Saturday, August 31, 2013

Game #133: Mets 3, Nationals 2

And with one day to go before the end of August, a New York starter got to double-digit victories.

Ike Davis's home run and Daniel Murphy's hustle backed Dillon Gee's 10th W as the Mets knocked off the surging Nationals 3-2.

The Good Stuff:
  • As has become expected this summer, Dillon Gee was masterful on the mound, allowing two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings, walking one and striking out three on an efficient 97 pitches.
  • Ike Davis supplied the first of the offense, socking a two-run homer to left center off Jordan Zimmerman in the 4th.
  • Daniel Murphy went 2-4 with a double and two runs, his second score coming on a hustle play in the 8th when he took advantage of Ryan Zimmerman's wild throw on Andrew Brown's infield single to make it 3-1.
  • Travis d'Arnaud went 2-4 with a double, increasing his hit total in the major leagues from three to five.
  • Scott Rice was tasked with getting Gee out of a jam in the bottom of the 8th and succeeded in his task, forcing Bryce Harper to ground out to second with two on and two out.
  • LaTroy Hawkins made quick work of Washington in the 9th, sitting the Nats down 1-2-3 on 10 pitches.
The Bad Stuff:
  • The team hit just 1-10 with RISP and stranded five.
Final Analysis:
At the very least the Mets can play spoilermakers for the Nationals, who have been on an upswing as of late as they go after that final Wild Card slot. The visitors at Nationals Park did their job of pouring cold water on their #Natitude, and Dillon Gee continued to impress as he reminds Mets fans that there is life after Matt Harvey.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Game #132: Mets 11, Phillies 3

What, you were expecting anything less from a lineup of Young-Murphy-Brown-Duda-Turner-den Dekker-Recker-Quintanilla-Torres?

Home runs by Anthony Recker and Andrew Brown and four hits from Daniel Murphy punctuated a brilliant afternoon for the Mets, who blew away the Phillies 11-3 to salvage a series split.

The Good Stuff:
  • In a game filled with offense, these New Yorkers stood out in the box score:
    • Eric Young (3-5, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI)
    • Daniel Murphy (4-5, 2 2B, R, SB, 2 RBI)
    • Andrew Brown (2-5, SB, HR, 2 RBI)
    • Anthony Recker (1-2, 2 BB, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI)
  • Carlos Torres, supplied with ample run support (five Harvey Days' worth), earned the win with 6.2 innings of one-run, four hit ball, walking none and striking out six on 95 pitches.
  • Matt den Dekker made his much-delayed major league debut to the tune of a run, stolen base, and four putouts in center field.
The Bad Stuff:
  • How about the obvious: this would have been Matt Harvey's next start. Ouch.
  • Lucas Duda struck out twice in his first start since the beginning of the summer.
Final Analysis:
I don't really know how to explain let's just leave it at a fun anomaly of an afternoon. Carry on.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Game #131: Phillies 5, Mets 2

Never mind the runs against, I'm sure fans were just thrilled when the game stopped moving slower than Christmas.

Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn't much better in his second New York start, bending and breaking in the 5th under the will of the Phillies, as the Mets dropped the game to Cole Hamels and company 6-2.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Inexplicably, Dice-K had a shutout going through three innings...after throwing 82 pitches. As Josh Lewin noted on WFAN, he was on pace for a 240-odd-pitch shutout. It didn't happen, as Matsuzaka was chased after 110 pitches with one out in the 5th inning, giving up four runs on six hits and four walks.
  • Robert Carson and Scott Atchison also had runs charged against them; while Atchison's was unearned, the error was his own.
  • The Mets committed three errors: one by Atchison, one by Ike Davis, and one by Wilmer Flores.
  • New York hit just 2-11 with RISP and stranded eight men on base - one for every day of a Beatles week.
The Good Stuff:
  • Eric Young stole two more bases, his 30th and 31st of the total season, which puts him over 30 for the first time in his career.
  • Ike Davis and Andrew Brown had the team's RBIs.
  • Justin Turner went 2-4 with a double filling in for a tired Omar Quintanilla.
Final Analysis:
It's hard to win with one star in the lineup. A lineup with no stars, stacked entirely with role players? You get results like tonight's. Also, if the point of Dice-K was to eat up innings, he hasn't done particularly well, munching on only 9.1 frames over his first two starts. It's going to be a long September, folks.


P.S. Congratulations to Marlon Byrd, who homered in his first game with the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. Now a whole new fanbase gets to learn the Word.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Game #130: Mets 5, Phillies 0

With two of his biggest bats en route to Pittsburgh, Jonathon Niese put it all on his shoulders.

Niese tossed his second career shutout and added a bases-clearing double for good measure as the Mets beat the Phillies 5-0.

The Good Stuff:
  • The 24-hour frenzy that started with Matt Harvey's downfall and Marlon Byrd's and John Buck's trade to the Pirates bore no weight on Jonathon Niese, who manhandled the visiting Phils with a complete-game, three-hit shutout in which he walked one and struck out five on 113 pitches.
  • Niese also took care of business at the plate, capping a four-run 6th inning with a three-run double to left center to make it 5-0.
  • Daniel Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud also added RBIs for the suddenly-short-of-offense New Yorkers.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Marlon Byrd was traded the night of Marlon Byrd T-Shirt night at Citi Field. The aforementioned t-shirt, which you can see here, was taken quite literally by Sandy Alderson and the Met front office. As Keith Olbermann would say, "Only the Mets..."
  • It's pretty jarring to start the month with David Wright as your #3 hitter and finishing it with Andrew Brown in the same slot. Oy.
Final Analysis:
The move is a good one, and I give Dilson Herrerra the benefit of the doubt considering Alderson's Amazin' track record when it comes to trades, but it's just downright sad to see Marlon Byrd and John Buck go. Byrd redeemed himself right from the beginning, earning the first walk-off of the year against the Marlins, and Buck thrilled fans with a sizzling start and groomed our starting pitchers for years to come. Their contributions will not be soon forgotten, especially with this as our last image of John Buck as a Met. Caution: repeated viewings will cause much sadness.

What has been forgotten in the midst of the whirlwind is that the Mets till have a darn good rotation, and Jonathon Niese is a big part of it. Even with Harvey's absence, he doesn't need to be the ace (that role should be reserved for Zack Wheeler), but it's awfully encouraging to see him pitch this well. All is not lost.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Game #129: Phillies 2, Mets 1

Not even a win could have relieved the stab to the elbow Mets fans felt collectively today. Fortunately(?) that's not something we had to worry about.

Zack Wheeler pitched great in his first game holding the torch for Matt Harvey, and the Mets offense noticed much too well, completely folding up against Cliff Lee and losing to the Phillies 2-1.

The Harvpocalypse:
  • If you're reading this, by now you know, but if by some inexplicable circumstance of fate you're first hearing the news from me, here it is: Matt Harvey has a partial tear of the UCL in his throwing elbow, shutting him down for the rest of the year and possibly requiring Tommy John surgery, which will shut him down for 2014 as well.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Next to that story, the Bad Stuff can hardly look that bad, right?
  • New York ran into the Cliff Lee of old tonight, as Philadelphia's still ace allowed a run on five hits and a walk in eight stellar innings, striking out seven on a whopping 121 pitches.
  • Even Lee can't pitch much past 120, so Jonathon Papelbon was called on to close out the night. The Mets didn't have Jordany Valdespin to save them on this occasion (ever thought you'd read that in a million years?), and Papelbon sat down Daniel Murphy, Josh Satin, and Marlon Byrd 1-2-3 to let out the scant air that remained at Citi Field.
The Good Stuff:
  • Zack Wheeler pitched well enough for the win, as usual, tossing 6.2 innings of two-run, five-hit ball and matching Lee's line with a walk and seven strikeouts.
  • The Mets took an early lead in the bottom of the 2nd on Marlon Byrd's leadoff double and Andrew Brown's RBI single.
Final Analysis:
We had just begun to walk tall again as Mets fans, and then comes this swift kick in the gut. So what now?

Lest we forget, even if we don't want to be reminded at a time like this, Matt Harvey is just one pitcher. Harvey's UCL may be torn, but Zack Wheeler's isn't. Nor is Dillon Gee's, nor Jenrry Mejia's (yet), nor Jonathon Niese's, nor Rafael Montero's, nor Noah Syndergaard's. So, assuming Harvey will undergo Tommy John surgery, 2014 won't be the shining culmination of years of rebuilding, but we won't be the Marlins either. It'll be closer to resembling the mid-'90s Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan's crack at baseball than the Bulls after MJ went to Washington. What it also means is if the New York Mets can win in 2014, without the man who seemed destined to become the next incarnation of The Franchise, imagine how good they'll be when he does come back.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Game #128: Tigers 11, Mets 3

Detroit may have only gotten two runs in the 1st, but the message was clear and the 9th inning foreshadowed.

Miguel Cabrera's moonshot set the scene for a thumping of the Mets, as the Tigers put seven across in the 9th to complete the sweep, 11-3.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee was off his game against the vaunted Detroit bats, allowing four runs on 10 hits in six innings, walking two and striking out two on 108 pitches.
    • All the scoring happened on home runs: the first inning saw Miguel Cabrera, a.k.a. still the best player on the planet, hit a two-run shot that may have been the longest in Citi Field history, flying through a tunnel in the second deck and settling somewhere in Maine; the second homer, while not as definitive, was a two-run line drive by Andy Dirks in the 6th to make it 4-3.
  • Meanwhile, the Mets got to Tiger starter Rick Porcello for three runs but could do little else, managing four hits in the entire game, hitting a scant 1-4 with RISP and stranding three.
  • The wheels came off in the top of the 9th, as LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison combined to let in seven runs. Not much else to say about that, so we're going to move on.
The Good Stuff:
  • Travis d'Arnaud hit the first of (hopefully) many home runs in his big-league career, hammering a 4th-inning Porcello fastball over the short fence in left center to put the Mets up 3-2.
  • Daniel Murphy's RBI single in the 3rd put New York on the board.
  • Juan Lagares went 2-4 and scored on d'Arnaud's homer.
Final Analysis:
(Insert obligatory "Miguel Cabrera is not human" comments here.) In all seriousness, we're witnessing something special in the major leagues. If Miggy keeps this up he will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all-time. The number 763 may even be in his future...for baseball's sake, we can only hope.

As for the Mets, this sweep against a top AL contender reaffirmed what we knew all along: starting pitching is set, one more bat is needed, and we're not quite there yet. The degree to which New York was beaten this weekend may discourage fans, but more than anything that was a team on the rise running head on into a train that keeps on rolling. Nothing to be ashamed of. We'll get our fair share of doing that in the coming years.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Game #127: Tigers 3, Mets 0

The Ace/Off of the century was surprisingly devoid of fireworks.

Max Scherzer out-dueled Matt Harvey to pick up his 19th W, and the Mets only managed three hits in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Matt Harvey was off his game for two innings, but that was all it took to lose: he allowed his only two runs in the 2nd after RBIs by the opposing starter and center fielder Austin Jackson.
  • On the other side on the mound, Max Scherzer thoroughly dominated New York's hitters for four innings and then got really lucky for the final two.
    • The Mets got two men on in the 5th but couldn't convert and then loaded the bases with one out in the 6th, but a strikeout by Juan Lagares and a first-pitch popup by John Buck ended the team's last good chance.
    • Scherzer finished with a final line of six scoreless, three-hit, four-walk, 11-strikeout innings.
The Good Stuff:
  • Harvey allowed a career-high 13 hits but settled down after the 2nd frame, lasting 6.2 innings and allowing just the two runs, walking none and striking out four.
  • Ike Davis went 2-3 with a walk and a double.
Final Analysis:
It must be nice to have run support, eh Max?


Game #126: Tigers 6, Mets 1

Talk about being fed to the lions...or, other large jungle cats...

Daisuke Matsuzaka was rocked by the best offense in baseball in his return to the major leagues, and the Mets couldn't figure out Doug Fister and the Tigers, falling in the series opener 6-1.

The Bad Stuff:
  • One day after signing a deal to fill in for the battered Mets rotation, Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out the first man he faced. That was as good as it got, as Dice-K got crushed for five runs in five innings, including a three-run homer by Miguel Cabrera, a.k.a. the best hitter on the planet. At least you certainly can't say New York was babying their new addition.
  • The Mets had their chances against Detroit's Doug Fister, but could only manage one run off eight hits (10 total) against him in 6.1 innings. The team hit just 2-10 with RISP and stranded 10.
The Good Stuff:
  • Matsuzaka settled down after his shellacking in the first two frames to retire the final ten Tigers he faced.
  • Eric Young had three hits, a stolen base, and another diving catch in left field.
  • Wilmer Flores had three hits to bring his average up to .300.
  • Marlon Byrd's RBI single in the 1st kept New York from being shut out on Jay Horwitz bobblehead night.
Final Analysis:
So...maybe not the best idea to have a 32-year-old starter who hasn't pitched in the big leagues in 10 months resume his career against a lineup consisting of Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez. Who knew?


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Game #125: Braves 4, Mets 1 (10)

Much like Dracula before them, New York shriveled up and died in the sunlight today.

A bang-bang call at first base by umpire Jerry Layne led to a Chris Johnson three-run home run in the 10th inning as the Braves topped the Mets 4-1 for a split of the short series.

The Bad Stuff:
  • With a runner on first and two out in the top of the 10th, Scott Rice mishandled a sharp groundball off the bat of Freddie Freeman. While Rice recovered, his throw to the bag was ruled too late and Freeman was awarded an infield single. The call could have gone either way, but it appeared Jerry Layne was incorrect in calling Freeman safe. One pitch later, Chris Johnson turned what could've been a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 Atlanta lead with a home run to left.
  • The Mets were powerless to solve the Braves' pitching from Alex Wood to Craig Kimbrel, laying an egg with RISP (nine at-bats) and stranding 10 men on base.
The Good Stuff:
  • Jonathon Niese continued his successful comeback tour by tossing seven innings of one-run, five-hit ball, including three walks and nine strikeouts on 106 pitches. Niese's only run against came in the aftermath of a 7th-inning pitch that accidentally hit Jason Heyward in the head.
  • Josh Satin liked what Ike Davis did so much last night that he did it himself, clubbing a towering shot down the left field line for a solo home run, his second longball of the season.
  • Daniel Murphy also had two hits, and Juan Lagares and Justin Turner smacked a double apiece.
Final Analysis:
As long as the human element remains a part of baseball, there will always be calls like this. I'm sure the Mets have benefited from such a mistake this season just as the Braves have now.

Today's game was yet another instance of one more big bat making the difference for the Mets. Add a key free agent or trade acquisition in the offseason, not to mention put a healthy David Wright on the field, and New York more than likely wins this ballgame. Oh, what exciting things to dream about.


Game #124: Mets 5, Braves 3

Call it the momentum of the frequent flyer miles, but the Mets have momentum to start their tough homestand.

Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis each had long home runs and Zack Wheeler and the Mets withstood a Braves rally to win 5-3.

The Good Stuff:
  • Zack Wheeler picked up the 6th win of his major league career and was dominant for six innings before running into trouble in the 7th. His final line was still a quality start-worthy three runs on six hits in 6.2 frames, including three walks and five strikeouts on a hefty 114 pitches.
  • The biggest reason why Wheeler has Ws in half his starts and Matt Harvey has just nine in 25 is, for whatever reason, New York flat-out hits when Zack is on the mound. Tonight was no exception.
    • Ike Davis got the ball rolling with a hard groundball to right to score Eric Young in the 1st.
    • Young started another rally in the 6th as he and Daniel Murphy led off with back-to-back singles. On a double steal attempt by the two, Atlanta catcher Brian McCann through it into the outfield, allowing Young to scamper home to make it 2-0 (the steal of third was Young's second SB of the night, giving him 20 in his two months with the Mets; Young also had a Web-Gem worthy catch in the top of the 6th that robbed McCann of a double).
    • Later in the at-bat, Marlon Byrd launched his second rocket in as many days over the Great Wall of Flushing, prompting a "There it GOES!" from Howie Rose that was filled with a schoolboy's glee. It was Byrd's 21st of the year, establishing a new career-high for the Word.
    • If home runs were worth more based on how far they travel, Ike Davis's solo shot in the 8th should have been worth three runs or so. But he gladly took the one run on a home run that barely missed clearing the Pepsi Porch. Not reaching. Clearing.
  • Travis d'Arnaud finally notched his first career big league hit, a double to the gap in left center in the 8th inning. D'Arnaud's first hit came in his 10th at-bat, beating Willie Mays's mark by two ABs. (Author's note: could've sworn Willie took at least 20 ABs before hitting that homer off Warren Spahn; didn't it seem longer to you?)
The Bad Stuff:
  • Carlos Torres was ineffective in his brief relief appearance after Wheeler's exit, allowing all three inherited runners to score on Andrelton Simmons's bases-clearing double.
  •  ...Oh, is this another bullet point? I was just thinking about how many more wins Harvey would have if he was blessed with Wheeler's run support is all...
Final Analysis:
Other people will talk about Zack Wheeler's impressive development, Marlon Byrd's comeback for the ages, and Ike Davis's moonshot that everyone prays will be the one to wake his power up. I'm going to focus on the sparkplug that is EY Jr. Eric Young has a driving force behind the Mets' Nieu Year turnaround, and tonight we were reminded why: he steals an XBH from McCann on a Juan Lagares-esque diving catch, then gets on base to lead off the bottom of the inning, flashes some speed on the basepaths, and all of a sudden New York has three more runs on the board. Some people are talking about which outfielders the Mets will go after in the offseason, but I think Sandy Alderson would have to be nuts not to pencil in Forever Young as his leadoff man in 2014 (whether he plays left field or second base is still up in the air).

In a year when the Atlanta Braves have absolutely run away with the NL East, the Mets have played them surprisingly well: tonight's win gives them an 8-7 record against the division leaders in 2013. That'll do.


    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Game #123: Mets 6, Twins 1

    This broom's been ready for a long, long time.

    Marlon Byrd's 20th home run of the season put an exclamation point on the scoring, and Dillon Gee's dominant outing gave the Mets a 6-1 makeup win over the Twins to complete a sweep four months in the making.

    The Good Stuff:
    • Dillon Gee continued his masterful summer stretch by allowing a single unearned run on six hits in 7.2 innings, walking one and striking out nine Minnesotans on 99 pitches.
    • New York got on the board early and (eventually) often, scoring one in the 1st (Andrew Brown's single) and one in the 2nd (Eric Young's single). They put up a crooked number in the 4th on RBI singles by Omar Quintanilla and Daniel Murphy.
    • A fifth run came in on Wilmer Flores's RBI single in the 7th (his 11th RBI in 11 career games), and Marlon Byrd capped it with a solo home run in the 9th that would have gone all the way to Fargo if not for landing in the second deck. It was Byrd's 20th blast of the season, tying his career high from Texas in 2009.
    • The Mets' 14 hits were evenly distributed, as seven players each had two dingers.
    • Scott Rice took three pitches to retire the final man of the 8th inning and Scott Atchison led the Mets through the 9th to secure the victory.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • Despite scoring four runs in the first four innings, New York realistically could have had six or seven on the board: Wilmer Flores grounded into a bases-loaded double play in the 1st inning, while Omar Quintanilla was thrown out at third on Young's hit in the 2nd, and Young hit a line drive that Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe parlayed into a brilliant unassisted double play.
    • Ike Davis and Travis d'Arnaud were the only New York starters held without a hit, although each got on base with a walk apiece. D'Arnaud went 0-3 with two strikeouts in pursuit of his first major league hit.
    Final Analysis:
    It's been a long wait to finish up this series that started in April but was pushed back due to...well, Minnesota April. But the finish was just as sweet as the start (John Buck's RBI explosion in the first game and Matt Harvey's no-hit bid in the second), as Dillon Gee yet again upgraded his resume for a long-term job in the Mets rotation. He may be overshadowed by New York's bigger names, but Dillon has Met fans saying "Gee whiz," and not in an ironic way.


    P.S. Let's not forget Juan Lagares's Gold Glove caliber catch in the 2nd inning. Man, that guy can fly.

    Game #122: Padres 4, Mets 3

    New catcher, same story on Harvey Day.

    Matt Harvey's great start was once again wasted as the Padres tied it in the 8th and won it in the 9th to hand the Mets a 4-3 loss and a disappointing series split.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • See post-Harvey's departure (i.e. Chris Denorfia's run-scoring single after a double against Gonzalez Germen in the 8th, Will Venable's walk-off homer off Pedro Feliciano in the 9th).
    • See also: lack of hitting (i.e. six hits in the whole game, 2-6 with RISP, five left on).
    • Travis d'Arnaud was identical on Sunday to his debut on Saturday, going 0-2 with two walks and allowing a passed ball.
    The Good Stuff:
    • See Matt Harvey, usual outing (i.e. 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 86 P).
    • Things looked great at the start when Justin Turner tripled and came home on Marlon Byrd's double.
    • Wilmer Flores's sac fly in the 4th doubled Harvey's cushion.
    • Omar Quintanilla doubled with two outs in the 7th, forcing Terry Collins to pinch-hit Andrew Brown for Harvey. The moved paid off as Brown blasted a shot off the wall in center field to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
    Final Analysis:
    We all act like we're shocked and disappointed at this result of a Matt Harvey start, but to be honest, did we expect anything different? I think I'm more surprised when Harvey does win than when he doesn't. Whatever plagued the New York offense during R.A. Dickey's starts in 2011 is acting in full force against Matt Harvey in 2013. What more is there to say?


    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Game #121: Padres 8, Mets 2

    Enter one stud of a prospect, exit another. And he took any chance of a win with him.

    Travis d'Arnaud's big-league debut was marred by injury to Jenrry Mejia and a rare misstep by the Mets bullpen in an 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Padres.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • Jenrry Mejia bent in the first three innings. The breaking came in the 4th, when elbow discomfort forced Mejia from the game. Jenrry has acknowledged his need for elbow surgery in the coming offseason, but with Jeremy Hefner's predicament fresh in everyone's minds, Mets fans will be holding their collective breath in hopes the bone chips are all that's bothering Mejia.
    • Tied 1-1 at the time of Mejia's departure, David Aardsma let the game get out of reach, allowing four runs and eight baserunners in his two relief innings.
    • Carlos Torres wasn't much better in his 2.1 innings after Pedro Feliciano's brief appearance, allowing three more runs to put it permanently out of reach.
    • New York hit just 2-7 with RISP and stranded nine.
    The Good Stuff:
    • Travis d'Arnaud made his much-anticipated Mets debut and showed surprising plate discipline, drawing two walks in four plate appearances, including a four-pitch free pass in his first time up against San Diego starter Edinson Volquez.
    • Eric Young had a slump-busting day at the plate, going 2-4 with a walk, a double, two stolen bases, and both the team's runs.
    • Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis each had RBI singles.
    • Juan Lagares also had a couple singles in hopes of breaking his slump at the plate.
    • Wilmer Flores returned to the lineup, going 1-4 with a double.
    Final Analysis:
    Combine the optimism of the past couple nights with d'Arnaud's arrival to the bigs and you get the "thud" that ended up being tonight's game. It's been a long road trip, and we're all looking forward to it ending after Monday's flyover in Minnesota. The only suspense left on the West Coast is what happens to Jenrry Mejia and whether d'Arnaud gets to stay in the majors for the last week before September.


    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Game #120: Mets 5, Padres 2

    When (if?) one thinks of Petco Park, "hitters' haven" is not a word commonly used in description. No one told that to the Mets last night.

    Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis(!) went for back-to-back in the 3rd and Daniel Murphy's two-run shot in the 4th sealed it for Jonathon Niese and the Mets, who knocked off the Padres 5-2.

    The Good Stuff:
    • New York got on the board with Eric Young's RBI groundout in the 2nd, but the real fireworks started in the 3rd as Marlon Byrd took Ian Kennedy deep to center field for his 19th home run of the year (one shy of his career high from Texas in 2009). On the very next pitch, Ike Davis connected for only his second longball since leaving Las Vegas.
    • San Diego got one back in the bottom of the 3rd on a solo shot by Will Venable, but Daniel Murphy's two-run blast in the next half inning all but assured the Mets' triumph in the sudden launching pad of Petco Park.
    • The hitting champion of the night for the Mets, who managed 12 hits off Kennedy and company, was the unlikely Anthony Recker, who went 3-3 with a double and a run after being thrust into the starting lineup due to the (finally) imminent arrival of the Baby Buck. On Saturday night, Recker will likely take a back seat for Travis d'Arnaud's much-anticipated major league debut.
    • All the offense was more than enough for Jonathon Niese, who went six innings and allowed a single run on six hits, walking one and striking out nine, including an impressive six in his first two frames.
    • LaTroy Hawkins returned to action to nail down the save.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • The Mets may have put up five runs but probably should have managed more, hitting 2-8 with RISP and stranding 10.
    Final Analysis:
    Now there's the Jon Niese we all know and love. After a good-not-great return to the rotation the last time around, Niese showed flashes of the brilliance he has shown capable of. And like the last time, he was given enough offense (including an encouraging swing from Davis) to nail down the W that has so alluded Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in 2013. It's good to have our lefty back.


    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Game #119: Mets 4, Padres 1

    He may not have received the W, but Zack Wheeler was a winner in every other way in San Diego.

    Wheeler struck out 12 Padres in six innings of work and Marlon Byrd's two-run double in the 8th put the Mets over the top in their 4-1 win on Thursday night.

    The Good Stuff:
    • Zack Wheeler put on his best Matt Harvey face, allowing a run on seven hits in six frames with a walk and a dozen strikeouts (also like Harvey, the offense got nothing behind him and he didn't factor into the decision). The single walk was Wheeler's only free pass in his last two starts.
    • Tied 1-1, Mike Baxter pinch hit to lead off the 8th and did what Baxter does best: get on base, this time via a hit-by-pitch. After stealing second, San Diego elected to walk Daniel Murphy intentionally to bring up Marlon Byrd. Big mistake: Byrd lined a double to the wall in right, scoring both runners and make it 3-1.
    • John Buck's solo homer in the 9th added one more run for a cushion and made Gonzalez Germen's 9th inning job easier; the save he earned was the first of his career.
    • Scott Atchison tossed a 1-2-3 7th to vulture the W.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • Eric Young went 0-4 as his struggles continued; Young is batting .180 since the All-Star Break.
    Final Analysis:
    The two biggest things holding Zack Wheeler back in his first couple months in the majors were his lack of control and lack of a putaway pitch. He seems to have found them. Watch out, National League.


    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    Game #118: Dodgers 5, Mets 4 (12)

    The trouble started when MetsBlog accidentally posted a recap of the Mets' "4-2 victory over the Dodgers." You can figure out the rest.

    Andre Ethier's two-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins tied it in the 9th, and back-to-back doubles by Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez off Pedro Feliciano in the 12th handed the Dodgers the 5-4 victory and a sweep over the Mets.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • Mark Ellis led the 9th off with a single, then Jerry Hairston's comebacker clipped Hawkins on the mound as he got the man at first. Ethier's shot to left field assured Mets fans of another late night, and the team put up scant offense in extras before Puig's and Gonzalez's one-two punch in the 12th.
    • The Mets hit 2-8 with RISP and stranded 11 men on base.
    The Good Stuff:
    • Dillon Gee was solid once again, going six innings and allowing two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out four.
    • Marlon Byrd was a triple away from the cycle, going 3-6 with a three-run homer in the 3rd.
    • Andrew Brown had three hits to fill in for a resting Eric Young.
    Final Analysis:
    I have noticed that as rough the season has seemed, New York has rarely been swept. In this case, they were swept by a team on the greatest 48-game single-season stretch in National League history. What are you gonna do?

    The Padres won't be nearly as tough this weekend; at least there's that to look forward to.


    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Game #117: Dodgers 4, Mets 2

    When the Mets don't get good starting pitching, they struggle to win ballgames. When they don't get good starting pitching out of Matt can fill in the rest.

    Harvey struggled through every inning and got tagged for four runs as the Dodgers beat the Mets 4-2 for the second consecutive night.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • Under the limelight of Hollywood, Matt Harvey chose to show his vulnerable side. While that translates well for Academy Awards, it doesn't work at all on the baseball diamond. His final line stood at six innings of four-run, eight-hit, two-walk ball, and he struck out a season-low three LA batters. Harvey got lucky even to allow just four runs; he needed double plays to get out of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings.
    • Considering how much run support Harvey usually gets during his starts, it should surprise no one that the New York offense was ineffective against the underrated Hyun-jin Ryu. They hit just 1-6 with RISP and stranded six, only managing a solo home run and four more hits off Ryu in seven innings.
    The Good Stuff:
    • The solo home run came off the bat of Juan Lagares, who took Ryu's fourth pitch of the game and deposited over the short wall in left for his second homer in four games.
    • John Buck's RBI single with two outs in the 9th assured the Mets of a crooked game number and a sequel to Monday night's lackluster loss.
    Final Analysis:
    Matt Harvey is going to struggle; no one is immortal. Even Tom Terrific had rough outings. More offense in the future will mask bad outings by our ace, but until then, he needs to be just about perfect every night or else it will show. That's a lot of pressure for a guy whose major league career is barely a year old. As long as most of the time we see the excellent Harvey we've come to know and love, I'm okay with nights like this, disappointing as they may be.

    Part of this loss you can put on the Mets struggles, but part of it you just have to acknowledge as facing a buzz-saw of a team on one of the hottest hot streaks of all time. The Los Angeles Dodgers broke into new ionospheric heights with last night's W: it was their 39th in their last 47 games. The 39-8 streak, including a 22-3 clip since the All-Star Break, is not only the best in the illustrious history of the Brooklyn/LA franchise, but the best 47-game run of any National League team since the legendary 1951 New York Giants, who as everyone remembers closed out the season 37-7 and topped Brooklyn two-games-to-one in the NL playoff. This is some historic stuff, and the Mets are just a footnote in what has been a summer for the ages at Chavez Ravine.

    The only way the Dodgers can top this run is by taking it to their first World Series title in 25 years. Will they be able to peak again after reaching this summit? It is known but to God, but half of all Mets fans will be able to rest easy knowing that their ancestors are dancing through the afterlife at the sight of their old team's success (and the other half, like my grandpa, are wondering what in the world has happened to the Giants).


    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Game #116: Dodgers 4, Mets 2

    Ask even the least knowledgeable baseball fan and they will tell you, "The Mets got messed around last night."

    Shaky defense in the 6th led to three Dodgers runs and the Mets missed an opportunity in the 7th thanks to blown calls at the plate, falling in the series opener at Dodger Stadium 4-2.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • Up 2-0 in the 6th, Daniel Murphy missed two key plays at second base, turning what could have been two-out, nobody-on into two infield singles. Adrian Gonzalez followed up with a single that scored lead runner Carl Crawford, and Mark Ellis came home on a rare throwing error by Juan Lagares. Gonzalez went to third on the error and subsequently came home on Yasiel Puig's sac fly to make it 3-2.
    • New York had a prime opportunity to strike back in the 7th, loading the bases with one out, at which point Juan Lagares may have been the first player in baseball history to strike out on ball five (can we get a check on that, Elias?): first, a less-than-half-swing on a 2-0 sinker was ruled a swing and a strike by first place umpire Jeff Kellogg; second, a 3-2 sinker that appeared to be a foot outside the strike zone was called strike three by home plate ump Chad Fairchild, robbing Lagares of the RBI walk and keeping the Mets behind. Daniel Murphy then sent a rocket out to right that Puig was able to chase down, and what should have been a 4-3 Mets lead was still a 3-2 deficit.
    • Nick Punto's home run off Carlos Torres in the bottom of the 7th put a cushion in between LA and its guests, and New York failed to capitalize once again in the 8th, stranding two more of its nine men left on throughout the game. They also hit 3-10 with RISP.
    The Good Stuff:
    • Jenrry Mejia took the hard-luck loss after going six strong innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, walking no one and striking out four. If not for the collapse of his defense, he may have thrown into the 8th, as he needed only 85 pitches to get through six.
    • John Buck and Omar Quintanilla each had RBI singles in the top of the 2nd as New York got to ex-Marlin Ricky Nolasco early.
    • Buck, Mr. Q, Eric Young, and Marlon Byrd each finished with two hits, although Byrd's 3rd-inning double was the only XBH for the Mets all night.
    Final Analysis:
    That wasn't great. That was far from great, in fact: it was bad. Never mind the questionable calls, the Mets should have had enough runs on the board by then to counterbalance. They should have had enough defense to keep the Dodgers off the board through the 6th. But shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn't cut it in the major leagues. Very disappointing loss.


    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Game #115: Mets 9, Diamondbacks 5

    New York is used to power pitching, but today they got power from the other side of the plate.

    Home runs by Andrew Brown and Wilmer Flores backed Jonathon Niese's solid return as the Mets took the series from the D'backs 9-5.

    The Good Stuff:
    • Jonathon Niese returned to the mound after his DL stint and was relatively solid for six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five on 83 pitches.
    • The Mets got four unearned runs in the top of the 1st when Paul Goldschmidt mishandled Mike Baxter's (he's back?) hard groundball with the bases loaded. Another run went on the board in the 3rd when Omar Quintanilla singled home Ike Davis (Baxter was thrown out at the plate on the same play).
    • The deciding runs came in the 7th inning when Andrew Brown smashed a pinch-hit three-run homer that made it 8-4.
    • Wilmer Flores added one more run in the 9th with his first career home run, a solo shot to opposite field that resulted in the ninth RBI of his week-old career.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • Eric Young struggled once again at the plate, going 0-4. He had but one hit in the entire Arizona series and is only batting .182 in his last 10 games.
    Final Analysis:
    It's good to see Jonathon Niese back on the mound. He won't be able to get away with four runs every game, but I think a bit of leeway can be given in this, his first major league start in nearly two months.

    Wilmer Flores looks awfully good at the plate, and he's going to make Terry Collins's job hard when David Wright comes back, as Flores can be easily put at first base.

    A 5-1 record and series wins against two thorny NL West rivals - I'd say that's a good week to be a Mets fan. Hopefully the West Coast magic can continue in Los Angeles and San Diego this week.


    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Game #114: Mets 4, Diamondbacks 1

    The only thing that dried up for New York in the desert tonight was Zack Wheeler's biggest weakness.

    Wheeler went 6.1 innings without walking anyone, his first walkless major league start, and the Mets offense was paced by Wilmer Flores to the tune of a 4-1 victory over the D'Backs.

    The Good Stuff:
    • Zack Wheeler continues to improve on the mound, as he allowed one run on six hits in 6.1 innings without allowing a walk, striking out four on 106 pitches.
    • Juan Lagares got the scoring going with an opposite-field solo homer in the 4th inning. He finished the day 2-5 with another run and a stolen base.
    • Wilmer Flores drove in another run in the 4th, singling home Ike Davis (after Ike's double) to make it 2-0. Later on, in the 8th, Flores again came through with a two-out, two-run single to give the NY bullpen a much-needed cushion.
    • After Wheeler's departure, Scott Rice managed his way through the rest of the 7th unharmed, while Carlos Torres and Pedro Feliciano combined for a scoreless 8th and LaTroy Hawkins took care of the 9th for his third save.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • Uhh...the Arizona air is bad for chapped lips?
    Final Analysis:
    The Mets' youth movement keeps shining on in August, as Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares led the team to bounce back from its tough loss last night. There isn't much else to be said, except Mets fans should be very excited for the next few years.


    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    Game #113: Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4

    Marlon Byrd missed clearing the Great Wall of Phoenix by that much. Paul Goldschmidt didn't.

    Goldschmidt hit a walk-off home run off Scott Atchison as the D-backs put away Jeremy Hefner and the Mets 5-4.

    The Bad Stuff:
    • Jeremy Hefner's late-summer swoon continued as he allowed four runs on eight hits in five-plus innings, walking three and striking out just one.
    • Despite coming back to tie the game, the Mets missed many opportunities to score, going 3-13 with RISP and stranding seven.
    • Bad luck by Marlon Byrd cost New York what would have been its first run of the game in the 2nd inning: Byrd hit a moon shot that bounced off the high outfield wall at Chase Field. The carom sent the ball all sorts of directions, and Byrd looked to fly home with an inside-the-parker. It was not to be, though, as he was called out at the plate on a bang-bang play. Call it the most disappointing triple of his career (although it was his fifth of the season - nothing to scoff at).
    The Good Stuff:
    • Justin Turner had his first big game of the summer, going 2-4 and driving in three runs.
    • Wilmer Flores went 0-4 but had an RBI on a groundout that tied the game in the 8th.
    Final Analysis:
    Jonathon Niese is due back this weekend. I guess we won't have to sweat over deciding who gets demoted to the bullpen. At the All-Star Break Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee were neck-and-neck for the long-term job in the back of the rotation, but whereas Gee has excelled recently, Hefner has not. Looks like we've got our long man back.


    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Game #112: Mets 2, Rockies 1

    Break out the brooms, we've got some snow to sweep up!

    Dillon Gee out-dueled Jeff Manship and the Mets eked just enough offense out to sweep the Rockies 2-1.

    The Good Stuff:
    • Dillon Gee drove himself further on the road to the future, tossing 7.2 innings of one-run, eight-hit ball, walking no one and striking out three on only 87 pitches. Without the single he gave up towards the end of the 8th, he would've been on pace to match Matt Harvey's complete game from last night.
    • After Scott Rice walked Troy Tulowitzki, David Aardsma was brought on to retire Michael Cuddyer, which he did on a flyout to left.
    • LaTroy Hawkins nailed down the 9th for his second save of the year.
    • If you missed the 4th inning, you missed a whole lot. Corey Dickerson powered Colorado's only run with a solo homer off Gee, and the New York bats responded with two in the bottom of the frame: singles by Daniel Murphy and Marlon Byrd, followed by Ike Davis's walk, loaded the bases for last night's hero, Wilmer Flores. It wasn't a three-run double this time, but it was a productive RBI groundout that tied the game. Anthony Recker then lifted the next pitch to center field for the go-ahead sac fly. It was an effective game of tit-for-tat, and the Mets came out on top.
    The Bad Stuff:
    • The Mets only had six hits on the day, none of which went for extra bases. They went 1-6 with RISP and left seven men on base.
    Final Analysis:
    Pitching was the story of this fun series. Jenrry Mejia, Matt Harvey, and Dillon Gee combined to let up two earned runs in a combined 22 innings, good for an 0.82 ERA. Meanwhile, Hawkins and the bullpen (sans Bobby Parnell) combined for five scoreless innings in relief. That'll do.

    If Mets fans weren't excited about the team's future before this week, they should be now. The team is 28-21 in the Nieu Year and is building up a massive surplus of starting pitching. Deciding who gets a spot in the rotation will eventually become a problem, but it's the best kind of problem to have. And Dillon Gee is proving himself worthy of joining what could eventually turn into the best rotation in baseball.