New York Mets: Jenrry Mejia
FIRST PITCH: The gang is still all here.
The deadline to trade a player and have him eligible for the acquiring team’s postseason roster passed at midnight and the Mets stood pat, as they did at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. So all the chatter about Bartolo Colon potentially getting dealt can be revisited this offseason, when he has one year and $11 million remaining on his contract.
The Mets open a series at third-place Miami at 1:10 p.m. on Labor Day.
Zack Wheeler, who is 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA in four starts against the Marlins this season, opposes fellow right-hander Henderson Alvarez in the opener.
Read the Mets-Marlins series preview here.
Monday’s news reports:
• The Mets won Sunday’s rubber game against the Phillies, 6-5, to avoid dropping into last place in the NL East. Anthony Recker hit a tie-breaking three-run homer and the Mets held on late despite Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia each surrendering a run.
The Mets went 13-6 in the season series against Philadelphia, matching the most wins against the Phillies in one season in franchise history. It was the Amazin’s most wins against any team in a single season since producing 14 wins against the Montreal Expos in 1991.
Wilmer Flores had a career-high-matching three hits as well as a handful of solid fielding plays at shortstop.
The Mets produced 11 hits. That snapped a streak of 10 straight home games with six hits or fewer, which had tied the 1980 Athletics for a modern-day futility record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.
• The Mets have fired their VP in charge of ticket sales after four years on the job, the Post reported.
• The minor-league reinforcements were needed in part because the Mets left a couple of relievers behind in New York with elbow woes. Josh Edgin, who has bone spurs, is due to be examined as soon as Tuesday and may be “down for a while,” manager Terry Collins said. Edgin is unsure if he will require surgery to remove the spurs. Daisuke Matsuzaka's balky elbow also will be examined. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• With St. Lucie having been eliminated from postseason contention on the final day of the Florida State League regular season, several farmhands received promotions to playoff-bound clubs. Second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, the son of Lee Mazzilli, is headed to Las Vegas. 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, catcher Cam Maron and right-handers Matt Koch and Tim Peterson are headed to Binghamton.
Maron hails from Hicksville, Long Island. He hit .282 with three homers and 50 RBIs and had a .387 on-base percentage in 348 at-bats with St. Lucie.
• St. Lucie was eliminated Sunday despite a 4-2 win against Palm Beach. The FSL club posted a 76-62 record this season. Meanwhile, Brooklyn remained alive for the New York-Penn League’s wild-card berth entering Monday’s regular-season finale by beating Staten Island, 11-3, behind a four-RBI game from Adrian Abreu. The Cyclones need to win Monday and have Connecticut lose to Lowell to qualify for the playoffs. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Mike Puma in the Post names Lucas Duda the MVP and Curtis Granderson the LVP of the Mets for August. The Mets went 12-17 during the month. Granderson, who was 1-for-17 on the homestand, was given Sunday off.
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger profiles first-round pick Michael Conforto, who is hitting .340 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 159 at-bats entering Brooklyn’s regular-season finale. “It’s just rare to see that kind of selectivity in somebody that is so young,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa told Vorkunov. “Everything we had heard -- he was one of the top college hitters in the country -- has proved to be true in pro ball.”
BIRTHDAYS: Left-hander David West turns 50. ... Minor-league infielder Jhoan Urena is 20.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
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.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets certainly have the number of their rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. The Amazin’s are 12-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies this season -- their most wins in a season series against Philadelphia since 1989.
With a win with Bartolo Colon on the mound Saturday at 7:10 p.m. opposite right-hander Jerome Williams, the Mets can match their most wins ever in a single season against Philadelphia. The Mets won 13 games in the season series in 1970, ’71 and ’72 and ’87.
Meanwhile, the Mets (63-72) must run the table to win 90 games -- not that it was a goal articulated by Sandy Alderson or anything.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Left fielder Grady Sizemore's two-out drop of a routine fly ball with the bases loaded led to three unearned runs in the seventh as the Mets beat the Phillies, 4-1, in Friday’s series opener at Citi Field. The Mets produced three runs in the seventh without a hit -- their first time posting that many runs in a hitless inning since 1999. Jacob deGrom allowed one unearned run in seven innings to rekindle his NL Rookie of the Year chances. Dilson Herrera went 0-for-3 and had a fielding error in his major league debut. Jenrry Mejia became the second-youngest closer in franchise history to reach 20 saves. Eric Campbell swiped home on a double-steal.
The Mets won for the sixth time this season while producing four hits or fewer. That is one shy of matching the franchise record set in 1972, according to statistician Eric Hornick. The Amazin’s opened a 1½-game lead on Philadelphia for fourth place.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• In a pregame interview, Herrera said he was “in complete shock” upon learning of the promotion late Thursday. He replaced Daniel Murphy, who may miss most of the remainder of the season with a strained right calf. The Mets only view Herrera as a second baseman and do not intend to expose him to shortstop in the majors. Read more on Herrera in the Post, Journal, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Las Vegas manager Wally Backman was named Pacific Coast League manager of the year. The 51s are headed to the postseason for the second straight year. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Alderson told the Post’s Mike Puma that moving Travis d'Arnaud to left field has not been discussed. Asked if it was possible in the future, Alderson added: “No, not really.” (Twitter link)
• Read more on Alderson’s 90-wins spin in the Daily News.
• Columnist Michael Powell in the Times discusses the lament of being a Mets fan entering September. Writes Powell:
There is a metronomic regularity to this annual Mets ruination. The team shows glimmers of hope in the spring, goes on a nice little run in June or July, and elicits hopeful nouns, verbs and adjectives from the news media.
At which point, the Mets collapse, totally, thoroughly and profoundly. The joint goes somnolent. Scalpers despair -- how do you maintain line discipline when there are more sellers than fans stepping off the 7 train? And tickets get really cheap, like this official Mets “deGrom package” (named after one of the Mets’ better young pitchers, Jacob deGrom), which arrived in my email Thursday: four field-level seats for $48.
• Gonzalez Germen surrendered five runs in the eighth as Las Vegas lost to Albuquerque, 9-6. Steven Matz matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, but Richmond topped Herrera-less Binghamton, 2-1. Seth Lugo allowed one run in seven innings and struck out a season-high 10 to lead St. Lucie past Palm Beach, 3-1. Colton Plaia and Jorge Rivero homered as Savannah held off Rome, 6-5. Kingsport completed its season with a 5-2 win against Elizabethton. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear examines just how youthful the Mets have become.
BIRTHDAYS: The late Tug McGraw was born on this date in 1944. ... Former reliever Jon Adkins turns 37.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Who is more deserving of NL Rookie of the Year -- Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia or Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton?
I know this will be hard #Mets fans but can we just let Herrera play this season without labeling him a bust or star?— SaltyGary (@SaltyGary) August 29, 2014
Mejia, at 24 years, 322 days, became the second-youngest pitcher in franchise history to reach the 20-save plateau. Neil Allen had 22 saves as a 22-year-old in 1980.
Since a rough stretch, Mejia has settled down with three straight scoreless appearances.
Terry Collins believes less frequent use, such as not asking Mejia to pitch three days in a row, has led to the closer bouncing back despite pitching with a hernia that will require offseason surgery.
“The breaking ball is distinctly better now than it was. It was tumbling when we were in Philly the last time,” Collins said, referring to Mejia’s blown save at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 10. “And now it’s got some snap to it. I think the rest has helped.”
Juan Lagares had a tiebreaking homer and Dillon Gee won for the first time since July 9 as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Tuesday at Citi Field despite playing without their injured Nos. 2 and 3 hitters.
The Braves entered the day trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by a half-game for the second wild-card spot.
Lagares, who had snapped a 227 at-bat homerless drought on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, produced a two-run homer against Alex Wood in the fourth to break a 1-all tie.
Gee had been 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA in his past seven starts. His last win also had come against the Braves.
This time, Gee (5-6) limited Atlanta to two runs on six hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings.
After Gee held the Braves hitless through 3 2/3 innings, Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton produced consecutive doubles that evened the score at 1. Upton has 24 RBIs in August, the most of any month in his career.
Leading 3-1 in the seventh, Gee surrendered a leadoff infield single to Upton and walked Chris Johnson. Gee then coaxed a double-play grounder from Evan Gattis, but surrendered an RBI single to Tommy La Stella as the Braves pulled within a run.
Terry Collins pulled Gee after that pitch -- No. 101. Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the seventh. Familia also tossed a scoreless eighth.
Jenrry Mejia converted his 19th save despite surrendering a leadoff single to Upton.
What’s next: Zack Wheeler (9-8, 3.48 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (12-9, 2.96) at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts.
Jacob deGrom, a Rookie of the Year candidate, ended up with a dented final line. But his velocity was in the mid-90’s, and there was a time when he had things on cruise control before a few poorly located pitches were banged around by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Then there was 24-year old Jenrry Mejia, this season’s de facto closer, who has had some struggles in August, with a 7.27 ERA (seven earned runs in 8 2/3 innings). Mejia came in to pitch the eighth inning, his first appearance since Monday.
Mejia threw a clean inning, and sat his fastball at 94-95 miles per hour with a sharp tilt on his slider. “I was [encouraged],” manager Terry Collins said. “You can just see the difference in his stuff when he’s rested. He had the sharp breaking ball we all know he has.”
Mejia is at 79 innings on the season, and he has never thrown more than 108 2/3 in a season, doing so in 2012 between the minors and a brief stint with the Mets. This season’s workload has caused different ailments, including a hernia that will require offseason surgery and most recently a tight back that limited him this past week.
The Mets are cognizant of Mejia’s body and are keeping a close eye on his usage. “If he’s going to keep doing this moving forward, he’s got to be able to understand that hopefully four or five days a week he’s in there,” Collins said. “If we can somehow monitor his workload so that he stays as sharp as we can keep him, because his stuff [Saturday] was outstanding.”
Wrong kind of Wright: David Wright stranded six men on base and again failed to get a hit in five at-bats Saturday, making him 2-for-his-last-29 in a forgettable offensive season. Collins said Saturday that he would not sit Wright, saying, “Stars don’t need that. They don’t think like that.”
So Wright is in the lineup again Sunday against Dodgers starter Kevin Correia, who he has owned throughout his career to the tune of a .765 average (13-for-17) with three home runs.
“You can lift your confidence pretty fast, and he’s facing a guy he’s had success against,” Collins said. “He’s the key to our lineup. He’s having a very un-David-like year.”
When asked again Sunday about maybe giving Wright a day off, Collins again said that is not a fix for a player of Wright’s caliber, and also that Wright has been sat for a day or two during slumps this season and it hasn’t made a difference.
“Those guys don’t think like that,” Collins said. “If he was tired, that’s different. ... But we’ve done that, given him two or three days. There is no instant cure. Saying, ‘OK, you’re not playing for the next three days and you can back off and watch for a while,’ that doesn’t fly.
Collins also mentioned that Wright might be starting to press, and that there are some swing flaws he has been trying to correct lately. He also said Wright is no longer receiving treatment for his sore shoulder, so that has nothing to do with his struggles.
Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsJacob deGrom returns Saturday night at Dodger Stadium after a DL stint for rotator-cuff tendinitis.
FIRST PITCH: Jacob deGrom's NL Rookie of the Year bid, sidetracked by his DL stint, resumes Saturday as the Mets continue their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
DeGrom, who missed two starts with rotator-cuff tendinitis, has been activated and will face Zack Greinke and his balky elbow in the 9:10 p.m. ET game.
The Mets demoted Rafael Montero to Las Vegas after Friday’s game to clear the roster spot for deGrom. Montero made his first major league relief appearance in the series opener at Dodger Stadium. He surrendered a walk and run-scoring double to A.J. Ellis while recording one out.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Wilmer Flores committed two errors in a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers on Friday. Flores’ latter error, which came on a two-out throw to first base on Adrian Gonzalez''s grounder in the seventh, led to three unearned runs scoring and a 5-1 deficit. Flores earlier had suffered a cut to the back of his throwing hand getting spiked by Scott Van Slyke, but Terry Collins said the issue was not serious and X-rays were negative. The Mets originally were charged with four errors, but a scoring change spared David Wright an E-5.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Mets farmhand Manuel Hilario lost consciousness and suffered a seizure as the result of getting kneed in the head while sliding into second base while playing for the Gulf Coast League Mets on Friday. Hilario was transported by helicopter to a hospital. The Mets reported later in the day that Hilario was in good spirits and may be discharged Saturday. The game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla., was suspended in the fourth inning after the serious injury.
"The coaches were out there and they were yelling to call 9-1-1," Nats pitcher Matt DeRosier told MiLB.com. "They said he pretty much had a concussion, but it was such a bad concussion that it made him have a seizure. I think he may have lost feelings in his legs -- it was really scary.
"It was a nice, aggressive slide. He hit the ground really quickly, his helmet flew off, it was pretty instant. His head hit the ground, and after his head hit the ground, he was out. He wasn't moving at all. He locked up and started seizing for about 20 seconds. Everybody was around him, and one of our coaches went to the fire station -- he drove a golf cart and got the situation under control. [Hilario] was out for 10 minutes, just unconscious."
• The Mets plan to work out Cubans Roberto Carlos, a 28-year-old shortstop, and Pavel Quesada, a 25-year-old third baseman, on Wednesday at their complex in the Dominican Republic, Mike Puma reports in the Post.
• Bartolo Colon rejoined the Mets and was activated from bereavement leave before Friday’s game. Gonzalez Germen was demoted to Vegas to open the roster spot. Colon, whose mother passed away Monday, is due to pitch Sunday against the Dodgers. He is expected to return to the Dominican Republic after that start for his mother’s funeral.
Writes Bill Shakin in the Los Angeles Times:
The Mets could let Colon go on waivers, sticking the Angels with the entire $12.5 million bill. Of course, since every other team knows the Angels need a starter, all it would take is one team to claim him and block the Angels from getting him. The Oakland Athletics probably would want to keep Colon out of Anaheim -- and, by having the best record in the American League, the Angels get last priority in claiming National League players.
However, if the Mets or any other team decided to engage in discussions about trading a pitcher, the Angels' perilously thin farm system could become an issue. The Angels traded five of their better prospects -- from a system already ranked as the worst in baseball -- to acquire relievers Huston Street and Joe Thatcher.
• Phil Mushnick in the Post labels current spot starter Steve Gelbs the “heir apparent” to Kevin Burkhardt as Mets field reporter on SNY. Writes Mushnick:
Steve Gelbs, heir apparent to Fox-bound Kevin Burkhardt as SNY’s Mets games rover, has been both relaxed and useful. From Oakland, he reported that because the stadium doubles as the Raiders’ field, the pitching mound sits on a large, haul-away pallet. Neat.
• The Las Vegas 51s announced their in-house awards for the season. Matt den Dekker was named the “Mayor’s Trophy” winner in a vote by fans. Andrew Brown was named Most Valuable Player. Logan Verrett was named Most Valuable Pitcher. Brandon Allen received the Community Service Award.
• Noah Syndergaard was charged with six runs (five earned) in six innings and Matt Reynolds went 4-for-4 with a walk for Las Vegas 8-7, 11-inning win against New Orleans. Danny Muno had a walk-off RBI single. Dilson Herrera drove in four runs and Jayce Boyd had a three-run homer as Binghamton beat Akron, 12-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Binghamton, which clinched a playoff berth on its off-day Thursday, did the traditional clubhouse celebration after winning Friday’s game. Watch a short video clip captured by Herrera here.
• Marc Carig in Newsday looks into who closes in 2015 -- Jenrry Mejia or Bobby Parnell.
"When Bobby Parnell comes back, he will be pitching during his rehab as if he's the closer, because that's … certainly in our plan when he gets back,” Collins said. “… There's nothing etched in stone because certainly somebody can stand up and show up and say 'OK, I'm going to take that job.’ And when Bobby's ready, we've got a nice problem on our hands. But looking that far ahead, we certainly can't have any idea who is the guy pitching in the ninth."
• The Mets are plus-147 in getting the benefit of strike calls this season, fifth-best in the majors, because of their catchers’ ability to frame pitches, Jeff Sullivan writes at Foxsports.com.
• So Chris Rock is a Mets fan, right? After all, he leads that “Let’s Go Mets!” chant at Citi Field and once professed as much to David Letterman. Well, Rock was shown catching a foul ball and admirably giving it to a young fan at Yankee Stadium this week. And he was wearing a Yankees cap at the time. Watch the video evidence at Mets Police.
• Everett Merrill at Baseball America chronicles Brooklyn’s positive attendance track record.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal looks at innings caps.
BIRTHDAYS: Julio Franco turns 56. ... Ed Hearn is 54. ... Prentice Redman is 35. ... Pat Strange is 34. ... Raul Casanova is 42.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
And then someone brought up Justin Turner.
Collins propped up in the chair and started talking with his hands.
“He can hit,” Collins said with some enthusiasm. “Always could hit. He’s not the flashiest of the flashy, but he can walk up in any situation and hit.”
Turner was non-tendered by the Mets in December and the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league deal just before spring training. One cellar-dweller’s trash is a contender’s treasure in Turner’s case.
A season after hitting .280 with two home runs in 214 plate appearances and likely due a decent raise through arbitration, Turner is hitting .314 with four home runs in 249 plate appearances and smacked a game-winning home run against the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
Turner spent three seasons with the Mets and was always a favorite of Collins, who made it a point to seek out Turner before the game Friday.
“He was always ready for whatever we needed him for,” Collins said. “Play left field one day, third base, second base, whatever. It’s been a good situation with him over there [with the Dodgers].”
Injury updates: Appointed closer Jenrry Mejia is available tonight after missing Wednesday’s game in Oakland because of some back tightness. Mejia said it crept up on him Tuesday, but after a couple days off Collins declared him good to go.
This is the time of year when “wear and tear starts to show,” Collins said. Mejia’s workload has increased and become more stressful this season since he was named the closer in May. He has also pitched through or been sidelined by numerous ailments this year, including a hernia that will require offseason surgery.
Mejia has spent parts of four seasons in the majors and has battled injuries throughout his career, including in the minors. Collins said the training staff is monitoring Mejia closely because they want him to know what it feels like to pitch through September and not have to be shutdown at the end of the season.
• Dana Eveland’s left elbow is feeling better after a cortisone shot. He is available to pitch against the Dodgers. Eveland described his ailment as “tennis elbow” in Oakland and took a shot Wednesday and played catch Thursday and reported no pain.
• Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis missed the last two games because of a stiff neck, but Collins said he is available off the bench Friday.
When asked how his neck was feeling in the clubhouse before the game, Nieuwenhuis replied, “It’s a little better.”
Undecided on Dice-K: The Mets still haven’t made a decision on what to do with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw five scoreless innings in his third rehab start Thursday.
He could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday. But Collins said there hasn’t been a decision on where Dice-K will pitch next. If the team decides to give him another rehab start it would push his return back to September when rosters expand and no corresponding roster move is needed.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a day off in California on Thursday, then get to work against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.
The Amazin’s get a reprieve of sorts, too.
Clayton Kershaw, originally due to start Friday’s series opener against the Mets, instead faces the San Diego Padres on normal rest on Thursday. So the Mets draw Dan Haren in the series opener, followed now by Zack Greinke on Saturday and Kevin Correia on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Mets will activate a pair of starting pitchers for the series.
After Jonathon Niese starts the series opener, Jacob deGrom is due to be activated from the disabled list to pitch Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Bartolo Colon will be activated from bereavement leave for Sunday’s series finale. Colon then plans to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral of his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after battling breast cancer.
The Mets ultimately will need to make as many as three roster moves -- for deGrom, Colon and, presumably, for Daisuke Matsuzaka early next homestand.
Matsuzaka, currently on the DL with right elbow inflammation, is due to make his third minor-league rehab start Thursday. He pitches for the Brooklyn Cyclones at 7 p.m. against the Staten Island Yankees at Coney Island.
The Mets have a number of potential maneuvers to clear as many as three spots. Gonzalez Germen, promoted when Colon went on bereavement leave, could return to Las Vegas. So could Rafael Montero, who otherwise would be working out of the bullpen with deGrom reentering the rotation. Perhaps the Mets also could find a DL candidate among some banged-up players.
Jenrry Mejia, who has a hernia and cranky calf, was unavailable Wednesday in Oakland because of tightness in his lower back on the right side, which is a recurring issue. Dana Eveland required a cortisone shot in his left elbow. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with neck discomfort.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson joined Seth Everett on WOR, reminiscing about his days in Oakland and also commenting about the state of the Mets. (Listen here.)
On the team’s offensive funk (Wednesday notwithstanding), the GM said: “It’s been pretty much across the board, starting with the top of our lineup all the way through. When you only get three or four hits a night, there’s a collective issue. We’ve got some young players in the lineup who we’ve got to give some time, but I think it’s been a collective thing. I do believe that offensively we will get better. The question is how much better.”
Addressing David Wright's subpar production, Alderson added: “First of all, no player is ever going to be at the top of his game consistently throughout a season, or over ‘X’ number of seasons. And part of dealing with the adversity is how it’s handled. David handles it very well. We certainly recognize this is a collective thing.”
On the evaluation process for Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores, Alderson said: “The one thing that we have to do is be patient and not reach those judgments prematurely.”
And on how Terry Collins will be judged, Alderson said: “It’s more than wins and losses. It’s how the team approaches each game and how it conducts itself over the course of an entire season. All those things are important.”
• Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda homered in a five-run second inning against Jeff Samardzija and the Mets survived a pair of errors by Daniel Murphy en route to an 8-5 win against Oakland on Wednesday.
Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed four runs (two earned). He was pulled after 5 2/3 innings and 103 pitches as the Mets kept him on a tight pitch limit after he threw 120 his previous outing. Wheeler improved to 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts and climbed above .500 for the first time this season.
With Mejia unavailable, Jeurys Familia produced a five-out save. Familia inherited the bases loaded in the eighth from Vic Black and walked in a run, but otherwise kept the A’s in check.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Colon’s temporary return for Sunday’s start in the Daily News and Newsday.
• Read more on Eveland’s “tennis elbow” and cortisone injection in the Star-Ledger.
• Matt Bowman allowed one run in seven innings but suffered a hard-luck loss as New Orleans beat Las Vegas, 4-0. Behind three RBIs from Dustin Lawley, Binghamton trimmed its magic number to clinch an Eastern League playoff berth to one with an 8-5 win at Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Felix Millan turns 71 today. ... John Stearns is 63.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: How should the Mets clear spots for deGrom, Colon and Matsuzaka?
@AdamRubinESPN mejia has no upside playing hurt - get surgery— shizzambangle (@shizzambangle) August 20, 2014
The New York Mets went off for 10 hits in their 8-5 win against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, and looking forward, the thought process was the same for everyone in the clubhouse from the manager to the players.
With a night game on Tuesday and an early afternoon start on the West Coast on Wednesday, the Mets did little pregame work. Some players hit in the cage while others took it easy. That laid-back approach might have taken minds off the recent offensive and win-column struggles.
“It might have helped that we took it easy before the game,” Collins said.
The Mets seemed most pleased with their ability to string hits together, especially with two outs. Four of the runs were knocked in with two outs, three of them on Duda’s home run in a five-run third.
“Hopefully this is the start of something for the final six weeks,” Collins said. “We’ll find out Friday.”
Colon starts Sunday: Bartolo Colon will take his scheduled turn in the rotation Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets announced after Wednesday’s game.
Colon is on the bereavement list following the death of his mother. The right-hander went to the Dominican Republic to be with his family and will return to the island for her funeral after his start in Los Angeles.
Mejia bothered by back: Collins did not know one of his relievers, right-hander Jenrry Mejia, was unavailable until right around first pitch Wednesday. Bullpen coach Ricky Bones informed him that Mejia wasn’t available and Collins initially thought he had a sore arm. He came to find out it was tight back that was bothering Mejia.
Mejia said the back started to bother him Tuesday, a day after he made his fourth appearance in five days. With the day off Thursday, Mejia said he feels like that will be enough rest to be ready for the weekend series against the Dodgers.
Missing the ace: The Mets got a bit of good news heading into their next series. The Dodgers announced they are pushing up Clayton Kershaw, who was supposed to pitch Friday, into Thursday’s start, causing him to miss the Mets altogether.
Instead the Dodgers will throw Dan Haren on Friday, followed by Zack Greinke and his balky elbow on Saturday.
FIRST PITCH: Seven hits!
The Mets’ string of games producing four hits or fewer ended at five straight on Tuesday -- tied for the longest streak in the majors since 1900.
The Amazin’s streak of facing aces will continue.
Zack Wheeler (8-8, 3.49 ERA) opposes former Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 2.96) in the finale of an abbreviated series in Oakland at 3:35 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Wheeler is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his past nine starts.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Dillon Gee walked light-hitting No. 9 batter Eric Sogard with two outs in the fourth ahead of a three-run triple by Coco Crisp and Scott Kazmir and the A’s went on to beat the Mets, 6-2, Tuesday. Gee is now 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Josh Reddick added a two-run homer in the eighth against Gonzalez Germen, who was called up while Bartolo Colon is on bereavement leave.
Travis d'Arnaud homered, but it was another quiet hitting day by the Mets, who had Daniel Murphy resting and Curtis Granderson in the No. 2 hole as part of Terry Collins’ lineup shakeup.
Oakland snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Mets (59-68) are nine games under .500 for the first time since July 7.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Jacob deGrom faced batters during a throwing session Tuesday in Oakland and has been declared ready to return from the disabled list on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. With deGrom poised to be activated, Rafael Montero could get bullpen action Wednesday against the A’s. The Mets won’t need to make a roster move until Saturday to clear space for deGrom. And if Colon isn’t activated until Sunday, Germen could go first. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Jenrry Mejia “has expressed dismay to confidants in recent days about the fact he has been used lately in several non-save situations, but before the Mets faced the Athletics on Tuesday said he’s on the same wavelength with manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen,” Mike Puma writes in the Post.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis was unavailable Tuesday because of a stiff neck.
• Danny Muno had a three-run homer as part of a three-hit night as Las Vegas beat Omaha, 10-4. Michael Fulmer allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings in his Double-A debut as Binghamton was shut out at Erie, 7-0. Victor Cruzado homered and drove in four runs in Savannah’s 11-3 win against Rome. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal contrasts the Mets and A’s, who have similar payrolls and disparate success. Writes Diamond:
As previously reported by the Journal, teams throughout history with a $100 million player taking up more than 20% of the payroll have a cumulative winning percentage of .455.
The A's don't have that problem. Their highest-paid player on opening day, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, was due $10.5 million this year, which represented around 12.8% of the payroll. Their three highest-paid players -- Cespedes, reliever Jim Johnson and starter Scott Kazmir -- made up 35.8% of the payroll. (Cespedes was traded to Boston for [Jon] Lester last month.)
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger chronicles Kazimr’s path from prominence to independent ball and back to prominence.
• Marc Carig in Newsday speaks with Lucas Duda about his success at the plate.
• From the bloggers …Blogging Mets wonders when and why run differential became so important.
BIRTHDAYS: St. Lucie reliever Robby Coles turns 23. ... Cory Sullivan is 35. ... Lance Broadway is 31.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: What lineup change would you most like to see to inject some life in the offense?
You're not a true #Mets fan unless you stay up for the entire game and cry yourself to sleep afterwards— Marsha Landar (@MARSHALANDAR) August 20, 2014
FIRST PITCH: Their anemic hitting already has reached historic levels. And things get no easier for the Mets as they shift coasts to California.
The Mets are due to face All-Stars Scott Kazmir on Tuesday and Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday in Oakland. After a day off, the Amazin’s then draw expected NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw to open a weekend series at Dodger Stadium, followed by Dan Haren and Kevin Correia.
“We know going into Oakland and L.A., obviously we’re going to face good pitching,” David Wright said.
The Mets have now failed to exceed four hits in any of their past five games -- a franchise record. The last major league team to have a streak that long was the 2002 Mets.
If that streak continues against Kazmir and the A’s on Tuesday, the Mets will become the first MLB team since 1900 to have a single-season streak of six games producing four hits or fewer in each, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Also on the negative front: Despite splitting a four-game wraparound series with the Chicago Cubs, the Mets produced a total of 16 hits. That’s the fewest hits by a team in a four-game series in MLB since May 2-5, 2008, when the Chicago White Sox also mustered 16 hits against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“There’s no easy answers,” Terry Collins said. “It’s not the workload. These guys are working. As a matter of fact, at this time of year maybe they’re swinging too much.”
Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET.
Collins implied that Daniel Murphy is due for a day off in Oakland. That would seem more likely to occur against the southpaw Kazmir. Murphy is 3-for-6 with a homer in his career against Samardzija, the ex-Cub.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon was scratched from Monday’s scheduled start against the Cubs and traveled to the Dominican Republic, where his mother died at age 63 after battling breast cancer. Gonzalez Germen will join the Mets on the West Coast while Colon is placed on bereavement leave, which may last three to seven days. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Wright took batting practice in a cage early Monday and convinced Collins to place him in the lineup. Wright, after missing one game with a bruised left shoulder, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his return. Postgame, Wright denied the shoulder issue that initially arose on a headfirst slide on June 12 was hindering his substandard production. Read more in the Times, Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings as an emergency fill-in for Colon. However, once he departed, Dana Eveland surrendered an RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth as Chicago evened the score. Anthony Rizzo had a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth against Buddy Carlyle and Javier Baez had a two-run shot against Jenrry Mejia in the ninth and the Cubs ultimately beat the Mets, 4-1, Monday at Citi Field.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will not activated from the disabled list with Colon going on bereavement leave, instead will make his third rehab start on Thursday. Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park against the Staten Island Yankees.
• The Cyclones host the New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Brooklyn’s representatives include left-hander Shane Bay, right-handers Marcos Molina and Corey Oswalt, shortstop Amed Rosario, third baseman Jhoan Urena and outfielder Michael Bernal.
• Bobby Abreu went 1-for-4 with a walk and RBI in his return to Triple-A, but John Lannan was roughed up and Las Vegas lost at Omaha, 9-5. Travis Taijeron had four hits and five RBIs and Binghamton sliced its magic number to claim a playoff spot to three with an 11-4 win against Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• A bone-marrow donor and recipient met for the first time at Citi Field, Kathryn Cusma and David K. Li write in the Post.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a public service announcement of sorts.
BIRTHDAYS: Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ron Darling turns 54. ... Ex-Mets left-hander Chris Capuano is 36. ... Among Mets minor leaguers, Flabio Ortega is 24 and Ismael Tijerina is 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets exceed four hits on Tuesday?
@AdamRubinESPN At least the Mets are good at being 1st in something!!!— linda wolf@MetsMom31 (@lindawolf12) August 18, 2014
After being limited to four hits by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks and two relievers, the Mets (59-67) became the first major league team in a decade to produce four hits or fewer in five straight games.
The last team to do it?
The 2004 Mets.
The Mets’ current streak of hitting futility actually matches the franchise record. In addition to ’04, the 1963 Mets also went five straight games with four hits or fewer.
The Mets produced only 16 hits yet split this four-game series against the Cubs (54-70).
Buddy Carlyle surrendered a tie-breaking homer to Anthony Rizzo to open the eighth inning. It snapped the journeyman right-hander’s scoreless streak at 13 innings, the longest by a Mets reliever this season.
Who needs rest? Subbing for Bartolo Colon, who flew to the Dominican Republic to be with his gravely ill mother, Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings in his first start since last Sept. 27.
Torres became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to make a start on no days of rest. He joined Dan Wheeler (2004), Kevin Kobel (1979) and Craig Anderson (1962).
In an 86-pitch effort, Torres limited the Cubs to three hits and two walks while striking out six. He faced a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth, but fanned Welington Castillo to escape.
Torres suffered a no-decision when Dana Eveland allowed a leadoff double to Rizzo and a one-out RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth inning that evened the score at 1.
On the leaderboard: Lucas Duda's solo homer in the fourth inning against Hendricks opened the scoring. Duda upped his career high to 22 homers. He ranks fifth in the National League, trailing Giancarlo Stanton (32), Rizzo (28), Marlon Byrd (23) and Justin Upton (23).
Shouldering the load: After getting struck in his balky left shoulder Saturday and departing after six innings, then missing Sunday’s game, David Wright returned to the lineup. The captain went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Black Monday: Vic Black stranded two runners in the eighth inning. He has now prevented 21 straight inherited runners from scoring. That’s the longest streak by a Mets reliever this season.
Passing fancy: Travis d'Arnaud had his 12th passed ball, matching the Rockies' Wilin Rosario for the most in the majors.
Pitching in: Jonathon Niese pinch-hit for Torres with two outs and none on in the bottom of the fifth and grounded out. Niese became the first Mets pitcher to appear as a pinch-hitter since Jacob deGrom on May 30 in Philadelphia. deGrom struck out in the 14th inning in that game.
What’s next: The Mets fly to Oakland for a two-game series, and the challenge for their hitters does not get any easier. Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes old friend Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Jeff Samardzija starts for the A's on Wednesday.
Kazmir got roughed up at Citi Field on June 24, allowing a season-high seven runs in three innings, including homers to Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and d’Arnaud. Manager Terry Collins implied Daniel Murphy will be given the day off Tuesday. Murphy snapped an 0-for-12 drought with a leadoff double in the ninth. He went 5-for-28 on the homestand.
FIRST PITCH: When will the Mets awake from their hitting doldrums?
For a fourth straight day Sunday, the Amazin’s failed to exceed four hits. If the Mets again fail to do so Monday, they will tie the franchise record. During a pair of Septembers -- in 2004 and 1963 -- the Mets went five straight games with four hits or fewer in each.
Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) opposes right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 1.79) in the 12:10 p.m. series finale against the Cubs.
Monday’s news reports:
• David Wright looks like he will miss multiple games with a left-shoulder injury that worsened when he was struck by a fastball from Dan Straily in the sixth inning on Saturday.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Straily was not throwing at Wright.
"Somebody thought they might have thrown at him. Why?” Collins told Matt Ehalt in the Record. “It’s a 3-1 game. You just don’t throw at people to throw at people.”
Read more on Wright’s absence in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Rookie Rafael Montero limited the Cubs to one run in 7 1/3 innings, but the Mets ultimately lost, 2-1, Sunday at Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia surrendered a game-deciding homer to Starlin Castro on the first pitch of the ninth inning. Curtis Granderson had snapped an 0-for-17 drought and evened the score with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
Montero could be Vegas-bound with Jacob deGrom moving toward returning from the disabled list to face the Dodgers next weekend in Los Angeles. deGrom threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since going on the disabled list.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on deGrom in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests that while the Mets and Cubs look like perfect candidates to outsiders for a pitching-for-shortstop swap, it may not happen. That’s because Chicago’s front office knows the value of young hitting and has the resources to buy pitching like Jon Lester. And it’s because Mets GM Sandy Alderson and crew don’t like making equitable trades and don’t seemed inclined to part with their elite talent. Writes Sherman:
Nevertheless, the sense I get currently from the Mets is they would like to protect Harvey, Syndergaard and probably Wheeler and use other elements to solve positional problems. So I could see the Mets shooting a little lower on the shortstop food chain by trying to use Dillon Gee, Niese, Sunday’s starter Rafael Montero or others from their deep trove to see if they could get, say, the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez or try for an Arizona shortstop -- the Diamondbacks seem much more willing to talk Didi Gregorius than Chris Owings, but while a defensive whiz, Gregorius might not project to hit enough for the Mets.
• Anthony McCarron in the Daily News quotes a scout labeling Montero a “solid No. 4 starter.” Read more on Montero in Newsday.
• Vic Black takes the 7 train from Manhattan to Citi Field, writes Lisa L. Colangelo in the Daily News.
• Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs in five innings and tossed 96 pitches in Las Vegas’ 4-0 loss at Omaha. Binghamton’s Steven Matz allowed one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to Reading. Matt Oberste delivered a tie-breaking RBI double and Savannah beat Greenville, 3-2. Jhoan Urena’s two-run double highlighted a five-run sixth as Brooklyn beat Vermont, 7-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets left-hander Pat Misch turns 33.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets exceed four hits on Monday?
@AdamRubinESPN Fire Dave Hudgens!— Kevin E. Collins (@TheRealKColl) August 17, 2014
Castro nonetheless produced an opposite-field solo homer on the first offering from Mejia in the frame to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 win against the Mets at Citi Field.
It was the first home run surrendered by Mejia since June 1 in Philadelphia -- a span of 27 games and 27 1/3 innings.
Opponents are now hitting .345 (10-for-29) on first pitches this season against Mejia.
“I tried to throw outside. That was outside,” said Mejia, who reiterated his mechanics are unaltered because of his hernia. “He got it. ... I wanted to get ahead. I tried to throw the first pitch for a strike. In that situation, I don’t want to throw the first pitch for a ball. ... I think he was waiting for a fastball, because I threw a fastball away and he swung.”