Saturday, July 27, 2013

NOTICE: Limited Updates This Week

I have embarked on a family vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth. ...No, not Poughkeepsie. That would be Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Therefore I will not be able to make regular updates on MM for the week. I will, however, attempt to smuggle some of the magic outside the Disney gates and attempt to transport it to Terry Collins for a playoff run. Wish me luck!


Games #99 & #100: Mets 11-1, Nationals 0-2

The Mets got themselves a glimpse of the future and enough offense to win both games. There was just the matter of spreading it out.

Jenrry Mejia returned to a dominating tune as Daniel Murphy and Juan Lagares backed him in an 11-0 thrashing of the Nationals in the afternoon game of the doubleheader. In the nightcap, Matt Harvey was his usual self but so was the New York offense, and Washington's Ryan Zimmerman clubbed a walk-off home run in the 9th to give the home team a 2-1 win and a split on the day.

The Good Stuff:
  • Starting pitching was the story of the day, as Jenrry Mejia parlayed a spot start into a spot in a six-man rotation, putting up lucky sevens in innings, hits, and strikeouts, while planting zeroes in walks and runs.
  • On the offensive side, Juan Lagares had three more hits and two more doubles, including an RBI and a rare walk, breaking the platoon to become the team's everyday center fielder.
  • Streaky Daniel Murphy continued to swing a hot bat, smashing two home runs and driving in five in the first game and picking up two more hits in the second for a doubleheader total of 6-9.
  • Ike Davis had himself a three-run homer in the 9th inning of game one, his first home run since returning from Las Vegas.
  • In the second game, Matt Harvey was brilliant for eight innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven on just 99 pitches. In a world where the Mets score more runs, he might have had himself his first complete game.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Try 1-9 with RISP and 10 men stranded on base in game two.
  • LaTroy Hawkins gets the loss in the nightcap after Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off homer to right center.
Final Analysis:
We sometimes forget that Jenrry Mejia is just 23 years old because he's been around the organization for nearly 10 years. He's still considered a prospect, and if days like today become commonplace, it's another surplus in starting pitching for the Amazin's.

As for Juan Lagares, the man has proven himself to be a big-league hitter, and the Mets may finally have their outfield problem solved (for the year at least): a lineup of Eric Young in left, Lagares in center, and Marlon Byrd in right is nothing to thumb your nose at. The pieces are coming together, and the team has a record of 22-15 in the Nieu Year to show for it (although the hot streak's namesake, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, won't be joining the team further, as he was optioned to Vegas to make room for Mejia and the six-man rotation).

It was disappointing to outscore the other team 12-2 and still only win one game, but it was an exciting day nonetheless.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Games #97 & #98: Mets 2-7, Braves 8-4

The Mets split the final games of their four-game series with the Braves, falling 8-2 last night and prevailing 7-4 this afternoon to salvage a series split.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Jeremy Hefner didn't fare any better from his last start, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits in 4.1 innings. His ERA is now back over 4.00 at 4.17.
  • New York could barely figure out Tim Hudson, who tossed 7.2 innings of two-run ball in what will turn out to be his final start of the year: while covering the bag in the 8th inning, Hudson's ankle was accidentally stepped on by Eric Young, resulting in a season-ending brake. (A shaken-up Young left the game himself today.)
The Good Stuff:
  • Daniel Murphy had two doubles and drove in the team's only two runs in the 8th inning.

The Good Stuff:
  • Zack Wheeler picked up a W and another quality start, overcoming a rough 1st to deliver six innings of four-run (three earned), four-hit, two-walk, five-strikeout ball.
  • Murphy was just as good at the plate today, going 3-5 with a double, two runs, and an RBI.
  • David Wright went 2-5 with a run and a run-scoring triple.
  • John Buck had a double and three RBIs.
  • David Aardsma, LaTroy Hawkins, and Bobby Parnell proved to be a strong triumvirate of relief pitchers, holding Atlanta scoreless in the final three innings.
The Bad Stuff:
  • For all the offense the Mets had, they could have had a lot more if they hadn't stranded 14 men on base and hit just 4-19 with RISP.

Final Analysis:
Jeremy Hefner isn't looking great post-Break. If he regresses to his pre-Yankee form, the Mets will have some trouble.

Daniel Murphy is on another hot streak; let's see if he can keep it up long enough to hit .300 again.

Prayers for Tim Hudson's speedy recovery, and also for Eric Young, who will hopefully not be so hard on himself for what was a freak accident.

Overall, a nice 4-3 homestand. The Mets can now take that momentum on the road as they face the underachieving Nationals and nonexistentMarlins.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Game #96: Mets 4, Braves 1

What vacant spot in the rotation?

Carlos Torres pitched brilliantly for his first New York W and Ike Davis's double highlighted a three-run 6th as the Mets bounced back to a 4-1 win over the Braves.

The Good Stuff:
  • After serving up a leadoff home run to Andrelton Simmons, Carlos Torres was untouchable in six strong innings, allowing the sole run on seven hits and two walks, striking out six on 96 pitches. He also drove in the tying run on an RBI single in the 3rd.
  • The Mets brought the big bats just in time for Torres to get the decision. Daniel Murphy and Davis Wright led off the 6th with singles. After Marlon Byrd's fielder's choice, Ike Davis took a Kris Medlen curveball and bounced it off the wall in right. Murphy scored and New York was on top. John Buck followed with a single to score Byrd, and Juan Lagares added an RBI to his earlier double and run with a sac fly to plate Davis. 4-1 Good Guys.
  • David Aardsma, Scott Rice, and LaTroy Hawkins shepherded the Mets through scoreless 7th and 8th innings, and Bobby Parnell redeemed his failings yesterday with a 1-2-3 9th, complete with two strikeouts in 10 pitches.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Omar Quintanilla was the only Met starter to fail to get on base, going 0-3 to drop his average to .223. Quintanilla's glove has always been an asset, but if Ruben Tejada is close to getting his act together we may see the end of Mr. Q's reign at shortstop.
Final Analysis:
Now that's more like it. Solid starting, great relief work, clutch hitting. They all came together tonight. I especially feel good for Ike Davis, who is finally showing signs of life in this series. And Carlos Torres is certainly making Jonathon Niese's & recently released Shaun Marcum's absences easier to deal with; he'll make a fine long man once Niese comes back. All in all, a very nice night at the ballpark.


P.S. The New York Daily News's recap of tonight's game like this: "Maybe Anthony Weiner isn't the only Carlos Danger in town." Touche, Daily News. Touche.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Game #95: Braves 2, Mets 1

From a six-inning no-hitter to no hit when they needed it most.

John Buck's critical passed ball led the way for two Atlanta runs off Bobby Parnell, and the Mets' chance at a comeback was snuffed out by Jason Heyward in the 2-1 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Things were looking so good through eight innings. Then Bobby Parnell came on and did his best K-Rod/Frank-Frank impression. Brian McCann singled through the shift and Evan Gattis blooped a single in front of Marlon Byrd. After David Wright forced the lead runner at third, John Buck let a fastball go through his glove, and both runners advanced. That led to Chris Johnson's game-tying RBI groundout and Reed Johnson's go-ahead single, and all of a sudden a 1-0 Mets lead was a 2-1 Mets deficit.
  • The bottom of the 9th got interesting as New York did its best to get to Craig Kimbrel. Buck was hit by a pitch and Omar Quintanilla drew a 10-pitch walk with two outs. That brought up Justin Turner, fresh off the DL, and Le Grande Orange came this close to delivering himself his own pie with a bloop shot to left center. But Jason Heyward laid out for a spectacular diving catch, putting it in the books for the Braves.
  • David Wright and Marlon Byrd stranded two men on base each in the 8th inning, two of the eight men the Mets left in scoring position in the game.
The Good Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee's spectacular efforts went to waste, as he took a no-hitter into the 7th and finished matching Matt Harvey's start from yesterday, tossing seven shutout innings. After loading the bases with one out, Gee got Johnson to ground into the force at home, then followed that up with a three-pitch strikeout of pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich (the best Braves name since Tim Spooneybarger of 10 years ago).
  • Byrd took advantage of poor fielding by Justin Upton in right by running out a triple in the 4th inning, and Ike Davis singled him home on the next pitch for New York's lone run.
  • Davis went 2-4 with a double and RBI; his third at-bat was a very hard groundout to first, and in his last he took a typically nasty pitch from Craig Kimbrel for the backwards K.
  • Eric Young didn't get a hit but reached base on a fielder's choice in the 8th and promptly stole both second and third.
Final Analysis:
Dillon Gee more than deserved that win tonight. Unfortunately he was dealt a dead battery in the 9th, as this one falls on both Bobby Parnell and John Buck. For shame - aside from that, this was a really fun game to watch. But serious props to Jason Heyward for making that catch: he comes up a foot short and it's a walk-off double for Turner. Bad luck for the home team.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Game #94: Mets 5, Phillies 0

Zack Wheeler needed control yesterday. He should take lessons from Matt Harvey.

Harvey struck out 10 in seven spectacular innings, and home runs by David Wright, Marlon Byrd, and Juan Lagares powered the Mets to a 5-0 win over the Phillies.

The Good Stuff:
  • Matt Harvey's final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, 112 pitches. Enough said.
  • David Wright and Marlon Byrd hit back-to-back home runs off Cliff Lee in the 1st inning, as Wright's hit barely cleared the fence in the Party City Deck, while Byrd's soared all the way to the second deck.
  • Juan Lagares added three more runs with his second career homer in the 4th.
  • Scott Atchison had a successful return to game action, pitching two scoreless innings of relief to preserve the shutout.
The Bad Stuff:
Final Analysis:
Forget the headlines, forget all his extracurricular activities. When Matt Harvey pitches like that, he can do whatever he wants. That was some All-Star pitching.

It was asked yesterday how much Juan Lagares would need to hit in order to warrant a spot in the Mets' future. Since the beginning of June, when he started seeing more regular playing time, he has hit over .300 with an OPS near .750. I'd say with his glove, that's a good enough bat to make him the center fielder of the future. We'll see if he can keep it up during the rest of the season, but things are looking awfully good.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Game #93: Mets 5, Phillies 4

All Bobby Parnell wanted was to improve his team's record in one-run games. Right?

Parnell was shaky but held off a 9th-inning Phillies rally as the Mets eked out a 5-4 afternoon win at Citi Field.

The Good Stuff:
  • Gonzalez Germen relieved Zack Wheeler in the 5th and got him out of a bases-loaded jam, picking up his first major-league W with 1.2 scoreless innings, striking out three.
  • The Mets put up three runs in the 1st inning: Daniel Murphy doubled then stole third on David Wright's walk. Marlon Byrd followed with a first-pitch single off Cole Hamels to plate Murphy. After a bases-loaded walk to Josh Satin, Juan Lagares blooped a single in between a couple Phillies to score Wright. And Anthony Recker beat out a groundball for an RBI fielder's choice to make it 3-1 Good Guys.
  • Philly made it 3-2 in the 5th but David Wright, whose numbers against Hamels are astronomical, sliced a single into center to score speedy Eric Young and make it 4-2.
  • Murphy's RBI single in the 7th gave New York the fifth run it would end up needing in the end.
  • The best offensive numbers of the day belong to:
    • Daniel Murphy (2-4, 2B, R, RBI)
    • Marlon Byrd (2-4, R, RBI)
    • Juan Lagares (3-4, 2B, RBI) [on a side note, does it seems like he never scores in his multi-hit games?]
The Bad Stuff:
  • Zack Wheeler gave up a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollins and didn't get out of the 5th inning, walking the bases loaded on his 106th pitch. Wheeler's final numbers in his default no-decision: 4.2 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts.
  • Bobby Parnell gave up his first home run since last August 4 to Chase Utley with two outs in the 9th, allowing Philly to get within one run and turn up the already-sweltering heat for the 26,722 Citi Field faithful.
Final Analysis:
Not the most satisfying win the Mets will have this season (seeing their future ace and closer struggle was certainly unnerving), but for a fourth place team any win will do. And it makes a nice birthday present for this blogger. The New York Mets are undefeated since I turned 22. How long can they keep it up?


Friday, July 19, 2013

Game #92: Phillies 13, Mets 8

This year, all of baseball got a four-day All-Star Break. Betcha Jeremy Hefner would've liked a fifth.

Hefner barely lasted two innings and the Mets bullpen didn't fare much better against the visiting Phillies, who outslugged the home team in the second-half opener 13-8.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Philadelphia remains a personal Kryptonite for Jeremy Hefner, whose 11.02 career ERA against the Phils skyrocketed after allowing eight runs in two-plus innings of work, including a home run to Domonic Brown. Hefner, who had been so consistent since his start in the Subway Sweep, saw his season ERA balloon to 3.93.
  • Greg Burke was just as awful in his 2.2 innings, allowing four more Philly runs on two hits and three walks. Josh Edgin also ushered in another run for the Phightin's.
  • As many runs as New York did score, they only hit 2-13 with RISP and stranded seven men on base.
  • The usually sure-gloved Omar Quintanilla was plagued by post-Break rust, committing two errors. Marlon Byrd was also charged with his third error of the year.
The Good Stuff:
  • While he wasn't great in the field, Byrd was still the Word at the plate, as his three-run homer off Kyle Kendrick in the 4th put the Mets on the board.
  • David Wright saved some of his Home Run Derby magic for the 9th inning with a two-run homer that provided the final margin. Just like on Monday night, Wright's power was a moot point.
  • Ike Davis had two hits and scored a run.
  • Juan Lagares had a single, a double, and an RBI after entering the game in the 5th.
Final Analysis:
At this point for Jeremy Hefner it has to be half the Phillies know him and half he gets psyched out by them. At least he got through the 1st inning this time.

Not the start the Mets wanted out of the All-Star gate, but tomorrow is another day. Wheeler Day, to be exact.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Game #91: Mets 4, Pirates 2

Perhaps Terry Collins told his team they wouldn't get a break unless they won this game. Whatever he told them, it worked.

Dillon Gee's strong outing was backed by three 1st-inning runs and the Mets salvaged the final game of the series with the Pirates, 4-2.

The Good Stuff:
  • Eric Young singled on Gerrit Cole's third pitch of the game and David Wright followed with a single two batters later. Marlon Byrd then put an exclamation point on a comeback first half with a ground-rule double to plate Young. Three batters later, John Buck came in to clean up the mess with a two-run single that gave Dillon Gee a three-run lead before he even took the mound.
  • Pun intended, Gee ran with his run support for 6.2 innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits and a walk, striking out two on 105 pitches. The W gives Gee a 7-7 record on the season, a far cry from his 2-6 mark before the Yankee series. His ERA since that start is a sterling 2.67.
  • Daniel Murphy added the fourth run of the game on an RBI triple.
  • LaTroy Hawkins let in a run in the 8th but Pittsburgh would get no closer, as Bobby Parnell overcame a couple 9th-inning singles to shut the door on his 17th save of the year.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Murphy and Gee each committed errors for the visitors, and Gee's in the 3rd led to the Pirates' first run.
Final Analysis:
The biggest reason for the Mets' 17-11 turnaround since June 16 is the lockdown starting pitching of Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, and Dillon Gee. Those names don't exactly draw immediate comparisons to Seaver-Koosman-Matlack of 40 years ago, but they're certainly getting the job done for the 2013 New Yorkers. If Zack Wheeler comes around after the All-Star Break, it's going to be tough to beat the Mets in the last two months of the season.


P.S. Congrats to Mike Piazza, who will soon be a member of the Mets Hall of Fame!

Game #90: Pirates 4, Mets 2

Harvey Day may have been skipped, but the New York bullpen made it feel familiar by blowing the lead for Matt's replacement.

Carlos Torres was solid but the Mets allowed four unanswered Pirate runs, falling in the game (and series) 4-2.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Up 2-1 in the 6th, David Aardsma allowed Pittsburgh to tie it on Andrew McCutchen's home run. Then in the 7th, Greg Burke made it much worse, allowing three singles that led to the go-ahead run and eventually walking in a fourth for the Bucs.
  • New York hit just 1-11 with RISP and stranded 10 men on base. It only took Pirates closer Jason Grilli eight pitches to put the Mets away in the 9th.
The Good Stuff:
  • Carlos Torres did his best Matt Harvey impression in his first starting appearance, allowing a single run on five hits in five solid innings, walking none and striking out five on 80 pitches.
  • Marlon Byrd went 2-3 with a walk, run, and RBI, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis's RBI double put the Mets on top 1-0 in the 4th.
  • Eric Young went 2-4 and stole a base; Daniel Murphy and David Wright also swiped bags in the game.
  • Bobby Parnell struck out the side in his breezy 8th inning.
Final Analysis:
Since Jeremy Hefner's ascension to full-fledged starter, the Mets have been in dire need of a long man in the bullpen, but they may have found their guy in Carlos Torres, who proved more than capable in his starting debut. It was a shame he couldn't get the W out of his effort, but he'll have other chances. Just hopefully not at the expense of Harvey.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Game #89: Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11)

I suppose we should count ourselves fortunate that the boys only had to play 11 innings tonight.

Jordy Mercer's walk-off single off Gonzalez Germen capped a back-and-forth affair the Mets valiantly failed to stay on top of, as the Pirates took the opener 3-2.

The Bad Stuff:
  • This is not the way you want to start your major league career. But that's exactly what Gonzalez Germen did when he entered the game in the bottom of the 11th: walk to Andrew McCutchen, strikeout of Pedro Alvarez, intentional walk of Russell Martin, strikeout of Gaby Sanchez, walk-off single by Jordy Mercer. After 0.2 innings, Germen's ERA stands at 13.50.
  • The Mets had nine hits on the night but hit just 1-4 with RISP and stranded seven castaways on Basepaths Island (but don't worry, they'll all have a great time with the Harlem Globetrotters).
The Good Stuff:
  • Aside from one pitch in the 1st inning that Pedro Alverez belted for a two-run homer, Jeremy Hefner was as good as ever in his Solid Seven innings, allowing just those two runs on three hits and no walks while striking out three on an efficient 78 pitches. If not for the need to produce runs in the top of the 8th, Hef probably could have pitched the full nine frames.
  • David Wright's RBI single in the 6th put New York on the board, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis's solo jack in the 7th tied the score at 2-2.
  • Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, and Wright each had two hits, accounting for 66% of the team's total on the night.
  • After giving up a leadoff double to Starling Marte to start the 9th, the Met bullpen had one of its most impressive innings of the whole season. Jose Tabata bunted Marte over to third, then after David Aardsma intentionally walked McCutchen, Scott Rice was brought on to face the dangerous Alvarez. But Rice overwhelmed Alvarez, striking him out on five pitches (just one ball). Greg Burke was brought on to face Martin and ultimately failed, issuing a full count walk to load the bases. This brought up Sanchez to the plate and Josh Edgin in from the bullpen. After falling behind 2-0, Edgin got Sanchez to bite on a a fastball and send a weak groundball to Ike Davis at first. Threat averted, extras achieved.
  • Despite the two extra frames, tonight's game only went three hours and thirty-two minutes, highlighting the efficiency of both Hefner and his counterpart, Charlie Morton.
Final Analysis:
It's hard to fault the Mets too much for this loss. They played hard in what's becoming a hostile environment with every Pittsburgh win, fighting back to force extras. Can't argue with that, even if the result isn't what we wanted.

Jeremy Hefner continues to impress. Take away that single pitch to Alvarez and he's probably got a complete-game shutout. A while back people ironically declared joy over "Hefner Day," but he keeps this up and the irony will disappear faster than the opposition lineup against him.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Game #88: Mets 7, Giants 2

After the offense delivered the beating, Zack Wheeler brought the knockout punch against the team that gave him up.

Wheeler had his best start in the majors and was backed by three 1st-inning runs off Matt Cain as the Mets clobbered the Giants 7-2 for the sweep.

The Good Stuff:
  • Whatever New York did to try to psyche out Matt Cain, it worked. Big time. The Mets scored three runs in the 1st inning, two from John Buck's bases-loaded single, and knocked last year's All-Star starter out after just two outs. A wild Cain walked three batters and gave up two hits on 36 pitches, only half of which went for strikes.
  • The immediate lead was just what the doctor ordered for Zack Wheeler, who breezed to the easy victory against pre-Beltran team. Wheeler went seven innings for the first time as a big-leaguer, allowing a single run on three hits and three walks, striking out five on 101 pitches. Zack had himself a no-hitter going for 11 outs; no Matt Harvey, but pretty darn good.
  • Wheeler got additional run support in the 5th and 6th inning when San Francisco longman Matt Kickham ran out of juice:
    • Marlon Byrd line a two-run home run over the wall in right center, good for his 15th homer and 49th RBI of the season, which lead the team. Pretty good for a $700,000 man.
    • The 6th inning became the story of Gregor Blanco's shallow play in center field. John Buck led off with a line drive that went over Blanco's head and ended up with a double. After Omar Quintanilla struck out, Wheeler himself delivered a liner over Blanco's head, resulting in Zack's first extra-base hit and RBI. Daniel Murphy then sent him home with a double down the left field line that almost took out the security guard again. Touchdown, 7-0 New Yorkers.
  • The 7-spot gives the Mets 21 runs for the three-game set, and everyone in the starting lineup got on base at least once this afternoon.
The Bad Stuff:
Final Anlaysis:
Warm up the cable cars, we're sweeping up the town! Zack Wheeler lived up to his billing and unlike pitchers of past got some run support behind a one-run gem.

Since Kirk Nieuwenhuis knocked Carlos Marmol out of Chicago, the Mets have been winning at a 16-9 clip, sport a not-good-but-better 40-48 record, and are unbelievably within single digits of the second NL Wild Card. Hey, the '73 Mets were doing even worse at this point, and look where they ended up. Ya Gotta Believe!


Game #87: Mets 10, Giants 6

Fly away Byrdie, fly away all.

Marlon Byrd's seventh career grand slam provided the final margin for the high-flying Mets, who took down the Giants 10-6 to clinch the series.

The Good Stuff:
  • Down 2-0 in the 4th, Andrew Brown singled home the tying runs with the bases loaded, and Omar Quintanilla followed two batters later with the go-ahead base hit.
  • San Francisco had tied it by the 6th inning, but Anthony Recker crushed a Barry Zito cutter for a two-run homer to put New York up 5-3.
  • The Giants again tied it by the 8th inning, but the Mets put up a five-spot through Daniel Murphy's sac fly and Marlon Byrd's grand slam on Jake Dunning's first pitch. 10-5 Mets, and the Giants would not come back from that deficit.
  • The best offensive numbers for the team that pounded 12 hits were:
    • David Wright (2-3, 2 BB, 2 R)
    • Marlon Byrd (2-4, BB, 2 R, GS, 4 RBI)
    • Omar Quintanilla (3-5, R, RBI)
The Bad Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee wasn't great in his 6.2 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and constantly letting the home team back into the game.
  • Anthony Recker and Daniel Murphy each had errors for the visitors.
Final Analysis:
At this point I'm sure the Mets are just happy to play a game that didn't go four hours, but that was quite the game to play. Byrd's value continues to rocket as the NY offense finally has found its footing. Great sights to see.

Zack Wheeler returns to face his original franchise this afternoon in the series finale.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Game #86: Mets 4, Giants 3 (16)

Come on, the Mets could only play so many marathons before catching a break. The Giants agreed at about 3:00 in the morning New York time.

Eric Young scored on Brandon Crawford's error in the top of the 16th and Bobby Parnell mercifully closed the door on a comeback as the Mets took a marathon game from the Giants 4-3.

The Good Stuff:
  • Down 2-0, John Buck got the scoring going in the top of the 5th with an RBI double. Then in the 6th, the Mets were beneficiaries of some truly dreadful San Francisco defense. The first two miscues were committed by ex-Met Andres Torres, whose misplay of an Eric Young line drive led to a leadoff triple and missed tough catch resulted in Daniel Murphy's game-tying RBI single. David Wright followed with an infield single that Pablo Sandoval couldn't turn the double play on, and Murph went to third on a Marco Scutaro error trying to get out Wright. Ike Davis's double play killed the rally but brought home the go-ahead run to make it 3-2, and if not for the double play another run would've come home on Marlon Byrd's Gregor Blanco-assisted triple.
  • After the Giants tied the game on the first two pitches of the 7th, the scoring stopped for almost an entire extra game. The star of the game at this point became the New York bullpen: Carlos Torres (2), David Aardsma (1.2), Scott Rice (0.1), Greg Burke (2), and Josh Edgin (2) stewarded the Mets through eight scoreless innings.
  • New York was also beneficiary of some excellent clutch pitching and defense, as the Giants hit just 1-15 with RISP and stranded 18 men on base. And none of those tough outs came through the double play.
  • The Mets' bats finally woke up in the top of the 16th, led by Eric Young's one-out single. Young promptly stole second and went to third on Murphy's groundout. After Wright was walked intentionally, Anthony Recker hit into what should have been the third out, but shortstop Brandon Crawford bobbled the ball and had no play. Young scored, and the Mets were back up.
  • Bobby Parnell walked Marco Scutaro and allowed a Buster Posey single, threatening to spiral the game back into the Fourth of July's back-and-forth-style affair. But Parnell buckled down to strike out Brandon Belt between Scutaro and Posey, strike out Pablo Sandoval, and force Guillermo Quiroz to ground into the 5-4 force play. Game over, marathon over, Mets win.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Harvey Day seemed almost an afterthought after the 13th, but Matt Harvey's outing was spoiled by three bad pitches: a 3-1 1st inning fastball Buster Posey turned into a two-run homer, a fastball Hunter Pence led the 7th off with a triple, and a changeup Brandon Crawfored parlayed into the game-tying single. His final numbers produced a quality start (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 121 pitches), but based on Harvey's lofty standards we'll categorize it as Bad Stuff.
  • New York's bats did their best to make Tim Lincecum look like vintage Big-Time Timmy-Jim, as the former Freak struck out 11 and walked just one in his seven innings.
  • The Mets could absolutely not get reigning NL MVP Buster Posey out: Posey went 5-8 with his two-run homer and two doubles.
Final Analysis:
Well, it certainly looks like the Mets will set a record for most innings played in one season. That was a great win, enough said.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Game #85: Mets 2, Brewers 1

It took the final game of the series for New York to fail to "slug it out with the best of the National League." Jeremy Hefner made it so they didn't have to.

Josh Satin's big return backed up a superb Hefner as the Mets took the game and the series from the Brewers 2-1.

The Good Stuff:
  • Jeremy Hefner strengthened his case as the Mets' number two starter in 2013, allowing a solo home run to Jonathan Lucroy and just one other hit over seven spectacular innings, walking one and striking out eight on 105 pitches.
  • After sitting out Ike Davis's first two games back, Josh Satin showed Terry Collins how much he missed that bat, smashing two doubles and one other hit, scoring a run on an error in the 4th, and driving in Marlon Byrd with a wall shot in the 6th. Satin now has 17 hits in his last 10 games and with nine doubles in 19 games would hit over 70 at that pace in a full season.
  • Eric Young, David Wright, and Marlon Byrd each had two of New York's 11 hits on the afternoon.
  • After Hefner made his exit, Josh Edgin got the first two outs if the 8th, and Bobby Parnell followed him up with the four-out save.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Managing just two runs on 11 hits is quite a feat of ineptitude, but the Mets managed it by grounding into two double plays and leaving nine men on base.
Final Analysis:
What in the world is going on with Jeremy Hefner? In the span of nine starts he has gone from on the verge of bullpen assignment to approaching sure-thing status. His ERA over that span stands at a Harvey-esque 2.09, and he has allowed a single run in all but one of his outings since the start of June (the other was a two-run performance, not exactly panic-worthy). Home runs are still a problem for him, as he has allowed six since his greatness began on May 24, but he has all but eliminated the damage in every other aspect of his game, and half the time solo home runs are the only time he'll let the other team score. Whatever Hefner figured out just before Memorial Day has him as one of the hottest pitchers in the league, and the 27-year-old may be playing himself into the future of a rotation that is bound to include Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, and Montero/Syndergaard. The irony would be that in that rotation even great Hefner would likely be a fifth starter.

Oh Josh Satin, how we missed you! Simply put, Terry's going to have to find more playing time for the kid. He's earned it.

The Mets embark on the second leg of their pre-Break odyssey and start a series with the slipping San Francisco Giants tomorrow night in a matchup of the NL's former ace (Tim Lincecum) and the NL's reigning ace (Harvey).


Game #84: Brewers 7, Mets 6

In a game Shaun Marcum stayed in way too long, he delivered what turned out to be New York's death knell in his old home of Milwaukee.

Marcum made a crucial error on a sac bunt in the 6th that gave the Brewers a gift run that became the decider in the Mets' 7-6 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Shaun Marcum continues to be the black sheep in an otherwise set Mets rotation. Today he allowed six runs (five earned, but the unearned was also on him) on a whopping 11 hits in five-plus innings, walking one and striking out three on a surprisingly low 83 pitches. His exit came in the 6th inning when, after a Logan Schafer single, Marcum threw Yovani Gallardo's sac bunt wide, and Daniel Murphy's missed catch allowed Schafer to score. That made it 6-4, and without that run perhaps the Mets would have gone to extra innings once again.
  • New York missed a golden opportunity in the top of the 7th when they loaded the bases with one out. Marlon Byrd plated one run on a sac fly, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis's line drive went right to Schafer in left to end the threat.
  • In the 8th, the Mets got two runners on with two out for Daniel Murphy, whose hit also died in the glove of Schafer.
The Good Stuff:
Marlon Stretches/Waves (Photo by Me)
  • John Buck broke the ice with a solo home run in the 5th inning and pounded a two-run single in the 6th to bring the team within one, finishing the day 2-3 with 3 RBIs.
  • After going 0-6 last night, Daniel Murphy rebounded in the form of 3-5 with his 20th double and 34th RBI.
  • After seeing another long fly snuffed out just before the fence, Marlon Byrd finally got his homer off ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez in the 9th, making a 7-5 game 7-6 and breaking up K-Rod's three strikeouts in the inning (hey, all we wanted was for him to pitch like he did in NY, and we got our wish).
  • Ike Davis didn't get a hit but walked three times, in the process becoming the most-respected .170 hitter in the history of baseball.
  • Davis and Omar Quintanilla picked up their first stolen bases of the season; Eric Young's 12th gave the Mets three on the night.
  • Before the game, David Wright was announced as the NL's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game, and Matt Harvey was named to the team as well; Bruce Bochy should name the starter next week.
Final Analysis:
After falling behind 5-0, it was nice to see the Mets never giving up and almost closing the gap on multiple occasions. Unfortunately for them, every time they had the Brewers in their clutch, the Milwaukeeans slipped away their very next chance.

Shaun Marcum earned the loss that gives him 10 for the season, and Terry Collins left him out much longer than he should have. While it might have been understandable to have him bat in the 5th inning (successful sac bunt), sending him up with two out and a runner on in the 6th was not a wise move at all.

Last word of the night: before coming to tonight's game, I killed time by taking in a Broadway show: I saw Wicked at Milwaukee's Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. After that spectacular three hours, baseball had a lot to live up to. It didn't live up to it today.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Game #83: Mets 12, Brewers 5

I kid you not, the description of the New York Mets in today's Miller Park program began by saying, "The Mets will stand toe-to-toe with any offense that wants to slug it out in the National League." Milwaukee's sports information director must have known something we didn't, because somehow the Mets lived up to the program.

The Man of the Night (Photo by Me)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had the game of his life, leading the New York charge with five RBIs, as the Mets hammered the Brewers 12-5 in tonight's opener.

The Good Stuff:
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis came into the game batting .179 and got off the Interstate in a hurry. His impressive final line reads like this: 4-4, 2B, 3B, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 RBI. Toss in a stolen base and throwing out Jean Segura at home at you've got a guy who just had the game of his life. Needless to say, Kirk's not hitting .179 anymore (now it's .233).
    • Nieuwenhuis's only blemish was in the 8th inning on Logan Schafer's double. Kirk dove for it, came up short, got turned around as he got up, and looked rather silly for a couple seconds trying to find a ball that was right in front of him. So instead of an absolutely perfect game he gets the Amish quilt version: beautiful with a small flaw. How very humble of him.
  • Ike Davis returned to the major league roster this morning, supplanting red-hot Josh Satin from first base. If he keeps having games like tonight's, we might forget Satin sooner than we thought: Davis went 3-5 with a walk, two runs, and two RBIs, including an infield hit with the bases loaded in the 2nd. He struck out once but got really good contact on his line out to right.
  • Juan Lagares went 3-5 with three RBIs and Eric Young scored three runs.
  • While Daniel Murphy committed one error, New York was the beneficiary of some fine throwing in the field. First was Nieuwenhuis's putout of Segura at home in the 1st. Next was Zack Wheeler not falling for the double steal and nailing Norichika Aoki at the plate in the 3rd. Then came a Lagares-to-Murphy-to-David Wright line in the 7th to send Carlos Gomez packing.
  • Speaking of Zack Wheeler, he got his second career win thanks to the strong offense. His numbers, while not great, were certainly better than those of his last start, as he allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits in five innings, walking three and striking out three on 98 pitches.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Marlon Byrd had a sure home run taken away in the 6th on a leaping grab by one-time Met Carlos Gomez.
  • The game took around three and a half hours, meaning the Mets have played about 20 hours of baseball in the last five days. They must be tired!
Final Analysis:
Now this was a heck of a game to be at. Kirk's career day, Ike's return to his career, and lots of Met fans amidst the Wisconsinites. It isn't often the Mets put up those kinds of offensive numbers, but when they do, and especially when David Wright only had one of the team's 14 hits, the numbers speak for themselves. Way to go, boys.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Game #82: Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4 (15)

There were plenty of fireworks at Citi Field on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately for the home team, they ran out one inning too late.

The Diamondbacks retook the lead for the third consecutive inning in the 15th and the Mets couldn't put up a third miracle, falling in the series finale 5-4.

The Last Three Innings:
  • Top of the 13th: New York's David Aardsma walks in Arizona's go-ahead run with the bases loaded, D-Backs lead 3-2.
  • Bottom of the 13th: Anthony Recker hits a two-out solo home run off Heath Bell to tie the game at 3-3.
  • Top of the 14th: Martin Prado singles in the go-ahead run against Brandon Lyon, D-Backs lead 4-3.
  • Bottom of the 14th: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits an opposite field home run off Chaz Roe that just clears the top of the fence, game tied 4-4.
  • Top of the 15th: Cliff Pennington singles off Scott Rice, D-Backs lead 5-4.
  • Bottom of the 15th: Mets get runners on second and third against Brad Ziegler with two out, but Nieuwenhuis grounds out to the first baseman to end the game. D-Backs win 5-4.
The Bad Stuff:
  • The Mets managed just four runs off 10 hits, bat 1-13 with RISP, and strand 14 men on base.
  • Eric Young and Daniel Murphy were helpless at the top of the order, going a combined 0-10.
  • Multiple times David Wright had the chance to make Captain America the hero on the Fourth of July. Clearly, it didn't work out. Maybe the sequel will be better.
The Good Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee engaged Ian Kennedy in a pitcher's duel and notched another quality start, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out seven on 97 pitches.
  • Carlos Torres got New York through a scoreless 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Final Analysis:
Even if it didn't turn out right for the boys, what a game it must have been to play in! Down and out multiple times, coming back from the dead multiple times, it must have been incredible, if not frustrating.

More props to Gee for establishing himself as a lock in the rotation. And Carlos Torres is emerging as a more-than-capable long man, meaning Jeremy Hefner is all but assured a rotation slot for at least the rest of the year.

The Mets now hit the road for their final trip before the All-Star Break. Their first stop is in Milwaukee to take on the Brewers in a series of games I will be attending. Thanks to Muskegon, Michigan for having a ferry that goes to Milwaukee.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Game #81: Diamondbacks 5, Mets 3

Turns out the team from Arizona is full of fast learners who took rather quickly to "when it rains, it pours."

Matt Harvey's shutout was ruined by five runs between the 6th and 7th innings and the Mets couldn't muster more than three solo home runs, falling to the D'Backs 5-3.

The Bad Stuff:
  • It wasn't a no-hitter, but for 5.2 innings Matt Harvey was lights-out on the mound. Then with two on and two out in the 6th, Cody Ross, the would-be hero of Monday night, took a 1-0 slider and deposited it just over the shortest part of the left field fence. All of a sudden a 2-0 Harvey Day turned into a 3-2 deficit.
  • Things didn't get much better in the 7th as Harvey failed to record an out before being yanked. His final line looked much different from his big-league debut in Arizona: 6+ IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.
  • Aside from a handful of guys, the Met offense couldn't get anything going against Randall Delgado and company: they had just one at-bat with RISP and left five men on base.
The Good Stuff:
  • Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright each had two hits, with Wright and Murph launching solo shots in the 4th and 8th respectively.
  • Josh Satin reached the pinnacle of his hot streak with his first career home run, a solo shot in the 4th to put New York up 2-0.
  • Paid attendance was 41,257. Not all of them returned after the two-hour rain delay, but a combination of Harvey Day and pre-Fourth of July produced one of Citi Field's biggest crowds of the season.
Final Analysis:
Limited as they were, the New York offense did their job in getting Matt Harvey a multi-run cushion. It was Harvey who didn't hold up his end of the deal tonight.

I saw this photo manipulation on MetsBlog earlier today, and it makes me think that we may be putting too much pressure on Harvey to be the savior of the franchise. Don't get me wrong, on the exterior he certainly takes it well, but it must be tough knowing that every time you step on a big-league mound the world expects you to throw a no-hitter.

A couple rainouts delayed it, but the Mets have officially reached the halfway point of the 2013 season, and their record stands at a fourth-place 34-45. Is it great? No, but isn't it what we expected? Recently they've gotten a lot better: with tonight's loss they've won 11 of their last 18. Keep winning at that clip for the rest of the year and they're in playoff contention. "Ya Gotta Believe," right?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Game #80: Mets 9, Diamondbacks 1

The Arizona Diamondbacks found out something they aren't used to hearing about: when it rains, it pours.

New York pounded out seven runs in a rain-extended 7th inning as the Mets dealt Patrick Corbin his first defeat of the season, taking the game from the D'Backs 9-1.

The Good Stuff:
  • We missed a Matt Harvey-Patrick Corbin matchup by just one day, but the way Jeremy Hefner was dealing tonight you might have mistaken him for Harvey. After a remarkable June, Hef started out July in the same way, going the Solid Seven with one run and four hits against, including two walks and six strikeouts. He had already thrown 97 before the rains came, so his night was most likely done even if the game had not been delayed for an hour and 41 minutes.
  • Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 7th, David Wright led off with a single and went to third on Marlon Byrd's double. Up came Josh Satin to play the hero once again, as his double sent Wright home and Byrd to third just before the tarp came out. The tarp was brought out after Andrew Brown's walk, which was Corbin's first of the night and his last set of pitches.
  • Three pitches after the game resumed, Anthony Recker added to his 5th-inning solo home run with an RBI single to make it 3-1. Omar Quintanilla then drove in two more with a single of his own. After Daniel Murphy reached on a fielder's choice, Eric Young doubled to plate both runners, and Juan Lagares capped the seven-run 7th with a single to score Young.
  • Quintanilla drove in the Mets' final run on a single in the bottom of the 8th to provide the final margin.
  • In a night when all eight positional starters got a hit, these men's final lines stand out:
    • Juan Lagares (2-4, 2B, RBI)
    • Josh Satin (1-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, RBI)
    • Anthony Recker (2-4, HR, 2 RBI)
    • Omar Quintanilla (2-4, R, 3 RBI)
  • The boys from New York hit 6-8 with RISP en route to scoring more than five runs at home for the first time in 30 games.
  • LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon dealt scoreless innings to bring it home.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Some people had to leave early from the rains and missed the offensive downpour of the home team. But at least they left knowing the Mets were up.
Final Analysis:
The New York Mets have won 11 of their last 17 games. How have they done it?

First, Jeremy Hefner has been pitching less like an emergency starter and more like a bona-fide veteran. His ERA dropped to an impressively regular 3.54 after tonight's fantastic outing and stands at 2.20 in his last eight starts.

Second, Josh Satin has been playing like a man on fire. Tonight he extended his hitting streak to eight games and has gotten on base in each of his last 13. Since June 18, he has put up other worldly numbers, hitting .421 with six RBIs and an OPS of 1.147, better than that of even Yasiel Puig over the same timeframe. Satin's been so good, he's got my dad wondering if Ike Davis and Lucas Duda know how to say "Wally Pipp."

Third, Satin is lead a pack of fresh, young blood looking to make the most of what may be their only chance in the big leagues. Juan Lagares is finally coming around with a bat as good as his glove. Omar Quintanilla is making a bid to supplant Ruben Tejada as the team's shortstop. Eric Young flashed his brilliant speed once again and came through in the clutch.

The Mets are playing their best baseball of 2013. Who knows how long it will last? Does it matter? My advice to Amazin' fans: sit back and enjoy the ride.