May 02

Mets Wrap: Bruce Crushes Two; Granderson Sits

Jay Bruce, the Mets’ Most Valuable Player for April, continued his hot hitting driving in a career-high six runs on two homers – including a cosmetic ninth-inning grand slam – in tonight’s 9-7 loss at Atlanta.

Bruce, whom the Mets tried to trade over the winter, hit seven homers with 16 RBI in April.

“It doesn’t feel like a bandbox at all,” Bruce said on the Braves’ new stadium, SunTrust Park. “But, it seems like a good place to hit so far.”

You think?

When asked about the Mets’ offense, which has scored three or fewer runs in ten games so far, Bruce said: “We have to step up. I wouldn’t say that we need to try harder or try and do more. We just need to work and prepare and get ready to play.”

GRANDERSON SITS: Curtis Granderson, who is in a 1-for-32 funk, did not start, but appeared as a pinch-hitter. He took extra work and expects to play Wednesday night.

“There’s nothing really major going on wrong,” Granderson said in one head-scratching comment. “I’m not chasing pitches out of the zone. I’m getting to a decent amount of full counts. I’ve swung at strikes. I’ve done a lot of things that could put me into position to be successful. I just haven’t been successful.”

Oh, that explains it.

PEDRO QUESTIONS METS INJURIES: Former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, questioned all the pitching injuries of his former team.

“I never thought that the nucleus of young Mets pitchers were going to get hurt so early,” Martinez wrote on Twitter. “I’m not sure what’s up with the Mets and injuries.”

Somebody responded to the tweet, writing, “but [Jeff] Wilpon, the Mets’ COO, wanted to sell tickets for a matchup against the star Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis.’’

To which Martinez wrote back, saying Wilpon told him, “ `While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.’ ”

EXTRA INNINGS: Travis d’Arnaud left the game in the sixth inning with a sore right wrist. … Wilmer Flores (infection in knee) began his rehab assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas. … Brandon Nimmo also played in a rehab game at Vegas. … Lucas Duda, whose rehab had a setback over the weekend, started hitting off a tee.

UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom (1-1, 2.84) starts against old friend Bartolo Colon (1-2, 5.59) tomorrow. The series finale is Thursday evening with Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78) returning to his home area against lefty Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.99).

May 01

Mets Needed This One

As much as players and managers want to give each game equal weight, it doesn’t always work that way and it didn’t for the Mets tonight in Atlanta. It really was a “must win’’ game for the Mets.

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

After losing 23-5 and their best pitcher Noah Syndergaard indefinitely Sunday, it would have been easy to see them go into a tailspin. After all, we’ve seen them do it before. We’ve seen them get hit and flop around like LeBron James.

Tonight, the Mets got five pick-me-up innings from Robert Gsellman and got to Mets Killer Julio Teheran with a five-run fourth that didn’t include homers from Michael Conforto and Jose Reyes, in a 7-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in their new ballpark. Mets finally got to Julio Teheran and gave Robert Gsellman cushion enough to beat the Braves, 7-5.

“It was huge,” said Conforto, who homered to lead off the game and added a two-run single. “It was definitely disappointing yesterday, but it says a lot about this group that we could come back out with this performance.

Manager Terry Collins was understandably testy after Sunday, but said he told his team, “to give it 24 hours and move on.”

Easier said than done because they will be without their best pitcher in Syndergaard and best power hitter in Yoenis Cespedes for an indefinite period, but this was a start, and for Collins, it was the best kind of response.

 

May 01

Mets’ Lineup At Braves, May 1

Robert Gsellman helped save the Mets’ season last week, and with Noah Syndergaard on the disabled list and out indefinitely, he’ll be asked to do it again starting tonight in Atlanta in the first of a four-game series with the Braves.

In his last start, Gsellman gave up six runs on ten hits in four-plus innings against the Braves last week at Citi Field.

He’ll go against long-time Mets Killer Julio Teheran, who has given up two runs in 12.1 innings in two previous starts against New York this year.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order against Teheran in their first game in the Braves’ new ballpark:

Michael Conforto – LF: Conforto has thrived in his opportunity to start, batting .326 with six homers and 11 RBI. … He’s hitting .333 in the leadoff spot.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: He sat Sunday in DC, but is back in the lineup tonight. … He’s reached safely in 20 of 23 games.

Jay Bruce – RF: The player the Mets wanted to trade is on the All-Star ballot. … Was the Mets’ MVP for April, batting .292 with seven homers and 16 RBI.

Neil Walker – 2B: If Walker bet on himself in accepting the qualifying offer, so far he’s losing, batting .195 with two homers and ten RBI.

Curtis Granderson – CF: If somebody is going to be moved out of the starting lineup to make room for Conforto when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list, it will be Granderson.

Jose Reyes – 3B: Has a six-game hitting streak – going .391 in that span – to raise his average to .174.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Has four homers and 16 RBI to match last year’s totals. … Is batting .313 with RISP with three game-winning RBI.

T.J. Rivera – 1B: Is playing first base with Lucas Duda on the disabled list. … Recalled from Triple-A Vegas, April 21.

Gsellman – RHP: Is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA in four career games against Atlanta.

Apr 30

Mets Wrap: Duda Not Ready

Whatever the Mets say regarding injuries, always take the over. Always. So, when the Mets suggested Monday as a possible return date for Lucas Duda (hyperextended left elbow), you knew that wasn’t going to happen.

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

After complaining of discomfort in trying to make a full extension, the Mets pushed back his return date to undecided.

In the interim, T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base. Should Duda be out for a significant period, it might force the Mets’ to reconsider bringing up prospect Dominic Smith from Triple-A Vegas.

Meanwhile, Duda’s normal back-up, Wilmer Flores, began his rehab assignment at Port St. Lucie. Since it is apparent the Mets have no inkling to have Flores as anything other than a reserve, they might as well bring up Smith.

PLAWECKI PITCHES: Manager Terry Collins raised the white flag in today’s 23-5 mauling to the Nationals when he brought in reserve catcher Kevin Plawecki after Matt Wieters’ three-run homer in the seventh off Josh Smoker.

Plawecki set the Nationals down in order on three flyouts to the wall.

However, Bryce Harper homered to lead off the eighth inning. Adam Lind added a two-run homer and Anthony Rendon also homered. For Rendon, it was his third homer of the game to give him ten RBI.

MOVING REYES: Jose Reyes was moved up to second in the order and played shortstop while Asdrubal Cabrera had the day off.

Reyes looks more comfortable playing shortstop, and with Cabrera bothered by hamstring issues, perhaps flipping them might be the way to go. Then, again Reyes committed a run-producing error in the seventh, so, who knows?

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets’ bullpen gave up 18 runs in 7.2 innings, but four of those were charged to Plawecki, followed by Sean Gilmartin (five), Fernando Salas (three) and Smoker (six). … Curtis Granderson finished April hitting .128 with six RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets visit Atlanta’s new stadium for the start of a three-game series Monday with Robert Gsellman going against Julio Teheran.

Apr 29

Will Alderson Ever Say, `Conforto Needs To Play?’

After Michael Conforto‘s second homer today, the cynic in me couldn’t help but wonder, how will GM Sandy Alderson now try to limit his playing time? That is, of course, if Yoenis Cespedes is able to come back sooner than originally anticipated.

CONFORTO: Celebrating long ball. (AP)

CONFORTO: Celebrating long ball. (AP)

When Cespedes injured his hamstring Thursday and placed on the disabled list the following day, original reports indicated a serious injury, but today Alderson called it “mild.” Yeah, I’m buying into that diagnosis big time.

After opening the season on the bench following a hot spring, Conforto responded to his limited playing time until when the Mets’ anemic hitting forced manager Terry Collins to start him. The player last year Collins said would be the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future.

That is until he went 0-for-5 a year ago Monday against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner that sent him into a downward spiral. From there, Conforto rode the Flushing-Vegas shuttle for much of last season, and when spring training started after Alderson re-signed Cespedes and was unable to trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson, conventional thinking had him opening in the minors.

However, Conforto kept hitting, first as a pinch-hitter and role player, until he broke into the starting lineup as a starter on April 20. Most recently he replaced Jose Reyes at the top of the order roughly a week ago. Since starting full time, Conforto has gone 11-for-30 with four homers and six RBI, and overall is batting .298 with a .386 on-base percentage, six homers and 12 RBI.

“Michael had a huge day for us and we needed it,” Collins said, “I have to salute him. When you’re not in the lineup every day you have to make the most of it. … He’s done a tremendous job in the leadoff spot. Just tremendous.”

Conforto hit a two-run homer in the fifth and solo homer in the eighth, the latter coming off lefty reliever Enny Romero. Conforto isn’t cocky, but he’s definitely not short of confidence. Despite what Alderson and Collins might worry about, Conforto has no double about his ability to hit left-handers, which is what it is going to take to stay in the lineup when Cespedes returns.

“Huge,” Conforto said when asked what kind of lift his homer off Romero gave him. “I’ve always felt I could hit lefties. No matter who is out there, I feel I can hit them. … As long as I put the work in, everything will take care of itself. I worry about what I can control and not worry about the other stuff.”

Conforto and Collins said all the right things today. What’s next would be for Alderson to finally say, “the kid has to play.”