Aug 08

Want Mets To Go For The Throat

Let’s not have any of this wild card talk, it’s up to the Mets to go for the throat, and as Bob Murphy once so eloquently said, “win the damn thing.’’

For the first time in franchise history, the Mets overcame deficits in each of the last three innings to beat Tampa Bay last night.

MURPHY: ``Win the damn thing.'' (Mets)

MURPHY: “Win the damn thing.” (Mets)

It was an effort manager Terry Collins correctly labeled “pure character,’’ as the Mets increased their winning streak to seven straight.

Noah Syndergaard takes the ball tonight with the objective of putting the Mets games over .500, where they were when they won 11 straight games.

The Mets have won 18 of their 59 games – tied for eighth with the game’s best record – in those two winning streaks. It’s numbers like those that win pennants.

With things going their way and their lead over the Nationals now up to 2.5 games, the Mets want to win this thing going away as to avoid the wild-card play-in scenario and to set their rotation as they please. Honestly, I never thought I would write those words this year.

If the season ended today, the Mets, Cardinals and Dodgers would be the division winners and Pittsburgh and Chicago would be the wild cards.

Things frequently fluctuate this time of year and there’s so much more of the season to be played. The Mets are starting their push down the stretch at a good time, and they are gradually improving on some important team stats. They’ve now won four straight on the road to improve to 21-32 (still the worse among those National League teams that would qualify for the postseason) and their runs differential is now plus-16.

In addition, Lucas Duda is hitting homers; David Wright could begin a rehab-assignment on Monday; and the team was energized by the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe.

The Mets still have issues, including their bullpen (which is always critical in the playoffs), but as they were in April they are again a thrill to watch.

But, let’s not have them be content with playing well, but let’s have this be like the college football rankings and go heavy on the style points. Let’s have them put this away and “win the damn thing.’’

May 13

Mets Lose, Rangers Win In Dramatic Fashion

The TV remote has to be one of the greatest inventions of all time, and it allowed me to switch between the Mets and Rangers tonight. When my eyes weren’t glued on Matt Harvey and the Mets, they were focused on Henrik Lundqvist and the front of the Rangers’ goal.

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

There’s an obvious disconnect in the paces of the two sports, but each has their different kinds of mounting tensions.

Seconds after Jeurys Familia walked Chris Coghlan to force in the winning run in the ninth inning, Derek Stepan put a rebounded shot in from the left wing in overtime to win a classic Game 7.

There was a slowly, mounting tension as Familia entered a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and as each pitch missed the strike zone you could see Harvey’s brilliant effort slip away. Meanwhile, at Madison Square Garden there was an incredible steady pressure as the Capitals were literally camped in front of Lundqvist.

Whether it was the Garden or Wrigley Field, there was no margin for error for either New York team. The Mets could afford their third straight loss because after all, it is only May. But, in Manhattan one mistake and the Rangers would welcome in summer instead of Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference finals.

Harvey entered the game with the plan of using more breaking balls to start off hitters and it worked. A tough luck loser in his last start, Harvey gave up three hits with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. He left with a 1-0 lead, but his sixth victory would not to be as Carlos Torres gave up the tying run in the eighth and loaded the bases to put Familia in a precarious jam he could not escape.

Meanwhile, as Familia struggled the Rangers cleared the puck into the Washington zone and after a brief flurry the puck came to Stepan and he knew what to do with it.

Perhaps, in several months when the Rangers are starting a new season, the Mets might be playing in a Game 7 of their own.

Apr 07

Today In Mets’ History: Gooden Makes Debut

On this date in 1984, 19-year-old Dwight Gooden made his major league debut and earned a 3-2 victory over Houston. Gooden gave up a run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was his first of 17 victories that year in giving Mets’ fans a glimpse of things to come.

In 31 starts that year, he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and threw 218 innings with a league-leading 276 strikeouts and 1.073 WHIP.

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

Gooden exploded into greatness the following season when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in amassing 276.2 innings over 35 starts, of which 16 were complete games that included eight shutouts.

For the second straight season he lead the league in strikeouts with 268 strikeouts. He would never win 20 games again or lead the league in strikeouts.

Gooden went 17-6 in 1986, the year the Mets beat Boston in the World Series, but there were also signs of upcoming trouble. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either of his two starts against the Red Sox in the World Series, and then was a no-show for the victory parade.

Gooden was later arrested in December of that year in Tampa, Fla., for fighting with police. Soon after, reports surfaced of substance abuse and he tested positive for cocaine during spring training. Gooden entered a rehab center, April 1, and did not make his first start until June 5, and won 15 games that season.

Gooden had several more good seasons for the Mets, but never regained his dominance.

After two positive tests for cocaine, Gooden was suspended for the 1995 season.

Gooden’s 11-year Mets’ career ended with him going 157-85. He signed with the Yankees and threw a no-hitter in 1996. He also played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Houston and retired after the 2000 season.

Mar 30

Mets Add Lefty Reliever

The Mets addressed their need for a lefty-handed reliever today with the acquisition of Alex Torres from San Diego for Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later. Time will tell whether they definitively answered the question.

Torres is 27, which is a good sign, and went 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA last year. However, it is interesting to note he held right-handed hitters to a .209 average (sixth best in the NL among lefty relievers), but left-handed batters hit .256 against him.

A very promising stat is he stranded 39 of 44 runners, which was the fourth-best percentage in the majors.

Torres was a rookie in 2013 with Tampa Bay and went 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA.

His numbers and age appear to be positive. However, with the Padres figuring to be competitive, what’s wrong with him if he’s traded twice in his first two years in the major leagues?


Mar 14

Mets Matters: Wheeler To Get MRI; Duda Returns

The Mets relented, finally did the right thing and sent Zack Wheeler for a MRI on his tender right elbow.

Wheeler was scratched from Saturday’s start and instead went for the MRI. The results were not immediately announced, but should be released by Sunday.

mets-matters logoWheeler underwent two MRI exams in the offseason, which is why the club said GM Sandy Alderson initially indicated there would be no pictures.

We’ll see how the results are,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He had two this winter. They were clean as heck, so we don’t expect any damage. A little rest won’t hurt.’’

The rest also allowed Wheeler extra time for blister on his right index finger to heal.

The team hasn’t said when Wheeler will pitch next.

DUDA RETURNS: First baseman Lucas Duda, who hadn’t played because of a strained left intercostal muscle, returned to the lineup and went 1-for-4 in Saturday’s 13-4 rout of Washington.

“I felt good,” Duda told reporters. “The timing is a little bit off. But, for the most part, my body feels great and I’m happy with what happened.’’

Duda is expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay, and have Monday off.

METS ROUT NATS: David Wright hit a three-run homer – his first since last July – and Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr., also homered to lead the Mets.

The Mets have scored 37 runs in their last three games.

EXTRA INNINGS: The MRI on Vic Black’s right shoulder was negative. There is weakness but no structural damage. … Prospect Tyler Pill, who started in place of Wheeler, threw 2.1 scoreless innings. … The Mets travel to Port Charlotte Sunday to play Tampa Bay, with Bartolo Colon starting. They will stay over on the Gulf side of the state and play Boston in Fort Myers on Monday, with Matt Harvey starting.