New York Mets: Players

W2W4: David Wright in 2013

December, 5, 2012
US Presswire/Howard SmithNow that he's signed, David Wright can focus on the future.
Now that David Wright is signed for the long term, let's look ahead to the short term and a few stats that will be key to Wright being not just highly paid, but highly valued this coming season and beyond.

The graphic on the right shows the difference in Wright’s production from the first half to the second half of 2012.
The one to be most mindful of is that last number -- Wright’s chase rate.

In the first half of 2012, Wright had what was by all accounts a great approach at the plate. He waited pitchers out until they made the mistake of throwing into his comfort zone -- over the inner half.

In the second half, particularly as the Mets started to flounder, Wright reverted back to some of the tendencies that were present during his struggles the past couple of seasons.

He was particularly vulnerable to the outside pitch. His chase rate on pitches that were out of the strike zone away (defined as being on the outer-third of the plate or off the outside corner) ballooned from 12 percent to 22 percent.

This killed Wright in two-strike situations. He hit .267 with a .794 OPS with two strikes prior to the All-Star break, but .200 with a .554 OPS afterwards.

Wright’s chase rate will likely play a large role in determining the hitter he is over the next few seasons. The Mets want that number to be closer to 18 percent than 25 percent.

If you thought that Wright was a much more reliable defender in 2012, just about every defensive metric showed that to be true.

Wright’s preseason work with Tim Teufel on getting into a pre-pitch ready position paid off hugely, as Wright led National League third basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (which measures the ability to turn batted balls into outs, defend bunts and turn double plays).

We’ve all seen Wright make his fair share of Web Gems and get outs on balls you think he shouldn’t. That continued to be true last season.

But where Wright improved was in getting outs on balls where he should get outs.

Fangraphs tracks a stat known as “Revised Zone Rating” (RZR) which shows how frequently a fielder gets outs on balls hit to areas in which outs are turned more than half the time.

Wright finished the season with a career-best .750 RZR, up from .687 from 2010 to 2012.

What was that improvement worth over the course of a season?

The 63-point jump translated into another 17 balls turned into outs that previously were not.

Now the onus is on Wright to maintain that, as well as Teufel to make sure Wright holds true to what he was taught.

Wright was very adept and efficient at stealing bases early in his career, netting a 79 percent success rate in his first six major league seasons. In his first five full years, he averaged 23 successful swipes per year.

But in his past three, Wright’s rate has dropped to 67 percent, including a career-low 60 percent in 2012 -- a year in which he was 15-for-25 stealing bases and was picked off five times by the opposing pitcher or catcher.

Though Wright’s overall speed may be in decline, he still seems to know what he is doing on the basepaths. charts how often a player takes an extra base on a base hit (ie: goes first to third, second to home, or first to home).

Wright’s 48 percent extra-bases taken rate was his best since his 52 percent mark in 2007.

A scout who checked in on the Mets multiple times in 2012 verified this, noting that “he gets more out of his speed than most others, as he has some baserunning IQ.”

The good news about baseball IQ is that it isn't likely to diminish. But it will be up to Wright to make sure it is used in the best manner possible.

Pregame notes: Dickey goes for 19

September, 22, 2012
All eyes will be on R.A. Dickey on Saturday as the knuckleballer goes for his 19th win. With three more starts lined up on the year, two against Miami and one against Pittsburgh, the veteran has a good shot at becoming the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since 1990.

"I think it'd be tremendous," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "With our struggles in the second half, you got a guy that wins 20 games -- that speaks volumes of what he meant to us."

Dickey will benefit from facing the Marlins twice in the final 12 games, a team he has dominated this season and throughout his career. He's 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA against Miami this year, allowing just four runs in 31 innings. In his career, he's 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) against the Marlins.

To help Dickey defensively, Jason Bay is in left field and Josh Thole is behind the plate.

While the hope is that Dickey can win the Cy Young, Collins believes that possibly garnering 20 wins this year, regardless of awards, would be a special achievement for the 37-year-old veteran.

"You'd have to ask him, but I'm sure when you've driven the road he's driven to get here, and what he's had to go through, it would be the culmination of it to be able to sit down this winter and say, well, all the work, all the ups and downs were all worth it to get where he's going to hopefully be," Collins said. "I'm sure it means a lot to him."

DUDA BACK IN: After being benched Friday night for not running out a ball, Lucas Duda is back in the lineup Saturday and is playing first base and batting fifth.

"He knows he made a mistake, I know he made a mistake, but you got to move past it," Collins said. "I wanted to get him in there today. (Mark Buehrle) is a guy he hits. Ike's (Davis) had minimal success against him so I just thought you know what, we'll get him back in there and make sure he understands the past is over, let's move forward."

WRIGHT SLIPPING: David Wright has struggled in the second half, batting just .251 compared to a .351 in the first half. Collins attributes it to the third baseman wanting to carry his team and opposing pitchers being more careful in dealing with him.

"He's taken a lot on his own shoulders. He knows how important it is to this club. He probably is the one guy who said, this is my team now. He's kind of expanded the strike zone a little bit but that's what I love about him," Collins said.

"He know he has to be Mr. Reliable and he wants to be that guy, he wants to be out there, the guy that gets the big hit, so the players can rest assured that David Wright is going to watch their backs for them and get the job done and be the guy to rely on. That's what the stars do in my opinion."

W2W4: Matt Harvey vs. Nationals

September, 12, 2012
Harvey and the record books
Harvey is no longer within striking distance in terms of any Mets records for strikeouts within a pitcher’s first “X” appearances.

Harvey has 53 whiffs through eight games. The Mets record for a pitcher in his first nine games is 73 by Dwight Gooden. Nolan Ryan ranks second with 65. Harvey should end up third by himself. His 53 are currently tied for that spot with Bill Pulsipher and Octavio Dotel.

Harvey’s pitch to watch
Harvey threw his fastball at its lowest strike rate in his last start against the Cardinals (57 percent) and gave up his most baserunners with it (seven) than in any of his starts so far.

The good thing is that there were no issues with its velocity. Harvey averaged 95 miles-per-hour with it, right on par with his season average.

This was actually the second straight start in which Harvey gave up three hits on pitches of at least 96 miles-per-hour (Phillies hitters also touched him for three hits).

In his first six starts, he gave up a total of two hits on the 83 pitches he threw of that speed.

How do you get Bryce Harper out?
Harvey has allowed eight hits in 20 at-bats to the left-handed hitters he’s faced in the last two games, so Harper poses a tough challenge today.

The good news for Harvey is that Harper doesn’t hit the 94-plus mile-per-hour heat all that well. The average major leaguer misses on one of every five swings against it. Harper misses at a rate of one out of four.

When Harvey gets a two-strike count, the fastball may be his best option. Harper has made 28 outs and gotten only three hits on 94-plus fastballs in two-strike situations. Harper’s other weakness is the changeup. His out-to-hit rate on two-strike changeups is 22-to-3.

How do you get Ryan Zimmerman out?
Zimmerman has hurt the Mets repeatedly this season, with at least one hit in 15 of 17 games against him.

There is no easy answer on how to get him, though the best option would seem to be to work him away. Zimmerman has averaged one extra-base hit for every 84 pitches he’s seen on the outer-half of the plate (or off the outside corner) this season, but has averaged one for every 28 he’s seen on the inner-half (or closer to him).

Zimmerman has been so tough against the Mets this year, even on pitches outside the strike zone. He is 8-for-20 against them this season when a turn ends with a pitch thrown out of the zone.

Harvey the hitter
Harvey is 4-for-7 against left-handed pitching in his brief career, after an 0-for-2 against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia in his last start. Of the 13 swings he’s taken against a lefty, he’s only missed on one of them.

Opposing pitchers enter 4-for-48 against Nationals starter John Lannan since the start of last season.

Washington monumental
Our stat of the day: The Nationals have won 13 games against the Mets this season. The Expos/Nats have only had two seasons in which they won more -- 1979 (15) and 2003 (14). Their seven wins at Citi Field is one shy of the most they’ve ever won against the Mets in New York. They won eight here in 1979.

Notebook: Duda, Hefner and Murphy

August, 26, 2012
Lucas Duda didn't let his chance for redemption go to waste.

After failing to snag a hard-hit ball that bounced off his glove and resulted in the game-tying hit in the ninth inning on Sunday, Duda rebounded to throw out the would-be go-ahead runner at the plate in the ninth in the Mets' eventual 2-1 win. He was playing in his first MLB game since his demotion to the minors on July 24.

"It's just one of those plays that you just try and preserve the game," Duda said.

With the Mets up 1-0 with a runner on second and no outs in the ninth, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ball toward the foul line in left. Duda raced over and did a semi-slide to try and grab it, but it careened off his glove for the game-tying RBI double.

Two batters later, Ben Francisco singled to left but Duda was able to throw out Gonzalez at the plate, with the help of a great block by catcher Kelly Shoppach, and keep the game tied at 1-1. Duda went 0-for-2 with a walk at the plate. He will be playing left field primarily now after being the team's right fielder before being sent down to Triple-A Buffalo.

"I'm not going to be a Gold Glover in left just because I switched positions," Duda said. "It's going to take some work and I'm willing to work and do whatever it takes to play every day and help the team."

HEFNER'S STRONG OUTING: Four days ago, Mets starter Jeremy Hefner's wife gave birth to their second child. After pitching great Sunday, the right-hander noted the connection.

"Maybe I should have more kids If I keep pitching that way," Hefner said. "It's good. I was excited for what happened on Wednesday and glad I could contribute today."

Hefner came within three outs of a complete-game shutout but had to settle for a no-decision after allowing a run in the ninth. He tossed a season-high eight innings and tied his career-best with seven strikeouts. He limited Houston to five hits.

"This was the best results I've had obviously," Hefner said. "I felt good. Pretty much everything was working. I don't really know what to say. I battled and made some pitches when I had to and they were really aggressive. I just tried to use that to my advantage."

MURPHY UPBEAT: Daniel Murphy suffered a posterior strain in his right shoulder and will be going for an MRI on Monday, but the second baseman doesn't expect any problems.

Manager Terry Collins originally said the second baseman said he had heard his shoulder pop, but Murphy said that was not the case.

Murphy was on the bench waiting to bat in the eighth when he felt what he described like a spasm. The trainer worked on it a little before he batted and felt it grab on him during the at-bat. He said he felt better at the end of the at-bat.

He was pulled after his at-bat and expects to be available Tuesday.

"Just kind of cramped up on me a little bit. Took some swings and it grabbed a little bit," Murphy said. "I'm going to check it out tomorrow but I fully anticipate I'm going to be fine."

Mets morning briefing 8.26.12

August, 26, 2012
The Mets snapped a six-game losing streak, defeating the Astros, 3-1, Saturday at Citi Field. Pitcher R.A. Dickey won his 16th game to tie him for the National League lead in wins. He became the first Mets pitcher to win that many since Johan Santana in 2008.

Jeremy Hefner will try to make it two in a row for the Mets when he opposes Lucas Harrell at 1:10 p.m.

Sunday's news reports:

• Read game stories in the Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News, Record, New York Times and Newsday.

• With more than a month left in the season, Dickey needs four more wins to become the team's first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990. Dickey limited Houston to one run on five hits and one walk in seven innings. The knuckleballer is scheduled to go for win No. 17 Friday in Miami.

Justin Turner snapped a 263 at-bat homerless stretch with a home run in Saturday's win. His last home run had come on Aug. 6, 2011, when he hit two against Atlanta. The utility player is now hitting .281 in just 139 at-bats on the season after registering 435 at-bats last season for the Mets. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Joy R. Absalon/US Presswire
Lucas Duda rejoins the Mets on Sunday.

• Lefty Josh Edgin has been used six times in the last seven days as the main lefty in the bullpen. After Tim Byrdak had to be shut down for shoulder surgery, Adam Rubin wonders if the Mets are using Edgin too much. Edgin pitched in 20 games in 2010 and 49 games last regular season and has already appeared in 63 contests this season spanning the minors and major leagues, with more than a month remaining.

• Outfielder Lucas Duda will rejoin the Mets Sunday after spending more than a month with Triple-A Buffalo. Manager Terry Collins said he expects Duda to play left field and some first base for the remainder of the season. Duda is hitting .241 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs this season in the majors. He hit .260 in Triple-A. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Record and Newsday.

• Shortstop Ruben Tejada was talked to after not running out a ball in the fifth inning Saturday. The shortstop had been the victim of a bad hop an inning prior but the message was conveyed that the youngster needs to run hard to first base.

• Post columnist Joel Sherman writes that the biggest loser in the recent blockbuster trade between the Dodgers and the Red Sox was a team not even involved in the trade discussions: the Mets. He writes that the inability of Santana and Jason Bay to stay healthy and productive has prevented the team from making any such deals and mentions how the Dodgers and Mets were in the same boat recently. Writes Sherman:

Which is the other area in which the Mets -- and their fans -- are losers here. Six months ago, the Mets and Dodgers were lumped in as big-city financial disasters; the Mets because of their owners’ relationship with Bernie Madoff and the Dodgers because of their miserly owner, Frank McCourt. But in late March, the Dodgers were sold for more than any other sports franchise ever, $2.15 billion, to the Guggenheim group. At that time an NL personnel chief told me, “Watch, they want to and will become Yankees West.”

TRIVIA: As Dickey approaches 20 wins, which pair of former Mets pitchers, who also pitched for the Yankees, have reached the 20-win plateau for the Mets?

Saturday's answer: Fernando Martinez's signing bonus was the second-highest in team history. Fellow Dominican German Rosario topped F-Mart's franchise record when the organization handed him $1.75 million this summer.

W2W4: Matt Harvey vs. Rockies

August, 22, 2012
This will be start No. 6 for Matt Harvey, who faces the Rockies at 7 tonight trying to get a win in what has been an ugly series so far.

Harvey’s pitching, for the most part, has been very watchable. Let’s take a look at key storylines for tonight.

Chasing the history books
Harvey has 34 strikeouts through his first five major-league appearances. Only two Mets had 40 or more strikeouts through their first six career games: Nolan Ryan (42) and Dwight Gooden (40).

Harvey, who had a rep upon his recall for being a little wild, hasn’t shown too many signs of that, with 13 walks through his first five appearances. The Mets record for walks in their first six career games is 29 by Rick Ownbey (who was later in the swap for Keith Hernandez). Second-worst on that list: Mets broadcaster Ron Darling with 23.

Unusually good defense
The Mets defense has been solid in Harvey’s five starts this season, with no hitter reaching base as the direct result of an error (there was an error by Ruben Tejada trying to finish a double play against the Giants).

The Mets have done well at turning both ground balls and fly balls into outs, getting at least one out on 24 of 27 grounders (89 percent) and 23 of 25 fly balls that stayed in the park (92 percent).

Those rates are both above their norms of 74 percent and 85 percent respectively.

Harvey has looked invincible at times in two-strike situations. Three of the teams he’s faced—the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Reds- went a combined 0-for-38 with four walks in two-strike counts. The Braves and Padres were 4-for-19 with five walks.

Harvey looked impressive in all three of those good starts, allowing only four runs in 19 innings. The Padres were the one team that beat him up.

In the three starts in which opponents went hitless, Harvey’s most effective pitches were the upper-third and above fastball, which netted 12 outs, and the slider away from a right-handed hitter, which netted seven.

Matchup of the Game: How do you get Tyler Colvin out?
With most of the Rockies stars out with injuries, a few lesser-known players have picked up the slack, among them Colvin, who is 3-for-7 with a home run in this series, and is hitting .292 with 14 home runs this season.

Colvin’s numbers against right-handed pitching are legit, both in and out of Coors Field. On the road against righties, he’s hitting .287 with seven homers in 115 at-bats.

There aren’t many spots where a right-hander can feel comfortable throwing Colvin a fastball or variations thereof (cutters, sinkers, splitters). It’s a high-risk proposition as his numbers are good against that pitch across the board.

A Harvey heater, usually in the 93-mile-per-hour range, won’t scare Colvin. He’s seen 203 fastballs at that speed or faster and done enough damage (16 hits, three home runs, and a .609 slugging percentage against them from righties) to offset that he misses them at a rate of about once every four swings.

The changeup also isn’t the best option, given that Colvin has four homers against them (only three NL hitters have more against righties).

With that in mind, Colvin may see one or two fastballs (likely up around the eyes), but a lot of sliders.

This season, in a small sample, he’s been aggressive against the slider, swinging at 64 percent of them thrown by righties. That’s the fourth-highest swing rate in the majors. The Mets haven’t thrown him one in the series.

But Colvin is gettable with it, particularly when it comes down and in, below the knees, but near the plate.

As the heat map shows, if Colvin goes after a pitch that jams him really tight inside, he doesn’t have success.

Niese can't survive another big inning

August, 7, 2012
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesMets starter Jon Niese struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
It's one inning that continues to haunt Jon Niese.

The lefty will have outings like Tuesday against Miami, when he'll throw scoreless frames in five of his six innings, but it's the one frame where he can't stop the bleeding that ultimately defines his outing. Tuesday, it was the fourth, as he allowed four runs in a 4-2 loss.

"It's frustrating. I made some pretty bad pitches, I hung my curveball on like three consecutive guys which really hurt me," Niese said after falling to 8-6. "That's been my Achilles' heel this year, giving up those big innings. That's something I have to work on."

Entering Tuesday, in each of the past three games in which Niese had allowed at least four earned runs, big innings had been his undoing. On July 27 against Arizona, he allowed six of eight runs in the second. July 8, it was four runs in the first and three in the seventh. Back on June 16, three of the four runs he yielded vs. Cincinnati came in the first.

Against Miami, he fell apart in the fourth inning. Four singles in the first five batters gave Miami a 2-0 lead, but the dagger came with two outs. Facing catcher John Buck with the pitcher on deck, Niese allowed a double which plated two and proved to be the difference. Five of Miami's eight hits against Niese came in that inning.

"A couple of those balls weren't hit very good and I thought Jon was pitching good and I thought he could get Buck out easy," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I didn't think there was an issue with that. Again, he just didn't make pitches when he needed to."

Niese had a chance to help himself as he batted in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs with the Mets trailing 4-2. He already had singled, and led the Mets pitching staff with a .206 average entering the game, so Collins allowed his pitcher to get some hacks.

In what proved to be the Mets' best chance to tie the game, as the team did not put a runner in scoring position the rest of the night, Niese went down looking. He pitched one more inning before getting pulled as he fell to 1-5 in nine career starts against the Marlins.

"It's pretty good (outing) beside poorly executing those pitches in the fourth inning," Niese said. "I hung those curveballs, which I would have executed them better, perhaps if I did, the inning would have been a lot different. It is what it is. I have to get better at eliminating those big innings and the outcome will be different."

PARNELL OK: Collins checked on Bobby Parnell in the seventh after the flame-thrower was only tossing 89-91 mph to start the inning. Parnell eventually amped up the velocity and threw a perfect frame. The reliever said he wasn't focused on dialing it up that inning.

Rapid Reaction: Marlins 4, Mets 2

August, 7, 2012

The Mets returned home and fell further below .500 after falling to the Marlins, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The Mets are now just three games out of last place in the NL East.

MARLINS GOT YOUR NUMBER: Jon Niese entered Tuesday's game with a 1-4 record in eight career starts against the Marlins, his worst winning percentage against a National League team. His ERA was 4.47 in those games.

While Miami scored all four of its runs in one inning, Niese didn't have his best day. He allowed eight hits and walked one while striking out four. All the damage came in the fourth, when he couldn't navigate the middle of Miami's lineup.

HIT FOR BAY: Before the game, manager Terry Collins essentially said the struggling Jason Bay is becoming a platoon player. Entering Tuesday, Bay was in a 2-for-31 slump.

As he now has to adjust to becoming a lefties-only batter, it will be key for Bay to find some rhythm at the plate. He was able to line a single in the fifth and score the team's second run. He had been booed in his first two at-bats and earned some sarcastic cheers after notching his single. He was 1-for-4.

HITTING STREAKS LIVE ON: Shortstop Jose Reyes and Ruben Tejada both carried hitting streaks into this one and they both kept it going. Reyes pushed his league-high streak to 25 games while Tejada is now at 12. Tejada was 1-for-5.

Reyes, in his second return to Citi Field after signing with Miami, was booed. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored. With Tejada playing well at shortstop this season, Mets fans haven't been forced to miss Reyes, who was once perhaps the most beloved Met.

UP NEXT: The Mets will turn to Chris Young (3-5, 4.22 ERA) as he will face Nathan Eovaldi (2-7, 4.66 ERA) at 7:10 p.m.

Santana gets ready for rotation return

August, 7, 2012
Mets lefty Johan Santana feels "good" as he prepares to return from the disabled list. The lefty is scheduled to pitch Saturday against Atlanta after missing the past few weeks with a right ankle sprain.

"I was able to recover and do my things, and (I'm) definitely happy to be back and be around these guys again," Santana said Tuesday. "(I'm) getting ready for my next outing."

The Mets placed Santana on the disabled list on July 21 and he is eligible to come off at any point. July had been a particularly brutal month for the veteran as he had gone 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA, allowing 28 hits in just 12 2/3 innings.

The lefty pitched three scoreless innings in a rehab appearance with the Brooklyn Cyclones on Sunday and allowed just one hit. He threw a combined 90 pitches by tossing in the bullpen afterward and seemed pleased with what he accomplished.

Santana is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts and is scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday.

"It was good. Again, it was all about feeling good and feeling 100 percent from top to bottom," Santana said. "I was able to get my ankle some rest and rehab but at the same time my whole body rest(ed) and I worked out. I felt good. It's definitely something we're going to see how it goes once I start pitching again."

JOHNSON OUT: Backup righty catcher Rob Johnson, who has a bruised right hand, is sitting Tuesday night despite Miami pitching a lefty. Starter Josh Thole is behind the plate.

Manager Terry Collins talked to doctors and decided to give Johnson the night off. Johnson said his hand is fine and there has been no setback, and he's listed as day-to-day.

"Doctors have said he can certainly catch and throw, it might hurt him to bat, but he is playable," Collins said.

The series in 'Met'rics (Mets at Giants)

August, 3, 2012

Getty Images/Jason WatsonScott Hairston continued his late-inning mastery of the Giants.

Great Scott!
Via my colleague, Dan Braunstein, we learned that Scott Hairston became the second Met ever with a game-tying home run in the eighth inning or later and a go-ahead home run later in the same game.

The other to do it was Todd Zeile in a road win against the Phillies on June 2, 2004. The last to do it on any team was Brian McCann, who did it for the Braves last season.

It was the fourth time this season that Hairston either tied a game or put his team ahead in the seventh inning or later. The only player with more to that point in 2012 is Adam Jones with five.

The home run gave Hairston 16 home runs that either tied the game or put his team ahead in the seventh inning over the last six seasons.

Of those 16, six of them have come against the Giants. Over the last six seasons, no other player has more than three such homers against the Giants.

Great Escape
Josh Edgin bailed the Mets out in the ninth inning on Monday by striking out Marco Scutaro looking with the bases loaded and two outs to keep the game tied.

The last time a Mets pitcher preserved a tie game with a bases-loaded strikeout looking in the ninth inning or later was July 3, 2004, when John Franco struck out the Yankees’ Jorge Posada. The Mets would win the game, 10-9, in the bottom of the ninth when Kazuo Matsui beat the throw home on Shane Spencer’s nubbed ground ball.

Wacky Wednesday
Ruben Tejada snapped his 628 at-bat homerless drought with his first-inning homer in Wednesday’s wacky win. It’s the Mets first homer to lead off a game in San Francisco since Jon Nunnally hit one in 2000.

This was the seventh time the Mets opened a game in San Francisco with a home run. They’ve also done so seven times on the road against the Braves and Phillies.

Games like this are why sites like exist.

On it, we found that it is the second time in Mets history that they scored two runs or fewer and won a nine-inning game, when their combo of hits, walks, hit by pitches and reached on errors was 20 or more.

The other instance was against the Padres on May 14, 1989, a game won 2-1 on an error by Padres shortstop Luis Salazar.

Eric Hornick, the statistician for the New York Islanders telecasts, passed along that it’s the first time since June 18, 1979 against the Astros that the Mets had nine hits, nine walks, and a hit by pitch, and scored two runs or fewer.

It’s the first time that they’ve won a game with that combo.

Harvey Happenings
Matt Harvey’s second start wasn’t quite as notable as his first, but he’s distinguished himself well through two games.

Harvey set the Mets record for most strikeouts in his first two career starts with 18.

That surpassed the mark shared by Dick Selma, Bill Denehy, and Tom Seaver, who each had 13.

For more on Harvey, check out our month-in-review piece.

Notebook: Niese, RISP and Frank update

July, 22, 2012
As the Mets' pitching staff battles injuries and turns to youngsters, Jon Niese continues to give the team solid outings. The lefty gave up three runs in seven-plus innings and earned a no-decision in the Dodgers' eventual 8-3 win in 12 innings Sunday at Citi Field.

"Jon Niese pitched a very good game for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Kept us in the game and gave us a lot of opportunities which we had to win this game."

While the Mets struggled to score runs Sunday, the lefty kept his team in the game, only yielding a two-run homer in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth. When he left with two men on and no outs in the eighth, his team was behind 3-2, but the Mets managed to come back and tie the game in the ninth.

Niese has thrown at least seven innings in each of his past five starts and has a 2.88 ERA over his last 11 outings. In just one of those outings has Niese allowed more than four earned runs, and opponents have scored three or less earned runs against him in five of his last six starts.

It's important for Niese to step up with Johan Santana and Dillon Gee sidelined, and as of late, he's been able to consistently give the team solid outings. He's 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA.

"I've been feeling good lately with everything as far as pounding the zone and using every pitch and throwing all the pitches for strikes," Niese said. "I feel my conditioning is getting a lot better and I think that helps with going deep in games."

RISP FAIL: The Mets have been great this season in coming up with hits in big spots, but Sunday was not one of those days. They had multiple chances to win Sunday's game but went just 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position, stranding 14 runners in the loss.

In the 10th, the Mets put the first two men on but a failed sacrifice bunt resulted in an out at third and Ruben Tejada followed with an inning-ending double play. In a scene all too familiar throughout the day, the Mets wasted a leadoff double in the 12th as they fell to 1-8 since the All-Star break.

The Mets went 8-39 (.205) and left 32 men on base as they were swept by the Dodgers.

"We've played very well and done a lot of good things. We continue to hit with two outs and get big hits and we just have been unable to come up with the big play right now or the big hit or the big inning that we need to get through it all," Collins said.

FRANK PITCHES: Injured closer Frank Francisco threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday and will be re-evaluated Monday. He has been on the disabled list since June 24 with a left oblique strain.

Mets disappointed after falling below .500

July, 22, 2012
In the 95th game, the Mets finally found themselves on the wrong side of .500.

Entering a season in which many pegged them to be among the worst teams in baseball, the Mets had enjoyed 94 straight games with a record of at least .500. Sunday, by falling 8-3 to the Dodgers in 12 innings, the Mets dropped to 47-48, the first time they've had a losing record since the end of the 2011 season.

"It's very disappointing. We're not happy with the way things have gone the last 10 days and we got to buckle down, get after it and get back over," Mets manager Terry Collins said after his team lost for the ninth time in 10 games. "We got a tough three games coming up, we got to pick ourselves up and get ready for them."

After the Mets emerged as one of the pleasant surprises in baseball in the first half, entering the All-Star break with a 46-40 record, the second half has been brutal for them. They were swept by Atlanta, lost two of three to the Nationals and were swept at home by the Dodgers, dropping them to 1-8 since the break.

"Seeing where we were at the break, it's definitely frustrating to see us below .500," said Sunday's starter, Jon Niese, who gave up three runs in a no-decision. "I still don't think we are out of it. I think we have a good chance to go on a run and get back in it."

As the Mets look to turn it around amid this deep slide, Collins' experience with these losing streaks has taught him that pitching is the key to righting the ship. The staff was excellent in the first half but has struggled since the break, allowing 58 runs in the nine games. It hasn't helped that injuries have sent two starts to the disabled list recently.

"You got to give your guys a shot to win baseball games and our pitching has done that. That's why we were where we were," Collins said. "Right now, and recently, we've had some issues where we haven't gotten the parts of the game where the matchups are what we want to have late."

While there hasn't been much to be upbeat about lately, the players aren't letting their slide get them down, remaining confident the team will start playing well again soon. Next up is Washington, who they face Monday -- for the first time this year with a losing record.

"We knew going into the season it was going to be a difficult challenge and we know there were going to be times like this when things weren't going our way," third baseman David Wright said. "All teams go through this and now it's just a matter of how quickly we can bounce back and start playing more crisp baseball."

Mets morning briefing 7.22.12

July, 22, 2012
The Mets continued their skid to start the second half as they lost 8-5 to the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets have lost seven of their first eight games since the All-Star break and have fallen to .500.

Sunday's news reports:

• Read game recaps in the Daily News, Post, Star-Ledger, The Record, New York Times and Newsday.

• The Mets placed lefty Johan Santana on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain. Santana has a 6.54 ERA since he threw the franchise's first no-hitter on June 1. Santana said if the decision was up to him he would like to continue pitching. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, The Record, New York Times and Newsday.

•'s Johnette Howard writes how the Mets shouldn't look for a quick fix on the trade market with Santana out and just wait for the lefty to return. Writes Howard:

It's the right thing for the Mets to do, even if fans will be breathing down their neck like a hot draft from hell, screaming for them to do something to stop them from sinking even further in the standings than they have the past week.

Tim Smith of the Daily News writes about the alarming rate that the Mets are losing pitchers and how it might be time to turn to heralded prospect Matt Harvey. Writes Smith:

Let the Matt Harvey watch begin. The Mets will most certainly need his arm at Citi Field, if for nothing else than to appease a restless fan base that wants the team to remain viable and make a playoff run. That will be tough to do as the 8-5 loss dropped the Mets (47-47) to .500 for the first time since May 4.

Santana’s shutdown comes at the worst time — 10 days before the trade deadline and with the Mets starting the day seven games down in the NL East and 4.5 games back in the wild card. They need all arms on deck.

• GM Sandy Alderson labeled the Mets as buyers as the trade deadline approaches.

Miguel Batista was tagged with the loss Saturday but said again that he believes the Mets are a better team than the first-place Nationals. Read more about Batista's start in the Post and Newsday.

R.A. Dickey made his first relief appearance of the year but yielded a two-run homer in the ninth inning that put the Mets behind 8-5.

Chris Capuano, a former Met, won his 10th game of the season by picking up the victory on Saturday. The Mets did not match the two-year, $10-million deal he was offered by the Dodgers this past offseason.

• The Mets will call up reliever Elvin Ramirez for Sunday's game. The Mets could part ways with Batista or possibly demote Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Read more in the Post.

• Daily News columnist Bill Madden says the Mets have too many holes to fill as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Writes Madden:

By contrast, the Mets’ five straight losses after the break merely served to magnify their many flaws and reinforce the notion that they were first-half pretenders whom Terry Collins was able to get to play over their heads while the consensus preseason NL East favorites, the Phillies and Miami Marlins, consistently played under theirs.

• Harvey, who could be in line for a promotion later this week, had a rough outing on Saturday night, surrendering six runs on seven hits.

• Former Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver talked about memorable Mets games.

• The Record looks at the twitter account of former third baseman Howard Johnson.

TRIVIA: As the Mets fell to .500 on Saturday, at what date last year did the team fall below .500 for good?

Saturday's answer: Tom Seaver holds the record for consecutive decisions with 16 straight wins from 1969-70.

The series in 'Met'rics (Mets vs Phillies)

July, 6, 2012

Getty Images/Jim McIsaacThe Mets pounded David Wright after his game-winning hit, much like he pounded the Phillies.

The Wright Stuff
It was quite the series for David Wright, who drove in nine runs as the Mets took two of three games from the Phillies.

Wright moved into third place on the Mets' all-time home-run list, passing Howard Johnson by hitting a home run in Monday’s win. Wright has hit at least 10 homers in a season nine times, breaking the Mets record held by Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry and Ed Kranepool.

He then tied Kevin McReynolds for the club record in walk-off RBI with his eighth in Wednesday’s dramatic ninth-inning rally. The bloop single against Jonathan Papelbon was his seventh career walk-off hit.

Wright’s two four-RBI games in the series made him the first Met to have a pair of four-RBI games in the same series against the Phillies.

It also gave him five games with at least four RBI against the Phillies in his career. That matches the most by any Met, a mark he shares with Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry.

All five Wright hits in the series came with two outs, raising his two-out batting average this season to a major-league leading .400. has a near-complete set of pitch-by-pitch data dating back to 1990 and has the last instance of the Mets going hit-to-tie, walk-off hit to win on back-to-back pitches as coming on August 31, 1990 against the Giants.

Wright had entered Wednesday with a very round batting line for the season -- a 1.000 OPS, 10 home runs, and 100 hits.

If he finished with a 1.000 OPS at the end of the season, he’d be the first player to end a season of 250-or-more at-bats with a 1.000 OPS since Gary Sheffield for the 2001 Dodgers. Sheffield finished with another round number too -- 100 RBI.

Two other players have finished a season with 250 or more at-bats and a 1.000 OPS -- former Mets manager Casey Stengel did it with the 1922 Giants and Juan Gonzalez (1993 Rangers).

Niese Nice on Mound and With Bat
Jonathon Niese allowed one run over eight innings and had two RBI in the Mets 11-1 win over the Phillies on Tuesday. He’s the first Mets starter to do both of those (one run, at least eight innings/two-RBI game) since John Maine in 2008.

Niese also became the 13th pitcher in Mets history to have both two runs scored and two RBI in the same game. None of the first 10 did so against the Phillies, but the last three -- Bobby Jones, Tom Glavine and Niese, all had.

Niese got three batters to hit line-drive outs, without allowing a line-drive hit, the first Mets pitcher to do that since Dillon Gee against the Diamondbacks last season.

A ful’PHIL’ling win
The 11-1 series-opening win was the biggest Mets win over the Phillies since a 16-4 triumph on April 19, 2005 and matched the largest margin of victory for the Mets in a HOME game against the Phillies. They’d previously beaten them at home by 10 four times, most recently in 1999.

More like Dale than Daniel
In Monday’s win, Daniel Murphy became the second player in Mets history to hit the following combination -– two doubles, a triple, and four RBI. The only other player to do that was Darryl Strawberry in a 23-10 win over the Cubs on August 16, 1987.

Elias also noted that Murphy is the first Mets player ever to drive in four runs in three out of six games.

Murphy then got the game-tying hit against Papelbon in Wednesday’s series finale.

By the way, Papelbon’s loss made him 0-9 career against New York teams.

He’s 0-6 against the Yankees, 0-3 against the Mets.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Mets 5

June, 24, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets didn't send Little Jerry Seinfeld away with a win.

In a game billed as a pitchers' duel, it instead became a battle of the bullpens -- and the Mets' relievers once again came up short in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees in front of 42,364 fans, the largest crowd in Citi Field history.

The Amazin's lost this round of the Subway Series 2-1 and finished 1-5 against their home-run-hitting rivals.

CRACKED ACE: R.A. Dickey's streak of 44 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run ended as the Yankees battered him for five runs in six innings. It's the second-most earned runs he has yielded all season and the most since April. He received a no-decision.

Dickey struggled to get his knuckleball over for strikes and he walked three batters. Those walks proved to be costly, especially in the second as both came around to score as the Yankees put up four runs. The three walks were the most Dickey had issued since he walked four against Arizona on May 6.

In a game that was billed as a duel between aces, neither Dickey or his counterpart, C.C. Sabathia, looked the part. Instead, it was a night for the offenses to shine as both starters were charged with five runs.

BYRDAK IN THAT SPOT? In the eighth inning of a 5-5 game, the Yankees sent up Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira to start the inning. In Saturday's game, lefty Tim Byrdak retired both those hitters late in the game.

Sunday, manager Terry Collins instead stuck with Miguel Batista, who had thrown a scoreless inning of relief to that point. Cano lead off the inning with a deep home run to center that gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead that they would never relinquish. You wonder if Byrdak would have been the better option to face the lefty at that point in the game, as Batista had surrendered a two-run shot to Cano in Friday night's game.

RALLY: The Mets don't send out the most imposing lineup, but you have to be impressed with how they battled back against Sabathia. Trailing 5-2 in the sixth, the Mets knocked the lefty out of the game and ultimately tied it up. While an error clearly helped the Mets, they didn't lay down after falling behind 5-1. They collected nine hits off the former Cy Young Award winner and put together good at-bats all night.

A NICE RETURN: Ruben Tejada made his return to the lineup after nearly two months on the disabled list with a right quad strain and didn't miss a beat as he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Before the game, Collins said the Mets needed Tejada's bat back in the lineup and the shortstop showed why. His RBI single tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Mets hit the road for a three-game set against the Cubs. Johan Santana (5-3, 3.00 ERA) will face Travis Wood (1-3, 4.14) at 7:05 p.m.



Carlos Torres
2 2.08 11 8
BAJ. Lagares .314
HRL. Duda 3
RBIL. Duda 8
RE. Young Jr. 12
OPSJ. Lagares .816
ERAJ. Mejia 2.81
SOJ. Mejia 18