May 13

Mets Lose, Rangers Win In Dramatic Fashion

The TV remote has to be one of the greatest inventions of all time, and it allowed me to switch between the Mets and Rangers tonight. When my eyes weren’t glued on Matt Harvey and the Mets, they were focused on Henrik Lundqvist and the front of the Rangers’ goal.

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

There’s an obvious disconnect in the paces of the two sports, but each has their different kinds of mounting tensions.

Seconds after Jeurys Familia walked Chris Coghlan to force in the winning run in the ninth inning, Derek Stepan put a rebounded shot in from the left wing in overtime to win a classic Game 7.

There was a slowly, mounting tension as Familia entered a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and as each pitch missed the strike zone you could see Harvey’s brilliant effort slip away. Meanwhile, at Madison Square Garden there was an incredible steady pressure as the Capitals were literally camped in front of Lundqvist.

Whether it was the Garden or Wrigley Field, there was no margin for error for either New York team. The Mets could afford their third straight loss because after all, it is only May. But, in Manhattan one mistake and the Rangers would welcome in summer instead of Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference finals.

Harvey entered the game with the plan of using more breaking balls to start off hitters and it worked. A tough luck loser in his last start, Harvey gave up three hits with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. He left with a 1-0 lead, but his sixth victory would not to be as Carlos Torres gave up the tying run in the eighth and loaded the bases to put Familia in a precarious jam he could not escape.

Meanwhile, as Familia struggled the Rangers cleared the puck into the Washington zone and after a brief flurry the puck came to Stepan and he knew what to do with it.

Perhaps, in several months when the Rangers are starting a new season, the Mets might be playing in a Game 7 of their own.

May 01

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Halts Slide With Gem

Matt Harvey did what aces are expected to do, which was pick up his struggling Mets when they needed him most with a 4-0 gem tonight over the Washington Nationals.

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

The Mets went into the game losers of three straight to watch their once sizable lead over the Nationals dwindle down to five games (4.5 over Atlanta and Miami). Yes, tonight was as close to being a “must win” game as you can get on the first day of May.

Harvey relishes these situations and responded by giving up only five hits in seven scoreless innings despite not having his best fastball (indicative of only three strikeouts). Consequently, Harvey had to go to his breaking ball more than he normally would have wanted.

Matt Harvey takes these games to heart. When you have a No. 1, it’s just great to have,” manager Terry Collins said. “You can depend on him.”

His 5-0 record is comprised with three victories following a Mets’ loss. Earlier today I wrote about what makes Harvey special, but there’s another reason – he can locate all of his pitches and do so without his best fastball.”

It was thought Harvey, who was aided by Michael Cuddyer‘s homer in the fourth and a diving catch by Juan Lagares‘ diving catch in the fifth, might come out for the eighth, but Collins said he didn’t think he had anything left.

“I thought he had run out of gas,” Collins said. “He was starting to labor between pitches. The one thing I didn’t want to do was to have to go out there if and they got a  guy on and you have to go out and get him.”

Harvey had no qualms with Collins’ decision.

“I think he made the right decision,” Harvey said. “He did exactly what he needed to do. He made the right call.”

This put the Mets in position of having to rely on Jeurys Familia for a fifth-out save. What could have been a tense situation was considerably relaxed with Daniel Murphy‘s three-run double in the eighth.

Harvey called Familia’s effort “huge,” but the same can be said for his.



Apr 23

Amazing Start Changing Perception Of Mets

As special as the Mets played Wednesday, today was important for another reason. After winning their tenth straight game last night, there was tremendous letdown potential for today, but this team would have no part of such talk as it tied a franchise best with its eleventh straight victory in sweeping a ten-game home stand.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

It was cold, the stands were mostly empty, and there were moments of sloppiness. Daniel Murphy blew a play in the field that lead to a pair of Atlanta runs; Wilmer Flores was picked off second; and the hitting was sporadic.

However, the offense drew eight walks; Bartolo Colon was sharp again in winning his fourth straight start; Murphy drove in four runs; and the bullpen was again in shutdown mode, keyed by another strong appearance from Buddy Carlyle and Jeurys Familia‘s eighth straight save in a 6-3 victory over the Braves.

To win despite not being sharp is another significant sign in a season that already has had so many. The starting pitching; the bullpen; winning close games; winning within the division; coming from behind; just about everything they haven’t done in previous seasons.

What the Mets are doing is changing the perception, which might be one of the hardest things to do in sports.

“That was one of our goals coming out of spring training, that we are different,” manager Terry Collins said. “There are expectations. This sends a huge message to our fans that what we said we meant.”

Previous Mets teams would not have over come the long string of injuries and adversity that has already hit them hard this season.

“It has been the resiliency,” Collins said of the one ingredient that defined the home stand. “We have been behind in a lot of the nights, but we hung in there and executed.”

The Mets had spotty moments today and will have some in the future. However, Collins vowed this team is different and will handle those moments different than from other recent Mets’ teams.

“Whether it will be in the next week, the next six weeks, the next four months, there will be no panic with this team,” Collins promised.

He sounded believable.

Apr 23

Don’t Think We’ll See Mejia Again

Resiliency is a characteristic of a championship caliber team, and so far it defines the 2015 New York Mets.

To date, they have lost for the season Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin to elbow injuries, and Jenrry Mejia to a drug suspension. They are also without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell.

A little more than two weeks in and the Mets are on their second catcher and third closer.

There have been a lot of key figures to the Mets’ climb to the top of the NL East, but arguably one of their most important has been Jeurys Familia, who took the closer role from Mejia and by extension, Parnell.

The Mets’ bullpen is minus Parnell, Black, Edgin and Mejia, which are four of the seven they had counted on. Imagine where they might be today without Familia’s seven saves.

When Parnell does return, manager Terry Collins said he won’t immediately return to closing duties, and chances are Mejia will never wear a Mets’ uniform again.

If Mejia’s 80-game suspension isn’t enough to act as a deterrent for those players that choose to find an illegal edge, then perhaps this might be – not only is Mejia suspended, but his career could be over. At least, his one in Flushing.

Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.