struck out looking. Wright walked. Church lined to first for a double play to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - Middle of 4th.

Santana is in a groove now. Utley flied out to right. Howard grounded out to first. Werth walked. Feliz popped out to second to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - End of 4th.

Blanton needed just eight pitches to get through the fifth. Evans flied out to center. Reed flied out to right. Schneider grounded out to first to end the inning. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - Middle of 5th.

Santana countered with a 10-pitch inning. Mayberry struck out swinging. Ruiz grounded out to short. Blanton flied out to right. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - End of 5th.

The Mets really blew it here. Castillo walked. Santana reached on a bunt single. Cora sacrificed, advancing Castillo and Santana to third and second. Murphy walked. David Wright bounced into an inning-ending double play. Phillies 1, Mets 0 - Middle of 6th.

Phillies extend their lead. Rollins struck out looking. Victorino failed on a bunt attempt. Utley homered to right for the Phillies second run. Howard flied out to left. Phillies 2, Mets 0 - End of 6th.

The Mets continue to struggle with men on. Church popped out to short. Evans struck out and was thrown out at first. Reed singled to center. Schneider grounded out to first, stranding Reed. Phillies 2, Mets 0 - Middle of 7th.

Santana needs some offense. He's done his job. Werth flied out to right. Feliz grounded out to the catcher. Mayberry popped out to short. Phillies 2, Mets 0 - End of 7th.

The Mets blew another chance to score. Castillo singled off the pitcher. Sheffield his hitting for Santana. Sheffield struck out at a pitch in the dirt. J.C. Romero, on to pitch for Blanton, hit Cora. Chan Ho Park, in to pitch for Romero, got Fernando Tatis, who pinch-hit for Murphy, to bounce into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Phillies 2, Mets 0 - Middle of 8th.

Phillies three outs away from sweep. Ruiz struck out swinging against Bobby Parnell, who's pitching for Santana. Matt Stairs grounded out to second. Rollins walked. Victorino grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Rollins at second to end the inning. Phillies 2, Mets 0 - End of 8th.

Lidge was on fire for a perfect ninth. Wright struck out looking against Brad Lidge. Church struck out swinging. Evans struck out to end the game. Phillies sweep.

It was another bad series for the Mets, who managed just three runs in three game. David Wright continued to struggle, striking out twice and bouncing into a killer double play. The Phillies improve to 42-37 and the Mets drop to 39-42. Santana picked up the loss and is 9-7, Blanton improves to 5-4. The Mets are off tomorrow, but return to action on Tuesday at Citi Field against Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers.

See you on Tuesday.


Today's lineup

Fernando Martinez is improving, but Jeremy Reeds gets the call in CF today and Gary Sheffield sits.

Cora .......... SS
Murphy ..... 1B
Wright ....... 3B
Church ...... RF
Evans ........ LF
Reed ......... CF
Schneider .. C
Castillo ...... 2B
Santana ..... SP

July 4, 2009

Gameday Live 80: Mets at Phillies

The Pitching:

The Many Faces of Fernando: Now we begin to find out who the real Fernando Nieve is. Is he the lights out scrap-heap find that gave up just 10 hits and three earned runs in 18.2 innings against the Yankees, Rays and Cardinals? Or is he the guy who gave up 11 hits and one walk (three runs) in 3.1 innings against the Brewers last week?

Whatever he is, he gave the Mets three wins, which is more than they could have expected from a spring training waiver claim, and has helped to ease the pain of losing John Maine.

He also gives the Mets a pretty good chance to win Game 2 of the series, as the Amazin’s will go up against the ageless (until this season) Jamie Moyer.

Showing His Age: Moyer did a very nice job for the Phillies last season, helping the franchise clinch its first World Series since 1980. For his work the Phillies gave the 46-year-old a two-year deal. In return Moyer has given them a 6-6 record and 6.05 ERA.

His last outing against the Mets was a marked improvement from a May 2nd outing in which he gave up five runs in 5.2 innings and a May 7th meeting that saw Moyer give up seven earned runs before the third inning. On June 11, he allowed three runs over six innings in a no-decision.

Moyer allowed at least one homerun in nine of his first 10 starts and has given up a long ball in 11 of 15 outings overall. He’s given up 19 homeruns already this season, one of the prime culprits for his inflated ERA. Moyer’s had just six quality starts this year.

The Mets miss Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ in this series, so they need to make the most of their opportunities to gain some ground on the defending World Champs.

The Offense:

Sleeping, or Slumping, Giant: Though it features a slumping Jimmy Rollins and isn’t quite as consistent as last year’s squad, the Phillies offense is among the best in baseball. Shane Victorino (.294/.360/.441), Chase Utley (.300/.426/.556) and Raul Ibanez (.312/.371/.656) have impressive numbers across the board, while Ibanez, Utley, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard have each hit at least 15 homers so far this year. Even Pedro Feliz is chipping in with a .287 average.

If J-Roll can get going (.209/.253/.322) and Ibanez returns from injury soon, this club is deadly.

Four Spot: David Wright has been extraordinary (.338/.425/.488) in average and on-base (the power leaves something to be desired) and Luis Castillo (.274/.372/.327) has had a bounce-back year. Ryan Church is batting .292 and Gary Sheffield, released by the Detroit Tigers in spring training, is hitting .288 with 10 homers.

But most of the rest of the Mets lineup are cardboard cutouts replacing ironclad stalwarts. Fernando Martinez can’t replace Carlos Beltran (.336 average) in the batters box hitting just .178, and while Alex Cora has played admirably (.257/.356/.329), he’s not a leadoff man, he’s not an everyday player and he’s certainly not Jose Reyes.

This club has a lot of offensive holes, but they’ve also got just enough pieces to cover for a little while longer.

Back before first pitch.

- Cody Derespina

Ollie back, F-Mart hurting, today's lineup

-- The Mets made it official this morning when they announced that Tim Redding is out of the rotation and Oliver Perez will start Wednesday against the Dodgers at Citi Field.

-- Fernando Martinez is bothered by pain behind his right knee and said he expects to miss "a couple days" with the injury. F-Mart was scratched from Friday's lineup but grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

Here's today's lineup:

Castillo ........ 2B
Cora ............ SS
Wright ......... 3B
Sheffield ....... RF
Tatis ............ 1B
Church ......... CF
Evans .......... LF
Santos ......... C
Nieve ............ SP

July 3, 2009

Gameday Live 79: Mets at Phillies

At .500 through 78 games, the Mets, winners of two straight, find themselves behind the NL-East leading Phillies by just two games in the loss column.

In the first of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park tonight, the Mets have a chance to pull the division race even closer against Philadelphia starter Rodrigo Lopez, a right-hander who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2007. On the mound for the Mets is perhaps their most pleasant surprise this season, right-hander Livan Hernandez, who's 5-3 with a 4.04 ERA.

The Phillies (39-39), unable to take advantage of the Mets' recent five-game swoon, escape Atlanta where they were swept in three games.

Evan Drellich here to take you through the first of the latest installment of Mets-Phillies.

Tonight's lineup

Showdown series time.

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - rf
Church - cf
Tatis - 2b
Evans - lf
Schneider - c
Hernandez - sp

July 2, 2009

Gameday Live 78: Mets at Pirates

Welcome Met fans! I'm David Cassilo, and I will be taking you through this afternoon's Mets-Pirates game. The game is a make-up after the two teams were rained out on June 3rd.

The Mets are coming off a victory (a rare thing to say these days) as yesterday Mike Pelfrey got the best of the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo in a duel that saw the Mets come out on top 1-0. The one run came from an RBI single by Ryan Church in the sixth inning.

Remarkably enough, despite all that has happened over the past month the Mets find themselves just two games behind Philadelphia for the division lead. However, it may be more than a two-team race this season as Florida trails the Phillies by a 1/2 game, while Atlanta trails by three. The Mets will look to build a little momentum against Pittsburgh today before heading to Philadelphia this week for a crucial three-game series.

To do so, the Mets will need to do something they haven't done all year - beat the Pirates in their ballpark. Pittsburgh defeated the Mets in all three games earlier this season at PNC Park, winning them by a combined score of 22-12. In May, the Mets swept the Pirates at Citi Field, meaning this is the rubber game of the season series.

PITCHING MATCHUP: The Mets will hope that Tim Redding can turn his season around when he pitches today. Thus far, Redding is 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA. He has given up at least four runs in each of his past three starts, including five runs over 5.1 IP against the Yankees in his last outing on Saturday.

With Oliver Perez close to returning, Redding may be auditioning today to save his spot in the rotation.

Redding has experienced some success against the Pirates in his career as he has a 2-2 record and a 3.79 ERA in 11 career starts. However in five starts at PNC Park, Redding's ERA is 6.38.

If Redding is going to get his second win of the year, the Mets offense must get going against 27-year old left hander Paul Maholm. In 16 starts this season, Maholm is 5-4 with a 4.35 ERA. In his last start, Maholm defeated the Kansas City Royals, while allowing just two runs and five hits over seven innings.

Maholm has faced the Mets six times in his career, including once already this season. That start came at Citi Field on May 9th when he gave up seven runs and ten hits in a loss. However, in his career Maholm is a respectable 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA.

I'll be back for first pitch.

The forecast doesn't look good, but it is supposed to stop raining around 2 PM, so we may get started a little late today.

UPDATE: We will indeed have a rain delay. I will be back whenever the game resumes.

We are back after the rain delay, and it is time for Mets baseball.

Top of the first: With the rain coming down, Luis Castillo grounds out to third. Alex Cora gets the Mets first hit with a bloop single over shortstop.

With one strike to David Wright, we have the second rain delay of the afternoon.

After the second rain delay, Wright flies out to right field on the first pitch of resumed baseball. While Gary Sheffield is batting, Cora advances to second on a wild pitch by Maholm. Sheffield then walks on four pitches. Maholm is looking a little shaky after loading the bases by hitting Fernando Tatis in the leg. After falling behind 3-0, Maholm comes back to get Church to ground out to second.

Bottom of the first: Andrew McCutchen leads off by pulling a double down the first base line. Jack Wilson sacrifices to the pitcher, moving McCutchen to third. With the Mets playing the infield in, Delwyn Young grounds out to shortstop, and the runner holds at third. Redding gets Adam LaRoche to fly out to left field to end the inning.

Top of the second: Quick inning for Maholm. Nick Evans grounds out to third base. Omir Santos grounds out to shortstop. Redding flies out to right field.

Bottom of the second: Garrett Jones gets his first hit of the season with a leadoff double off the right field wall. Andy LaRoche works a walk, and the Robinzon Diaz delivers an RBI single up the middle to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. LaRoche goes to third on the single. Ramon Vazquez walks to load the bases. Redding strikes out Maholm for the first out. With the bases loaded, Redding hits McCutchen to make the score 2-0 Pirates. On a 3-1 count, Wilson hits a sacrifice fly to left field that scores Diaz and extends the lead to 3-0. Young flies out to right field to end the inning.

Top of the third: Castillo hits a line drive single up the middle to start the inning. Cora grounds into a fielder's choice. Cora steals second base. Wright grounds out to third, advancing Cora. Sheffield flies out to right field.

Bottom of the third: Ad. LaRoche singles to left field. Church dives for a hit by Jones, but he misses it and it goes to the wall, giving Jones an RBI triple and the Pirates a 4-0 lead. An. LaRoche strikes out. Diaz doubles off the wall in left-center, and the score is 5-0 as Jones scores. Redding is pulled after the double.

Pat Misch comes in to face Vazquez. He gets him to ground out to second base as Diaz moves to third. Maholm grounds out to third as Misch limits the damage.

Final line for Redding: 2.1 IP 6 H 5 ER 2 BB 2 K

Top of the fourth: Tatis singles to right field. Church singles into center field. Evans singles to center field to load the bases for the Mets. Santos strikes out. Daniel Murphy pinch hits for Misch. Murphy comes through with a two-run single down the right field line that brings the score to 5-2. Castillo grounds into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Bottom of the fourth: Dessens is now pitching for the Mets, and he gets McCutchen to fly out to left field to start the inning. Wilson reaches on a walk. Dessens hits Young with a pitch. Ad. LaRoche grounds into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Top of the fifth: Cora doubles down the right field line to start the inning. Wright singles to right field after Young is unable to catch the ball on a diving attempt. Sheffield hits an RBI single up the middle, and the score is now 5-3. Tatis grounds into a fielder's choice, and the Mets now have first and third with one out. Church singles to right field, scoring Wright and making the score 5-4. After a visit to the mound, Evans singles to right field and Tatis scores to tie the game at 5-5. Maholm is now done.

Jeff Karstens relieves Maholm. He walks Santos to load the bases. Jeremy Reed pinch hits for Dessens, and he hits a sacrifice fly that scores Church and gives the Mets a 6-5 lead. Castillo flies out to right field to end the inning.

Final line on Maholm: 4.1 IP 11 H 6 ER 1 BB 1 K

Bottom of the fifth: Brian Stokes comes in to replace Dessens. Jones lines out to Stokes. An. LaRoche flies out to left field. Diaz grounds out to second as the Pirates go in order.

Top of the sixth: Cora pops up to first. Wright walks. Sheffield pops up to first. Tatis hits a two-run home run to right-center and the Mets now lead 8-5. Church flies out to left field.

Bottom of the sixth: Vazquez singles to left field. Jeff Salazar pinch hits for Karstens and flies out to right field. McCutchen strikes out on three pitches. Wilson pops up to third base.

Top of the seventh: Evan Meek replaces Karstens on the mound. Evans and Santos both ground out to second. Argenis Reyes pinch hits for Stokes and draws a walk. Reyes steals second base. Castillo walks. Cora grounds out to the pitcher to end the inning.

Bottom of the seventh: Pedro Feliciano is in for Stokes. Young strikes out looking, and after drawing a line in the dirt to show where the pitch was he is ejected. Ad. LaRoche grounded out to shortstop. Garret Jones homers to center field and the score is now 8-6. Feliciano is done.

Sean Green replaces Feliciano. An. LaRoche strikes out looking.

Top of the eighth: Steven Jackson comes in to pitch in a double switch that replaces the ejected Young with Brandon Moss. Wright grounds out to shortstop. Sheffield pops up to second base. Tatis doubles on a hit to the left-center gap. Church flies out to right field.

Bottom of the eighth: Fernando Martinez comes in to play center. Church shifts to right, and Sheffield is out. Diaz squares to bunt for a hit, but is hit with a pitch by Green. Vazquez grounds out to first. Green walks Moss. McCutchen grounds to shortstop, and Cora gets Diaz out going to third after Wright bails him out with a good pick-up. Wilson strikes out to end the inning.

Top of the ninth: Evans strikes out swinging. Santos snaps an 0-19 skid and doubles to center field. Brian Schneider pinch hits for Green and grounds into a fielder's choice on a poor base running play by Santos in which he tried to go to third on a ground ball to shortstop. Castillo walks and Jackson is done.

Jesse Chavez replaces Jackson and gets Cora to fly out to center field.

Bottom of the ninth: Francisco Rodriguez is in to pitch. Freddy Sanchez pinch hits for Chavez and hits an infield single to shortstop. Ad. LaRoche hits a two-run home run to center field, and the game is tied at 8-8. Jones, up a single shy of the cycle, grounds out to Castillo. An. LaRoche pops up to second base. Diaz singles on a ground ball between shortstop and third base. Vazquez singles on a ground ball to right field, and Diaz goes to third. Moss hits a hard line drive, but it is right at Castillo. We will head to extra innings.

Top of the tenth: Sanchez stays in to play second base, and Matt Capps comes in to pitch. Wright strikes out swinging. Martinez pops up to shortstop. Tatis is hit with a pitch for the second time today. Tatis steals second base. Church singles up the middle, and Tatis scores to make the score 9-8. Church goes to second on the throw. Evans grounds out to third.

Bottom of the tenth: K-Rod stays in to pitch the tenth, despite throwing 30 pitches in the ninth. McCutchen flies out to center field. Wilson strikes out swinging. Sanchez grounds out to shortstop, and the Mets hold on.

FINAL SCORE: 9-8 Mets

W- Rodriguez (2-2)
L- Capps (1-4)

Star of the game: Fernando Tatis 3-4 4 R 2 RBI 1 2B 1 HR 1 SB

The Mets survived a disaster, and instead got one of their biggest wins of the season. Give all of the credit to Tatis and Church, who picked up Redding after a terrible start. Also, gutty performance by K-Rod to bounce back and close it out.

New York will now head into Philadelphia on a two-game winning streak and will trail by two games in the division at the most.

-David Cassilo

Today's lineup

Today's lineup vs. the Pirates in Pittsburgh, 12:35 start, if the rain holds. It's cloudy now and the tarp is on the field.

Castillo 4
Cora 6
Wright 5
Sheff 9
Tatis 7
Church 8
Evans 3
Santos 2
Redding 1

Lefty Paul Maholm, whose claim to fame is striking out Billy Crystal in spring training, starts for the Buccos.

Manuel, Wright not fans of Franco

john-franco-0706-94.jpg
AP Photo

John Franco was still pitching for the Mets in 2002 when Keith Hernandez got himself in hot water with the players by saying they had "no heart" and "quit" on the season. Mike Piazza fired back at Hernandez then by calling him a "voice from the grave" and saying he should "call WFAN" with his comments.

Hernandez later apologized to the team, but apparently Franco didn't learn anything from that incident. Either that, or he has a short memory. Here's a sampling of the back-and-forth he started with the Mets yesterday after accusing them of having no leadership. David Wright, in particular, was not happy. Here's the story:

BY DAVID LENNON

MILWAUKEE – John Franco has traded his captain’s C for a special advisory role with the Mets, but that didn’t stop him from taking a few shots at his employer this week during a radio interview. Franco, who was welcomed back into the Mets’ organization in spring training, criticized his former club’s leadership void and selfish play.

“Watching them almost every day, there’s no leadership there,” Franco said during an interview with SIRIUS XM. Nobody wants to step forward and be a leader. Something is missing and it’s hard to put your finger on it. They got some great, talented players – [Jose] Reyes and [David] Wright and [Carlos] Beltran, now [Johan] Santana’s there – but I just can’t put my finger on it.”

Franco continued to say that he approached Wright in spring training about stepping up in that role and the Mets’ third baseman was reluctant to do it. “I tried talking to him and tell him to come forward and be that guy,” Franco said, “but I think David feels that being that he’s such a young player and you have the [Carlos] Delgados and [Gary] Sheffields and veteran guys like that, he’s afraid that they’ll look at him like, ‘Be quiet and sit down.’”

When told of Franco’s comments following Wednesday’s win over Brewers, Wright was not pleased.

“With all due respect to Johnny, he doesn’t know what’s going on in this clubhouse,” Wright said. “I don’t feel the need to defend myself as a leader if the guys in here respect me and think of me as a leader. I don’t worry myself with outside people, saying what they’re going to say. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Franco also accused the Mets of showing “too much individuality,” a point that Manuel even raised during his team meeting late Tuesday night. “Guys are worried about their own stats instead of worrying about getting the guy over, not stealing third base with two outs which is really meaningless,” Franco said. “These are the kind of things that they’re dealing with.”

Manuel shrugged off Franco’s comments, saying, “At this point, you’re going to get a lot of opinions on things. John Franco is a member of the Mets and highly thought of by the Mets. He’s entitled to his opinion.”

As for Franco’s knock on the team’s lack of leaders, the manager disagreed. “I think when a guy [Alex Cora] plays with a torn ligament in his thumb, that’s leadership. When a guy [Wright] needs a day off and still wants to play, that’s leadership.”


Another injury. And this time it's good?

pelfmil.jpgThat's what Mike Pelfrey was saying Wednesday when asked about the tightness in his right triceps. Pelfrey kept trying to stretch on the mound, but insisted later that it was nothing to worry about. Yeah, right. With these Mets? Are you kidding?

"To me, that's a good sign," Pelfrey said. "It means I'm getting in front of my sinker."

OK, Mike. If you say so. It's tough to argue with Pelfrey after he shut out the Brewers for 7 2/3 innings in the Mets' 1-0 win at Miller Park. Now the Mets have to hope he experiences the same tightness next week against the Dodgers? Weird.

Raining in Pittsburgh, start of game delayed

To pass the time, let's play a little game. What would you like the Mets lineup to look like in 2010?

Here are the established veteran position players who are under contract or the Mets' control for next season:

David Wright
Jose Reyes
Carlos Beltran
Luis Castillo
Ryan Church

I'm not counting first-year Mets like Fernando Martinez and Omir Santos or young players like Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans because they are not established as every day major leaguers.

So let's have at it. You are Omar Minaya. Let's see your 2010 Mets.

UPDATE, 12:40 p.m.: The pitchers are warming up and first pitch is scheduled for 1:05.

UPDATE, 1:09 p.m.: The game started at 1:05. Two batters. Then a rain delay. Tarp's back on the field.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: Play is scheduled to resume at 1:50.

July 1, 2009

Gameday Live 77: Mets at Brewers

Mike Pelfrey is not only trying to avoid not a sweep, but the Mets' sixth straight loss in this afternoon's finale of the Mets' three-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park.

Pelfrey (5-3, 4.67 ERA) pitches after Johan Santana and the Mets defense faltered — and faltered in ugly fashion — in the fourth inning yesterday of a 6-3 loss. The Mets (37-39) today face a much toucher pitcher too — not someone making their second major league start, like winning pitcher Mike Burns yesterday, but Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 2.86 ERA), who's as dominant a 23-year-old as you'll find. The Brewers (42-35) lead the NL Central.

Before the game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel made the entire team travel together on the bus to the ballpark, an attempt at unity.

Evan Drellich here to take you through the game as the Mets to try to tread water.

Today's lineup - yes, Wright is playing

Despite Jerry Manuel's pregame assertion yesterday that David Wright would get today off, it's no surprise that he's in the lineup. How could he not be after three hits, including a two-run homer, in last night's loss. Gary Sheffield's getting a breather, though - Nick Evans is in leftfield.

Cora ......... SS
Castillo ..... 2B
Wright ....... 3B
Church ...... RF
Evans ........ LF
Murphy ...... 1B
Martinez .... CF
Schneider ... C
Pelfrey ........ SP


All the gangstas on the bus - or else!

As part of Jerry Manuel's postgame message to stomp out "individualism," the manager demanded that all of the Mets ride the 11 a.m. CDT bus from the team's hotel to Miller Park for Wednesday's matinee against the Brewers. No cabs, limos or mopeds.

It was unusual order delivered during the closed-door, 28-minute meeting. Barely anyone takes the bus, except for maybe the broadcast crew and support staff. Players usually like to get to the ballpark early -- even for day games. Symbolism aside, it's a bit extreme, but the Mets are in a tough spot at two games below .500.They also have lost five in a row and finished June at 9-18, their worst month since September of 2003, when they went 7-19 under Art Howe.
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"That’s what we’re based on, the wins and losses," Manuel said. "So when you lose as many as we have, in a row, in tough month, you have to check that negativity at the door. Sometimesthat seeps in and then you have to address it.

"The whole key to that is that when that seeps in, individualism seeps in, and we can ill afford that as a group. How we are designed now, we can ill afford individual things to seep in. Period. I’ve been in it long enough to know some of the things that go along with that.That keeps you staying down that particular road and I’m trying to get us off of that road."

David Wright described the the loss, in which they blew a 2-0 lead, "A little bad luck mixed with bad execution." That's for sure. But Wright agreed with Manuel's assessment.

"When things aren’t going right, people look for reasons why," Wright said. "When you win, there's no problems, there's smiles on everyone’s faces. When you lose, you try to pinpoint different things. We have to prohibit the individualism Jerry was talking about and go pick each other up. We have to try to have each other’s back, because it’s unrealistic to think we’re going to go out there and play perfect baseball every day."

Along with the team being in complete disarray, it was unfortunate that Fernando Martinez hit his first career home run on the same night his face-plant in centerfield led to a four-run inning for the Mets.

In a nice gesture --pity maybe? -- Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart called out to the fans in the bleachers to retrieve the ball and they threw it back to him. Hart then threw it in so Martinez would have the memento for his trophy case.

F-Mart did not save the chunk of grass he kicked up with his fourth-inning stumble, however. The rookie picked up the huge slab of turf and actually replaced the divot.

June 30, 2009

Gameday Live 76: Mets at Brewers

The Mets have lost four straight, they're under .500 — the team-instituted benchmark for success — and they've fallen to third place. It's hard to imagine a more important start for Johan Santana.

Santana (9-5, 3.08 ERA) and the depleted Mets lineup are up against the Brewers' Mike Burns, who's made just one career start before. He has a 3.72 ERA in 9 2/3 innings of work in the majors this season.

Before the game, Carlos Beltran was told by a specialist in Vail, Colo., that he won't require surgery for his bone bruise in his right knee.

With a Triple-A lineup that is finally being exposed as just that, the Mets have to stay above water before heading to Philadelphia for a four-game series at the end of the week.

Evan Drellich here to take you through the middle game of the Mets' three-game set at Miller Park. First pitch up next.

Today's lineup -- No A. Reyes leading off!

Rest easy, Mets Nation. Alex Cora is back atop the lineup. I'm not quite sure why Fernando Tatis is at second base, however. Maybe the manager can tell us where he's hiding Luis Castillo when we talk to him a little later.

Cora .......... SS
Tatis .......... 2B
Wright ....... 3B
Sheffield ..... LF
Church ....... RF
Evans ......... 1B
Martinez ...... CF
Santos ........ C
Santana ...... SP


Rest, not surgery, prescribed for Beltran

carlos-beltran-0706-54.jpg
Getty Images Photo

Finally, some relatively good news for the Mets. It was determined that Carlos Beltran will not need surgery for the bone bruise affecting his right knee after he was examined Monday by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., according to a person familiar with the situation.

Steadman was expected to talk with team physician David Altchek today about a course of treatment that will mostly involve rest, with the plan to return after the All-Star break. The Mets open the second half in Atlanta on July 16.

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets and answers your questions today in a live chat at 11 a.m.

June 29, 2009

Gameday Live 75: Mets at Brewers

Welcome Met fans! I’m David Cassilo, and I will be taking you through tonight’s Mets-Brewers game. This will be the first of a three game series between the two teams at Miller Park.

These two teams met earlier in the season from April 17-19, and the Mets won two of those three contests. The last time they faced off in Milwaukee was last September, when the Mets swept a three-game series. New York is currently on a five-game winning streak at Miller Park, and has not lost a season series to the Brewers since 2003.

The Mets will hope their recent success against the Brewers continues as they are desperate for a win after being swept at home by the Yankees. Their depleted lineup was only able to score three runs and record nine hits in the series.

Meanwhile, the Brewers have been struggling themselves, winning just 10 of their 25 games this month. However, this past weekend they won two of three games against the Wild Card leading San Francisco Giants.

PITCHING MATCHUP: The Mets will look to ride the hot hand of Fernando Nieve once again. The 26-year old right-hander is 3-0 in his first three starts with the Mets, sporting a superb 1.31 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.

Nieve faced the Brewers three times while with the Astros, all in 2006. Of those three appearances just one was a start. Nieve defeated the Brewers at Miller Park, going seven innings and allowing four runs while striking out seven in an 8-5 victory.

His counterpart on the hill tonight will be former Met closer Braden Looper. In his first season with the Brewers, Looper is 5-4 with a 5.16 ERA in 15 starts. The 34-year old right-hander gave up three runs over six innings against the Twins in his last outing and received a no decision.

Looper served as the Mets’ closer from 2004-2005, saving 57 games with an ERA of 3.22. The former third overall pick in the 1996 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals made the switch from reliever to starter three years ago. His first start over that span was against the Mets, and Looper lost that game after giving up three runs and eight hits over six innings. He has not faced the Mets since.

I’ll be back for first pitch to get this started.

Top of the first: The Mets offense picks up right where they left off against the Yankees. Argenis Reyes, leading off despite looking like a minor leaguer since being called up, grounds out to first. Daniel Murphy flies out to left field. David Wright flies out to left field to end the inning.

Bottom of the first: The Brewers looked poised to ruin Nieve's run early, but a strong defensive play saved the Mets.

Craig Counsell flies out to left field. JJ Hardy gets either teams first hit of the night with a double down the left field line. Ryan Braun singles up the middle, but it is hit so hard that Hardy can't score. Prince Fielder hits a rocket to first that Murphy is able to snare and then turn a 3-6-3 double play to get out of the inning.

Top of the second: Gary Sheffield grounds out to third to start the second. Ryan Church gets the Mets first hit of the night with a bloop single into left field. Fernando Martinez has a nice at-bat and singles up the middle. Brian Schneider strikes out swinging. Luis Castillo flies out to left, ending the inning and stranding runners on first and second.

Bottom of the second: Casey McGehee leads off by flying out to Church in right field. Ex-Met Mike Cameron singles to left field on a line drive. Frank Catalanato hits a ground ball to Murphy that was a lot like the one Fielder hit the previous inning, but this time Murphy can't get to it and it goes into right field for a single giving the Brewers runners on first and third. Catcher Jason Kendall hits a hard grounder up the middle that Reyes almost is able to make a play on, but he is only able to knock it down. Cameron scores and the Brewers lead 1-0. Looper strikes out trying to bunt, and Counsell flies out to center to end the inning.

Top of the third: Looper needs just seven pitches to retire the side as Nieve grounds out to first, Reyes grounds out to shortstop and Murphy flies out to right field.

Bottom of the third: Hardy adds to the Brewers lead with home run to lead off the third, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead. It is Hardy's second hit of the game. Braun then hits a deep fly ball to right field, but Church gathers it a few steps in front of the fence for the first out. Fielder hits a hard line drive over Castillo's head for a single. Nieve issues his first walk of the night to McGehee, giving the Brewers runners on first and second. Luckily for Nieve and the Mets, Cameron hits a ground ball to Reyes, who steps on second and throws to first to get a double play.

Nieve has given up seven hits tonight after allowing ten in his first three starts.

Top of the fourth: Wright strikes out for the 75th time this year. Sheffield hits a line drive up the middle for a one-out single. Church gets his second hit of the night as he hits a line drive of his own up the middle. With runners on first and second with one out, Martinez pops out to McGehee in foul territory. Looper loads the bases by walking Schneider after going to a full count. Castillo is unable to cash in as he grounds out to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the fourth: Catalanato gets his second hit of the game as he doubles to start the inning. Kendall gets his second hit as well and gives the Brewers first and third with no one out. Not bunting, Looper singles past Reyes at short, scoring Catalanato and giving the Brewers a 3-0 lead. Counsell hits a flair off the end of the bat to shortstop and Reyes gets the lead runner at third for the first out. Hardy gets his third hit of the night as he singles to left field, and Nieve is done.

The Mets pull a double switch by bringing in Elmer Dessens and replacing Castillo at second base with Fernando Tatis.

Dessens comes in with the bases loaded and one out. The first batter he faces is Braun who flies out to right field. Looper tags on the play, but Church delivers a bullet to home plate and Schneider makes a great tag to turn the double play.

The final line on Nieve: 3.1 IP 11 H 3 ER 1 BB 1 K

The outing is a worse line than his first three starts combined. It is also the most hits this season given up by a Mets starter.

Top of the fifth: The Mets once again go quietly. Catalanato makes a nice running catch at the warning track to catch a Tatis fly ball, while Reyes and then Murphy ground out to second base.

Bottom of the fifth: Fielder and then McGehee ground out to Tatis at second base. Cameron walks, becoming the first base runner against Dessens. Catalanato then reaches bases for the third time as he is hit by a Dessens pitch. Kendall then lines out to Tatis to end the inning.

Top of the sixth: Wright lines out to right field. Sheffield grounds out to shortstop. With two outs, Chuch singles for his third hit. The Mets then get a break as Martinez pop up to third base, but McGehee makes a Castillo-like drop on the routine play. Church goes to third and Martinez is on first. The Mets fully capitalize on the mistake as Schneider hits a double off the wall to score two runs. It was about a foot short of being a home run, but nevertheless, the Mets now trail 3-2. Nick Evans pinch hits for Dessens and grounds out to first.

Bottom of the sixth: Brian Stokes relieves Dessens. Looper grounds out to Tatis at second. Counsell singles to left field. Despite a diving effort by Martinez, Hardy gets his fourth hit of the night on a double to center field, giving the Brewers runners on second and third with one out. Stokes gets Braun to pop up to Murphy, who catches it right next to the pitcher's mound. Fielder is then intentionally walked to load the bases. McGehee, who made the big error last inning, makes up for his mistake by hitting a grand slam to left center. The Brewers lead 7-2. Cameron then hits a long drive of his own but it caught by Martinez at the wall.

Top of the seventh: Tatis leads off with a triple after he lines the ball to centerfield and Cameron has some trouble gathering it. Reyes lines out to third base. After working the count full, Murphy walks. That was the last batter for Looper as he exits the game.

Todd Coffey comes in to face Wright with runners on first and third with one out. After getting behind Wright 3-0, Coffey comes back to strike him out. Sheffield hits a hard ground ball to McGehee at third, but Sheffield hustles out of the box and beats the throw, giving him an RBI. The Mets now trail 7-3. Coffey is pulled from the game in a double switch with Bill Hall coming in for McGehee.

With runners on first and second and two out, left-hander Mitch Stetter comes in to face Church. He gets Church to strike out.

The final line for Looper: 6.1 IP 7 H 1 ER 2 BB 2 K

Bottom of the seventh: Pat Misch comes in for Stokes. Pinch-hitting for Catalanato, Corey Hart flies out to Church in right field. Kendall singles to the outfield. Hall hits a double down the left field line scoring Kendall and making the score 8-3 Brewers. Counsell grounds out to the pitcher. Hardy reaches base for the fifth time with a walk. Misch ends the inning by striking out Braun.

Top of the eighth: Martinez pops out to Hardy in foul territory. Stetter hits Schneider on the arm. Omir Santos pinch hits for Misch. He bloops the ball in right field, but Schneider is thrown out at second after holding up, apparently thinking the ball would be caught. Tatis flies out to centerfield to end the inning.

Bottom of the eighth: Bobby Parnell relieves Misch. Fielder leads off the inning with a double to left field corner. Mat Gamel pinch hits for Stetter and strikes out. Cameron flies out to right field. Hart doubles over Martinez's head and Fielder scores. It is now 9-3 Brewers. Kendall walks on four pitches. Hall hits an RBI single up the middle, making it 10-3 Brewers. Counsell lines out to third to end the inning.

Top of the ninth: Carlos Villanueva enters the game for the Brewers. Reyes pops out to Hardy behind third base. Murphy hits a double to left-centerfield. Wright snaps an 0-16 skid, and hits an RBI double down the left field line. The Brewers lead is cut to 10-4. The Mets get two more back with a deep two-run home run to left field. It is now just 10-6. Church singles to right field. Counsell dives for a Martinez ground ball, but he is unable to grab it, and he reaches with a single. The Brewers have seen enough of Villanueva, and he is pulled.

Trevor Hoffman comes in with runners on first and second with one out. On the first pitch, Schneider grounds into a double play to end the game.

Final Score: 10-6 Brewers

W- Looper (6-4)
L- Nieve (3-1)
S- Hoffman (18)

Star of the game: J.J. Hardy 4-4 1 HR 1 RBI 2 R 1 2B

The Mets bats looked a bit better tonight, but there's no way they could overcome 10 runs and 19 hits. They will have to hope that this isn't the real Nieve, or the Mets have one more problem to deal with.

Tomorrow the Mets will count on their ace Johan Santana to stop the skid as he faces off against rookie Mike Burns.

Thanks for joining me tonight.

-David Cassilo

Beltran seeing Colorado specialist today

Carlos Beltran, on the disabled list with a bone bruise under his right knee, is in Vail, Colo., today to be examined at the well-respected Steadman-Hawkins Clinic, the same place Alex Rodriguez had his hip surgery.

Dr. Richard Steadman is a specialist in micro-fracture surgery, but assistant GM John Ricco, who is with the Mets here in Milwaukee, denied that particular treatment has been discussed in Beltran's case.

"He's going to examine everything that was done in New York," Ricco said. "I don't know how far this injury has progressed. The way they've described it, it's a bruise that gets bigger. And if it keeps getting bigger, it could develop into a microfracture and then a fracture of the bone if you keep putting weight on it."


Reyes leading off

Not a misprint - and not J. Reyes either.

A.Reyes - ss
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Church - rf
Martinez - cf
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b
Nieve - sp

The .500 club

Hard to believe that the Mets, at 37-37, have the identical record of last year's club through 74 games. But I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing with so many players missing. Tough to compare, really, but it's timely considering that Willie Randolph will be watching from the other dugout tonight as the Brewers' bench coach.

One important difference: Randolph failed with his full roster of players, other than the oft-injured Moises Alou. As for Jerry Manuel, he has a built-in excuse with Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and two-fifths of rotation -- John Maine and Oliver Perez -- still out after missing huge chunks of the schedule.
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Last season, the Mets also were in a similar situation regarding the playoff race because of the Phillies' sluggish start. They were only 3 1/2 games back in the NL East.

This year, the Mets are 2 1/2 games behind the Phillies and three games off the wild-card pace, tied with the Reds and trailing the Giants, Rockies, Brewers and Cardinals.

So where do they go from here? Good question. Every time the road ahead looks bleak, the Mets somehow manage to rally and confound the naysayers. They'll need to do that again in these last two weeks before the All-Star break, when the Mets face the Brewers, Pirates, Phillies, Dodgers (with Manny) and Reds.

With trade help unlikely to come before the break, it's up to this group to stay the course. And if they can stay at this status quo, within three games of the Phillies for the start of the second half, it would be considered a moral victory with a few of the key pieces due back.


June 28, 2009

Gameday Live 74: Mets vs. Yankees

With the Mets lone hit yesterday upping their total to four in the last two games combined, one can only hope that they took batting practice a little more seriously today. Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05 ERA) opposes Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20 ERA) as the Mets look to salvage the final game of the 2009 Subway Series.

First pitch is just minutes away.....


Tonight's lineup

Daniel Murphy is your leadoff hitter tonight. Ryan Church's name was in the original starting lineup, but he's feeling nauseous. Church, who spent most of his pregame sitting with his head down at his locker wearing a hooded sweatshirt, appears to have the chills and could be coming down with the same thing that's making the rounds.

So the Mets won't have Church's bat tonight and Fernando Tatis replaces him in the order, which is as follows:

Daniel Murphy 1B
Alex Cora 2B
David Wright 3B
Gary Sheffield LF
Fernando Tatis RF
Fernando Martinez CF
Brian Schneider C
Luis Castillo 2B
Livan Hernandez P

June 27, 2009

Gameday Live 73: Mets vs. Yankees

Mike Gavin here for another night of Mets baseball.

Last night was one to forget for the Mets. Any game in which a team has as many errors as they do base hits is recipe for disaster. Tim Redding (1-2, 6.08 ERA) will try to help the injury-plagued Mets look past last night's comedy of errors as he opposes A.J. Burnett (5-4, 4.23 ERA) and the Yankees.

With the depleted Mets only one game behind the first-place Phillies, there is much more than just bragging rights on the line tonight. First pitch is just minutes away...

Today's lineup vs. Yankees

Church back home in RF. And no, that's not Jose - it's Argenis.

Cora - ss
A. Reyes - 2b
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Sheffield - lf
Murphy - 1b
Reed - cf
Schneider - c
Redding - sp

Argenis Reyes vs. CC Sabathia? Seriously?

I sympathize with Jerry Manuel to some degree for sending up Argenis Reyes to face CC Sabathia with two outs and runners at first and second in the fifth inning. Reyes, as a switch-hitter, was his only RH option.

However, it is Argenis Reyes, and the only reason he is even on the roster is to catch and throw. I can't help but think Daniel Murphy or even Brian Schneider (don't laugh - he's been hot lately) would have been better options. So the question was posed to Jerry Manuel after tonight's 9-1 loss to the Yankees and this was his response:

"I thought as dominant as [Sabathia] was at that time, that was my best shot," Manuel said. "I didn’t want to force a left-on-left in that situation, as well as he was pitching. If it would have been a different type of pitcher, there’s a possibility we would have used somebody else in that position."

So who's at fault here? Manuel for questionable judgment? Or Omar Minaya for not having a decent righthanded option off the bench? With the way Sabathia was pitching, the whole debate is probably academic anyway. But it was the Mets' last best shot -- and only one of the night -- against Sabathia, so it's a tough one to sleep on.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Reyes struck out on four pitches.


June 26, 2009

Gameday Live 72: Mets vs. Yankees

Welcome to another night on the blog Mets fans. Citi Field has been hit with severe winds and rain. The tarp has been removed and the first pitch is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.

Tonight's pitching matchup features Mets righty Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.74 ERA) against Yankee lefty C.C. Sabathia (6-4, 3.71).

The Mets improved to 37-34 after knocking off the Cardinals, 3-2, on Thursday. The Yankees topped the Braves, 11-7, on Thursday and improved to 40-32.

Subway Series notes: The Mets and Yankees have played a total 177 times (the total includes regular season, playoffs, World Series, spring training, Mayor's trophy, Mayor's Challenge, Big Apple Series). The Yankees holding a 102-74-1 edge. In 69 regular season games, the Yankees hold a 39-30 lead.

That mark includes the last Subway Series that took place the weekend of June 12. The Yankees took two of three in that three-game set, including a 15-0 shellacking of Johan Santana in the rubber game Sunday night. The Mets hit a downturn after that, dropping four of their next six to Baltimore and Tampa Bay. But they recovered, taking three of four from the St. Louis Cardinals.

We'll see everyone after the top of the first inning.

Brett Gardner led off the first with a single to shallow center. Johnny Damon grounded to second, forcing Gardner at second. Mark Teixeira flied out to deep left for the second out. He just missed a two-run homer. Damon stole second base. Alex Rodriguez shook off the boos and worked a walk. Robinson Cano grounded out to second to end the inning. Mets 0, Yankees 0 - Middle of first.

Luis Castillo couldn't check his swing and went down for the first out. Johnny Damon robbed Alex Cora of a hit with a nice sliding catch in rightfield. David Right followed with a flyout to deep centerfield to end the inning. Mets 0, Yankees 0 - End of first inning.

Melky Cabrera reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a Wright error. Francisco Cervelli struck out swinging on a nice fastball by Pelfrey. Ramiro Pena, who's playing for Jeter, doubled to left, scoring Cabrera. C.C. Sabathia followed with a single to centerfield, scoring Pena. Yanks lead 2-0. Gardner hit a bloop single. Damon reached on an fielder's choice error, scoring Sabathia. Gardner went to third, Damon advanced to second. Teixeira reached on another Mets error, scoring Gardner. Damon went to third. Rodriguez worked his second walk of the game to load the bases. Cano popped out weakly to second. Cabrera grounded out to second. The Yankees get four runs on three Met errors. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - Middle of 2nd.

Gary Sheffield struck out swinging. Fernando Tatis couldn't check his swing and struck out. Ryan Church flied out to right to end a quick inning for Sabathia. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - end of 2nd.

Cervelli struck out looking to start the top of the third. Pena doubled to left centerfield. Sabathia grounded out to short on a nice play by Cora. Pena went to third. Gardner grounded out to first to end the inning. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - middle of 3rd.

Sabathia continued his mastery of the Mets so far with a strikeout of Nick Evans to start the bottom of the third. Omir Santos lined out to third for the second out. Pelfrey grounded out to short as Sabathia remains perfect through three. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - end of 3rd.

Damon struck out looking. Teixeira popped out to short for the second out. Rodriguez flied out to right as Pelfre gets his first 1-2-3 inning. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - Middle of 4th.

Castillo grounded out to second. Cora struck out swinging for the second out. Wright grounded out to third on an excellent play by A-Rod. Sabathia is still pefect. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - end of 4th.

Cano grounded out to the pitcher. Cabrera flew out to center for the second out. Cervelli grounded out to short to end the inning. Pelfrey has retired 8 straight. Yankees 4, Mets 0 - Middle of 5th.

Sheffield ended Sabathia's bid for a no-no and perfect game with a solo homer to left. Tatis followed with a single, but was forced at second on Church's fielder's choice. But Evans followed with a single. Santos struck out swinging despite the ball hitting him. Church had to go back to second because it was a dead ball. Argenis Reyes is pinch-hitting for Pelfrey. Reyes struck out to end the inning. Yankees 4, Mets 1 - end of 5th.

Matt Misch is pitching for the Mets. Pena popped out to first. Sabathia grounded out to second. Gardner singled to short center and stole second. Damon struck out to end the inning. Yankees 4, Mets 1 - middle of 6th

Castillo grounded to the pitcher. Cora lined out to second. Wright struck out swinging to end the inning. Sabathia seems to have re-gained his control. Yankees 4, Mets 1 - end of 6th.

Teixieira flied out to center. Rodriguez walked for the third time. Cano doubled to left center. There was no way Cano should've made it to second. Tatis was a little lax after cutting off the ball. Now Cabrera had to be walked intentionally. Elmer Dessens is pitching for the Mets. Cervelli popped out to second for the second out. Pena popped out to second to end the threat. Yankees 4, Mets 1 - Middle of 7th.

Sheffield flied out to right. Tatis grounded back to the pitcher. Church grounded out to third. Easy inning for Sabathia. Yankees 4, Mets 1 - end of 7th.

Sabathia struck out swinging. Gardner homered to right to give the Yanks a 5-1 lead. Damon grounded out to short. Teixeira walked. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to left center to give the Yankees a 7-1 lead. Cano singled. Bobby Parnell is pitching for the Mets. When it rains, it pours for the Mets. Cano went to second on a balk (Parnell dropped the ball) and to third on a wild pitch. Cabrera walked. Cervelli flied out to deep left center to end the inning. Yankees 7, Mets 1 - middle of 8th.

Brett Tomko, pitching for the Yankees, got Evans to ground out to third on a fine play by Rodriguez. Santos popped out to second. Daniel Murphy, pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot, flew out to deep center. Yankees 7, Mets 1 - end of 8th.

Pena reached on an infield single. Tomko struck out trying to bunt. Gardner continued his hot hitting as he tripled to right, scoring Pena. Damon followed with a double, scoring Gardner. Teixeira was hit by a pitch. Hideki Matsui pinch hit for Rodriguez and flied to right for the second out. Cano flew out to left to end the inning. Yankees 9, Mets 1 - Middle of 9th.

Castillo grounded out to short for the first out. Cora popped out to short for the second out. Wright

It was a terrible day on both sides of the ball for the Mets. three errors in the second led to four Yankee runs. Brett Gardner went 5-for-6 and C.C. Sabathia was nearly untouchable, tossing seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball. All of the Mets hits came in the fifth inning. Outside of that blip on the radar, the Mets didn't get a runner on. Sheffield provided the Mets offense with a solo homer in the fifth.

The Mets fall to 37-35, while the Yankees won their third straight and improve to 41-32.

It was a hard luck night for Pelfrey, who dropped to 5-3, despite giving up just two earned runs over five innings.

Tomorrow's game is set for 7:10 back at Cifi Field.

Good night everyone.

Maine shut down -- again

The Mets just announced that John Maine has been scratched from Saturday's rehab start for Class A Brooklyn because of recurring pain in his right shoulder.

Maine had a second cortisone shot on Thursday and will be shut down for the next week. The injury is still being described as a pinched nerve. Asked for a possible return date, Maine predicted "after the All-Star break." He didn't specify whether that meant late July or September.

Tonight's lineup

Surprise! Ryan Church is in CF.

Castillo - 2b
Cora - ss
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Tatis - rf
Church - cf
Evans - 1b
Santos - c
Pelfrey - sp

June 25, 2009

Gameday Live 71: Mets vs. Cardinals


Good afternoon everyone! Adam Ronis here to take you through today's great pitching matchup as two of the best pitchers battle with Johan Santana taking on Chris Carpenter. The Mets have had trouble closing out series and will try to take three out of four from the first-place Cardinals.

The lineups
Cardinals (40-33)

Ryan SS
Schumaker LF
Pujols 1B
Ludwick RF
Molina C
Ankiel CF
Greene 3B
Carpenter P
Thurston 2B

Mets (36-34)
Cora SS
Castillo 2B
Wright 3B
Church RF
Tatis LF
Martinez CF
Evans 1B
Santos C
Santana P

On Chris Carpenter:
Carpenter has been lights out. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start. He is 5-1 with a 1.53 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. In 58 2/3 innings, he has allowed 33 hits, struck out 43 and walked nine. In his career against the Mets, he is 1-3 with a 5.09 ERA in 23 innings.

On Johan Santana:
Santana is 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He is 1-3 in his past four starts. Santana lost his past start against the Rays, 3-1, but was better. He went 7 1/3 innings and allowed three hits, two runs, walked three and struck out three. He left in a 2-1 game after a rain delay in the 8th inning. The most alarming thing about Santana is the lack of strikeouts over his past four starts. He has an 11/7 K/BB ratio in that span over 23 1/3 innings. He is 5-2 with a 2.18 ERA at home. He is 1-0 in one career start against the Cards as he threw a six-hitter and allowed one run.

Interesting stats: Pujols is 2-for-4 with a homer in his career off Santana...Schumaker has a nine-game hitting streak (15-for-32)...The Mets average 3.63 runs when Santana starts, which is among the worst of any qualifying starter in the majors...Carpenter has received 2.76 runs per game...Opponents are hitting .163 against Carpenter...Carpenter threw a season-high 105 pitches in his last start...Ryan Church is 11-for-32 over his past nine games.

Maine, Perez updates; today's lineup

John Maine will start Saturday for Class-A Brooklyn at Aberdeen.

Oliver Perez will start Sunday for Brooklyn at home.

Today's lineup:
Cora ss
Castillo 2b
Wright 3b
Church rf
Tatis lf
Martinez cf
Evans 1b
Santos c
Santana p

June 24, 2009

Where are they now? Joe McEwing

Newsday's Jim Baumbach wrote a column about former Met fan favorite Joe McEwing.

Gameday Live 70: Mets vs. Cardinals

Good evening! Adam Ronis here to take you through tonight's game.

The lineups
Cardinals (40-32)
Schumaker 2B
Rasmus CF
Pujols 1B
Ankiel RF
Duncan LF
Greene 3B
LaRue C
Thompson P
Ryan SS

Mets (35-34)
Cora SS
Castillo 2B
Wright 3B
Church RF
Tatis LF
Martinez CF
Evans 1B
Schneider C
Nieve P

On Brad Thompson: He has made four starts and appeared in 13 games. He is 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA and has allowed 34 hits, walked 10 and struck out 13 in 37 innings. He has won his last two starts.

On Fernando Nieve: Nieve has been very good in his two starts against the Rays and Yankees. He won both starts. He went 12 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits, three runs, five walks and struck out six over the two starts.

Mets news: The Mets designated pitcher Jon Switzer for assignment. He had an 8.10 ERA in four appearances. The Mets recalled infielder Argenis Reyes. He was hitting .296 at Triple-A Buffalo.

More injuries? Gary Sheffield received a cortisone shot behind his right hamstring and will be unavailable for the third consecutive game. He is also expected to miss Thursday's game and should be available for the weekend series against the Yankees.

Standings The Mets enter play 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies in the NL East. The Phillies are 13-22 at home and 24-9 on the road. They play in Tampa Bay tonight. The Cardinals are first in the NL Central with a two-game lead over the Brewers.

Ollie Perez in the bullpen? Could happen

oliver-perez-0625-43.jpgUPDATE, 5 p.m.: Manuel just said the Mets are going to have a meeting to discuss what to do with Maine and Perez.

At this point, it seems clear neither will be pitching in the majors this weekend. One more outing for each in the minors -- Manuel mentioned Buffalo and Brooklyn -- seems to be the way the Mets are leaning.

Manuel also mentioned both pitchers might come back as relievers, although he indicated more enthusiasm for Perez out of the pen because he's a lefty.

Perez out of the pen? Yikes!

In other news, Gary Sheffield had a cortisone shot today behind his right hamstring. Manuel said he hopes Sheffield can start again by Friday. Given the Mets' recent injury histories, a better bet may be Sheffield on the DL by Friday, although Manuel said they are not considering that now.

Also, Jon Switzer has been designated for assignment and infielder Argenis Reyes has been recalled from Buffalo.

Oh, and it's still raining.

>>Nieve dominant again
>>Maine, Perez working their way back

Photo by Kathy Kmonicek, Newsday

Maine, Perez

john-maine-0625-49.JPG
Kathy Kmonicek, Newsday

John Jeansonne reports from Citi Field that John Maine and Oliver Perez had their throwing sessions this afternoon, but no indication on when they'll pitch for the Mets. It doesn't appear it will be this weekend against the Yankees.

Jerry Manuel said the Mets braintrust was going to talk it over.

>>Nieve dominant again
>>Maine, Perez working their way back

Tonight's lineup; Maine, Perez throwing in bullpen

3:30 p.m.: John Maine and Oliver Perez are warming up in the bullpen at Citi Field in preparation for throwing sessions that will determine the locations of their next outings. Manager Jerry Manuel is on his way out to have a look.

Newsday's John Jeansonne will have an update as soon as we know how they did and what the next step is. Stay tuned.

And here is tonight's lineup. Murphy out, Evans in:

Cora 6
Castillo 4
Wright 5
Church 9
Tatis 7
F-Mart 8
Evans 3
Schneider 2
Nieve 1

Guess what? It's raining at Citi. Showers expected tonight.

June 23, 2009

Gameday Live 69: Mets vs. Cardinals


Good evening everyone! Adam Ronis here to take you through tonight's game as the Mets host the Cardinals.

First the lineups
Cardinals (39-32)
Schumaker 2B
Duncan LF
Pujols 1B
Ludwick RF
Ankiel CF
Molina C
Greene 3B
Pineiro P
Ryan SS

Mets (35-33)
Cora SS
Murphy 1B
Wright 3B
Tatis LF
Church RF
Santos C
Martinez CF
Castillo 2B
Hernandez P

On Livan Hernandez: Where would the Mets be without Livan Hernandez? Before the season I might have said five games better, but he has been a pleasant surprise. In 13 starts, he has pitched at least six innings seven times. He has just 45 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings, but just 22 walks and has a penchant for pitching out of trouble. He has a 3.96 ERA in June. It is his first home start since May 26. His past four starts all came on the road. He is 5-1 with a 4.18 ERA and his only loss came against the Cardinals. He is 4-0 with a 3.39 ERA over 10 starts since a 12-8 loss to the Cardinals.

On Joel Pineiro: Pineiro has also been a surprise for the Cardinals. He is getting a lot of grounders, allowed just two homers and walked 11. That's why he has been able to be successful despite just 39 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings. He is 5-8 with a 3.76 ERA. He has lost five straight and is 1-8 over his past nine starts.

Interesting facts: Despite the myriad of injuries, the Mets lead the NL with a .279 batting average. Another reason why it is a misleading stat...Albert Pujols hit two homers off Hernandez on April 23. He leads the majors with 26 home runs.

I'll be back for the first pitch.

Tonight's lineup

Tonight's lineup

Fernando Martinez makes his first start in CF.

Cora 6
Murphy 3
Wright 5
Tatis 7
Church 9
Santos 2
F. Mart 8
Castillo 4
Livan 1

June 22, 2009

Gameday Live 68: Mets vs. Cardinals

Good evening Mets fans! Welcome to a Monday night of Mets baseball!

47460172.jpg

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Mets (34-33), two games behind Philadelphia in the NL East, take on the NL Central-leading Cardinals (39-31) in the first match of a four-game set at Citi Field.

The big news today for the Mets is that Carlos Beltran (pictured) has been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a bone bruise on his right knee. An MRI done earlier today showed the bruise had gotten worse, and so Beltran could be out longer than 15 days. As you all know, the Mets are already with Jose Reyes (hamstring), Carlos Delgado (hip), John Maine (right shoulder fatigue) and Oliver Perez (right patellar tendinitis).

Beltran is batting .336 with a team-leading eight home runs and 40 RBIs, and is currently third in All Star voting among outfielders. Jeremy Reed will take Beltran's spot in CF.

Clearly this is not good news for the Mets, which have lost eight of their last 11 games and are 6-12 in June. The Mets, who don't have a day off until July 6, are already starved for power in their lineup — their 43 home runs coming into tonight trumps only Pittsburgh and San Francisco (each has 42) in all of baseball — and Beltran is a Gold Glove talent in center.

That puts even more pressure on the pitching staff, and for tonight, that means starter Tim Redding (0-2, 6.27 ERA).

Redding has been decent in June. He hasn't received a decision in any of his three starts this month, but he's only given up eight runs in 18 1/3 innings (3.93 ERA). His worst start during that stretch was his last, as he gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings in a 6-4 loss at Baltimore last Wednesday. Redding is 2-5 with a 5.69 ERA in 12 career starts against St. Louis, and hasn't defeated the Cards since May of 2004.

This is Redding's seventh start of the season — the Mets are 1-5 in his first six. Here are his numbers against the Cardinals; Albert Pujols is 11-for-27 with a homer and two RBIs against Redding.

Speaking of Pujols, who leads the majors in homers (28) and RBIs (68), the 29-year old first baseman is on fire. Yesterday against Kansas City, he belted two homers (including a grand slam) and drove in six runs. For the series (which St. Louis swept), Pujols was 6-for-12 with three homers and 10 RBIs — he has eight homers in his last 10 games.

Said Pujols: "It's nothing special. I'm just seeing good pitches and hitting them."

Yeah, right Albert. Pujols hit .545 with two homers and seven RBIs when the Cards swept the Mets back on Apr. 21-23 in St. Louis.

The Cardinals have won eight of their last 11 after losing seven of their first nine to start the month. Tonight they'll give the ball to 30-year old righty Todd Wellemeyer (6-6, 5.36), who won his last start Wednesday in Detroit (4-3), after allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. It was his first win since May 27. This month he is 1-2 with a 6.17 ERA, with 16 earned runs given up in 23 1/3 IP. He's given up two home runs in each of his last three starts, and a total of 10 this season.

Here are the Mets' career numbers against Wellemeyer; David Wright is 7-for-10 with two walks and two RBIs off him. The Mets scored four runs on 10 hits and two walks against him in five innings back on Apr. 21.

Finally, here are tonight's starting lineups:

Mets
1. Cora, SS
2. Murphy, 1B
3. Wright, 3B
4. Tatis, LF
5. Church, RF
6. Santos, C
7. Reed, CF
8. Castillo, 2B
9. Redding, RHP

Cardinals
1. Schumaker, 2B
2. Rasmus, CF
3. Pujols, 1B
4. Ludwick, RF
5. Ankiel, LF
6. Molina, C
7. Greene, 3B
8. Wellemeyer, RHP
9. Ryan, SS

*Note: The Mets have called up Elmer Dessens and Pat Misch to give the bullpen some more depth.

Okay, that's all for now. But let's get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.

I'll be back after each half-inning with updates.

We're about 10 minutes from baseball on SNY!

Top of the 1st: A 1-2-3 inning for Redding, as Schumaker popped out in foul ground to Wright, Rasmus lined out softly to Wright and Pujols popped out to first.

Redding threw nine pitches in the inning, all were strikes.

Bottom of the 1st: Cora flew out to left before three straight singles by Murphy (to center), Wright and Tatis (both to left) loaded the bases for Church, who hit a sacrifice fly to the wall in dead center to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was Church's 16th RBI of the year.

Then Santos dunked a single to shallow left that scored Wright to make it 2-0. But Tatis was caught up between second and third on the play, and was tagged out to end the inning. Santos has 23 RBIs on the season.

Top of the 2nd: Another 1-2-3 inning for Redding, as Ludwick grounded out to third, Ankiel struck out swinging and Molina flew out to right.

Bottom of the 2nd: Reed struck out swinging (Wellemeyer's first K of the night) before Castillo reached on a bunt single. Redding sacrificed him to second and then Cora walked to put runners on first and second for Murphy, who flew out to left for the third out.

Top of the 3rd: After Khalil Greene singled to left (the first batter to reach off Redding tonight), Wellemeyer bunted him to second. Ryan struck out swinging on a curve (Redding's second K), but Schumaker singled up the middle to scored Greene and make it 2-1 Mets.

Schumaker, who now has 21 RBIs on the year, moved to second on a wild pitch, but Rasmus struck out swinging (Redding's third K) on a low changeup to end the inning.

Bottom of the 3rd: Wright walked to lead off the inning, but Tatis grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and then Church grounded out to second for the third out.

Top of the 4th: Pujols flew out to center (he's 0-for-2 tonight) and Ludwick popped out to Murphy in foul ground off first before Ankiel earned a two-out walk (Redding's first of the night). But Molina flew out to right to end the inning.

Bottom of the 4th: Santos lined a single to center right over Wellemeyer's head to lead off the inning, and then Reed flew out to center. But Castillo doubled to left on a 2-and-0 pitch to score Santos and give the Mets a 3-1 lead. Castillo has seven doubles and 15 RBIs on the year.

Razor Shines sent Santos home, and he would have been out had Molina been able to handle Brendan Ryan's poor relay throw (Castillo moved to third on the throw).

Ryan made a nice diving stop with the infield in on Redding's grounder and threw to first for the second out, and Cora flew out to left to end the inning.

Top of the 5th: Another 1-2-3 inning for Redding (his third of the night), as Greene grounded out to short, Wellemeyer lined out to second and Ryan grounded out to second.

Bottom of the 5th: On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Murphy hit a changeup over the wall just to the left of the 378 sign in right-center for his fifth homer of the season (he has 23 RBIs). The solo shot gave the Mets a 4-1 lead.

Then Wright walked for the second time tonight (he's reached base on all three of his at-bats tonight), but Tatis grounded into a 5-4-3 double play for the second time this evening and Church struck out swinging (Wellemeyer's second K) for the third out.

Top of the 6th: Schumaker flew out to deep left and Rasmus struck out on a foul tip (Redding's fourth K) before Pujols ripped his 16th double of the season on a 2-and-0 pitch down the left-field line.

Then Ludwick made Redding pay, as he homered to left on a 1-and-2 slider to cut the Mets lead to 4-3. Ludwick has 11 homers and 38 RBIs on the year.

Ankiel grounded out to short to end the inning.

Bottom of the 6th: Santos lined a single a few feet over Ryan's head (his third single of the night) and then moved to second on Reed's dribbler in front of the plate. Castillo was then intentionally walked in front of Redding, who bunted in front of the plate. Molina fielded it and fired to third to throw out Santos on the force.

Then Cora came up with runners on first and second, and dropped a single to left to score Castillo and give the Mets a 5-3 lead. It was Cora's 10th RBI of the year.

That prompted Tony La Russa to lift Wellemeyer in favor of lefty Trever Miller (2-0, 2.95), who got Murphy to ground out to short to end the inning (Ryan made a nice stop deep in the hole and fired a one-hop throw to first).

In 5 2/3 innings of work, Wellemeyer allowed five runs on 10 hits and four walks (one intentional) with two K's. He threw 101 pitches.

Top of the 7th: Redding tossed his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the night. Castillo made a nice diving stop on Molina's grounder up the middle and retired him on a two-hop throw to first for the first out. Then Greene grounded out to short and pinch-hitter Joe Thurston flew out right above the plate for the third out.

Bottom of the 7th: Righty Kyle McClellan (2-2, 3.34) came on for the Cards and got Wright to fly out to right on a 3-and-2 slider and Tatis to ground out to short before Church singled to right and Santos did the same to left (he's 4-for-4 with four singles on the night). But Reed struck out swinging on the ninth pitch of his at-bat to end the inning.

Top of the 8th: Brendan Ryan hit a solo homer to left on a 2-and-0 slider to cut the Mets' lead to 5-4. It was Ryan's first homer of the year, fifth of his career, and first since 2007.

That was all for Redding (his line: 7+ IP, four runs, five hits, two homers allowed, one walk, four K's, 95 pitches). He was replaced by lefty Jon Switzer (0-0, 9.00), who struck out Schumaker swinging before Tyler Greene (pinch-hitting for Rasmus) singled to left.

Then Brian Stokes (1-2, 3.46) came on to face Pujols, and he got the slugger to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th: Righty Jason Motte (2-2, 5.00) came on in relief of McClellan, who threw a scoreless seventh. Castillo hit an infield single off Motte to lead off the inning, and then Dennys Reyes (0-1, 4.66) came in to face pinch-hitter Fernando Martinez.

F-Mart dropped a bunt, which Reyes fielded. But the large lefthander inexplicably lost his grip on the ball, and both runners were safe. Then Cora singled on a line drive to center to score Castillo (Ankiel had a nice throw, but replays showed Molina just missed on the tag) and give the Mets a 6-4 lead. It was Cora's second RBI single of the night; he has 11 RBIs on the year. Cora bunted foul on the first pitch of his at-bat, but apparently the bunt sign was taken off, as he singled on the second pitch.

Then Murphy flew out to center after an unsuccessful bunt attempt.

La Russa then brought in righty Josh Kinney to face Wright, who grounded out to third. The runners advanced to second and third on the play. Tatis flew out to left for the third out.

Top of the 9th: K-Rod (18-of-20 save opps.) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, as Ludwick flew out to right, Ankiel did the same to center and Molina grounded out to short.

That's the ballgame folks, Mets win 6-4.
Mets: 35-33 (just 1.5 games behind the Phillies)
Cardinals: 39-32

WP--Redding (1-2)
LP--Wellemeyer (6-7)
SV--Rodriguez (19)

HR: Mets 1 (Murphy, his 5th); Cardinals 2 (Ludwick, his 11th; Ryan, his 1st)

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:
1. Santos: 4-for-4 (all singles; the first four-hit game of his career) with an RBI and a run.
2. Redding: 7+ IP, four runs on five hits (two homers) and a walk with four strikeouts in 95 pitches for his first win as a Met.
3. Stokes: Came on to face Pujols with one out and one on in the eighth and got the league leader in homers and RBIs to ground into a 1-6-3 double play.

And a bonus fourth star: Castillo, who was 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs. Also, Murphy was 2-for-5 with a homer and two runs.

Okay, that's all for today's game. Thanks to all for coming out. As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of today's live game action.

We'll see ya'll back here tomorrow, as the Mets take on the Cardinals at Citi Field in the second game of a four-game set at 7:10 p.m.

See ya'll then. Goodnight!

(Newsday photo by Audrey C. Tiernan / June 11, 2009)

Tonight's lineup

Welcome to the post-Beltran apocalypse. Yikes.

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Wright - 3b
Tatis - lf
Church - rf
Santos - c
Reed - cf
Castillo - 2b
Redding - sp

Wright, Beltran stay on pace for All-Star starts

david-wright-0625-99.JPG
AP Photo

David Wright remains the top vote-getter at third base and Carlos Beltran is third among outfielders. Here are the latest results:

THIRD BASEMEN

David Wright, Mets ....................... 1,698,366
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals ...........1,148,054
Chipper Jones, Braves ....................1,104,485
Pedro Feliz, Phillies ....................... 954,945
Bill Hall, Brewers ........................... 842,295

OUTFIELDERS
Raul Ibañez, Phillies ....................... 2,465,539
Ryan Braun, Brewers ...................... 2,178,144
Carlos Beltran, Mets ....................... 1,779,344
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs ..................... 1,639,664
Shane Victorino, Phillies .................. 1,371,362

An Afternoon with Ron Darling: A Benefit for Urban Dove

rdcomplete.jpgRon Darling will be the guest of honor at a benefit luncheon for Urban Dove to assist New York's at-risk youth at noon Wednesday, June 24, at Gallagher's, located at 228 West 52nd Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.

The benefit luncheon is priced at $75 per person and includes a three-course power lunch, a copy of Darling’s book “The Complete Game,” and an autograph and Q & A session. Darling’s teammate, pitcher Bobby Ojeda, SNY’s Mets studio analyst, will be a special guest.

Seating is limited, and for reservations contact Gallagher’s at 212.245.5336.

Carlos Beltran headed for the DL?

The Metscarlos-beltran-0625-23.JPG are holding their breath today waiting for the results of Carlos Beltran's MRI, and listening to him after yesterday's game, Beltran was definitely concerned about what the doctor's visit might reveal.

"I'm a little bit worried, to be honest," Beltran said, "because of the way I felt today - it was painful."

The last time Beltran was hurting from the bone bruise, which is below his right knee, he received a cortisone shot on May 26 and was able to play three days later. Beltran is hoping there is not more damage this time. But even he is able to simply get another shot, which he mentioned yesterday, that could force Beltran to miss the first two games of this week's series against the Cardinals.

Either way, Beltran made it sound as if he could needed some relief from the pain, which is making it more difficult to play on a daily basis.

"The way it is right now, no way," he said after Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Rays. "I don't feel like I could play a lot of games with the way I felt today."

Getty Images Photo

>>Sheffield latest to fall victim to injury bug
>>Still no running for Reyes

June 21, 2009

Gameday Live 67: Rays at Mets

Hey everyone! I'm David Cassilo, and I will be taking you through today's rubber game of the Mets-Rays series.

Yesterday's game looked all too familiar to Mets fans as their ace Johan Santana once again through a phenomenal game, only to be given a loss. Unfortunately for Santana and the Mets, Rays' starter James Shields was just a bit better than Santana and quieted the Mets bats. Solo home runs by Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist proved to be the difference in the Rays 3-1 victory.

The Mets will send Mike Pelfrey to the mound to start the final game of the series today. The 6'7" right-hander has been the Mets second best pitcher this season and currently sports a 5-2 record with a 4.56 ERA.

The knock on Pelfrey has been that he pitches just well enough to win and is rarely dominant. This was perhaps most evident in his last start when he beat the Orioles but failed to get out of the sixth inning, finishing with a line of 5.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 3 BB 2 K. Pelfrey did get the victory, but he also received a stiff talking to from David Wright about his performance.

The Rays will send a tall right-hander of their own to the mound today when 6'9" Jeff Niemann takes the hill. The 26-year old is a former first round pick (4th overall) from Rice in the 2004 draft. Injuries have derailed his ascent to the big leagues, but Niemann has experienced some success in his first full season as a major league starter.

His record currently stands at 6-4 with a 4.21 ERA. In his last start, Niemann pitched five innings, while giving up three runs to beat the Rockies in Coors Field.

Today is yet again an immensely important game for both teams as the Mets are currently two games back of both the division lead and the Wild Card, while the Rays trail the Yankees by three games for the AL Wild Card.

I'll be back for first pitch.


Today's lineup

Carlos Beltran is playing again, despite tomorrow's pending exam and MRI.

Cora - 2b
Murphy - 1b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Church - rf
Schneider - c
Valdez - ss
Pelfrey - sp

June 20, 2009

Johan on injury rumors: "I don't play that game."

Johan Santana apparently put any fears about his health to rest this afternoon by pitching a season-high 7 1/3 innings in a rain-interrupted 3-1 loss to the Rays. He allowed three hits and twojohan-santana-0625-95.JPG runs, including a long homer to Carlos Pena, but his 98-pitch outing was a major improvement from last Sunday's pounding by the Yankees.

Afterward, a defiant Santana lectured the media about running with the rumors about his health, and specifically Rick Peterson's comments to ESPN 1050 suggesting his repaired left knee was the problem.

"You guys made a big deal out of it," Santana said. "You even have people that don’t belong to this team talking and telling what’s going on with me. What am I supposed to do? I think it’s not professional. If you look around, you got professional players and professional people on this ballclub that know exactly what they have to do and what it takes for us to do our jobs.

"And then to have someone that doesn’t belong here say something and you guys believing what they’re saying. I think it’s bad. But I know what I have to do to keep myself in the game, and I hope you guys don’t forget that -- because I know myself well enough and better than a lot of people around here. So next time you guys want to ask something, I’ll be more than happy to answer questions. But don't believe what people are saying around here. I don’t play that game."

AP Photo


Carlos Beltran's right knee is hurting again-- will have MRI soon

Carlos Beltran is hurting again from the bone bruise below his right knee and he plans to get an MRI soon to find out the extent of the damage.

“I just want to make sure it’s not going to get worse,” Beltran told Newsday this afternoon. “If it can get worse, I want to take care of it.”

With Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado out indefinitely, the Mets can ill afford to lose Beltran, who along with David Wright is one of only two remaining members of the “core.” Still, Beltran was in pain during Friday’s 5-3 win over the Rays and it’s been a daily struggle.

“Yesterday it was bothering me,” Beltran said. “But at the same time, I’ve got to play the game. That’s the way I feel right now.”

Beltran was diagnosed with the bone bruise, along with inflamed tibia, back on May 26 and received a cortisone shot that required him to sit for two games. Now the pain has flared up again, and he talked with the trainers on Friday about the next step in treating the condition. Beltran also expects to meet with the team’s physician again.

“They told me to stay away from ‘impact’ exercises for my knee,” Beltran said. “But this whole game is about impact.”

In the meantime, Beltran has done his best to limit the wear-and-tear. While he hustled to track down a handful of fly balls in Friday’s game, there also were moments when Beltran could be seen trying to be careful.

One such example was in the third inning, when Beltran practically jogged to first base on a potential double-play grounder. As a result, he was thrown out easily despite a bad throw by shortstop Jason Bartlett. If healthy, Beltran could have beaten it.

That’s part of the problem. Beltran said it hurts the most when he tries to decelerate from a full-on sprint.

“The worst thing is when I slow down,” Beltran said.

Gameday Live 66: Rays at Mets

Hey everyone, I'm David Cassilo and barring a rainout, I'll be taking you through this afternoon's Mets-Rays game.

Last night, the Mets were 5-3 winners over the Rays behind another solid pitching performance from Fernando Nieve. Catcher Brian Schneider supplied most of the offense with a 3-run home run, and K-Rod bounced back from his second blown save of the season with a perfect ninth to give the Mets the victory.

Today the Mets will be sending their ace Johan Santana to the mound, but in his last start Santana looked like anything but an ace. Facing the Yankees, Santana lasted just three innings and gave up nine runs. It was the fourth straight start in which Santana has allowed at least three runs. Despite his recent rough patch, a brilliant start to the season has Santana with an 8-4 record and 3.29 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 82 innings.

Today he will face a Rays team that he has handled pretty well in his career thus far. In 11 appearances (7 starts) against Tampa Bay, Santana is 3-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

His opponent on the mound will be Rays' ace James Shields. After a stellar postseason last year, a lot was expected of Shields in 2009, but the 27-year old right hander has been up-and-down thus far this year. He currently has a 5-5 record with a 3.52 ERA. Shields was subpar against the Nationals in his last start, allowing four runs and nine hits in 6.1 innings.

Like Santana, Shields relies heavily on his changeup. He recently said that when he was in the minor leagues, he looked up to Santana because he believed they were similar pitchers. Getting to face one his idols is something that Shields said he was looking forward to.

The weather forecast does not look good, but as long as there is baseball, I will be here to guide you through today's game. I'll be back for first pitch, whenever that may be.


Today's lineup

Weather permitting, of course. Chances of playing - Not Good. I'd bet on the rainout.

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Reed - lf
Santos - c
Castillo - 2b
Santana - sp

Hey look, it's raining at Citi Field

OK, I'm officially sick of the lousy weather. It's gotten to the point where I leave the apartment expecting to get soaked and then I'm pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen. Sun? I'll take a gray mist that can be played through. Enjoy this afternoon's Photo du Jour.

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June 19, 2009

Gameday Live 65: Rays at Mets

I'm David Cassilo, and I'll be taking you through tonight's Mets-Rays game.

For the second time in a week, the Mets will look to rebound after a K-Rod blown save with Fernando Nieve on the hill. Nieve was all the Mets could ask for in his first start as he gave up two runs over 6.2 IP in a victory over the Yankees. It was his first victory since 2006.

The other pitcher toeing the rubber this evening will be the Rays' Andy Sonnastine. The 26-year old right hander has had an up-and-down season thus far, pitching to a 5-6 record and a 6.65 ERA. Sonnastine is coming off a victory over the Nats in his last start, giving up three runs over 7.1 IP.

Tonight's game is the beginning of a crucial series for both teams. The Mets sit three games back in the division, while the Rays are three games behind the Yankees for the Wild Card.

One roster note for the Mets. Outfielder Fernando Martinez has been sent back down to triple-A to receive regular playing time, and Nick Evans has been promoted back to the Mets after spending parts of the season with the club last year.

I'll be back to get this going for first pitch.


Jose Reyes back to baseball activity

Major progress on the Jose Reyes front. Not only has Reyes been doing some light running on the treadmill, he took batting practice today in the indoor cages and plans to field grounders before tomorrow's game against the Rays. The Mets are taking it slow, obviously, but this is Reyes' first baseball activity since he suffered that torn hamstring tendon back on June 3 in Port St. Lucie.

In other injury news, Omar Minaya called John Maine's 60-pitch side session on Thursday a "positive step" but refused to give a timetable for his return. Fernando Nieve, tonight's starter, is expected to take Maine's next turn as well, but Minaya wouldn't commit to anything beyond that. Minaya added that Maine did not wake up with any discomfort today.

F-Mart down, Evans up

Before we get to the lineup, the Mets just announced that Fernando Martinez has been to demoted to Triple-A Buffalo and Nick Evans has been called up.

Now the lineup:

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Church - rf
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b
Nieve - sp

Great. Now K-Rod's human, too?

Tough night for the Mets to discover that Francisco Rodriguez won't be pulling a Brad Lidge and running the table this season (I would have given him an asterisk for the Luis Castillo drop). But that's how things are going for the Mets so far this year. As soon as they plug one leak, another appears in this fractured roster, and yet they still have their heads above water -- barely.

Only two games above .500 (33-31), the Mets incredibly remain just three games behind the Phillies. The problem, however, is that Philly was just swept by the Blue Jays, and the Mets picked up one lousy game in the standings. I'm not sure if that's the good news or the bad news.
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I do know this: the Mets already have lost way, way too many games they should have won. And for a team that's finished out of the playoffs by a single game in each of the past two seasons, that's an ominous sign. All we heard during spring training was how important the early part of this season would be, and how these games were just as crucial as ones in late September.

Looking ahead to those final weeks, prepare to see plenty of video of Luis Castillo's dropped pop-up in the Bronx, Ryan Church whiffing on third base in LA and Aubrey Huff's game-winning single last night in Baltimore. Do playoff teams do those things? Sure. Once a month, maybe. Not a few times a week.

In other leftovers from last night's soul-crusher:

-- At least Livan Hernandez is OK. The Mets had a few anxious moments in the seventh inning when Hernandez suddenly backed off the mound for no apparent reason and then began stretching his right shoulder.

After a visit by Jerry Manuel and trainer Ray Ramirez, Hernandez stayed in the game, but that was the end of the line. Hernandez blamed it on the humidty -- Manuel just said it was old age. Hernandez has been one of the more pleasant surprises this season and who would have expected him to be part of the glue that has held the pieces together.

-- I was all set to make a hero out of Hernandez and Daniel Murphy, but K-Rod spoiled those plans. As for Murphy, elevated to the No. 2 spot for last night's game, he earned some redemption with the go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning.

Here's a big chunk of copy that landed on the cutting room floor late Thursday. Do people even use the term "cutting room" anymore? Is that too 1950s? Here's how old I am. During my college newspaper days, we still used glue and Exacto knives to put together the newspaper before bringing it to the presses. And no, we did not have to fight off pterodactyls on the way to the print shop. Anyway, here's the graf on Murphy:

Murphy figured to have some momentum after matching his career high with three hits – all singles – in Wednesday’s loss. But he was hitless in his first three at-bats, striking out twice, before redeeming himself in the seventh inning. With two outs, Alex Cora started the rally with a single and stole second. Murphy fell behind 0-and-2, took a ball, then drilled a fastball deep into the left-center gap for an RBI double.

When Murphy got to second, he clapped his hands together hard, and the Mets dugout erupted, with hitting coach Howard Johnson pointing to him and yelling. They weren’t finished either. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single off reliever Danys Baez and Murphy scored without a throw because Luke Scott bobbled the ball.

There you have it. What I figured at the time to be the game-winning hit. Instead, you get the K-Rod stink bomb. C'est la vie.



June 18, 2009

Gameday Live 64: Mets at Orioles

Its been a long and wet day for New York sports fans. Endless rain suspended play at the US Open in Bethpage and delayed the Yankee game by nearly five and a half hours. Nevertheless, the rubber game between the Mets and Orioles will begin as scheduled. Livan Hernandez (5-1, 4.33 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets against Jason Berken (1-3, 7.32 ERA).

First pitch is just minutes away......


A Maine concern?

Conflicting reports from Port St. Lucie, and really, what else would you expect from the Mets? All the team announced this afternoon is that John Maine, on the disabled list with a tired shoulder, threw 60 pitches in a bullpen session. They also mentioned that Maine is not expected to return on the first day he is eligible, which is Monday.

Maine's next turn in the rotation, however, does not come up until Wednesday, and the Mets have not necessarily ruled that out. Complicating matters is that Guy Conti, the Mets' rehab coordinator in Port St. Lucie, told the Associated Press that Maine still feels a pinch in his shoulder.

But the Mets denied that was the case and pitching coach Dan Warthen, who spoke to Conti after the session, said it was news to him. "As far as I know, he's scheduled again for a side session on Saturday," Warthen said.

Warthen is normally a straight-shooter and doesn't sugarcoat injury news, so he should be credible in this case.

For a change, there was less intrigue surrounding Oliver Perez, who threw 48 pitches in three innings during an intrasquad game at the facility. Warthen said he received good reports on Perez, who is next scheduled to pitch on Tuesday in Florida. There is no timetable for his return.

Tonight's lineup

Cora - ss
Murphy - 1b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - dh
Church - rf
Santos - c
Martinez - lf
Castillo - 2b
Hernandez - sp

Vaughn, Green, Everett live on at Camden Yards

With Day 1 of the U.S. Open getting rained out today at Bethpage Black, I thought I'd post a Mets version of a longest drive contest here at Camden Yards.

On my walk over to the ballpark this afternoon, I noticed a bunch of circular bronze plaques on the sidewalk just beyond the rightfield fence and in front of the warehouse. Marked for posterity are some of the longest drives in the 17-year history of this stadium, and since none of these players reached the walkway in a Mets uniform, I settled on the ones that did wear the orange-and-blue at some point. Here's a photo essay of that select group. (Eddie Murray had one, too, but my Blackberry ran out of memory space. Sorry.)

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Mets vs. Nats vs. Dodgers

ny-mets-3d-logo.jpgWith the Mets sniffing around for some offensive help, I asked Jerry Manuel yesterday how difficult it must be to have almost zero power from the leftfield and first base positions. It's not that Daniel Murphy and Fernando Martinez can't hit a home run. I've witnessed it happen -- for Martinez, it was back in spring training. Here was his response:

"You can deal with all sorts of lineups if you've got good pitching and play good defense," Manuel said. "You can survive. I feel very strongly about that particular philosophy. You can survive.

"The flip side is kind of like what Washington has. They have power (in leftfield), power there (at first base) and still there’s a struggle to win games. The idea is to win games. We’re kind of the antithesis of them. We don’t have that in those two spots, but we have pitching and to some degree, good defense. If that’s what's winning games, you’ve got to stay with that. If that’s what you have."
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Manuel is not so much talking about his own club as he is the Dodgers, the team the Mets wish they could be. LA has the best record in baseball at 43-23, but they are 13th in the NL with 46 home runs -- only five more than the Mets.

The Mets have a superior slugging percentage (fifth), batting average (first) and on-base percentage (first) than the Dodgers, but are well off their pace at 33-30. Why? It's what Manuel said: pitching and defense. The Dodgers are tops in the NL with a 3.59 ERA -- the Mets are seventh with a 4.19 -- and LA also is tied for first with the Phillies and Pirates in fielding percentage (.989). The Mets are 12th at .982 and rank fifth with 43 errors in 63 games.
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So maybe the Mets can stay afloat with a power void at a number of key positions. But win the division? Let's see what happens when John Maine returns next week and maybe even Oliver Perez before the All-Star break. I'm not sure how much better the Mets can get on defense. They've been suspect all season and still make bad mental mistakes -- throwing to the wrong base, etc.

As Aubrey Huff showed Wednesday night with his game-winning home run, one swing can make up for a myriad of mistakes. And with the Mets not getting that right now, they have to play nearly perfect in other areas.



June 17, 2009

Gameday Live 63: Mets at Orioles

Hey everyone, Evan Drellich here for the middle game of the Mets' three-game set with the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Tim Redding (0-2, 6.18 ERA) pitches for the Mets and Koji Uehara goes for the O's (2-4, 4.37).

Dan Warthen: Johan "A-plus" in today's bullpen session

Johan Santana, under the supervision of pitching coach Dan Warthen, apparently figured out his mechanical issues during today's bullpen session at Camden Yards.

"He was catapulting the ball instead of throwing it," said Warthen, who demonstrated what he meant with a more overhand delivery. "He's didn't have that same deception he usually has."

Neither Warthen nor Santana knows exactly why the Mets' ace developed that subtle change, but they feel confident it was corrected today. Warthen said he could tell that Santana was throwing with more velocity and his location with the fastball was significantly better.

Asked to grade the bullpen, Warthen said that Santana started at a B but eventually got up to an "A-plus" once they identified the issue. Santana is scheduled to start Saturday against the Rays at Citi Field.

"I expect Johan to be back to being Johan," Warthen said. When told that must be excellent news for the Mets, Warthen replied, "Very excellent."

Tonight's lineup

Cora - ss
Martinez - lf
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Sheffield - dh
Murphy - 1b
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b
Redding - sp

Live from Camden Yards

Murky skies, but the tarp is coming off. That's a good sign.

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E for effort - and Aubrey Huff's error

277%2BHuff.jpgAsked to grade his first year as Mets manager Jerry Manuel replied, "I give myself an E for effort." Then he got three Es from the O's, including a huge drop by first baseman Aubrey Huff, and the Mets had themselves a nerve-wracking 6-4 win at Camden Yards.

Huff's over-the-shoulder muff -- this had a higher degree of difficulty than Luis Castillo's botch job last Friday -- didn't seem to be a game-changer at the time.It upped the Mets' lead to a more comfortable 6-2. But thanks to the continued struggles of Bobby Parnell, who opened the ninth by allowing a pair of singles, Huff's gift actually delivered the winning runs.

Manuel talked extensively before the game about his first-year anniversary as manager of the Mets, and much of that had to do with the numerous injuries this team has dealt with during the first nine weeks of the season. When asked about his spring-training plan of giving the "core" players more rest, Manuel laughed.

"Our core guys are resting real well right now," Manuel said. "Some of them are playing in the pool, all kinds of stuff right now. They’ll really be fresh for the stretch for us."

Manuel was talking about Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado, and that "pool" he referenced was the hydrotherapy pool the rehabbing players use to strengthen their legs. Both players remain in New York, but that is a little concerning for Reyes, who won't even be close to a return until he shows up in Port St. Lucie for rehab games.

Despite the depleted roster, Manuel did acknowledge the bottom line at the end of pregame briefing. No excuses.

"One thing about New York -- you've got to win," Manuel said. "You've got to win."

What will make that easier is a healthy Johan Santana, and the pitcher reiterated Sunday's claims that his health was not an issue before Tuesday's game. He also seemed puzzled by Rick Peterson's comments about his surgically-repaired knee. And when I say puzzled, I mean ticked off.


June 16, 2009

Gameday Live 62: Mets at Orioles

Hey Mets fans, Evan Drellich here, and I'm assuming you've all recovered sufficiently from Sunday's trouncing and Friday's ... I don't know what you call it.

The second-place Mets (32-29), losers of four of five, take on the Baltimore Orioles (27-36) in the first of a three-game set at Camden Yards tonight.

Mets fans should hope starter Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.68 ERA) can be as effective pitching as he was refereeing the Cotto-Clotte-... I mean Bruney-Rodriguez bout at Yankee Stadium. Pelfrey turned in a solid performance against the Phillies last Wednesday, rebounding from an awful outing in Pittsburgh the previous start, but hasn't recorded a win in over a month.

The O's, who took the final two games of a series with the Braves over the weekend, throw right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (4-6, 5.52). Two starts ago, Guthrie gave up six runs and lasted just two-thirds of an inning, against Oakland. He doesn't strike out many, 47 in 73 1/3 innings, and has allowed a league-high 16 homers this season.

Gary Sheffield is in the lineup for the Mets despite his sore right knee, which requires an MRI. David Wright enters with a 10-game hit streak.

As this is Gameday Live 62, you know what that means: Just 100 more games left in the regular season schedule.

Tonight's lineup

Cora - ss
Martinez - lf
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Sheffield - dh
Murphy - 1b
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b
Pelfrey - sp

The Mets, Year One A.W.

willie1.jpgThat's right A.W. - After Willie. Tomorrow at 3:11 a.m. marks the one-year anniversary of Willie Randolph's firing, one of the stranger events in recent memory, even for the Mets. What a night/day that was.

Speaking to players in the hotel lobby after 1 a.m. PDT, updating the blog until 5 or so, then staking out Randolph's departure for most of the morning. And who could forget Rick Peterson's parting words about Tuscany tiles?

SNY had a portable studio set up on the lawn outside the South Coast Plaza Westin for most of the day before the circus switched to Angel Stadium, where Jerry Manuel was introduced.

One year later, are the Mets in better shape now? It's a difficult question to answer, which I try to do in this story on the Randolph/Manuel dynamic. Obviously, the Mets would be much better, and probably in first place, if they had a healthy Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado in the lineup. That increased run production would have made a big difference.

On the other hand, the Mets' have shown a surprising lack of focus, as well as too many fundamental lapses, which is always a poor reflection on a manager and his staff. That was supposed to be one of Manuel's primary objectives in spring training, but for some reason, those early lessons didn't stick.

I do believe this Mets' team is good enough to stay in the hunt, even with all of the injuries. But if they don't make the playoffs, it's probably going to cost Manuel his job, unfairly or not.

On the subject of injuries, Johan Santana denied Sunday that he was suffering from any physical issues, and the Mets reiterated those claims on Monday. Of course, these developments tend to change like the weather around the Mets, so we may not know for certain until he pitches again on Saturday against the Rays at Citi Field.

June 14, 2009

Gameday Live 61: Mets at Yankees

Top o' the afternoon to you. Stephen Haynes back with you for the rubber game of the Subway Series. Here to provide updates, banter and stuff. And, of course, the useless pre-game babble™. Let's hop to it.

And now they’re in good position to win the series. See, Friday’s loss didn’t tailspin the season. Luis Castillo wasn’t emotionally scarred, nor will he suffer Chuck Knoblauch Syndrome (except with catching instead of throwing). Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t frazzled. Nay. Instead, the Mets rebound like Rodman (went right back up like a yo-yo; bounced back like a racquetball...I'll stop), outplaying the Yankees – again – Saturday in a 6-2 win.

The offense, which racked up out 17 hits, got untracked with big games from Omir Santos (three RBIs) and Gary Sheffield (two RBIs). And there was Fernando “Windfall” Nieve, who, in his first start in almost three years, held the high-powered Yankees to two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings… and just one long ball at “Homer Depot” (props to Wally Matthews). And the Phillies lost, 11-6, to Boston. So the Mets (32-28), despite their injuries and troubles, are now just three games out of first place. What a difference a game makes, huh?

K-Rod even showed some fire during warmups today, seeking out Brian Bruney, who had said some disparaging things about his in-game histrionics on Friday. The two were restrained by teammates, but no contact was made and it didn’t get too heated.

Heck, if things ain’t looking up.

And today, with Johan Santana going, they’ve got a chance to take two of three from their intra-city rivals and, in away, earn a “You know, it should’ve been a sweep” morale sweep. And I know “could” doesn’t count and the “win, win, loss” game often doesn’t play out as prognosticated, but if the Mets are able to win today, with the Orioles next up, they could reasonably open the Tampa Bay series Friday riding a five-game winning streak. And, with the Phillies having to deal with Josh Beckett today and then facing the Blue Jays, some ground could be made up.

There’s blind optimism, and there’s rational optimism. This might-could be the latter. Chin up, Mets fans.

Pitching Matchup
Johan Santana (NYM) vs. A.J. Burnett (NYY)

Santana did struggle somewhat in his last start, allowing five runs and four homers to the Phillies, but he’s 8-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 91 strikeouts. The lefty is 4-1 in his career against the Yankees, including 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in the Bronx – in the old Yankee Stadium. The only time he’s had trouble with the Yankees was in the 2003 ALDS, when, in two games, he allowed six runs in 7 2/3 innings. The Yankees are batting a collective .238 off him with a .685 OPS. The hitters with good numbers are Derek Jeter (8-for-23 with a homer), Robinson Cano (6-for-15) and Hideki Matsui (6-for-18 with a homer).

Burnett is coming off his shortest outing of the season in which he gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and five walks in 2.2 innings against the Red Sox. He’s 4-3 with a 4.89 ERA. Burnett, who was the Mets’ eighth-round pick in 1995, is 2-6 with a 3.83 ERA against them. He last faced the Mets in September 2005 – as a Marlin – giving up two runs in eight innings but losing, 3-2. The current Mets roster is hitting just .177 against him, though (.527 OPS). Gary Sheffield (8-for-28 with three homers) and Brian Schneider (8-for-20) are the only ones with good numbers.

The right-hander features a 93-96 mph fastball, a looping curveball, a slider and changeup.

K-Rod and Bruney exchange words during BP

A little pregame excitement to today's Subway Series finale. Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Bruney carried their war of words onto the field this morning when the two relievers nearly came to blows in leftfield during batting practice.

According to eyewitnesses, the Mets' relievers were playing catch along the leftfield line toward the end of the Yankees' BP session, which is when K-Rod and Bruney crossed paths. Rodriguez got in Bruney's face and the two had to be separated by other players, and escalated to the point where even a few position players from the Mets sprinted over to help out.

The Mets were tight-lipped about the incident shortly before the clubhouse closed before today's game and K-Rod smiled before saying, "No comment."

The Mets players as a whole seemed worried about the incident escalating, with one saying, "Hopefully this is the end of it."

Maybe not. While this is the last game of the Bronx series, the two teams face each other again June 26-28 at Citi Field.


Today's lineup

Cora - ss
Martinez - lf
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Sheffield - dh
Murphy - 1b
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b

June 13, 2009

Gameday Live 60: Mets at Yankees

What’s happenin’? Stephen Haynes here for today’s episode of Gameday Live. If you’re new to this thing, what we do here is provide updates and banter and stuff. What’s stuff? We find out as we go along. See, ya come for the score and stay for the conversation. There is no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than on this site, in this chat, with me. Oh, it’s true. It’s true. Anyway, let’s get into the useless pre-game babble ™.

Breathe. Calm down. Take it easy. It’s not that bad. Really, it’s not. Relax. Wait, exhale. Done? OK. Now, get down from that ledge. Get from under the table. Look up. The sky is still in its atmosphere. Really.

The (revolting?) recap: The Mets (31-28) lost the Subway Series opener to the Yankees, 9-8, last night when Luis Castillo’s fumble of what should’ve been a game-ending pop-up allowed the tying and winning runs to score. The Mets, who battled back from three deficits and took a one-run lead in the eighth off Mariano Rivera, had victory slip from their clutch. Literally.

Far be it from me to tell folks how to root (and rue), but in hearing from Mets fans, reading message boards and listening to sports radio, I think too much is being made of this loss. Bizarre and stunning as it was, it was a loss. That’s singular. It is still June. Mets fans can cry, “Woe is we!” and curse the Bronx sky and blame the flukian gods and question Castillo’s concentration (he’s got three Gold Gloves, by the way) and even wonder if he’s got cataracts. We might not see such a sequence – with all the moons aligning and the bad juju spewing at the same time in a similar situation – for another decade. Uh-huh. And it’s still one loss. On June 12. Heck, Castillo is hitting leadoff today. Right back in there!

With more than four months left in the season, I’m almost certain there’ll be other crushing losses and several exhilarating wins that’ll eventually push this game into your memory’s alcove. Besides, the Phillies lost to the Red Sox in extra innings, so no ground was lost.

Did I help infuse a little optimism? Yeah, I knew I couldn’t. But I hope I helped frame some perspective around this.

What should be a concern is the three-game losing streak and the fact that today’s pitching matchup isn’t favorable. But on the bright side: If the Mets are able to pull this out, it could be a spark. And the Phillies will send 23-year-old Antonio Bastardo – pause to snicker at the name – to the mound, in his third career start, against the high-powered Red Sox. Remember, y’all, the power of positive thinking. Actually, it has very little power, nor does it affect outcomes. But it beats despair.

Pitching Matchup
Fernando Nieve (NYM) vs. Andy Pettitte (NYY)

Nieve will start in place of John Maine, whose surgically repaired shoulder is fatigued. The 26-year-old was claimed from the International League after J.J. Putz was placed on the disabled list. His first appearance this season, last Saturday, was a two-inning relief outing against the Nationals in which he allowed a hit and struck out two. For his career (most of which was spent with the Astros), he’s 3-4 with a 4.54 ERA and a decent-enough 1.35 WHIP. He hasn’t started a game since 2006, though. The only Yankee batter Nieve has faced before is Xavier Nady, who is inactive.

The right-hander has a fastball that sits between 92-95 mph and he mixes in a sharp slider.

Pettitte’s peripheral stats belie his overall numbers. Opponents have hit .281 off him and he’s got a sub-par 1.53 WHIP. Nevertheless, the veteran lefty is 6-2 with a 4.22 ERA. In his last start, a win against Tampa Bay, Pettitte yielded two earned runs on five hits and three walks in six innings. The current Mets have hit .286 lifetime against him. David Wright is 8-for-18 with two home runs and Carlos Beltran is 14-for-40 with a homer. Pettitte defeated the Mets, 3-2, when he last faced them a year ago. In six innings, he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks and fanned four.

Pettitte features mostly an 88-90 mph fastball and a cutter, but also throws a changeup and an occasional curveball.

Castillo leading off, needs to try counting sheep

Staple here in The Bronx, filling in for Lennon while he goofs off somewhere... I think it's called a day off or something.

So Luis Castillo couldn't sleep last night, he told a rather large group of us about an hour ago.

"I can't wait to get to the ballpark today," he said. "I just want to put everything in the past, starting today."

If this were the old Luis Castillo, the one who couldn't buy a hit last year, it'd be hard to believe him. But the one that's hitting .277 with a .376 OBP might actually get over last night's mistake.

Jerry Manuel said he feels for his second baseman a bit more than he would if, say, the third baseman had dropped that pop-up. And the manager isn't worried about Castillo when the Mets return to Citi Field.

"By that time he'll be 10 for 15 with five stolen bases and a couple game-winning hits by then," Manuel said. "And everybody's gonna love him again."

Mets Lineup - 6/13

1. Castillo, 2B
2. Cora, SS
3. Beltran, CF
4. Wright, 3B
5. Sheffield, DH
6. Tatis, 1B
7. Church, RF
8. Santos, C
9. Martinez, LF

Nieve, P

June 12, 2009

Jerry to New York: Drop dead

Jerry Manuel said earlier today that the White Sox-Cubs interleague series was more intense than the Subway Series.

"Well, that’s a tricky question, because if I say the truth everybody will come out here and throw bombs tonight," said Manuel, who managed the Sox from 1998-2003."I thought the Chicago thing was a little more intense for me as a manager. Iit was the first time for me. It was real, real, real intense.

"Matter of fact, it was so intense that in Chicago, in our ballpark, we couldn’t play games at night. All our games had to be during the day in our park, that one year, so I thought that was a disadvantage. But that was the type of intensity. I’m just talking about the fans, I’m not talking about team vs. team. I thought fan thing was more intense."

When asked why the games were played during the day, Manuel replied, "Fights -- Tyson, Ali, those type of things."

Gameday Live 59: Mets at Yankees

Hey everyone, I’m David Cassilo, and I’ll be guiding you through tonight’s Subway Series game between the Mets and the Yankees. This one has a little extra spice because it is the first game to be played at either team’s new ballpark.

The Mets will look to bounce back from two crushing losses to the Phillies when they send Livan Hernandez (5-1, 3.88 ERA) to the hill for his first career Subway Series start. Hernandez hasn’t lost since April 23rd, and is coming off a win against the Washington in which he threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just four hits.

However, Hernadez has never beaten the Yankees, as he is 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA against the Bronx Bombers in five career starts.

The Yankees will have Joba Chamberlin (3-1, 3.79 ERA) pitching tonight. Chamberlin received a no decision against Tampa Bay in his last start, giving up three runs in six innings.

Like Hernandez, this is Chamberlin’s first start in the Mets-Yankees rivalry. He has one career appearance against the Mets. In that outing he went one inning and gave up a run.

After two tough series, both teams could use a win tonight to feel good about where they currently stand. At the very least, each team’s fans view this as a crucial series.

Be back for first pitch.

Tonight's lineup

Cora - ss
Martinez - lf
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Sheffield - dh
Murphy - 1b
Schneider - c
Castillo - 2b

Nieve to start Saturday; LHP Switzer called up

The Mets just announced their roster moves in the wake of John Maine being placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Fernando Nieve will start Saturday against the Yankees and lefthander Jon Switzer has been called up from Triple-A Buffalo.Switzer was 0-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 21 appearances for the Bisons. He also had 29 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 1/3 innings

Another important detail: Switzer has held lefthanded hitters to a .186 BA this season.

June 11, 2009

Gameday Live 58: Phillies at Mets

Hey Mets fans! Last game of a three-game series against the Phillies. With the series tied at 1-1, hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can see another good matchup.

On the mound tonight for the Mets is Tim Redding. He'll face off against Phillies lefty Jamie Moyer.

>> View photos of the Mets' series against the Phillies at Citi Field

Martinez replaces Church in the lineup.

Back after top of the first. Keep your fingers crossed the weather holds!


Tonight's lineup

F-Mart in, Church out.

Castillo - 2b
Cora - ss
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - lf
Wright - 3b
Tatis - 1b
Martinez - rf
Santos - c
Redding - sp

Video: Subway Series Preview

Newsday writers talk about the upcoming Subway Series:

John Maine shuffled for Subway Series

The Mets have decided to give John Maine an extra day of rest and start him Saturday against the Yankees in the Bronx. That means the rubber-armed Livan Hernandez will go Friday and Johan Santana stays on turn for the Sunday finale.

Maine was pummeled in last Saturday's start against the Nationals, who beat him up with three homers and seven runs in four innings. Afterward, Maine said he was still experiencing tightness in the back of his right shoulder, where he had a bone spur removed last September.

Jerry Manuel was hoping that Maine's dip in velocity was attributed to for nothing more serious than a "dead-arm" period, and that probably explains the move to give him that extra day.

>> View photos of the Mets' series against the Phillies at Citi Field

June 10, 2009

Gameday Live 57: Phillies at Mets

One night after The Greatest Game Ever played at Citi Field, we'll see if the Mets can return from last night's victory and stick it to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, who labeled the Mets as choke artists in a radio interview with the Fan before the season.

Mets will have Mike Pelfrey on the mound...

Back after the top of the first!


Tonight's lineup

In other "news," Emil Brown has cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A Buffalo. Also, the Mets have acquired Chip Ambres. Remember him?

Castillo - 2B
Cora - SS
Beltran - CF
Sheffield - LF
Wright - 3B
Tatis - 1B
Church - RF
Santos - C
Pelfrey - SP

Greatest Game Ever Played?

beltcora.jpg
Sorry I missed it.

I take a night off and all I'm hearing this morning is how the Mets' 6-5 victory over the Phillies was The Greatest Game Ever Played at Citi Field. I'll take some consolation in the fact that there's only been 27 games at the new ballpark -- not counting the SJU/G'Town tilt and the pair of exhibitions against the Red Sox.

No worries. You can get your Mets fix, um, fixed this morning by my stellar colleagues Tom Rock, Katie Strang and, of course, Wally Matthews.

Here's Rock on the TGGEP, which apparently included three home runs -- three! -- by the Mets in one game. Also, Rock tackles (get it, he's the Giants' writer?) the whole Hamels-choker controversy right here.

Strang catches up with Jose Reyes, who's rehabbing with the club, but has no timetable for a return and also chats with Johan Santana about what was described as an off night.

Wally checks in on the homer fest, with the great opening line, "Honey, who shrunk the TARP?"

I'll be back out there tonight for the Big Pelf-Cole Hamels showdown, ready for TGGEP, the Sequel.

June 9, 2009

Gameday Live 56: Phillies at Mets

First place Phillies in town for the first of a three-game series against the defending World Series champions.

Mets ace Johan Santana faces off against J.A. Happ of the Phillie in a battle between the top two teams in the NL East.

News out of Phillies is they have lost closer Brad Lidge to the DL with a knee sprain. Ryan Madson will assume closing duties.


June 8, 2009

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets and answers your questions today in a live chat at 11 a.m.

June 7, 2009

Gameday Live 55: Mets at Nationals

Good afternoon Mets enthusiasts! Welcome to a lovely Sunday afternoon of Mets baseball!

p1.ryan.church.jpg

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of today's live game action, as the Mets (29-25), three games behind Philadelphia for the NL East lead, take on the last-place team in the division, Washington (15-39), in the rubber game of a three-game set at Nationals Park.

The Mets are 1-4 on their current road trip, which ends today (they're just 12-16 away from home this season). They'll have a day off tomorrow before coming home for three against the Phillies and another three at Yankee Stadium.

Washington has won two of its last five, which could probably be considered a hot streak for this abysmal squad. Last night, Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Nick Johnson all homered off John Maine in a 7-1 win. Maine allowed all seven runs in his four innings of work, while the Mets mustered just four hits and hit into five double plays.

Long Beach's John Lannan threw a complete game for Washington, while Dunn's homer was his 17th of the season, which is fourth in the National League.

Ryan Church (pictured) was activated from the disabled list after yesterday's game (he sat out the last two weeks with a strained right hamstring). He is in today's lineup, batting sixth and playing right field. It's his first game since May 22.

On the hill today for the Mets is Livan Hernandez (4-1, 4.33 ERA), who didn't receive a decision Monday in Pittsburgh after allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-5 loss for the Metropolitans.

Livan's last start against Washington was a beauty, as he allowed just one run (a Dunn solo homer) in a complete-game victory. He has won his last six outings against the Nats with a 2.86 ERA. Here are the Nats' numbers against Hernandez.

Opposing him for the second time this season is righty Craig Stammen (0-1, 5.71), who is seeking his first big-league victory. Stammen didn't receive a decision in his last outing Tuesday against San Francisco after throwing six innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk. He allowed three runs in five innings on May 26 against the Mets. Angel Pagan went 2-for-3 that game.

And finally, here are today's lineups...

Mets
1. Cora, 2B
2. Martinez, LF
3. Beltran, CF
4. Wright, 3B
5. Murphy, 1B
6. Church, RF
7. Schneider, C
8. Valdez, SS
9. Hernandez, RHP

Nats
1. Guzman, SS
2. Johnson, 1B
3. Zimmerman, 3B
4. Dunn, LF
5. Dukes, CF
6. Kearns, RF
7. Bard, C
8. Hernandez, 2B
9. Stammen, RHP

Okay, that's all for now. But let's get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.

I'll be back after each half-inning with updates.

We're about 10 minutes from baseball on SNY!

Top of the 1st: That was a good start for the Mets.

After Cora walked on four pitches, Martinez lined an RBI double to the base of the wall in dead center to give the Mets a quick 1-0 lead.

Martinez moved to third on Beltran's ground out to second and then Wright walked to put runners on the corners for Murphy. Stammen threw a wild pitch, allowing Martinez to score (to make it 2-0 Mets) and Wright to move to second.

Then Murphy singled to left to score Wright and make it 3-0 Mets. It was Murph's 19th RBI of the season.

Church doubled to right, putting runners on the corners for Schneider, who hit a sac fly to right to score Murphy and make it 4-0 Mets. Another Stammen wild pitch scored Church from third and made it 5-0. Valdez struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom of the 1st: A 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez, as Guzman grounded out to second, Johnson struck out looking and Zimmerman flew out to right.

Top of the 2nd: A 1-2-3 inning for Stammen, as Hernandez lined out to short, Cora flew out to left and Martinez grounded out to second.

Bottom of the 2nd: Dunn lined out to right and Dukes flew out to right-center before Kearns walked on a 3-and-2 pitch (the Nats' first baserunner). Bard also walked on a 3-and-2 pitch, putting runners on first and second for Hernandez, who struck out swinging to end the inning. Livan has two K's.

Top of the 3rd: Beltran grounded out to first and Wright popped out to right before Murphy singled to left for the second time today, breaking Stammen's streak of seven straight retired hitters. But Church flew out to deep center to end the inning.

Bottom of the 3rd: Stammen dribbled one back to Hernandez before Guzman singled to center (the Nats' first hit of the afternoon). But Johnson and Zimmerman flew out to center to end the inning.

Top of the 4th: Schneider grounded out to second and Valdez did the same to third before Hernandez singled to right. But Cora struck out swinging to end the inning (Stammen's second K this afternoon).

Bottom of the 4th: Dunn singled to center (the Nats' second hit of the day) before Dukes flew out to right and Kearns struck out swinging (Livan's third K). Bard walked for the second time today, but Anderson Hernandez' liner deflected off Livan's glove and right to Cora, who tossed to first for the third out.

Top of the 5th: Martinez flew out to left and Beltran grounded out to second before Wright doubled to center (it should have been a single, but he challenged Dukes' arm and hustled into second). But Murphy lined out to left to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th: Alberto Gonzalez (pinch-hitting for Stammen) singled to center, but Guzman grounded into a 3-6-3 double play and Johnson struck out looking for the third out (Livan's fourth K).

Top of the 6th: Righty Jesus Colome (0-0, 9.00) came on for Stammen, who allowed five runs on six hits and two walks with two K's and two wild pitches in five innings (87 pitches). Colome allowed a single to Church to lead off the inning. Church moved to second on a wild pitch and third on Schneider's ground out to second. But Valdez struck out swinging and Hernandez grounded out to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the 6th: Zimmerman singled to right and Dunn walked, putting runners on first and second for Dukes, who popped out to second on the first pitch of his at-bat. Kearns grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Top of the 7th: Cora slapped a singled to left off Colome before Martinez flew out to left. Cora stole second (his fourth of the year) during Beltran's at-bat. He flew out to left, but then Wright singled to left to score Cora and give the Mets a 6-0 lead. For Wright, who is 2-for-3 today, it was his team-leading 34th RBI of the year.

Wright moved to second on a wild pitch and Murphy walked, putting runners on first and second for Church, who grounded out to short to end the inning.

Bottom of the 7th: Cora made a fabulous diving stop to retire Bard for the first out, and then Anderson Hernandez popped out in foul ground off first and pinch-hitter Willie Harris flew out to the warning track in right for the third out. Nice job by Livan today.

Top of the 8th: Righty Julian Tavarez (1-4, 5.31) came on in relief of Colome, who allowed one run on three hits and a walk with one K in his two innings of work. Schneider doubled off Tavarez, but was caught off the bag on Valdez' grounded to short and tagged out. Then pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed flew out to center and Cora grounded out to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th: Lefty Pedro Feliciano (2-1, 2.42) came on in relief of Hernandez, who pitched seven innings of four-hit ball with four walks and four K's on 116 pitches. Feliciano struck out Guzman swinging and got Johnson to fly out to center. But then Zimmerman walked and Dunn singled to left, prompting Jerry Manuel to bring in righty Bobby Parnell (2-0, 1.99). Parnell got Dukes to line out to center for the third out.

Top of the 9th: Righty Mike MacDougal (0-0, 0.00) came on in relief of Tavarez, who threw a scoreless eighth. Martinez reached on an error (MacDougal couldn't handle Johnson's throw on a play at first) and then Beltran hit an RBI double to center on the first pitch of his at-bat to give the Mets a 7-0 lead. Wright walked (his fourth time on base today), but Murphy grounded into a 3-6-1 double play and Church flew out to left to end the inning.

Bottom of the 9th: K-Rod (1-0, 0.70) came on in relief of Parnell, who recorded the last out in the eighth. K-Rod got Kearns to strike out swinging before Bard walked. But Hernandez grounded into a force at second and pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard popped out in foul ground in front of the Nats' dugout to end the game.

That's the ballgame folks, Mets win 7-0.
Mets: 30-25 (take 2 of 3 in Washington and finish the road trip 2-4)
Nats: 15-40 (MLB's worst record) ... the Nats were shut out for just the second time this season.

WP--Hernandez (5-1)
LP--Stammen (0-2)

No homers today.

Here are your three stars for today's game:
1. Hernandez: 7 IP, four hits (all singles), four walks, four K's, 116 pitches
2. Wright: 2-for-3 with a double, two walks an RBI and a run
3. Murphy: 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and a run

Also, Church was 2-for-5 with a double and a run in his first game back off the DL.

Okay, that's all for today's game. Thanks to all for coming out. As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of today's live game action.

We'll see ya'll back here Tuesday, as the Mets welcome the Phillies to Citi Field for the start of a three-game set at 7:10 p.m.

See ya'll then. Goodnight!

(AP Photo)

Today's lineup -- Sheff off again

Another breather for Gary Sheffield. Cora's back.

Cora ............. 2B
F. Martinez.... LF
Beltran ......... CF
Wright........... 3B
Murphy ......... 1B
Church........... RF
Schneider ....... C
Valdez .......... SS
Hernandez ..... SP

June 6, 2009

Post-op issues for John Maine?

A couple of unsettling comments from John Maine's dismal outing in the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Nationals.Could he be having post-op issues left over from last September's surgery to remove a bone spur behind his right shoulder?

Maine allowed a season-high seven runs in four-plus innings, including home runs to Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Nick Johnson. In the fifth, before Johnson's three-run blast, Maine walked the pitcher, John Lannan, and Cristian Guzman on a total of nine pitches.

Afterward, in speaking about Maine's performance, Jerry Manuel said, "I would hope that John Maine may be going through a period of dead arm or whatever. I just didn’t see the electric stuff we’ve been known to see. That’s a little concerning when that happens."

As for the self-deprecating Maine, his comments were to be expected.

"I had nothing," he said. "It was awful. It was terrible."

Asked about his decreased velocity, Maine added that his shoulder is "still tight back there," but didn't sound too alarmed by it. "I had a good May and April," he said. "You don't always have to throw 95."

Maine was 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six May starts.

Gameday Live 54: Mets at Nationals

After restoring order within the franchise with a win last night, the Mets send John Maine to the mound to take on the Nationals. First pitch is just minutes away....


Tonight's lineup -- Emil Brown!

Yes, Emil Brown folks. Here's his supporting cast:

Castillo - 2b
Brown - rf
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - lf
Wright - 3b
Tatis - 1b
Santos - c
Valdez - ss
Maine - sp

Beltran defiant

No backing down from Carlos Beltran today. When told that Adam LaRoche took offense to his comments, Beltran was unapologetic.

"Being honest, I don't care what he said," Beltran replied. "I believe we're better than them."

LaRoche fires back at Beltran

alaroche.jpgGuess it was just a matter of time. After Carlos Beltran said the Mets "were better" than the Pirates after his club was swept in Pittsburgh, Adam LaRoche fired back yesterday.Here's what he said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"I think it shows zero class and zero professionalism," the Pirates' first baseman said yesterday at Minute Maid Park. "When somebody says that, they know what they're saying, and they know it's going to get out. He knows we're not going to be real happy about it. If you go and say that to your buddies, it's one thing. If you go to the media and make that public for us to hear? Yeah, that's no class."

LaRoche paused.

"You know, if we're as bad as he says we are and we swept them, then what's that make them?"

June 5, 2009

Gameday Live 53: Mets at Nationals

As if the news of Jose Reyes' torn hamstring and J.J. Putz upcoming elbow surgery wasn't enough to ruin the day for Met fans, the lowly Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Mets - or what was left of them anyway.

Tim Redding looks to stop the madness for the Mets as they take on the Nationals. Only in New York could a game in early-June against the worst team in baseball be seen as a must win situation.

First pitch is just minutes away....


Tonight's lineup

Weather permitting, of course.

Cora - ss
Castillo - 2b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Tatis - lf
Murphy - 1b
F. Martinez - rf
Schneider - c
Redding - sp

Putz to have elbow surgery (updated - again)

As Billy Wagner might say, "Shocker."

J.J. Putz was destined for surgery as soon he left the team for New York, and now the demoted set-up man will indeed have an operation to take care of the bone spur in his elbow, a person familiar with the situation confirmed this afternoon. Putz is scheduled to have surgery next Tuesday and is expected to miss two months.

At this rate, will Wagner make it back to the Mets before Putz? That would be interesting.

****** UPDATE (3:35 p.m.)
The Mets have recalled righthander Fernando Nieve to take Putz's spot on the roster.

****** SECOND UPDATE (3:39 P.M.)
The Mets claimed lefthanded pitcher Pat Misch off waivers from the San Francisco Giants and optioned him to Buffalo (AAA) of the International League. To make room on the 40-man roster, lefthanded pitcher Billy Wagner was moved from the 15-Day Disabled List to the 60-Day Disabled List.

Misch, 27, appeared in four games out of the bullpen for the Giants this season and did not earn a decision after being recalled from Fresno (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League on May 12th. In 3.1 innings at the major league level, he had a 10.80 ERA and allowed six hits and four runs, earned, while not striking out a batter and walking three. He started the year with the Grizzlies, going 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA and one save. Over 27.0 innings at Triple-A, the lefthander allowed 24 hits, seven runs, six earned, one home run and four walks, while striking out 12. In his final game for Fresno, he made his only start of the season and threw 5.0 scoreless innings to earn the win.

Drafted out of Western Michigan University by San Francisco in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Misch made his major league debut with the Giants in 2006. For his career, the 6-2, 196-pound lefty has appeared in 34 games, made 11 starts and compiled a 0-7 career mark and a 5.00 ERA (52 earned runs/93.2 innings).


The Mets have claimed

J.J. Putz, Jose Reyes and the Eat-N-Park

insult.jpgHere's a snapshot of a fun little Thursday in Pittsburgh:

-- Mike Pelfrey tosses what he calls "the worst game of his career" in an 11-6 loss to the Pirates.

-- J.J. Putz holds court in the clubhouse a few feet away letting everyone know that he's returning to New York to have his left elbow examined. Surgery a possibility.

-- Moments later, Carlos Beltran stands at his locker and says he is "embarrassed" by the Pirates' sweep, among other not-so-subtle rips at the stumbling Mets.

-- With the entire city of Pittsburgh in gridlock -- Stanley Cup traffic? -- making the flight to DC is not a possibility, so decide to drive.

-- After an hour on I-76, get word from the Mets that Jose Reyes has a "small tear" in his hamstring tendon. Time to write again. Get off at Exit 185, pull into the Eat-N-Park in Somerset, and cobble together a story on the Reyes injury. Also have a BBQ Bacon cheeseburger (quite tasty) and get an Oreo Sundae for the road (bad decision).

-- After a three-hour drive, arrive in rainy D.C.

So there you have it. Yes, things are a little nutty around the Mets these days. And given their run of bad luck, all uniformed personnel better look both ways before crossing the street here in DC. Jerry Manuel said after yesterday's game, in talking about the Putz injury, that maybe he should make a doctor's appointment.

"We’re always examining somebody," Manuel said. "I probably need to be examined."

Taking that cue, you can "examine" about three pages' worth of Mets' stories in Newsday, starting with a third straight brutal loss to the Pirates. Sorry about the bathroom humor in the lead, but I couldn't resist, given Beltran's recent stomach "issues."

If you can keep that one down, move onto today's Mets Insider, which deals with Gary Sheffield's steel cage match with Father Time and a couple paragraphs on rising prospect Jenrry Mejia.

Next, a few injury updates on Putz and Reyes, and for dessert, Manuel suggesting that F-Mart could convince him to stay in the majors, even when Ryan Church returns on Sunday.

That should take you right up to tonight's first pitch against the Nationals, weather permitting of course. It's raining steadily here in D.C. and the forecast is not great.

June 4, 2009

Putz to be examined in NYC tomorrow

This is hardly a surprise. After today's game, J.J. Putz revealed that he is headed back to NYC to have his sore right elbow examined by team doctors. Putz entered in the seventh inning and allowed three hits and two runs in the Pirates' 11-6 rout of the Mets.

Putz already is bothered by a bone spur in the elbow that doesn't allow him to finish his pitches, especially his splitter and two-seam fastball, so surgery seems like the logical next step for him.

"I'm not following through because it hurts," Putz said. When asked about a decent splitter he threw today, Putz replied, "Yeah, and it it hurt."


Gameday Live 52: Mets at Pirates

mets0604.jpg (AP Photo)

Click here to see photos from today's game


Mets try to escape Pittsburgh with at least one win in a Thursday getaway game. Mike Pelfrey goes against Ross Ohlendorf. The Pirates traded Nate McLouth yesterday and the Mets have an actual big-league lineup again, so the Mets could definitely use a W before heading to D.C.

On with the show.

F-Mart auditioning to stay

With Ryan Church expected to return from the DL on Sunday, Jerry Manuel said that Fernando Martinez will control his own fate.

"What we do will be determined by how well the kid plays the next couple days," Manuel said.

Today's lineup - Rested and Ready

After a day off from the phanton rainout -- I maybe saw three or four drops last night -- the Mets are wheeling out the best squad possible for today's 12:35 matinee. This lineup actually has some depth, rather than having Ramon Martinez hit sixth. Here's the lineup.

Cora ........... SS
Castillo ....... 2B
Beltran ........ CF
Sheffield ...... RF
Wright ......... 3B
Murphy ........ 1B
F. Martinez .. LF
Santos ......... C
Pelfrey ......... RHP

June 3, 2009

No Game Tonight

The weather in Pittsburgh is just as bad as it is in New York. Game rained out.

Putz demoted

As promised, Jerry Manuel spoke with J.J. Putz today and told him he would be given a role with "less responsibility."

In other words, Putz has been dropped to the 7th inning and the 8th now belongs to Bobby Parnell until further notice.

Setback for Reyes

Jose Reyes had to be pulled from today's extended spring game in the third inning and he is headed back to NYC to be seen by Dr. Struan Coleman tomorrow.

Reyes experienced discomfort in his right knee, which has been bothered by tendinitis, and the Mets want to make sure there is no structural damage.

Beltran's back -- new lineup

Carlos Beltran, after an IV hookup yesterday, is a go for today. Here's the new lineup.

Cora - ss
Castillo - 2b
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - rf
Wright - 3b
Murphy - 1b
FMartinez - lf
Santos - C
Pelfrey - sp

Live from PNC Park

Still no precipitation. But they're preparing for it.

IMG00012.jpg

Today's lineup - Still no Beltran

Even if Carlos Beltran does feel stable enough to make it to the ballpark today, there was little chance of him playing so soon anyway. Here's the lineup.

Cora .......... SS
Castillo ...... 2B
Murphy ...... 1B
Sheffield .... RF
Wright ........ 3B
F.Martinez .. LF
Santos ........ C
Reed .......... CF
Pelfrey ........ RHP

Maine: "I'll go out with a winning record"

byemaine.jpgThat was John Maine's tongue-in-cheek response to the Swine Flu scare the Mets got wrapped up in yesterday. Maine is still recovering from a stomach virus -- as far as anyone can tell, not Swine Flu -- so he is expected to make Friday's start in Washington.

And yes, at 5-3, Maine does have a winning record. But contracting the Swine Flu could hurt his Cy Young chances. Maine supposedly is suffering from the same stomach ailment as Carlos Beltran, but the Mets' centerfielder was too weak to even attend last night's game at PNC Park. That doesn't bode well for Beltran returning for the remainder of this Pittsburgh series, which ends tomorrow. But the Mets will be happy if he manages to play again on this trip.

After missing so much time -- he hasn't played since leaving Saturday's game in the sixth inning -- Beltran may need a day just to get up to speed once he feels healthy. As assistant GM John Ricco explained, Beltran has been unable to keep food down, which is long way from getting back on the field.

When Beltran does, and Ryan Church presumably returns on Sunday, what becomes of Fernando Martinez? F-Mart cooled off last night with an 0-for-4 in the loss to the Pirates, but he's shown glimpses of his potential, and that will make it even more tempting for the Mets to find a taker for Ryan Church at some point. Until then, the decision to keep Martinez at this level will ultimately depend on his performance.

"In the brief time he's been here with us, he's done some good things," Jerry Manuel said. "But it's something that we feel, even though we're developing players, we have to win."

June 2, 2009

Gameday Live 51: Mets at Pirates

Johan Santana goes against Zach Duke tonight. Perhaps Santana can keep the Mets from needing J.J. Putz in the eighth inning... We will see shortly.

No Beltran again - this is worrisome

Still no Carlos Beltran, and this is starting to look like more than the stomach flu. Here's the lineup against Pirates lefthander Zack Duke.

Castillo ....... 2B
F.Martinez .. LF
Wright ........3B
Sheffield ..... RF
Tatis ........... 1B
Santos ........ C
R. Martinez .. 2B
Reed ........... CF
Santana ...... LHP

Live chat with Dave Lennon

Dave Lennon talks Mets and answers your baseball questions today in a live chat at 11 a.m.

June 1, 2009

Gameday Live 50: Mets at Pirates

First of a four-game series against the Pirates for the Mets, who are beginning a 7-game road trip (v. Nationals over the weekend). Carlos Beltran is still feeling under the weather with whatever flu bug is going around the clubhouse. Jeremy Reed will replace him in centerfield.

Livan Hernandez, who gave up only one run while pitching his first complete game of the season in his last start, on the mound tonight for the Mets. He'll square off against Ian Snell of the Pirates, who had a winless (0-3) May.

Cora is still expected to return to the lineup. Wilson Valdez will play SS tonight.

Before the game, Jerry endorsed J.J. Putz as the 8th inning guy still, although he said he has no problem turning to Parnell or Feliciano if he runs into trouble.

Back after the top of the first.


Beltran scratched, new lineup

Carlos Beltran still feeling too sick to play.

Castillo ........ 2B
F. Martinez .. RF
Murphy ........ 1B
Sheffield ....... LF
Wright .......... 3B
Reed ............ CF
Valdez .......... SS
Schneider ..... C
Hernandez .... RHP

Beltran's back

Tonight's lineup

Castillo - 2b
F. Martinez - rf
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - lf
Wright - 3b
Murphy - 1b
Valdez - ss
Schneider - c
Hernandez - rhp

J.J. Putz already at work

Give J.J. Putz this much credit. He's already in the bullpen right now working on his delivery. It's obvious that something is wrong -- just check out today's story by my colleague Arthur Staple -- so maybe the problem can be fixed.

Then again, Putz already has received a cortisone shot for a bone chip in his elbow, so it's not like he's completely healthy either.

Gut Check

gutcheck.jpgKudos to Newsday for the back page of today's REDESIGNED print edition.

While the Daily News and Post copied each other - for the second straight day! -- we went for the punchy "Gut Check" for the new splashy, streamlined paper.

It definitely fit. With John Maine doing his best to hold down breakfast -- and succeeding for at least six innings -- the Mets showed some grit (there's that word again) in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Marlins.

Hard to believe the Mets finished 19-9 for the month of May, when they lost key players Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes for an extended period, as well as Alex Cora and Ryan Church. I take a closer look at some of these issues in today's column and how the Mets had to overcome adversity again on Sunday. Not only was Carlos Beltran scratched, but Angel Pagan -- his replacement -- even had to be pulled from the game. Crazy.

In other weirdness, J.J. Putz had to be yanked after getting only one out in the eighth inning. Good move by Jerry Manuel acting quickly there before the game got out of hand. Putz didn't stick around to answer questions afterward, but neither he nor Sean Green has lived up to expectations. With the rise of Bobby Parnell, and the success of Pedro Feliciano, it wouldn't surprise if either one of those relievers is dealt before the July 31 deadline.

On the injury front, it seems that the Mets will get Cora back tomorrow, his first day of eligibility. The maybe Reyes on Friday and Church next week. I'm assuming that Beltran will be OK to play tonight, but with this team, who knows.

May 31, 2009

Gameday Live 49: Marlins at Mets

Last game of the homestand for the Mets. John Maine (4-3, 4.18) opposes the Marlins' Chris Volstad (4-3, 3.69).

Underway in a few.


Beltran scratched

Carlos Beltran still bothered by a stomach virus.

Pagan - cf
Castillo - 2b
Wright - 3b
Sheffield - lf
Murphy - 1b
Martinez - rf
Santos - c
Valdez - ss
Maine - rhp

May 30, 2009

Gameday Live 48: Marlins at Mets

Beautiful sunny day here at Citi Field for game 2 of this weekend's Marlins-Mets series.

It'll be Tim Redding (0-1, 6.75) vs. Josh Johnson (3-1, 2.67).

The Mets have quite the wacky lineup, with no David Wright, Gary Sheffield or Luis Castillo against the Marlins ace.

Back later with more. Please keep the comments on point and clean.


Bad Ollie gets worse

It appears that today's starter Tim Redding can stop looking over his shoulder. The Mets announced a few minutes ago that Oliver Perez is headed back to Port St. Lucie after an MRI on Thursday revealed a flareup of the patellar tendinitis bothering his right knee. There is no timetable for his return.

"The knee has not fully recovered," GM Omar Minaya said."So we’re going to pull him back from his minor-league rehab, back to Florida, and let the knee recuperate more before we get him out there and pitch again."


Perez, who has been on the disabled list since May 3, made only one start at Triple-A Buffalo. He struck out five and walked five in 4 1/3 innings, needing 88 pitches to do so. Minaya said it was a play during that game, when he came off the mound, that re-aggravated the knee condition.

"When we told you guys he had a bad knee, he had a bad knee," Minaya said.

Manuel sending mixed messages with F-Mart, Murphy

jerrym.jpgI have to say I was a little confused by Jerry Manuel's handling of two young players this week, so I addressed the topic in a column you can read here.

First, the manager decides not to pull Fernando Martinez after he fails to run out a pop-up on Wednesday. OK, so F-Mart was booed later in the game. Big deal. That was a situation where a message had to be sent and Manuel whiffed on it.

In that same game, Daniel Murphy, desperately in need of a good performance, drives in a career best five runs to key the Mets' 7-4 win. And what does Manuel do? He sits Murphy on Friday and plays Fernando Tatis, adhering to a strict platoon and explaining that Tatis needs the at-bats. Forget that Murphy hits lefties well and finally had some momentum to build on.

Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there.


No Sheff, Wright or Castillo

Looks like a day of rest for some core Mets. Here's the lineup:

Pagan - LF
F.Martinez - RF
Beltran - CF
Tatis - 3B
Murphy - 1B
R. Martinez - 2B
Schneider - C
Valdez - SS
Redding - RHP

May 29, 2009

Santos stays, Castro goes, Mets win, 2-1

giftsantos.jpgWhat a week for Omir Santos. A game-winning homer off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth inning on Saturday. And Friday, with Brian Schneider waiting to be activated from the DL, Santos goes deep again, then follows that up with a walkoff RBI single in the 11th inning to beat the Marlins.

As the fans filed out of Citi Field, they chanted loudly, "San-tos! San-tos! San-tos!"

Pretty incredible. Afterward, Jerry Manuel still kept on his poker face about the trade of Ramon Castro to the White Sox. When asked about Santos' role with the team, Manuel replied, "Santos will be with this team in some form or fashion. He's represented himself too well not to be."

It became official a few minutes later when GM Omar Minaya announced that Castro had been dealt to the White Sox for righthander Lance Broadway, who will be sent to Triple-A Buffalo. The big loser in all of this is Schneider, who now has lost his starting job after spending the past six weeks on the disabled list.

Manuel said before Friday's game that he would try to work Schneider in occasionally, so it definitely sounds like the roles have flipped.

Anyway, here's the Santos recap from my colleague Arthur Staple, along with an update on Carlos Beltran.

Gameday Live 47: Marlins at Mets

Tonight the Mets take on their late-season nemesis Florda Marlins with long, tall lefty Sean West (0-0, 3.60) making his second career start against Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 4.31).

West is yet another in a long-line of Marlin flamethrowers, so the right-handed power and quick bat of Gary Sheffield could be put to the test.

The Mets have won five of their last six games and are a half-game ahead of the Phillies for first place in the NL East. The Marlins have won three of their last four, but are 8-18 this month, dropping them five games out of the divisional lead.

Back after first pitch.

- Cody Derespina

Tonight's lineup

Carlos Beltran is back ....

Pagan - rf
Castillo - 2b
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - lf
Wright - 3b
Tatis - 1b
Santos - c
Martinez - ss
Pelfrey - rhp

Delgado, Sheffield and Reyes' shoes

execsheff.jpg
Even if Carlos Delgado said last night to pencil him in the lineup for July 28, who would believe him? Nine days after hip surgery, Delgado couldn't make any promises about a return, and that's pretty much how he played it in talking to Newsday's Katie Strang.

The good news? His appearance alone at the Mets' charity event in Greenwich, Conn. had to be encouraging for the club. Propped on crutches, he didn't seem to be in much pain, and Delgado already has begun limited rehab activities.

But it's impossible for the Mets to make any projections for his return until Delgado gets on a field again, for baseball activity, and that could be a while. I'm betting that Delgado will be back and productive. He's always kept himself in pretty decent shape, is a hard worker and also is determined to play beyond this season. His desire to continue playing for a couple of more years could be the biggest motivating factor to get him back with the Mets this season.

As for two of the short-term D-Listers, Jose Reyes and Ryan Church, sitting for two weeks is no picnic, as I detail in this week's Mets Insider. As for Reyes, he still has no idea how or why his knee tendinitis popped up, and it was interesting to note that the shoe reps from Under Armour showed up on Wednesday to take a closer look at his customized foot measurements.

This is Reyes' first year with Under Armour -- after leaving Nike -- and given his long history of leg problems, it makes you wonder if there's any connection. I'm not saying it's UA's fault. It's just that Reyes hasn't been on the DL since 2004 and I don't know what other changes he's made to his routine other than a new shoe contract.

My colleague Wally Matthews calls on Gary Sheffield to be the leader of these Delgado-less Mets and he seems like as good a candidate as any. Sounds funny to say, doesn't it? The same Sheffield who has been notorious for his me-first reputation and dogging it through his 21-year career is now more of a captain for this club than David Wright? Only in the upside-down, bizarro world of the Mets could this be conceivable.

May 27, 2009

Gameday Live 46: Nationals at Mets

Last game of a three-game set against the lowly Nationals, and I'm sure you alla re hoping they continue to take advantage of a struggling team while trying to literally limp through a laundry list of injuries.

Speaking of which, Santos was scratched from tonight's game with a shin bruise. Doesn't look or sound like anything too serious, but the way things have been going as of late, you can never be certain.

Talked to Beltran, who said he is feeling better than the previous two days after receiving a cortisone shot yesterday. Beltran said he no longer feels the pinch in his leg when he puts on pressure, which he takes as an encouraging sign. And yes, he still is on target to go on Friday against the Marlins.

Murphy will be at 1B tonight, Sheffield (LF) and F-Mart (RF) still in the corner outfield positions. Will be interesting to see what the young phenom does now with a little less nerves in the system from making his debut last night.

Santana, second in the majors with a 1.50 ERA, on the mound for the Mets tonight. He'll face Jordan Zimmerman (2-1, 5.71) of the Nationals.

Back after top of the first!

May 26, 2009

Gameday Live 45: Nationals at Mets

Flurry of activity in Flushing, which means a bunch of important injury news and a preview of young phenom.

Minaya announced that Reyes and Church were both placed on the DL. The corresponding moves include the call-up of top prospect, outfielder Fernando Martinez, and the acquisition of minor league shortstop Wilson Valdez from Cleveland.

If the weather permits, F-Mart will play tonight in right field. In a little twist of irony, the first person F-Mart greeted upon entering the Mets clubhouse at 5:54 tonight was Church, who he is essentially replacing.

Keep your fingers crossed that he's everything you hoped for and the weather tonight allows a first glimpse!

Reyes, Church on DL, F-Mart called up

BY KATIE STRANG

Both Jose Reyes and Ryan Church were placed on the 15-day disabled list, the Mets announced Tuesday.

With those moves, the Mets called up top prospect outfielder Fernando Martinez and acquired minor league shortstop Wilson Valdez from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations, Mets GM Omar Minaya told reporters at a pre-game conference.

The decision to place Reyes on the DL (right calf tendinitis), Minaya said, was made because of a lack of significant improvement over the past day.

“After seeing his progress, we just thought this was the best course of action today,” Minaya said. “We didn’t see the progress from yesterday to today that we wanted to see.”

Minaya said that placing Reyes on the DL, retroactively to May 21, will make him potentially available by next week and that he hopes the stint can completely eliminate the problem rather than just alleviating the pain to a tolerable level.

Minaya said the decision to place Church on the DL (right hamstring strain), retroactive to May 23, was influenced by the short-term loss of centerfielder Carlos Beltran and the need for a healthy player in the lineup.

“With the Beltran situation, when he’s not gonna play for the next two games, it just made it even more of a necessity to have a player that we know is going to play the whole game,” Minaya said.

Beltran, who has been recently plagued with knee pain, underwent an MRI today that revealed he was suffering from a bruised /inflamed tibia.

Beltran received an anti-inflammatory shot and said he will take the next three days to rest and see if the situation improves.

Why don't the Mets take a look at Fernando Martinez?

That's what Jim Baumbach wondered in his column from last night's Mets-Nats game.

The only quibble I have with Jim on this is the idea of putting Ryan Church on the DL even if he's not going to be out for a total of 15 days. I think it's dangerous for teams to put players on the DL if they are not injured enough to go on the DL; it's also unfair to the player.

But I agree with Jim that if Church or Carlos Beltran (who is scheduled to have an MRI on his knee today) does have to go on the DL, F-Mart should get a two-week stint in rightfield to see what he is at this point.

What do you think, Mets fans? Put on your GM hats and figure out how to get F-Mart on the roster.

May 25, 2009

Gameday Live 44: Nationals at Mets

Barbara Barker here on Memorial Day at Citi Field.

Mets glald to be home and facing the Nationals after going 5-5 on a road trip against three tough home teams. Mets failed to complete a sweep of the Red Sox last night, but have to be feeling good after winning two of three at Fenway. Today's is the first of a six-game home stand for the Mets in which they will play three games each against the Nationals and the Marlins.

May 24, 2009

Gameday Live 43: Mets at Red Sox

Last game in the Mets three-game series against the Red Sox, who they beat in dramatic fashion last night thanks to Omir Santos' late-game heroics. Seems like K-Rod is going to be okay after suffering from a painful bout of back spasms after last night's game. Per Dave Lennon, Rodriguez said he hasn't ruled out closing today's game if necessary.

In other injury news, Jose Reyes will sit out again today, but Manuel said he will play when the Mets begin their series against the Nationals. Ryan Church remains out of the lineup with a leg injury that looks like it could potentially land him on the DL. Beltran will DH once again, but will return to centerfield tomorrow.

Back after top of the first!


Today's lineup; Reyes expected back tomorrow

Still no Jose Reyes for today's series finale in Boston. But Jerry Manuel said he plans to start him tomorrow against the Nationals at Citi Field. Carlos Beltran will DH today for the third straight game and is expected to start in CF tomorrow night. As for Ryan Church, his right hamstring/hip area remains in issue and Manuel did not rule out the DL. Sound the F-Mart alert.

Murphy .......... 1B
Pagan ............ RF
Beltran ........... DH
Sheffield ......... LF
Wright ............ 3B
Reed .............. CF
Castro ............ C
R. Martinez ..... SS
Castillo ........... 2B
Redding .......... SP

Frankie says relax

Francisco Rodriguez said minutes ago that he won't rule out closing today's game if needed. K-Rod spoke to reporters while holding an electrical stim device in his right hand with wires attached to his back, which was heavily wrapped. But said he was much improved.

"As soon as the medicine started kicking in, I was a lot better," Rodriguez said.

Crisis averted? We'll see later this afternoon.

True Grit

grit.jpgYes, it was J.J. Putz who dropped the G-word in the wake of last night's dramatic 3-2 victory at Fenway Park.

"We've had to overcome a lot on this trip," Putz said. "This showed the determination of this team. And the grit."

Putz stopped short of mentioning "edge" and "meanness" -- two of Omar Minaya's buzzwords a couple of weeks back in Philly, but you get the point.

Saturday night showed what the Mets are capable of -- dizzying heights, a gut-check win against one of the game's best closers. And yet, it was only last Monday when the Mets were the laughingstocks of baseball for their five-error, third-base missing disaster in LA.

We'll see what happens over the long haul. But the Mets have to be encouraged trying for the sweep this afternoon at Fenway. Time to head downstairs and check on the latest round of injury news, a list that now includes Francisco Rodriguez.


May 23, 2009

Gameday Live 42: Mets at Red Sox

Stephen Haynes back with you, on this fine Saturday evening, to talk baseball and whatever other stuff comes up during the chat. But, before we get into that, here's some useless pre-game rambling to occupy a couple minutes.

Isn’t it a bit of Metsian irony that they would finally offer early run support for Johan Santana (against an elite team and a quality pitcher, at that), overcome three fielding gaffs, get clutch hits, end a seven-game power outage, snap a four-game losing streak and have the Yankees’ nine-game surge snapped all in one night… and not improve in the standings?

Regardless, the Mets (22-19) stopped their own skid and, at least for a day, sidestepped the bad juju with a 5-3 win over the Red Sox (25-17). Reason for more optimism: the pitching matchups for the next couple games are about even. Granted, I know paper matchups only matter in sketching and origami. Still, it's worth noting. And if anyone is curious, the Mets are 9-10 all-time against Boston.

Pitching Matchup
Mike Pelfrey (NYM) vs. Josh Beckett (BOS)

Pelfrey enters at 4-1 with a 4.61 ERA. In his previous start, a 2-0 loss to the Giants, he allowed two balk-aided runs on six hits in six innings. The good news for the Mets was that it was the third consecutive start in which Pelfrey pitched at least six quality innings. He’s been relatively economical, too, averaging just 93 pitches in those games. According to pitching coach Dan Wharthen, Pelfrey did well in his bullpen side sessions this week and the Mets believe he’s corrected the balky (oh, that was intentional) stretch mechanics.

And this is what makes interleague fun: Pelfrey has never pitched against the Red Sox before. In fact, he’s faced just one batter on their team – Mark Kotsay – who is currently on the disabled list. He was 0-for-6, if you’re wondering.

Pelfrey is 2-0 against American League teams (the Angels and Yankees), but it comes with an 8.18 ERA.

The Mets may have caught Beckett at an inopportune time, though. Maybe. The hard-throwing righthander is 4-2 with a 5.85 ERA, but he has been better of late, with three straight “quality starts.” For those not up on the pitching parlance: that’s at least six innings, yielding no more than three runs. In his last start, he allowed two earned runs in seven innings in a win over the Mariners. It was the first time he’d gone seven since his first start of the year.

However, he’s needed a total of 346 pitches to churn out 19 innings in those three starts and he’s walked three batters and struck out just five in each of the last two.

Beckett features a fastball that sits between 93-95 mph (but can often reach the high 90s) and a sharp curveball. He’ll also mix in a circle-changeup and a cutter.

In 13 starts against the Mets, the former Marlin is 6-2 with a 2.50 ERA and has held them to a collective .202 batting average. Of the players on the active roster, David Wright has faced him the most times and is 1-for-15. Jose Reyes is 1-for-14. Gary Sheffield is just 3-for-13 off him, but does have a homer and five RBIs.

Now the lineup is official

Carlos Beltran gets another break from centerfield.

Murphy ......... 1B
Pagan ........... RF
Beltran .......... DH
Sheffield ........ LF
Wright ........... 3B
Reed ..............CF
Santos .......... C
Martinez ........ SS
Castillo .......... 2B
Pelfrey ........... RHP

Tonight's lineup (sort of) vs. Red Sox

Jerry Manuel still has some holes to fill after watching BP -- needs to see if Carlos Beltran can play the field -- but here's the tentative lineup scenario. Ryan Church needs another day for his sore right hamstring and Jose Reyes said he feels "way better" and would not rule out playing the Sunday finale.

Murphy ......... 1B
Pagan ........... RF
Beltran .......... maybe CF, if not, then DH
Sheffield ........ LF
Wright ........... DH if Beltran in CF; otherwise 3B
Tatis/Reed ..... 3B/CF (Tatis gets nod if Beltran in CF)
Santos .......... C
Martinez ........ SS
Castillo .......... 2B
Pelfrey ........... RHP

May 22, 2009

Gameday Live 41: Mets at Red Sox

Hey Mets fans! First night of a three-game set against the Red Sox as the Mets kick off interleague play and make their last stop in a lengthy and somewhat discouraging road trip.

Jose Reyes is out of the lineup tonight. Daniel Murphy is batting leadoff, with Ryan Church in the two-hole. Church and Sheffield will be the corner outfielders tonight. Beltran will DH because of a sore knee; Jeremy Reed will replace him in centerfield.

Mets look to their ace Johan Santana tonight (5-2, 1.36) on the mound. He'll face Dice-K in his first start since coming off the DL.

Happy friday...back after top of the first!


Tonight's funky lineup

Interleague madness at Fenway. Check it out:

Murphy - 1B
Church - RF
Beltran - CF
Sheffield - DH
Wright - 3B
Reed - LF
Santos - C
Martinez - SS
Castillo - 2B
Santana - LHP

May 21, 2009

No DL yet for Jose Reyes

Seems that the prognosis for the Jose Reyes is for the Mets to keep their fingers crossed. Reyes had an MRI today at the Hospital for Special Surgery and the test revealed that the shortstop has tendinitis behind his right calf. Reyes remains listed as day-to-day, or in other words, no DL at this time.

May 20, 2009

Gameday Live 40: Mets at Dodgers

Neil Best, Newsday's sports media and business "Watchdog," will be our guest live blogger for tonight's game.

Two veteran righthanders will face each other tonight in the finale of the three-game series in L.A.

Livan Hernandez (3-1, 5.59 ERA) goes for the Mets against former Yankee Jeff Weaver (2-1, 3.38 ERA).

The Mets will try to avoid matching their season-worst four-game skid from April 19-23 and are now a game back of first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.


Murphy done in LF

Jerry Manuel just said that Murphy will start the next four games at first base and is essentially done as a leftfielder. Manuel declared the experiment over.

Tonight's lineup

Reyes - ss
Castillo - 2b
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Murphy - 1b
Church - rf
Castro - c
Pagan - lf
Hernandez - rhp

The Murphy Era begins

Jerry Manuel told WFAN this afternoon that yes, Daniel Murphy will make his debut at first base tonight in the series finale against the Dodgers.

Really, what choice does the manager have? Manuel wasn't thrilled with Murphy after he dropped another routine fly ball in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to LA. And I think Murphy has the chance to be significantly better at first base than leftfield.

Watching him take ground balls right now during early drills, he hasn't kicked one yet. Sandy Alomar Sr. is standing about 10 feet away from Murphy, helping him with instruction, and Manuel is overseeing the workout from in front of the dugout.

May 19, 2009

Gameday Live 39: Mets at Dodgers

Good evening Mets enthusiasts! Welcome to another (late) night of Mets baseball!

3e474468c846ed6d434bf26a4b59ab96-grande.jpg

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Metropolitans (21-17), tied for first in the NL East, take on the Dodgers (27-13), owners of the best record in baseball, in the middle contest of a three-game set at Chavez Ravine in L.A.

The Mets are 3-2 on their current West Coast trip (and 12-5 in the month of May), while L.A. has won five of its last six.

After last night's 11-inning folly in which the Mets made five errors and Ryan Church failed to touch third base, the Mets sure could use a crisp performance tonight.

The good news is that Jerry Manuel said that Jose Reyes will return to the lineup tonight, batting first and playing short, after sitting out the last five games with tendinitis in his right calf. The manager also confirmed that Jeremy Reed will play first base and Ryan Church will play right field.

Also, Carlos Delgado had successful arthroscopic hip surgery at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery earlier today and will be out approximately 10 weeks.

Tonight, John Maine (3-2, 4.24) takes on righty Chad Billingsley (5-1, 2.30).

Maine has won his last three decisions, and has thrown at least six innings in his last four stars. In his last outing, he pitched 6 2/3, allowing two runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts, but did not receive a decision in a 7-4 win over San Fran. The Dodgers are collectively batting .278 against Maine, with Rafael Furcal leading the way with five hits (including a homer) in nine career at-bats.

Billingsley (pictured) comes into tonight's action sixth in the National League in earned run average and tied for fifth in strikeouts with 56. He has gone at least seven innings in his last five starts, but has won just two of them. In his last outing, Billingsley threw seven innings, allowing one run on three hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in a 5-3 win in Philly. The Mets are batting .263 against him (15-of-57) with just three RBIs.

And finally, here are tonight's lineups

Mets
1. Reyes, SS
2. Murphy, LF
3. Beltran, CF
4. Wright, 3B
5. Church, RF
6. Martinez, 2B
7. Reed, 1B
8. Santos, C
9. Maine, RHP

Dodgers
1. Pierre, LF
2. Furcal, SS
3. Hudson, 2B
4. Ethier, RF
5. Martin, C
6. Loney, 1B
7. Kemp, CF
8. Blake, 3B
9. Billingsley, RHP

Okay, that's all for now. But be sure to get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.

I'll be back after each half-inning with updates.

We're about 10 minutes from baseball on SNY!

Top of the 1st: Reyes, in his first at-bat since Friday night, flew out to center before Murphy singled to left. But Beltran flew out to center and then Murphy was picked off first to end the inning.

Bottom of 1st: Juan Pierre's liner to left was misplayed by Murphy, leading to a two-base error, and then Maine walked Furcal on five pitches and Hudson ripped a single to center to score Pierre, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

But the struggling Ethier (13-of-63 in May, .206) grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Martin flew out to center to end the inning.

Top of the 2nd: Wright walked to lead off the inning and then moved to second on a wild pitch (he just barely slid in safely head first). Church moved Wright to third with a grounder to the right side before Ramon Martinez struck out swinging with the infield in for the second out.

Reed was intentionally walked after Billingsley went 3-and-0 on him and Santos walked on a full count, loading the bases for Maine, who singled up the middle to put the Mets ahead 2-1. It was Maine's first RBIs of the season. Reyes struck out swinging to end the rally.

Bottom of the 2nd: A 1-2-3 inning for Maine, as Loney flew out to center, Kemp grounded out to third and Blake's pop up was caught by Santos in foul ground for the third out.

Top of the 3rd: After a Murphy walk (his second time on base tonight), Beltran grounded into a force at second. But Furcal's relay throw back to first went awry and Beltran moved to second on the throwing error. Wright then lined an RBI single to center to give the Mets a 3-1 lead (his 28th RBI of the season), but was caught off first base when Kemp's throw to the plate was cutoff by Loney.

Church singled to center (the Mets' fourth hit off Billingsley), but Martinez struck out swinging for the second time tonight to end the inning. Billingsley has thrown 77 pitches in three innings.

Bottom of the 3rd: Billingsley walked on four pitches and then Pierre did the same on five pitches, putting runners on first and second for Furcal, who ripped a single in front of Beltran to load the bases. But Hudson lined out softly to Wright, Ethier struck out looking and Martin grounded out to short to strand all three runners. The Dodgers have left 12 runners on base tonight.

Top of the 4th: Billingsley has his first 1-2-3 inning of the night, as Reed grounded out to third, Santos popped out to second and Maine struck out looking.

Bottom of the 4th: Loney flew out behind third base and Kemp grounded out to second before Blake singled to left and Billingsley doubled to center to score Blake and pull the Dodgers within one at 3-2. Pierre grounded to short for the third out.

Top of the 5th: Another 1-2-3 inning for Billingsley, as Reyes popped out to second, Murphy lined out to Blake at third and Beltran struck out looking (on a close pitch on the inside corner). Billingsley has retired six straight hitters and has thrown just nine pitches the past two innings.

Bottom of the 5th: Maine sat the Dodgers down in order — Furcal grounded out to short, Hudson lined out to short off his fists and Ethier struck out looking on a fastball on the eighth pitch of his at-bat (Maine's second K of the evening).

Top of the 6th: Billingsley is mowing down the Mets — he had his third straight nine-pitch 1-2-3 inning and has retired 10 Mets in a row. In the sixth, Wright flew out to right, Church struck out swinging and Martinez did the same looking (Billingsley's sixth and seventh Ks of the night).

Bottom of the 6th: Martin struck out swinging (Maine's third K), but then Loney and Kemp hit back-to-back singles to right and Blake homered on a 1-0 pitch to the third row of the left-field bleachers to give the Dodgers a 5-3 lead. Blake now has nine homers and 26 RBIs.

Billingsley's second hit of the night, a single to right, prompted Jerry Manuel to lift Maine in favor of lefty Ken Takahashi (0-1, 3.38). Takahashi allowed a single by Pierre, but got Furcal to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Top of the 7th: Reed popped out to third before Santos walked, snapping Billingley's streak of 11 straight retired batters. That prompted Joe Torre to remove Billingsley in favor of rookie lefthander Brent Leach (0-0, 8.10), who got Pagan (pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot) to strike out swinging on a slider before Reyes blooped a single off Hudson's wrist on the eighth pitch of his at-bat (Hudson was removed from the game — it appeared as if he hurt his shoulder).

Then Torre brought in another rookie righty Ronald Bellisario (1-2, 2.78) to face Sheffield (pinch-hitting for Murphy) — and Sheffield grounded to second to end the inning.

Billingsley's final line: 6 1/3 IP, three runs, four hits, five walks, seven K's, 117 pitches. It was the first time he failed to go at least seven innings since April 18 against Colorado. He has thrown at least 105 pitches in all but one of his starts (the first one).

Bottom of the 7th: Sean Green (0-2, 7.94) came on for the Mets and tossed a 1-2-3 inning, as Castro (who replaced the injured Hudson) popped out to second, Ethier flew out to center and Martin struck out swinging.

Top of the 8th: Cory Wade (0-0, 4.50) became the fourth L.A. pitcher of the night. He gave up a Beltran single and a walk to Wright before Church flew out to left and Martinez grounded into a 4-3 double play to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th: K-Rod (1-0, 0.96) came on for the Mets (he hadn't pitched since Friday) and struck out Loney swinging, then got Kemp to fly out to center on a 3-and-0 pitch and Blake to ground out to third.

Top of the 9th: Jonathan Broxton (4-0, 1.42, 9-of-11 on save opportunities) pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his 10th save, as Reed struck out swinging, and Santos and Pagan grounded out to short.

That's the ballgame, folks. The Mets lose their third straight, 5-3.
Mets: 21-18
Dodgers: 28-13

WP--Billingsley (6-1)
LP--Maine (3-3)
SV--Broxton (10)
HR: Dodgers 1 (Blake, his ninth)

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:
1. Blake: 2-for-4 with the game-winning three-run homer in the sixth
2. Billingsley: 6 1/3 IP, three runs, four hits, five walks, seven K's in 117 pitches for his sixth win of the year. He also went 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI double.
3. Hudson: 1-for-3 with an RBI

For the Mets, Martinez was 0-for-4 with three K's (he also grounded into a double play). Martinez doesn't have a hit yet on the season. Wright went 1-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and a run, while Maine drove in two runs.

Okay, that's all for tonight. As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action.

Thanks so much for joining me. Goodnight.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

"You're doggone right I was mad at him!"

That's Jerry Manuel speaking this afternoon about Ryan Church missing third base in Monday's error-plagued 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Manuel was asked about throwing Church under the bus during his postgame news conference and if he was angry with him.

"You're doggone right I was mad at him," Manuel said, smiling. "If he was my son, I would have strangled him."

Manuel did go on to say however that there is no rift between him and Church. That's what he said, anyway. It's too early to know if they will be exchanging birthday gifts this year or following each other on Twitter. Neither Manuel nor Church used the term BFF to describe the other, in case you were wondering.

"I don’t know what you talk about on the radio," Manuel said. "But Ryan is a good player and I like Ryan. I’ve probably spent more time with Ryan over the last week than any player. I’ve been throwing to him during BP, working with him. It’s funny, but it seems like everything with Ryan some strange things happen ... No, I don’t have a rift with anybody on the team. But there is a certain level of play that’s demanded of all your players, regardless of who it is."

Church also denied there was any animosity between the two. When asked about Manuel's postgame comments, Church shrugged.

"I don't pay attention to it," Church said. "He told me from Day 1 he was going to be extra hard on me because he knows I'm a key part of the team. Like you said though, we're all men. Probably every time around the bases, I'm going to point to it and step on it."

"This is a business. We're grown--- men and it's part of it. You've got to take the good with the bad and the bad with the good."

As for the supposed rift, which Church hears about from fans as well as media, he denies that's the case. "People read too much into it," Church said. "They're not in here. [Manuel] cares, he's got a good heart and he wants me to succeed."

Manuel also denied that he has a "doghouse" for Church or other players.

"No, I don't have a doghouse," Manuel said. "If you're in my doghouse, you're doing good. I love dogs. How can you have a doghouse in the big leagues. You get a suite here."

Tonight's lineup

Reyes - ss
Murphy - lf
Beltran - cf
Wright - 3b
Church - rf
Martinez - 2b
Reed - 1b
Santos - c
Maine - rhp

Reyes back, more lineup info

Jose Reyes just gave Jerry Manuel the thumbs up after testing his right knee out in RF. Manuel confirmed that Reyes will start at shortstop, Jeremy Reed at first base, Daniel Murphy in left and Ryan Church in right.

Minaya confident in Delgado's return

BY DAVID LENNON

LOS ANGELES – Omar Minaya said today that he is confident Carlos Delgado will return to the Mets in approximately 10 weeks after this morning’s hip surgery and plans to use in-house candidates such as Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy and Jeremy Reed to replace him at first base. At least for now.

“I’m always going to be looking around,” Minaya said on a conference call with reporters. “I’m always involved in talking to other clubs. And if there’s something out there that can make us better, I would consider doing it at the right time.”

As long as Delgado’s return this season remains a possibility, Minaya seems reluctant to get a full-time replacement, such as a Nick Johnson or Todd Helton. Under the current timetable, Delgado could rejoin the team as early as July 28, which is three days before the non-waiver trade deadline.

As the date moves closer, and Minaya gets a better read on Delgado’s progress, it may change his thinking one way or the other.

“Don’t forget – we have a long way to go between now and 10 weeks,” Minaya said. “We’ll see how this plays out. We have to prepare for everything.”

Minaya endorsed using Tatis and Murphy at first base. But the GM was only lukewarm on Reed, who was playing the position Monday night when he committed the 11th inning throwing error that resulted in the Dodgers’ 3-2 walkoff victory. Minaya praised the defensive abilities of the first two and suggested Reed was not as capable at first, hinting he could be dropped from that rotation.

When asked if Reed’s costly miscue had any effect on his in-house plans for the position, Minaya replied, “That doesn’t change anything. We feel we have the answers within the organization.”

Of course, Minaya doesn’t want the Mets’ recent setbacks to hurt his negotiating stance, either. The Mets could make a play for the Orioles’ Aubrey Huff , the Indians’ Mark DeRosa or the Red Sox’s Mark Kotsay, a trio of candidates that would give them more flexibility as well, especially if they move Church in a later deal.

Minaya stressed this was exactly the type of scenario he prepared for with the low-risk, high-upside acquisition of Gary Sheffield, who is earning $14 million from the Tigers this season but signed a pro-rated $400,000 deal with the Mets.

If Sheffield can be productive on a daily basis in the cleanup spot, and the Mets can get additional playing time for Murphy at first base, the Mets could potentially wait for Delgado’s return. But any delays in the rehabilitation process, and Minaya will be compelled to act quickly, especially with clubs that have fallen out of the playoff hunt and will be looking to dump players.

Delgado out for 10 weeks

The latest from the Mets:

This morning Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado underwent successful right hip arthroscopic surgery at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. Mets Team Physician Dr. Struan Coleman performed the surgery. Delgado was diagnosed with an impingement of the hip, a bone spur, and a torn labrum. The Mets anticipate his return in approximately 10 weeks.

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets -- live from L.A. -- in a live chat this morning at 11 a.m.

Vin Scully twists the knife: Dodgers 3, Mets 2 (11 inn.)

After a long, strange night at Chavez Ravine, got back to my hotel room in time to catch the 11th inning on a late replay of the game. Right after the near-collision between between Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran, Vin Scully says, "If you weren't around to see the 1962 Mets, here's a reminder."

Well put, Vin.
stengel.jpg

With a live chat scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. EDT -- that's 8 a.m. out here for me -- I'll just touch on a few quick points before calling it a day. At the top of the list is Ryan Church's miss of third base on what should have been the potential winning run. By now, you know the details, or at least you can find them in my game story over at Newsday.com.

What struck me was the postgame reaction. No one stuck up for Church. No one chalked it up as an honest mistake. Jerry Manuel -- obviously no fan of Church to begin with -- beat him up even more.

When Church returned to the dugout steps as the appeal call was being made, Manuel, who was leaning on the rail, actually turns a cold shoulder towards him. Turns away so as to not look at Church. Wow. Then there's this:

"A guy missed third base -- that's unbelievable," Manuel said. "I can't explain why, how or anything. But he actually missed the base. I don't think I've ever seen someone miss third base like that."

And there's this from Beltran: "I never seen anything like that. I don't know what happened. I didn't ask Church what happened. It's bad."

Church said later that he felt he touched the base. But seeing it again on this late replay, Church looks back as soon as he crossed the plate, perhaps curious to see if anyone picked up on his blunder. Unfortunately for him, Mark Loretta did. So did Joe Torre. I noticed from way up in the press box. That's how blatant it was.

Bottom line? Things aren't working out here for Church and I have a sense that he'll be gone sooner rather than later. With Pagan getting four hits tonight and plenty of outfielders needing time, Church is more than expendable.

OK, I'm more exhausted than I thought, so I'll leave the rest of this for tomorrow's live chat. Yes, it's at 11 a.m., right here. As a parting shot, here's Scully on the final play, when Jeremy Reed airmails that throw to the plate for the Mets' fifth error.

"Marv Throneberry lives!" Thanks Vin.



May 18, 2009

Gameday Live 38: Mets at Dodgers

medium_ds13redding.jpg

Good evening Mets enthusiasts! I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Mets (21-16), first place in the NL East, take on the team with the best record in baseball, the L.A. Dodgers (26-13), at Chavez Ravine.

The Mets are in the midst of a 10-game road trip. They took the first three in San Francisco before Mike Pelfrey's balk-fest last night. The Dodgers have won four of their last five, but are just 5-5 since Manny Ramirez was given a 50-game suspension.

The problem in Metsland is injuries. It was announced just a short while ago that Carlos Delgado will have surgery tomorrow to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, similar to the surgery Alex Rodriguez had before the season started and cost him six weeks. The timetable for Delgado's return is uncertain.

Also, Alex Cora was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn ligament in his right thumb. Jerry Manuel said yesterday that Jose Reyes would be in the lineup tonight, but the manager is giving Reyes another day — the fifth straight game without him. The Mets also recalled Ramon Martinez from Triple-A Buffalo to start at short tonight.

In the lineup tonight is Angel Pagan, who pinch-hit for David Murphy last night and grounded into a double play to end the eighth inning, playing left field and leading off.

Making his first start tonight for the Mets is Tim Redding (pictured). The veteran righty has pitched for four teams in his seven-year pro career, going 34-51 with a 4.92 ERA in 127 starts. Redding is 0-2 with a 4.72 ERA in two starts at Dodger Stadium. Here are the Dodgers' career numbers off Redding.

On the hill for the Dodgers is Randy Wolf, who signed a one-year deal with L.A. in the offseason. The 32-year old lefty is off to a good start with the Dodgers, as he is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts. He has allowed just one earned run in all three of his starts in May. Against Philly last Wednesday, he pitched six innings, allowing just one Jimmy Rollins homer with eight strikeouts for the win. Here are the Mets' career numbers against Wolf.

Finally, here are tonight's starting lineups:

Mets
1. Pagan, LF
2. Castillo, 2B
3. Beltran, CF
4. Sheffield, RF
5. Wright, 3B
6. Tatis, 1B
7. Martinez, SS
8. Castro, C
9. Redding, RHP

Dodgers
1. Pierre, LF (20-for-43, .465, with seven doubles, nine RBIs, 11 runs and six steals in 10 games since Manny Ramirez's suspension)
2. Furcal, SS
3. Hudson, 2B
4. Ethier, RF
5. Martin, C
6. Loney, 1B
7. Kemp, CF
8. Castro, 3B
9. Wolf, LHP

Okay, that's all for now. But be sure to get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.

I'll be back after each half-inning with updates.

We're about 10 minutes from baseball on SNY!

Top of the 1st: Pagan singled to center (his first hit since May 7 of last year ... also in L.A.), but Castillo grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Beltran walked, but Sheffield grounded back to the mound to end the inning.

Bottom of the 1st: Juan Pierre walked and then moved to third on Furcal's single to right. Then Hudson grounded to first — Tatis fired home, but Pierre easy beat the throw to make it 1-0 Dodgers.

Ethier flew out to left for the first out, but then Redding hit Martin with a pitch to load the bases for Loney, who hit a sacrifice fly to center to make it 2-0 Dodgers. Kemp grounded out to third to end the inning.

Top of the 2nd: David Wright doubled to left, moved to third on a Tatis groundout and scored on a Ramon Martinez groundout to make it a 2-1 game (it was Ramon's first RBI of the year). Castro struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom of the 2nd: A 1-2-3 inning for Redding, as Juan Castro struck out looking, Wolf struck out swinging and Pierre grounded out to second.

Top of the 3rd: A 1-2-3 inning for Wolf, as Redding struck out swinging, Pagan grounded out to third and Castillo flew out to right.

Bottom of the 3rd: Furcal was thrown out on his chop/bunt back to Redding before Hudson walked. Ethier struck out swinging and Martin flew out to center to end the inning.

Top of the 4th: Beltran flew out to center (nice running catch by Kemp) before Sheffield walked. Wright flew out to left (nice running catch by Pierre) and Tatis hit a soft liner to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the 4th: Loney grounded out to short before Kemp reached on a Martinez error (he bobbled the ball on a short hop). Kemp moved to second on a wild pitch, but Castro popped out to second and Wolf grounded out to third to end the inning.

Top of the 5th: Martinez flew out to center and Castro fouled out behind the plate to Martin before two-out singles by Redding (to center) and Pagan (to left for his second hit of the night). But Castillo grounded out to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th: Pierre flew out to left and Furcal struck out swinging on a high fastball before Hudson blooped a single over Castillo's head (L.A.'s second hit of the night). But Ethier flew out to center to end the inning.

Top of the 6th: After Ethier made a nice sliding catch on a Beltran pop up, Sheffield lined out to third. Wright hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line, giving him 195 two-baggers for his career (moving him into fourth place ahead of Mike Piazza on the Mets' all-time doubles list). But Tatis lined out to second for the third out.

Bottom of the 6th: Martin flew out to right before Loney walked. Kemp flew out to center, and then Loney stole second during Castro's at-bat. Castro was then intentionally walked for Wolf, who ended the inning with a fly out to center.

Top of the 7th: A 1-2-3 inning for Wolf (his second of the night), as Martinez flew out to center, Castro grounded out to short and pinch-hitter David Murphy flew out to right on the seventh pitch of his at-bat.

Bottom of the 7th: Righty Bobby Parnell (2-0, 2.08) replaced Redding, who pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits and four walks with four strikeouts. He threw 93 pitches. Nice start for the veteran.

Parnell got Pierre to line out to center before Furcal singled to left. But Hudson struck out and Castro threw Furcal out trying to steal second for a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play.

Top of the 8th: Pagan doubled down the left-field line to lead off the inning (his third hit of the night), but Castillo popped up his bunt and Pagan had to stay put. Beltran grounded out sharply to third (nice stab by Castro), and then Joe Torre lifted Wolf in favor of Cory Wade (0-2. 4.63).

Wade faced Sheffield, who grounded one deep in the second-base hole. Hudson fielded it but had no chance to get Sheffield at first. Pagan rounded third and headed for home, and Hudson's throw wasn't in time (Pagan made a nice slide under the tag), tying the game at 2. It was the game's first run since the second inning.

The run was charged to Wolf, so his final line was: 7 2/3 IP, two runs, six hits, two walks, two K's on 96 pitches. He cannot win the game.

Wright walked, but Tatis popped out in foul ground to end the inning.

Bottom of the 8th: J.J. Putz (1-2, 3.86) came on for the Mets (he took Sheffield's spot in the order, and Church went to right on the double switch), replacing Parnell, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Ethier popped out to second before Martin reached on a Martinez throwing error and Loney singled to center.

Kemp grounded into a force at second, and then Mark Loretta (pinch-hitting for Castro) popped out behind second to end the threat.

Top of the 9th: Dodgers' closer Jonathan Broxton (4-0, 1.50, 9-of-11 on save opportunities) replaced Wade, who allowed a walk and a hit before recording the final out of the eighth inning.

Broxton got Martinez to line out to first and Castro to ground out to third before Church singled to left. But Pagan failed in his bid for a fourth hit when he struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom of the 9th: Sean Green (0-2, 8.27) replaced Putz, who threw a scoreless eighth. He got rookie Xavier Paul (pinch-hitting for Broxton) to ground out to second before walking Pierre. Furcal struck out looking, but then Hudson hit a tapper in front of the plate, which Green fielded. He threw the ball well wide of first, allowing Pierre to move the third (the official scoring was an infield hit and a throwing error).

Pedro Feliciano (0-1, 2.87) replaced Green and got Ethier to ground out to the mound to end the inning.

Top of the 10th: Righty Ramon Troncoso (0-0, 1.99) replaced Broxton, who pitched a scoreless ninth. Troncoso struck out Castillo looking and got Beltran to ground out to third before Jeremy Reed (pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot) singled to center. Wright walked, but Tatis grounded out to second for the third out (he has left seven runners on base tonight).

Bottom of the 10th: Brian Stokes (1-1, 0.56) pitched a 1-2-3 inning, as Martin flew out to deep right field, Loney did the same to left and Kemp grounded out to short.

Top of the 11th: Martinez ripped one right at Kemp in center and Castro did the same to Pierre in left before Church singled to left (his second hit of the night). Then a very strange play, as Pagan doubled to right-center (for a career-high fourth hit) and Church scored easily on the play. But the Dodgers claimed Church never touched third base and he was called out on the appeal for the third out.

Bottom of the 11th: Boy did this one have a crazy ending. Loretta led off the inning with a walk, and then Xavier Paul's fly ball fell in between Beltran and Pagan in left-center (Pagan called for the ball, and then backed off at the last minute), putting runners on second and third for Pierre, who was intentionally walked.

The Mets brought Beltran in from center for a five-man infield, and Furcal flew out to Pagan for the first out (it was too shallow for Loretta to tag-up). Then Hudson hit a ground ball to Jeremy Reed (the emergency first baseman). He would have got the force at home, but his throw went wide and Loretta scored to end the game.

Thus ends a wild night of baseball, as the Dodgers win, 3-2.
Dodgers: 27-13
Mets: 21-17 (they fall into a first-place tie with the idle Phillies, 20-16)

WP--Troncoso (1-0)
LP--Stokes (1-2)

*No home runs were hit tonight.

Here are your three stars for the evening:
1. Loretta: 0-for-1 with a walk and the game-winning run
2. Troncoso: 2 IP, three hits, one walk, one K for the win
3. Wolf: 7 2/3 IP, two runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts

The Mets made five errors this evening, including two in the final inning. Tatis went 0-for-5 and left seven runners on base. Pagan went 4-for-5 with a run, and Wright was 2-for-3 with two walks and a run. Sheffield and Martinez drove in the two Met runs.

Okay, that's all for tonight. As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action.

Thanks so much for joining me. I'll see everyone right here tomorrow night.

Goodnight.

(Photo by Marc Levine/Associated Press)

Cora on DL; Ramon Martinez in lineup

The Mets just placed Alex Cora on the 15-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his right thumb and have recalled Ramon Martinez from Triple-A Buffalo to replace him. Here's the new lineup.

Pagan -- LF
Castillo -- 2B
Beltran -- CF
Sheffield -- RF
Wright -- 3B
Tatis -- 1B
Martinez -- SS
Castro -- C
Redding -- RHP

Delgado to have surgery

BY DAVID LENNON

LOS ANGELES – Carlos Delgado will have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right hip and remove a bone spur. The Mets made the announcement moments ago, but a team spokesman said the timetable for Delgado’s return is uncertain until after the arthroscopic procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Struan Coleman at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez had a similar operation and missed six weeks, but A-Rod is four years younger than Delgado. The original prognosis for Rodriguez was six to nine weeks and he is expected to need another surgery after the season.

Delgado, who turns 37 next month, had not played since May 10. But the Mets waited until Saturday to place him on the disabled list in the hope that physical therapy would be eventually get him back on the field.

The Mets are 4-3 since Delgado went on the DL and he’s obviously a significant loss. Delgado was batting .298 (28-for-94) with four home runs and 23 RBI in 26 games. Without him, the Mets plan to rotate Fernando Tatis, Jeremy Reed and Daniel Murphy at first base before exploring options outside the organization.

A few players that could be available are the Orioles’ Aubrey Huff, the Mariners’ Russell Branyan and the Nationals’ Nick Johnson.

Figueroa DFA'ed

Not much of a surprise here. The Mets designated Nelson Figueroa for assignment -- again -- to make room for Tim Redding, who starts tonight at Dodger Stadium. Ken Takahashi has been sticking around as the Mets now like having a second lefthander in the bullpen, something they said was not required when the season began.

Yippedy-do-dah

Sorry I'm only revisiting this subject now, but it's still pretty early here in LA, and I'm only halfway through a venti iced coffee after a dawn flight from the Bay Area. Now I'm getting the yips.

icedcoffee.jpg

Anyway, after watching Mike Pelfrey unravel in Sunday night's 2-0 loss to the Giants, and later hearing him describe his mental state, I wonder if this will be an isolated incident. Pelfrey admitted to a case of the "yips" and also mentioned that it was a problem he had experienced before, both last season and during his college career at Wichita State.

Pelfrey pitched well. That was the strange thing. But even when he wasn't called for a balk, you could see that Pelfrey was having issues. He kept staring at his feet and it took him a few moments to begin his delivery. Even worse is that Pelfrey had to removed after only 78 pitches because the Mets couldn't take the chance of sending him out for the seventh inning.

"I guess they didn’t want to keep watching me do that," Pelfrey said. "I don’t know of anybody that would."

On the Carlos Delgado front, there should be some news from the Mets today. Delgado was scheduled to meet today with the team's doctors, including a hip specialist, and they should have a plan in place shortly afterward. At least then the Mets will have an idea if Delgado will return this season or not.

May 17, 2009

Gameday Live 37: Mets at San Francisco

The surging Mets send Mike Pelfrey to the mound as they look to complete a four-game sweep in San Francisco. First pitch is just minutes away...


Going for sweep vs. Giants

Still no Jose Reyes.

Cora - ss
Castillo - 2b
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - rf
Wright - 3b
Murphy - lf
Santos - c
Reed - 1b
Pelfrey - rhp

May 16, 2009

Gameday Live 36: Mets at San Francisco

Mike Gavin here for another day of Mets baseball.

The preeminent left-handed pitcher of the 90's looks to move one victory closer to the exclusive 300-win club today against the Mets. The only thing standing in his way is the current preeminent left-handed pitcher in baseball.

In a battle of two southpaws at very different stages of their careers, Johan Santana opposes the San Francisco Giants and Randy Johnson, who is seeking the 299th victory of his career. Santana's pedestrian record of 4-2 does not reflect the dominance he has displayed this season. His 0.78 ERA has been offset at times by a lack of run support from his teammates. Although Johnson may be in the twilight of his career while Santana is in the prime of his, it still makes for an intriguing match-up.

First pitch is just minutes away....


Ollie pitches! Delgado meets doctors Monday

That's not a misprint. Oliver Perez reappeared today in an extended-spring game and had his a typical Good Ollie outing: three innings, zero hits, seven strikeouts and four walks.

Perez is in Port St. Lucie trying to rediscover his old delivery -- and rehab his aching right knee -- and the Mets were encouraged by today's outing.

"He looked very good," said Tony Bernazard, the club's VP of Player Development and the ranking official on this trip.

In other news:

-- Carlos Delgado will meet the team's medical staff on Monday and the next step could be a trip to Vail, Colo., to see the same hip specialists that handled A-Rod's torn labrum.

"That's getting too far ahead," Bernazard said. "He'll see our doctors first and then we'll find out."

-- Bernazard also explained why Angel Pagan was called up to replace Delgado and not Fernando Martinez. The Mets are waiting to promote Martinez until they can be assured of giving him regular playing time. "If we call up a 20-year-old kid," Bernazard said, "he should be able to play every day."

Delgado out long-term?

That's what Jerry Manuel is thinking anyway. When asked if he was bracing for Carlos Delgado's long-term absence, Manuel said moments ago that he doesn't see this being a 15-day situation. Delgado will be re-evaluated early next week and surgery remains a strong possibility.

Today's lineup for Santana-Johnson duel

Still no Jose Reyes. Fernando Tatis gets the call at first base today.

Castillo ....... 2B
Cora ............SS
Beltran ........ CF
Sheffield ....... LF
Wright ..........3B
Tatis .............1B
Castro ........... C
Church ......... RF
Santana ........ LHP

Delgado on DL, Pagan called up

Well, now it's official. Carlos Delgado was placed on the 15-day disabled list this morning because of the "impingement" in his right hip. Angel Pagan has been called up from Triple-A Buffalo to replace him on the roster.

The Delgado move is retroactive to May 10. He has left the team and will be re-evaluated early next week. It's certainly an ominous development. The "mobilization" therapy apparently didn't do the trick and now surgery is more of a possibility as Delgado seemingly has run out of options.

May 15, 2009

Today's lineup vs. Lincecum

Jose Reyes is expected back tomorrow, but it appears that Carlos Delgado is headed for the disabled list. The Mets will know for sure when Delgado shows up tomorrow. FYI: Jeremy Reed has played one inning of first base in his major-league career.

Cora ............ SS
Castillo ........ 2B
Beltran ......... CF
Sheffield ....... RF
Wright .......... 3B
Church ......... RF
Santos ......... C
Reed ............ 1B
Hernandez .... RHP

Gameday Live 35: Mets at Giants

Livan Hernandez will face his former team for the first time tonight as he takes the mound for the Mets in the second of a four-game series against the San Fran. He'll face Giants ace Tim Lincecum, the NL's defending Cy Young winner.

Jose Reyes out again tonight with a sore calf. Sounds like the Mets are just being precautious, especially with Delgado's injury looking like it may be much worse than initially expected.

Daniel Murphy misses his third consecutive start.

Should be interesting to see how much length Hernandez can providem given the overworked bullpen.

Hope you all are prepared for a late one!

Back after top of the first :)

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets this morning in a live chat at 11 a.m.

San Francisco treat: Mets 7, Giants 4

The Mets set a franchise record with seven stolen bases, and it was David Wright who led the way with four -- tying the team mark last done by Roger Cedeno in 1999. But when Jerry Manuel was asked about Wright's speedwork on the basepaths, the manager focused more on his two-RBI night.

"I'm not too concerned about him stealing bases," Manuel said. "I'm concerned about him driving in runs -- big runs."

There was none bigger than Wright's tiebreaking single off Brian Wilson in the ninth inning. That was set up by another timely steal of third base from Carlos Beltran, who did the same thing in Tuesday's win over the Braves.

Beltran said the key was getting the times on Wilson's delivery to the plate. He looked to first base coach Luis Alicea for the info, which came back at 1.3 to 1.4 seconds from release to the plate. Beltran figured that was plenty to get him in safely. Even still, it was very close.

"I'm trying to read the pitcher," Beltran said. "To see how many looks he gives me at second base."

Beltran now has five stolen bases, which ranks third on the team behind Jose Reyes (11) and Wright (9).

"I want to see that aggressiveness," Manuel said. "Even if he got thrown out, you have to applaud that effort. You have to push the envelope."

In other news:

-- John Maine had the first multi-hit game of his career, a detail that he did not let reporters forget afterward. "Write that I'm a better hitter than Mike Pelfrey," Maine said. The Mets are 4-0 in his last four starts and Maine has a 2.19 ERA over that stretch.

-- Don't forget the live chat Friday morning at 11 a.m.

May 14, 2009

Gamenight Live 34: Mets at Giants

Howdy fans, Mets and a makeshift lineup -- no Reyes, no Delgado, no Putz in the pen -- take on the Giants. John Maine opposes Jonathan Sanchez.

On with the show.


No Jose Reyes tonight

Jose Reyes is sidelined by what is being called a sore right calf, but he actually pointed to a spot between his knee and shin. "It's painful," Reyes said.

Here's the lineup:
Castillo - 2b
Cora - ss
Beltran - cf
Sheffield - lf
Wright - 3b
Tatis - 1b
Castro - c
Church - rf
Maine - rhp

Putz gets shot; Delgado still in limbo

Omar Minaya just announced that J.J. Putz had an anti-inflammatory shot in his right elbow to alleviate inflammation caused by a bone spur. That means Putz will not be available for the first two games of the Giants series here, but Minaya said it will not be a long-term concern. At least that's what he's saying now.

"He should be able to pitch with it," Minaya said."He's had the spur before and it shouldn't be a problem."

But something clearly has been bothering Putz, who has suffered from a decline in a velocity and a problem finding the strike zone at times.

As for Carlos Delgado, the team will hold on a DL decision until later in the weekend, but the latest news about his right hip is not encouraging. Minaya said that the first baseman has been diagnosed with an "impingement" of the hip, which is also bothered by a slight tear and bone spur. Despite numerous questions about arthritis, Minaya insisted that is not the case with Delgado.

When the topic of surgery came up, Minaya really didn't give a straight yes or no answer.

"Right now, the question is DL or not DL," Minaya said. "Once we get through the next couple of days, we'll see what he can do."

Minaya said the Mets are waiting to see how Delgado responds to this next round of treatment, which involves new physical therapy exercises recommended by the medical staff.

Delgado decision to wait until this weekend

General manager Omar Minaya will discuss a few issues this afternoon. At the top of that agenda is the health of Carlos Delgado's right hip, but it appears the team will not make a decision about the disabled list until this weekend, and maybe even as late as Sunday.

May 13, 2009

Gameday Live 33: Braves at Mets

Last game in the three-game set against the Braves before the Mets embark on their West coast trip. Church returns to the lineup in the 8-hole and Gary Sheffield will get the start in left and bat cleanup.

Before the game Jerry Manuel said the team will still probably wait another day or so before making a decision on Delgado. Manuel said, however, that he is not confident that Delgado will be OK. If I had to guess, I'd imagine they put him on the DL soon, and opt against using him as a pinch-hitter so they can backdate him.

Jonathon Niese (0-0, 3.00) on the mound today for the Mets. He'll face off against Braves lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 5.48).

Back after top of the first!


Today's lineup

Gary Sheffield and Ryan Church are the Mets corner outfielders against Jo-Jo Reyes of the Braves in today's rubber match.

Reyes 6
Castillo 4
Beltran 8
Sheffield 7
Wright 5
Tatis 3
Castro 2
Church 9
Niese 1

May 12, 2009

Gameday Live 32: Braves at Mets

Hey Mets fans! Second of a three-game set against the Braves as the Mets try and regroup after last night's debacle--letting down ace Johan Santana once again with no run support.

Carlos Delgado is out again with the hip injury, we'll see how many more he'll have to sit before he either returns to the lineup or heads for the DL. Tatis will fill in again at first.

Alex Cora will give Luis Castillo the night off and Jeremy Reed will play right. Everyone's favorite catcher of late, Omir Santos also back in the lineup.

Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 5.46) on the mound tonight against the Braves' Jair Jurrjens (3-2, 2.01).

Back after top of the first.


Tonight's lineups: Delgado is still out; Larry is in

Carlos Delgado is sitting out again tonight and looks like he won't see any action until this weekend in San Francisco at the earliest. Really, the way Jerry Manuel sounded in his pre-game session with the media, Delgado appears more likely headed for a stint on the DL. We'll know more in the next day or two.

Chipper Jones, a.k.a. Larry, is back in the lineup after missing last night's series opener. I'm sure he'll be welcomed with open arms when he steps to the plate in the top of the first.

Here's the lineups. Enjoy.

BRAVES (16-16)
Kelly Johnson 2B
Yunel Escobar SS
Chipper Jones 3B
Garret Anderson LF
Brian McCann C
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Jordan Schafer CF
Jair Jurrjens P

METS (17-14)
Jose Reyes SS
Alex Cora 2B
Daniel Murphy LF
Carlos Beltran CF
David Wright 3B
Fernando Tatis 1B
Jeremy Reed RF
Omir Santos C
Mike Pelfrey P

A Lowe point for the Mets

I really should know better by now, but it still surprises me how quickly the mood shifts around the Mets. Despite a seven-game winning streak, one that abruptly ended with last night's 8-3 loss to the Braves, it didn't take very long to plunge into alarmist mode. Even when the Mets trailed 1-0, boos rained down on them at Citi Field, and those jeers only intensified after Johan Santana checked out during an ugly seventh inning.
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I'm not saying the Mets didn't deserve the verbal abuse. Just weird to see how swiftly things turn, and I'm convinced that Santana's suffering can't continue for much longer. No one is that unlucky. Well, except for Ryan Church, that is. Church couldn't stay in the lineup when he was the best hitter on the team and top defensive option in rightfield. What chance does Church have now? Jerry Manuel even went as far as to say that Jeremy Reed would get back-to-back starts in right. That's really adding insult to injury for Church.

Along those same lines, Derek Lowe stuck it in the Mets' faces last night by out-pitching Santana -- or at least hanging around long enough to get more help. The timing of Lowe's visit to Citi Field was not the best for the Mets, either, considering the guy they signed instead, Oliver Perez, is rehabbing in Port St. Lucie.

I understand the Mets wanted to stick to their philosophy in passing on Lowe, who will be 36 next month. Their plan was to get younger rather than make a four-year, costlier investment in Lowe, but that decision is not looking great at the moment. Throw in the fact that the affable Lowe would be great in this media market, and the mistake is compounded, as I point out in this column.

I know the citywide no-smoking laws apply to Citi Field, but Braves manager Bobby Cox chose to ignore them again last night, just as he did at Shea. When reporters filtered into the manager's office after the game, Cox was leaning back at his desk, puffing on a cigar, clouds of smoke hanging in the air.

Arthur Staple provides the unhappy recap here and Katie Strang provides the gloomy forecast for Carlos Delgado's achy hip, which is making good on its promise to be an issue all season.


May 11, 2009

Gameday Live 31: Braves at Mets

Mets look to extend their winning streak to eight games, and they'll have their ace, Johan Santana, on the mound to help accomplish that.

They will not, however, have Carlos Delgado, who will miss tonight's game (and potentially many more) with inflammation in his right hip.

You may be seeing much more of Fernando Tatis at first, as Delgado and the rest of the organization expressed concern over the injury. They will monitor how he feels on a daily basis, but Delgado said he didn't want to rule out the DL as a possibility.

Santos in again to catch, but Castro is available.

Back after top of the first.


Delgado out, DL possible?

Nothing's been ruled out for Carlos Delgado and his sore right hip, which he says is not the result of a torn labrum or anything else A-Rodesque. Inflammation of the hip is the diagnosis, and Jerry Manuel said Delgado will almost certainly miss tomorrow's Braves game as well.

Plus, I can't imagine a cross-country flight will make that creaky joint feel any better. Delgado missed five days and four games last week after a cortisone shot in the hip. He said a DL stint isn't out of the question.

"I think it should be completely better before we get back out there on the field," Delgado said.

Fernando Tatis is at first.

On an unrelated note, Jeremy Reed is starting in right and Ryan (3-for-32) Church is sitting against Derek Lowe. Manuel said Reed would likely start tomorrow too.

Today's lineup

No Delgado, which likely means he's still hurting from yesterday. More on that later.

Reyes - SS
Castillo - 2B
Beltran - CF
Wright - 3B
Murphy - LF
Tatis - 1B
Reed - RF
Santos - C
Santana - LHP

Life is good for the Mets

And now we get Johan Santana vs. Derek Lowe tonight at Citi Field. This could be the biggest game to date at the new ballpark, with the first-place Mets riding a seven-game winning streak and the Braves in town. If the Mets can't get the attendance over 40,000 tonight, I don't know what will, especially with no rain in the forecast for a change.
tickledpink.jpg

I'll resist dredging up the Lowe-Oliver Perez debate from this offseason. But imagine if Lowe was in this rotation rather than opposing Santana tonight? Wow. The Mets starters are 6-0 with a 2.44 ERA over the last seven games, but it's a little sobering to think that the $36-million Perez has essentially been thrown in a dumpster in Port St. Lucie.

On that same note, the barista at my corner Starbucks -- Ozzie the Yankee fan -- said that he saw Perez on TV during last night's Celtics-Magic game in Orlando. Can anyone else confirm that? Ozzie said that he was in the camera shot for a few moments, but not identified. If so, that kind of rubs the me wrong way. I know the PSL is boring, but Perez is not down there on vacation. He should be cutting the grass at Tradition Field during his spare time or something.

Anyway, plenty of positive vibes in the paper this morning, starting with the Mets keeping the streak alive with another well-balanced performance. Wally Matthews nailed it with today's column on how the Mets took care of business against the bottom feeders for a change, suggesting they may have learning something from their past mistakes. Katie Strang checks in on Livan Hernandez, who keeps making Omar Minaya look good for grabbing him at the start of spring training.

Also, it was an interesting scene yesterday with Mike Pelfrey and John Maine taking note of the media horde around Omir Santos. They were genuinely happy for the guy. And why not? As Maine said, "Every time he plays, he does something. That's a good thing."

Live chat postponed

Today's live chat with David Lennon, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., has been postponed until later in the week.

We'll keep you posted on the new day and time.

May 10, 2009

Gameday Live 30: Pirates at Mets

Hey everyone! Last game for the Mets to beat up on the floundering Pirates and boost their confidence. Jerry Manuel back in the dugout after serving a one-game suspension for incidental contact with umpire Bill Welke Thursday night.

Ramon Castro's issue last night was mainly just cramps, Manuel said, and will be available to come off the bench if necessary.

Tatis and Cora are the emergency backups, however, just FYI.

Ok, for today's matinee, Livan Hernandez (2-1, 5.63) will be on the mound for the Mets. He'll face Ian Snell (1-4, 4.50) of the Pirates.

Happy Mother's day...don't forget to call your moms!!!!


May 9, 2009

Gameday Live 29: Pirates at Mets

Hello Mets fans, Mark Macyk here to take you through the second game of this three-game set at Citi Field between the Metropolitans and the skidding Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s a battle of two clubs headed in opposite directs, the Mets have won five straight and now sit just a half game behind Philadelphia, while the Pirates lost their sixth consecutive game last night and trail St. Louis by 6.5.

Pittsburgh will look to Pat Malholm (3-0, 2.97 ERA) to be their stopper. The Mets counter with John Maine (2-2, 5.20 ERA).

We’ll get this started in about an hour. See you then.

Today's lineup

With Pirates LHP Paul Maholm on the mound, Jerry Manuel (and his substitute for today, Sandy Alomar) will continue with the corner-outfield lefty-righty platoon. So Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church sit, and Gary Sheffield and Fernando Tatis play.

Reyes SS
Castillo 2B
Beltran CF
Delgado 1B
Wright 3B
Sheffield RF
Tatis LF
Castro C
Maine P

Jerry Manuel suspended for today's game

The result of getting too close to umpire Bill Welke when Manuel was arguing a call in the eighth inning of Thursday's win over the Phillies. Manuel said the brim of his cap clipped the brim of Welke's cap, which earned Manuel his first ejection of the year, and now a one-game suspension and undisclosed fine.

Sandy Alomar will manage today, though Manuel will speak to reporters in a bit.


May 8, 2009

Gameday Live 28: Pirates at Mets

Five straight? That's what the Mets will try to accomplish coming off last night's win over the Phillies that put them a game above .500.

On the mound tonight is lefty Jonathon Niese, up from the Minors. Jerry said before the game, there will be no pitch count for hium.

He'll face former Yankee Jeff Karstens (1-1, 5.85). There are supposed to be some isolated thunderstorms tonight, but we'll keep our fingers crossed that the weather holds.

Back after top of the first!


Tonight's lineup

Ryan Church hitting eighth... Boy, that seems harsh, even for a guy in a 1-for-24 slump. Daniel Murphy drops to sixth because Jerry wants a live bat down there. "We haven't been getting much from that part of the order," Manuel said. Another shot at Church.

Reyes SS
Castillo 2B
Beltran CF
Delgado 1B
Wright 3B
Murphy LF
Santos C
Church RF
Niese P


Live chat with Ken Davidoff

Ken Davidoff talks Manny's suspension, A-Rod's return and all things baseball today in a live chat from Baltimore at 1 p.m.

Citi Field, steroids (duh) and other Friday thoughts

I skip a game last night and the Mets hit three home runs. Did they move the walls in or something? Guess I'll have to shelve the investigative piece on the psychological effects of the Flushing Canyon. Maybe it was the high humidity last night -- or maybe it was just Jamie Moyer. Probably a combination of the two. But as the weather warms up, I don't see those walls being so unreachable anymore.

A couple other quick thoughts this morning:

-- How happy are the Mets to not be dealing with the circus in LA or the one in Baltimore this evening. They pass on Manny and A-Rod because of the money and wind up being rewarded for it. I know the haters are enjoying the downfall of these two stars, but for me, it's disappointing. As cynical as we can be about this game sometimes, I respect the fact that these players are supposed to be the greatest in the world at what they do. To see them exposed as frauds just destroys everything we like about the game. And I have a feeling that Manny won't be the end of it.

-- With the crush of Manny stories in today's print edition, the Mets Insider was bumped to web-only on Newsday.com this morning. The subject is Daniel Murphy, whose future with the Mets may be as an infielder, where he definitely seems more comfortable. A switch to first base may be the easiest move -- especially with Carlos Delgado in his walk year -- but Manny's suspension actually complicates things. I thought for sure the Mets would make a push this winter for Manny, who was likely to opt out of the second year of his contract. But I figure he's staying put in LA now. As a steroid cheat, he's not getting $20 million anywhere else in 2010.

-- Are we really witnessing the resurgence of the Mets right now? Back-to-back sweeps over the Braves and Phillies? And now what should be a gimme weekend with the skidding Pirates in town? Rip Omar if you must, but the Mets did what they set out to do this winter in rebuilding the bullpen, and there's no bigger reason for this current streak. Wonder how the Phillies have been enjoying K-Rod's postgame hysterics. Man, he does go crazy, doesn't he?

-- As a Hall of Fame voter, my job is getting more and more difficult as the list of Cooperstown-worthy cheats gets longer. I haven't voted for Mark McGwire yet, and I'm not sure what to do about Barry Bonds. Do we just chalk it up to the Steroid Era and still accept players on their accomplishments? Where do we draw the line? Just with those who tested positive or are strong allegations of PEDs enough? What a mess.


May 7, 2009

Gameday Live 27: Mets vs. Phillies

Mike Gavin here for another night of Mets baseball.

Mike Pelfrey hopes to continue the sudden stellar pitching of the starting rotation, which has led to a three game winning streak. The Mets look to complete back-to-back sweeps (granted they were only two-game sets) of division rivals as they take on the Phillies at Citifield.

First pitch is just minutes away.....


Tonight's lineup

Tarp's coming off the field, and it's only just dark and cloudy, not raining like it's a David Fincher film. So we'll probably play on time.

Reyes SS
Castillo 2B
Beltran CF
Delgado 1B
Wright 3B
Sheffield RF
Tatis LF
Castro C
Pelfrey P

Phils

Rollins SS
Victorino CF
Utley 2B
Howard 1B
Werth RF
Ibanez LF
Feliz 3B
Ruiz C
Moyer P

Manny: Steroids or not?

Stunning news this morning with MLB announcing the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez in accordance of the sport's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Mets apparently dodged a bullet this time -- this would not have played well in New York -- but does Ramirez have a reasonable excuse? Here's the latest news release from MLB:

Manny has requested that the Players Association release the following statement on his behalf.

“Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now.I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.

“I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation.” – Manny Ramirez

Do you believe him?

>> VOTE: Do you think Manny knowingly used steroids?

>> See photos of Manny Ramirez through the years

May 6, 2009

Gameday Live 26: Phillies at Mets

Phillies make their Citi Field debut tonight, with Chan Ho Park opposing Johan Santana. Seems like a mismatch.

Chase Utley is in for the Phils.

On we go.


No Takahashi for Friday?

It looks like the Mets may have changed their minds on starting Ken Takahashi for Friday's game against the Pirates. Takahashi did not throw his scheduled side session today and was cryptic in his conversation with reporters afterward. General manager Omar Minaya also was elusive on the subject.

When asked if Takahashi was his Friday starter, Minaya replied, "Right now. But that could change." When pitching coach Dan Warthen was asked the same question, his only response was "Talk to Jerry [Manuel]."

Manuel was not available an hour before tonight's first pitch, but the Mets could make an announcement about the rotation after the game.

Today's lineup

Interesting group for Johan tonight. BTW, Jerry said he may use Santana for as long as 115 pitches because of his extended rest. Also, maybe no Putz or K-Rod because of the errors by Castillo and Delgado - they prolonged the innings. Back to lineup:

Reyes - SS
Cora - 2B
Beltran - CF
Delgado - 1B
Wright - 3B
Murphy - LF
Reed - RF
Santos - C
Santana - LHP

May 5, 2009

Gameday Live 25: Mets at Braves


Good evening Mets enthusiasts! I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the Mets (11-13) take on the Braves (11-14) at Turner Field in Atlanta looking to sweep this brief two-game set before coming back home tomorrow for the first of two games against the Phillies.

Tonight we should have a real pitchers' duel (yeah, right) as Livan Hernandez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) matches up against 33-year old righty Kenshin Kawakami (1-3, 7.06).

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Hernandez wasn't horrible in his last appearance, as he threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks a week ago today against the Marlins. Hernandez, who struck out a season-high five batters in that game, did not receive a decision. He has yet to face Atlanta this season, but is just 3-15 with a 5.52 ERA in his career against the Braves, including a 1-7 mark in 12 career starts at Turner Field. His ERA versus the Braves is his highest against any National League opponent.

This will be Kawakami's first career start against the Mets. The Japanese righty, who signed a three-year, $23 million deal in the offseason, has struggled in his first four outings in the big leagues. In his last start on April 26, he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss to the Reds. Kawakami, who was a six-time All Star and the 2004 MVP in Japan, has allowed at least one home run in all four of his starts.

Last night, the Mets overcame a three-run deficit for the first time this season. Carlos Beltran and David Wright both homered in a four-run sixth and then Beltran went yard again in the seventh to take a 6-4 win. It was Beltran's 26th multi-homer game of his career.

Tonight, Beltran can record a career-high 16-game hitting streak in a ballpark he loves — he's batting .345 with 12 homers and 32 RBIs at Turner Field. We'll keep you posted on that...

Also, the Mets can eclipse their win total at Turner Field from a season ago with a victory tonight (they were 1-8 there last season).

Finally, here are tonight's lineups:

Mets
1. Reyes, SS
2. Murphy, LF
3. Beltran, CF
4. Delgado, 1B
5. Wright, 3B
6. Church, RF
7. Castro, C
8. Castillo, 2B
9. Hernandez, RHP

Braves
1. Infante, 2B
2. Escobar, SS
3. Jones, 3B (no shock that he's a .386 hitter, 22-for-57 against Hernandez)
4. Anderson, LF (*first start since April 19 ... he's coming off the DL with a calf injury)
5. Kotchman, 1B
6. Francoeur, RF
7. Schafer, CF
8. Ross, C
9. Kawakami, RHP

Okay, that's all for now. But be sure to keep the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions. I'll be back with updates after each half-inning.

We're just 10 minutes from baseball on SNY!

Top of the 1st: After Reyes flew out to deep centerfield, Murphy singled down the left-field line (he now has a seven-game hitting streak). Beltran struck out swinging after just three pitches before Delgado singled to center to put runners on the corner for Wright, who struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bottom of the 1st: A 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez, as Infante lined out to Murphy in left, Escobar flew out to right (nice catch against the wall by Church) and Jones grounded out to second.

Top of the 2nd: Church struck out swinging (Kawakami's third K of the evening) before Castro singled to right. Then Castillo grounded to second, but Infante bobbled it and he couldn't even get the force at second, let alone a double play. The E4 put runners on first and second for Hernandez, who sacrificed them over. Reyes walked to load the bases for Murphy, who flied out to center on a 3-and-1 pitch to end the inning.

The Mets have left five runners on base already.

Bottom of the 2nd: Anderson grounded out to second before Kotchman doubled down the left-field line to give Atlanta its first baserunner of the evening. But Francoeur flew out to Reyes and Schafer grounded out to second to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd: Beltran's leadoff single to center gave him a career-high 16-game hitting streak. Then, Delgado struck out swinging (all four of Kawakami's K's have been swinging). Beltran stole second (his third of the season), and came home on Wright's RBI double to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Wright has 13 RBIs on the year.

Church flew out to left and Wright moved to third on a passed ball before Castro ripped an RBI double down the right-field line to put the Mets up 2-0. Castro, who now has six RBIs, has two opposite-field hits tonight.

Castillo was intentionally walked in front of Hernandez, who flew out to center to end the inning.

Bottom of the 3rd: Ross led off the inning with a double to right (Church fell down trying to field the ball), but he was thrown out at third on Kawakami's sacrifice attempt (nice play by Livan).

Infante and Escobar singled to load the bases for Chipper Jones, who lined out to Castillo. Then Castillo flipped to Reyes at second to double-up Infante and end the inning.

Top of the 4th: Reyes grounded out to second before Murphy walked (Kawakami's third BB of the night) and Beltran ripped a single to center. Then Delgado struck out swinging for the second time tonight.

With Wright batting, the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch. But Wright struck out looking (Kawakami's sixth K of the night) to end the inning.

Bottom of the 4th: After Anderson flew out to center, Kotchman singled to right. But Francoeur grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Hernandez has thrown just 40 pitches through four innings.

Top of the 5th: Church struck out looking (Kawakami's seventh of the night) before Castro stroked his third hit (all the opposite way), and second double, to right-center.

But Castillo popped out to short and Hernandez lined out to center to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th: Schafer grounded out to first (Delgado bobbled it, but Livan got over there in time) before Ross fouled out to to the left of third.

Then Livan struck out pinch-hitter Matt Diaz (his first K of the night) to end the inning.

Top of the 6th: Lefty Eric O'Flaherty (0-0, 3.38) came on in relief of Kawakami, who threw five innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits and three walks with seven strikeouts, and threw 113 pitches.

O'Flaherty tossed a 1-2-3 inning, as Reyes grounded to short, Murphy lined to second and Beltran popped to second.

Bottom of the 6th: Hernandez struck out Infante swinging (his second of the night) before Escobar singled and Jones walked.

But Anderson knocked into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Top of the 7th: After Delgado flew out to center, Wright got his second hit of the night on a single down the right-field line. But then Church flew out to right and then Wright was caught trying to steal second for the fourth time this year.

Bottom of the 7th: Kotchman flew out before Francoeur singled and Schafer walked. That prompted Jerry Manuel to lift Hernandez in favor of righty Bobby Parnell (0-0, 1.46).

Greg Norton (pinch-hitting for Ross) struck out looking, but then Martin Prado doubled down the left-field line to put the Braves on the board and make it 2-1 Mets. But Parnell got Infante to ground out to short to end the inning.

The final line on Hernandez: 6 1/3 IP, one earned run, seven hits, two walks, two K's on 74 pitches.

Top of the 8th: Righty Rafael Soriano (0-0, 1.64) came on in relief after two scoreless innings by O'Flaherty. Soriano tossed a 1-2-3 inning, as Castro popped to short, Castillo struck out looking and pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield flew out to center.

Bottom of the 8th: J.J. Putz (1-2, 3.60) came on in relief after 2/3 of an inning from Parnell. He got Escobar to ground out to short, but then Chipper Jones (who homered off Putz last night) reached on an error by Castillo (he let a slow ground ball go between his legs). But Anderson flew out to center and Kotchman hit into a force to end the inning.

Top of the 9th: Lefty closer Mike Gonzalez (1-0, 3.72) came on in relief for the Braves and promptly gave up a bloop single to Reyes to lead off the inning.

Then Murphy bunted. Chipper fielded the ball and would have had Reyes at second had he not thrown the ball away into centerfield. Reyes advanced to third and Murphy took second because nobody was covering the bag. Bad blunder by the Braves.

Beltran was intentionally walked in front of Delgado, who singled past Escobar with the infield in to score two and make it 4-1 Mets.

Bobby Cox lifted Gonzalez in favor of Buddy Carlyle (0-1, 6.10), who threw a wild pitch during Wright's at-bat to move the runners to second and third. But Wright's fly ball to shallow right failed to bring Beltran in from third.

Church was intentionally walked to load the bases for Castro, but the catcher, seeking his fourth hit of the night, grounded into a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning.

Bottom of the 9th: That got a little too interesting for the Mets' liking. K-Rod (0-0, 1.69) got Francoeur to fly out to center and then struck out Schafer for the second out. But then pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson singled and Clint Sammons walked.

Then Infante popped up to Delgado, which would have ended the game. But Delgado inexplicably dropped the ball after it bounced off his glove. Johnson scored on the play, making it a 4-2 game.

Escobar hit an RBI single in the next at-bat to make it 4-3, but Chipper flew out to right to end the game.

That's the ballgame, Mets win a whacky one (at the end), 4-3.
Mets: 12-13
Braves: 11-15

WP--Hernandez (2-1)
LP--Kawakami (1-4)
SV--Rodriguez (7)

*No home runs tonight.

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:
1. Hernandez: 6 1/3 IP, one earned run (Parnell allowed an inherited runner to score) seven hits, two walks, two K's, 74 pitches.
2. Delgado: 2-for-5 with two RBIs (his two-run single in the ninth proved to be the game-winning hit, though his error almost cost the Mets the game).
3. Castro: 3-for-5 with an RBI double in the third.

Okay, that's all for tonight. As usual, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action. Thanks to all for coming out.

Goodnight!

(Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

Tonight's lineup vs. Braves

No surprises here. Castro still holding off Stokes behind the plate.

Reyes ........ SS
Murphy ....... LF
Beltran ....... CF
Delgado ..... 1B
Wright ........ 3B
Church ....... RF
Castro ........ C
Castillo ....... 2B
Hernandez .. RHP

Daniel Murphy - First baseman of the future?

Not sure what this says about Carlos Delgado's hip condition, but Daniel Murphy and Jeremy Reed are out early today taking ground balls at first base.

Both look pretty decent, thought Murphy did sail a throw over second base after making a nice grab behind the bag. The good news: he didn't fall down once. With Delgado in the final year of his contract, perhaps Murphy would be a logical replacement -- as long as the Mets could get a serious run-producer for leftfield. And I don't mean re-signing Gary Sheffield.

Switching Murphy to first base might be a good way to pave the way to Flushing for Manny Ramirez, who has an escape clause to become a free agent against this winter.

Based on today's workout, Murphy looks much more comfortable at first base than leftfield.

Swine flu, SARS and Accountability

deepsixth.jpgJohn Maine wasn't feeling very well before last night's start against the Braves. Mostly he sat slumped over at his stool, not really talking to anyone. While that is usually quiet time for a starting pitcher anyway, Maine seemed especially morose. We found out later, after his quality start in the Mets' 6-4 victory, that Maine was a little sick from some undisclosed ailment.

"I have no clue," Maine said. "Swine flu? SARS?"

I think Maine was smiling when he said that. But the Mets, after a tough 48-hour stretch in Philly, were feeling a bit worn out yesterday afternoon. Due to a ridiculous travel snafu, it took the Mets forever to get to Atlanta on Sunday -- roughly a 12-hour trip from the time the game was called that morning.

The team's first charter plane was cut open by the towing car when a pole broke loose and shredded the underside of the fuselage. "It looked like a shark bit it," said Charlie Samuels, the Mets' equipment manager/travel director.

With that plane grounded for two weeks, Samuels secured another plane, but that flight had to be diverted to Columbia, S.C., because of severe thunderstorms in Atlanta. The weather was so bad that they had to evacuate the control tower Sunday night. By the time the Mets landed, it was around 10:30 at night. So much for resting up after the rainout.

But back to Maine. All around, the Mets praised Maine for not rolling over after that brutal second inning -- three walks, three runs -- and he's now on a two-game winning streak: 12 innings, four hits, four runs, nine walks, 11 strikeouts. The walks remain an issue, but otherwise not bad, and the striekouts are an indication that Maine is getting good velocity and movement on his fastball again.

It also was refreshing to hear Maine use the word "accountable." That's been missing from the Mets' vocabulary for far too long. Maine felt it was his responsibility to suck it up after that second inning and give the team a chance to win. Hopefully that's more contagious than Maine's illness.

"I'm out there pitching and it's my butt on the line," Maine said. "So I've got to go out there and perform."


Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon talks Mets in a live chat today at 11 a.m.

May 4, 2009

Gameday Live 24: Mets at Braves

First of a two game set against Atlanta and the big news of the day for the Mets is that struggling pitcher Oliver Perez will NOT be sent down to the minors (after initially saying he'd be open to that situation, he backtracked the next day) and will also not be placed on the DL as a result of a sore knee. Instead, he will be used in the Mets bullpen to work out his issues. Ken Takahashi will get the start Friday.

John Maine (1-2, 5.40 ERA) will be on the mound for the Mets. He's coming off his best start of the year last Monday against the Marlins, where he allowed only one hit and one unearned run in six innings. He's also had an extra day of rest, courtesy of yesterday's rainout against Philadelphia.

Back after the top of the first!


Ollie to remain with Mets

Oliver Perez will remain with the Mets and work through his issues in the bullpen, Jerry Manuel said moments ago.

That means no minor-league demotion and no DL stint. Ken Takahashi will start Friday.

Today's lineup vs. Braves

Delgado still OK. Ditto on Castillo.

Reyes .......... SS
Murphy ......... LF
Beltran .......... CF
Delgado ........ 1B
Wright .......... 3B
Church ......... RF
Castro ........... C
Castillo ......... 2B
Maine ............ RHP

Summit at Turner Field

It looks like there will be a Mets' summit meeting this afternoon at Turner Field with Omar Minaya flying in with COO Jeff Wilpon to discuss the fate of Oliver Perez and other roster questions.

As much as everyone wants to dismiss Olllie and dump him in the minors, remember this is a three-year, $36-million business investment. The Mets have to tread carefully with Perez, and not just for the short-term benefit of this season. They can't just wash their hands of him.

Like it or not, he's supposed to be this team's No. 3 starter, and it might be helpful if Perez returns to that role at some point. It's not as simple as sending him somewhere in the minor-league system to get straightened out.

Where he should go? To Triple-A Buffalo, where that team is a train wreck at the moment? To Port St. Lucie, where maybe he can work with Guy Conti? Is it better to keep Perez up with the Mets so Warthen -- probably the coach that knows him best -- can try to fix him?

Throw in his sudden knee injury, and this becomes even more complicated. At least they know where Perez can't be -- and that's in the rotation. As my colleague Ken Davidoff points out today, it would have been nice to have a backup plan.

It sort of slipped under the radar yesterday with the Perez news, but it was a little ominous to hear from Delgado that he will be monitoring this hip condition all season. It now appears to be the same thing that bothered him last year in spring training and it took Delgado almost three months to get on track after that -- a resurgence that just happened to coincide with Willie Randolph's firing.

UPDATE *****
Scratch that on Jeff Wilpon. As it turned out, he did not make the trip to New York. Just Omar Minaya.

May 3, 2009

No decision yet on Perez

operez.jpgDespite a lengthy closed-door meeting this morning, Jerry Manuel had few answers about Oliver Perez when the door opened. The only thing for certain is that the Mets have not yet listed a starter for Friday's game against the Pirates at Citi Field.

With today's rainout, everyone moves back a day, with John Maine starting tomorrow in Atlanta, followed by Livan Hernandez to finish up the two-game series at Turner Field. Then it's Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey for the next two-game series when the Phillies visit Citi Field.

That's when it gets tricky. While there appears zero chance Perez will make his scheduled start that Friday -- "I don't know if that's advantageous for us or him," Manuel said -- it's unclear where he will wind up.

A day after saying he would accept a demotion, Perez hedged when asked about such a move, and as a player with more than five years service time, he can refuse.As for why he changed course, Perez didn't say.

"I was frustrated," Perez said. "You could say that yesterday was tough for me. Today I feel a little more relaxed."

Manuel did talk with Perez this morning to let him know that they are formulating a plan for his immediate future, but neither would reveal what that is yet. Perez also was walking around the clubhouse with an ice pack on his right knee, which raised the possibility he could land on the 15-day disabled list. Perez did not try to downplay the injury either.

"The knee has been bothering me all season," Perez said. "It doesn't feel good. This is my first time pitching with something that has bothered me. It's not easy."

Manuel didn't believe the knee condition to be that serious, but if it could make their roster decision easier, the DL may be worth a shot. Another possibility is for Perez to be moved to the bullpen for the time being with Ken Takahashi taking the Friday start. Manuel did say that Perez could be used in relief this week should the need arise, so maybe that's a hint as to how the team's decision-makers are leaning.

Takahashi could go maybe 65 pitches, and with a rested bullpen, Manuel could squeeze the remaining four innings out of Brian Stokes and Sean Green before getting the ball to his set-up crew and closer. It's really not much orse than what he's been getting out of his rotation to this point anyway.

May 2, 2009

MLB announces Manuel fined for "pace of game" violation

We already mentioned it this morning, but here's the official release:

METS MANAGER JERRY MANUEL DISCIPLINED

Major League Baseball has issued an undisclosed fine to New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel for his failure to comply with MLB’s pace of game regulations during his Club’s game against the Florida Marlins on Wednesday, April 29th at Citi Field. Bob Watson, Vice President of On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement.

Gameday Live 23: Mets at Phillies

Mike Gavin here for another day of Mets baseball.

Today's lineup -- minus Delgado

Carlos Delgado said he was not ready to play today after taking BP a few moments ago. GM Omar Minaya spoke with the first baseman behind the batting cage and Delgado told him he was "feeling better" but not to the point where he was OK to start today against the Phillies.

Even so, it now appears the Mets are having second thoughts about placing Delgado on the disabled list. Manager Jerry Manuel said it's more a matter of Delgado "tolerating" the hip condition, which suggests an extended break won't do him much good. That's not particularly good news if Delgado will have to cope with the aching hip for the rest of the season.

Here's the Delgado-free lineup:

Reyes .......... SS
Castillo ......... 2B
Beltran .......... CF
Sheffield ........ RF
Wright ........... 3B
Tatis ............. 1B
Murphy .......... LF
Castro ........... C
Perez ............ LHP

And for the Phillies, no Chase Utley today.

Victorino ....... CF
Ibanez .......... LF
Werth ........... RF
Howard ......... 1B
Rollins .......... SS
Feliz ............. 3B
Bruntlett ........ 2B
Ruiz .............. C
Moyer ........... LHP

Manuel fined for "icing" Lindstrom

snow_miser_21.jpgJerry Manuel said he was only joking about using a "20-second timeout" to mess with Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom. Apparently, the Commissioner's Office didn't find it very funny.

After the Marlins filed a grievance, MLB has fined Manuel an undisclosed amount for his actions during the ninth inning of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Florida. On Friday, the Mets manager tried to explain why it took so long to get Omir Santos in from the bullpen to pinch hit for Ramon Castro in the ninth inning.

“In coming out, [Santos] didn’t want to cross the field,” Manuel said. “So he took the route behind, not knowing that was all cement. Instead of hurrying, he had to walk gingerly, that’s what made it appear as though a lot of time lapsed. There was no real strategy there to keep the guy on the mound.“



Jerry or Charlie?

Does this sound familiar?

"I think you have to show patience with players, but I think our pitching has to get better. We'll do things to make it better."

That's Charlie Manuel -- not Jerry -- in comments made to the Philadelphia Inquirer after the Mets pounded Chan Ho Park in Friday's 7-4 win at Citizens Bank Park.
omin.jpg

The point is that the Mets are not the only team with problems. Even the world champs aren't perfect. It was the Phillies who ran themselves out of a potential game-changing rally Friday in the sixth inning when Greg Dobbs had a brain freeze.

And with the injured Brad Lidge in a spectator role -- he'll be available today -- it was Francisco Rodriguez who handled the heart of Philly's lineup, striking out Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard.

In typical Mets fashion, however, GM Omar Minaya still had to go into damage control, before and after Fridays' game to put out the fire over inflammatory comments he made to FOXsports.com. David Wright did not take kindly to the GM's perception that he lacked an "edge" and flatly told Minaya "that's not true."

In other news, Ramon Castro is scheduled to start today behind the plate. At least that's what Manuel said before Friday's game. Let's see if he sticks to that after Santos went 1-for-2 with a double and sacrifice fly.

Also, the status of Carlos Delgado's sore hip will determine whether or not he lands on the DL. Delgado is .383 (31-for-81) with eight homers vs. Jamie Moyer, so he's not in the lineup, he must really be hurting.

(Saturday quiz: Who is the Mets' beat writer looking over Minaya's right shoulder in the photo? Hint: not me)

May 1, 2009

Minaya: We have an edge

Roughly 90 minutes before the Mets’ biggest game of this young season, general manager Omar Minaya had to backtrack from comments he made to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal that suggested his star players lacked an “edge.”

“We have good guys, solid professionals," Minaya told Rosenthal. “There is a smile on David Wright's face, a smile on Jose Reyes's face. But there is not an edge to them. Some people see edge as leadership. Sometimes, you need a little meanness to your game.

“Some people perceive leadership as meanness. I couldn't tell you that we have that type of guy. We have leaders. But everyone's perception of leadership is different.”

In the span of a few hours, it seemed that Minaya’s perspective had changed. When asked if that was really the case with his Mets, the GM hedged some.

“Let’s be clear – we have an edge,” Minaya said. “Our edge is different. Some guys are serious. Some guys are happy. There’s a different form of leadership. Yes, I feel this team plays with a lot of passion. To me, that’s all subjective. Our guys play with a lot of passion and a lot of energy.”

Gameday Live 22: Mets at Phillies

Anyone feeling the hate from down in Philly?

Mike Pelfrey goes for the Mets against Chan Ho Park (??) for the Phils.

On we go.


Tonight's lineup vs. Phillies

No Delgado. No Castillo. No Castro.

Reyes ......... SS
Cora ........... 2B
Murphy ....... LF
Beltran ........ CF
Wright ......... 3B
Church ........ RF
Tatis ............ 1B
Santos ......... C
Pelfrey ......... RHP

Live from Citizens Bank Park

This is the current view from the weather-proofed press box here at Citizens Bank Park. If you look closely, you can see the raindrops.

thebank.jpg

April 30, 2009

Hey Jerry, listen to Herm

That's right. Herm Edwards. So maybe his Jets career didn't work out. But this postgame rant, which includes the immortal words, "You play to win the game," is something that Jerry Manuel should listen to right now.

Forget the messages, auditions, observations, recitals, cameos, dress rehearsals. Whatever. Manuel has to sit down with the lineup card and write down the names that will best help him win the game. I'd like to believe that he didn't pull Omir Santos out of the bullpen just because he doesn't like Ramon Castro. And there's no way I'm believing that Santos -- after a day of squatting in the bullpen -- gave him a better chance to win than Castro, who already had two hits off Josh Johnson.
edwards_herman_fumble.jpg

But that's over. Manuel blew it. End of story. And who knows? Castro could be designated for assignment by the time we show up in Philly tomorrow. They might as well cut him loose at this point.

Back to the lineup. Fernando Tatis has got to play. Whether it's leftfield, second base or even third, Manuel has to keep him in there. Tatis, the 2008 Comeback Player of the Year, is the only Met that even seems to paying attention. Not only did he have the home run yesterday, but he set up Castro's tying RBI single in the fourth inning. Tatis had a one-out single, stole second and did a heads-up job on the basepaths to score from second on Castro's sinking liner.

Tatis read it perfectly and took off without hesitating. If it was Carlos Beltran, he'd still be standing on second base as I type this. Tatis actually plays hard, wherever he is on the field. And the Mets need some righthanded balance, especially with David Wright a lost cause.

As for Wright, he needs a day off, and it doesn't matter that the Mets are playing the Phillies tomorrow. It's pointless to put him in the batter's box right now. Everyone can see that. Play Tatis at third tomorrow. I predict that Manuel won't, but if he must use Wright, at least put Tatis in leftfield. With Luis Castillo shaky, Alex Cora could be back at second base.

As for those who wanted Wright to bunt yesterday, he's had exactly zero sacrifice hits in 3,136 plate appearances. Not happening. I've never even seen him try to bunt.
twitter-logo.png

Oh, and one more thing. At the urging of my colleague, Barbara Barker -- meanbarb on Twitter -- I've joined Twitter as well. So follow me at lenno212 for updates on your sinking Mets along with some other flotsam from life on the beat.

April 29, 2009

Gameday Live 21: Marlins at Mets

Rod Boone here to help get you guys through the series finale with the Marlins. Lovely, crisp afternoon for a ball game.

It's Johan Santana opposing Josh Johnson. Should be a good one. Let's get to it.

Today's lineup: Murphy batting third

Yep. You read that correctly. Here's the lineup:

Reyes - SS
Cora - 2B
Murphy - LF
Beltran - CF
Wright - 3B
Church - RF
Tatis - 1B
Castro - C
Santana - LHP

April 28, 2009

Gameday Live 20: Marlins at Mets

Barbara Barker here.
Big question of the night: Can Mets continue to take advantage of Marlins' problems? After winning 11 of first 12, Marlins have lost seven in a row.
Tomorrow the Mets have their ace, so a win tonight could put them in a good position to sweep. Mets are starting former Marlin Hernandez (1-1, 7.31, ERA). Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 6.86) will get the ball for Florida.
Be back at 7:10.

Castillo, Delgado both out until Friday

It looks like the Mets will take advantage of Thursday's off day to give extra rest to both Luis Castillo and Carlos Delgado, with the pair returning for Friday's series opener in Philadelphia.

Castillo said he is "feeling better" after leaving Monday's game with back spasms. As for Delgado, GM Omar Minaya said his ailing first baseman received a cortisone shot today for his sore right hip and is expected back on Friday.

Fernando Tatis is at first base tonight, but Jeremy Reed may get the start for tomorrow's series finale against Marlins righthander Josh Johnson.

In other news:

-- Brian Schneider is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, but with the Mets impressed with Omir Santos, they seem to be in no hurry to make that move. Schneider is on the DL with a back strain, but Minaya said that a sore calf is preventing him from catching during his rehab stint.

He's been limited to DH duties and Minaya added that he'll need a couple of nine-inning games in Florida before he can be activated. So it seems that Santos will remain with the Mets into next week. As for Santos vs. Ramon Castro argument, Manuel declined to officially name a favorite: "I have to weight it over a period of time," the manager said. "Ramon has been a tremendous backup for us."

-- New Jets coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum toured the Mets clubhouse with Minaya before tonight's game, the day after their No. 1 pick Mark Sanchez threw out the first pitch at Citi Field.

-- Daniel Murphy was benched for the second straight day in favor of Gary Sheffield in left. Manuel said it's not an indictment of Murphy's defensive shortcomings but because he wants more power in the lineup with Delgado out. The manager did add, however, that Murphy needs to "make adjustments defensively to stay in there."

Tonight's lineup

As promised, no Castillo, no Delgado - and yes, no Castro again.

Reyes - SS
Cora - 2B
Beltran - CF
Sheffield - LF
Wright - 3B
Church - RF
Tatis - 1B
Santos - C
Hernandez - RHP

Live chat with Ken Davidoff

Ken Davidoff talks baseball and takes your questions in a live chat today at 1 p.m.

Garcia gone; Figueroa starts tonight at Buffalo

Freddy Garcia showed up in Port St. Lucie two months ago as the presumed favorite for the fifth starter's job. Now he's out of the organization after the Mets released him this morning.

Garcia, 33, allowed seven hits and seven runs against Syracuse last night to inflate his ERA to 8.18. He also told the Buffalo News that his shoulder was hurting him, which suggests that Garcia is still experiencing problems after his rotator-cuff surgery in 2007.

In other Bisons news, Nelson Figueroa will start tonight at Rochester. Wily Mo Pena also has been activated for Buffalo.


April 27, 2009

Gameday Live 19: Marlins at Mets

A hearty good evening to all you Mets fans out there. Rod Boone here in the spacious press box at Citi Field to blog you guys through the opener of this three-game set with the first-place Marlins.

John Maine (0-2, 7.47 ERA) opposes Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 2.50).

Mark Sanchez, the Jets' new prized draft pick, will throw out the first pitch. We'll crank this up momentarily.


Tonight's lineup

Tonight's lineup vs. Marlins

Bad news for Ramon Castro and Daniel Murphy as neither is in the lineup vs. righty Anibel Sanchez. Omir Santos has passed Castro on the depth chart and Murphy's defensive foibles may be too much for the Mets to live with. We'll see when we talk to Jerry Manuel.

Carlos Delgado has been scratched with a sore hip. Here's the official lineup:

Reyes SS
Castillo 2B
Beltran CF
Sheffield LF
Wright 3B
Church RF
Tatis 1B
Santos C
Maine P

Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon answers your Mets questions today in a live chat at 11 a.m.

Oliver Perez still scheduled for Saturday

46522271.jpgDespite another brutal performance in Sunday's 8-1 loss, Perez appears to be staying in the rotation for at least another turn. Jerry Manuel, pitching coach Dan Warthen and front office members huddled after yesterday's game and the decision was to stick with Perez against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, where he is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in four career starts. On Sunday, when asked if Perez would be lifted from the rotation, a team official said, "Not right now."

The only hope is that Perez will gain some confidence from his past success in Philly's stadium -- if this bad start is just a mental block for him. Perez says that nothing is wrong with him physically, but Manuel did bring up the "dead-arm" possibility on Sunday and the pitcher's usual velocity is missing.

It was telling that the Mets went with Omir Santos behind the plate for Perez on Sunday and not Ramon Castro -- a suggestion that the team was not pleased with Castro's work with Perez in his previous start. Apparently, Castro wasn't the problem as Perez looked just as bad with Santos catching him. Warthen talked about calling pitches from the bench for Perez, but it seems that his problem is more execution than selection.

**** LIVE CHAT ALERT ****
Almost forgot to mention that we have a live chat right here at 11 a.m. Bring your Ollie questions and more.

April 26, 2009

Fossum DFA'ed; Perez to bullpen? (UPDATED)

As the Mets continue to mull over what to do with Oliver Perez, they did make one move after today's 8-1 loss to the Nationals. They designated Casey Fossum for assignment. Fossum allowed three hits and one run over 2 2/3 innings in relief of Perez. Team officials immediately gathered after the game to talk about their next roster move and that could involve skipping Perez's next turn before demoting him to the bullpen.

UPDATE (5:31 P.M.)
.... The Mets just announced they have called up lefthander Ken Takahashi to replace Fossum. Takahashi, 40, was 0-0 with a 0.77 ERA in six appearances at Triple-A Buffalo.

Gameday Live 18: Nationals at Mets

Mets go for the sweep with Ollie Perez opposing Jordan Zimmermann on a blazing day at Citi. And in the city.

On with the show.


Today's lineup vs. Nationals

Mets going for the sweep. Interesting twist to the lineup: Omir Santos behind the plate, not Ramon Castro. The Mets were not pleased with the job Castro did with Oliver Perez last Tuesday, which is probably the reason for the switch. Jerry Manuel suggested this morning that the slumping Carlos Delgado is likely to get Wednesday's game off.

NATIONALS
Maxwell ............ CF
Belliard ................ 2B
R. Zimmerman ..... 3B
Dunn .................. 1B
Willingham ........... LF
Kearns ................ RF
Flores .................. C
Gonzalez ............. SS
J. Zimmerman .......RHP

METS
Reyes .................. SS
Murphy ................. LF
Beltran ................. CF
Delgado ................ 1B
Wright ................... 3B
Church .................. RF
Santos .................. C
Castillo .................. 2B
Perez .....................LHP

April 25, 2009

Gameday Live 17: Nationals at Mets

Ready to roll from Citi. Mike Pelfrey goes against Daniel Cabrera. Omir Santos behind the plate for the Mets, Daniel Murphy in left.

On with the show.


Nice day lineup at Citi Field

If you're in the area, come on by! It's a gorgeous day.

Nats lineup
Hernandez 2B
Johnson 1B
Zimmerman 3B
Dunn RF
Dukes CF
Willingham LF
Gonzalez CC
Nieves C
Cabrera P

Mets
Reyes SS
Murphy LF
Beltran CF
Delgado 1B
Wright 3B
Church RF
Santos C
Castillo 2B
Pelfrey P

April 24, 2009

Gameday Live 16: Nationals at Mets

Lots of stuff, almost all of it bad, swirling around the Metsies as they get ready for this weekend series with the hapless Nats.

The lone bit of good news: Johan Santana is on the mound tonight. He'll be opposed by Scott Olsen, who's had some success against the Mets as a member of the Marlins. He's also the first lefthander to start against the Mets this season.

On with the show.

It's never too early to panic! Or maybe it is

Mets fans know about that, right?

Your manager, Jerry Manuel, when asked about fans getting ready to jump off a bridge with their team 6-9, said, "I'm at the bridge. I ain't jumping. I'm not thinking about it yet, but I'm at the bridge. If I'm at the bridge, I'm taking some folks with me."

The Mets aren't in mid-season form, but their manager is. Manuel also said he's going to let his non-Santana starters go through one more turn in the rotation before thinking about changes. Of course, Manuel says a lot of things that don't actually end up happening.

General manager Omar Minaya, when asked if he's "on board" with the once-more-through-the-rotation plan, said: "Did Jerry just say that today?"

Here's more of what Omar said:

Q: Concerns with pitching?
“No. Right now I just think like anything else the last couple games we haven’t pitched good. But you have to kind of let those guys go out there and play and perform and pitch and we are going to do that.”

Q: Too early to panic?
“I think it’s too early to panic. As far as thinking about changes or anything like that, I think you have to let guys perform.”

Q: Want Pedro?
“We are committed to our guys and I think our guys are going to pitch well and I think like anything else you just cannot be making . . . when you go through spring training and you’ve got guys that have history, you’ve got to allow guys to go out there and perform and when it’s all said and done I think they’ll perform. We are committed to the guys we have right now.”

Q: Surprised at starters' struggles?
“You don’t get surprised by what’s going on when you’re on April 20th. It’s baseball. It’s pitching. Things happen. You’d like to see guys do better, but the reality is, we’re in April. If it was like that in September, then I’d be surprised.”

Maybe it wasn't Willie's fault

Can't believe I actually typed those words. But the Mets not only got swept in St. Louis, they were completely outclassed by the Cardinals. And this was about more than just starting pitching. I seem to remember Carlos Beltran not sliding into home plate and Daniel Murphy playing leftfield like someone from America's Funniest Home Videos.

I'm not saying this is Jerry Manuel's fault either. But I'm starting to wonder if there are greater forces at work here, such as serious accountability issues. This one quote from David Wright in particular really made me think. From yesterday's postgame:
pitchandmoan.jpg

"There’s obviously some glaring reasons as to why we’re struggling, but we need to get back to doing the small things, the basics right. We’re not hitting cutoff men. I don’t think we’re running the bases like we need to do, and when that happens, compounded with some of the bigger things, you’re not going to win many baseball teams."

Not running the bases? Not hitting cutoff men? What is this, March 9th? Do the Mets have to be reminded that these games count? I don't get it. These are fundamental things -- mental things -- that major-league players on a $147-million team should be able to do in their sleep.

What is it going to take? I was not among the "break-up-the-core" faction that spoke out loudly after last September's collapse, but I'm starting to re-evaluate that stance.

One September collapse? OK. Two in a row? Not great, but stuff happens. And now this 6-9 start? I just don't know. After a while, it's no longer a coincidence. The Mets filled what was supposed to be their biggest need by signing Frankie Rodriguez -- and he can't even get in a game.

So who is to blame? Remember, Manuel only has a two-year contract, so he's not invincible this season. I can't see Dan Warthen on the chopping block because there's no suitable replacement. HoJo? Six of the eight regulars are hitting over .300. Luis Alicea? Razor Shines? Randy Niemann? Sandy Alomar? Who among that crew has done a crummy job? I couldn't tell you.

Anyway, Manuel tried to prod his auto-pilot pitching staff yesterday with the threat of removing somebody from the rotation. Good luck with that. Maybe swap Mike Pelfrey for Jon Niese or Freddy Garcia? Convince Perez -- the Scott Boras client -- to accept a demotion to Triple-A Buffalo? Don't think so. Manuel's right on one front -- they can't keep pitching like this and win games. Not gonna happen. But they're still months away from prying away any top talent from another team, so the Mets better fix the guys they have.

On that topic, you can get a sense of Warthen's frustration in today's Mets Insider, which details some of his problems with Oliver Perez. Warthen suggested he could start calling pitches for Perez from the bench, and that might spread to the others if the Mets run out of answers.

April 23, 2009

Gameday Live 15: Mets at Cardinals

Getaway day in St. Loo for the Mets, now 6-8 and looking very blah.

Lineup changes as Lennon noted below. Livan Hernandez opposes Kyle Lohse.

Getting it started shortly.


Sheffield, Cora -- more changes for tomorrow

Jerry Manuel suggested moments ago that a few of his changes today may take hold for a few days. With Scott Olsen starting for the Nats tomorrow, Fernando Tatis will be added to the mix, but Manuel has not yet decided who will play which corner spot between him and Gary Sheffield. Carlos Beltran will stay in the No. 3 spot for the immediate future.

METS
Reyes .......... SS
Cora ............. 2B
Beltran ......... CF
Delgado ........ 1B
Wright ........... 3B
Sheffield ......... LF
Church ........... RF
Santos ........... C
Hernandez ...... RHP

CARDINALS
Schumaker .... 2B
Rasmus ......... LF
Pujols ............ 1B
Ludwick ......... RF
Ankiel ............ CF
Barden ........... 3B
Ryan .............. SS
LaRue ............ C
Lohse ............. RHP

Lifeless, uninspired, etc., etc.

Choose your own adjective. Those are the two I selected for today's story chronicling another lackluster performance from a Mets' team that I picked to win the World Series a month ago. What was I thinking. I know it's only 14 games, but even Willie Randolph was 8-6 at this point last season. And I can't remember watching that team and feeling this negative about it.
WillieRandolphGraduating.jpg

What is there to say really? Other than Johan Santana, and maybe Livan Hernandez, the Mets can't get a reliable outing from anyone in their rotation. The offense? That's a total mystery. How do the Mets have seven starters hitting over .300 and yet can't score? Weird.

Jerry Manuel has wisely decided to shake things up a little bit for today's matinee against the Cardinals. But the only thing that could make a real difference is swapping Carlos Beltran and David Wright in the order. Using Gary Sheffield in left, Alex Cora at second base and Omir Santos at catcher could be mostly cosmetic. Murphy, for all his issues in the outfield, had another RBI single last night. And Castillo is batting .381 with a .435 on-base percentage. He's not a problem either.

Here's some consolation. When there's another close play at the plate involving Beltran, you can bet he's going to slide. Beltran was not thrilled that Manuel confronted him about it yesterday -- but the manager had every right to want an explanation.

Enjoy today's early 1:40 p.m. start (SNY, WFAN).

April 22, 2009

Gameday Live 14: Mets at Cardinals

Good evening Mets fans, Mark Macyk here to take you through Game 2 of this three game set between the Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets, losers of two straight, will turn to John Maine (0-1, 7.20 ERA) to get back on track. On the hill for the Cardinals will be Joel Pineiro (2-0, 5.40).

Tonight looks like as good a time as any for the Mets to turn it around. Despite holding three more wins, the Cardinals have the exact same team ERA as the Mets, 3.96. In addition, the Mets boast seven everyday players hitting above .300: Luis Castillo (.400), Carlos Beltran (.354), Ryan Church (.350), Jose Reyes (.339), Daniel Murphy (.320), David Wright (.306) and Carlos Delgado (.300). Only three Cardinal regulars are hitting above .300, and oddly enough, two have brothers in the Yankees system, Ryan Ludwick (.378), Chris Duncan (.362) and Yadier Molina (.348).

We’ll get this started at 8:15. Stay tuned.


Live chat with David Lennon

David Lennon answers your Mets questions in a live chat today at 11 a.m.

Standby for Mets live chat

We're having a few technical difficulties this morning.

We'll be up and running in about 10 minutes or so. Start getting those questions ready.

April 21, 2009

Gamenight 13 Live: Mets at Cardinals

Hello Mets fans. Rod Boone here to blog you guys through the series opener with Cardinals. The Mets are coming off a 3-3 homestand at Citi Field and are in St. Louie for a three-game set.

Oliver Perez (1-1, 7.84 ERA) is on the hill and opposes Todd Wellemeyer (1-1, 4.50). We'll see which Ollie shows up tonight. Well, it's about time to get this cranked up so we'll begin momentarily.

Tonight's lineup vs. Cardinals