May 18

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Comes Up Empty, But Mets Win

In his last start, the Mets’ bullpen coughed it up in Chicago and Matt Harvey got a no-decision in a loss to the Cubs. Tonight, Jeurys Familia blew his first save opportunity of the season, but the Mets regrouped to win, 2-1, in 14 innings.

Tonight was the third straight start in which Harvey failed to win his sixth game.

The Mets, playing in their first extra-innings game of the season, won it when the struggling John Mayberry Jr., drove in Eric Campbell on a bases-loaded, pinch-hit infield single. By this time, Harvey was long time gone with an ice-pack on his valuable right arm.

Familia, who had been perfect, was shaky in the ninth. The Cardinals put runners on the corners on Yadier Molina‘s hit-and-run single and Jason Heyward followed with a sacrifice fly to right.

The Mets had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, but Michael Cuddyer struck out to end the inning with two runners on.

BULLPEN OVERALL STRONG

Yes, Familia was off, but overall the Mets’ bullpen still got five scoreless innings from Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Alex Torres and Carlos Torres.

DEFENSE ENABLED HARVEY TO STAY IN

Harvey came out for the eighth inning despite throwing 97 pitches. This is how it should be with Harvey. If the game is close late, this is when you push the envelope with Harvey, who was greatly aided by double plays in the fourth and seventh innings.

Wilmer Flores started an inning-ending double play in the fourth when he made a diving, back-handed stab of a sinking line drive. Flores also took part in a double play in the seventh.

Take away those two plays and Harvey would have been forced to pitch to at least another two hitters. That would have pushed him over 100 pitches and he would have been out of the game.

Harvey struck out nine for the second straight game.

DUDA BEATS SHIFT TO DRIVE IN RUN

Sometimes the Cardinals are too smart for their own good. With Curtis Granderson on third and Lucas Duda at the plate, the Cardinals put on shift that almost defied belief as they had the third baseman hold the runner and put everybody else on the first base side of the infield.

However, if you’re going to employ that shift, you have to pitch inside but John Lackey left the ball out over the plate and Duda grounded it up the middle. With a normal shift, the shortstop would have been in position to field the ball.

GOOD DEFENSE SAVES HARVEY RUN IN FIRST

Cuddyer saved the Mets a run in the top of the first when he cut off Jhonny Peralta’s double from going all the way to the left field wall. Had Cuddyer not cut off the ball, Matt Holliday, who reached on an error by third baseman Eric Campbell, would surely have scored.

Lackey put down the Mets, 1-2-3, in the bottom of the first.

By the way, Milwaukee centerfielder Carlos Gomez, who was hit in the head by a Noah Syndergaard fastball Sunday, homered in his first at-bat tonight in Detroit.

METS GET POSITIVE INJURY NEWS ON WRIGHT, D’ARNAUD

The Mets got some positive injury news today regarding David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud. Wright, on the DL with a pulled right hamstring, was on the field today resuming baseball activities.

“The big thing now is to see how he [feels when he] wakes up tomorrow,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters prior to Monday’s game.

D’Arnaud, on the DL with a fractured finger, swung the bat today for the first time.

Collins did not speculate on when they will return, and also offered no timetable for relievers Bobby Parnell and Vic Black, who are on rehab assignments at Single-A St. Lucie.

May 18

Mets Lucky Tonight, But Can’t Afford To Keep Wasting Harvey Starts

The Mets’ Matt Harvey missed in his third straight start to get his sixth victory tonight against St. Louis. With their offense – and some starting pitching – erratic since April 24, the night Jacob deGrom was torched at Yankee Stadium, the Mets can’t afford to waste a Harvey start.

Harvey threw at least seven scoreless innings for his second straight. It was seven last week against the Cubs and eight tonight against St. Louis. He struck out nine in each start.

HARVEY: Can't waste his starts. (AP)

HARVEY: Can’t waste his starts. (AP)

Harvey has given the Mets a winnable effort in every start. He’ll lose from time to time as he did against the Phillies, but when he comes up with an effort such as the one he had tonight and last week in Wrigley Field last week, well, you can’t throw those away.

The Mets were fortunate to come away with a 2-1 victory in 14 innings.

Part of this goes back to the unpopular debate of limiting Harvey’s innings. By how they’ve handled things so far, the Mets don’t have a definitive plan. Harvey is an incredible talent, but is also coming off Tommy John surgery. They need to be careful as to save his innings for later this year.

Against the Cubs, they pulled him early. They played it the right way tonight and let Harvey pitch the eighth. This was made possible because the defense – keyed by Wilmer Flores – pulled off inning-ending double plays in the fourth and seventh innings.

Take away those plays and Harvey would have had over 100 pitches after the seventh.

This is the year the Mets vowed they would compete, and GM Sandy Alderson has even eyed 90 victories. Given that, innings saved in April and May can later be used in September, and if they are lucky enough, possibly October.

That’s why Harvey starting – and working into the seventh – the game he had strep throat, and letting him pitch into the ninth at Yankee Stadium in a blowout win, were foolish choices because it was more important to pitch longer tonight and last week.

The Mets played it the right way with Harvey tonight. They gave him the extra inning. They handled everything correctly with their pitching. Eventually, Jeurys Familia would blow a save opportunity. They just didn’t give him enough runs.

That’s three straight Harvey starts without a victory. The Mets were fortunate tonight it didn’t bite them.

May 17

Reflecting On The Mets Last Week

At the beginning of the week, after winning two of three in Philadelphia, I wrote the Mets could snap out of their funk with consecutive series against the Cubs and Brewers. I thought they had the opportunity to stabilize their batting order and get their offense on a roll. Well, it could have happened.

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

Here’s what I took from the past week:

* Noah Syndergaard took scoreless efforts into the sixth inning today and Monday. I was impressed with how he responded from beaning Carlos Gomez. He gave up a RBI single to Ryan Braun, but limited the damage to one run. Many pitchers, veterans included, could get rattled after hitting a batter like that, but not Syndergaard.

After the game, Syndergaard said: “I’d love to stay, so I’m going to do everything possible to stay up here. I watched [Jacob] deGrom last night pretty heavily and saw how he attacked hitters, and tried to transfer it over to the next day.”

If he keeps attacking batters like that, there’s little doubt he will stay.

* They easily could have won three of four in Chicago. The one that stings the most, of course, was Matt Harvey’s game.

As I watched Carlos Torres give it up that night, I couldn’t help but think of those who ripped my columns about preserving Harvey’s innings. A quick question: What would you have preferred, Harvey staying in against the Cubs and possibly winning, or remaining in to pitch a complete game against the Yankees, which he didn’t?

The answer is a no-brainer.

* The bullpen started the season as a positive, but has soured. Injuries have been a big part, but there has to be a reliable bridge to Jeurys Familia and there’s not. They can’t say things will get better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return, because nobody can say when that will be or if they will be productive when they do.

* The offense appeared to get going the last two games, ignited by homers from Curtis Granderson. I am wondering, as Granderson’s power emerges, whether Terry Collins will leave him at the top of the order or move him down to the run-producing slots.

It is, however, premature to think all is well with their bats, because they start a four-game series Monday with the Cardinals, who by the way, have pitching far superior to Milwaukee’s.

* They really miss David Wright, who is supposed to begin baseball activities this week, perhaps as soon as Monday. Then again, they’ve said that before. Wright was having a good year when he was injured, and although he hasn’t hit with great power the past few years, his presence does offer stability and would reduce the juggling.

That being said, the Mets have won when Eric Campbell is in the lineup. They should leave him hitting second and see where it goes.

Also, your guess is as good as mine, or Collins’, as where Daniel Murphy will hit next. He’s been all over the place.

* It will be like this all season for Wilmer Flores. He’ll make errors and follow it up with a big game at the plate. For all the criticism he gets, it was sweet to see him respond with the grand slam.

* I don’t like the pitcher in the eighth slot, but they’ve won the past two games with it so they might as well stick with it for a while. Don’t mess with a streak, regardless of how short it is.

* Bartolo Colon was eventually going to hit a rough stretch, and might be on it now.

* The Mets opened the season with Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench because he was out of options. With a .081 batting average, his time remaining with the Mets could be short.

After beating the Brewers today, the Mets hold a slim one-game lead over Washington with the sixth-best record in the major leagues. It is a tenuous lead at best, especially with the Cardinals and Pirates coming up.

 

 

 

May 16

Mets Call On DeGrom To Stop Slide

The other day in Chicago, Mets manager Terry Collins said, “what slide?’’ Well, by the end of tonight, that slide could erase the Mets’ once seemingly comfortable lead over Washington into a half-game deficit.

The Mets are in a 7-13 skid, including five straight losses where they scored just 10 runs while hitting .192. In their last two losses, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon gave up 12 runs in 11.2 innings.

Asked to stem the tide is Jacob deGrom, loser of three of his last four starts. That includes giving up four runs and two homers with four walks in a loss Monday at Chicago.

His problem has been fastball command that runs up the pitch count.

“It boils down to location,’’ deGrom said after the Cubs lost. “I can’t throw the pitches I want for strikes and make some mistakes over the plate and they seem to hit a long way.’’

DeGrom will especially be wary of keeping Ryan Braun in the park. Braun homered twice Friday as Milwaukee mugged Colon.

DeGrom’s opponent is Matt Garza, who has thrown four straight quality starts. Garza will face this lineup:

Curtis Granderson, RF

Juan Lagares, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Eric Campbell, 3B

Kevin Plawecki, C

Jacob deGrom, RHP