New York Mets: Carlos Beltran
FIRST PITCH: The Mets have lost a season-high five straight as well as eight of nine. They also now occupy sole possession of last place in the National League East.
Can Jonathon Niese stop the slide?
Niese (2-2, 1.82 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (0-2, 7.02) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale as the Mets look to avoid getting swept for a second straight series, as they did in Miami.
Hamels has a 7-14 record and 4.65 ERA in 27 career starts against the Mets. The Mets roughed him up for six runs in 4 2/3 innings two weeks ago in Philly. Hamels then allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk against the Toronto Blue Jays, including surrendering homers to Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus. Overall, Hamels needs one win for 100 in his career.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Terry Collins would not commit Saturday to Jenrry Mejia making his next start, and appears to prefer 23-year-old Rafael Montero getting promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas for Wednesday’s outing opposite Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees at Citi Field. Of course, Sandy Alderson -- who picked Mejia over Daisuke Matsuzaka out of spring training, which was not Collins’ preference -- would need to sign off on bouncing Mejia from the rotation. Would the GM allow a prospect to debut in the Subway Series (and before the Super 2 deadline)? That seems out of character. In fact, a source tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News about Alderson's thinking on Montero: "not yet."
After tossing 5 1/3 no-hit innings Friday (with three walks) at Salt Lake, Montero is 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA and .203 opponent batting average in eight Pacific Coast League starts.
Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Eric Campbell joined the Mets on Saturday and received No. 29, formerly donned by Ike Davis. He delivered a tiebreaking sac fly while pinch hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth against left-hander Jake Diekman. Campbell became the first player in franchise history with a sac fly in his first big-league plate appearance. Ken Boswell in 1967 had a sac fly in his MLB debut, but it came later in the game.
Campbell had an eventful second plate appearance. With the score tied at 4, one out and two in scoring position in the eighth, Mike Adams threw the first pitch of an intentional walk. Chase Utley then came to the mound with Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies -- realizing Bobby Abreu had grabbed a helmet and planned to subsequently pinch hit -- reversed course and pitched to Campbell, who proceeded to strike out.
Eric Campbell made his major league debut Saturday with a sacrifice fly and strikeout off the bench.
Josh Satin, who had been 3-for-28 this season in sporadic use, was optioned to Las Vegas. Campbell figures to start Sunday against Hamels.
Read more in Newsday.
• A half-inning after the Mets stranded the bases loaded, Ryan Howard delivered a two-out RBI single in the ninth against Kyle Farnsworth and Philadelphia beat the Mets, 5-4, Saturday night at Citi Field. At three games under .500, the Mets (16-19) have matched their 0-3 start for their season low-water mark.
After consecutive singles to open the bottom of the eighth, Chris Young -- hitless in 14 at-bats -- had a successful sac bunt. Campbell then struck out, Wilmer Flores walked and Abreu, pinch-hitting for Travis d’Arnaud, grounded back to Adams as the score remained tied at 4.
Scott Rice had inherited a one-run lead for the seventh from Dillon Gee and surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Utley.
Gee’s scoreless streak ended at 16 innings with two runs by the Phillies in the first. He allowed three runs in six innings and tossed only 81 pitches before departing with a 4-3 lead in what became a no-decision. Collins preferred having Rice face the Utley/Howard portion of the Phillies lineup in their fourth plate appearances.
David Wright snapped a career-high 136 at-bat homerless drought with a two-run homer in the first inning against Kyle Kendrick. Wright finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs, but popped out in foul territory against Jonathan Papelbon with Daniel Murphy at second base to end the game.
Mets pitchers remained hitless and are now 0-for-61 to open the season.
Read game recaps in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Noah Syndergaard surrendered five runs (four earned) in six innings for Las Vegas, including a first-inning three-run homer to Nick Franklin. He struck out 10. Matt Koch, Randy Fontanez and Beck Wheeler combined on the shutout as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach, 2-0. John Gant, Dawrin Frias and Robert Coles combined on the shutout as Savannah beat Charleston, 1-0. 2012 first-round pick For the Gnats, Gavin Cecchini returned to the lineup two days after departing with a knee injury. Savannah snapped Yankees prospect Caleb Smith’s scoreless streak at 23 1/3 innings. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Jon Hamm, who plays advertising executive Don Draper on “Mad Men,” is a St. Louis Cardinals fan in real life. Hamm was in New York on Friday promoting his role as a sports agent in the new Disney movie, “Million Dollar Arm.” Writes Anthony McCarron in the Daily News:
“Oh, I hated the Mets with a passion that kills and still do,” Hamm said last week while promoting his new movie, “Million Dollar Arm,” which opens Friday, May 16.
But, Hamm acknowledges, the Mets -- at least the late ’60s version -- are the “perfect team for Don Draper to root for. They’re brand new. They represent nothing but possibility.
“Don would never be a Yankee fan. That’s a frontrunner. He’s an underdog guy, if he’s anything.”
Speaking of Don Draper and the ’69 Mets, columnist Mike Vaccaro addresses that topic in the Post.
Read more in the Times and Newsday.
• Kevin Burkhardt (Class of 1997) will give William Patterson University’s commencement address Wednesday at the Izod Center, writes Phil Mushnick in the Post.
• The Yankees will honor Joe Torre, Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill with plaques in Monument Park this season. So what about the Mets honoring their past heroes? Writes David Lennon in Newsday:
The franchise has retired only three numbers in addition to Jackie Robinson's No. 42 -- Casey Stengel's 37, Gil Hodges' 14 and Tom Seaver's 41 -- but [Mike] Piazza seems to be next in line.
Piazza's No. 31 has not been issued by the Mets since he left after the 2005 season, and he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame last year. But the Mets appear to be waiting on Piazza's campaign for Cooperstown, and he fell 74 votes shy of the 75 percent needed (429) for induction in his second year.
Carter's No. 8, Keith Hernandez's No. 17 and Willie Mays' No. 24 also have been mostly kept out of circulation, so they remain possibilities.
In the meantime, the Mets rely on a seven-person committee to decide on their own Hall of Fame, which has 27 inductees. Who will follow Piazza? David Wright? That would be a bit of a wait.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests the Mets' season appears snowballing out of control.
• Omar Quintanilla cleared waivers and accepted a demotion to Vegas. Quintanilla, who was replaced by Wilmer Flores on Friday, had the right to decline the assignment and declare free agency.
• There have been 122 players to play for both the Mets and Yankees, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. There are five slated to participate in this week’s Subway Series: Abreu, Bartolo Colon, Farnsworth, Curtis Granderson and Carlos Beltran.
• The Chicago White Sox promoted former Mets closer Frank Francisco from Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday.
• The Los Angeles Angels released ex-Mets left-handed reliever Robert Carson from Triple-A Salt Lake, where he had a 10.34 ERA and had allowed 23 hits and 13 walks in 15 2/3 innings.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear encounters a Mets fan existential crisis.
BIRTHDAYS: Walt Terrell, who was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Howard Johnson on Dec. 7, 1984, turns 56.
TWEETS OF THE DAY:
My child is already sick of this pen pic.twitter.com/RAClnsgq25— Casey Stern (@CaseyStern) May 11, 2014
YOU’RE UP: Who should start Wednesday against the Yankees -- Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Torres, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard?
With each passing loss that Loyalty Oath is becoming a Loyalty Dare. #Mets— Mike Vaccaro (@MikeVacc) May 11, 2014
FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Kris Medlen at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Tradition Field (PIX11/WOR).
Wheeler is making his second Grapefruit League start. He tossed three scoreless innings five days ago against the Houston Astros, allowing only two hits while striking out three.
Also scheduled to pitch: Carlos Torres, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Valverde, Jack Leathersich, Jeurys Familia and Ryan Reid.
The Braves are expected to bring Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons and B.J. Upton on the two-hour trip from Disney.
Sunday’s news reports:
“At the end of the day, [the Mets] tried to put a perception out about me in the papers,” Beltran tells Sherman. “It is what it is. I have dealt with it. I cleared the air with the people who mistreated me. I don’t wish anything bad to the Mets organization. That is in the past.
“I don’t know what they gained from what they did to me. But I know what I gained. It made me a stronger person. Look, if you are a bad guy, you are a bad guy everywhere and the people in the game know it. The people who have played with me know that is not true.”
• Noah Syndergaard walked three batters in three innings, but might have come away with a scoreless performance had second baseman Eric Young Jr. successfully fielded a two-out grounder in the second inning. Instead, the ball glanced off Young and went into right field for a two-run single and Syndergaard was charged with two runs on two hits and three strikeouts in his second career Grapefruit League start. Syndergaard topped out at 98 mph.
Matt Clark had a two-run ninth-inning double and Gonzalez Germen produced the save as the Mets rallied to beat the Tigers, 3-2, at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.
Read more on Syndergaard’s outing in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday, Times and MLB.com.
• Terry Collins only intends to use EY Jr. at second base during the regular season if Daniel Murphy is unavailable due to injury. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Matt Harvey tweeted and then deleted a prediction that he would pitch in 2014. Saturday afternoon, Sandy Alderson downplayed the likelihood of Harvey appearing this season, but said “never say never.” Read more in Newsday, the Post, Daily News, Record and Star-Ledger.
• Despite Ruben Tejada committing an error and having two other misplays in Friday’s Grapefruit League game, Alderson said the shortstop is not yet under a “microscope.” Read more in Newsday.
• Ike Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) will not be ready to play Sunday, Collins said. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Kernan in the Post also features Wheeler and older brothers Adam and Jacob. A heart condition prevented Jacob from competing in athletics beyond high school, while a shoulder injury and surgery ended Adam’s career as a Yankees minor-league pitcher.
• Tyler Kepner in the Times catches up with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Harvey is pushing the envelope wanting to pitch this season. … Blogging Mets also addresses Harvey’s comments.
BIRTHDAYS: C.J. Nitkowski, who pitched in five games for the Mets in 2001 and finished his career in the minors with the organization two years ago, turns 41. He calls today’s game for WOR, including some play-by-play for the first time in his career.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Terry Collins use Eric Young Jr. at second base sometimes in order to help get Juan Lagares in the lineup?
2014 Byrdak Day will happen.....in Indy ball— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) March 9, 2014
Elsa/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey tossed two scoreless innings Tuesday night, in his first All-Star Game.
FIRST PITCH: And now the home stretch of the season.
With the All-Star Game in the books, the Mets have their final full day off of the break Wednesday. They then regroup Thursday for a 5 p.m. workout at Citi Field.
Terry Collins has given David Wright and Matt Harvey off for that workout. Wright particularly needs the rest after dealing with a sore left foot of late, then serving as unofficial ambassador during All-Star festivities.
The Mets open a seven-game homestand Friday, when Jeremy Hefner opposes Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.
Zack Wheeler opposes Cole Hamels on Saturday, while All-Stars Matt Harvey and Cliff Lee match up in Sunday’s series finale.
Then come the Atlanta Braves for four games.
With the Mets facing two left-handers against the Phillies, the Ike Davis versus Josh Satin playing time issue should quickly get very interesting.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• The National League looked a lot like the regular home team at Citi Field. It mustered only three hits -- one by Wright -- in a 3-0 shutout by the American League on Tuesday night before a Citi Field-record crowd of 45,186. Harvey tossed two scoreless innings, although he drilled Robinson Cano with a pitch, which prompted Harvey to apologize.
Harvey had hit only one of 501 batters he faced during the first half (Michael McKenry of the Pirates). Harvey became the first Mets pitcher with three strikeouts in an All-Star Game since Sid Fernandez in 1986, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Wright finished 1-for-3 and played seven innings at third base.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan writes in the Post about being the driver for Harvey in the All-Star parade Tuesday afternoon across 42nd St. Read more in the Times.
• Read more on Harvey in the Times, Yahoo!, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Journal and Record.
• Read more on Wright in the Star-Ledger, Journal and Newsday.
• An 18-year-old fan wearing a Yankees shirt ended up getting tackled by security and arrested after boasting on Twitter he would enter the field. Read more in the Post and Daily News.
• Fred Wilpon offered a positive review of the first All-Star Game in Queens since 1964.
• Tom Seaver threw the ceremonial first pitch to Wright. "Wright saved me. He caught it when it was in the air," Seaver said, writes Neil Best in Newsday. Read more in the Times.
• In Men’s Journal, David Amsden spends a day with Harvey, including a stop at an upscale clothing store frequented by athletes. Writes Amsden:
Harvey strolls into the store and seeks out Gerry, a salesman who dresses most of the athletes that come through.
"We're flying out Thursday, going to Miami," Harvey tells Gerry. "Normally we wear a suit, but this week, Mets management switched it to some sort of white shirt. I want to go all white. Maybe, like, white linen? Freak everyone out a bit." Harvey eyes a linen blazer with about a million buttons running along the seam and a funky, upturned collar -- a baroque garment more befitting a general in Napoleon's army than a ballplayer. "Think I can pull this off?" he asks.
Gerry gently pivots Harvey away from the coat. "Might be a bit much," he says, delicately. "But I think I've got just the thing for you."
• On a light day in the minors, Angel Cuan suffered the loss in his Double-A debut. Justin Turner played shortstop for the B-Mets in his second day rehabbing with the club. Turner went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Jeff Pearlman on his blog profiles Stephen Keane, the man behind the blog The Eddie Kranepool Society.
• Carlos Beltran in the Post says he could wear a Mets cap in the Hall of Fame.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear still has a twinkle in its eyes from the All-Star Game coming to Flushing. ... Metsmerized writes the honeymoon is officially over for Sandy Alderson and he is now on the clock. … MetsMinors.net continues the countdown of its midseason top-25 Mets prospects, with Gavin Cecchini checking in at No. 9.
BIRTHDAYS: Shortstop Roy McMillan was born on this date in 1929.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Did you appreciate the All-Star Game sendoff for Mariano Rivera, even though you’re a Mets fan?
@MattHarvey33 = the man!!!! I want to be him!! Love that guy— Dillon Gee (@DillonGee35) July 17, 2013
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey Day! In the All-Star Game at Citi Field!
After officially being named the All-Star starter on Monday afternoon by NL manager Bruce Bochy, Harvey is expected to handle the first two innings opposite Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer.
David Wright will bat cleanup for the NL squad.
The All-Stars will parade across 42nd St. at 1 p.m.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Earlier Monday, Wright downplayed playing on an injured foot as the first half closed.
• Jeff Wilpon, while appearing on WFAN, pledged the Mets would spend money next offseason.
"We haven't set a payroll for next year, but I can tell you we're ready to invest with those big contracts coming off the books," Wilpon said, according to Newsday. "We have the money to invest. We're going to invest it prudently. Sandy [Alderson] is going to set a path. There's no predetermined, set way we're going to spend the money, but we do have the money to spend."
• Speaking with the Times during a charity event with MLB, Fred Wilpon addressed a handful of topics:
On Terry Collins: “We all love Terry, who has done a very good job with what we have.”
On Alderson: “We haven’t turned him down on anything.”
On whether the payroll will return to $140 million, like it had been in the past: “I asked Sandy about that. He said he couldn’t invest that much money.”
• Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw did not appear thrilled Bruce Bochy said Harvey would have been his choice to start no matter where the game was held. At one point Kershaw told reporters about the starting snub: “It hurts.”
• In a very funny skit on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Harvey -- without disclosing his identity -- asked New Yorkers what they thought of him. Watch here.
• Collins acknowledged Harvey will have second-half starts skipped.
• Writes columnist Bob Klapsich in the Record on Harvey:
For one, maybe two innings tonight, Harvey has a chance to pull Mets fans into the organization’s time tunnel -- back to 1984 when Doc Gooden introduced himself to the world with a blow-away fifth inning in that year’s All-Star Game.
Gooden struck out Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis with a fastball that might as well have been shot out of a rifle -- that’s how overmatched the American League’s sluggers were. Gooden, only 19, was the advertisement of the gathering storm in Flushing, which is why the parallel to Harvey is so striking, even though he’s five years older.
Harvey is the Mets’ vehicle for legitimacy, smart and articulate and much hungrier for attention than David Wright. It’s no sin for the Mets to milk this opportunity for good PR, even if it looks like they sacrificed a chance to take a series from the red-hot Bucs this weekend. Truth is, the choice isn’t quite so stark.
Writes columnist David Lennon in Newsday:
Harvey may have blindsided the Mets with the nude layout, and surprised even more people by telling another publication of his post-baseball aspirations to be a movie star -- a full 29 starts into his major-league career.
But there's no need to hang up his spikes first. Look at R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer released a book, starred in a documentary and won a Cy Young Award in the same season. Don't think Harvey wasn't paying attention.
When asked Monday about his inspiration, guess who Harvey brought up? Dickey, a multi-media darling who prepped for his career year by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
"I came up and obviously wanted to do everything I could to fill in for R.A. Dickey," Harvey said. "We knew him not being with us, it was going to take a lot and someone needed to step in. It was a role I wanted to take."
Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:
As for Boras, he joked on Monday that Harvey sure is in good company posing naked along with Gary Player, among others, noting that the 77-year-old golfer is renowned for being one of the most disciplined athletes in the world.
Still, a person close to the situation said Boras wasn’t thrilled with Harvey’s appearance in the magazine. On Monday he said he doesn’t make such decisions for his athletes, and chose his words carefully on the subject.
“Each individual athlete has to determine what they want to do when they’re approached about that,” he said. “All I care about is, you can do what you want off the field but it cannot affect your commitment, your focus, your ability to be ready for the next game.”
Read more on Harvey’s start tonight in the Post, Times, USA Today, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Journal and Newsday.
• The Mets actually owe Bobby Bonilla more than the originally reported $1.19 million a year. Read more in the Post.
• An ill-timed subway line fire left the No. 7 train without service as the Home Run Derby was letting out. Read more in Newsday.
• Collins spoke openly about Jordany Valdespin acting immaturely in the clubhouse Saturday in Pittsburgh. The manager said Valdespin’s biggest mistake may have been having the histrionics with Sandy Alderson as a witness. Valdespin wanted to land on the DL rather than be dispatched to Las Vegas. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Journal and Newsday.
• Wright says Carlos Beltran was underappreciated as a Met. Read more on Beltran in the Star-Ledger.
• Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, a first-time All-Star, said Mookie Wilson was a major influence as he was a young player in the Mets system.
• Logan Verrett tossed eight innings and rehabbing Justin Turner went 2-for-3 with an RBI as Binghamton beat Richmond, 7-3. Chris Flexen tossed a shutout as Kingsport swept Burlington. Matt Oberste’s RBI double in the 12th lifted Brooklyn past Connecticut, 5-4. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Turner told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin about the left intercostal strain that landed him on the DL: “I haven’t had any setbacks so far. The process, obviously, took a long time. I was down there for a month. It went a lot slower than I was hoping. You get that cortisone shot and I was hoping to respond to it pretty quickly. It’s one of those things that it takes time. It’s a real small muscle.”
• Forbes ranks the Mets as the 45th-most valuable sports franchise in the world. Read more in Newsday.
• The Mets’ income at Citi Field continues to nosedive, Newsday reports.
• Charles V. Bagli writes in the Times that Citi Field’s neighbors plan a protest today over getting evicted for the development of a mall and other projects to complement the stadium.
• Read a feature on Wright at CBSSports.com.
• From the bloggers … Mets Police caught up with some of the visiting mascots at Citi Field.
BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Norm Sherry was born on this date in 1931.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
"He had a couple of monster seasons for us, and was a huge reason why we made it as far as we did in 2006. We came a couple runs from making the World Series, and we don't get close to that without Carlos," Wright said of Beltran on Monday.
"So hopefully [his reception from the fans] is warm. I think it's deserving that the fans give him a nice reception because he was a heckuva player for us, and it's unfortunate that he had the injuries that he did, but he had some monster seasons for us and did a lot for the organization and for me as a player."
Beltran, now with the St. Louis Cardinals, played with the Mets from 2005-11. He hit a career-high 41 home runs in 2006, but is more remembered for how that season ended: He took an Adam Wainwright curveball for a called third strike in Game 7 of the NLCS against St. Louis.
"You think about [being underappreciated], but you don't focus on that," Beltran said. "I think when you look at my career, and you look at the numbers I've put up here, I mean, honestly, I felt that just one pitch or maybe one at-bat doesn't really dictate a career. But if the fans want to see it that way, I have nothing against that."
Asked what kind of reception he expected, Beltran responded: "We will find out when they announce my name."
"When I left the Mets I was feeling good physically," Beltran said. "I mean, why not? I'm 36. I'm not 46. Or 56. Thirty-six in baseball probably sounds like it's old, but I don't feel old. I feel young."
Needless to say, he's motivated.
"I definitely want to go out there and do well for myself and maybe show them what they could've had, I guess," Wheeler said.
Meanwhile, manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants have no regrets about the July 28, 2011 trade that sent Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran.
San Francisco ended up missing the playoffs that season but did win the World Series in 2010 and 2012 with aggressive maneuvers. In '10 they acquired a couple of relievers at the deadline, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez. In '12 they acquired Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence and again won the title.
"Our pitching was doing such a great job there. We had trouble scoring runs," Bochy reflected about 2011. "And we felt that if we could get there that we could repeat. We were going into August sitting in a good position. We just needed a bat. We got a great guy [in Beltran]. Unfortunately, we lost him on the DL there [in August with a hand injury], but he did all he could to help us. Just as a group, without [Buster] Posey in the lineup, we just didn't have enough offense to do it.
"But I think any time you have a chance to win the World Series [you go for it] -- which we did in '10, we made a move, and 2012 we made some moves, and it worked out and we ended up getting rings on our finger because of it. That's something a lot of clubs do. Unfortunately, we just didn't have the bats to quite get us there [in 2011]."
Said Wheeler: "[Giants GM Brian Sabean] got the result that he wanted, not the year I got traded, obviously, but the next year. And that’s the game of baseball. You trade people away and try to make deals happen so you can win. No hard feelings or anything. It’s probably going to happen again sometime. Like I said, it’s the game of baseball."
Bochy said he never did see Wheeler as a minor leaguer with the Giants but knows he has a "great arm."
Added Bochy: "That's why we picked him where we did. He's got great stuff."
Wheeler had been to AT&T Park once before, for a conditioning camp when he got drafted. He met Willie Mays.
He still hears plenty from Giants fans, primarily via Twitter.
"Yeah, all the time," Wheeler said. "Especially when I landed here yesterday, it blew up from Giants fans."
Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright during a midweek series at Citi Field.
Tuesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.36) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 5.40), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-6, 5.20) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (7-3, 1.91), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: RHP Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.10) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.34), 1:10 p.m. ET
Cardinals short hops
• Rookie phenom Michael Wacha makes his third major league start when he faces the Mets in the series opener. Wacha, 21, was the 19th overall pick in last year’s draft out of Texas A&M. He was selected with a pick obtained from the Los Angeles Angels after Albert Pujols defected in free agency. (The Mets took high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini 12th overall last year. He is slated to play at Brooklyn beginning later this month.)
The Cardinals did not show the same Super 2 hesitancy in promoting Wacha as the Mets have with Zack Wheeler. In reality, St. Louis usually locks up its young players as they approach arbitration eligibility. So Wacha might end up a little more expensive, but St. Louis does not care. Past examples of Cardinals who were locked up as their arbitration years began: Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia and Allen Craig. Lance Lynn may be next in line.
The 6-foot-6 Wacha throws overhand with a steep downward plane and has the best changeup in the organization.
• Beltran -- who has moved into third in NL All-Star balloting in the outfield, passing Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun -- had a proud moment today. He attended the first graduation ceremony at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, which he founded in his native Puerto Rico. Of the 44 graduating students, all have college baseball offers. Two were drafted, including shortstop Jan Hernandez in the third round (96th overall) to the Philadelphia Phillies.
• Yadier Molina (.354) leads the National League in batting average, three points ahead of Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. Since getting a rare day off against the Mets on May 15 at Busch Stadium, Molina has started all but three games. The last one backup Tony Cruz started came last Wednesday, when Molina served a one-game suspension for bumping umpire Mike Everitt. Molina had been called out on a close play at first base by fellow ump Clint Fagan.
• Rookie Shelby Miller leads the National League with a 1.91 ERA, narrowly ahead of L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw (1.93) and Arizona’s Patrick Corbin (1.98). Miller sports a deceptive power fastball that he elevates in the zone. He recently has started tinkering with a sinker.
• Wainwright is tied with Corbin and Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann for the NL wins lead at nine. How bored has Wainwright become? In addition to sporting arguably the game’s best curveball, Wainwright has started changing his mechanics during games to toy with opponents. He sometimes will add a pause in his delivery like Dan Haren does, and sometimes with quick pitch. He also will change his spot on the rubber between hitters. Sometimes he will start his delivery with his hands upward, and sometimes at the belt.
• Jake Westbrook (elbow) is due to return from the DL and reenter the rotation Friday.
• The Cardinals are hitting an MLB-best .341 with runners in scoring position, a full 34 points better than runner-up Tampa Bay.
Daniel Murphy reached base all five plate appearances and twice scored on David Wright hits and Jonathon Niese rebounded from a pair of dismal starts as the Mets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
The Mets (15-23) avoided getting swept in a series of four or more games by the Cardinals for the first time since 1982.
Jordany Valdespin scores from first base on Daniel Murphy's third-inning double.
DANNY BOY: Murphy went 4-for-4 with two doubles and also walked. He is now 11-for-his-last-17 since going hitless in the previous 17 at-bats.
Murphy’s third-inning double against Adam Wainwright scored Jordany Valdespin from first base and evened the score at 1.
Both times Murphy doubled, Wright followed by driving him in -- for the tiebreaking run in the third and then to give the Mets a 3-1 lead against Wainwright in the sixth.
The last Mets to reach base five times in a game without benefit of an error? That would be Mike Baxter (five walks) and Murphy (4-for-4, BB) last Aug. 4 at San Diego.
NIESELY DONE: After allowing a combined 15 runs in 8 1/3 innings in his previous two starts, Niese got back on track to earn his first win since April 12.
Niese’s teammates actually did more damage than the Cardinals. The lone run against the southpaw came when Rick Ankiel broke late on what was ruled a double by Pete Kozma into shallow right-center with two outs in the second inning. That scored Yadier Molina with the game’s opening run.
Niese logged 7 1/3 innings. He departed with his pitch count at 113 and a 5-1 lead after a one-out double by Matt Carpenter and walk to Shane Robinson. Brandon Lyon allowed an inherited runner to score on Carlos Beltran’s RBI single. Lyon then coaxed an inning-ending double play from Allen Craig.
CLOSE CALL: Bobby Parnell earned only his fourth 2013 save. He had not had an opportunity since May 1.
OH-NO: Ike Davis went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. He is hitless in his last 22 at-bats, with 10 strikeouts during that span.
NOT PRETTY: The Mets may have won, but that does not mean they played crisply. With runners on the corners and none out leading 4-1 in the seventh, Niese struck out bunting. Valdespin then bunted, and popped out in foul territory to Molina. After Murphy walked to load the bases, Wright lined out to second base to end the threat.
WHAT’S NEXT: Matt Harvey Day! Harvey (4-0, 1.44 ERA), the SI cover boy who has suffered four straight no-decisions despite stellar pitching, opposes Chicago Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson in the 2:20 p.m. ET opener to a three-game weekend series Friday at Wrigley Field.
Let’s just say that proposition might be tested.
On Tuesday, the Mets sent Scott Atchison to the disabled list for numbness in his fingers, sent top prospect Zack Wheeler to New York for a medical exam on his shoulder, then got drubbed by the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-4, Tuesday at Busch Stadium with Darryl Strawberry among the 37,460 in attendance.
Dillon Gee surrendered six runs (five earned) while lasting only four innings, although he was not helped by an Ike Davis throwing error trying to initiate a double play in what became a three-run first for the Cards. Robert Carson entered the following frame, walked the Nos. 8 and 9 batters to lead off the inning, then served up a three-run homer to Carlos Beltran as the Cardinals took a 9-0 lead.
The Mets (14-22) lost their fifth straight and 13th in their past 17 games. They are now a season-worst eight games under .500. The Mets did snap a streak of seven straight games in which they failed to exceed three runs, although the scoring came after the game became a rout.
John Gast cruised into the sixth inning in his major league debut, when he surrendered four runs, including a two-run homer by Marlon Byrd after a botched double play prolonged the inning. Byrd had shaken himself up earlier making contact with the wall in foul territory down the right-field line while pursuing a David Freese fly ball.
Gast nonetheless earned a win in his debut. He became the second debuting pitcher to face the Mets this season, joining Miami’s Jose Fernandez, who allowed one run in five innings in a no-decision on April 7.
Gast was the first left-handed starting pitcher to make his major league debut for St. Louis since now-Mets outfielder Rick Ankiel in 1999, before he abandoned pitching.
WHAT’S NEXT: Locusts? ... Shaun Marcum (0-3, 8.59 ERA) bids for his first Mets win when he opposes right-hander Shelby Miller (5-2, 1.58) on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. ET. Miller is coming off an outing against the Colorado Rockies in which he allowed a leadoff single, then retired the next 27 batters.
Ankiel, in his Mets debut, charged hard and lunged forward, but had pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton’s sinking liner pop out of the glove he borrowed from Scott Rice.
Wigginton, credited with a seventh-inning double, then scored when Matt Carpenter sent a comebacker at Rice. The shot struck the pitcher and ricocheted into foul territory. John Buck retrieved the baseball, leaving the plate vacant, and Wigginton scored the tiebreaking run from second base.
The Mets are 0-7 in games started by Jeremy Hefner this season.
Although Jeremy Hefner received a no-decision, the Mets dropped to 0-7 in games he has started this season. They also fell to 0-8 the game following Matt Harvey’s start.
The seven straight losses in Hefner starts match the third-longest streak in franchise history for the Mets for one pitcher to open a season.
The Mets lost Anthony Young’s first 10 starts in 1993 (although that streak started in June, after he moved from the bullpen to the rotation). They lost the first eight starts by Randy Jones in 1981, and the first seven starts by Dave Mlicki in 1997 and Wally Whitehurst in 1992.
DEBUTANT: Ankiel walked in his first plate appearance as a Met and finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He now has K’d in 37 of 65 at-bats this season.
SILENT NIGHT: In seven innings against Lance Lynn and the remainder against the bullpen, the Mets mustered only four hits -- three from Daniel Murphy, who had snapped an 0-for-17 skid Sunday.
The Mets (14-21) really were gifted their three runs because of unusually shaky Cardinals fielding. Ex-Met Carlos Beltran, now ranged-challenged and playing right field, misplayed Murphy’s line drive into a two-run double. Murphy then scored from second on a tapper by David Wright just past the pitcher’s mound that was ruled an infield single as the Mets took a short-lived 3-2 lead in the second.
The Mets did walk five times, getting Lynn’s pinch count to 124. But they mustered only one hit after the second inning.
START OF SOMETHING: Hefner retired the final 10 Cardinals he faced and did not allow a hit after a second-inning RBI single by Carpenter that evened the score at 3. Hefner, although he remained winless, finished with a decent line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. He threw 97 pitches (58 strikes).
WHAT’S NEXT: Dillon Gee (2-4, 5.55 ERA) opposes John Gast in the southpaw’s major league debut Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET.
The Mets face Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright consecutively to close this week's series.
Monday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.63) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (5-1, 2.72), 7:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-4, 5.55) vs. LHP John Gast (0-0, -.--), 8:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-3, 8.59) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (5-2, 1.58), 8:15 p.m. ET
Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-4, 5.93) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-2, 2.30), 1:45 p.m. ET
Cardinals short hops
• Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright combined to retire 40 straight Colorado Rockies from the second batter of Friday’s game through the 13th batter Saturday. That matched the major league record for most consecutive batters retired in a series, initially set by the Texas Rangers against the Detroit Tigers on May 3-4, 1996.
The 22-year-old Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, allowed a game-opening single to Eric Young Jr., then retired 27 straight. The following day, Wainwright had a no-hit bid end after 7 1/3 innings on a Nolan Arenado single.
Despite missing an entire season, Wainwright is tied for the second-most shutouts in the majors since 2010 (six), trailing only Cliff Lee (seven). Miller, 22, made his major league debut last Sept. 5 against the Mets with two scoreless innings.
John Gast makes his major league debut Tuesday in place of Jake Westbrook.
• Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.62 ERA), who had been scheduled to face the Mets, instead landed on the disabled list with right-elbow inflammation. Left-hander John Gast has been promoted from Triple-A Memphis and will start Tuesday in his major league debut in Westbrook’s place. Although not a top prospect like Michael Wacha (who is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts with Memphis), Gast is 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in six starts for that Pacific Coast League club this season.
• Lance Lynn had a personal 10-game winning streak dating to last Sept. 9 snapped with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. It had been the longest active winning streak in the majors. Lynn (24-9 in his career) has never lost consecutive games.
• Yadier Molina, who ranks fourth in the NL in batting at .343, lost an 11-game hitting streak Sunday. He has started all but one game this season. However, backup Tony Cruz is expected to get one start against the Mets. Cruz’s only start so far came April 19 at Philadelphia.
• Pete Kozma showed enough during spring training to beat out ex-Met Ronny Cedeno for the shortstop job in place of the injured Rafael Furcal. Kozma, a 2012 postseason hero, provides steady defense (one error so far), albeit with unexceptional range or flair.
Furcal strained an elbow ligament near the end of the 2012 regular season and missed the postseason. After visiting James Andrews during spring training, Furcal concluded he would need Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season.
Kozma had the tiebreaking two-run single in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Cards’ division series, which knocked the Washington Nationals out last October.
• Second baseman Matt Carpenter never played that position in the minors. He is a natural third baseman who also played first base and the outfield with St. Louis in 2012. Fellow lefty hitter Daniel Descalso, who competed for the job in spring training, also sees some action at the position when Carpenter slides over to third base in place of David Freese.
• Left fielder Matt Holliday left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury after tripping at first base, but returned to action Sunday.
• Carlos Beltran went 0-for-4 Sunday as his average dipped to .298. Despite reduced mobility in right field at this stage of his career, Beltran entered the series finale against Colorado hitting .345 since April 15.
• Jason Motte, who had an NL-leading 42 saves last season, underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday after initially hoping to rehab and avoid the procedure. Edward Mujica is 9-for-9 in save chances.
The Cards’ bullpen still has the worst ERA in the NL, but it has dramatically improved with a shakeup that involved demoting left-hander Marc Rzepczynski on April 27 and right-hander Mitchell Boggs on May 3. Entering Sunday, when rookie Carlos Martinez surrendered three runs in relief, the Cards' bullpen had a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings since May 3.
Martinez’s fastball has averaged 96.4 mph since a promotion from Double-A Springfield 10 days ago. He is the No. 3-rated prospect in the St. Louis organization, according to Baseball America. He nearly exclusively started in the minors but is getting introduced to the majors as a reliever, which is tradition with the Cards. Pitching prospect Seth Maness, like Martinez, was promoted for bullpen use after primarily starting in the minors.
• Chris Carpenter, whose career appeared in jeopardy because of nerve damage in his arm, may return this season. He threw a 75-pitch bullpen session Friday.
FIRST PITCH: Only hours remain until the Mets arrive in New York.
Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner are due to share the workload today as the Mets wrap up Grapefruit League play with a 12:05 p.m. game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
The team then will fly to New York.
The players will have a noon workout Sunday at Citi Field, in preparation for Monday’s matinee opener against the San Diego Padres.
Gee seemed to right his spring training Monday, when he tossed six scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves at Disney. Hefner will pitch for the first time since his Tuesday outing was cut short. He was smoked in the pitching elbow by a sharp one-hopper off the bat of Carlos Beltran.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Before departing Port St. Lucie on Friday afternoon, the Mets nearly completed their Opening Day roster.
In: left-hander Scott Rice, right-handers LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison, Greg Burke and Jeurys Familia, outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher Anthony Recker.
Out: left-hander Robert Carson, shortstop Omar Quintanilla and catcher Landon Powell, who all are headed to Triple-A Las Vegas.
To be determined: whether Justin Turner will land on the DL, which would mean Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Zach Lutz head north.
Terry Collins said he is still weighing whom to use in center field. Collin Cowgill should start against southpaws. The options against righties include Byrd, Jordany Valdespin and Nieuwenhuis.
To clear roster room, second baseman Reese Havens and left-hander Darin Gorski were removed from the 40-man roster. Both cleared waivers.
• Johan Santana is determined to return to pitching. He is leaning toward undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder for the second time. Sandy Alderson said there is no clear connection between Santana’s 134-pitch no-hitter and the shoulder tear recurrence. David Wright spoke with Santana, who was in “a bit of shock” about the diagnosis. Read more in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News and Record.
• Matt Harvey tossed four scoreless innings in his final preparation for Game 2 of the regular season. Ruben Tejada had three RBIs and Cowgill produced a two-run homer as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 7-2, Friday in their Tradition Field finale. Harvey finished with 33 spring-training strikeouts (in 27 1/3 innings), second only to Julio Teheran (35 with the Braves, in 26 innings) in the majors.
• Wright played five innings at third base and went 0-for-3 against the Cards in his first Grapefruit League game since early in camp, before having to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic. He plans to face the Orioles today and be in the Opening Day lineup, as does Daniel Murphy. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests these Mets resemble 1982 or ’83, when the seedlings for the ’86 championship were beginning to hatch. "We’re not completely happy with the team we're putting on the field in 2013," Sandy Alderson told Davidoff. "That doesn’t mean we’re without expectations, believe me, but we're definitely looking forward. We're going to be in a very advantageous position very soon."
• Columnist Steve Politi in the Star-Ledger asserts Santana “failed to live up to his expectations with the Mets.”
• Check the Post’s season-preview section here.
• Mike Kerwick writes a season preview in the Record.
• Andy Edelstein in Newsday chronicles appearances of Mets and Yankees on “Seinfeld.”
• Ken Belson in the Times suggests Mets injuries could affect ticket sales.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing will be around to welcome the new members to the Mets' 25-man band. … Unlike this year's season previews, Mets Police notes, in 2006 the prognosticators were picking the Mets for October. … The Eddie Kranepool Society suggests Santana stepped up when required.
BIRTHDAYS: Terry Bross, a St. John’s product and now an agent, turns 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Jeremy Hefner hits the ground after being struck in the right elbow with a fourth-inning comebacker Tuesday.
FIRST PITCH: Under the Tradition Field lights tonight, Jonathon Niese gets his final tune-up for the April 1 opener against the San Diego Padres.
Niese, who likely will be restricted to 50 or so pitches, faces Houston Astros right-hander Edgar Gonzalez in the 6:05 p.m. game.
Wednesday’s news reports:
Aaron Laffey is expected to sub for Shaun Marcum in the rotation.
The Mets are unlikely to pursue a starting pitcher from outside the organization -- Chris Young or otherwise -- a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com. Sandy Alderson did watch Young’s final start with the Washington Nationals on Monday night, before Young officially opted out, according to Newsday.
Read more in the Star-Ledger, Journal, Times, Daily News, Post and Newsday.
• Jeremy Hefner was struck on the right elbow by a sharp one-hop comebacker off the bat of Carlos Beltran, but X-rays were negative.
• In his first game since the World Baseball Classic on March 12, David Wright went 1-for-5 in a pair of minor league games while DHing. He plans to again play in a minor league game Thursday. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Post and MLB.com.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com speaks with Alderson.
"My goal, ultimately, is for a lot of Mets fans to be happy with where we are -- not where we're going, but where we are," Alderson told DiComo. “… Are there things I would have done differently? Absolutely. In this business, you have to keep in mind that you're not going to be right every time. But you have to be right often enough so that the team is successful. We haven't been right often enough. …
"Many fans are not conditioned to think long term, and you would expect that to be especially true in New York. I don't know if this is a majority or a minority, but I've actually found from day to day that a lot of people have bought into what we're doing. That does not mean that the average Mets fan has unlimited patience. But my sense is that they have some understanding, at least, of what we're trying to do."
• Pedro Feliciano, after failing to make the Opening Day roster, has decided to remain with the Mets organization. Read more in the Times and Post.
• In need of roster spots, the Mets have alerted other teams they will trade non-core prospects currently on their 40-man roster. The Mets’ 40-man roster stands at 39 since Brandon Hicks was removed. The Mets are expected to need to add Scott Atchison, Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins, Laffey and Omar Quintanilla.
• Third base coach Tim Teufel’s son Shawn, a left-handed pitcher, has signed a minor league deal with the Mets.
• After Hefner’s departure from Tuesday’s game, Mets farmhands imploded on the mound and the Cardinals beat the Mets, 11-4, at Tradition Field. Lucas Duda homered during a 3-for-4, four-RBI day. A pocket of Mets fans chanted “Overrated” at Yadier Molina. The Cards catcher responded by belting a two-run homer against minor leaguer Randy Fontanez, who faced seven batters and failed to record an out.
On the overrated chant that preceded Molina’s homer, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The pitch before I said, 'They're just making him mad enough that he's going to hit a homer.' I said, 'He may give them a gesture when he crosses home plate.' I didn't say what gesture. He was going to acknowledge them. He handled it with much more class than I did, because I looked up there (at the fans chanting). I love that stuff. There are certain guys that you bring the best out in them when you try stuff like that. I saw that one coming."
• Duda and hitting coach Dave Hudgens met halfway in their spring-training adjustments to his swing, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
• The Mets will offer a free ticket to you on your birthday this season. Just show a valid form of ID (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc.) at a Citi Field ticket window on your birthday, provided it is a home-game day (subject to availability). Birthdays falling on the April 1 opener, May 27-28 Subway Series and games after Sept. 29 are not eligible. If your birthday falls on those dates, during the winter or when the Mets play a road game, you are eligible for a free birthday ticket April 3-4, April 23-25 or Sept. 13-15.
• Matt den Dekker will need to wear a cast on his fractured right wrist for six weeks.
• Jenrry Mejia was examined in New York and diagnosed with forearm tendinitis. He will be idle for two weeks.
• From the bloggers … Shannon from Mets Police is going to miss writing about Dave Howard. … The Eddie Kranepool Society also weighs in on Howard’s move from Mets executive VP to MSG Sports chief. … Rising Apple has a preview of the 1973 season, as if the season had yet to be played. … John Delcos at Mets Report also talks ’73.
BIRTHDAYS: Matt Harvey turns 24. … 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo turns 20.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Are the Mets making the right call with Aaron Laffey poised to plug Shaun Marcum’s spot in the rotation?
Welcome to the world Turner Dewitt!! 7lbs 10oz and 21 1/4 inches long!— Josh Edgin (@joshedgin37) March 27, 2013
Jeremy Hefner is escorted off the field after being struck in the right elbow with a fourth-inning comebacker.
Terry Collins expects Hefner will be available to serve in a four-man rotation to open the season, until Aaron Laffey is needed as a fifth starter.
"Hopefully it's a maximum of just a couple of days to get the swelling out of it and start throwing again and see where we're at," Hefner said. "It's not actually on the bone, because it was bent when it happened. So it got a little more muscle than the bone. It already feels better. That's a good sign. And my strength is back in my hand -- because right after, the trauma of banging, I couldn't really grip. But that's all come back and it seems to be progressing already."
As for the sharp one-hopper that struck him, Hefner said: "I was trying to find the ball, but I didn't know where it went. And then it was just like, 'Whoa, let's hope for the best and see what happens.' I've been hit in the ribs and in the arm, the fleshy part of the arm, but never on the elbow like that. It's kind of scary at first. It's good now. It's already feeling a little better, and I'm very optimistic."