May 10

Murphy Produces Hitting Third

We can’t assume the Mets’ heretofore stagnant offense is suddenly vibrant after one game, but we can conclude Daniel Murphy should remain hitting third for the foreseeable future. The Mets are hoping Murphy’s three hits in today’s 7-4 victory over Philadelphia can jumpstart an offense that has scored three or fewer runs in 16 of their 31 games.

The offense broke through today to make Bartolo Colon the majors’ first six-game winner of the season.

MURPHY: Getting hot. (Getty)

MURPHY: Getting hot. (Getty)

Traditionally, the No. 3 hitter is a team’s best hitter with the combination of average and power, which is the injured David Wright. Lucas Duda had been hitting third, but he’s slumping and not hitting with power. That leaves the warming Murphy, who a week ago was being showcased for a possible trade to San Francisco. He’s not going anywhere now.

Manager Terry Collins opened the season with a twist by dropping Juan Lagares from leadoff to sixth in the order, and moving up Curtis Granderson to first. Wright was hitting second and Duda third. Later, when injuries took Wright and Travis d’Arnaud from the lineup, and with Duda slumping and Granderson still first, there was a lack of punch in the order.

The Mets thrived during an 11-game winning streak with solid starting pitching and timely hitting, but the offense wilted in losing seven of ten.

With no help coming from the minors or in a trade, Collins needed a spark and this could happen with Murphy. In a domino effect, Duda dropped to clean-up where he thrived last season and Michael Cuddyer moved to fifth.

Collins will have some decisions to make when Wright returns, and he’ll resume baseball activities Monday. He could move Wright to second, where he was hitting before he was injured. Subsequently, Lagares could go back to sixth, or he could hit first with Granderson moving to the middle of the order.

That’s to be determined, but Murphy in the third spot worked out today, and this week the Mets have the Cubs and Brewers, teams they are better than and should be able to handle. There’s no better time than to run with this lineup and see where it goes.

 

 

May 09

Tejada Makes Most Of Opportunity

Mets manager Terry Collins was rewarded with Saturday night’s decision to go with Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores at shortstop. It will be interesting to see how long Collins rides the hot hand after Tejada’s play in the 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.

Last weekend, Collins went with Tejada in consecutive games after a string of Flores’ errors. At the time I wondered if the Mets were greasing the skids for benching Flores full time. Tonight, with Jon Niese, who throws a lot of groundballs on the mound, Collins went with the better glove and the thought returned.

This time, Tejada did something to warrant staying in the lineup with two hits and starting a key double play that literally saved the game for the Mets. What Tejada did was give the Mets – for one game, at least – the type of shortstop play they expected of him when he assumed the job after Jose Reyes’ departure.

Tejada doubled lead to off the fifth and scored on an error, but in the eighth is when he earned his money. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out when Carlos Ruiz ripped a hard grounder Tejada backhanded to start an inning-ending and game-saving 6-4-3 double play.

“[Ruiz] hit the ball very hard,’’ Tejada said. “We had to, no matter what, had to make that play.’’

Considering Flores’ defensive problems, one had to think he wouldn’t have made that play and the Phillies could have at least tied the game.

The Mets’ hadn’t been happy with Tejada’s work ethic the past few years and some thought he might not have made the roster coming out of spring training, but that appears to have changed.

“It’s the hardest I’ve seen him work,’’ Collins said. “He’s kept himself ready to play. Here’s a guy who wants to get back in there.’’

Collins plans to start Tejada Sunday at second base and you wonder how much of a chance he will get.

 

May 08

Harvey Goes For Sixth Straight Against Phillies

By its simplest definition, a pitching ace must show up big when his team needs him most, which is what the Mets want tonight from Matt Harvey in Philadelphia.

Harvey (5-0, 2.41), who beat the Nationals and Yankees in his last two starts, will be trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach six victories this season. The last Mets starter to open a season at 5-0 was Pedro Martinez in 2006. The club record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

He is 6-0 lifetime against the Philles, whom he beat April 14, 6-5 at Citi Field. If you recall, that was the game Harvey threw behind Chase Utley and plunked in the back. Utley is having a miserable season, batting .103, but is 6-for-15 lifetime against Harvey. Utley sat out the Phillies’ last two games but is in the lineup tonight.

The Mets are coming off a 5-1 win Wednesday over Baltimore, their second straight after losing seven of their previous ten games.

May 06

Rushing Wright Would Be Wrong

The Mets would be wrong to rush David Wright off the disabled list. Manager Terry Collins said Wright’s pulled right hamstring is making gradual progress, and the projection is he could get into a minor league rehab game this weekend and activated next week.

“He’s starting to speed things up, which is a good sign,” Collins told reporters at Citi Field.

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

Sounds good, but haven’t we heard similar projections from the Mets over the years, and this includes on Wright?

Thank you, but no.

I would rather wait and see Wright the following week if it means having him intact for the remainder of the season. Hamstrings are an extremely tricky and unpredictable injury. Wright not only has to stretch out the hamstring, but test it running, with start-and-stop moves and changing directions while running.

The conventional wisdom on hamstring injuries is – and remember when this first happened the prognosis was a tight hamstring – whatever the original timeframe simply add a week.

Sure, I would like to see Wright out next week. Hell, I wanted to see him a week ago. But, what I don’t want is to see him hurt again.

No need to rush.

May 05

Mets Game Wrap: Colon Superb In 3-2 Win Over Orioles

The slumping – but not yet reeling – Mets showed wake-up signs tonight in a 3-2 victory over the Orioles. The Mets had lost seven of their last ten games going in.

Tonight was about Bartolo Colon (W, 5-1), who was magnificent, giving up on run on six hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

With his pitch count low, manager Terry Collins pushed the envelope by letting Colon come out for the eighth. But, Collins had seen enough when after one out, Manny Machado homered and Jimmy Paredes flied to the warning track in left.

Carlos Torres relieved Colon and got Adams Jones on a grounder to shortstop. Jeurys Familia earned his major league leading 11th save, but not before giving up a homer to Chris Davis leading off the ninth.

The game’s turning point came long before that, when the Orioles appeared poised to break though in the top of the fourth when Jones and Davis lead off with singles. Delmon Young followed with a dribbler to the right of the mound Colon pounced on and threw to first. Colon then struck out Caleb Joseph and Travis Snider to end the threat.

In the bottom of the inning, the Mets snapped a string of 21 scoreless innings on a double by Lucas Duda, single by Daniel Murphy and back-to-back doubles by Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki.

The Mets improved to 17-10 overall and 12-3 at home.

Jacob deGrom, who was hit hard in his last two starts by the Yankees and Nationals, will start Wednesday night against Baltimore.