Francisco Rodriguez had a streak of 19 straight successful save conversions snapped when he allowed a two-run homer to Brooks Conrad in the ninth and D.J. Carrasco balked home the winning run an inning later as the Mets lost to the Braves, 9-8, in 10 innings at Turner Field on Thursday. The Mets missed a chance to move above .500 for the first time since five games into the season. The last time the Mets lost on a walk-off balk? That was at Dodger Stadium in 1989, when Roger McDowell -- now the Braves' pitching coach -- issued it in the 12th inning.
Friday's news reports:
• Ray Bartoszek, who said he was informed by the Mets he came in second to David Einhorn for a minority share of the Mets, spoke with the Times about the process. Bartoszek said a counteroffer from the Mets to his original proposal did call for him to get a small share of SportsNet New York and also have a path to majority ownership of the team. As for what he has read of Einhorn's winning bid -- which contains an ability to increase his percentage to a majority share unless Fred Wilpon and family return his original investment and allow Einhorn to keep one-sixth of the team -- Bartoszek said: "Einhorn is a very successful guy and it seems to me that he must be smarter than all the rest of us because he figured out how to basically short this team as he’s shorted a lot of stocks in the past. I wouldn’t bet against him. It’s just that I feel like it’s awkward, a trader taking on a position where he is rooting for the team to fail? I don’t like that. I would not do that deal because I would not feel right about having that attitude every day I went to work.” In essence, Einhorn benefits in the near future if the Wilpons' financial instability prevents them from blocking his option to up his stake.
• Terry Collins acknowledged first baseman Lucas Duda, who had just entered the game on a double-switch, should have returned to the bag rather than dart in front of second baseman Ruben Tejada on Jordan Schafer's 10th-inning grounder. That allowed Schafer to have an infield hit and advanced Diory Hernandez to third base with two out, where Hernandez would score on Carrasco's balk. Read game stories from the loss in the Record, Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• David Waldstein of the Times noted Chipper Jones, who had five RBIs before leaving the game with a muscle injury near his groin, was also in a Braves uniform when Kenny Rogers issued the walk-off walk in Atlanta in Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS, eliminating the Mets. Writes Waldstein:
The difference between October and June is obvious, but the scene was striking. “Yeah, I could see that,” Jones said. “A walk and a balk. The difference is that one ended a season.”
• Collin McHugh, who pitches for Double-A Binghamton, contributes to ESPNNewYork.com's Mets blog with a look at the minor league lifestyle, which is reprinted from his personal blog. Writes McHugh:
My second outing I nibbled on the corners and got burned. Ball one. Ball two. Whereas in Low or High A I could usually get away with one of those pitches if I was consistently hitting that spot, here I was getting what I deserved...behind in the count. When I get behind in the count (as i mentioned earlier) the hitters get that much better. I gave up 4 er in 4.1 innings on 90 pitches.
• R.A. Dickey had two earned runs subtracted before he took the mound Thursday. A scoring change after the Mets complained to MLB resulted in Daniel Murphy being charged with an error and Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen losing two RBIs. Read more on the scoring change in Newsday. Dickey, meanwhile, served up a three-run homer to Jones on Thursday on a get-me-over 3-0 pitch. It caught the knuckleballer by surprise, he said, because in past encounters Jones has normally taken pitches in that count.
• Sandy Alderson offered this statement to ESPNNewYork.com on the possibility of signing newly released Scott Kazmir, who would cost the minimum: "We will consider him like any other player available on waivers or as a free agent." Aside from that GM speak, there was no indication Mets staff was reviewing video of Kazmir. Read more in Newsday.
• Alderson tells Dan Martin in the Post that the team's sudden wild-card contention plays a role in whether to sell pieces at the trading deadline. "Certainly, what's going on now affects our thinking over the next several weeks," Alderson told Martin. "It definitely matters."
• Jose Reyes reached 100 hits faster than any player in franchise history. (See the details in Thursday night's Rapid Reaction.) Collins told reporters pregame that there's no way he's giving Reyes a day off anytime soon, and that it's not coming at the All-Star break, either. Said Collins: "I could be dead wrong, but if he’s not playing in the All-Star break, there might be an investigation. He’s not going to get the days off that other guys are going to have." Read more in the Post.
• Newsday's David Lennon writes about the Mets staff widely adding cut fastballs to their repertoires. The latest adoptee has been 7-0 Dillon Gee. Writes Lennon:
The key is the grip, and in most cases, there is no need to alter the mechanics of the pitcher's delivery to throw it. No worrying about arm speeds like the changeup, no additional torque on the elbow like the slider. Just start with the standard grip for a four-seam fastball, with two fingers straight across the seam. Then angle those fingers slightly so they run diagonally -- or cut -- over that seam. From there, just throw it like a fastball. Same velocity. The lopsided grip causes the ball to spin slightly off axis, which results in that tiny curl at the end, the one responsible for cracking bat handles or getting weak grounders.
• Collins said facing the Angels in interleague play this weekend doesn't mean anything extra, since he is so far removed from managing that club from 1997-99. Said Collins: “You’re talking 12 years ago. It’s a long time. Their uniforms have changed, the team has changed.” Read more in the Times.
• With Brooklyn set to begin its New York-Penn League season Friday at Staten Island, Amara Grautski of The Wall Street Journal speaks with ex-Met Frank Viola, who has rejoined the organization as the Cyclones' pitching coach. "I couldn't have asked for a better situation to be put into for my first year back in professional baseball," Viola told Grautski. "And what organization came through? The New York Mets."
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro said he will never tell a fan how to spend his or her money, but perhaps the Mets are worth checking out. Writes Vaccaro:
They may not yet be a truly good baseball team. But they're playing awfully good baseball.
BIRTHDAY: Former No. 1 overall pick Shawn Abner turns 45. Abner was drafted by the Mets in 1984, but never played for them. After the 1986 season, he was packaged in a trade to the Padres for outfielder Kevin McReynolds. He would go on to hit .227 with 11 homers in six big league seasons. -Mark Simon