Tagged: New York Mets

Johan, Mets, topple NL Central-leading Cardinals

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Hello and welcome back to my blog. What a crazy few weeks it has been with me – I have left my job, emmigrated to New York to be with my wife-to-be Lisa and I have had to try and help plan a wedding from England.

That’s like three crazy things which are hard enough on their own, let alone trying to do them all at once!

So, that is the reason for my absense. I will have a proper update about what’s been going on with me tomorrow. For now, here’s a quick note about today’s Mets-Cards game.

Enjoy

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IT was billed as a pitching duel between two of the modern
day greats and it did not fail to live up to the expectations as the New York
Mets edged the St Louis Cardinals 3-2 to take the series at Shea Stadium Citi Field.

 

Just one day after ripping the Cardinals for 11 runs on 16
hits, Johan Santana and the Mets came up against a much stiffer opponent in
Chris Carpenter.

 

The Mets have given Santana just 3.1 runs of support this
season, the third worst in the majors, but it was three important runs which
proved just enough to give the Mets their first series win in three weeks.

 

While Santana, who entered the game with an 8-5 record and
3.22 ERA, struggled with his command early on, Carp came out of the gates
flying, showing the Queens faithful why he is 5-1 so far this year.

 

Carp – who receives an equally dire 3.2 runs of support
during his starts – was backed by a rare 1st inning run off of
Santana, but the Mets plated a trio of runs in the 4th inning to
give them the lead they would not surrender.

 

Santana, who had allowed just two 1st-inning runs
in his 13 previous starts coming in to today’s game, fell behind 1-0 on the
strength of two hits and a catcher’s interference.

 

Skip Schumacher scored from second base on Yadier Molina’s
RBI single to center field after Rick Ankiel was waved to first on catcher Omir
Santos’ error.

 

Carpenter started well and never eased up, gaining the upper
hand on his Cy Young counterpart until the Mets finally broke through in the 4th
inning.

 

Carp didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings of
work and he threw just five balls compared to 27 strikes as he moved the Mets
down one after another.

 

But things were about to change thanks to some timely
hitting and a little bit of good fortune as the Mets rallied half way through
the game.

 

Luis Castillo singled and David Wright reached on an infield
single when his hard-hit ball up the middle rebounded off of the pitcher’s
glove and away from Joe Thurston.

 

Ryan Church grounded into a broken bat fielder’s choice to
Golden Glove Albert Pujols but Fernando Tatis singled to right field to draw
the Mets level.

 

Fernando Martinez advanced the runners to second and third
on a grounder to the left side of the infield and Nick Evans laced a two-run
double the other way to right field to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

 

Thurston brought the Cardinals to within one run in the 6th
inning when his two-out RBI single to center field scored Rick Ankiel.

 

Santana pitched through the 7th inning despite a
rocky start to the game, finishing with seven hits, three walks and three
strikeouts, giving up two runs – one earned.

 

Pedro Feliciano pitched around a leadoff single to preserve
the lead in the 8th inning

 

That returned the momentum to the Mets who loaded the bases in
the bottom of the frame but failed to add to their slim advantage.

 

Denny Reyes, who came in
relief of the fantastic Carpenter
, gave a lead off single to Daniel
Murphy and followed it two batters later with a walk to Luis Castillo.

 

McClellan replaced Reyes
but walked David Wright and leftie Trever Miller then came in to strikeout Ryan
Church with the bases loaded.

 

Jason Motte, the fourth Red Birds pitcher of the inning,
completed St Louis’ escapology act by getting Tatis to pop up to end the
inning.

 

Francisco Rodriguez then recorded his lead-tying 20th
save of the season, despite back-to-back two-out walks to Pujols and Ludwick,
earning Santana his NL lead-tying ninth win of the year.

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Mets make it 7, sweep Pirates

THE New York Mets made it seven in a row on Sunday night as they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates away to move clear at the top of the NL East.

Livan Hernandez fell behind early, but the Mets plated three in the 4th inning and broke the game open with four in the 8th inning to give them their first lead in the standings since Opening Day.

Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Omir Santos each plated two runners as the Mets gave Hernandez enough run support to overcome a shaky start.

The Pirates, in fact, jumped ahead early, scoring a run in the 1st and 3rd innings before the Mets got on the board.

Nyjer Morgan singled and stole second base and Delmon Young singled to centre to put men on the corners. Nate McLouth hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Church in right field to easily score Morgan who trotted home at a canter.

The Pirates doubled their lead in the 3rd inning when Diaz found the gap in the right side of the infield when he slapped a single the other way.

McLouth had led off the onning with a double to left field and Eric Hinske drew a one-walk walk -one of four free passes from Hernandez who had only given up eight walks in his previous five starts.

After Andy LaRoche grounded back out to Hernandez, Diaz shot a single to Church to score McLouth. Hinske was held up surprisingly at third base and Brian Bixler struck out to end the inning.

The Mets had very little going on against Ian Snell until the 4th inning. Carlos Delgado launched a one-out double off the top of the centrefield wall and David Wright drove him home with a grounder that crept under the glove of Bixler.

Wright then stole second and Daniel Murphy walked, and both runners advanced 90ft on a wild pitch that got away from Diaz after hopping off of the plate.

Omir Santos gave the Mets the lead by turning on a 3-2 fastball to send a two-run single to right field, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.

Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Mets and the bats added a protection run in the bottom of the frame.

Gary Sheffield, pinch-hitting for Feliciano reached on a fielding error by Bixler and Reyes singled to right. Castillo then singled to centre to give the Mets a 4-2 lead and, after a double steal, Beltran was intentionally walked.

But Delgado popped out and Wright struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.

JJ Putz got himself into – and out of – another jam in the 8th inning, giving up one-out singles to Diaz and Vazquez. But he got Moss to line out to left and Morgan to strike out to turn the 4-2 lead over to Rodriguez.

The Mets put the game beyond doubt in the 8th inning with a four spot off of reliever Jason Grabow.

Santos picked up his second hit of the evening, Church got his first and Tatis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Reyes, who entered the game batting 5/9 with three runs and three RBI this series, walked in a run and Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Church. Hot-hitting Beltran doubled in two more runs to make it 8-2.

The Pirates did reduce the arrears in the 9th inning when McLouth hit a two-run home run off of Shaun Green, but Green retired the next three batters he faced to give the Mets their seventh consecutive win.

Johan in beast mode, Mets back to .500

IF Oliver Perez is a riddle locked in a conundrum, Johan Santana is a beast wrapped around a machine.

The Mets ace dominated once again on Wednesday night at home to the Phillies, throwing seven innings of shutout ball and fanning ten on his way to recording his fourth win of the 2009 campaign.

The Mets have won three straight for the first time this year and another Cy Young performance from New York’s favourite leftie meant they are back to .500 for the first time in three weeks at 13-13.

Wednesday night though was all about the pitching.

Johan improved to 4-1 on the season through six starts, lowering his miniscule ERA to an equally-small 0.91.

He has given up just four earned runs in 39 2/3 innings and with 24 hits and 14 walks, his whip is below 1.00.

On top of this is 54 strikeouts, the most he has had over a half dozen-game span since 2006 when he had double-digits Ks in four out of five straight matches.

He leads the league with Zack Greinke for punchouts and only the Royals’ pitcher has a better ERA after the first five weeks of play.

If Johan had a little bit more run support – the Mets are giving him a league-worst 2.12 runs per game – he could easily be a perfect 6-0 right now.

In fact, he has started where he left off at the end of 2008, when he went 6-0 with a 1.63ERA over his last nine starts.

But the last time Johan was really this dominant was in June and July 2007 when he allowed six earned runs in six starts for the Twins. The last time he allowed four earned runs in six games was back in August and September 2006.

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Here’s the updated K-board…One for each of Johan’s strikeouts this season after the Mets top brass stopped fans hanging K-cards in the outfield.

To find out all about it, click here.

johan ks.jpg

No no-no for Mets: The streak hits 7,500

THE New York Mets have started the season auspiciously; 8-10 and losers of four one-run games.

But for those who like the small details, the loss against the awful Nationals was even more frustrating. It was the Mets’ 7,500 consecutive regular season game without a no-hitter.

Only the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays are in the same company as the Mets, although none of these three teams have played as many games as the Mets.

If you’re keeping count, they’ve played 6,374; 2,547 and 1,798 respectively. To put it into context, the Rays have 26 years of no no-nos ahead of them before they’re as unfortunate as the Mets.

It is now agreed that there have been 236 no-hitters, but they have not been shared equally.

The LA Dodgers, in all of their various guises dating back to 1884, have had a huge 20 no-hitters, followed quickly by the Red Sox (19) and Chicago White Sox (13). In fact, a dozen teams have had double-digit no-hitters in their franchise history.

So close

The Mets have thrown 33 one-hitters in their history, including 23 using just one pitcher. The last Mets one-hitter was in July 2008 when Pedro Martinez, Carlos Muniz, Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis and Billy Wagner one-hit the Rockies at Shea.

Tom Seaver leads the Mets with five one-hitters, including one of each of 1969, 70, 71 and 72. 1970 was a particularly harsh year for the Mets pitchers when they threw three one-hitters.

Incidently, two of the Mets one-hitters have resulted in losses; a 2-1 defeat away in St Louis in 1991 and similar 2-1 loss in Houston back in September 2006.

There have been nine players who threw a no hitter before joining the Mets, starting with Don Cardwell in 1960 and going through to Hideo Nomo in 1996.

And six pitchers have thrown a no hitter after leaving the Mets, including Nolan Ryan on a ridiculous seven occassions all after we let him go. Hideo Nomo also had a no hitter for the Red Sox in 2001.

As well as being unable to record a no hitter, six pitchers have sealed their place in history by no-hitting the Mets. The most notable of these was Jim Bunning’s perfect game for the Phillies in 1964.

During my research, I read on nonohitters.com that Bunning’s perfect game came on just 90 pitches and in just the 31st day in Shea Stadium history. Shea would never see a perfect game in its remaining 33-and-a-half years.

Here are the six no-hitters thrown against the Mets:

Sandy Koufax – June 30, 1962. LA Dodgers 5-0 Mets.
Jim Bunning – June 21, 1964. Philadelphia Phillies 6-0 Mets.
Bob Moose – Sept 20, 1969. Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Mets.
Bill Stoneman – October 2, 1972. Montreal Expos 7-0 Mets.
Ed Halicki – August 24, 1975. San Francisco Giants 6-0 Mets.
Darryl Kile – September 8, 1993. Houston Astros 7-1 Mets.

Sticking it to the Mets

My New York Mets are turning into the Nationals. They are mounting a serious challenge to Washington’s bid of becoming the most disfunctional team in professional sport.

Here’s the top 6:

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. New York Mets
  3. LA Clippers
  4. Detroit Lions
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. Memphis Grizzlies

Remember that saga last week when the Mets front office went nuts because legend Doc Gooden wrote on their shiney new restaurant wall with a Sharpie?

Well, they’re at it again this week.

A group of Mets fans were hanging K cards in the outfield every time Johan struck a National out. And yes, while that meant that they probably needed a lot of pieces of card, the Shea Stadium Citi Field security team stepped in to ruin the fun.

I read in one of my favourite Mets blogs that David Lennon of Newsday wrote this about the debacle:

Johan Santana’s 10 strikeouts Friday nearly got three
graduate students from Syosset kicked out of Citi Field for posting K
cards on the leftfield facade.

Santana was up to six by the middle of the third inning when Keith
Heller, Ryan Krochak and Larry Ziegelbaum said they were told by
security to remove the white signs with Ks made of duct tape because
they were blocking an electronic ribbon board. When the trio asked if
they could move the signs away from the scoreboard, they said their
request was refused and the signs were confiscated by the security
officers.

“People were yelling at them [security], telling them they were
ruining a tradition,” Ziegelbaum said. “Everyone was supporting it.”

Caryn, another awesome Mets blogger took this picture of the fans.

tape5.giftape5.jpg

So on Saturday morning, a day after Johan and the Mets beat the Nationals, I snuck back into Citi Field while it was empty.

tape1.jpg

I had my ladder

tape3.jpgAnd the biggest roll of Shur-tape I could afford

tape2 copy.jpgAnd I set to work. Almost four hours later and I had got my revenge on the Mets’ suits and front office guys.

I turned my anger and frustration into something slightly productive. OK, it wasn’t productive at all. But with a little help with my Shur-tape, you could say that I stuck it to the man.

tape4.jpg
Or, more accurately, to their big, new, all-singing, all-dancing, $10m HD scoreboard.

That’s right, Wilpon. Count them and weep. One mahousive K made out of rolls and rolls of tape for every one of Johan’s 37 strikeouts this season.

I bet you wish you had just let the fans use their paper K-cards now, eh?

The bad news, Mr Wilpon? Johan’s going to have about 170 more of them.

The good news? I’ve just saved 15 per cent on my car insurance by switching to Geiko.

Not that Geiko would advertise with you. Some idiot seems to have put something on your TV in the outfield.

Show the Mets some love – it’s only April

AFTER a pair of September collapses, Mets fans can be forgiven for thinking they need to have a playoff spot in the bag by July.

But why all the panic when the Mets are underperforming after a fortnight? Yes, every game counts, but really this is glorified spring training with real-life wins and losses on the line.

Nobody wants to lose any game, but the reaction of some Mets fans has been surprising.

They have been criticising the front office for only improving the bullpen; bemoaning our corner outfielders; calling for immediate change.

Everyone realises that the Mets need to work on the back of their rotation, on getting another left-handed middle reliever and a reliable backstop. But now is not the time to be overly critical.

While we have not started as hot as the Marlins, we’re also nowhere near as bad as the Nationals

There are going to be statistical pros and cons after so few pieces of 2009 information, so here’s a few bits that I’ve gleaned.

The Mets have the fifth best batting average in the bigs at .283 but they are in the bottom quarter of teams in terms of the number of runs (61) and RBI (57)

Only the Giants and Athletics have hit fewer home runs and only four teams have attempted fewer stolen bases.

Limits
 
Yes, it’s a small sample size – 467 at bats compared to the 5,606 they had in 2008 – but even at this early stage there are obvious variances to last season’s campaign.
 
Last year, the Mets ranked in the top half of all Major League teams in homers and RBI and only three teams attempted more stolen bases.
 
And just for those who are counting, the last time the Mets were three games below .500 was after a June 12 extra inning loss to the Diamondback.

The Mets are drawing walks and avoiding the strikeout. The team’s 11.2 per cent walk rate is the third best in the National League and its strikeout rate is fourth best in the NL and sixth overall.

One caveat to these statistics – other than the fact that we are only in the third week of a 25-week season – is that the Mets have had an above-average of batted balls fall for hits. (.324 is the fourth ‘luckiest’ in the Majors).

Expect the Mets team batting average to reduce towards that of 2008 when this anomoly corrects itself, as it invariably will

So the Mets are putting the ball in play and putting a lot of runners on base. With an above-average batting average and walk rate and a miserly strikeout percentage, it is clear that the Mets are winning half the battle. The problem has been driving these runners in.

So, are there any scapegoats? David Wright is being blamed for the Mets offensive failures and I don’t think that’s fair.

Firstly, it’s waaaay too early to be blaming supposed below-par performances. Secondly, Wright is not the main problem. Just because he is the poster child of the franchise, not everything that is either good or bad necessarily has to be pinned to him.

Struggles

Yes, David has struggled with the high fastball and yes, he has had a ridculous amount of infield hits. He left another man in scoring position today (he’s 3/11 with risp), but there is nothing to suggest any of these trends will continue.

The good news is that he is drawing walks and getting on base. The bad news is that he has struck out 16 times already through April 22.

Last year he fanned 16 times in March and April combined. Wright’s eye is good though and his plate discipline is rock steady – the problem is his bat speed isn’t where it needs to be right now.

Only Luis Castillo has swung at fewer pitches outside the zone than Wright and only Murphy has seen fewer first-pitch strikes.

You want somebody to blame?

How about Fernando Tatis who is 0/8 or the catchers’ spot where Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro and Omir Santos are 9/49 (.183).

Other than Johan, the pitching has not been amazing, but that’s a rant for another day.

Off all the games the Mets have lost, none have been more than by three runs. It’s only a matter of time before the Mets start tearing up the division. Just have a little faith and get behind the boys.

Coffey, Brewers, salvage split at Citi Field

TODD Coffey pitched an eight-out save and Milwaukee rescued the final game of the three-game set, beating the Mets 4-2 on Sunday.

The Mets left another 10 runners on base and batted just 2/10 with men in scoring position as they slipped back to .500 despite a fine effort from Nelson Figueroa.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead on Carlos Delgado’s double in the 1st inning, but the Brew Crew plated solo runs in the 3rd, 5th and 6th to turn a 3-1 lead over to the bullpen.

The Mets pulled a run back in the home half of the 7th, but Todd Coffey steadied the sinking Milwaukee ship with 2 2/3 quality innings of work, including working out of an inherited bases-loaded jam.

Figueroa, getting the start in place of Oliver Perez, had the bases loaded himself in the 1st inning on two walks and a hit, but Ryan Braun and JJ Hardy both struck out and Mike Cameron chopped the ball into the dirt to allow Ramon Castro to tag out Rickie Weeks on the force play at home.

Delgado lined a two-out one-hop double off the wall in left centre field to score Daniel Murphy in the bottom of the inning, but Corey Hart scored on Prince Fielder’s groundout in the top of the 3rd inning and Corey Hart drove a sac fly to right to bring in pitcher Jeff Suppan who had singled to lead off the 5th.

Former Met Mike Cameron drilled a solo home run over the 16ft wall in centre field in the 6th and the Mets left runners at second and third base in the bottom of the inning.

Jeff Suppan looked like the pitcher of old, but he gave up a leadoff triple to catcher Omir Santos after the 7th inning stretch, and his 99th pitch of the day would be his last.

Mitch Stretter retired Ryan Church on three straight pitches and Jose Reyes drove Santos home with an infield single which shortstop JJ Hardy could not control.

Daniel Murphy flaired a bloop into shallow left field on a desperation inside-out swing and David Wright walked on four sliders to load the bases.

 

Stranded

But Carlos Delgado grounded into a 1-2-3 pitcher-to-catcher-to-first double play to end the inning, killing what could have been a big Mets inning.

Reliever Todd Coffey induced the fierce one hopper back to the mound but he could not field it cleanly. It bobbled off the tip of his glove, landed in his bare hand and allowed him to get the tying force at home to keep it 3-2.

Shawn Green pitched a scoreless 7th and Pedro Feliciano and Bobby Parnell combined to put a zero on the board in the 8th.

Carlos Beltran singled to centre field to lead off the bottom of the 8th inning and Gary Sheffield walked, but Fernando Tatis struck out swinging and Omir Santos lined into an unassisted double play when he drilled a ball directly at Bill Hall just as the two Mets baserunners took off on a 3-2 count.

The Brewers padded their lead in the 9th inning on a Rickie Weeks single and Coffey worked around another Hardy error to close out the game in the 9th.