Apr 21

Mets Starting Lineup Vs. Giants

The Mets will attempt to regain their footing this afternoon behind this lineup and Mike Pelfrey:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Jason Bay, lf

Lucas Duda, rf

Josh Thole, c

Ruben Tejada, ss

Mike Pelfrey, rhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: For the most part, Terry Collins’ lineup has been consistent. I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the leadoff spot and beginning to think he’s a keeper.

 

Apr 21

Mets On Slippery Slope Following Another Loss

The bloom is off the Mets’ early season rose. After a quick start that included winning the first two games in last weekend’s series in Philadelphia, the Mets have lost three straight and four of their last five.

They are still over .500, but the sense this could be a different year is fading. Thirteen games is two small a picture to frame it a season, but the crispness that opened the year is gone.

Frank Francisco, who opened with three straight saves, has given up four runs in his last three appearances. Last night he walked Melky Cabrera on four pitches to lead off the tenth. Cabrera stole on a pitchout, which is almost impossible to do, and scored on a two-out single.

That’s three red flags in one inning: the leadoff walk; stealing on a pitchout shows an inability to hold runners and a lack of concentration; and the two-out hit is indicative of not putting away an inning. A successful closer doesn’t do any of those things on a consistent basis.

Francisco has good stuff, but has always been erratic in the little things, such as those mentioned above. Explains in large part why he was was available.

There’s more to be concerned with:

By definition, Jon Niese had a quality start giving up three runs in six innings, but needed 109 pitches to do so. That’s clearly working too hard. That many pitches should take him through the eighth, at least. Maybe complete-game worthy.

However, it was an upgrade from what the Mets received their two previous games from R. A. Dickey and Johan Santana. This afternoon it is Mike Pelfrey, who has been anything but calming and comforting.

The starting pitching is key to whatever success the Mets have this year and it must improve.

Offensively, Jason Bay homered and got another hit, but neither he nor Lucas Duda are hitting in the clutch. Bay struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the tenth. Both hitters are 1-for-13 with RSIP. That’s 2-for-26, which translates into a lot of runners left on base and empty innings. A lot of losses, too.

Also offensively are the continuing struggles of Ike Davis who struck out twice while going hitless five times last night. His swing gets longer and loopier by the game.

All teams are going to have night like that occasionally, but the Mets’ last four losses have exposed their flaws greatly.

I wrote several times this week how the Mets had to snap out of it to avoid a downhill slide. They are in one now.

ON DECK: Starting lineup.

Apr 20

Niese Needs To Pick Up Mets

The Mets are now paying Jon Niese stopper money. Tonight he needs to earn it against San Francisco’s Barry Zito as the Mets seek to stabilize after losing three of their last four games.

After a surprisingly fast start, the Mets limp home with their rotation crushed, giving up 31 runs in the four games.

NIESE: Stopper

“We need Jon to give us a game,’’ manager Terry Collins said. So far, Niese has given the Mets two, winning both behind a nifty 2.13 ERA.

Niese will attempt to pick up the mess left by Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey in the last two games, and the bullpen’s meltdown Sunday at Philadelphia.

The Mets have always liked the physical aspects of Niese’s game; his location, velocity and movement on his pitches. However, the more they see him the more they appreciate his poise and composure. He ‘s not afraid to challenge hitters, including when behind in the count. That’s how one becomes a stopper.

Apr 20

Mets Host Giants This Weekend

The Mets open a four-game series tonight against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field, a series that takes on a bigger importance than usual this early in the season.

ZITO: Once on Mets' radar.

After a 6-2 start, the Mets have lost three of their last four games, giving up 31 runs in that span. Now, I’m not saying the Mets can’t stabilize themselves, but we’ve them play well before going into a prolonged slide.

Even though the Giants won’t throw Matt Cain at them and Tim Lincecum is off to bad start, they have the pitching to make for a long weekend in Flushing. While Lincecum has struggled, three of the Giants’ starters this weekend have sub four-run ERAs in Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner.

Tonight’s starter, Zito, threw a four-hit shutout at Colorado in his first start and gave up three runs, two of them unearned, in his second against Pittsburgh. Zito seemed heading out of the Giants’ rotation, but their need for pitching forced them to trade Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera.

You might recall Zito was once on the Mets’ radar following the 2006 season, but weren’t willing to swim in the deep end of the free-agent pool ($126 million over seven years).

The Giants are concerned about their bullpen with Brian Wilson having Tommy John surgery and lost for the season. Santiago Casilla will get the first chance to assume the closer role.

The following are the starters for the series:

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.13) vs. LHP Barry Zito (1-0, 1.13), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 3.09) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 2.84), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 2.92) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (0-2, 10.54), 1:10 p.m. ET

Monday: LHP Johan Santana (0-2, 3.97) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.63), 7:10 p.m. ET

Apr 20

Tom Seaver Wins His First On This Day In Mets’ History

Where did the time go?
SEAVER: Won the first of many on this day.

Forty-five years ago today in Mets’ history (1967), Tom Seaver won the first game of his Hall of Fame career in going 7.1 innings in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

Seaver struck out five and was supported by two RBI from Bud Harrelson and one each from Ken Boyer, Tommy Davis, Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool.
Seaver went on to win over 300 games (his 300th was with the Chicago White Sox against the Yankees) and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, getting 98.84 percent of the vote, the highest percentage in history.
He’s the only Met in the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets’ cap and is the only player in franchise history to have his uniform number retired. Managers Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel had their numbers retired.
In the 50th anniversary of the Mets coming to being, the team will give away bobble head dolls of some of their greatest players, among them Seaver (this Sunday), Rusty Staub, Keith Hernandez, Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza.
I would have hoped they’d include Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry.