New York Mets: A.J. Ramos
May, 1, 2013
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: Jordany Valdespin was “El Hombre” Wednesday afternoon.
With the Mets in danger of getting swept by the lowly Miami Marlins, Valdespin produced a pinch-hit three-run homer in the sixth against Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos to stake the Mets to a one-run lead.
John Buck added a two-run double an inning later -- which it turned out the Mets would desperately need -- and the Amazin’s narrowly held on to salvage the finale, 7-6, at Marlins Park. The Mets (11-15) snapped a six-game losing streak.
Scott Atchison, protecting a 7-4 lead in his second inning of work in the seventh, surrendered three straight one-out singles. On the third of those hits, by Justin Ruggiano, Donovan Solano and Greg Dobbs had stopped in scoring position. But the ball got by left fielder Lucas Duda and both restarted and scored as the Marlins pulled within 7-6 with the pair of unearned runs.
The Mets had failed to protect one-run leads with three outs to go three times in the first two games of the series. This time, they stranded the potential tying run at third base in consecutive late innings and eked out a win.
Atchison left Ruggiano at third base in the seventh by getting Chris Valaika to fly out. An inning later, after Nick Green doubled against LaTroy Hawkins and reached third with two outs, Scott Rice entered and retired Juan Pierre on a groundout.
Bobby Parnell, who was upset he went unused Tuesday in a game Brandon Lyon uncorked a game-ending wild pitch, this time handled the ninth. Parnell retired the Marlins 1-2-3 on seven pitches for his third save.
SPIN-SANITY: Valdespin had set a franchise record with five pinch-hit homers a season ago. He had been 1-for-10 with a single, RBI and four strikeouts this season as a pinch-hitter before Wednesday’s three-run shot.
Six of Valdespin’s 10 career homers have come as a pinch hitter, which is one reason Terry Collins uses to justify using Valdespin in that role rather than as a more frequent starter.
That pinch-hit homer total does not include his walk-off grand slam last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which came two innings after Valdespin entered that game as a pinch hitter and then took over in center field, also for Juan Lagares.
This afternoon, Ramos had inherited two baserunners with two outs from left-handed starter Wade LeBlanc. The righty reliever’s insertion prompted Collins to counter with the lefty-hitting Valdespin for the righty-hitting Lagares.
GEE FIZZ: Dillon Gee surrendered four runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings. He was pulled with his pitch count at a modest 70 after Valdespin provided the 5-4 lead. Gee’s ERA ballooned to 6.16.
WRIGHT STUFF: David Wright and Buck each had three hits. Wright scored three times.
Wright put the Mets in position for Valdespin’s three-run shot to be meaningful. He pulled the Mets within 3-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. And Wright doubled to lead off the sixth against LeBlanc and scored on Marlon Byrd’s two-out single to make it 4-2.
Wright has three homers this season. The other two came against Juan Nicasio in Colorado on April 16.
WHAT’S NEXT: After an off-day in Atlanta, the Mets play a weekend series against the first-place Braves at Turner Field. Shaun Marcum (0-2, 7.94 ERA), who pitched in relief on Monday, starts Friday night’s series opener opposite left-hander Mike Minor (3-2, 3.13).
April, 7, 2013
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: Two outs away from a .500 homestand, the Mets displayed ninth-inning magic.
Marlon Byrd's two-run single provided a walk-off win as the Mets rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth against Marlins closer Steve Cishek on Sunday. The 4-3 victory deprived Miami phenom Jose Fernandez of a win in his major league debut.
Sunday's comeback victory gave the Mets (4-2) consecutive series wins to open a season for only the second time in the past 11 years.
Al Bello/Getty ImagesAaron Laffey surrendered three runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in his Mets debut.
The result: Fernandez, a Cuban defector and the youngest Marlins starting pitcher ever, retired the first 10 major league batters he faced before Daniel Murphy singled in the fourth. Laffey, meanwhile, was charged with three earned runs on 10 hits, a walk and a hit batter while lasting only 4 1/3 innings.
Terry Collins conservatively estimated the Mets would need two or three starts by Laffey or another placeholder for Shaun Marcum -- although there is no clear indication Marcum's neck and shoulder pain will dissipate and he can resume pitching after receiving targeted injections Thursday.
If the Mets lose patience with Laffey, and given they have shown no intention to call up Wheeler, the primary rotation alternative likely would be Collin McHugh.
McHugh, who is on the 40-man roster, was 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in eight appearances (four starts) for the Mets last season. In his first Triple-A appearance with Las Vegas, he limited Sacramento to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings Saturday.
Because of a Thursday off day, the Mets can delay using their fifth starter until April 16 at Colorado if they choose. If they went straight through the rotation, the Laffey spot next would come up Saturday at Minnesota.
Fernandez ultimately limited the Mets to one run on three hits and a walk in five innings. He departed with a 3-1 lead. The lone damage came on an RBI double by Anthony Recker in the catcher's Mets debut.
The Mets have now received 10 RBIs from their catchers this season, after getting only 48 RBIs during the entire 2012 season.
Fernandez's eight strikeouts were the most ever by a Marlin in his MLB debut. It also matched the most ever by a debuting pitcher against the Mets. Jason Jennings had eight strikeouts with the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 23, 2001, at Shea Stadium, in a game Juan Pierre also started in the outfield.
The last pitcher to win his MLB debut against the Mets remains Tyler Clippard as a Yankee on May 20, 2007.
The past eight starting pitchers to make their MLB debut against the Mets before Fernandez -- Tyler Cloyd,Tommy Milone, Yunesky Maya, John Ely, J.D. Martin, Daniel Barone, Joel Hanrahan and J.A. Happ -- had been a combined 0-5 with a 6.98 ERA.
MURPH! Murphy greeted Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Mets within 3-2. It was Murphy's second homer of the homestand. Murphy didn't produce his second homer last season until he went deep twice in a June 27 game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
David Wright tagged up on the left fielder Pierre to reach second base later in the sixth, but Ramos struck out pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin looking and retired Lucas Duda on a groundout to end the threat.
ATCH! After a misplay in left field by Duda on a fly ball resulted in a double and placed two Marlins in scoring position, Scott Atchison entered and bailed out the Mets. He retired Adeiny Hechavarria on a comebacker and struck out Chris Valaika to keep the Mets' deficit at one run.
EX-FILES: Ex-Met Jon Rauch tossed a scoreless seventh inning for the Marlins.
WHAT'S NEXT: Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the mound at Citizens Bank Park against Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay (0-1, 13.50) as the Mets open a three-city, 10-game trip on Monday at 7:05 p.m.