Aug 19

Mets begin tough stretch tonight

The Mets open a difficult stretch tonight with three games against Milwaukee, followed by three each against Philadelphia and Atlanta. They are three games below .500, but could be in the NL East basement by the time the month is over.

Considering how they’ve played most of the season, it would be a shame.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup looks resembles one of those spring training batting orders sent to Fort Myers. David Wright, Angel Pagan and Jose Thole are the only Opening Day starters in tonight’s lineup behind Mike Pelfrey against the Brewers.

Nothing quite says rebuilding like tonight’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, 2B

David Wright, 1B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Baxter, RF

Jason Pridie, LF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Mike Pelfrey, RP

Looking at tonight’s lineup, one can envision it being on the field a lot next year, minus Harris, Baxter and Pridie.

The frequently banged up Justin Turner will sit tonight for the fourth time in seven games. Also, sitting is Jason Bay, who is on an 0-for-20 slide.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes continues to rehab his strained left hamstring. He’s running straight forward, but not cutting corners or going full throttle.

It isn’t likely Reyes will be activated when he’s eligible, Aug. 23.

 

Aug 09

Last night is why we watch

It was a habit I picked up as a Little Leaguer, and that is to hang around until the last out. As a reporter, I had no choice, but as a casual viewer there were times I shut things down when the game got out of hand, which has happened more than a few times in recent seasons.

The Mets: Primetime entertainment last night reminds us of what's good.

But, not so much this year, and definitely not last night.

There’s a resiliency about these Mets that make up for their void in talent. There is a likable quality to this team because they overachieve. They hustle where previous Mets teams did not.

Mike Pelfrey was frustrating as he squandered a three-run lead, and then the bullpen blew up. Normally, that would be the story line, but this time the offense – which had been stagnant – responded and thankfully made us forget about Pelfrey.

Normally, when the Mets get hit with a four-spot in the eighth, it is time to look away, but they quickly put two on with one out, and there was the curiosity factor with Mike Baxter coming up.

Of course, I wanted to see the local kid. He’s a good story, and I always root for good stories. His double and Ronny Paulino’s sacrifice fly made it a two run game. They made it worthwhile to keep watching.

I thought about Scott Hairston’s homer in Washington, and Lucas Duda’s ninth-inning, game-tying homer the other day. OK, they still lost, but the situation was there again and it made me wonder.

Jason Pridie singled, and one out later, so did Justin Turner, who is becoming one of my favorite players to watch this year. He hung in on Heath Bell’s breaking ball and dumped it into left. It was a pitch that could easily have eaten him up.

David Wright singled in a run, and all of a sudden the winning run was on second after another wild pitch by Bell.

Up again was Duda, who for some reason reminds me of Lucas McCain of The Rifleman TV series. There’s the name, Lucas, of course, but Duda is bull strong like the McCain character. Connors, by the way, played briefly for the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Dodgers before turning to acting.

The Mets are counting on Duda for power, but it was great to see him go with the pitch and take it up the middle. Professional hitting at its best.

It has been a summer with a growing injury list, the saga of the Mets’ finances and the future of Jose Reyes and where he’ll take his tender hammy next year.

But, for one night at least it was good to get away from all that and watch the Mets show their heart.

After all, games like last night is why we watch, and maybe it was the first game for somebody who became hooked on your ball club.

Last night was a game that reminded us why we are baseball fans and that the baseball clock ticks in outs, not minutes.

And, when outs remain, so does hope.

 

 

Aug 02

Mets more maddening than amazing.

They are still more maddening than amazing.

After winning five straight, the Mets have dropped three in a row and are a poor 22-27 at home, where they should be more formidable.

PELFREY: Still wonder about him.

A team can’t be a contender if it doesn’t win at home. And, they won’t win if they keep playing as they did last night.

Of course, it begins with pitching, and Mike Pelfrey continues to make you scratch your head, even when he gives up three runs. That should be enough to win most games, but last night was not most games. Winning pitchers find a way to shut down the opposition, especially when their offense falters, but Pelfrey remains too generous.

There are times, especially because he throws a sinker, when Pelfrey needs bust a hitter on the fists and get a ground ball – or go for the strikeout – but last night he gave up two sacrifice flies.

I thought Pelfrey made strides last season, but he’s regressed to where I wonder if he’ll ever be mentally tough enough to consistently work out of trouble. I’m not saying he must be Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale, but he needs to get meaner.

Had Pelfrey avoided one of those sacrifice flies there never would have been Mike Stanton’s grand slam. Pelfrey isn’t good enough to overcome, at least not on a consistent basis, the mistakes the Mets committed last night.

Not surprisingly, much of the focus is on Daniel Murphy, who, after cutting a ball off from right fielder Lucas Duda, was hesitant to throw to Justin Turner at first to nail Dewayne Wise. Murphy was afraid of the runner on third, but Turner had the play in front of him and an easier throw to the plate.

So, instead of two outs and first base open, Jason Isringhausen was forced to pitch to Stanton. Of course, it is still up to Isringhausen to make the quality pitch to get out of the inning, which he didn’t.

Earlier, there was a poor throw by David Wright that led to a run, and Jose Reyes being easily thrown out at the plate. Maybe the blame goes to Chip Hale for that one.

Overall, the Mets are playing better than expected, but still there are too many times they beat themselves, and last night was one of them.

Duda’s game-tying homer in the ninth inning gave us the gift of hope and exhilaration, of what we’d like things to be, but in the end there again was more maddening than amazing.

 

Jun 30

Hot Mets still need David Wright.

I am not saying this hasn’t been fun to watch, but Justin Verlander will start this afternoon for the Detroit Tigers against the Mets.

WRIGHT: Still need his stroke.

The Mets have won four straight games – scoring a franchise record 52 runs in the process – and six of their last seven to climb to two games over .500.

All teams go through stretches like this where they seemingly score at will. They’ve been scarce for the Mets, who should be enjoying it while they can.

However, this is not to say the Mets have turned some kind of offensive turner and evolve into another Lumber Company or Big Red Machine. Amazingly, some suggest David Wright’s return might gum up the works.

Hardly.

Wright started swinging the bat yesterday in a pool and could hit off a tee today. If all goes well he could play rehab games in a week and possibly return after the All-Star break.

Yes, the Mets are hot now and playing with a degree of chemistry, but they are only two games over .500 and five games behind in the wild card. After Detroit, they have the Yankees for three games and a long West Coast trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There’s a lot of season left, but an even smaller window where the Mets must prove they are players and worthy of not having the plug pulled from their season. A lot rides over the next 31 days, and it would be foolish to suggest the Mets would be better off without Wright in that span.