Jun 30

Mets Get Resilient Effort When They Need It Most

They wouldn’t be the Mets if things were easy. Last year they reached the World Series because of their young arms, a hot month from Yoenis Cespedes, but perhaps most of all, with their resiliency. They overcame injuries and dreadful two-month team hitting slump to find themselves standing at the end.

With those arms, reaching the playoffs this year would be a formality. It sure looked that way with a sizzling April. However, they’ve played sub-.500 baseball the past two months, and after being swept out of Washington, not many gave much for their chances this weekend against the hot Cubs, especially with Steven Matz starting with a painful bone spur in his valuable left elbow.

NIMMO: Scores game-winner. (AP)

NIMMO: Scores game-winner. (AP)

I thought Matz shouldn’t have started, and despite working into the sixth, I’m not yielding on that sentiment. We’ll see how he feels Friday and the days beyond. I really hope I am wrong. The Mets gambled and won when they pushed the envelope with Matz, who overcame a two-run first to throw 104 painful pitches in a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Cubs.

The Mets had to win, because at the same time Matz was ducking a John Lackey fastball to his head, Cespedes was reaching the third deck at Citi Field, and Brandon Nimmo was thrilling us with a timely hit and baserunning, the Nationals were bludgeoning the Reds.

After losing three straight to the Nationals – and five of seven overall – the Mets entered this series realistically needing to win at least three of four games to stay within binocular distance in the NL East. Make that telescopic distance if the Cubs swept the Mets and Nationals did the same to Cincinnati.

Come Friday morning, Panic City is still a couple of exits away.

“I don’t know yet,” manager Terry Collins told reporters as to the magnitude of the victory. “It sure came at the right time. It was a real impressive win.”

It was impressive because outside of Cespedes Home Run Derby type of blast, the Mets did the basic, dirty things they did last year and what they must do in the second half.

It began with Matz, who fell behind 2-0 in the first on a Kris Bryant homer, but gutted his way into the sixth.

“I felt good,” Matz said about his much-talked-about elbow. “I was able to pitch without any issues. I was able to keep us close. I’m happy with how things turned out. I’d say it’s a little relief.”

Down 3-0, the Mets started their comeback – something they did with frequency in 2015 – with Cespedes’ 466-foot drive into the upper deck in the sixth.

“It was a 2-0 pitch,” Cespedes said. “The plan was to swing, and swing hard.”

It woke up Citi Field like a hard slap to the face.

The Mets finally got to Lackey with Travis d’Arnaud‘s one-out single in the seventh that brought in Joel Peralta. Alejandro De Aza, vilified in Washington, pinch-hit for reliever Erik Goeddel and walked. Nimmo, whose exuberance has been a lift, singled home a run after an intense nine-pitch at-bat.

“I was trying to keep things simple,” Nimmo said. “I wanted to be short and get the ball on the barrel.”

The Mets have often been criticized for not being aggressive on the bases, but Nimmo drew a wild throw from Cubs second baseman Javier Baez off Neil Walker‘s chopper and scored when the ball got by the third baseman Bryant.

Of course, there couldn’t be a 1-2-3 ninth. That would be too easy.

The Cubs put runners at second and third with no outs against Jeurys Familia. An intentional walk loaded the bases, but Bryant and Willson Contreras couldn’t resist Familia’s sinker and struck out. With a little discipline, the Cubs would’ve had two bases-loaded walks. Baez then popped out to end the game and for one night at least, we got a reminder of the resiliency this team can still muster.

Apr 25

April 25, Mets’ Lineup Against Cincinnati

The Mets will try to keep it going tonight with Noah Syndergaard on the mound against the Cincinnati Reds.

We all know Syndergaard can bring the heat, but in this stat world we know live in, there are numbers to prove it. Of all the 285 pitches Syndergaard has thrown this season, 124 of them (43.5 percent) have been thrown at 97 mph., or faster, which is tops in the majors.

Syndergaard (2-0, 0.90 ERA) gave up one run with eight strikeouts in seven innings at Philadelphia. Syndergaard is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA lifetime against Cincinnati.

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ lineup:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Hit .333 with four homers on the trip. Is hitting .296 lifetime against the Reds.

David Wright – 3B: Hit .235 on the trip. Is hitting .315 lifetime against the Reds/

Michael Conforto – LF: Hit .324 with two homers on the trip. Is hitting .308 lifetime against the Reds.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Hit .263 with three homers on the trip. Is hitting .291 lifetime against the Reds.

Neil Walker – 2B: Hit .342 with six homers on the trip. Is hitting .342 lifetime against the Reds.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Hit .371 on the trip. Is .239 lifetime against the Reds.

Alejandro De Aza – CF Hit .267 on the trip. Is hitting .269 lifetime.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Hit .250 on the trip. Is hitting .226 lifetime against the Reds.

Syndergaard – RHP: The Mets are 2-1 in Syndergaard’s starts.

COMMENTS:  Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will set for the third straight game because of a bruise to his upper right leg. The Mets will give the start to De Aza after Juan Lagares played in Atlanta. … d’Arnaud is back in the lineup as is Wright. I figured Wright would start, but thought manager Terry Collins might have given another game to Kevin Plawecki.

Mar 01

Today In Mets History: Seaver Begins Holdout

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

This date in 1976 was a sign of things to come, and they weren’t good as ace Tom Seaver began a spring training holdout. With it, Seaver’s golden stature with the Mets began to tarnish and the frayed relationship culminated with him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977.

“If Seaver wants to play somewhere other than New York, I’ll oblige him,’’ said then-Mets GM Joe McDonald. “I’ll trade him if he wishes to be traded. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to be with us.”

Seaver’s response was he wanted to play with the Mets, “but not at the expense of making far less money than I can make someplace else.’’

Seaver eventually signed a three-year contract that paid him $200,000 annually, but that didn’t prevent the Mets from making the trade the franchise still regrets.

Sep 13

Sandy Still Wary Of Big Contracts, But May Add A Big-Ticket Player This Offseason

sandy alderson

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that soon to be free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, currently with the Cincinnati Reds, “fits the bill” for what the Mets need this winter.

Heyman spoke with Sandy Alderson who revealed some of the things he’s considering as the Mets conclude their third losing season under his watch.

“There’s no question long-term contracts carry risk, and right about the time you’re clearing payroll you can wind up right back where you started if it doesn’t work out. On the other hand, you have some times where you have to roll the dice. I certainly haven’t ruled out a big-ticket item.”

Alderson has already made it well known that adding a veteran starting pitcher was already part of his plan this offseason even before Matt Harvey got hurt, but now it may end up being a top of the rotation starter if Harvey were to have surgery and miss the 2014 season – the season he said would be the year the franchise would begin a run of sustainable championship caliber baseball.

Heyman sounds skeptical about Alderson pursuing a big-ticket item and cited several instances when Alderson chided other teams for handing out large contracts both while general manager of the Mets and also when he was a top executive with Major League Baseball a decade ago.

Based on the needs of the Mets and the strengths of the player, Heyman concludes that Choo looks like the biggest potential target for the Mets this winter. He cites that he’s an excellent corner outfielder with a big on-base percentage, making him a perfect fit.

He says that Mets people have discussed him internally at length and predicts Choo will be the biggest player on the Mets’ radar.

Jun 08

Today in Mets History: Hook stops slide.

Of course you remember Jay Hook, the winning pitcher in the Mets’ first victory in 1962.

HOOK: Stopped the slide.

Once a bonus baby for the Cincinnati Reds, Hook pitched eight seasons in the major leagues and compiled a 29-62 record.

Hook didn’t crack the Reds’ rotation until 1960 and after two ineffective seasons was acquired by the Mets in the expansion draft, joining a group that included Roger Craig, Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer.

Hook went 8-19 in 1962, and led the team in starts with 34 and complete games with 13. One of those victories occurred on this date when he beat the Chicago Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader to snap a 17-game losing streak.

Hook retired at 28 in 1964 to take a job with Chrysler and currently lives in Michigan.

HOOK’S CAREER NUMBERS

BOX SCORE