New York Mets: Brandon Phillips

Rapid Reaction: Mets 6, Reds 3

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
4:06
PM ET
NEW YORK -- A day after Lucas Duda had the heroics with a pair of two-run homers, the guy who lost the first-base competition had the big moment.

Ike Davis had a pinch-hit grand slam against J.J. Hoover in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Mets to a 6-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

The only thing missing was Justin Turner to deliver a whipped-cream pie during the postgame celebration. Jonathon Niese did the honors instead.

It was Davis’ third career walk-off homer.

The last walk-off grand slam for the Mets: Jordany Valdespin on April 24, 2013, against the Dodgers’ Josh Wall.

The Mets also successfully challenged an umpire’s call for the first time this season during the pivotal frame.

Juan Lagares opened the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Anthony Recker then attempted to sacrifice Lagares to second with the Mets trailing, 3-2.

First baseman Joey Votto pounced on the bunt and tried to get the lead runner. Second-base ump James Hoye ruled Lagares out, but Terry Collins challenged the call and successfully had it overturned after a two-minute, 14-second review.

Ruben Tejada, attempting to sacrifice both runners ahead, then walked to load the bases with none out.

That prompted Collins to turn to Davis to pinch hit.

Hoover was handling the closing duties with Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton on the disabled list.

How did the Mets get in the predicament?

Dillon Gee, cruising through a stellar outing in the eighth, surrendered a two-run homer to Brandon Phillips on pitch No. 100 as Cincinnati took a 3-2 lead.

Southpaw Scott Rice had been waiting to enter to face the next two batters -- the lefties Votto and Jay Bruce -- with a runner on third and the Mets leading by a run. So Phillips likely was Gee’s final batter regardless of the outcome of the one-out faceoff.

Gee also allowed a fifth-inning solo homer to Ryan Ludwick. Gee’s line: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR.

Curtis Granderson had lifted the Mets to a 2-1 lead in the sixth with his first homer with the ballclub. The two-run shot against Johnny Cueto landed in the upper deck in right field.

Cueto had held the Mets hitless until Tejada's one-out double in the fifth.

It’s a hit: Leadoff hitter Eric Young Jr. had a seventh-inning infield single, snapping his hitless drought at 15 at-bats to open the season. He earlier reached base on an error by second baseman Phillips.

Duda day: A day after belting a pair of two-run homers, Duda went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Entering the series, Collins indicated Davis likely would start once against the Reds in order to keep his bat sharp for pinch-hitting. So Davis figures to find himself in the lineup Sunday.

K zone: The Mets collectively struck out 10 times, upping their season total to 53. That is the franchise record through five games, topping 44 in 1968, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

What’s next: Niese will be activated from the disabled list to pitch the homestand finale. He opposes right-hander Alfredo Simon at 1:10 p.m. Sunday.

Wilmer Flores is expected to be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear the roster spot for Niese’s addition. The Mets had been carrying an extra bench player and four starting pitchers.

Flores joined the Mets when Daniel Murphy went on paternity leave and remained because Chris Young landed on the disabled list with a right quadriceps injury. Flores should play more shortstop than second base in the near future with the 51s.

Morning Briefing: TC on W: 'Needed badly'

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
5:35
AM ET

Elsa/Getty ImagesLucas Duda produces the second of two homers Friday night against Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Opening Day starter Dillon Gee gets his second pitching opportunity of the season when he opposes Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. at Citi Field.

Gee was charged with four runs in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Opening Day against the Washington Nationals.

For the Reds, Cueto surrendered a solo homer to Yadier Molina and only two other hits in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener.

Eric Young Jr. is due to receive the Lou Brock Award as the 2013 National League steals leader before the game. The ceremony was postponed Friday because of the rainy conditions.

Saturday’s news reports:

• Terry Collins committed to giving Lucas Duda an extended look at first base. Duda then went out and hit a pair of two-run homers in the Mets’ 4-3 win against the Reds on Friday night at rainy Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia limited Cincy to one run in six innings. E.Y. Jr. took away a first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips. Anthony Recker became the second MLB player to throw out speedster Billy Hamilton on the basepaths, joining Juan Centeno last season. Jose Valverde earned his first Mets save.

“We needed it badly,” Terry Collins said about his club’s first 2014 victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

As for Duda getting this next stretch of games, perhaps there’s a reason, Cody Derespina in Newsday suggests. Wrote Derespina early Friday:

The Mets are due to face right-handed pitchers in their next five games: Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon of the Reds and Aaron Harang and David Hale of the Braves. Neither Davis nor Duda has faced Hale, but both have logged 24 at-bats against the other four starters.

Here’s the breakdown:

Davis is 3-for-24 against the quartet with a walk and four total bases. That’s a .125 average and .326 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Duda, however, is 9-for-24 with four walks and 16 total bases, a robust .375 average and 1.130 OPS.

Read Duda summaries and game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Record, Newsday, Times and at MLB.com.

• Read more on Recker in Newsday.

• Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five in his Triple-A debut with Las Vegas. Making his Florida State League debut, Long Island native Steven Matz was tagged with the loss. The southpaw allowed two runs in five innings in St. Lucie’s 6-2 loss to Palm Beach. Savannah native John Gant earned the win in the Gnats’ 10-1 victory against Lakewood. Jared King had a pair of two-run triples. Gavin Cecchini produced his second professional homer. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Boomer Esiason apologized for criticizing Daniel Murphy’s decision to take paternity leave and miss the first two games of the season.

“I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that,” Esiason reportedly said on-air after initially suggesting Murphy’s wife should have had a C-section before the season. “That’s their decision, that’s their life and they know their bodies better than I do. And the other thing, too, that I really felt bad about is that Daniel Murphy and Tori Murphy were dragged into the conversation, and their whole life was exposed. And it shouldn’t have been.”

Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• Collins explained how Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will get bullpen work at Las Vegas by May, setting up that as their potential initial big-league role.

BIRTHDAYS: Former first-round pick Lastings Milledge turns 29. Milledge is playing this season for Yakult in the Japanese Central League.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Lucas Duda still be the Mets’ starting first baseman in 10 days?

Hitless EY gives fans cause to cheer anyway

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
11:22
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Rain postponed the pregame ceremony in which Eric Young Jr. was slated to receive the Lou Brock Award as the 2013 NL steals leader.

E.Y. Jr. gave fans early reason to cheer anyway.

Young leaped at the left-field wall and took away a first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips.

That ended up proving the margin of victory in the Mets’ 4-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citi Field.

It marked the first time in Young’s career he had taken away a homer from an opponent, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“That pretty much saved the game,” teammate Lucas Duda said. “We’d probably still be playing right now if it wasn’t for him.”

Said Young: “I almost stumbled there a little bit on the warning track. It was a little slippery. I caught my footing and was able to make a jump on it.

“My main concern was keeping my eye on the ball -- watch it go all the way into the glove. That’s what it did.

“Personally, it gets me pumped up. I know the rest of the guys were pumped up, too. It ended up being the difference in the game with the one run, so it was huge.”

Despite the defensive superlative, Young is now 0-for-12 on the season at the plate.

He now is due to receive the Lou Brock Award in a ceremony before Saturday’s matinee.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Reds 3

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
10:12
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda, in his first game since Terry Collins announced plans to give him an “extended look” at first base, spoke loudly with his bat.

Duda slugged a pair of two-run homers against Mike Leake and the Mets notched their first win of the season, holding on for a 4-3 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on a rainy Friday night at Citi Field.

Jose Valverde, filling in for injured Bobby Parnell, recorded his first save as a Met and the 287th of his career -- two shy of matching Armando Benitez for 26th all time. Valverde allowed two baserunners but escaped for his first save since June 11, 2013 with Detroit.


Elsa/Getty ImagesLucas Duda rounds the bases after his second two-run homer Friday.


Only two of Duda’s 15 homers last season came with men on base.

Duda finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. It marked his fifth career multihomer game. He also scooped two bounced throws from David Wright at first base.

Oh, Jenrry! Jenrry Mejia struck out a career-high eight batters while limiting Cincinnati to one run on four hits and five walks in six innings. He threw 101 pitches, his most since also reaching that total in Triple-A on April 13, 2011.

Mejia did receive a first-inning bailout from left fielder Eric Young Jr., who jumped Endy Chavez-style at the wall to take away a would-be first-inning homer from Brandon Phillips.

For the second straight game, Mejia was drilled with a comebacker. In Phillips’ next at-bat, he smoked a grounder off Mejia’s right ankle in the third. In Montreal last Friday, Mejia had been struck in the right forearm by a line drive, which resulted in inflammation and the need for X-rays, but no fracture.

Oh, pen: The maligned bullpen inherited a 4-1 lead from Mejia with three innings to play and immediately started giving it back.

John Lannan surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Jay Bruce in the seventh as Cincinnati pulled within a run.

However, Kyle Farnsworth subsequently recorded four outs, topping out at 94 mph, to get the ball to Valverde.

The bullpen has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) in 12 1/3 innings -- good for a 9.49 ERA.

Murphy’s flaw: Daniel Murphy committed his third error in two games since returning from paternity leave. Murphy could not handle Todd Frazier’s would-be double-play grounder in the sixth, instead resulting in two runners on base and none out with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead. Mejia bailed out Murphy, ultimately stranding runners on the corners by striking out Leake.

Silent nights: Travis d’Arnaud and E.Y. Jr. each went 0-for-3. Each is now hitless in 12 at-bats this season.

Met his match: Speedster Billy Hamilton has been caught stealing only twice in his big-league career. Both times have been by the Mets.

Juan Centeno did the honors last season. Friday night, it was Anthony Recker, after Hamilton entered as a pinch-runner with one out in the eighth and the Mets leading by a run.

What’s next: Opening Day starters Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.40 ERA) and Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29) face off at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Citi Field.

Morning Briefing: Check-in, now checkup

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
6:32
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.


Adam RubinChris Young arrives at Mets camp Saturday for the first time.


FIRST PITCH: Mets pitchers and catchers take physicals on Sunday. They then engage in the first official workout of spring training on Monday morning.

A team official did not expect any players to be delayed by visa issues or otherwise.

Outfielder Chris Young was among those who arrived at the complex for the first time Saturday. Curtis Granderson and Matt Harvey are likely to address the media Sunday.

Sunday’s news reports:

Bartolo Colon, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets in early December, said the club was the only organization to offer him a multiyear deal.

Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post, making reference to Colon’s 50-game suspension in 2012 for testing positive for abnormal testosterone levels:

As he essentially tries to replace the injured Matt Harvey, Colon brings risk -- that his unorthodox physique finally will surrender to common sense, or he will get caught using illegal performance-enhancing drugs for a second time. Colon failed a drug test in 2012, and it turned out he acquired the offending testosterone from the renowned Anthony Bosch -- demerit to Colon for apparently not following Bosch’s test-beating advice as diligently as did Alex Rodriguez.

He brings wisdom, too. The soft-spoken Colon won’t be working as Dan Warthen’s associate pitching coach. None of his new teammates will probably become great friends with him. Yet they can watch and learn from this master of movement, command and self-control.

Omar Minaya, meanwhile, reiterated to Tim Rohan in the Times he “of course” would make the June 27, 2002 trade with the Cleveland Indians again that dealt then-prospects Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore away and brought Colon to Minaya’s Montreal Expos.

Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and MLB.com.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Noah Syndergaard. One exchange:

Q: You wrote the word “Lion” on your glove one time.

A: Yeah, I feel like just putting your name on a glove is kinda boring, so I just put random stuff on it, like I put Lion, just to be the lion on the mound, and then I have another glove that has “Drago” written on it [after “Rocky IV” villain Ivan Drago], and my two others have “Rick Grimes”and “Heisenberg” from two of my favorite shows, “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead.”

• Mike Puma in the Post reports the Mets would be willing to offer Stephen Drew a one-year contract with an option, but Scott Boras’ asking price “hasn’t dropped enough recently for the Mets to consider themselves serious suitors.” Sandy Alderson has been clear in saying signing Drew is unlikely.

Kyle Farnsworth offered his thoughts about joining the Mets. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• The Mets seriously discussed trading Jose Reyes to the Texas Rangers during the 2003-04 offseason for Alfonso Soriano, but the Rangers owner halted those talks, writes Joel Sherman in the Post. It came just after Soriano was acquired from the Yankees for Alex Rodriguez.

Aaron Harang, who finished last season with the Mets, joined the Indians on a minor-league deal. Read more in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

• Phil Mushnick in the Post is unimpressed with the Mets’ $10 “UltiMet” offering.

• Marc Carig in Newsday suggests “the Mets did import some talent this offseason, but they also left several glaring holes unfilled.”

• Danny Anderson, the St. Lucie Mets clubhouse staffer whom David Wright and other players had a Super Bowl party to rally around, died of cancer Thursday, writes TCPalm.com.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing sorts through a slew of responses to its question regarding which Mets postseason most merits cosmetic reconstructive surgery. … John Delcos at Mets Report lists five questions Terry Collins must answer this spring.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets infielder Bill Pecota was born on this date in 1960.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What will Bartolo Colon’s record and ERA be in 2014?

Morning Briefing: Moneyball players?

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
5:55
AM ET
FIRST PITCH: Forget Ike Davis’ struggles for a second. Forget even the payroll constraints, which is asking a lot to look past.

Here’s one question that rarely gets asked: Where are the Moneyball players with the Mets?

And by that I mean: Why have there not been more productive free agents signed to those $2 million to $4 million contracts? Or how about some low-cost acquisitions via other routes that provide placeholders until a prospect is ready to assume the role?

Yes, departed Scott Hairston, Chris Capuano and Chris Young -- plus Scott Rice -- are a few examples of getting production beyond salary in their tenures with the Mets.

But there have been far more misses: Chin-lung Hu, Brad Emaus and Blaine Boyer in Year 1 of the current administration, all the way through to Collin Cowgill, Shaun Marcum and Scott Atchison (at least so far) this year.

It sure would be nice to have a few more Lyle Overbay types.

Finding those hidden gems was supposed to be a Mets front-office strength because of the executives’ small-market pedigrees.

So if you’re looking for reasons why the Mets today sit at 10 games under .500 this early in a season for the first time since 2001, blame the lack of spending. Blame the deliberate pace of building from within. But also blame the lack of identification of placeholders who can contribute at reasonable costs in the interim.

Anyway, the Mets are off today. Then there’s the Atlanta Braves looming this weekend, with Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00 ERA) opposing right-hander Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.02) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. opener.

It’s still five days until Matt Harvey next pitches -- Tuesday against Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees in Flushing in Game 2 of the Subway Series. The Mets are expected to miss CC Sabathia during the four-game set, which is split between Citi Field and the Bronx.

Thursday’s news reports:


Al Bello/Getty Images
Ike Davis is expected to remain with the Mets on Friday.


• Davis is expected to remain with the Mets on Friday, but his days in the majors may be few beyond that without a serious uptick in performance. A scout breaks down Davis’ flaws for ESPNNewYork.com here.

Anthony McCarron in the Daily News asserts Triple-A Las Vegas is the only sensible option. Writes McCarron:

Save Ike Davis, Mets brass. Send him down to Triple-A already.

Not because he’s batting .147 and not because he’s 1-for-his-last-38. Not because a guy who is supposed to be driving in runs has all of nine RBI this season. Not because he screwed up in the field Wednesday and appears to be taking his slump out to first base along with his mitt.

No, demote Davis to get him away from the microscope that is now following every hitch in his swing, every step of his latest disappointed shuffle back to the dugout following another lost at-bat. Take the pressure off him for a few weeks and give him some time to recharge in the heat of Las Vegas.

Writes Tyler Kepner in the Times:

It is little consolation to most Mets fans that Davis is well liked and accountable. Jason Bay was the same way. Production always matters most, but for now, character may be all that is sparing Davis from a demotion.

“It’s not like my teammates are going to tell Sandy not to send me down,” Davis said, referring to general manager Sandy Alderson. “It’s just, if I was a bad teammate, a cancer in the clubhouse, it would be a lot easier. If I was selfish, and every time I got out I brought people down with a bad attitude and stuff like that, then I’m really affecting the team. I try not to let my struggles affect anyone else and, in fact, show more support than if I was going good.”

Read more from columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post.

• Harvey was charged with four runs on a career-high nine hits in 6 1/3 innings but was spared his first 2013 loss when Rick Ankiel drove in the tying run with his third extra base hit of the game. Still, the Mets were swept Wednesday with a 7-4 loss to Cincinnati. The loss dropped them 10 games under .500 for the first time this season. Davis had a critical misplay at first base in the ninth, allowing Brandon Phillips’ grounder down the line to go by him for a tiebreaking double.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Times and MLB.com.

• Read more on Harvey’s outing in Newsday, the Daily News, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.

• After receiving a cortisone injection in his right shoulder and missing one start, Zack Wheeler returned to action Wednesday. He allowed a pair of solo homers and was charged with three runs in five innings, but earned the win in Las Vegas’ 9-4 victory at Iowa. Noah Syndergaard, facing his former organization, was tagged with the loss as Dunedin beat St. Lucie, 5-3. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Read a profile of Double-A outfielder Cory Vaughn, son of former major leaguer Greg Vaughn and the reigning Eastern League Player of the Week, here.

• The Mets’ attempt to have a run surrendered in Chicago by Harvey changed from earned to unearned was rejected by MLB.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday compares the Mets and Yankees lineups.

• One holdup to the construction of a stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park to house Major League Soccer’s New York expansion team (which will be partly owned by the Yankees) is how much parking revenue the Mets would get at nearby Citi Field, the Times reports.

• After producing two doubles, a triple and two RBIs Wednesday, Ankiel is hitting .323 since joining the Mets, note Anthony DiComo and Chris Iseman at MLB.com.

• Harlem plans to rename a street in Willie Mays’ honor. The question: Which one? Read more in the Daily News.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing wonders if Ike has gone numb, and remembers a spectacular run of pitching by Dwight Gooden. … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that Harvey only reveals what little else the Mets have.

BIRTHDAYS: Infielder Ricky Gutierrez, who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians late in spring training in 2004 and released two months later, turns 43.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Has the front office done a good enough job identifying low-priced talent for the major league team as placeholders for developing prospects?

Rapid Reaction: Reds 7, Mets 4

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
4:20
PM ET
WHAT IT MEANS: Matt Harvey, who once every five days gives Mets fans a reason to cheer, is not invincible. He remains unbeaten, though.

Ike Davis, meanwhile, continues to draw the ire of Mets fans.

Rick Ankiel’s third extra-base hit of the game -- a run-scoring triple in the seventh -- knocked out Mat Latos, pulled the Mets even at 4 and got Harvey off the hook for his first loss since last Sept. 12.

The Cincinnati Reds nonetheless ultimately completed their second straight three-game sweep at Citi Field with a 7-4 win on Wednesday afternoon.


Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Matt Harvey ended up with a no-decision, not his first 2013 loss.


Bobby Parnell, who had not allowed a run in May while posting three wins and four saves, surrendered three ninth-inning runs.

With runners on the corners and one out, Brandon Phillips sent a go-ahead RBI double down the first-base. Davis let the ball go by, thinking it was foul, but first-base ump Phil Cuzzi disagreed as Cincinnati took a 5-4 lead. (Davis should have just fielded the ball and let Cuzzi make the call. He would not have had a play at the plate, but would have gotten an out at first.) Todd Frazier followed with a two-run single.

It was Davis’ second questionable play at first base in the series. He also had a crushing obstruction call against him in the series opener when he watched a ball behind him.

The Mets (17-27) fell 10 games under .500 this early in a season for the first time since they were 16-26 on May 19, 2001.

Harvey was charged with four runs and nine hits -- both season highs -- in 6 1/3 innings. His ERA rose to 1.93, although he remained 5-0. Harvey threw 116 pitches, the second-highest total of his career.

He next pitches with an extra day of rest Tuesday at Citi Field against the Yankees, likely against Hiroki Kuroda.

Harvey surrendered a two-run homer to reigning NL Player of the Week Joey Votto in the third inning as Cincinnati took a 2-1 lead. The Mets managed to even the score in the fifth on Daniel Murphy’s sacrifice fly, which plated Ruben Tejada, who had doubled.

With his pitch count rising in a tie game in the seventh, Harvey showed rare mortality. He allowed consecutive one-out singles to Zack Cozart, Votto and Phillips and departed with runners on the corners and the Mets trailing, 3-2. Scott Rice entered for his MLB-high 27th appearance and coaxed a tapper to first base from lefty-hitting Jay Bruce. Votto comfortably scored for the fourth run charged to Harvey and a 4-2 deficit.

Cozart went 4-for-4 against Harvey. No player had more than two hits in a game against Harvey in his previous 19 career major league starts.

Votto’s homer was only the fourth long ball surrendered by Harvey in 10 starts this season. He joined Justin Morneau, Matt Kemp and Clint Barmes.

Murphy’s single in the seventh against Latos scored Tejada and pulled the Mets within 4-3, setting up Ankiel’s game-tying triple. It was Ankiel’s fourth career three extra-base-hit game. The others came with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007 and ’09.

IKE WATCH: Davis went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout and is now 1-for-his-last-38 (.026).

With Lucas Duda on second base, the score tied at 2 and two outs in the sixth, Davis flied out to the track in center field. He is now hitless in his last 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

In the eighth, Davis walked with one out to push the potential go-ahead run to second base.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets take a day off, then welcome the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves to Citi Field. Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00 ERA) opposes right-hander Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.02) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener.

Series preview: Mets vs. Reds

May, 19, 2013
5/19/13
10:56
PM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Mat Latos during a three-game series at Citi Field.
METS (17-24, fourth place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (26-18, second place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-4, 6.75) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (1-0, 2.60), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-4, 5.40) vs. RHP Mike Leake (3-2, 3.72), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55) vs. RHP Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

• Right-hander Johnny Cueto will make his first start since April 13, after which he landed on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle. He also experienced an oblique issued while on the DL. Cueto tossed 58 pitches over five scoreless innings for Double-A Dayton on Tuesday, then threw an additional 23 pitches in the bullpen. Rookie Tony Cingrani (2-0, 3.27 ERA in six starts) was dispatched to Triple-A Louisville.

• Catcher Ryan Hanigan was hitting .079 with no extra-base hits through 12 starts in April before landing on the disabled list with a sore right thumb and strained left oblique that diminished his production. Since returning May 10, Hanigan has hit .300 (6-for-20) with a homer, three RBIs and three walks in seven games (six starts). His homer Saturday was his first long ball since July 6, 2012.


Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Former NL MVP Joey Votto's home run stroke has returned.


• First baseman Joey Votto reached base in eight straight plate appearances before the streak ended Sunday. He has an eight-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .515. Votto has 12 multi-hit games in his past 19.

Votto, who went homerless in 30 games between the regular season and postseason last year after returning Sept. 5 from knee surgery, has rediscovered his power after a slow April. He has six homers, including long balls Friday and Saturday at Philly. He reached base a career-high six times Saturday.

Votto (.473) and teammate Shin-Soo Choo (.456) rank first and second in the majors in on-base percentage.

• Choo, a 30-year-old South Korea native represented by Scott Boras, plays center field and bats leadoff with the Reds after previously playing right field with the Cleveland Indians. He is a free agent after the season and likely will draw interest from the Mets. Choo was acquired by Cincinnati on Dec. 11 in a three-team deal. The Reds are only responsible for $3.5 million of his $7.375 million salary this season.

• Three-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips ranks second in the NL with 36 RBIs, one behind leader Troy Tulowitzki. The cleanup hitter benefits from Choo and Votto hitting ahead of him. Phillips has 220 doubles with Cincinnati, tied with Joe Morgan for the franchise record by a second baseman.

• Third baseman Todd Frazier, a Rutgers prospect from Toms River, N.J., snapped a career-high 0-for-19 skid Saturday. He then went 2-for-4 Sunday at Philly. Frazier has pronounced home-road splits: He is hitting .293 with six homers and 19 RBIs in Cincy and .164 with no homers and eight RBIs on the road.

• The Reds on Sunday suffered only their second loss in 18 starts by left fielder Xavier Paul.

• Outfielder Donald Lutz is regarded as the first German player in MLB. While children of American servicemen have been born in Germany and reached MLB, Lutz actually was born in the U.S. but moved with his German mother back to her native country at eight months old after his parents divorced.

• Flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman has suffered consecutive blown saves after converting his first eight opportunities of the season. The second setback came Sunday, when Freddy Galvis and Erik Kratz homered against Chapman for a 3-2 walk-off win by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

• Right fielder Jay Bruce has a 10-game hitting streak, during which he has produced a .390 average (16-for-41) with four homers and 12 RBIs. Bruce had 40 strikeouts and one homer in 115 April at-bats. During the height of his struggles, Bruce had a Twitter rant during which he wrote to critical fans (via blogredmachine.com):

I appreciate all the tweets, good and bad, actually. You guys are what drive the game. I’m obviously not hitting as well as I’d like to, yet….I actually feel sorry for the people on here who feel that it’s necessary to try and put me down on twitter. It really just explains…Further who you are, and there are obviously things in your life that you’re unhappy about and you take it out on me via twitter…I suggest you look into talking with a life coach or something to help you get over whatever you have going on in your life. There is obviously a….lack of something going on, and I hope you guys get it straightened out, because you all sound like idiots Everyone have a good night. Haha.

• Shortstop Zack Cozart was scratched Sunday after becoming sick.

• Left fielder Chris Heisey has been on the DL since April 29 with a strained right hamstring. He tweaked the muscle in a rehab game last Monday.

Mat Latos nearly was 5-0 heading into a Wednesday matchup with 5-0 Matt Harvey. In Latos’ last start, he gave up a ninth-inning triple at Miami and departed with a 2-1 lead. Then Chapman gave up a game-tying triple. Cincinnati won in extra innings.

Toxicology report -- bad MLB contracts

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
8:18
AM ET

US Presswire
Vernon Wells, Juan Uribe and Chone Figgins (l to r) are among the bloated contracts around Major League Baseball.
The Mets’ first task this offseason regarding Jason Bay, and for that matter Johan Santana, likely should be to see if any team has trade interest. A swap appears unlikely, though, even discounting the no-trade clause each possesses.

After all, Bay is hitting .155 with eight homers in 187 at-bats. And he is owed $19 million next season including a 2014 buyout, making it a toxic contract.

Similarly, Santana -- despite the June 1 no-hitter -- finishes the season on the DL after allowing six-plus runs in each of his final five starts. Santana is owed $31 million next season including a ’14 buyout.

Still, if the Mets were to find another team with toxic contracts to swap, who is logical? With the help of reporters around baseball, here’s a look …

THEY’VE GOT POTENTIAL

Angels: “Oh, you've come to the right place,” our friend who covers the Angels says. “The Angels have the deadest of dead weight -- Vernon Wells. The Angels are paying Wells $21 million this year to be their fourth outfielder. They owe him $21 million more in 2013 and again in 2014.”

Blue Jays: Left fielder/first baseman Adam Lind (.240, 10 HR, 40 RBIs) is owed $5 million in 2013. With buyouts of option years, the minimum owed is $7 million. “He cleared waivers at one point this season and the Blue Jays would love to get rid of his contract -- even though it's unlikely that can happen,” a team observer said.

Braves: Second baseman Dan Uggla (.215, 19 HR, 73 RBIs) is owed $39 million over the next three seasons.

Cubs: Alfonso Soriano ($18 million apiece in 2013 and ’14) and Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million next season) are the remaining sizable contracts.

Dodgers: The Dodgers inherited Carl Crawford ($102.5 million through 2017) and Josh Beckett ($31.5 million through 2014) while acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, but both should contribute. The least-productive contract: Juan Uribe, who finally pinch hit Sunday after going unused for nearly a month. Uribe, with one year remaining, is still owed $8 million.

Mariners: Left fielder Chone Figgins (.183, 2 HR, 11 RBIs) is owed $8 million next season. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (.258, 4 HR, 14 RBIs) is owed $7.5 million in 2013 with a buyout of the following season. Says one observer: “Gutierrez has been hurt or sick for most of his deal and might produce if ever healthy. Figgins is literally dead weight.” Bay does live in the offseason in Seattle. And the combined $15.5 million owed to those two are close to Bay's $19 million.

Marlins: Heath Bell has two years, $18 million guaranteed remaining. He also has a $9 million option for 2015 based on games finished -- 55 the previous season or 100 combined in 2013 and '14. (The Mets have been down that route before.)

Pirates: Clint Barmes is signed for 2013 at $5.5 million. He's hitting .228/.266/.325 with eight homers.

Red Sox: John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 ERA) has two years left for a combined $30.5 million, with a 2015 club option at the major league minimum because of a preexisting elbow injury.

Twins: Nick Blackburn (4-9, 7.39 ERA) and middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka -- both relegated to the minors -- are under contract for 2013 and “practically sunken cost.” Blackburn is owed $5.5 million. Nishioka is owed $3.25 million including a 2014 buyout. The Twins likely would never trade Joe Mauer, despite him being owed $23 million annually through 2018.

Yankees: Alex Rodriguez to Flushing? Don't hold your breath. Still, A-Rod is owed $114 million over the next five seasons. Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia could emerge as bad contracts, with $90 million over four seasons and $119 million over five seasons owed, respectively.

(Read full post)

Valdespin complimented by Phillips

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
7:20
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- Reds Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips paid Mets rookie outfield Jordany Valdespin and in-game compliment in the ninth inning of New York’s 3-0 loss Tuesday night.

Phillips had led off the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game with a walk against Mets reliever Manny Acosta. When Ryan Ludwick followed with a single to left, Phillips had his eyes set on going to third base. He picked up speed as he approached second base, took a hard turn but then had to abruptly throw on the brakes and retreat as Valdespin got to the ball and got it back into the infield.

Phillips pointed out to Valdespin, clapped repeatedly and shouted “Good play” to the outfield.

Jay Bruce followed with a game-winning three-run home run but the play wasn’t lost on Phillips.

“He got to the ball better than I expected. I like going first-to-third and was going to do that,” said Phillips. “For him to cut the ball off like that it was very impressive. I had to give him a thumbs-up. I had to clap and tell him good job. When a guy does something positive like that all you can do is give him a nod, tell him 'great job.'

“If someone steals a hit from me, instead of getting mad I give them props.”

Valdespin appreciated the gesture from Phillips.

“I saw him looking at third base so I got the ball and cut him off,” said Valdespin. “He told me 'great cut' and was smiling.”

Series preview: Mets at Reds

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
10:05
AM ET

US Presswire
The Mets face (l to r) Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey during a midweek series at Great American Ball Park.
METS (55-60, third place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (69-46, first place/NL Central)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (3-6, 4.87) vs. RHP Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (15-3, 2.72) vs. RHP Mike Leake (4-7, 4.51), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Matt Harvey (1-3, 3.63) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (10-7, 4.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

Joey Votto (.342, 14 HR, 49 RBIs) underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery July 17 to repair torn meniscus cartilage. He originally suffered the injury June 29, sliding into third base against San Francisco. Votto further injured the knee sliding last Wednesday while working toward a return and had a second, brief procedure two days later to remove floating cartilage. Votto is expected to return before the end of the month. Cincinnati is 19-8 since Votto became sidelined.

• Rutgers product Todd Frazier has manned either first or third base the past 13 games. Third baseman Scott Rolen (back) missed a fourth straight game Sunday because of back spasms. Minus Votto and Rolen, either ex-Met Miguel Cairo mans first and Frazier third, or Frazier mans first and fellow ex-Met Wilson Valdez handles the hot corner.

• Slumping right fielder Jay Bruce was hitless in 13 at-bats before producing a two-run homer Sunday. He had sat the previous two games because of a lack of production. Despite 22 homers this season, Sunday’s long ball was Bruce’s lone long ball in August. He is hitting .223 (21-for-94) since the All-Star break. Bruce, an All-Star, nonetheless has joined Frank Robinson as the only players in Reds history to reach the 20-homer plateau in each of their first five seasons in the majors.


Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Aroldis Chapman has surrendered only one earned run against National League foes this season.


• Left-hander Aroldis Chapman, named to his first All-Star team this season, is a Cy Young candidate along with fellow closer Craig Kimbrel of the Braves. Chapman registered 103 mph with his fastball multiple times during the weekend and has a historic strikeout rate.

Chapman was named MLB’s Delivery Man of the Month for July after going 13-for-13 in converting save chances while striking out 31, allowing six hits and walking two in 14 1/3 scoreless innings. The 13 saves fell one shy of the franchise record for any month, set by Jeff Shaw in September 1997.

Chapman has converted 20 straight save chances, the longest streak by a Red since Rob Dibble in 1991 tied John Franco’s single-season franchise record by converting 23 straight. Ex-Red Francisco Cordero converted 29 straight spanning the 2008 and ’09 seasons. Chapman has a 0.17 ERA against NL teams this season. The Mets tallied an unearned run against him May 17, while Pittsburgh is the lone NL team to produce an earned run. The flame-throwing southpaw allowed seven earned runs in interleague play.

• The Reds acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Royals at the trading deadline for right-hander Juan Carlos Sulbaran and left-hander Donnie Joseph. Broxton had a 2.27 ERA and 23 saves in 27 chances with Kansas City, but has surrendered four runs in four innings spanning five appearances since the deal.

• Catcher Devon Mesoraco returned from a seven-day concussion DL stint Thursday. He has appealed a three-game suspension for bumping ump Chad Fairchild on July 30, the day he suffered the concussion. Dioner Navarro was demoted.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips missed five games last week with a strained left calf, but is hitting .347 (34-for-98) since the All-Star break.

• Cincinnati has used only five starting pitchers this season -- Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake. That’s a modern franchise record. The last major league team that used five starting pitchers wire-to-wire was the 2003 Seattle Mariners, also with Bryan Price as pitching coach. Cincinnati’s streak is expected to end Aug. 18 with a day-night doubleheader.

• The Reds are an MLB-best 22-8 since the All-Star break.

Last series results

Cincinnati won, 3-0, at Citi Field, June 15-17 (AP game recaps)

Reds 7, Mets 3: Jay Bruce hit an inside-the-park homer that left Jason Bay with another concussion and Bronson Arroyo notched his first victory in 5½ weeks. Brandon Phillips added a two-run shot. Reds slugger Joey Votto and Mets star David Wright were both hit by pitches, but neither led to any trouble. Arroyo (3-4) was pulled in the seventh, having allowed Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ third homer in two games and a two-run drive by Scott Hairston. More

Reds 4, Mets 1: Homer Bailey pitched out of trouble for eight innings and Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer. David Wright hit two of four Mets drives that were caught within steps of the wall. One night after Joey Votto and Wright were both hit by pitches, this time it was Bruce and Lucas Duda. But again, no trouble ensued. Bailey was hit hard by the Mets twice last year in his only previous outings against them. This time he allowed six hits and one walk while striking out three to improve to 4-1 in his last six starts. Aroldis Chapman tossed a hitless ninth for his eighth save. Jon Niese (4-3) made one big mistake to Bruce during seven otherwise effective innings. He struck out seven and walked one. More

Reds 3, Mets 1: Second baseman Brandon Phillips made a between-the-legs flip to start a flashy double play and also hit a tiebreaking single, leading Johnny Cueto and the Reds to a sweep and their sixth straight win. Cueto (8-3) overcame an early bout of dizziness and struck out a season-high eight in seven innings. He also doubled for the first extra-base hit of his career. The only run against Cueto came when he issued a bases-loaded walk to Chris Young. Sean Marshall got four outs for his ninth save in 10 chances. It was 3-1 in the sixth when Lucas Duda led off with a single and Ike Davis followed with a hard grounder up the middle that Phillips backhanded. While in full stride, the All-Star tossed the ball with his bare hand between his legs to shortstop Zack Cozart, who made the relay. Phillips' single capped a three-run rally in the fifth, helped by Duda's wild throw from right. More

Rapid Reaction: Reds 4, Mets 1

June, 16, 2012
6/16/12
9:55
PM ET
WHAT IT MEANS: Jon Niese surrendered a three-run homer to Jay Bruce in the first inning and the Mets stranded runners in scoring position three straight frames en route to a 4-1 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday night at Citi Field.

Niese’s line: 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP.

STRANDED: The Mets actually left runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings, including a first-and-third, no-out opportunity in the second. After Scott Hairston doubled and Josh Thole moved him to third with a single, Omar Quintanilla popped out to second baseman Brandon Phillips in shallow right field, Niese’s bunt attempt resulted in a fielder’s choice that retired Thole at second base, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis flied out to end the threat.

The Mets’ lone run came on consecutive first-inning doubles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright.

HIT PARADE: A day after Wright was grazed in the stomach by Sean Marshall, likely in response to Dillon Gee plunking Joey Votto, the teams traded hit-by-pitches again. Niese plunked Bruce in the fourth inning, in the slugger’s next plate appearance after his homer. In the sixth, Homer Bailey drilled Lucas Duda in the back.

WHAT’S NEXT: Chris Young (1-0, 3.38 ERA) will try to prevent the Mets from getting swept for the second time in three series when he opposes Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (7-3, 2.46) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale. The Reds have not swept a three-game series in Queens since 2001, when Steve Trachsel, Al Leiter and Kevin Appier were charged with the losses and future Met Danny Graves saved all three games.

Two series ago, the Mets were swept in the Bronx. They then went to St. Petersburg, Fla., and swept the Rays.

Series preview: Mets vs. Reds

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
10:00
AM ET
Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) right-handers Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (35-29, second place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (35-27, first place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-4, 4.42) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-4, 3.79), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (4-2, 3.69) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (4-4, 4.35), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Chris Young (1-0, 3.38) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (7-3, 2.46), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

Scott Rolen is scheduled for a weekend rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville before being activated Monday. He has been on the DL since May 12 with a left shoulder strain. Rutgers product Todd Frazier has started 26 of 31 games at third base in Rolen's absence, with sporadic appearances otherwise by ex-Met Miguel Cairo. Frazier's seven homers already are the fourth-most by a Reds rookie third baseman, trailing only Grady Hatton (14, 1946), Chris Sabo (11, 1988) and Edwin Encarnacion (eight, 2005).

• Closer Aroldis Chapman (seven saves) allowed his first earned run since last Sept. 10 when he surrendered consecutive doubles to Pittsburgh's Clint Barmes and Michael McKenry last Thursday. The outing also snapped a club-record eight straight appearances of one-plus innings without allowing a hit, topping Danny Graves' previous franchise record (seven in 2001). The 24 appearances without an earned run allowed to open the season topped John Hudek's franchise record (18 games in 1998).

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesJoey Votto is one point off the lead for the top batting average in the National League.


• Manager Dusty Baker turns 63 Friday.

Joey Votto's .362 average ranks second in the National League, one point behind San Francisco's Melky Cabrera and one point ahead of Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz. David Wright is fourth at .358. Votto signed a 10-year extension on April 4 that locks him up through 2023.

Chris Heisey left Thursday afternoon's game in the fifth inning with a groin strain. Heisey had taken over in center field for Drew Stubbs. Stubbs has been sidelined since straining an oblique swinging on June 5, although he has remained on the active roster.

• Rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco, who shares duties with Ryan Hanigan, also was pulled from the series finale against the Indians with discomfort on his side, potentially related to dehydration.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract on April 10. He went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs Thursday. Phillips has four straight multi-hit games and 20 RBIs in his past 17 appearances.

• Shortstop Zack Cozart returned to the lineup Thursday after missing two games with flu-like symptoms.

• The Reds are one of only three teams to use only five starting pitchers this season. The others: the Mariners and Marlins. It marks the longest streak for the Reds without using a sixth starter since 1992, when Keith Brown broke the streak in Game No. 80, after Cincinnati exclusively used Jose Rijo, Tom Browning, Tim Belcher, Greg Swindell and Chris Hammond before that.

• Ex-Red Barry Larkin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 22.

Bronson Arroyo leads all NL pitchers in starts (213) and innings (1,362 1/3) since he joined the Reds in 2006. He has three complete games and five other eight-inning appearances in 12 starts against the Mets.

Last series results

Mets split 1-1 at Citi Field, May 16-17, 2012 (AP game recaps)

Reds 6, Mets 3: Todd Frazier had a big audience -- and a big night in front of it. The former Rutgers player homered twice in front of about three dozen friends and family members and Brandon Phillips hit a tying single off Jon Rauch in the eighth. Pinch hitter Jay Bruce drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly one out after the Reds put together three straight hits off Rauch (3-2), ending with Phillips' single. Rauch retired Chris Heisey on a popup before left-hander Tim Byrdak came on to face the lefty-hitting Bruce. After that, D.J. Carrasco entered and gave up Frazier's second homer on his first pitch. Carrasco was designated for assignment after the game. More

Mets 9, Reds 4: David Wright lined his second double of the game, a tiebreaking drive in the eighth inning that raised his major league-leading average to .411, and the Mets scored nine unanswered runs to top the Reds. Ronny Cedeño’s three-run homer capped a five-run eighth against Logan Ondrusek (3-1), a burst that began with a neatly placed bunt single by backup catcher Rob Johnson with one out. Wright was up next and, after his shot down the left-field line was inches foul, sent a one-hopper off the wall in center for a 5-4 lead. Playing despite a cold that had him sniffling, he went 2-for-2, drew three walks, scored three runs and stole a base. More

US Presswire
The Mets face Mike Leake (left) and Mat Latos (right) during a two-game midweek series against Cincinnati.
METS (20-16, third place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (18-17, second place/NL Central)

Wednesday: LHP Johan Santana (1-2, 2.92) vs. RHP Mike Leake (0-5, 7.11), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (5-1, 3.65) vs. RHP Mat Latos (2-2, 4.54), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

• The right side of Cincinnati’s infield should remain stable for a long time. First baseman Joey Votto signed a 10-year, $225 million extension with the Reds on April 4 that locks him up as least through 2023. Six days later, second baseman Brandon Phillips signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract, through 2017. Votto won the 2010 NL MVP, is a two-time All-Star and earned last year’s Gold Glove at first base. Phillips has been an All-Star the past two seasons and has three Gold Glove awards.


Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Jay Bruce is hitting .365 with seven homers in his past 17 games.


Votto on Sunday became the first player in major league history with three homers in a game including a walk-off grand slam. The final blow came against Washington’s Henry Rodriguez. Votto joined Johnny Bench, Gus Bell, Eric Davis and Aaron Boone as the only players to have multiple three-homer games in their Reds careers. His bat will be turned over to the Hall of Fame, although Votto is not done using it yet. Votto’s first two homers came off Nats starter Edwin Jackson.

• Former Phillie Ryan Madson, who signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds last offseason that includes a 2013 mutual option, will not throw a pitch for the organization this season. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery last month. Sean Marshall, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in December for left-hander Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes, has six saves in the closer’s role.

• The Reds will become the first team since interleague play began to face both New York teams consecutively in the Big Apple. After the two-game series against the Mets, Cincinnati shifts to Yankee Stadium for a weekend interleague series. According to STATS LLC, it will mark the seventh time since interleague play began that a team consecutively has faced opponents in the same market. The Texas Rangers will become No. 8 next month, when they have a combined seven straight games at Oakland and San Francisco.

Aroldis Chapman has tossed 18 1/3 scoreless innings, the most innings logged without allowing a run in the majors among relievers this season.

Mike Leake (0-5, 7.11 ERA) produced his shortest career start Friday at Washington, lasting only three innings while allowing six earned runs. He played at Arizona State with Ike Davis.

• Third baseman Scott Rolen landed on the disabled list Saturday because of left shoulder soreness. Rutgers product Todd Frazier has manned the position in Rolen’s absence, with infielder Mike Costanzo called up to take Rolen’s roster spot.

Zack Cozart became the first rookie shortstop to start on Opening Day for the Reds since Dave Concepcion and Frank Duffy did it consecutively in 1970 and ’71.

• Right fielder Jay Bruce is hitting .365 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his past 17 games.

Mat Latos was acquired from the San Diego Padres on Dec. 17 for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger.

• Ex-Met Miguel Cairo returned May 7 from the disabled list, where he had landed with a left hamstring strain. The Reds also employ a second former Met as a utility infielder: Wilson Valdez. Cairo could see limited action at third base if Frazier underperforms.

Matchups

Santana vs. Reds (career: 4-0, 3.23 ERA)
Miguel Cairo .294, 2 BB, 6 K, 20 PA
Brandon Phillips .263, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 22 PA
Joey Votto .250, 3 BB, 3 K, 15 PA
Wilson Valdez .200, 2 K, 5 PA
Jay Bruce .182, 1 RBI, 3 K, 11 PA
Ryan Ludwick .160, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 9 K, 27 PA
Drew Stubbs .000, 4 PA

Dickey vs. Reds (career: 1-0, 2.70 ERA)
Ryan Ludwick .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 PA
Todd Frazier .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Jay Bruce .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Miguel Cairo .333, 3 PA
Wilson Valdez .250, 1 BB, 3 K, 9 PA
Drew Stubbs .250, 1 RBI, 2 K, 4 PA
Brandon Phillips .200, 1 RBI, 1 K, 5 PA
Ryan Hanigan .000, 1 PA

Leake vs. Mets (career: 0-1, 2.19 ERA)
Justin Turner .667, 1 BB, 4 PA
Ronny Cedeno .364, 1 RBI, 12 PA
Daniel Murphy .333, 3 PA
Andres Torres .286, 1 BB, 4 K, 8 PA
David Wright .167, 2 K, 6 PA
Ike Davis .000, 2 PA

Latos vs. Mets (career: 2-1, 3.00 ERA)
Ronny Cedeno .500, 1BB, 5 PA
Lucas Duda .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Andres Torres .308, 1 RBI, 5 K, 13 PA
David Wright .143, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 8 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 K, 2 PA
Rob Johnson .000, 2 PA

Last series results

Cincinnati won, 2-1, at Citi Field, Sept. 26-28, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Reds 6, Mets 5: Chris Heisey hit a go-ahead, three-run homer just moments after making a diving catch and Cincinnati held off New York. Jose Reyes had three hits for the Mets to take over the NL batting lead, but his baserunning blunder in the eighth inning cost them a chance to tie the game. Reyes lined an RBI double into the right-field corner to cut it to 6-5. Perhaps expecting a throw to the plate that would allow him to take third, Reyes took a wide turn around second -- much too far. The Reds threw behind him and he was easily tagged out. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce singled off Tim Byrdak (2-1) in the seventh before Heisey hit the first pitch from Josh Stinson over the 16-foot fence in left field. Logan Ondrusek (5-5) got one out for the win and Francisco Cordero escaped a jam in the ninth to earn his 36th save.

Reds 5, Mets 4 (13 innings): Jose Reyes hit two solo homers, putting pop into his bid for the NL batting title, but the Reds won on Drew Stubbs' squeeze bunt in the 13th inning. Juan Francisco, who entered after Reds star Brandon Phillips exited early with a strained left quadriceps, hit a tying double with two outs in the ninth. He then hustled for a triple in the 13th and scored on Stubbs' bunt. Justin Turner lined into a double play with the bases loaded to end the game, leaving Reyes on deck. The Reds left the bases loaded in the 10th when pinch-hitter Dontrelle Willis struck out, and left them loaded again in the 11th when Chris Heisey grounded out. Sam LeCure (2-1) got the win and Francisco Cordero held on for his 37th save in 43 chances. Dale Thayer (0-3) took the loss. Both of Reyes' home runs came against Bronson Arroyo. Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run and Joey Votto hit his 29th for the Reds.

Mets 3, Reds 0: After a bunt single in the first inning, Jose Reyes was finished. The strategy paid off: Reyes won the National League batting title that night when Milwaukee's Ryan Braun went 0-for-4. The hit elevated Reyes' average to .337057 and gave him a 2½-point lead over Braun. The Brewers star needed to go 3-for-4 to overtake Reyes. He finished at .332. And that gave the Mets their first batting champion. Fans chanted "Please stay, Jose!" throughout the ninth inning, and he gave a salute to the crowd as he walked off the field. Chants of "Jo-se Re-yes!" continued after he threw his hat into the stands as he disappeared into the home dugout. Meanwhile, Miguel Batista (5-2) pitched a two-hitter for his 11th complete game -- and his first since July 19, 2006, for Arizona. He allowed a one-out single to Edgar Renteria in the first and leadoff double to Chris Heisey in the second. Queens product Mike Baxter hit his first big league homer, a two-run drive off Edinson Volquez (5-7) in the sixth. Nick Evans singled in a run in the fourth. The Mets, beset with financial issues, traded Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez during the season, lost David Wright for several months with a back injury and finished their third straight losing season at 77-85. The Mets announced a crowd of 28,816, giving them a final attendance of 2,352,596, a drop of about 7 percent from 2010 and their lowest total since ’04.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Reds 2

July, 25, 2011
7/25/11
10:17
PM ET
Recap | Box Score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Daniel Murphy delivered a tiebreaking double off reliever Logan Ondrusek and Jason Bay followed with an RBI double -- his first two-bagger since May 19 -- to cap a four-run seventh inning that lifted the Mets to a 4-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. The Mets returned to .500 at 51-51.

ZEROES: R.A. Dickey and Mike Leake had a scoreless duel into the sixth, when Brandon Phillips’ double scored ex-Met Miguel Cairo. Phillips now has 32 RBIs in 33 career games against the Mets, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Mets stormed back a half-inning later. Jose Reyes delivered a one-out single, moved to third on a bloop single by Justin Turner to right field, and -- after left-hander Bill Bray replaced Leake -- scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.

Turner had been deprived of driving in Reyes himself because first base ump Laz Diaz ruled Turner’s shot to the right-field corner was foul. Replays suggested otherwise, but Reyes nonetheless went first-to-third when Turner followed with the bloop over Phillips’ head at second base.

With the score tied at 1 after Beltran’s sacrifice fly, David Wright singled for his eighth hit in four games since returning from the disabled list. Murphy then had a two-run double, and Bay followed with a double that drove in Murphy and gave the Mets a 4-1 lead. Bay had not produced an extra-base hit since his two-homer game July 5 at Dodger Stadium.

Dickey was pulled after surrendering a two-out, run-scoring single to Drew Stubbs in the seventh that moved Cincinnati within 4-2, after Murphy cut off the throw to the plate. The knuckleballer ultimately was charged with two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings, although Tim Byrdak had to get him off the hook from additional damage.

After Pedro Beato walked Cairo, Byrdak entered and struck out Jay Bruce to strand two runners. Byrdak, with the Houston Astros last season, had served up the game-deciding homer to Bruce that clinched the NL Central title for Cincinnati.

Dickey earned his first win since June 28, after three no-decisions and a loss.

THAT’S A RELIEF: A day after Bobby Parnell took the loss in Miami, surrendering a pair of runs, Terry Collins again turned to him in the eighth, this time trying to protect a 4-2 lead. Parnell struck out Phillips and walked Fred Lewis, setting up a matchup with reigning MVP Joey Votto as a pinch-hitter and as the tying run. Votto, who had been given a day off by Reds manager Dusty Baker, flied out to left field. Parnell then completed the scoreless frame by retiring Rutgers product Todd Frazier, a member of the 1998 Toms River Little League World Series winners, on a groundout to second base.

Jason Isringhausen then notched his 296th career save. The first out of the ninth came when Murphy knocked down Paul Janish's grounder while on the ground with his bare hand and then dove for the base in time. But Cincinnati loaded the bases, beginning with Wright's third error in four games since returning from the DL. Phillips then struck out to end the game.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jon Niese (9-8, 3.76 ERA) opposes right-hander Johnny Cueto (6-3, 1.98) in Game 2 of the four-game series, on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.297 9 51 69
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 22
RBIL. Duda 66
RD. Murphy 69
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 145