May 07

Colon One Of A Kind

Bartolo Colon swings hard, so you figured if he ever caught a pitch just right it might go out. Well, it finally happened in the second inning Saturday night when Colon, 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, connected against James Shields in the 226th at-bat of his career.

This wasn’t a “run for the roses,’’ as much as it was a 31-second jog around the bases, long enough for the Mets to vacate the bench, fans back home to text their friends with a “you’ll never believe what just happened,” message, and researchers to discover he became the oldest player to hit his first career homer.

Colon’s blast – and he did crush it – was one of four the Mets hit on the night. Yoenis Cespedes hit the first in the first inning, and David Wright and Michael Conforto went back-to-back in the ninth as the Mets regained their power stroke to beat the Padres, 6-3, and Colon won the 221st game of his splendid career.

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

Incidentally, the Mets also have the oldest player ever to hit a homer in Julio Franco at 47.

This is Colon’s third year with the Mets. He was originally signed to pick up the innings void when Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 and 14 games, respectively, in his first two years and worked over 190 innings each time.

Colon won over the hearts of Mets’ fans, not to mention his teammates, with his work ethic and outwardly unashamed signs of enjoying himself on the field. Colon also won everybody’s respect last year when he volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen during the playoffs.

Colon’s behind-the-back flip to first base last year in MIami was a sense of comic relief, but Saturday’s homer came at a time when the struggling Mets’ offense most needed a jolt.

However, the Mets didn’t get Colon to rake. They got him to pitch, and once again he came up with a quality outing, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts. It marked the fourth time in six starts this year Colon (3-1) has gone at least six innings, and the 50th time in 68 starts with the Mets he’s gone that far.

Those, however, are numbers. He means far more than stats to this franchise. To watch his teammates mob him in the dugout, to hear how they love to tease him and enjoy his company, is a reflection how much they like and admire him. That’s a sign of respect not many players get to enjoy.

Colon has been a joy to watch during his short time here. He’ll go down as one of the most beloved Mets.

 

Apr 15

Don’t Give Credit For Mets’ Power Surge To Collins’ Rant

Let’s not go overboard giving Mets manager Terry Collins’ post-game outburst Wednesday credit for tonight’s power surge. We all expected the Mets would eventually hit. The Mets entered the game with only two homers, but clubbed four in beating the Cleveland Indians, 6-5, Friday night. They also had a season-high 14 hits.

CONFORTO: Homer gets it going for Mets. (AP)

CONFORTO: Homer gets it going for Mets. (AP)

Collins went off after the Mets’ victory over Miami, going after the supposed critics of his team’s effort, but I can’t recall anybody who criticized their effort. What has come under fire was their lack of hitting, but we all figured Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda would eventually hit.

It’s an oversimplification to think Collins’ rant is baseball’s version of “win one for the Gipper,’’ because most everybody liked this lineup entering the season.

Michael Conforto, Cespedes, Neil Walker and Alejandro De Aza all homered.

Collins said Wednesday’s game was something “we had to have,’’ which two days later is still odd considering it was just the eighth of the season.

Collins took liberties with Jim Henderson, who, coming off surgery, threw 34 pitches the night before. He also pushed it with Jeurys Familia, who despite being ill, pitched for a third straight game to get a five-out save. He also played David Wright in a day game after a night game, something he said before the season he didn’t want to do.

All smacked of panic. Regardless of GM Sandy Alderson backing Collins, the outcome of the season’s eighth game is not essential.

However, give Collins kudos for moving Conforto up to No. 3 in the order. All too often Collins makes a move that works, only to reverse the next game. Here’s hoping Collins stays with Conforto hitting third and playing De Aza, who homered and doubled.

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Apr 13

Collins Runs For Mayor Of Panic City

Less than 24 hours after calling the baseball season a marathon, Mets manager Terry Collins decided to run for mayor of Panic City. Moments after his sluggish Mets beat Miami, 2-0, to snap a four-game losing streak, Collins went off in a press conference, calling the victory “a game we had to have.”

COLLINS: Shows panic signs. (AP)

COLLINS: Shows panic signs. (AP)

When the season is less than ten games old, there’s no such thing as a “must win” game. How can there be when there are 154 games left to be played? On Opening Day, I wrote this season would be Collins’ toughest job of his career because it carried with it the weight of expectations.

He has not dealt with this slow start well.

Collins handled the Mets masterfully last season in guiding them to the World Series through the landmines of a key injury to David Wright, the innings-flap concerning Matt Harvey, and nearly a two-month offensive slump. There were other pitfalls, but Collins wouldn’t let his team step into them.

This afternoon he stepped into one himself. It’s not so much admitting he reads and listens to the media and fans, but in conceding it is getting to him. No manager should ever admit to that, especially on April 13.

“I’m worried about the perception there’s no energy here,” Collins told reporters in response to a question why he considered today’s game so important this early in the season. “That’s completely not true. I’m not deaf. I’m not blind. I hear what people are saying. I’ve been hearing that we’re not prepared, that we’re overconfident and it made me sick to my stomach.

“We’re trying. People better understand we’re out to win. We care. We’re going to get this going. We had to send the message that this team is as dedicated this year as it was last year. I thought it was important for our fan base to stay excited. I thought today was a game we had to win. We need to show people we need business.”

That’s why he played Wright in an afternoon game following a night game; why he rode reliever Jim Henderson on the day after he threw 34 pitches; why he used Jeurys Familia for a five-out save. He said he would have done things differently if the Mets were 5-2 going into the game instead of 2-5.

That’s amazing. It is absurd.

Things haven’t gone for the Mets the way we’ve wanted or expected, but we’re eight games into this season. It’s foolish to think they can’t turn things around. Collins has been around long enough to know a hot week can change the outlook of a team.

He said he didn’t want people to have the perception they weren’t prepared. Instead, after Collins’ melt down the perception is one of panic and that’s far worse.

ON DECK: Game wrap

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Apr 13

April 13, Mets’ Lineup Against Miami

The Mets are hoping Logan Verrett can pitch well enough and their dormant offense wakes up this afternoon against Miami to snap their four-game losing streak.

Verrett will get the start for Jacob deGrom, who was scratched with tightness in his right lat.

Mets

Curtis Granderson, RF

David Wright, 3B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Neil Walker, 2B

Wilmer Flores, 1B

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

Juan Lagares, CF

Kevin Plawecki, C

Verrett, RP

COMMENTS:  Against Marlins lefty, Flores and Lagares start; MIcheal Conforto rests and Cespedes moves from center to left. … Wright leads the team in hitting. … No surprise Plawecki starts over Travis d’Arnaud at catcher. With d’Arnaud hitting .074 maybe he should sit for awhile. … Not only aren’t the Mets hitting, they aren’t drawing walks, either. … Lucas Duda on the bench today.

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Apr 11

Mets Wrap: Let’s Not Worry About Matz

If you’re of the belief Steven Matz will be a good pitcher, one worthy of winning the NL Rookie of the Year, then there’s nothing to worry about. After all, disastrous starts will happen, and that was the case Monday night.

MATZ: Rocked by Marlins. (AP)

MATZ: Rocked by Marlins. (AP)

Matz was rocked for seven runs in 1.2 innings as the Mets were routed 10-3 by Miami. And, what would a loss to the Marlins be without a Giancarlo Stanton bomb?

Matz did a lot of things wrong. He walked two to start the second inning; he got the ball up; he gave up four hits after getting two strikes.

What Matz didn’t do was make excuses and quickly dismissed a postgame question about being rusty from going 10 days between starts.

“I don’t think so,’’ Matz told reporters. “The second inning got away from me really quickly. … It wasn’t very good.’’

But every pitcher gets ripped from time to time, no matter how good they are.

Matz said he would look at video to check his mechanics. He’ll also work in the bullpen with pitching coach Dan Warthen.Matz said he’s usually very hard on himself, but he will be better served if he tries to grasp something catcher Travis d’Arnaud said: “It happens to everyone.’’

Matz said he’s usually very hard on himself, but he will be better served if he tries to grasp something catcher Travis d’Arnaud said: “It happens to everyone.’’

If anything, the Mets should be more concerned about their bullpen – which worked 7.2 innings – than Matz.But, let’s not worry about Matz. It’s way too early to panic.

But, let’s not worry about Matz. It’s way too early to panic.

GAME WRAP

Here are the nuts-and-bolts about the Mets’ third straight loss:

GAME #6:  Marlins 10, at Mets 3.  Record: 2-4. Streak: L 3

SUMMARY: Matz gave up seven runs in the second inning. The listless Mets’ offense had seven hits.

KEY MOMENT: Stanton’s two-run homer in the second chased Matz.

THUMBS UP: You want to hold me to this? OK. Yoenis Cespedes had two more hits for continued breakout signs. … David Wright also had two hits. … Addison Reed struck out four in 1.2 innings in relief. … Jacob deGrom’s wife finally went into labor.

THUMBS DOWN: Pretty much everything else. Didn’t I write that, yesterday? … Another 0-for-4 from Curtis Granderson. … The Mets were 1-for-7 RISP and stranded eight runners. … Eight more strikeouts.

QUOTEBOOK: We know he’s better than that.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Matz.

BY THE NUMBERS: 29: Strikeouts by Mets’ hitters in the last three games.

NEXT FOR METS: Noah Syndergaard goes against Jose Hernandez in a matchup of fireballers.

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