Archive: June 19th, 2009

Mets Game 65: Win Over Rays

Mets 5 Rays 3

Raise your hand if you thought the Mets had it “in the bag”, even after Ryan Church drove home an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th.

Why don’t I see any hands?

On this evening, the Mets did not find a way to lose, which means they won.

Fernando Fever gripped New York City for the second time in as many starts, as Mr. Nieve hurled six spectacular innings of three-hit, one-run ball in earning win number two as a Met. Though, the victory did not come without dramatics — the Mets bullpen did their darnedest to keep the Citi Field fans in their seats, allowing five baserunners and a pair of runs to keep it a one-run contest until Church’s RBI single.

Frankie Rodriguez shook off Thursday night’s blown save by retiring the Rays in order in a surprisingly uneventful ninth.

Notes

The ninth turned out uneventful, but it could’ve been damaging. Dioner Navarro led off the inning with a monster shot to the deepest section of right field, which fell securely in Church’s glove. In many other parks, that drive makes it a one-run game again. Later in the inning Willy Aybar chose not to bust it out for all 90 feet after hitting a grounder to Luis Castillo, and was out by a step when Dan Murphy couldn’t keep his foot on the bag while taking the throw — but had just enough time to double back and step on the bag. Shame on Aybar, and another prime example of why old schoolers such as myself were taught to hustle 100% of the time.

Church delivered his big hit against lefthander JP Howell, which makes no sense at all. Didn’t Jerry Manuel make it clear that Church can’t hit lefties? Just as interesting, Church stole two bases in the game.

The big blow of the game came off the bat of Brian Schneider, of all people. Schneider blasted a three-run homer in the second inning to give the Mets the lead for good. David Wright drove in the fourth run in the fourth inning with a double.

Bobby Parnell was unspectacular in relief, allowing two hits, a walk, and two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Danny Murphy is most certainly out of his slump. He slapped three more singles and is really looking like the first baseman of the future. That is, if the future resembles Jason Phillips. Hey, check out Phillips’ 2003 season before you knock such a statement. Most people would be pretty darn happy if Murph finished with numbers like that.

Hmm … if Murphy IS out of his slump, what’s the point of Nick Evans’ promotion?

The Rays looked terrible at the plate, considering their talent level. I’m wondering if the cross-country trip from Colorado had anything to do with their lackluster performance.

Right now, Fernando Nieve is Jorge Sosa, circa 2007 (first half). It would be nice to see him rip off another 6-7 wins before the scouting reports and video analysis catch up to him.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rays do it again at 4:10 PM, with Johan Santana facing James Shields in what is sure to be a pitchers’ duel. Unfortunately, the TV broadcast will be covered by FOX. Luckily, you can still hear Howie Rose call the game on WFAN.

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Who Is Jeremy Reed and Other Mysteries

jeremy-reed-nohatQuick quiz: who is the man in the picture to the left?

I’ll give you a few hints:

1. He was part of the trade with Seattle that brought J.J. Putz and Sean Green to New York.

2. He led the team in batting average during spring training.

3. He’s currently .313 and has played excellent defense in the outfield.

4. For about a 48-hour period, he was the team’s starting first baseman.

Give up?

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Martinez Down, Evans Up

nick-evans-mets

The New York Mets have sent outfielder Fernando Martinez back down to AAA Buffalo and have promoted Nick Evans from AA Binghamton.

It is assumed that Martinez was sent down in order to ensure that he would continue to play every day. Though F-Mart did not look overmatched in his debut stint in the bigs, he also did not prove to be much of a difference-maker. What we’ve learned is that he’s a solid all-around ballplayer who needs more time to develop his bat. A star in the making, but not a star just yet.

Interesting to see Evans get the callup as opposed to Wily Mo Pena, who has been hitting .333 in the month of June and starting to show some power. But, Pena is not on the 40-man roster and is out of options, while Evans is on the 40-man and can be optioned back to the minors.

After a very rough start and a demotion to AA, Evans has recently righted the ship, batting .390 with 2 HR, 6 doubles, and 6 RBI in his last ten games. My guess is the Mets are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, and take advantage of the fact Evans is currently “locked in”. If so, it makes sense to start him at 1B right away, if not tonight then tomorrow. Evans has been sharing time with Lucas Duda at 1B and also playing some outfield.

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Quick Preview: Mets vs. Rays

tampabayraysThe Mets host the Tampa Bay Rays for a weekend series in Flushing. For those wondering, no, the DH will NOT be used.

Midnight has struck since the 2008 World Series, and the Rays’ ride to the postseason turned into a pumpkin. Several of the team’s hitters are slumping, their young pitchers have taken a step back, and they find themselves in fourth place in the AL East, six games behind the leaders. Still, though, they have a winning record (35-33), and a roster chock full of talent. This will be no walk in the park for the Mets.

Game 1: Fernando Nieve (1-0, 2.08 ERA) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (5-6, 6.65 ERA)

Nieve is coming off a brilliant start in the Bronx vs. the Yankees, so the best we can hope is a repeat performance. Nieve does have the same advantage of unknown quantity against the Rays hitters that he held against the Yanks. If he throws strikes, he has a good chance to win — particularly in the pitcher-friendly confines of Citi Field.

Sonnanstine had a surprising year in 2008 but thus far has fallen back to Earth and pitching the way the scouts expect him to. He’s not overpowering by any stretch of the imagination, but he allows very few free passes, throws tons of strikes, and has a quirky delivery that keeps batters off-balance. His bugaboo is the long ball, which will likely be neutralized at Citi Field against the powerless Mets. This contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Game Two: Johan Santana (8-4, 3.29 ERA) vs. James Shields (5-5, 3.52 ERA)

Wow, is Johan’s ERA really over three? It wasn’t long ago that it was barely above 1.00. Hopefully, Santana and Dan Warthen worked out the mechanical issue that was cutting his velocity and command. We’ll find out for sure on Saturday. Shields is a front-of-the-rotation starter who could be described as a righthanded Santana, as he relies heavily on a nasty changeup and a low-90s fastball. This should be a classic matchup of highly skilled competitors.

Game 3: Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.56 ERA)vs. Jeff Niemann (6-4, 4.21 ERA)

Niemann has been touted for greatness since being drafted in the first round out of Rice in 2004 (where he was teammates with Philip Humber), but a major shoulder injury derailed his career. At 6’9″, 280 lbs., he is a monster, and has the stuff to go with the body. However, he barely made the 25-man roster out of spring training, and is still figuring out how to retire big-league hitters. Pelfrey is coming off a fairly good start that David Wright felt could be a little better. I think this game will be a rubber match, and feel it will be fairly even based on the starters. I’d like Big Pelf and Niemann to stand on the mound together and have an umpire toss a baseball up between them, to see which one would win the tipoff.

Final Thoughts

Interesting note: in 10 games and through 24 batters, LOOGY Randy Choate has allowed one hit.

The pitching matchups are fairly even, and the bullpens are similarly skilled. So, these games could come down to the offense that makes the best use of their tools in application to expansive Citi Field. On the one hand, the Rays rely heavily on the long ball — Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria all have double-digit homerun totals — but they also have some athletically gifted speedsters such as Carl Crawford (37 steals) and B.J. Upton (25 SB), and the .376-hitting Jason Bartlett has just returned from the DL.

It could be a long weekend.

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Mets Injury Updates

No need to panic — not one Mets player went down with an injury in the past 24 hours.

Perhaps the most significant injury to affect the Mets occurred to an opponent — red-hot Raul Ibanez has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin. According to reports, Ibanez suffered the injury slipping down some 42-year-old blogger’s mother’s basement steps.

Ibanez has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Phillies, and in addition to getting his bat out of the lineup, this injury could cool off his steaming hot streak. Let’s hope he falls back to Earth when he returns from the DL.

As far as the Mets go:

Oliver Perez is pitching in Florida and throwing in the low 90s

John Maine is not progressing as quickly as we’d like. His shoulder is still weak and he’s feeling a pinch.

Angel Pagan could return to the club in less than two weeks. But if Jeremy Reed can’t find at-bats –even when the team is playing with a DH — how will Pagan?

Billy Wagner could be throwing to batters shortly. If nothing else can be salvaged from this season, it could be incredibly fun to watch a September bullpen that includes Wagner, J.J. Putz, and K-Rod. Talk about shortening the game.

Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and J.J. Putz remain out indefinitely, with no news to report. Though, it should be noted that Delgado, like Wagner, was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5th. Does this mean the sixty days go back to the original date they were placed on the 15-day DL, or do you count the sixty days from June 5th? If it’s the latter, that means both players are eligible to return on August 4th. I *think* the counting goes back to the first date of inactivity, and if anyone can find a link confirming this theory, please post it in the comments.

And I know you’re hanging on the edge of your seat wondering when Ramon Martinez will return, but he, too, is in a holding pattern with his dislocated pinky.

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Next Stop: Mediocrity

Aptly named Priced Out of the Citi compares Jerry Manuel’s .500 edict to the NYC subway system — and he wants OFF the train.

Will Sommer of MetsFansForever has a fascinating Q & A with one of the most interesting, intelligent, and humble Mets bloggers on the planet.

That same genius Mets blogger opines the Johan Santana situation on Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove. Man, that guy is all over the place!

TheRopolitans displays the numbers proving that the Mets can hit, just not in the clutch.

Finally, hat tip to MetsPolice for providing today’s video — a 3-D tour of CitiEbbets Field:

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