Apr 03

Matt Harvey Dominates Padres; Lucas Duda And Ike Davis Go Deep

Matt Harvey was everything the Mets hoped for as he dominated the San Diego Padres, 8-4, in frigid Citi Field tonight. Harvey gave up one hit with ten strikeouts in seven scoreless innings.

All San Diego’s runs came against the bullpen, which is expected to be a Mets’ Achilles Heel this season, but not even it could ruin this night.

HARVEY: Overpowering

HARVEY: Overpowering (AP)

Especially impressive was Harvey did it pitching with temperatures in the low 30s after the wind-chill. Harvey was in complete control, but at 94 pitches after seven, manager Terry Collins thought it was time to pull the plug.

“Believe me, later in the season in a close game he’s not going to want to come out. There will be huge argument in taking him out,’’ Collins said. “He was getting stiff. He was cold. Under the circumstances he pitched a very impressive game. In weather like that, the ball feels like a cue ball.’’

Harvey said he doesn’t want to be just a major league pitcher, but a great pitcher, and to do that he’s not afraid of putting in the work as in running the steps in the Citi Field stands this winter. It’s easy to say you want to be good, but the key is to make the effort.

The victory was the first of Harvey’s career at Citi Field, and he became the fourth Mets pitcher to register at least 80 strikeouts in his first 11 starts with the team, joining Pedro Martinez, Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan.

“Today it was the fastball,’’ Harvey said of what was working. “I threw some good sliders when I needed and I threw my change-up in timely counts. … I said all spring training I wanted to pound the zone and I wasn’t about to let the cold effect me.’’

Harvey wore short sleeves and refused a jacket when he was on the bases: “In my mind, a jacket doesn’t belong on a baseball field.’’

That’s the mentality of an offensive lineman, and the Mets haven’t had that in a long time.

POWER PLUS: One of the pre-season concerns was if the Mets would hit with power. Collin Cowgill hit a grand slam in the opener, and Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and John Buck each hit two-run homers last night off left-hander Clayton Richard. That’s ten RBI on four homers.

“Duda and Ike hitting them off a lefty is huge,’’ Collins said. “If those two guys are hitting, it’s a tough line-up to get through.’’

The Mets have outscored the Padres, 19-6, in winning their first two games.

MARCUM UPDATE: Shaun Green returned to New York from Port St. Lucie to have his neck and shoulder re-examined. He’s already on the disabled list, and Collins said Aaron Laffey would start in his place Sunday against Miami.

“He has some real discomfort running from his shoulder up through his neck,’’ Collins said. “What that is, where it starts, what’s causing it, I think we won’t know until he sees the doctor tomorrow.’’

The Mets signed Laffey as a free agent in December. At 27, he’s also pitched with Cleveland, Seattle, Toronto and the Yankees. He went 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 22 games, including 16 starts with the Blue Jays last year.

“Hopefully he comes in Sunday and pitches very well,’’ Collins said. “If he does, he most likely will get another start. But we’re going to just take one start at a time right now.’’

Apr 01

Niese Sparkles; Offense Rocks In Mets’ Opening Day Rout

How appropriate.

It was overcast for much of the day, but shortly after this afternoon’s 11-2 rout of the San Diego Padres, it started to rain on Citi Field. If there could be universal laws in baseball, is it isn’t supposed to rain on Opening Day and the home team has to win.

NIESE: Scintillating start. (AP)

NIESE: Scintillating start. (AP)

Let the Padres win Wednesday night and when they return to San Diego, but today belonged to the Mets, played as complete a game as possible while their crosstown rivals, the Yankees, lost to Boston.

With the victory the Mets improved their Opening Day record to a MLB best 34-18 (.654). It’s astounding considering their overall history.

THE PITCHING: Jon Niese was superb, going 6.2 innings and giving up two runs on four hits. He also collected two hits. Niese’s wife said she wears a special pair of blue panties when he pitches. Wash them and have them ready for the weekend. Niese said he didn’t feel any added pressure of starting on Opening Day, but admitted, “the adrenalin was pumping.’’ … Niese is now the de facto ace with Johan Santana gone. “He has stepped into a role where he leads the rotation,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

WRIGHT STREAK CONTINUES: Wright said he didn’t feel anything different when he was introduced as captain, but reiterated, “I’m very proud to represent this team.’’ With a third-inning single, Wright has hit in every Opening Day since his first in 2005. Overall, he is 13-for-36 (.361) in home openers. Wright also made several sparkling plays in the field and stole two bases.

OFFENSE TAKES OFF: Today marked the fifth time the Mets scored double-digit runs on Opening Day. … The Mets scored nine runs after two outs and went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position. … Collin Cowgill hit is first career grand slam in the seventh inning. Only Todd Hundley previously hit a slam on Opening Day. … Cowgill, Marlon Byrd and John Buck combined to go 6-for-14 with five runs scored and seven RBI. “I’m just grateful for this opportunity and want to make the most of it,’’ Cowgill said. Byrd declined to speak to reporters after the game. … Ruben Tejada doubled home the Mets’ first run. “He told me he would be ready,’’ Collins said of Tejada’s dismal spring training.

BEST STORY: The best story of the day was reliever Scott Rice’s major league debut after 14 years in the minor leagues. He pitched one scoreless innings and struck out two. Buck saved the ball from the first strikeout by throwing it into the Mets’ dugout. Rice presented the ball to his father after the game. “Maybe this will hit me later,’’ Rice said.

METS MUSINGS: The Mets held their annual Welcome Home dinner at a Manhattan hotel. … Shaun Marcum could be activated from the disabled list to start this weekend against Miami. … Matt Harvey (3-5, 2.73) will start against left-hander Clayton Richard (14-14, 3.99) Wednesday night. The Mets play Thursday afternoon and will host Miami this weekend.

Apr 01

Mets Slam The Padres In 11-2 Opening Day Win

opening-day

LIVE BLOGGING FROM CITI FIELD

collin cowgill grand slam

Cowgill’s Grand Slam puts exclamation point on Mets 11-2 win.

This game’s over and the Mets pounded the Padres 11-2 today at Citi Field.

It was an “All Hands On Deck Effort” by this revamped Mets team which was great to see.

Collin Cowgill with a huge Mets debut and big contributions also from Byrd, Buck, Wright, Tejada, Murphy and of course Jon Niese who looked sharp in his first start of the season.

Fun game and it was fun live blogging it for you.

Thanks to John – our man in the booth, and Clayton – our roving reporter/photographer, for all their help.

metswin55

8th Inning

 

7th Inning

Jon Niese’s first Opening Day start is over: 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, HR. 101 pitches, 62 strikes. Brandon Lyon in.

Cowgill just hit a grand slam that just made it over the wall and Mets tack on four more runs!.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!

Mets 11. Padres 2

6th Inning

After a scoreless fifth, Niese got touched up for a home run in the top of the sixth. No harm no foul. He talked Collins into staying in and pitch the seventh inning. 12 of his 19 outs were all groundouts.

Mets 7, Padres 2

4th Inning

Cowgill hustles for a double and moves Niese to third. Then the Birthday Boy, Daniel Murphy, drives Niese home with a single to make it 5-1 Mets.

Wright picks up an RBI on a groundout to score Cowgill.

Byrd drives hom Murphy with a two-our TBI and the Mets are blowing this game wide open!

Niese is having a solid start…

Mets 7, Padres 1

 

3rd Inning

The Mets score two more runs in the inning. Tejada, Byrd, Buck all getting into the act. It’s utter pandemonium!

Mets 4, Padres 1

2nd Inning

 

Ruben Tejada doubles home John Buck who chugs home to score the first run of the game. Deep breaths, John. :-)

Slugger Jon Niese singles Tejada home for the Mets second run and the Mets are on top 2-0 after two innings.

I told you we had this! :-)

Keith Hernandez is not loving the sea of orange t-shirts in right-center and calls them a distraction. He doesn’t like Volquez’ necklace either. Somebody give Mex a Tootsie Roll pop!

Mets 2, Padres 0

1st Inning

It’s scoreless after one, Wright got on after an error, but it could have easily been a hit. Who’s scoring this game, Alex68?

 

1:15 PM Update

12:45 PM Update

what a view citi field opening day

Awesome shot sent in by Clayton…

met tweet

Don’t just stand there… Do something! :-)

Dorian and Sebastian here for Sebastian's first opening day

These two die-hards are here for their first ever Mets Opening Day!

eddie kranepool

Eddie Wilkowski made Stephen Keane of the Kranepool Society happy with this pic…

Screenshot_1

Me and John are doing a weekly feature saluting the ’73 Mets and Eddie was nice enough to chime in!

11:45 AM Update

ed coop joey

MMO’s Coop, Ed and Joey never miss a Mets Opening Day!

BTW, Congrats to Joey our new MMO Senior Editor! :-)

clayton brick

Clayton was happy to see his Fan Walk Brick was still looking as good as new.

Jed Gyorko of the Padres family here to see him make his MLB debut

Padres rookie Jedd Gyorko has his family here to see him make his MLB debut.

Omar Minaya here! With Bud Black

Hey! Omar Minaya is here and chillin’ with Bud Black!

kevin burkhardt

Kevin Burkhardt is dressed to the nines…

METS OPENING DAY ROSTER

When the Mets are introduced this afternoon, there will be only nine players who were on last year’s Opening Day roster. Give a big hand to your New York Mets!

Catchers (2): John BuckAnthony Recker.

Infielders (5): Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Ike Davis, Ruben TejadaJustin Turner.

Outfielders (6): Jordany Valdespin, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter.

Pitchers (12):  Matt HarveyJeurys FamiliaLaTroy Hawkins, Bobby Parnell, Jonathon Niese, Dillon GeeJeremy Hefner,Scott RiceGreg BurkeJosh EdginScott AtchisonBrandon Lyon.

9:00 AM Update

opening day newstand

A dozen of us from Metsmerized Online have invaded Citi Field and we’ll be Live Blogging the entire day here at MMO. our MMO Fan Correspondent Clayton Collier is the first to report in and the newsstand caught his eye this morning.

John Delcos will be hitting the field and the clubhouse before the game and then will be posting in-game thoughts and some of the action live from the press box. After the game we’ll have a few roving reporters hitting the media room to catch what Terry Collins, David Wright and the rest of the team will have to say.

clayton is ready

Clayton is going in armed and ready and will be donning his new All Star Jersey which he had displayed in his own Mets Hall of Fame along with his replica Citi Field Fan-Walk brick and player signed baseballs.

Opening Day Notes

A Grand Opening Day: Todd Hundley has the only Mets grand slam on Opening Day…Hundley’s slam came on April 26, 1995 at Colorado off Billy Swift.

Opening Day Double-Shots: Robin Ventura, Bobby Bonilla, Cleon JonesDarryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds are the only five players in club history to hit two home runs in an Opening Day tilt…Ventura was the last to accomplish the feat on April 3, 2001 at Atlanta …Bonilla cracked two home runs in his first game as a Met on April 6, 1992 at St. Louis, Jones belted two home runs on April 6, 1975 vs. Philadelphia and Strawberry and McReynolds each hit two home runs on April 4, 1988 at Montreal in a 10-6 triumph.

Opening Day Zeroes: The Mets have recorded seven shutouts on Opening Day…The last time New York held an opponent scoreless on Opening Day was last year when the Mets blanked the Braves, 1-0…Meanwhile, the Mets have been shut out only once (7-0, April 9, 1963 vs. St. Louis) on Opening Day.

Opening Day Extras: The Mets have played six extra-inning games on Opening Day…They are 5-1 in those contests…The last extra-inning affair was a 6-4, 10-inning victory on April 3, 2001 at Atlanta.

Opening Day Ten-Spots: The Mets have scored 10 or more runs four times on Opening Day, including an Opening Day-high 12 runs on April 4, 1994 against the Cubs…New York surrendered an Opening Day-worst 15 runs to the Cubs in a 15-2 setback at Shea on March 31, 2003.

opening day

Mar 29

Days Dwindling For Mets; Questions Aren’t

The Mets have two games remaining in spring training, and if they don’t know what they have by now they never will.

They break camp today after playing St. Louis, then bus over to the bay side of the state to play the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Next will be Opening Day Monday afternoon against San Diego, while at the same time, in a display of scheduling genius by Major League Baseball, across town the Yankees will play the Red Sox.

COLLINS: No shortage of concerns.

COLLINS: No shortage of concerns.

The Mets have a myriad of remaining questions that won’t be answered in the next 18 innings. That’s not to say there aren’t a few things manager Terry Collins would like to see, most of them health related.

Daniel Murphy and David Wright have missed time with strained intercostal muscles. Murphy played yesterday against Washington in a major league game and Wright hopes to play today and tomorrow in major league games.

Both players say they are ready, but also said the gamble of playing in a major league game instead of a minor league game was worth taking because the speed and pace is closer to that of the regular season. If they are injured and have to go on the disabled list instead of being backdated deeper into spring training, then so be it.

Murphy goes into the season with a handful of at-bats, while Wright had the World Baseball Classic. Even so, neither will face the Padres in a groove.

Assuming Wright and Murphy are sound, the lone position to be determined is center field, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin the two contenders.

Nieuwenhuis entered spring training penciled in to start in center along side Lucas Duda in left and Mike Baxter in right, and was given first chance at the leadoff spot.

After a miserable start, Nieuwenhuis bruised his left knee and Valdespin emerged as a starting candidate in center – competing with Collin Cowgill – or at second with Murphy hurt.

As of yesterday, Collins said center field was up in the air, but wanted Nieuwenhuis to get at-bats, which presumably means the Mets want him to win the job.

Figuring seven or eight at-bats in the next games, that’s not enough for Nieuwenhuis to get in a groove, but it will have to do. Presumably, if Nieuwenhuis starts over Valdespin he would hit leadoff.

Pitching wise, Johan Santana wasn’t going to be an issue, but now the Mets can place him on the 60-day disabled list that would open up a spot on the 40-man roster. Call it Santana’s last contribution to the Mets, because with a re-tear of his anterior shoulder capsule, his career is likely over.

Jeremy Hefner will take his spot in the rotation, but took a ball off his right elbow Tuesday and Collins wants to give him a couple of innings to see how he feels. Hefner is scheduled the fourth game of the season, Friday against Miami at Citi Field.

The Mets still don’t know when Shaun Marcum can pitch, and could go with Aaron Laffey instead.

Even with Santana’s career-threatening injury, the Mets are adamant about not bringing up Zack Wheeler.

 

Mar 23

Mets Outfield Still A Mess; No Help Coming

For those hoping for a last minute trade or free-agent signing to give the Mets a representative outfield, there will be no meteor like event to change the obvious impression it will be a long season.

Sandy Alderson did not make a significant move over the winter to build the outfield. Instead he tinkered and went into spring training with a “hope for the best” mentality. Now, he’s telling reporters what nobody – outside the players involved – wants to hear which is the Mets are keeping a pat hand.

COWGILL: Could be in center on Opening Day

COWGILL: Could be in center on Opening Day

And, it’s not a full house.

“I think we’ve got a sense of who the five or six are who might be on the team,’’ Alderson said. “How exactly they’re used is something that we’ll talk about over the next week or so. What we have is what we’re going to have, and we’re not entirely displeased with that.’’

Doesn’t that also mean, they are not entirely pleased?

Also unsettling is outside of Lucas Duda in left field, the Mets don’t have a concrete idea of how they’ll use Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin.

That could be because they have no idea of what they are getting. Byrd is at the end of his career; Cowgill and Baxter have never been fulltime starters; and Duda is trying to learn a new position while at the same time attempting to figure out major league pitching.

Valdespin is now projected to open the season at second base because Daniel Murphy will not be ready. Murphy, down with a strained intercostal muscle, will not play in a minor league game today as hoped. Manager Terry Collins said if Murphy did not play this weekend he would open the season on the disabled list. The announcement is a formality now.

Collins has used Cowgill all over the outfield, while Byrd – perhaps having the greatest offensive upside – has played center and right. Baxter has been mostly used in right field.

The Mets’ best defensive outfielder is Matt den Dekker, but there is no indication they are considering him, citing his offense. Den Dekker has hit well recently, but not enough for the Mets’ liking. It should be noted, that neither has anybody else.

Of the group, only Duda and Baxter were on the roster last season, and Duda could very well be the only one in spring training next season if there’s development in the minor leagues or the Mets spend in the off-season as they promised.

Entering spring training, the penciled-in outfield – from left to right – was Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Baxter, with Cowgill rated No. 4. Byrd wasn’t even in camp and Valdespin was a long shot to make the team.

The acquisition of Byrd put him ahead of Baxter in right because of his offensive potential, and Valdespin hit his way onto the Mets’ radar.

There is no track record to indicate Valdespin will continue to hit and when Murphy returns he will find himself back on the bench.

What the Mets have is a handful of role players who have never performed in the role of a fulltime, productive starter.

What the Mets have is a problem.