May 22

Mets’ Offense Flat Again In 4-0 Loss To Reds

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The Cincinnati Reds (25-18) shutout the New York Mets (17-25) by the score of 4-0 tonight at a sparsely crowded Citi Field.

Left-hander Jon Niese started for the Mets and and after getting the first two outs in the first inning he allowed a hit and a pair of walks to load the bases. Niese had a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and induced a hard grounder to third for what should have been the third out. However, David Wright committed his fourth error of the season as the ball went under his glove and through his legs allowing two runs to score. Niese was rattled after that and allowed another run to score before finally getting the third out to put the Reds up 3-0. All of the runs were unearned.

Niese threw 48 pitches in that wild first inning and it appeared he was heading for an early shower. But to his credit he gutted out five scoreless innings after that and wound up giving the Mets a very solid effort allowing just five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven. Niese took the loss, but saw his ERA improve to 4.80 for the season.

The Reds score their fourth and final run in the ninth when Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco greeted Collin McHugh with a home run to leadoff the inning.

Offensively, the Mets had nothing but blanks… Nothing but the same sorry, pitiful offense that has plagued the team all season. Reds starter Mike Leake hurled seven scoreless innings and allowed the Mets’ only three hits of the game – one each by Lucas Duda, John Buck and Daniel Murphy.

It’s getting pretty hard to watch this team and I thought Sandy Alderson would address that while he visited the with gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the third inning, but he was at a loss for words. He said he was going to continue to hang in there with Ike Davis a little longer, which is the last thing anyone of us wanted to hear. Davis batted seventh and went 0-for-three tonight and saw his batting average fall to .149 for the season. Pathetic.

The Mets will wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PM when right-hander Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA) takes on Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91 ERA) and tries to avoid the sweep.

May 20

Mets Must Develop Consistency In Batting Order

Constructing a major league batting order is a tricky enough task for a manager in the best of times, let alone with the limited and non-productive options in front of Terry Collins.

It was good to see Daniel Murphy back at leadoff Monday against Cincinnati, but somewhat surprised at first to see Rick Ankiel at second. Then again, Murphy won’t be doing a lot of stealing, so there’s not much of a need for him to work the count.

Then again, working the count might not be such a bad idea if it helps Ankiel get a better pitch and cuts down on his strikeouts. You also have to wonder if having a hot David Wright behind him will have pitchers challenge him by throwing more fastballs inside the zone, which theoretically is the theory of hitters protecting each other in the batting order.

Murphy is on a 14-for-28 tear over his last seven games and Ankiel has two homers since the Mets picked him up last week, so there’s life at the top of the order. Wright has also been swinging a hot bat.

Moving Lucas Duda to cleanup and dropping Ike Davis to sixth seems the best option, although I would drop Davis lower – to Triple-A Las Vegas. But, if he stays, let him stick at seventh. Sixth can be a RBI spot in the order, so why keep Davis there when he’s not producing? Until Davis shows he can produce, and he erroneously has said he needs to hit on this level and not in the minor leagues.

What Davis doesn’t get is this isn’t about the majors vs. the minors, but for him addressing his mechanics and approach. Staying in the majors won’t shake him of his bad habits and approach. That will take diligent work in the minors.

Assuming a full season for Ankiel, from him at second, and including Wright, Duda, Marlon Byrd, Davis and John Buck, the Mets have six straight hitters on pace for over 100 strikeouts. Five Mets who normally start are hitting lower than .240. Overall, the Mets have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 13 games and 15 of their last 22.

In spring training Collins said he wanted consistency in the batting order, but realistically hasn’t had many options. One thing he could do is keep Ruben Tejada eighth, which is prudent considering his .219 average.

Collins has waffled before, but if there’s no replacement for Davis – and general manager Sandy Alderson said that is not imminent – here’s hoping he sticks with this indefinitely.There might be minor tweaking depending on specific match-ups and working others into the lineup, but overall hopefully nothing dramatic.

Look at it this way, there’s nothing working with all the juggling. The Mets have used seven different hitters batting leadoff, fifth and eighth; eight number six hitters; and 11 at seventh.

There’s nothing stable there, and that must change.

As usual, your comments are always welcome and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 16

Found: Guts In Mets Clubhouse

Finally, guts.

LaTroy Hawkins has been around a long time. He has forgotten more about clubhouse protocol than most Mets will ever know.

Yes, we’re talking again about Jordany Valdespin, this time Hawkins’ take on the matter to national baseball writer Bob Nightengale.

Nightengale has been around a long time. He knows the ropes, and after years of living in Minneapolis developed a relationship of trust with Hawkins, a long-time Twin.

“What were we supposed to do there? We were down six runs, he hits a home run and he acts like it’s a walk-off,’’ Nightengale said of Valdespin’s posing after a meaningless home run.

“This isn’t Little League. What, now we’re supposed to get into a fight for that? We’re supposed to throw at somebody because he did a bonehead thing? Now, if they throw at him for no reason, that’s a different story. We protect our team. But to do what he did put us in a bad spot, a real bad spot.

“He showed absolutely no respect. If you’re going to pimp it, you’re going to suffer the consequences. I have no problem defending my teammates, but some things, you just can’t defend against. He’s created a lot of unnecessary tension around here.’’

Earlier today, I listed several action steps for Sandy Alderson. I wonder if he’s taken the temperature in his clubhouse. I wonder if he’s spoken to a veteran like Hawkins.

I don’t expect a general manager to act on the basis of one quote, but I do expect him to know the sentiments of his players.

Perhaps the Mets will wise up and get rid of Valdespin soon, but for now he’s in the starting line-up as the leadoff hitter in right field.

Here’s today’s line-up as the Mets attempt in St. Louis to avoid a seventh straight defeat:

Jordany Valdespin, RF: Whatever he does today, let’s hope he’s quiet about it.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Broke out of slump with seven hits in last four games.

David Wright, 3B: Coming off his worst game of the season with a costly run-generating error and three strikeouts. Is batting .419 with runners in scoring position.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitless in 11 at-bats in the three games so far against Cardinals. Overall, one hit in last 20 at-bats and hitting .164.

Lucas Duda, LF: Hitless in ten at-bats in the series. Is .143 (3-21) with runners in scoring position.

John Buck, C: Thrown out twice at second Wednesday night. Why was he trying to steal?

Rick Ankiel, CF: Homered last night.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Batting .174 for month of May.

Jonathan Niese, LHP: Hasn’t won in five starts. Has to try to do it with this line-up.

May 15

Mets Wrap: Losing Streak Reaches Six Straight

The Mets received a strong outing from Shaun Marcum and Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer, but that was the extent of the highlights as the Cardinals scored the game-winning run in the seventh inning on Scott Rice’s run-producing wild pitch in the 4-2 loss. John Buck was doubled off second base and was caught stealing, and David Wright dropped the ball attempting to tag John Jay, who eventually scored. The Mets dropped to 14-23 with their sixth straight loss.

ANKIEL: Homered to tie game. (AP)

ANKIEL: Homered to tie game. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Marcum had his best moment with the Mets, giving up three runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. Marcum walked one, but as fate would have it for the Mets, Daniel Descalso came around to score the go-ahead run on Rice’s wild pitch.

AT THE PLATE: Ankiel had two hits, including a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh. … Seven more strikeouts by Mets hitters, including three by Wright. … Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are hitting .164 and .205, respectively.

METS MATTERS: Zack Wheeler took a cortisone injection to his right shoulder and will resume throwing in 48 hours. He will miss at least one start.

THEY SAID IT: “Oh boy,’’ sighed Keith Hernandez when Cardinals went ahead in seventh on run-scoring wild pitch from Scott Rice.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Number of Mets in tonight’s lineup hitting less than .240.

ON DECK: Jon Niese (2-4) tries to win for the first time in six starts Thursday afternoon against Adam Wainwright.

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May 14

Mets Wrap: Routed By Cardinals

As the Knicks were getting pasted in Indianapolis, the Mets did their part to put New York sports fans in a gloomy mood in tonight’s 10-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the Mets’ fifth straight loss to drop them to eight games under .500. Since Jordany Valdespin’s tenth-inning grand slam, April 24, beat the Dodgers to go to 10-9, the Mets have gone 4-13.

GEE: Ripped by Cards.

GEE: Ripped by Cards.

ON THE MOUND: The Mets needed innings from Dillon Gee, or more to the point, effective innings. Instead, the Cardinals got to him for six runs through three innings. … Robert Carson gave up a three-run homer to Carlos Beltran. He also gave up a homer to John Jay.

AT THE PLATE: So much for the decision to go with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda back-to-back in the batting order. Terry Collins attributed his move to the match-up against John Gast, who was making his first start. Didn’t he know Gast would be pitching tonight? More importantly, this juggling of Davis – because of an unproven pitcher such as Gast – speaks loudly of Collins’ confidence in Davis. … John Buck prevented total embarrassment with a RBI single. … Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer.

WHEELER INJURED: Zack Wheeler will come to New York to have his right clavicle examined. After three straight strong starts, Wheeler complained of soreness in the area. He’s expected to miss at least one start.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6: Homers given up by Carson in 8.1 innings.

THEY SAID IT: “We’ve gone through a bad streak and it’s two weeks long. … We have to play better. We have to coach better. We have to manage better.’’ – Collins on this miserable stretch.

ON DECK: Shaun Marcum (0-3) will start against Shelby Miller (5-2) on Wednesday.

 

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