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.”

Apr 19

Game Wrap: Bruce Hammers Phillies

First booed, and then the subject of trade rumors over the winter, Jay Bruce is now taking curtain calls.

“It shows how much respect they have for him,” manager Terry Collins said of the affection given Bruce.

BRUCE: Homers twice. (AP)

BRUCE: Homers twice. (AP)

After GM Sandy Alderson failed to deal Bruce this winter after extending Yoenis Cespedes, the frustrated Mets’ right fielder vowed he wasn’t intimidated by New York.

“He told me in spring training, `I’m the guy you traded for.’ He’s a run producer and we’re glad to have him,” Collins told reporters after Bruce’s monster game, two homers and five RBI in a 5-4 victory over the Phillies Wednesday night that snapped the Mets’ four-game losing streak.

“I don’t think any game in April is a must win, but we needed this one,” Bruce said.

Bruce’s first homer was a three-run drive off Vince Velasquez is the sixth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit. His second was a two-run drive off Edubray Ramos that broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth. Collins said prior to the game what had been missing during the Mets’ skid was power, but Bruce provided that tonight.

“We need to get it going,” Collins said. “This is something that could get us started.”

GSELLMAN ULTRA SHARP: The Mets had a chance to get it going because Robert Gsellman became their first starter to see the eighth inning this season.

“We talked before that he’s got to get us deep into to the game because our bullpen is exhausted,” Collins said.

Gsellman gave up three runs on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

DUDA, d’ARNAUD HURT: First baseman Lucas Duda and catcher Travis d’Arnaud left the game with injuries and won’t play Thursday.

Duda sustained a hyperextended left elbow in the fifth inning when he reached across the baseline to field Gsellman’s throw and his arm caught runner Cesar Hernandez.

D’Arnaud was hurt two innings later when his hand struck Aaron Altherr’s bat on a throw to second.

REYES PLAYS: Despite a run-producing error and a dreadful hitting slump to start the season, Jose Reyes started as Collins promised.

“He deserves the chance to get a chance to turn things around,” Collins said. “He earned that right.”

CESPEDES BASE BLUNDER: Poor base running by Cespedes cost the Mets a run in the first inning. On first base, Cespedes took a peak over his shoulder running toward third instead of looking at the third base coach.

Doing so forced him to slow down a step and change his stride. When that happened, he had to look for the bag and missed coach Glenn Sherlock’s stop sign.

ROTATION WON’T CHANGE: There are no plans to push Thursday’s starter, Noah Syndergaard, back a day so he could start against the Nationals instead of the Phillies. It was thought Collins might push Syndergaard back after he tore a fingernail in his last start.