May 28

Mets Wrap: Plenty Of Deserving Fingers To Be Pointed In Syndergaard Fiasco

The Mets ignored the ancient Chinese proverb, “when pursuing revenge remember to dig two graves.”

The Mets finally chose Saturday night to seek retribution against Chase Utley for his hard take-out slide during last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers that resulted in a broken leg for their then shortstop Ruben Tejada.

SYNDERGAARD: Payback is a bitch. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Payback is a bitch. (AP)

The only grave filled was by the Mets and Noah Syndergaard.

The Mets eschewed retaliation against the Dodgers for the rest of the playoffs; during the four-game series in Los Angeles earlier this month; and Friday night. One school of thought was the Mets would continue to let Utley wonder, which would have been the best choice.

Instead, Syndergaard threw behind Utley’s back with one out in the third. Plate umpire Adam Hamari booted Syndergaard before the ball stopped rolling at the backstop. Utley calmly kept his head down and smoothed the dirt with his foot.

Utley homered in the sixth. If that wasn’t enough to rile Mets’ fans, then surely his grand slam in the seventh that sealed the Dodgers’ 9-1 blowout win should have been.

Utley maintained a stoic look throughout the game showing zero emotion. None.

Hamari had no choice but eject Syndergaard because whenever a pitcher deliberately wants to hit a batter he throws behind him, the thinking being the hitter will step back into the pitch.

Please, let’s not insult our intelligence by saying the ball got away because he had only walked nine hitters entering the game. Please, also don’t blame our intelligence, as SNY did, by saying Hamari didn’t have a handle on the situation because he is only a third-year umpire.

Since it’s all about blame these days, my finger is pointed at three parties for Syndergaard’s ejection.

First, let’s look at Syndergaard, who should be smart enough to know that after the buildup there would be no way he could go after Utley and skate. He’s young, but not naïve.

Second, there’s manager Terry Collins, who is not having the good start to this season. Collins has to understand the ramifications of losing Syndergaard. He made a big deal of wrongly justifying his poor decision to bring in Jeurys Familia in a non-save situation Friday because he wanted to win the game.

Don’t you think the Mets’ chances to win are enhanced with Syndergaard? When the teams played in Los Angeles, Collins warned his team about retaliation, saying he didn’t need to have anybody hurt or suspended. He didn’t have a similar message prior to this series.

For his efforts, Collins was also tossed. Collins said he was “surprised” Syndergaard was ejected so quickly without a warning. Seriously? Hasn’t he been paying attention?

Finally, Major League Baseball needs to take a bow for totally screwing up this whole situation. Here’s how:

* The umpires have discretion for ejecting a player they believe intentionally tried to injure a player. They did not.

* In response to the uproar from media and Mets fans about the play, MLB feared an incident at Citi Field when the NLDS moved to Citi Field. MLB suspended Utley for two games not because they judged it a dirty play, but because they feared an ugly scene. Joe Torre, who handles these decisions for MLB, should know more than most that is not the basis for a decision.

* When Utley’s appeal was heard this spring the original suspension was not upheld. MLB would say it was because of a new rule change, but the incident was committed under the old format.

* Finally, knowing the tension heading leading into the series – surely, the Commissioner’s office reads the New York papers – it would have been prudent to issue a warning.

This has been a total screw up from the beginning, and if Syndergaard is suspended – as Collins fears – it will only get worse.

METS GAME WRAP

May 28, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #48          Score:  Dodgers 9, Mets 1

Record: 28-20     Streak: L 1

Standings: First, NL East, four percentage points ahead of the Nationals.  

Runs: 187    Average:  3.87   Times 3 or less: 23

SUMMARY: Syndergaard’s retaliation attempt at Utley failed and resulted in his ejection. The Dodgers homered five times, including two by Utley, who drove in five runs.

KEY MOMENT:  Syndergaard’s ill-fated attempt to put the hammer down.

THUMBS UP:  At least they didn’t need Familia. … Juan Lagares homered for the second straight game. … Nobody got hurt. … The Nationals also lost.

THUMBS DOWN:  The whole night. … Now they have to face Clayton Kershaw. … Just three hits. … They gave up four homers. … They still don’t have a clue as to how to pitch to Utley. … The bullpen gave up nine runs and the hitters struck out ten times.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright did not play because of pain in his neck. There exists a possibility he could be placed on the disabled list Sunday. … Wilmer Flores could be activated from the DL Sunday. … The Mets sent cash to San Diego for first baseman James Loney.

QUOTEBOOK:  “It would be fair.’’ – Collins on if he was upset with the decision to eject Syndergaard.

BY THE NUMBERS:  34: Pitches thrown by Syndergaard.

NEXT FOR METS:  Bartolo Colon against Kershaw Sunday night.

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May 24

Time For Matt Harvey To Man Up

It has come to this for the Mets’ Matt Harvey: Like a minor league call-up, his manager said he’s pitching to raise his confidence. The key isn’t to beat the Nationals – which would put the Mets back in first place – but to look good. Get some style points.

What is this, figure skating?

“I’m hoping, more than anything that he goes and gives us quality innings just to raise his confidence,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “Because once that confidence starts to come up, he’s going to be fine.”

HARVEY: Head up or head down tonight? (AP)

HARVEY: Head up or head down tonight? (AP)

“More than anything,” huh? “Just to raise his confidence,” huh? I’d rather have Harvey get chased in the second inning and the Mets rally to win than have this pitcher puzzle leave with a good feeling about himself and they lose. What’s next, giving him a participation trophy?

“Once that confidence starts to come up,” is another way of saying he doesn’t have any right now. And, offering him the out of not pitching is another way of Collins saying he doesn’t have much confidence in his “ace.” That might be true, but you don’t broadcast it. That’s a fine pat-on-the-back. What must the Nationals be thinking? After Harvey was booed off the mound last week, even Bryce Harper said he felt empathy for him.

Sweet.

As with most things surrounding Harvey, the Mets turned it into a drama.

Collins initially said he wasn’t sure if Harvey would start. Then, they floated the idea of moving him up to Monday, which would have bumped Bartolo Colon. In hindsight, that would have been a huge mistake.

Harvey threw a simulated game Saturday, was given the choice of skipping tonight if he wanted, then was given the start.

If you’re Collins, after Harvey was torched for nine runs in 2.2 innings, unless he’s hurt you say, “we have no intention of taking him out of the rotation.”

Collins said he was encouraged Harvey didn’t back down and wanted to pitch, but what else was he going to say? What other choice does Harvey have?

There’s a list of at least a dozen deep as to what is wrong with Harvey. Reasons or excuses? Take your pick.

Screw the issue of looking good, confidence and style points. If he’s the star both he and the Mets believe he is, then just pitch.

And if gets ripped again, Collins should send him out again. But, if there are any doubts, any thoughts of needing to do something, then send him to the minor leagues to get his head on straight.

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May 23

Mets Wrap: Sitting Never An Option For Harvey

HARVEY: Pitching for redemption. (Getty)

HARVEY: Pitching for redemption. (Getty)

Matt Harvey has a chance to make it all better for him and the Mets Tuesday in Washington. Coming off arguably the worst start of his still short career, he gave up nine runs to the Nationals to generate the “what’s wrong with Harvey,’’ chatter.

The theories were endless, ranging to his heavy workload last year coming off Tommy John surgery and a light spring training to his health. Was he hurt? Was he trying to overcompensate for Game 5? What’s wrong with his velocity and mechanics?

Now, after the Mets ripped the Nationals, 7-1, Monday, Harvey will get the ball with the chance to pitch the Mets back into first place.

It’s only May and with so much of the season left the standings aren’t of paramount importance. However, it is not a stretch to say outside his first game back from Tommy John surgery, this could be the most important regular-season start of his career.

Manager Terry Collins, believing Harvey’s confidence could be rattled, gave him the option of skipping this start. Sometimes to his detriment, Harvey always wants the ball, so there was no chance that would happen.

None.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating being out there right now when you’re not doing well and not helping the team,” Harvey told ESPN.com. “As a teammate, your objective is to do everything you can to win games and help us succeed.

“And I wasn’t doing that. So, obviously, they gave me an option to be skipped or whatnot and really try to figure things out. For me, taking time off isn’t going to do anything. It’s finding it on the mound.

“I’m not a quitter. I’m not going to just quit and put the ball down. It’s a fight. It was good for me to do that.”

Harvey has issues, but nobody can accuse him of being a quitter.

The easy thing would have been for Harvey to decompress on the bench, but he knows that wouldn’t have been the right choice. There would be the inevitable speculation as to whether he is physically sound.

Even worse, his competitive nature would have been questioned. Can you imagine the storm if Harvey sat Tuesday and the Mets went in a tailspin?

Pitching was Harvey’s only choice.

If he puts it together and goes on a productive run, all of this will go down as another blip on the Mets’ radar screen.

METS GAME WRAP

May 23, 2016

Game: #44           Score:  Mets 7, Nationals 1

Record: 26-18     Streak: W 4

Standings: Second, NL East half-game behind Nationals. Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Philadelphia

Runs: 174     Average: 3.95 Times 3 or less: 21

SUMMARY:  Bartolo Colon overcame a rough first inning, and backed by the home-run power of David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, the Mets won to pull within a half-game of first place.

KEY MOMENT:  Wright’s three-run homer in the Mets’ five-run third.

THUMBS UP: Colon was on the ropes in the first, but with runners on first and second he got Anthony Rendon on a fly to left. Who thought Colon would have gone out for the seventh? … Cespedes hit his 15th homer and Walker his 11th. … Two hits each from Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Cespedes, Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. … More solid work from the bullpen.

THUMBS DOWN:  Just a short rain delay. … Lucas Duda went on the disabled list and could be gone for up to six weeks. … In a blowout, it would have been nice to see Ty Kelly.

EXTRA INNINGS: Travis d’Arnaud resumed throwing and could return to Port St. Lucie soon. … It was the 222nd victory of Colon’s career. … Colon turns 43 Tuesday.

QUOTEBOOK:  “There’s no real timetable. It’ll be awhile. I guess there are some exercises he can do, but nothing baseball related for awhile. We’re looking at a fairly long period.’’ – Collins on Duda’s injury.

BY THE NUMBERS:  63: Mets homers to lead the NL. They are third in the majors.

NEXT FOR METS:  Matt Harvey takes the ball – and a myriad of concerns and worries – to the mound against Stephen Strasburg.

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May 23

May 23, Mets Lineup At Washington

Bartolo Colon gets another shot at the Nationals tonight in DC. He was hammered by Washington in his last start, giving up three runs on five hits and five walks in 4.2 innings. The five walks Colon (3-3, 3.75) were the most he’s given up in a game since 2005.

As you know by now, Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list this afternoon.

Here’s the Mets’ lineup against Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 1.86):

Curtis Granderson – RF: Career vs. Nats: .254 (44-173). Has 39 game-opening homers, including four this season.

Juan Lagares – CF: Career vs. Nats: .297 (49-165). With Michael Conforto getting the night off against the left-hander, Lagares gets a start. Has been showing his Gold Glove form lately.

David Wright – 3B: Career vs. Nats: .297 (207-697). Said he’d move to first if team asked. No surprise there. Has 239 career homers to trail franchise leader Darryl Strawberry who has 252.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: Career vs. Nats: .309 (15-49). His 14 homers are tied for the major league lead.

Neil Walker – 2B: Career vs. Nats: .288 (38-132). Is batting .180 (11-61) in 19 games this month after a torrid April.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Career vs. Nats: .222 (6-27). Is hitting .333 with 12 RBI with RISP, including a two-run single Sunday.

Eric Campbell – 1B: Career vs. Nats: .150 (6-40). It has been 79 at-bats since his last homer. Is hitting .278 (5-18) on the road this year.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Career vs. Nats: .206 (7-34). Went 1-13 (.077) during Mets’ recent homestand.

Bartolo Colon – RHP: Career vs. Nats: Is 3-6 with a 3.38 ERA lifetime against the Nationals in 10 games, including nine starts. Has 14 wins vs. NL East since the start of the 2015 season.

COMMENTS: Conforto is getting hot again, so I’d hate to sit him. Five of his eight homers have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead. … Mets pitchers have 10 no-walk games to lead the majors. … Jeurys Familia has converted 31 consecutive save opportunities to tie him with Billy Wagner for the club record. … The Mets’ bullpen has thrown 14.1 scoreless innings over the last four games. … The Mets were 6-3 against the Nationals last year in Washington.

May 17

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stuffs Nats

SYNERGAARD: All arm and hair. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: All arm and hair. (Getty)

Take away two pitches and the Mets and Nationals might still be playing. Home runs by Curtis Granderson – off the first pitch thrown to him – and Michael Conforto off Max Scherzer were all Noah Syndergaard needed to win, 2-0, Tuesday night.

“I think he rises to the challenge,” Mets manager Terry Collins to reporters about Syndergaard in a classic understatement.

Syndergaard struck out ten to break the Mets’ four-game losing streak to pull them within a half-game of the Nationals. Scherzer, who was coming off a 20-strikeout performance in his previous start, also struck out ten.

The game featured the return of long-time Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy to return. Murphy hit six homers in last year’s postseason before he was signed as a free-agent in the offseason.

“Very nice of them,” Murphy said of two standing ovations.

After that, he was booed.

METS GAME WRAP

May 17, 2016

Game: #38      Score: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Record: 22-16      Streak: W 1

Standings: Second, NL East .5 GB Nationals Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Pittsburgh

Runs: 148       Average: 3.89    Times 3 or less: 17

SUMMARY: Sometimes pitching duels don’t live up to their promise. This one did.

KEY MOMENT:  Granderson’s homer in the first.

THUMBS UP:  Syndergaard was brilliant, throwing 102 pitches in seven innings. He gave up five hits and didn’t walk a batter. … Granderson reached base in all four plate appearances. … Addison Reed struck out two of the three Nationals he faced. … Jeurys Familia earned his 13th save in as many opportunities.

THUMBS DOWN:  None.

EXTRA INNINGS:  David Wright was scratched because of sore back and is listed day-to-day. It is the first time this season Wright didn’t play because of his back. I am wondering if his late pinch-hit appearance Sunday after sitting all day might have been a cause. … Lucas Duda didn’t play because of a sore back. He received an injection and the hope is he’ll be able to play Thursday. … Tests showed no ligament damage with Steve Matz. He won’t pitch in this series but could start Friday. I would still save him for next week.

QUOTEBOOK:  “Played good because we pitched good.’’ – Collins in as succinct an analysis as possible.

BY THE NUMBERS:  6-0: Mets’ record this year after an off day.

NEXT FOR METS:  Bartolo Colon Wednesday against Gio Gonzalez.