New York Mets: David Wright
Three errors in the inning later -- two committed by Familia -- the Marlins had scored three runs despite producing only one hit en route to a 9-6 win against the Mets.
One run scored on a wild pitch by Familia. Another came when he fielded a comebacker and fired wide to the plate.
Erik Goeddel eventually entered in his major league debut. He issued a walk to Giancarlo Stanton with first base open to load the bases, then forced in a run by walking Casey McGehee.
The Mets committed six errors in the game, one shy of matching the franchise record. It marked their most since also committing six in an 18-9 loss at Colorado on April 27, 2012, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Mets have allowed at least one unearned run in six of their last 11 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They surrendered five unearned runs Monday.
It’s a first: Rookie Dilson Herrera had a big day at the plate and two-error game at second base.
Herrera’s two-run triple against Sam Dyson in the sixth staked the Mets to a 6-5 lead.
Earlier, Herrera produced his first major league homer -- a solo shot to open what became a four-run third inning against Henderson Alvarez as the Mets pulled ahead, 4-2.
Herrera, 20, became the fifth-youngest player to homer for the Mets. Only Jose Reyes, Jose Oquendo, Greg Goossen and Ed Kranepool had gone deep while younger.
Herrera did commit two errors, giving him three in four games.
He booted a two-out grounder from Garrett Jones in the third inning, although Zack Wheeler bailed Herrera out and left the bases loaded that inning by striking out Marcell Ozuna.
Then, making a hurried throw in the sixth after fielding Adeiny Hechavarria’s bunt, Herrera tossed the ball into the stands. He should have held the baseball, with Hechavarria comfortably safe. The misthrow allowed Hechavarria to advance to second base as the potential tying run. Christian Yelich eventually followed with an RBI single against Carlos Torres that evened the score at 6.
Oh, captain: As Wheeler’s pitch count climbed upward, Terry Collins tried to get him through five innings and qualified for a win. Instead, David Wright committed a one-out error in the fifth and three unearned runs charged to Wheeler subsequently scored as Miami took a 5-4 lead.
With the Mets ahead 4-2 and two outs in the fifth, McGehee delivered an RBI double against Wheeler. Then, on his 114th and final pitch, Wheeler surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Jones. Buddy Carlyle entered and allowed an inherited runner to score on Ozuna’s single.
Wheeler’s line in what became a no-decision: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR.
It marked Wheeler’s shortest start since lasting two innings at Oakland on June 25. He had been 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five previous career starts against the Marlins.
Ouch: After surrendering a bases-loaded single to Wright in the third, Alvarez departed with a strained left oblique. Three runs scored on the play, including the runner from first after Ozuna threw the ball from center field into the home dugout.
MVP? Stanton opened the game’s scoring by belting a first-inning homer against Wheeler. Stanton now leads the National League with 34 homers and 99 RBIs.
Looks familiar: Ex-Met Jordany Valdespin walked as a pinch hitter in the sixth in his first plate appearance against his former club.
What’s next: Jonathon Niese (7-10, 3.48 ERA) opposes right-hander Brad Penny (1-0, 5.40) on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.
Anthony Recker produced a tie-breaking three-run homer against A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning Sunday, and the New York Mets held on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 at Citi Field.
The Mets completed the season series with a 13-6 record against the Phillies. That matches the most wins in a season against Philadelphia in franchise history. The Mets went 13-5 against the Phillies in 1970, ’71, ’72 and ’87.
The victory prevented the Mets (64-73) from dropping into last place in the NL East for the first time since June 27.
Jeurys Familia surrendered a solo homer to Domonic Brown in the eighth inning as Philadelphia (62-74) pulled to within 5-4. Dilson Herrera's first career RBI in the bottom half of the inning restored a two-run cushion for Jenrry Mejia, who needed the insurance. Mejia notched his 21st save despite allowing a run in the ninth.
In the seventh, Dana Eveland allowed a runner inherited from starter Dillon Gee to score, but left a pair of Phillies in scoring position by retiring Chase Utley on a pop-out and consecutively striking out Ryan Howard and Grady Sizemore.
Not him again: Gee must have nightmares about Howard, right? Howard’s solo homer in the sixth against Gee evened the score at 2. Earlier, Howard’s RBI double in the fourth opened the game’s scoring -- although Gee left the bases loaded in that frame by coaxing a double-play grounder from Wil Nieves.
Howard is hitting .423 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 career at-bats against Gee.
Howard also is the active leader in long balls against the Mets with 41, ahead of a pair of his Phillies teammates -- Utley (33), and No. 3 Jimmy Rollins (30).
Gee entered Sunday’s start with a 6.53 ERA in 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Phillies. He departed with a 5-2 lead after walking Freddy Galvis to open the seventh. Gee’s final line: 6+ IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Halted! David Wright snapped a career-high 14-game RBI-less drought when his two-out single in the sixth against Burnett plated Matt den Dekker and staked the Mets to a 2-1 lead. Wright’s previous high without an RBI had been 13 straight games in Aug. 2010.
Wright’s hit also gave the Mets seven in the game. That snapped a streak of 10 straight games at Citi Field with six hits or fewer, which had matched the longest home streak in the majors since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Den Dekker’s RBI double had pulled the Mets even at 1.
Three cheers: Wilmer Flores went 3-for-4 and also recorded his first career stolen base, although a good throw from the Nieves would have nailed him at third base. It marked the third time Flores produced that career-high three-hit total.
What’s next: The Mets head to Miami for a three-game series. Zack Wheeler (9-9, 3.44 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (10-6, 2.75) in the 1:10 p.m. opener on Labor Day. Wheeler is 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA in four starts against the Marlins this season.
Still, it is entirely possible the glass-half-full outlook for next season is a mirage, and the Mets’ streak of consecutive losing seasons will continue.
Once Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud began to produce this season, it seemed reasonable to assert the Mets were a shortstop and left fielder away from becoming legitimate wild-card contenders.
Not that securing substantial upgrades at both of those positions this winter would have been a slam dunk, but it seemed a plausible goal to realistically make the Mets competitive.
Wright is in the midst of a career-high, 153-at-bat homerless drought. He is hitting .207 (30-for-145) with two doubles and eight RBIs in 38 games since the All-Star break.
Granderson, who was on the bench Sunday, is 1-for-17 on the homestand, has two extra-base hits in August and is hitting .214 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs this year. He was signed to be Wright’s protection in the lineup, yet more recently found himself as the leadoff hitter -- and floundering in that role.
Aside from their paltry production as supposed anchors of the offense, Wright and Granderson’s contracts are borderline scary, too -- unless the Mets' owners are going to seriously loosen the purse strings.
Wright and Granderson are making a combined $33 million this season and are due to make a combined $36 million in 2015.
After Mets GM Sandy Alderson waited four years for payroll flexibility, he is now tied to two potentially unproductive players who may consume more than one-third of the payroll for the next three seasons.
“It’s a legitimate question,” manager Terry Collins said Sunday when asked about being able to succeed with the team’s two primary offensive cogs unproductive. “Your main guys, when you go into spring training every year, you look at those names and you say, ‘These are going to be the guys that carry us. Now, the pieces around those guys, what do they need to do for us to be successful?’ It depends on those guys to really do what they do best.”
The primary case for Wright having a rebound season in 2015 is that his shoulder is holding him back now, and he will be healthy next year. That might be valid to a certain extent, but Wright’s production trend is headed in a downward direction. Since producing a combined 63 home runs in 2007 and ’08, Wright’s long-ball totals have been 10, 29, 14, 21, 18 and now eight. And Wright is not getting any younger; he will be 32 next season.
Granderson’s season, meanwhile, might not be that much of an outlier from previous years. His on-base percentage is identical to that of his last season with the Yankees (.317). And he is homering once every 29.8 at-bats this season, compared with once every 30.6 at-bats a year ago in pinstripes.
“No. 1, I think David is going to be healthier next year than he has been,” Collins said. “I think that will make a difference. You look at his splits between the first and second half, [and] there’s a dramatic difference.
“And Grandy, I think [after] a year in the National League, I think [after] a year seeing what it takes to be successful in this park, I think he’ll probably come into spring training with a different outlook of what he’s got to do to find success here.”
Alderson was fond all last winter of noting the Mets went 50-50 in their final 100 games of the 2013 season, as if that was supposed to be a signal the team was on the precipice of something special.
It was not.
Using that same measurement tool, though, the Mets are 46-54 in their past 100 games this season.
That’s a 75-win pace that Harvey and Parnell will not remedy without rebounds from Wright and Granderson.
FIRST PITCH: David Wright was pragmatic in the postgame clubhouse after Saturday’s loss officially ensured the Mets would not reach 90 wins.
“This season hasn’t gone the way we would’ve liked it to,” Wright said. “We all put forth expectations for ourselves, and whether it’s individual or the team, when you don’t meet those expectations, of course it’s disappointing.”
On Sunday, the Mets (63-73) play their final game in the season series against the Phillies (62-73). Fourth place is at stake as Dillon Gee (5-6, 3.77 ERA) opposes fellow right-hander A.J. Burnett (7-14, 4.30 ERA) at 1:10 p.m.
Philadelphia has occupied last place since June 28.
Not only would a Mets win keep the Phillies in the basement, it would give the Mets 13 wins against Philadelphia in 2014 -- matching their most ever in a season series between the clubs.
Meanwhile, Sunday also marks the deadline for players to be traded and be eligible for the acquiring team’s postseason roster.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings and Curtis Granderson left the bases loaded in the seventh with a strikeout against Antonio Bastardo as the Phillies beat the Mets, 7-2, on Saturday. Dilson Herrera produced his first major league hit with a seventh-inning single against Phillies starter Jerome Williams.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record, Times and at MLB.com.
• R.A. Dickey, who never saw a microphone he didn’t love, told David Lennon in Newsday that the Mets should not be trying to muzzle Matt Harvey.
"I enjoyed telling the truth in conversations," Dickey told Lennon. "I didn't feel like I ever threw anybody under the bus, but I also didn't want to give the ‘SportsCenter’ answers because that's not what I was really believing. And Harvey's a lot like that. We may be similar in that. I remember how he was upset that nobody retaliated for David [Wright], and that's valid. I feel like he shouldn't be chastised for speaking his mind unless he's throwing people under the bus. That's a different thing."
• Tim Rohan in the Times writes about the bond between Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola and prospect Noah Syndergaard.
• Wally Backman expressed appreciation for being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.
“It’s an honor to get chosen by your colleagues. I’m thankful I got picked by my peers,” Backman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s no question Triple-A is the toughest level to manage at because of the player movement. That’s what makes it tough. There are so many different guys going back and forth.
“To win as many games as we have each year with as much movement as we’ve had, I’ve got to give the organization credit for giving us players to replace the ones who’ve gone to the majors.”
Columnist John Harper in the Daily News advocates Backman serving as Terry Collins’ bench coach next season. Writes Harper:
In that position he shouldn’t be regarded as a threat to Collins, especially given [Sandy] Alderson’s apparent lack of regard for Backman as a managerial candidate. And after all, if Collins is indeed the manager next season, he will be on a very short leash.
That is, if he doesn’t win he’ll be out, and perhaps quickly, regardless of who is perceived as a manager-in-waiting by the media or fans.
Read more on Backman in Newsday.
• Alderson told Anthony Rieber in Newsday that there is no hard-and-fast “330 rule,” even though Collins recently cited it. Collins had said the organization does not want a pitcher throwing more than 330 pitches in a three-start stretch.
"I think there's a rule of thumb," Alderson told Rieber. "I think if you go back and look at the numbers for some of our starters, it's not followed uniformly. So I'd say no, there's not a rule."
• Ruben Tejada tells columnist George Willis in the Post he does not know what the future holds. “I know this is a business,” Tejada said. “Right now, I’m working for this team. But you never know whether you’re going to stay here or go to another team.”
• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News writes about Wright:
The Mets can only hope their 31-year-old captain’s power outage is the product of a bum shoulder since he is owed $107 million through 2020. Still, .264 with eight home runs is a horrific decline and intolerable for a No. 3 hitter. For all their pitching depth, the coming-into-their-own of Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares and Travis d'Arnaud, and the great promise of Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki, the Mets cannot expect to be any less offensively challenged and inconsistent next year than they’ve been this year if Wright is not the 20-homer, 100-RBI No. 3 hitter [of] most of his first nine years with them.
• Rieber in Newsday cites the bullpen as a positive for the 2014 Mets.
• Jay Schreiber in the Times offers his take on the Mets’ 90-win mantra.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear seeks Citi Field solace in overpriced beer.
BIRTHDAYS: Ramon Ramirez turns 33. ... Claudell Washington was born on this date in 1954. ... Kingsport infielder Pedro Perez turns 20.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets hold off the Phillies for fourth place in the division?
Walk for Herrera - Alderson must be happy. #mets— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) August 31, 2014
FIRST PITCH: In 2007 and ’08, the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies went down to the wire for the NL East crown.
This year, they are jockeying for the basement.
In fact, the Phillies (61-72) arrive at Citi Field for a weekend series trailing the Amazin’s by only a half-game for fourth place in the division.
Meanwhile, the Mets (62-72) need to run the table over their final 28 games in order to achieve Sandy Alderson’s 90-win goal.
DeGrom (6-6, 3.13 ERA) opposes right-hander David Buchanan (6-7, 4.21) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.
DeGrom had a streak of five straight winning decisions snapped when he allowed five runs in six innings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
The Mets are 11-5 against the Phillies in 2014.
Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• With Daniel Murphy landing on the disabled list with a strained right calf, Herrera has been promoted from Double-A, where the 20-year-old Colombian was hitting .340 with 10 homers, 48 RBIs and nine steals in 241 at-bats. If Herrera shows he can succeed in the majors, that could make it easier for the Mets to justify trading Murphy this offseason.
Murphy, who leads the NL in hits at the moment with 159, is due for a healthy raise from his $5.7 million salary this season. He is eligible for free agency during the 2015-16 winter.
Herrera was acquired with Vic Black from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 27, 2013 for Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
"He's a player that moves this team," Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "He brings a lot of energy. I think everybody feeds from that. Whenever you have a player like him that is excited to be out there and plays the game the right way, I think everybody else feeds from that."
Herrera joins Wilfredo Tovar in 2013 and Robert Carson in 2012 as prospects who made the jump directly from Double-A to the Mets.
Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Black, who has a herniated disk in his neck, was given a cortisone injection and landed on the DL before Thursday’s game. Daisuke Matsuzaka was activated from the DL.
• Terry Collins told the Daily News that team personnel have engaged in internal conversations about moving Travis d'Arnaud from catcher to left field, although the manager cautioned that it’s not some plan set to be put into action. The motivation would be to keep d’Arnaud’s bat in the lineup and avoid further concussions.
While d’Arnaud may be a capable hitter as a catcher, as an outfielder that production might be considered fairly ordinary. And moving d’Arnaud presumes Triple-A catching prospect Kevin Plawecki will succeed at the major league level.
• Alderson implied there is nothing overly active as another trade deadline approaches Sunday. Players must be dealt by Aug. 31 in order to be eligible for the acquiring team’s postseason roster. Translation: Bartolo Colon looks like he is starting Saturday and will remain a Met at least into the offseason.
“I would say right now there’s a lot less going on than some people speculate,” Alderson said.
• David Wright (neck/shoulder) returned to the lineup Thursday and Josh Edgin (elbow) supposedly was available had his services been required. Wright went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and grounded into a double play.
• Mike Minor held the Mets without a baserunner until Lucas Duda's leadoff single in the fifth and the Braves ultimately won Thursday’s rubber game, 6-1, at Citi Field. Jonathon Niese kept the deficit at 1-0 until surrendering two runs in the eighth. In his first major league action since July 24, Matsuzaka allowed a pinch-hit two-run homer to Ryan Doumit in a three-run ninth.
The Mets are 4-10 and are hitting .164 at Citi Field in August.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• The Mets extended their player-development agreement with Triple-A Las Vegas through the 2016 season. With no apparent vacancies on the East Coast, the Mets preferred having direct flights from Vegas over pursuing a home in an alternate Pacific Coast League city. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• The Mets worked out lower-tier Cuban free agents Pavel Quesada and Roberto Carlos in the Dominican Republic, the Post’s Mike Puma reported.
• Chris Young made his debut with the Yankees organization on Thursday. Young, who signed a minor-league contract this week, started in right field for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts. If Young joins the Yankees after rosters expand, the Mets will save $73,700. That’s the prorated portion of the major league minimum the Yankees would need to pay Young for the final month of the season.
• Columnist Larry Brooks in the Post says Curtis Granderson has been “simply dreadful.”
• Rafael Montero allowed eight runs (five earned) in six innings as Albuquerque beat Las Vegas, 10-5. Luis Cessa and two relievers combined on a five-hit shutout as St. Lucie remained on the fringe of the Florida State League playoff race with a 2-0 win against Palm Beach. Robert Gsellman contributed to a four-hit shutout as Savannah blanked Augusta, 3-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Marc Carig in Newsday chronicles a glut of hits d’Arnaud has lost because of Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons' fielding prowess.
• From the bloggers ... Blogging Mets wonders if the Mets could have gotten Addison Russell from the A's before the Cubs did.
BIRTHDAYS: Anthony Recker turns 31. ... Noah Syndergaard turns 22. ... Henry Blanco is 43.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Would you have preferred Dilson Herrera or Matt Reynolds get the promotion?
This man is heading to the Big Leagues. The rest of us poor saps are riding a bus overnight to Virginia. pic.twitter.com/Y6NFfMT2Xz— Tim Heiman (@TimHeiman) August 29, 2014
In the Mets' 2014 world, Wright is a big part of the problem.
He came back Thursday after missing two games with neck spasms, and in some ways it looked as if he had never left. Wright went hitless, the Mets almost went scoreless, and they lost again, 6-1 to the Atlanta Braves.
A frustrated manager Terry Collins spoke of how the Mets have too many players who are trying to learn in the big leagues. But the two biggest culprits in the Mets' second-half offensive collapse have been the veterans, Wright and Curtis Granderson.
The Mets are baseball's lowest-scoring team since the break, with just 125 runs in 39 games. Every other team has at least 132 runs; the first-place Washington Nationals have 176, so they've outscored the Mets by more than 50 runs in just six weeks.
How do you change it if your captain and No. 3 hitter goes six weeks without a home run, and three weeks without even an extra-base hit? How do you change it when your $60 million cleanup hitter or leadoff hitter or whatever Granderson is today has a .144 batting average and .243 slugging percentage in the second half (and a .198 slugging percentage in August)?
"You search for answers," Wright said. "The important thing for all of us is to finish up as strong as we can."
Thursday wasn't going to be an easy night against Mike Minor, the recently revived Braves left-hander. But almost no night is good for the Mets hitters, especially at Citi Field, where they've scored eight runs total in their past five games, and have scored more than three runs just once in their past 12 home games.
Wright and Granderson are hardly the only strugglers. Ruben Tejada is hitting .186 in the second half. Wilmer Flores is hitting .215. The only Mets regular hitting better than .254 since the All-Star break is Daniel Murphy, and he just went on the disabled list with a strained right calf.
As a team, the Mets are hitting .216 in the second half, with a .276 on-base percentage and a .325 slugging percentage. So as a team, the Mets have a .601 OPS in six weeks since the All-Star break.
You know what that makes them? It makes them a team of B.J. Uptons. Upton's OPS for the season is .604.
You don't win that way, and the Mets haven't been winning. The Mets haven't won a series since they took three of four in Philadelphia three weeks back.
The good news is the last-place Phillies are the next team on the Mets' schedule. The bad news is that the Phillies are relatively hot (coming off four straight wins), hot enough that they're only half a game behind the Mets in the NL East standings.
The good news is the Mets got David Wright in the lineup. The bad news is it's the same David Wright who hasn't been hitting for the past six weeks, returning to a lineup that hasn't been hitting, either.
FIRST PITCH: The New York Mets will try to win a series from the Atlanta Braves for the third time this season when the two teams play Thursday night at Citi Field.
There's a chance David Wright could return to the lineup for the first time since he left Sunday's game in Los Angeles with neck spasms.
The Mets and Braves split a pair of 3-2 games the last two nights. The Mets are 7-4 in one-run games since the All-Star break, after going 13-22 in the first half.
Jonathon Niese (7-9, 3.47), who is 2-5 with a 4.63 ERA since he came off the disabled list in late July, starts for the Mets. Left-hander Mike Minor (5-8, 4.09), who has allowed just two runs in 14 2/3 innings over his last two starts, goes for the Braves.
Thursday's news reports:
-- In a game defined by the two shortstops, Andrelton Simmons was much better than Ruben Tejada, and the Braves were a run better than the Mets. Tejada committed an error that cost Zack Wheeler a run. Simmons made a spectacular play that saved the game in the eighth inning. Read game stories in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
-- It was another hitless night for Curtis Granderson, now hitting .171 with a .246 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. As columnist John Harper points out in the Daily News, Sandy Alderson was a lot more on the money in his assessment of the Mets' young talent than he was in judging last winter's free-agent market.
-- Speaking of which, Chris Young has a job. Cut by the Mets a couple of weeks back, Young has now signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees. Read more in the Post.
-- Reliever Vic Black is still out of action, but feeling better after an MRI exam revealed he has a slightly herniated disk in his neck. Black took that as very good news, and said he hopes to be pitching again soon. Read more in Newsday and the Star Ledger.
BIRTHDAYS: Joel Youngblood turns 63 ... Mike Torrez is 68 ... and Billy Cowan is 76.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU'RE UP: What would you like to see the Mets do at shortstop?
No excuses left for the #Mets. None. Syndergaard belongs in the majors.— Rising Apple (@RisingAppleBlog) August 28, 2014
But manager Terry Collins said there's a real chance that David Wright could be back in the lineup by Thursday.
Wright hasn't played since Sunday, when he was forced out of the game in Los Angeles with neck spasms. He got extensive treatment Tuesday, and by Wednesday he had improved to the point that he took batting practice in the indoor cage and then on the field.
"He told me, 'If it's this good [Thursday], I'll be in there,'" Collins said.
Collins wouldn't say the same about Daniel Murphy, who has missed the last two games with a calf injury.
Meanwhile, Collins suggested that he would again be without both right-hander Vic Black and lefty Josh Edgin in the bullpen. The situation with Black's neck is apparently more serious, with Collins saying that he'll likely miss at least a couple more days.
D'Arnaud at cleanup: Having Murphy and Wright both out of the lineup forces Collins to do some maneuvering, and Wednesday it meant hitting Travis d'Arnaud cleanup for the first time in his career.
"I hope he doesn't get carried away," Collins said. "But to be honest, it's a pat on the back for him, because he's become a huge part of our lineup."
FIRST PITCH: Now that Zack Wheeler can beat anyone, can he beat the Atlanta Braves?
The New York Mets right-hander had three wins over his hometown team last season. He doesn't yet have any this year.
That's not entirely his fault. He pitched well against the Braves each of the last two times out, but got little help from his offense in either game.
Perhaps the somewhat-revived Mets offense -- hey, they scored 11 runs just a few days ago -- can help Wheeler (9-8, 3.48) when he faces the Braves again on Wednesday night at Citi Field.
Then again, he's matched up against right-hander Julio Teheran (12-9, 2.96), who is coming off six scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
Wheeler gave up four runs to the Oakland Athletics in his last start, but since a June 30 start in Atlanta, he's 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA.
Now, can he beat the Braves?
Wednesday's news reports:
• The Mets beat the Braves Tuesday night, and they did it without David Wright or Daniel Murphy, and with Vic Black and Josh Edgin unavailable. The key guy they did have in the lineup was Juan Lagares, who made another nice catch and also hit another home run. Read game stories in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Wright is out because of muscle spasms in his neck, but he finally admitted Tuesday that his left shoulder is an issue. What he wouldn't admit is that it's been a factor in his lousy play, and what the Mets said they won't do is shut him down because of it. Read more in the Post, Star Ledger and MLB.com.
• Will you see Noah Syndergaard in September? Sandy Alderson suggested Tuesday that a lack of spots on the 40-man roster could keep Syndergaard out of the big leagues this season. But Alderson also suggested that Syndergaard could benefit from a month in the big leagues, so the issue remains undecided. Read more in the Post, Newsday, Record and Star Ledger. Meanwhile, Tim Rohan wonders in the Times if Matt Reynolds can be the next Mets shortstop.
• Tuesday's win gave the Mets a 62-70 record, which means that Alderson's 90-win spring training challenge is technically alive for a few more days. But columnist Joel Sherman in the Post sees a much bigger issue, the question of whether the Mets have fallen into a cycle of 74-77 win seasons that they don't have the ability -- or the strong will -- to break out of.
• It's pretty much accepted now that the best thing that happened to Travis d'Arnaud this season was the Mets' decision to send him to Triple-A Las Vegas, and how he reacted to it. Now, d'Arnaud's father tells columnist Kevin Kernan of the Post pretty much the same thing, and says he told it to Travis at the time.
BIRTHDAYS: Mike Maddux, best known as the brother of Greg but also as a 1993-94 Met, turns 53 . . . Brian McRae is 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Wright is hitting .215 with no homers and eight RBIs in 135 second-half at-bats. He is in the midst of a career-high 143 at-bat homerless drought. He nonetheless dismissed any suggestion that his subpar second-half performance is related to the shoulder issue, despite hitting coach Lamar Johnson recently saying about the captain's struggles: "When your shoulder is hurt, it's really tough."
Said Wright: "I would say that everybody has an opinion. Lamar sees me on a daily basis. Is the shoulder 100 percent? No. But that takes rest. And that's what the offseason is for. But is that the reason that I'm struggling the way I'm struggling? No. So I think it's not a reasonable assessment as to why I'm playing poorly. The assessment as to why I'm playing poorly is that I'm not producing the way I'm capable of producing. I don't think it's because of my shoulder."
Johnson had asserted that it's tough to get a swing started when your left shoulder is "in pain a little bit."
Countered Wright: "I just try to see the ball and hit it. I don't dig too far into the analytics of my swing. Murph does. I just try to keep it as simple as possible. I'm not sure what Lamar said, but, again, everybody is entitled to an opinion."
Wright said he has not received another cortisone shot in the shoulder since the one heading into the All-Star break. He insisted the damage is limited to a bruised rotator cuff.
"Nothing has changed," he said.
Sandy Alderson said Wright is not on the DL because the captain said he doesn't need to be there.
"Our decision is predicated essentially on feedback from the patient," Alderson said. "David has said that it's not a factor. Now, should we discount that somewhat? Probably. But at this point he said it's not a factor, so we've accepted that and agreed.
"Could we legitimately put him on the disabled list? Probably. But usually when you put somebody on the disabled list they have to agree with the placement -- not that it's an absolute requirement, or any sort of basic requirement. But that's sort of what happens. At this point, we're not there yet. Now, we'll continue to monitor it and see where it takes us."
As for the neck issue, which forced Wright to depart Sunday's game at Dodger Stadium in the third inning, the captain said: "It's getting better. I was just having some issues turning completely to my left. That would be problematic, since that's the way I have to look at the pitcher. I would have liked to get it going and warmed up and tried to play today, but the doctors want to see me. And they want to continue to do treatment on it and make sure when they do put me out there I won't have to come out of the game early again. ...
"I feel like when my neck is ready to go, then I should be ready to go. Again, hopefully this offseason will be the time to get back to 100 percent. As I've said all along, when I am put in the lineup, I expect to perform at a certain level. When I don't do that, I'm disappointed and I'm upset and frustrated. That's been the case."
Meanwhile, Terry Collins has suggested he may consider moving Wright from the No. 3 hole. Wright said he would have no issue.
"I've hit all over the place -- from my first year seventh, [to] I've hit third, fourth, fifth, sixth," Wright said. "I think I hit second a couple of times. The lineup makes no bit of difference to me."
FIRST PITCH: The Mets will have a chance to play spoiler as the Atlanta Braves visit Citi Field for a three-game series.
Atlanta (68-63) trails the first-place Washington Nationals by 7½ games in the division race, but the Braves are right in the thick of the wild-card hunt.
One aspect to watch Tuesday: Will David Wright and Daniel Murphy return to the lineup? Wright departed Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium in the third inning with muscle spasms in his neck. Murphy departed in the ninth inning with a right-calf issue.
Dillon Gee (4-6, 3.84 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (9-9, 3.05) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• With teams apparently leery about taking on Bartolo Colon's $11 million salary for 2015, the veteran righty went unclaimed and cleared waivers Monday. That makes Colon eligible to be traded to any team through the end of the month, although it clearly means the Mets would have to kick in money. It appears more likely the Mets deal Colon in the offseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels would appear potential destinations if a trade did materialize before Sunday’s deadline.
Still, Mike DiGiovanna in the Los Angeles Times writes:
If the Angels absorbed Colon’s $11 million salary for 2015, it would push them right up against the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, which owner Arte Moreno does not want to pass, and leave them virtually no flexibility to pursue a free-agent pitcher next winter. It is still possible for the Angels to trade for Colon, but they would probably want the Mets to assume a chunk of the pitcher’s 2015 salary to do so.
Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.
• The left shoulder issue that has tormented Wright since before the All-Star break has hindered his production, hitting coach Lamar Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Terry Collins has at least considered moving Wright out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
"There's not a segment of this team that isn't talked about every day. Not a segment. Who to play, and when to play? Where to hit him? Who should be hitting behind him? Who should be hitting in front of him?" Collins told Carig. "Not a segment."
Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record wonders if Wright will still be productive when the Mets finally become a contender.
Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:
Over the past month, Wright has been arguably the worst regular offensive player in the major leagues. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances since July 26, he ranks last with a .231 slugging percentage and second-to-last with a .492 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage. He has just one extra-base hit during the month of August and hasn't hit a homer since July 11.
The slump has dropped his on-base percentage to a career-low .324, especially troubling considering that Wright had a combined .307 batting average and .391 OBP in 2012 and 2013. But the year before that, in 2011, Wright injured his back early in season and saw his batting average fall to a career-low .254 after he emerged from the disabled list.
As in 2011, it seems easy to attribute his issues this year to an injury -- in this case his shoulder, which he hurt while sliding headfirst into second base at a muddy Citi Field in June.
• Nolan Arenado beat out Lucas Duda for the NL Player of the Week honor.
Mike Puma in the Post caught up with former hitting coach Dave Hudgens about Duda’s surge, which includes five homers in his past six games.
“There were a lot of times where everybody said he took pitches early, which he did, there is no question,” Hudgens told Puma. “But I think a lot of times he was just late on balls as far as timing went.”
Read more on Duda in the Daily News.
• The Mets may use Rafael Montero as part of a six-man rotation in September. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post reviews external shortstop options for the Mets to pursue during the offseason.
• The Mets are a “very strong possibility” to remain affiliated with Las Vegas through 2016, Sandy Alderson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The door was closed on one attractive alternative when Rochester announced it had renewed its agreement with the Minnesota Twins.
• Dustin Lawley had a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth as Binghamton beat New Britain, 4-1. T.J. Chism surrendered a ninth-inning grand slam and St. Lucie lost to Charlotte, 8-5. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear questions Collins' commitment to winning.
BIRTHDAYS: Ricky Bottalico turns 45. ... Alex Trevino was born on this date in 1957.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Hitting coach Lamar Johnson told SNY's Robert Brender (link): “We're trying to work on a consistent swing. When your shoulder is hurt, it’s really tough. It’s hurt in his left shoulder and that’s where your swing starts, with your left side, your left hand getting to the ball. It's been tough because he’s been trying to play through that. It’s just been a real tough haul because it’s hard to get a consistent swing when you’re in pain a little bit.”
Separately, Wright departed Sunday's game at Dodger Stadium with neck spasms.
Wright had a cortisone shot in the shoulder heading into the All-Star break.
FIRST PITCH: After salvaging their series finale at Dodger Stadium to go 2-3 on a trip to Oakland and Los Angeles, the Mets have a day of rest Monday. It looks like they need it.
David Wright departed Sunday’s game in the third inning with muscle spasms on the right side of his neck, which apparently began bothering him earlier in the weekend. Daniel Murphy then departed in the ninth inning with right-calf soreness.
Wright is in the midst of a career-high 143 at-bat homerless drought. His previous career high came earlier this season (136 at-bats).
The Mets resume play Tuesday at Citi Field against the Braves. Dillon Gee (4-6, 3.84 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (9-9, 3.05) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.
Monday’s news reports:
• Lucas Duda produced a pair of home runs and a career-high five RBIs as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 11-3, on Sunday. Duda now has five homers in his past six games, making him a strong candidate for NL Player of the Week. His 26 homers for the season rank him third in the National League, trailing only Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton (32) and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo (29).
In the sixth inning, the Mets turned their first triple play since May 19, 2010 in Washington. With Yasiel Puig on second base and Adrian Gonzalez on first base and no one out, Matt Kemp hit into what appeared poised to be a double play. However, Puig decided to ignore a stop sign from his third base coach and head home. He was comfortably beaten by Duda’s throw on what became a 5-4-3-2 triple play. It was the 11th triple play turned in Mets history.
Ruben Tejada, starting at shortstop over Wilmer Flores, contributed a two-run homer to snap his long-ball drought at 163 at-bats.
Making his first start since returning from bereavement leave, Bartolo Colon (12-10) limited the Dodgers to two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. Colon now plans to return to the Dominican Republic to be present for his mother’s funeral Thursday. He will rejoin the Mets in time for his scheduled start Saturday against the Phillies in Queens.
That is, Colon will face Philadelphia provided he is not traded first. He reportedly was placed on revocable waivers over the weekend.
If Sunday's game happened to be Colon’s last start -- and it probably was not -- his last pitch as a Met coaxed the triple play. ESPN’s Mark Simon notes that would be reminiscent of Joe Pignatano, who hit into a triple play in his last career at-bat, back in 1962 with the Mets.
The Angels and Dodgers make sense for Colon as in-season landing spots, one MLB executive suggested. Tigers VP Scott Reid also watched Colon pitch Sunday, but he was at Dodger Stadium all week and an insider does not believe Detroit would be interested in Colon because of the salary attached.
Meanwhile, the Mets snapped a six-game Dodger Stadium losing streak. It was their longest skid at the stadium since also losing six straight in 1980 and ’81.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Wright in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Read more on Duda in Newsday.
• Long Island native Steven Matz tossed five scoreless innings as Binghamton beat Akron, 5-2. Kevin McGowan took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and St. Lucie held on for a 3-2 win against Jupiter. Persio Reyes tossed seven scoreless innings in Kingsport’s 9-1 win against Johnson City. Michael Conforto drove in three runs for Brooklyn in a 10-1 win against Tri-City. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear explores the concept of fun where the Mets are concerned. ... Blogging Mets suspects the Mets are gearing up to trade Noah Syndergaard.
BIRTHDAYS: Pedro Feliciano turns 38. ... Choo-Choo Coleman was born on this date in 1937. ... Gary Matthews Jr. is 40. ... Neal Musser is 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
As it turns out, there was a gradual neck discomfort that started bothering Wright on Saturday.
Wright scored on Lucas Duda's home run after his single in the third inning, but he did not come out for the bottom half of the inning. Eric Campbell replaced Wright at third base.
“It’s bothered me for a couple days and got progressively worse and worse and got to a point where I couldn’t go out there and do the simple things,” Wright said. “That’s when the decision was made to get me out of there, especially with the off day [Monday].”
Wright doesn’t expect to miss Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field against Atlanta.
Wright has been in an offensive slump lately, but Collins has opted not to give Wright a day to rest. Sunday was an especially good day to keep him in there considering he entered the game hitting .765 (13-for-17) against Dodgers starter Kevin Correia.
Kathy Willens/Associated PressIs this Bartolo Colon's final start as a Met? Perhaps, although an offseason trade appears more likely.
FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon returns from bereavement leave Sunday to make what could be his final start as a Met.
Colon reportedly has been placed on revocable waivers by the club. If he is claimed, the Mets can:
• Pull him back, which means they cannot trade him this month.
• Work out a trade with the claiming team during a 48-hour window.
• Dump Colon’s contract on the claiming team, which would be forced to accept it.
If Colon clears waivers, the Mets can trade him to any team during the remainder of August.
Colon has $12.8 million remaining on his contract, including the final 36 days of this season.
After the start in the 4:10 p.m. ET game Sunday at Dodger Stadium, Colon is scheduled to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral for his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after a battle with breast cancer.
Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) opposes right-hander Kevin Correia (7-13, 4.87 ERA) as the Mets attempt to avoid getting swept.
The Mets have lost six straight games at Dodger Stadium, their longest losing streak at Chavez Ravine since also losing that many consecutively from Sept. 1, 1980 to May 17, 1981.
The franchise record is 11 straight losses at Dodger Stadium, from July 23, 1966 through Sept. 28, 1967.
Sunday’s news reports:
• David Wright's struggles were in the spotlight as the Dodgers intentionally walked Daniel Murphy to face the captain with first base open and the Mets trailing by a run in the seventh inning Saturday. Wright struck out against Zack Greinke as part of an 0-for-5 night that included twice grounding into double plays and twice striking out. He is hitting .211 with no homers and eight RBIs in 133 at-bats since the All-Star break.
Juan Lagares' three-run homer against Greinke had staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Lagares’ first long ball since May 17 snapped his homerless drought at 227 at-bats.
Jacob deGrom fired fastballs at 96-97 mph in his return from the disabled list, but surrendered a three-run homer in the fifth to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers rallied to take a 5-3 lead. Gonzalez finished with five RBIs, the most by an opponent against the Mets this season.
“I felt good,” deGrom told reporters postgame. “It’s just a lot of outings come down to a few pitches, and tonight I didn’t make the big pitches when I needed to.”
The Mets (60-70) are now 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 6, when they were 39-49. Three more losses will clinch a non-90-win season. The Amazin’s need to go 21-11 the rest of the way to avoid the franchise’s sixth straight losing season, which would match the Astros for the longest active streak in the majors.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Times and at MLB.com.
• It is looking increasingly likely that Noah Syndergaard will not pitch in the majors in 2014. Syndergaard has a 4.85 ERA in 24 starts for playoff-bound Las Vegas. More importantly, he has logged 124 1/3 innings -- that’s already seven more innings than last season. So Syndergaard has roughly no more than 23 innings remaining. Syndergaard next pitches Wednesday. He then is lined up for the regular-season finale, although he instead could open the playoffs two days later. After that, he might be down to single-digits in innings remaining, which would be consumed if the 51s advance beyond the postseason’s first round.
The one interesting decision to watch is middle infielder Matt Reynolds, who is hitting .343 with five homers, 31 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage in 60 PCL games. Reynolds, a second-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Arkansas, does not need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. Still, production is production.
Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• Joel Sherman in the Post analyzes how the Mets will approach Murphy's future with the club. Murphy’s salary likely will exceed $8 million next season after a final winter of arbitration eligibility. He is due for free agency after the 2015 season. Writes Sherman:
So do they trade him? Play out the 2015 season with him? Or do they sign him to, say, a four-year, $40 million-ish deal to make him part of the firmament moving forward?
The sense I get is the Mets once again will make him available this offseason and once again ask for a significant return. They see a weak free-agent market for hitters. So, in supply and demand, the Mets think they have what is in short supply, so they will make a big demand.
• Read more on Colon on waivers in Newsday.
• Cory Vaughn delivered a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as Las Vegas beat New Orleans, 10-8. Hansel Robles, Dario Alvarez and Cody Satterwhite combined for four no-hit relief innings as Binghamton beat Akron, 5-1. Corey Oswalt contributed six scoreless innings, but Brooklyn lost to Tri-City, 5-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Curtis Granderson is excited by the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago winning the U.S. championship in Williamsport, Pa., Kristie Ackert writes in the Daily News. The boys will have workouts going forward at the stadium named after Granderson at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
• Stephen Haynes in Newsday profiles Cyclones left-hander Brad Wieck, the organization’s seventh-round pick in June out of Oklahoma City University.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets executive Tony Bernazard turns 58. ... Bartolome Fortunato is 40.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you think David Wright’s rut is shoulder-injury-related? Or is his career possibly in its initial descent?
Going to sleep now #Mets and you are leading the Dodgers 3-2, please let me wake up in the morning to see that you have won!— Michelle Hall (@kaddle) August 24, 2014