New York Mets: Brett Gardner

Subway Series recap: Mets/Yanks split

May, 16, 2014
May 16
In the end, everyone got a little something from this year’s Subway Series. The New York Mets won two games, the Yankees won two games, and both teams got positive glimpses at their futures.

Among the statistical highlights:

Home not so sweet for either team
The Mets lost consecutive games by shutout again, failing to net more than four hits in either game. The last time they had that happen in their home ballpark was in 1999. The only other instances before that came in 1963, when it once happened in three straight games, than happened in two other pairs of consecutive games.

The Yankees lost consecutive home games despite scoring at least seven runs for the second time in as many seasons (they had a streak of three straight in 2013). From 1933 to 2012, that never happened to the Bronx Bombers.

The kids were alright
Four young pitchers looked pretty good in this series -- two from each team.

Dellin Betances struck out six Mets in 2 1/3 innings in Thursday’s win. That gives him 51 strikeouts in 30 career innings pitched, which Elias notes is the second-most of any pitcher to debut in the modern era (Craig Kimbrel had 54). That’s a rate of 15.3 per nine innings. Betances got all six strikeouts with his breaking ball. Opponents have 41 outs (32 by strikeout) and only five baserunners against that pitch this season.

Chase Whitley pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the series finale and did well to keep the ball away from Mets hitters. 53 of his 74 pitches were on the outer half of the plate or off the outside corner. Eleven of his outs came on pitches to that area.

Whitley is the second Yankees pitcher since the end of World War II to go at least 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his debut. The other was Sam Militello against the Red Sox in 1992 (seven innings of one-hit ball).

Jacob deGrom allowed one run in seven innings and got the first hit by a Mets pitcher this season (snapping their 0 for 64 start). He became the first pitcher in Mets history to allow no more than one run over seven innings who took the loss in his debut (a captip to my colleague, Jason Starrett, who pointed out that the last Mets starter to allow one run to lose his debut was current Mets broadcaster Ron Darling in 1983).

deGrom averaged 93 mph with his fastball, which peaked at 95. He threw the pitch for strikes 66 percent of the time.

Rafael Montero allowed three runs in six innings in his Mets debut. He was particularly tough on right-handed hitters, holding them hitless in eight at-bats. He also retired 10 of the 12 hitters against whom he got a two-strike count.

Aaron Boone described Montero’s secondary stuff as work-in-progress on the ESPN Wednesday night telecast. He threw 13 of 34 changeups and breaking balls for strikes.

So long, farewell
Derek Jeter went 4 for 15 with three walks in the series and finished his career with a .364 batting average against the Mets. He finished with 131 hits in 88 games against the Mets, one hit shy of averaging 1.5 hits per game against them for his career.

Series MVPs
It’s fairly easy to make an argument for Masahiro Tanaka or Yangervis Solarte as the most impressive performers in this series (Katie Sharp and I recapped their game on Wednesday here).

But also worthy of props on the Yankees side was Brett Gardner. Not only did Gardner go 6 for 17 with a grand slam and five RBIs. He also saw a whopping 98 pitches in his 19 plate appearances, better than five per plate appearance.

The Mets best hitters in the series were Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson, who combined for nine hits and nine RBI. Granderson took advantage of pitches where he likes them. All four of his hits (including both homers) came on pitches on the outer-third of the plate or off the outside corner.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 1, Mets 0

May, 15, 2014
May 15
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom had a stellar big league debut, yet with the Mets’ bats familiarly silent, the 25-year-old right-hander came away with a loss.

Alfonso Soriano’s two-out, run-scoring double to left-center against deGrom in the seventh broke a scoreless tie, and the Yankees beat the Mets 1-0 Thursday before an announced crowd of 40,133 to earn a split of the four-game Subway Series.

After producing a combined 21 runs in a pair of wins in the Bronx, the Mets (19-21) returned to Citi Field and were shut out for two straight days. Combined with consecutive shutouts May 6-7 in Miami, the Mets have been blanked four times in their past nine games.

The Mets mustered only three hits in a combined shutout effort by debuting Chase Whitley, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and David Robertson. DeGrom, a former college shortstop and .176 career minor league hitter, had one of those hits. Betances and Warren combined to strike out seven straight Mets during the sixth through eighth innings. The seven straight K's by the Mets matched a franchise record, last done Aug. 11, 2010, against the Colorado Rockies, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Robertson retired David Wright on a groundout to shortstop to strand runners on the corners and end the eighth en route to a four-out save.

Kathy Willens/Associated PressFirst-base coach Tom Goodwin congratulates Jacob deGrom after the rookie produced a hit in his first big league at-bat -- and the first hit by a Mets pitcher this season.

DeGrom’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 91 pitches (57 strikes).

DeGrom became the first debuting starting pitcher in franchise history to be charged with a loss in a game in which he logged at least seven innings and limited the opponent to one run.

The last debuting MLB starting pitcher to get charged with a loss in a game in which he tossed at least seven innings and limited the opponent to one run was Jimmy Haynes with the Baltimore Orioles against Boston on Sept. 13, 1995.

Pitching in a scoreless game in the seventh, deGrom had a streak of 11 straight batters retired snapped when he walked Mark Teixeira with one out. Next, with the Mets again playing an overshift against Brian McCann, the Mets attempted an inning-ending 4-5-3 double play. But Wright, attempting the turn at second base, made a low and offline throw to first base, and Lucas Duda was unable to scoop it.

With McCann safe and the inning prolonged, Soriano followed with the decisive triple.

Duda and Wright had turned a nifty 3-5-3 double play on McCann to end Monday’s game in the Bronx.

It’s a hit: In his first big league plate appearance, the former college shortstop deGrom snapped an 0-for-64 drought by Mets pitchers. That was the longest futility streak to begin a season by a pitching staff in MLB history and had tied the 1946 Cleveland Indians for the second-longest drought ever, regardless of point in the season. The 1914 Indians, who went 0-for-92, remain the record holders.

DeGrom also delivered a sacrifice bunt in his second and final plate appearance. That placed runners at second and third with two outs in the fifth against Whitley, who was making his big league debut for the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi inserted reliever Betances to face Eric Young Jr, who grounded out to third base to strand the two baserunners as the game continued in a scoreless tie.

Farewell, Jeets: The Mets played a video tribute to retiring Derek Jeter before his 88th and final regular-season Subway Series game.

Jeter then went 0-for-4. That included sending a shot back at deGrom in the third inning with two runners aboard and one out. DeGrom snared the liner and doubled Brett Gardner off first base to escape the jam.

Jeter’s final career regular-season statistics against the Mets: .364 (131-for-360) with 13 homers and 44 RBIs. Jeter has a higher career average against only the Pittsburgh Pirates (.417 in 36 at-bats) and Colorado Rockies (.368 in 34 at-bats).

Among players with 100 career at-bats against the Mets, only Rico Carty (.380) and Don Slaught (.376) had higher averages.

Welcome back: Newly promoted Josh Edgin tossed only one pitch in his season debut. After inheriting runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth, he coaxed a flyout to left field from Jacoby Ellsbury.

What’s next: The Mets head to Washington D.C. for a weekend series against the Washington Nationals. Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA) opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. series opener. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are all on the DL for the Nats.

Duda's Amazin' grab caps wild Subway ride

May, 13, 2014
May 13
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda saved the day in the Subway Series opener.

With Brian McCann's sharp grounder seemingly poised to scoot into right field for an RBI single that would have moved the tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth, Duda dived to his right and snagged the ball.

He then initiated an interesting double play for the final two outs of a 9-7 win against the Yankees in the Bronx.

“He hit the ball pretty hard, and I just got lucky,” insisted Duda, who also had a game-tying, broken-bat single in the eighth. “I stuck my glove out and that was it. It was pretty tough. He hit the ball pretty well. Like I said, I just got lucky and stuck my glove out and snagged it.”

Because the Mets were playing an overshift on McCann, David Wright ended up being the middleman on the 3-6-3 double play. Wright has not been a regular shortstop since high school but looked like a natural at the position on the turn.

“I enjoy it. I take some ground balls over there occasionally because I know we shift [on] so many guys,” Wright said. “I’m kind of glad I did, because I feel a little more comfortable over there when it’s the bottom of the ninth and first and third with one out. I’m glad I take some extra work over there.”

Kyle Farnsworth got into trouble in the ninth, allowing two baserunners before being bailed out by the double play.

Terry Collins said he did not consider using Jenrry Mejia for the ninth.

Mejia, in his return to the bullpen, had recorded the final out of the seventh and also tossed a scoreless eighth.

“I knew that question was coming, as it always does,” Collins said. “... His first night after three days' rest and throwing 100 pitches, I thought an inning-and-a-third, he got us to the ninth, is all he was going to do.

“I’ll tell you, he handled the conversation we had today extremely well,” the manager continued about Mejia's reassignment to relief. “He said, ‘I’ll do the best I can. I want to start. But I want to pitch in the big leagues. This is my role.’ He did an outstanding job. ... You know, we’ve got to be careful with him. We’ve got to make sure he gets the proper rest and we don’t overdo it with him, but he was very good.”

Said Mejia: “In 2010 I was in the bullpen. It’s not going to be that hard, because I know how to prepare and be ready.”

If there was a concern Monday, it was the continued struggles of Bartolo Colon, who allowed seven runs (six earned) in 5⅔ innings. He surrendered a grand slam to Brett Gardner -- the eighth homer he has allowed in 49⅓ innings this season.

“There’s still too much season left to go,” Colon said through an interpreter after his ERA climbed to 5.84. “I’m not worried yet.”

Said Collins: “I just see him make some mistakes in the middle of the plate, which he normally doesn’t do.”

The Mets slugged a season-high four homers, including a decisive two-run shot by Chris Young in the eighth.

“Part of being here,” Collins said with a laugh, referring to the friendly Yankee Stadium dimensions compared with the Mets’ home ballpark. “The Chris Young ball is not high enough to get out of our place, I don’t think. This atmosphere creates intensity and it creates focus.”

“In this ballpark, the game is never over,” Wright said. “There’s no lead that’s safe here.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 9, Yankees 7

May, 12, 2014
May 12
NEW YORK -- True New Yorkers were celebrating Monday in the Bronx.

Lucas Duda delivered a broken-bat, run-scoring single that plated Eric Campbell and evened the score, and Chris Young followed with a two-run homer later in the eighth inning as the New York Mets beat the New York Yankees 9-7 before an announced crowd of 46,517 in the Bronx.

The Mets (18-19) slugged a season-high four home runs -- by Travis d’Arnaud, Curtis Granderson, Eric Young Jr. and C.Y. They won for only the third time in their past 11 games.

Kyle Farnsworth got into a one-out jam in the ninth with runners on the corners, but Brian McCann grounded into a game-ending double play, initiated by a diving stop by Duda and turned at second base by David Wright because of the overshift.

Penned: Jenrry Mejia, reassigned to the bullpen before the game, made his 2014 relief debut and earned the win.

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty ImagesDerek Jeter and David Wright share a yuk at the end of the first inning.

Mejia inherited a runner on second with two outs in the seventh inning and the Mets trailing 7-6. He struck out Alfonso Soriano on three pitches.

Then, staked to a 9-7 lead after the Mets’ three-run eighth, Mejia allowed a leadoff single to Yangervis Solarte. Kelly Johnson followed by grounding into a double play. Brian Roberts singled, but Mejia rallied by striking out Brett Gardner.

Not his day: Bartolo Colon surrendered a second-inning grand slam to Gardner and eventually was charged with seven runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision. In his eight starts, Colon has allowed seven or more runs three times. His ERA has ballooned to 5.84.

A half-inning after Granderson slugged a game-tying two-run homer, the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-4 lead. The final run charged to Colon scored when d’Arnaud threw to second base on Gardner’s steal attempt. The throw went into center field, allowing Roberts to trot home with an unearned run.

True New Yorker: Granderson received a tame mixture of boos and cheers in his return to Yankee Stadium as a visitor -- although it’s hard to tell which set of fans was offering which reaction.

The friendly confines of Yankee Stadium proved a welcome sight. Granderson launched a two-run homer in the sixth against Hiroki Kuroda that evened the score at 4.

During a pregame interview, Granderson said his “True New Yorker” statement -- made when he was introduced during the winter meetings -- was not something cooked up by marketing people to launch a campaign the Mets eventually would adopt during the 2014 season.

“It was something that I heard from people around the city,” Granderson said. “It was me repeating what I had heard, what people said.”

Granderson’s original December quote: “A lot of the people I’ve met in New York have always said that true New Yorkers are Mets fans. So I’m excited to get a chance to see them all out there.”

The Mets recently sent an email blast to fans touting that slogan with a request for them to sign a loyalty oath.

Sparkplug: E.Y. Jr., who essentially had been benched once Juan Lagares returned from the disabled list on May 1, has made the most of back-to-back starts. He has produced consecutive three-hit games and scored twice and drove in two runs Monday.

E.Y. Jr. pulled the Mets within 7-6 with a two-run homer in the seventh against Alfredo Aceves, who had been speculated as the Thursday starter in place of CC Sabathia. Right-hander Chase Whitley could make his MLB debut in Thursday’s Subway Series finale instead of Aceves.

E.Y.’s last homer came on Aug. 2, 2013.

With the Mets facing a left-hander Tuesday and the designated hitter in use, Terry Collins likely will be able to use all four of his primary outfielders, including E.Y. Jr., in the starting lineup.

Happy birthday: Ex-Yankee/Met Yogi Berra celebrated his 89th birthday at the game.

What’s next: Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.35 ERA) opposes left-hander Vidal Nuno (1-0, 5.47) in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game in the Bronx.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Yankees 1

May, 30, 2013

Get out the brooms. For the first time since the Subway Series began in 1997, the Mets have swept a season series from the Yankees.

Dillon Gee struck out a career-high 12 and earned his first win since May 1, and Marlon Byrd produced a two-run homer as the Mets beat the Yankees 3-1 Thursday night in the Bronx.

The Mets won all four games against the Yankees -- officially sweeping two series, since the borough changed midway through the four-game affair. Overall, the Mets (22-29) have won a season-high five straight.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Dillon Gee struck out a career-high 12 in 7⅓ innings.

Gee, in danger of losing his rotation spot in mid-June when Zack Wheeler is expected to be promoted, limited the Yankees to Robinson Cano’s third-inning solo homer. He retired the next 15 batters he faced before departing with one out in the eighth. He struck out the last five batters he faced.

Gee’s final line: 7⅓ IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K, 1 HR. He was pulled at 88 pitches despite the success.

Gee completed six innings for only the third time in 11 starts this season and for the first time since April 26.

Through this last turn of the rotation, Mets starters limited the Atlanta Braves and Yankees to eight earned runs in 35⅓ innings over a five-game span -- good for a 2.04 ERA.

Left-hander Scott Rice, taking over for Gee with one out in the eighth, retired Ichiro Suzuki on a foul pop and struck out Brett Gardner. Bobby Parnell then earned his ninth save.

Byrd’s homer against left-hander Vidal Nuno in the second inning gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. He has homered in consecutive games for the sixth time in his career and first since May 18-19, 2011, with the Chicago Cubs. John Buck had a run-scoring infield single in the eighth. The Mets won despite mustering only four hits.

Q E-6: Omar Quintanilla had a Ruben Tejada-like season debut with the Mets. Replacing Tejada, who landed on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain, Quintanilla had the first grounder to him roll through his legs. That handed Gee a first-and-second, no-out jam in the second inning, from which the right-hander wriggled free.

At the plate, Quintanilla went 0-for-2 with a walk.

What’s next: The Mets open a three-game series at Miami on Friday at 7:10 p.m. Shaun Marcum (0-5, 5.77 ERA), still in search of his first Mets win, is expected to oppose right-hander Jacob Turner, who will make his season debut after 10 starts at Triple-A New Orleans.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 2, Yankees 1

May, 28, 2013

Mariano Rivera is mortal. And the Mets are unbeaten in the Subway Series.

Rivera, who entered his final regular-season game at Citi Field with a one-run lead in the ninth, surrendered a leadoff double to Daniel Murphy, followed by a game-tying single to David Wright, sparing Matt Harvey the cruelest of losses.

Wright advanced to second on an error by Brett Gardner and scored the winning run when Lucas Duda followed with a game-winning single.

Elsa/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey received a tough-luck no-decision Tuesday in his first Subway Series game.

Mets 2, Yankees 1.

Rivera had been 18 for 18 in save conversions, the second-longest streak of his career to begin a season.

The Mets matched a season high with their third straight win.

The paid crowd was announced at 31,877 -- beating the previous night for the new record low for a Mets-Yankees matchup.

Harvey day: Harvey rose to the occasion, just as he did in a hyped matchup against Stephen Strasburg in mid-April. At least he got a no-decision with the comeback.

It has been an unfair turn through the rotation for Mets starting pitchers. Jeremy Hefner, Shaun Marcum and Jonathon Niese all received no-decisions despite combining to allow five runs in 20 innings. Now, Harvey received a no-decision with a stellar line, too (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K). He threw 113 pitches.

Three times this season a Mets pitcher has struck out 10 or more, walked none, pitched seven innings and limited the opponent to two runs or fewer and failed to get a win (also Harvey on May 7 and Marcum on Sunday).

By getting spared the defeat, Harvey tied Armando Reynoso's franchise record for most consecutive starts without a loss to begin a season (11 in 1997), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

After a 91-minute rain delay at the start, then Rivera throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to John Franco, Harvey took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning as he matched zeroes with Hiroki Kuroda.

Harvey, who grew up a Yankees fan in Connecticut, allowed a leadoff single to Gardner in that inning. Marlon Byrd, in the lineup because he was 3-for-6 in his career against Kuroda, muffed picking up the grounder in right field, and Gardner advanced to second base on the error.

With two outs, Lyle Overbay's single up the middle allowed Gardner to score from third base on what was ruled an earned run as the Yankees took the 1-0 lead.

(Like when Harvey was charged with an earned run in Chicago, the official scorer had the option to make the run unearned and chose otherwise. This time, the scorer ruled -- absent Byrd's error -- that Gardner would have advanced to second on Robinson Cano's subsequent groundout to first base and scored from second on Overbay's two-out single.)

The disparate fielding competencies of the two teams continued to be on display the following half-inning. With Ruben Tejada on first base in the bottom of the sixth after the Yankees had taken the 1-0 lead, Gardner took away a sure extra-base hit from Murphy at the wall in center. Gardner had robbed Murphy of a homer by reaching over the wall a night earlier.

Outta here: Tejada was eventually picked off second base to end the sixth. Manager Terry Collins was then ejected for the second time this season after an animated argument with second-base umpire Adrian Johnson that likely scored the manager points among the fan base for passion. Johnson originally made a safe motion before properly calling Tejada out.

Ike watch: Ike Davis might have delayed a demotion with Sunday's tiebreaking single, but he has since reverted to his rut and is clearly in imminent danger. Davis struck out twice and was hitless in three at-bats Tuesday. He is 0-for-6 with five strikeouts in two games against the Yankees.

What's next: The Mets attempt to snap a pair of streaks Wednesday when the Subway Series shifts to the Bronx. The Mets are 0-10 the game following a Harvey start and 0-9 when Hefner starts this season, even though that hasn't exactly been Hefner's fault of late. Hefner (0-5, 4.76 ERA) opposes right-hander David Phelps (3-2, 3.96 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.

If the Mets lose, Hefner would share a franchise record for the most consecutive losses in one starting pitcher's games to begin a season. The Mets lost Anthony Young's first 10 starts in 1993.

Morning Briefing: Harvey Show vs. Yanks

May, 28, 2013

Elsa/Getty Images
David Wright celebrates the Mets' 2-1 win Monday with Ike Davis.
FIRST PITCH: Growing up in Connecticut, where fans divide their allegiances between New England and New York sports, Matt Harvey picked the Patriots, Rangers and Yankees as his teams.

Boyhood idol Paul O’Neill is long retired, but Harvey -- who used to attend Subway Series game at Shea Stadium -- will get to face the Bombers for the first time tonight. Harvey (5-0, 1.93 ERA) opposes Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.67) as the Mets attempt to win three straight games for the first time since posting a season-high three-game winning streak April 6-8.

Joe Girardi said he has admired Harvey since viewing his major league debut last July 26. Girardi said he called a friend who is a Mets fan after watching Harvey strike out 11 in 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks to relay how special a pitcher the Mets had promoted.

Harvey is bidding to improve to 6-0.

The best start in franchise history is 10-0 by Terry Leach in 1987. The only better starts this millennium: Dillon Gee opened 2011 with a 7-0 record and R.A. Dickey was 6-0 in 2010.

If Harvey is spared a loss, he will tie Armando Reynoso’s team record for most consecutive starts without a loss to begin a season (11 in 1997), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Harvey enters tonight’s outing tied with six others at 10 starts, including Dwight Gooden (1988) and Kenny Rogers (1999).

Tuesday’s news reports:

Adam Rubin
Daniel Murphy delivered Monday's decisive hit.

Daniel Murphy delivered a two-out, tiebreaking single in the eighth against David Robertson to lift the Mets to a 2-1 Memorial Day win in the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. Murphy had been robbed of a two-run homer in the sixth when center fielder Brett Gardner reached over the wall to take away his shot.

The Yankees had been 22-0 when leading after six innings.

David Wright evened the score at 1 with a homer against Phil Hughes in the seventh. Wright produced his first long ball at Citi Field since the final home game of 2012, snapping a 27-game drought. He now has nine career homers against the Yankees, passing Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd for the most in franchise history by a Met.

Read more on Wright in Newsday.

Jordany Valdespin, who walked as a pinch hitter, scored the tiebreaking run on Murphy’s single. Terry Collins noted Valdespin showed discipline in that plate appearance -- not chasing pitches out of the strike zone, which he had been doing only a week earlier.

Jonathon Niese became the latest Mets starter to get a hard-luck no-decision. Niese limited the Yankees to a sixth-inning run, when Gardner had a leadoff triple and scored on Laynce Nix’s single. The southpaw’s line: 7 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

Niese’s performance comes on the heels of Shaun Marcum’s no-decision Sunday night despite limiting the Atlanta Braves to two runs in seven innings. Jeremy Hefner had the identical fate Friday despite allowing two runs in six innings.

Read more on Niese in Newsday.

One down note: Ike Davis went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts -- a sobering encore to Sunday’s tiebreaking two-run single. A demotion remains distinctly possible in the coming days.

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

• The paid attendance of 32,911 was by far the lowest in the history of the Subway Series, which began in 1997. The previous low had been 36,372 at Shea Stadium on June 28, 2003, when the afternoon game was played in the Bronx and a rainout makeup was played in Flushing in the evening. The only other sub-40,000 attendance also was a rainout makeup: 37,305 for Game 1 of a split doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on June 27, 2004.

The historically low demand also is reflected in ticket prices. Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:

Even with phenom Matt Harvey pitching for the Mets on Tuesday, the average ticket on the secondary market for Tuesday's game costs $112.49. Last season, the average ticket on the secondary market for the three Subway Series games at Citi Field all cost more than $120. (In fairness, last year's games were all on the weekend.)

The situation in the Bronx looks even worse, with the two games at Yankee Stadium commanding the cheapest average ticket price for any Subway Series game in the past four years. The average seat for Wednesday's game costs $76.40 -- less than tickets for the teams' two spring-training games in April 2012 ($77.99 at the Yankees' home in Tampa, $77.79 at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie).

Read more in Newsday.

• Murphy flipped his bat after delivering the game-deciding RBI single, but Collins and Murphy dismissed it as exuberance over a desperately needed hit for a struggling team. Collins did not think it was akin to Valdespin’s homer admiration in a lopsided game against the Pittsburgh Pirates that resulted in retaliation the following day. Girardi dismissed Murphy’s expression as an issue.

Bobby Parnell, despite an Ichiro Suzuki four-pitch walk, rolled through the ninth for his eighth save. Both of Parnell’s blown saves this season involved defensive misadventures behind him -- Ruben Tejada’s eighth-inning throwing error in Colorado on April 16, then Collin Cowgill breaking the wrong way on a fly ball in an eventual 15-inning loss in Miami on April 29.

Writes Bob Klapisch in the Record:

Parnell’s 0.90 WHIP is lower than the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and better than eight of the NL’s top 10 saves leaders. But you won’t get Parnell to brag about his success. To the contrary, he’s been humbled by the ugly seasons in the past and in close contact with his darker angels.

Read more in Newsday.

• The Mets will recognize retiring Mariano Rivera pregame today. Rivera met with Mets employees and select fans in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda on Monday afternoon. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• After seven straight games with Murphy in the leadoff spot, Tejada assumed that role Monday. Mets leadoff batters entered the series with a league-worst .266 on-base percentage. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Adam Rubin
Zack Wheeler surrendered a pair of homers Monday.

• Zack Wheeler was charged with five runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks in an 80-pitch performance spanning four innings. He surrendered a pair of homers. The Mets are expected to wait until mid-June, once the Super 2 deadline has passed, to promote Wheeler.

"In my opinion, he's ready," Las Vegas manager Wally Backman told Brian Costa in the Journal. "It is nice to have him so you can season him a little bit more. We want him to go there and be successful. But, in my opinion, he's done everything he has to do to get to where he needs to go.”

Contrasting Harvey and Wheeler to Costa, Backman added: "Harvey is a little more outspoken right now. Zack is a little more quiet, but he definitely has the competitiveness in him. It is two different personalities, but I believe they're going to compete against each other. I think Zack has the same thought process about being the best."

Said Wheeler: “I think I'm ready, but it is really not my decision."

Read more in Newsday.

• Catcher Francisco Pena had two homers and four RBIs in Las Vegas’ 9-7 comeback win. Pena is hitting .385 since making his Triple-A debut 10 days ago. With Andrew Brown and Zach Lutz both out with oblique injuries, Brandon Hicks played first base for a second straight day, while Josh Satin served as DH. Neither Hicks (.130) nor Satin (.294) is on the 40-man roster.

Josh Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch in the ninth as Binghamton beat Portland, 6-5. Gabriel Ynoa allowed one run in eight innings to improve to 6-2 as Savannah beat Greenville, 4-1.

Read the full minor league recap here.

• Michael Salfino in the Journal notes the winning percentage differential at the time of the Subway Series is the biggest ever between the Mets and Yankees.

• The best ERA among former UNC teammates in the Subway Series belongs to the Yankees’ Adam Warren (1.14 ERA), not Harvey, notes Daniel Barbarisi in the Journal. “Well, he’s thrown a few more innings than I have,” Warren told Barbarisi.

• Read more on Harvey facing the Yankees in Newsday.

• Analyst Keith Hernandez was cited by Richard Sandomir in the Times for referring to a broken bat as a “dead soldier” on the Memorial Day telecast. An SNY spokesman told Sandomir: “We’ll address the matter with Keith. It was an honest mistake and a poor choice of words.” Read more in the Daily News.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report discusses which Mets could be peddled before the trading deadline.

BIRTHDAYS: Ex-Met/Yankee Ryota “Rocket Boy” Igarashi turns 34. He is pitching for Softbank in Japan. … Retired catcher Mike DeFelice, who also managed two years at Kingsport in the Mets system, is 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: After taking Game 1, and with Matt Harvey on the mound Tuesday, how confident are you the Mets will have bragging rights when this season’s reduced, four-game Subway Series is completed?

Series preview: Mets at Yankees

June, 8, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the Subway Series.
METS (32-26, third place/NL East) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (31-25, second place/AL East)

Friday: LHP Johan Santana (3-2, 2.38) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.82), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jon Niese (4-2, 4.11) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.78), 1:05 p.m. ET

Yankees short hops

• With a blood clot issue behind him, Mariano Rivera is due to undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL. David Robertson, who briefly took over the closing role before suffering a left oblique strain, may begin a rehab assignment soon. Rafael Soriano now is effectively handling the closing role. Since Rivera became Yankees closer in 1997, the most saves in a season by another Yankees pitcher were Steve Karsay’s 12 in 2002. Soriano now has eight.

• Ex-Met Ryota Igarashi, a waiver claim by the Yankees from Toronto, has been promoted from Triple-A. He replaces long man Freddy Garcia, another ex-Met, who went on bereavement leave because of his grandfather’s death in Venezuela. Igarashi was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA and had 11 strikeouts in five innings spanning three appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Andy Pettitte, back from retirement, enters the Subway Series having limited Tampa Bay to two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his most recent outing. Pettitte -- who turns 40 next Friday -- has struck out 32 batters in 35 2/3 innings over five starts while producing a 2.78 ERA.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Robinson Cano has six homers in his past 18 games.

Derek Jeter is 0-for-his-last-13. That is the captain’s longest streak since going hitless in 14 straight at-bats from May 14-17, 2011. Jeter (.319) nonetheless is second in MLB with 75 hits, tied with Miguel Cabrera and trailing only Melky Cabrera (87). Jeter leads in the balloting among American League shortstops in the first All-Star Game voting totals announced. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson rank second at their positions, which would make Granderson a starting outfielder.

Phil Hughes tossed a complete game against Detroit, allowing one run, in his most recent start.

• Granderson has played every inning for the Yankees this season. The only other players to have logged every defensive inning for their teams have played this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Dan Uggla, Adam Jones and Starlin Castro. Granderson did go 0-for-5 and matched a career high with four strikeouts Thursday against Tampa Bay. He has 22 homers against left-handed pitching since the start of last season, the most in the majors during that span.

• The Yankees have the best all-time winning percentage in interleague play (.592, 158-109). The Chicago White Sox rank second at .586, followed by the Los Angeles Angels (.569), Boston Red Sox (.567) and Minnesota Twins (.562).

• The Yankees have struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting .217 (103-for-474) this season. Cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez has only 22 RBIs in 207 at-bats in 2012. Despite errors by A-Rod and Nick Swisher on Thursday, the Yankees have been solid in the field, though. Their 22 errors are the fewest in the majors.

Hiroki Kuroda, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal during the offseason, has been wildly uneven, despite allowing two earned runs of fewer in seven of 11 starts. He has been prone to the long ball, having surrendered 11 homers in 68 1/3 innings. From 2008 to 2010 with the Dodgers, Kuroda allowed an average of 13.3 homers per season. Kuroda has a 7.36 ERA in the first inning. Only three current American League pitchers have more losses against the Mets than Kuroda’s five -- Carl Pavano (seven), Derek Lowe (six) and Kevin Millwood (six).

• Teixeira visited an ear, nose and throat specialist to determine the cause of a cough that won’t go away. The verdict: Texeira has residual nerve damage to a vocal cord from a bronchial illness. Teixeira, despite a slow start, has 10 homers.

Brett Gardner was unable to play in a rehab game with Class A Tampa on Thursday because of a cranky elbow, all but ensuring he will remain on the DL through the Subway Series. Lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez, in his first season as a Yankee, at 40 years old, has stepped into the primarily left-field role and flashed power (9 homers in 153 ABs). Righty-hitting Jayson Nix picks up some starts against southpaws.

• Cano has been streaky. He has six homers in his past 18 games. He had only three in his first 38 games.

• Catcher Russell Martin, who delivered a grand slam Tuesday against the Rays, homered for the second time in the series Thursday. He is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with seven RBIs in his past nine games. That has lifted his average from .173 to .210.

Last series results

Yankees won, 2-1, at Citi Field, July 1-3, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Yankees 5, Mets 1: Filling in for injured Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez got the big hits and made a clutch throw. Nunez had an RBI single among his career-high four hits and threw out Jose Reyes at third base on a favorable call for the Yankees. Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double, and Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano added RBI doubles. Ivan Nova (8-4) and six relievers stifled a Mets offense that scored 54 runs in its past five games. Jon Niese (7-7) was pitching for the first time since leaving his start June 25, 2011 with a rapid heartbeat. After giving up three runs in the first, he shut down the Yankees through six innings. More

Yankees 5, Mets 2: Eduardo Nunez homered in his latest big game at the plate and Bartolo Colon came off the DL to pitch six scoreless innings. Subbing at shortstop, Nunez is 7-for-8 with a homer and three doubles in the first two games of the series. Jose Reyes departed after two innings with tightness in his left hamstring. Held scoreless for the first five innings, the Yankees touched up rookie Dillon Gee (8-2) with four straight sharp hits in a four-run sixth. Curtis Granderson lifted a 1-2 pitch to right for his 22nd homer before Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez singled. Robison Cano ripped a two-run triple and Nick Swisher followed with a sacrifice fly. Nunez added a solo homer off Tim Byrdak in the ninth to make it 5-0. More

Mets 3, Yankees 2 (10 innings): Down to their last strike against Mariano Rivera, the Mets wouldn't wilt. Pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino came through with a tying single off Rivera, Jason Bay drove home the winning run and the Mets ended the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak. Playing without Jose Reyes, the Mets were shut down by Freddy Garcia for seven innings before rallying against Rivera in the ninth to avoid a Subway Series sweep at Citi Field. With two outs and nobody on in the ninth, Bay walked on a full count. He went to third on Lucas Duda’s single and scored the tying run when Paulino punched a 1-2 pitch through the right side. More

Yanks 8, Mets 3: Over and out

April, 4, 2012

Kim Klement/US Presswire
Ike Davis belted a three-run homer in the third inning against Freddy Garcia on Wednesday.
Ike Davis homered for a second straight day against the Yankees -- this time a three-run shot off Freddy Garcia at George M. Steinbrenner Field -- but the Mets lost the lead late while using minor leaguers and finished spring training with an 8-3 loss Wednesday afternoon.

The Mets finished Grapefruit League play at 9-20-2. The loss total was one shy of the franchise-worst 12-21-1 record the Mets produced in 2007.

“I think our guys are ready to get out of here,” Terry Collins said before leaving the ballpark, bound for the team’s charter flight to New York. “They’ve had a ton of work. They’re tired. But they got themselves ready. And that’s what we asked for the other day, to go out there and get yourself locked in, because it’s time to get ready.”

Collins said one positive is having no integral players on the disabled list for Thursday’s matinee against Tommy Hanson and the Atlanta Braves. Pedro Beato (shoulder) and D.J. Carrasco (ankle) will open the season on the DL, but Johan Santana is on the mound Thursday and Andres Torres (calf), Frank Francisco (knee) and Tim Byrdak (knee) all made advancements in the final days of camp and are active.

Collins said Santana will be capped at 85 to 90 pitches in his first major league game since Sept. 2, 2010 -- 12 days before surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

The manager said he will use Francisco to close on Opening Day if the need arises, even though the former Blue Jay received a cortisone shot in his left knee Sunday and has residual inflammation.

“It’s certainly not the ideal situation going in, but we got a lot of at-bats for a lot of guys late,” Collins said. “Andres looks ready to go. Certainly it’s good to get David [Wright] back in the lineup. We’re as ready as we could possibly be right now.”

• Davis had launched a walk-off homer Tuesday against Yankees farmhand Mark Montgomery. He actually has homered in three straight games he has played, having also gone deep Sunday against Detroit’s Thad Weber.

Davis finished with four homers, tied for the team lead with Lucas Duda. The Mets mustered only 17 homers overall, better than only the Miami Marlins’ 16 among National League teams.

“It really doesn’t matter,” Davis said about his late homer streak. “I mean, it’s nice to hit a ball like that, but it doesn’t count. I hit one to left, to center, and now I pulled one. It’s nice. The swing is feeling good. I’ve hit a couple of balls hard, and am ready for this thing to start.”

Davis arrived at camp amid curiosity about how the left ankle injury that sidelined him after May 10 last season would hold up. He insisted it has been a nonissue, as has been the suspected-but so-far-latent case of valley fever. Davis said he will see a doctor in New York for a lung examination as a follow-up to ensure nothing alarming is going on internally with respect to the latter issue, which is prevalent in the Southwest and can seriously sap energy.

(Read full post)

Mets morning briefing 4.4.12

April, 4, 2012
Only hours remain in spring training for the Mets. The Amazin's complete their Grapefruit League schedule against Andy Pettitte and the Yankees at noon today in Tampa, then fly home. Next up: Johan Santana versus Tommy Hanson on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.

Check back at later today for a revealing feature on Santana, ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon looking at upcoming Mets statistical milestones, scouts breaking down the Mets pitching staff and an in-depth series preview with Atlanta Braves info.

Wednesday's news reports:

• After all the talk about potential DL trips, it turns out the only players landing there apparently will be Pedro Beato (shoulder) and D.J. Carrasco (ankle). Closer Frank Francisco, lefty specialist Tim Byrdak and center fielder Andres Torres all are ready to break camp with the team. Francisco threw a bullpen session Tuesday, two days after receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing left knee. The closer said he is pain-free, despite some residual inflammation. Sandy Alderson acknowledged the issue could linger -- "especially for a guy who weighs 260 pounds," the GM told reporters.

Byrdak recorded three outs in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game, exactly three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Torres, who had resumed game action during the weekend on the minor league side, had two plate appearances Tuesday in his first Grapefruit League game since March 20, when he suffered a strained left calf. He singled against Ivan Nova and was hit by a pitch. Read more on the positive health resolutions in the Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Daily News, Post and Newsday.

• As a result of the trio's health, Vinny Rottino and Daniel Herrera have been dispatched to Buffalo. The Mets also had held back Kirk Nieuwenhuis in Port St. Lucie after the center-field prospect's Triple-A teammates had departed, but Nieuwenhuis was cleared by late Monday to head north to join the Mets' top minor league affiliate.

• Because the three players avoided the disabled list, the Mets will only need to clear two 40-man roster spots -- for backup lefty-hitting outfielder Mike Baxter and spot starter/long reliever Miguel Batista.

Ike Davis hit a walk-off homer and the Mets beat the Yankees, 7-6, Tuesday in the first spring-training meeting between the clubs in Port St. Lucie since 1995. Mike Pelfrey limited the Yankees to a Nick Swisher solo homer and one other hit while striking out five and walking none in four innings. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Post and Star-Ledger.

• Swisher reminisced to David Waldstein in the Times about growing up at the Mets' spring-training complex. Writes Waldstein:

From age 8, when his father, the former major leaguer Steve Swisher, was a minor league manager with the Mets and later a coach with the big-league club, Swisher was a fixture at the Mets’ spring training. There were the days when he won $100 off Todd Hundley, joked around with the eccentric Bill Pulsipher and took what he estimated were a million swings on the back fields. Returning here Tuesday as a 31-year-old Yankees right fielder brought back a stream of memories for Swisher, who celebrated his return by hitting a home run in a 7-6 loss to the Mets in the same park where he used to shag fly balls as a youngster.

Paul DePodesta, who oversees the Mets' farm system and amateur scouting, participated in a chat at Baseball Prospectus. DePodesta addressed the new collective bargaining agreement, which will restrict Mets spending on draft picks. He also discussed left-handed prospect Josh Edgin's future, 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo (who will participate in extended spring training rather than break camp with full-season Savannah), the plan to give Jordany Valdespin limited exposure to center field while keeping him primarily in the middle infield, the elimination of the Mets' Gulf Coast League team, and under-the radar-prospects. On that last subject, DePodesta identified Domingo Tapia and Rafael Montero as legit prospects not getting hype. "Both guys have a chance to emerge as our next group of top-tier potential major league starting pitchers," DePodesta predicted. "They have power stuff. Tapia routinely touched 100 mph last summer. And both pound the strike zone."

DePodesta added that while the organization is committed to building from within, they also realize they need to strategically add capable free agents. "It's awfully difficult to build a championship-caliber club just with your own minor league players (though the Rockies basically did)," DePodesta said. "But if we can build up a core, and we absolutely believe we can and we will, then we will have plenty of capacity to make strategic free-agent or even trade decisions."

On top prospect Zack Wheeler, DePodesta said: "Like most young pitchers with big stuff, it's just a matter of consistency. He has a major league repertoire right now. In fact, it's better than most major league starters. The difference is simply how consistently he's able to make the ball go where he wants and do what he wants. He's making progress and isn't far off, and we'll see stretches this year when he's locked in and looking like a big leaguer."

DePodesta said his children have selected Lucas Duda as the player most likely to pick up the Linsanity mantle.

• Read's position-by-position analysis of the Mets, including scout comment.

Matt Harvey will start Buffalo's opener Thursday at Pawtucket. He will be followed in the Bisons' rotation by Jeurys Familia, Chris Schwinden, Jeremy Hefner and Garrett Olson. "It's a huge honor," Harvey told Mike Harrington at the Buffalo News' Bisons blog. "I wasn't sure going into spring training exactly where I was going to start [between Buffalo and Binghamton]. Wally [Backman] told me the whole time I had a good chance of going with him. As soon as they told me, I was extremely honored and happy."

Double-A Binghamton, which opens at home, will have Collin McHugh on the mound Thursday, in Game 1. Lynn Worthy profiles the B-Mets in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Wheeler, Edgin, Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker and Darin Gorski highlight the Double-A roster.

See the full minor league roster assignments here.

• The Mets will have a group seating/party area between the old and new left-field walls at Citi Field, with ticket prices ranging from $100 to $200 per person and including food and drink. Meanwhile, executive VP Dave Howard acknowledged Tuesday that Opening Day is not yet sold out. Read more in the Times, Post and Newsday.

Rhiner Cruz, the hard-throwing right-hander plucked from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings, has made the Opening Day roster of the Astros. Cruz will need to stick with Houston at the major league level for the full season in order to officially become Houston property.

• Among Post baseball writers, Ken Davidoff and Mike Vaccaro predict the Mets finishing fourth in the NL East, ahead of the Braves. George King, Mike Puma, Joel Sherman, Kevin Kernan and Dan Martin pick the Mets for the basement.

Kernan has a National League preview. Kernan's Mets comment: "Offense will be fine if Wright is healthy because Ike Davis and Lucas Duda can crush, but this is a transitional season. Not enough pitching. Looking forward to seeing Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia join the rotation and watching Zack Wheeler grow."

Sherman has these Mets predictions in a 2012 crystal ball column:

Johan Santana needs two DL stints to survive just a 15-start season, but uses his savvy to go 8-5 with a 3.58 ERA when he does pitch. Jon Niese’s command and maturity catch up to his competitiveness and stuff, allowing him to become a 15-game winner with an ERA in the threes. Andres Torres tanks and the Mets turn to Matt den Dekker, who proves to be Devon White Lite: Long legs and a long swing leading to ace defense, bunches of strikeouts and some lefty pop. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each top 30 homers, but Davis does it with Gold Glove contention defense while Duda is so troublesome in right the Mets are forced to consider whether he can play there long term. The same goes for Daniel Murphy as a definitely-can-hit, but-can’t-field second baseman.

Frank Francisco’s knee issues and inability to deal with the running game leads to Terry Collins going with a hot-hand approach at closer and no Met recording more than 18 saves. Ruben Tejada is not Jose Reyes, but he proves himself an everyday major league shortstop by making all the plays defensively while maintaining a good on-base percentage in the .350 range. David Wright is helped by the shortened Citi Field fences and rebounds to a .285, 24-homer season, but nothing helps Jason Bay, who finishes with just 10 homers.

Here's Puma's Mets preview. And here's Davidoff wondering if New York could become a Mets town again.

Andy Martino in the Daily News writes Jon Niese's deal will be close to the five-year, $28.5 million guarantee the Texas Rangers gave to left-hander Derek Holland, but "not necessarily quite that lucrative."

Omar Minaya, now a lieutenant to GM Josh Byrnes in San Diego, tells Christian Red in the Daily News that Ruben Tejada will be a capable alternative to Jose Reyes. “He’ll surprise you,” Minaya told Red. “Listen, you’re not going to replace Jose. But I don’t think Ruben is of that mindset. Ruben is a fine shortstop. He’s a young kid who can throw, catch, who is going to hit the ball into the gap. He’s a well-rounded baseball player.”

• Columnist John Harper writes in the Daily News the Mets really could use the Yankees' Brett Gardner. Meanwhile, he quotes Alderson on the lack of Yankees first-team players who attended the game in Port St. Lucie as saying: “That’s an issue for Major League Baseball, not for us. But I don’t know whether Yankees fans are happy to see a Yankee uniform or would prefer to see somebody recognizable in the uniform.”

TRIVIA: Who has been the only player other than Reyes to bat leadoff for the Mets on Opening Day since 2005?

Tuesday's answer: Schwinden led Buffalo in strikeouts last season with 134, in 145 2/3 innings.

Mets morning briefing 3.25.12

March, 25, 2012
The futures of the Mets and Nationals will be on display Sunday in Viera. Highly regarded pitching prospect Matt Harvey opposes already established Stephen Strasburg, while Dillon Gee stays behind at the Mets' spring-training complex to pitch in a minor league game. Gee is avoiding Washington because he is scheduled to face the Nats in Game 5 of the regular season, on April 10 at Citi Field. Gee already has faced Washington twice in Grapefruit League play. Strasburg, the Nats' Opening Day starter, will face the Mets for a second straight Grapefruit League appearance. His second start of the regular season appears to line up opposite Johan Santana on April 11, in Game 6 of the season.

Sunday's news reports:

Sandy Alderson outlined the state of center field for the Mets this way: Andres Torres is the Mets' starting center fielder on Opening Day if his left calf strain allows, but it's "touch and go" whether the former San Francisco Giant will avoid the disabled list. The next consideration for center field would be Scott Hairston, who plans to take batting practice Sunday for the first time since getting shut down with a strained left oblique. If Torres and Hairston are not ready for the April 5 opener against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field, Kirk Nieuwenhuis -- who already is on the 40-man roster and has Triple-A experience -- is next on the list. Nieuwenhuis has been slowed by his own oblique injury, but Alderson expected him to play in minor league games by midweek. If Torres, Hairston and Nieuwenhuis all are unavailable, the GM indicated the Mets still would carry a bona fide center fielder and not primarily rely on the likes of Mike Baxter, Adam Loewen or middle infielder Jordany Valdespin, who is scheduled to start in center Sunday against the Nats. So that means the next option -- No. 4 -- is Matt den Dekker, who only has a half-season of Double-A experience. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Times, Post, Daily News, Record and Newsday.

Mike Pelfrey's velocity was solid while allowing five runs in six innings and Frank Francisco blew the save as the Mets tied the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-6, in 10 innings Saturday at Digital Domain Park. Ike Davis had an opposite-field three-run homer, while Lucas Duda had a mammoth blast to center. Terry Collins noted Davis' homer probably would have stayed in the ballpark under the old Citi Field dimensions, but would be a homer with the revised dimensions. Read more on Pelfrey's performance in the Daily News, Times, Record, Star-Ledger, Post and Newsday. Read more on Davis' homer in Newsday.

• Davis did a Q&A with Steve Serby in the Post. It included:

Q: How scary was it when you learned you had Valley Fever (a lung infection)?
A: The worst-case scenario was I’d have to stay home and miss the season, which I don’t want to do. It’s better than a lot of people’s alternatives that they get.

Q: Your lung could have collapsed and you would have been sidelined for a second straight season, which would have been difficult on you.
A: Knowing you’ll at least be alive is a good thing.

• Baxter, who is outplaying Loewen for the lefty outfield bat off the bench, sits down for a Q&A with Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger. The dialogue centers on Baxter playing a season at Columbia, then transferring to Vanderbilt. "When I wasn’t recruited that much, I was kind of like, 'I better make sure I focus on academics, and put myself in the best situation I can for life after college,'" Baxter told McCullough. "After one year there (at Columbia, where he hit .368), I just felt like I needed to take advantage of the opportunity, and kind of maximize whatever years I had left. I wasn’t even going to try to play professionally. It was just to try to get more out of playing collegiately."

As for not being recruited much out of Archbishop Molloy in Queens, from which he graduated in 2002, Baxter said: "I was a skinny little slap-hitting shortstop who couldn’t really play shortstop. I wasn’t really a great player, to be honest with you. I could hit a little bit, but there wasn’t really any power behind it. That’s really it. I think I was recruited to the level I was at in high school. But I think it was fair."

David Wright could begin Grapefruit League play as soon as Tuesday.

Cory Vaughn homered for the third time in five Double-A spring-training games, but Binghamton lost to Springfield, 13-6. Read the minor league recap here.

Ken Davidoff in Newsday (and soon to be of the Post) quotes statistical analyst John Dewan as saying the Mets' fielding got better with the defection of Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins. Writes Davidoff:

Reyes cost the Mets 13 runs with his glove last year; replacement Ruben Tejada is projected to be responsible for only one run against the Mets' ledger. The best defensive player in New York ? That's easy. Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner saved 23 runs last year. Given that 10 runs equals a win or loss, depending on which side of the ledger, that means Gardner helped the Yankees win two-plus games before he even picked up his bat.

D.J. Carrasco, whom pitching coach Dan Warthen hoped would appear in a minor league game Sunday, will be unable to do so. Carrasco still has discomfort in his right ankle. He is expected to open the season on the disabled list. Carrasco is owed a guaranteed $1.2 million this season, in Year 2 of his deal.

• Collins shares with Andrew Keh in the Times his old-school method for tracking spring-training at-bats. The manager uses a yellow legal pad. He estimates players need 50 to 60 at-bats to be sharp for Opening Day. Writes Keh:

The list, essentially, is a spreadsheet that a basic computer program could accomplish with greater ease and efficiency. But Collins seemed incredulous when asked why he would not log such notes on a computer or just track the statistics online. “A computer?” Collins said. “Why would I want to use a computer?” Collins, 62, a baseball lifer, does not quite remember when he started taking these notes, only that it was a long time ago. With some thought, he surmised that it must have just been one of the many habits he absorbed in the early 1990s while coaching with the Pittsburgh Pirates and watching his mentor, Jim Leyland, go about his day.

• McCullough profiles R.A. Dickey, whose autobiography hit bookstores Thursday. Writes McCullough in the Star-Ledger:

This is R.A. Dickey’s time, the moment of his entrance into the national sporting consciousness. He arrived at the Palm City Grill on St. Lucie West Boulevard after an off day filled with interviews. He spent the morning speaking to ESPN cameras, then flinging knuckleballs at Jeremy Schaap. His publisher, Penguin, has sold an excerpt of his book, “Wherever I Wind Up,” to Sports Illustrated, the pitcher said. R.A. Dickey understands the reason he has gained prominence as a writer is his competence as a pitcher. He led the Mets’ starting rotation with a 3.08 ERA the past two seasons. Manager Terry Collins considers him ballast for the rotation.

TRIVIA: Baxter played his freshman season at Columbia before transferring to Vanderbilt. Name two other players in major league camp who played for Southeastern Conference schools.

Saturday's answer: Hairston's father Jerry Sr., grandfather Sam and brother Jerry Jr. all have major league games on their résumés. Hairston's uncle John also played in the big leagues, for the Chicago Cubs in 1969. They are one of a trio of three-generation families in the majors. The others: the Boones and Bells.

In-depth: Gardner, Robertson fit Met plan

July, 5, 2011

Mike Stobe, Getty Images/William Perlman, The Star-Ledger via US Presswire
Mets fans: Imagine what it would be like to have Brett Gardner and David Robertson on your team.
The Mets' template for 2012 was on display on the other side of the diamond this past weekend in the Subway Series at Citi Field.

Next season, with several key players departing and the team unlikely to be able to spend heavily to replace them, the Mets will be looking to maximize the value of everyone on the field.

While the Mets are saddled with all sorts of contracts in which they’re not maximizing value, the Yankees are not only to spend big money and get players who live up to their contracts, but they have a pair of players whose value far surpasses their salaries -- outfielder Brett Gardner and relief pitcher David Robertson.

Those two are being paid just more than $1 million this season combined. They are performing at a level worth many times that amount.

The pair tag-teamed through the Subway Series in impressive fashion. Gardner made a sprinting catch to take away an extra-base hit from Angel Pagan and help Robertson through a scoreless eighth inning in the series-opening Yankees win.

Then, after Gardner’s leadoff triple down the right-field line led to the Yankees taking the lead in the eighth inning of Sunday's finale, Robertson set the Yankees up to win by working through trouble in the bottom of the frame. Gardner sent the game to extra innings by throwing Lucas Duda out at the plate to end the ninth.

Now, we’re not saying the Mets could just pluck these players away. There’s no reason whatsoever that the Yankees would give them up, and there’s nothing the Mets have on their roster with greater value to the Yankees than these two, both of whom rank among the top players in baseball at their respective positions.

But they are exactly the kinds of players a team like the Mets should try to find via trade, should they choose to move Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and -- shudder -- Reyes. (Reyes is unlikely to go.)

Gardner is an ideal “Citiball” player -- a left-handed hitter with the ability to hit the ball all over the field, who fits into the Mets' offensive philosophy of working deep counts. Defensively, his speed and skill combination are a perfect fit for a center fielder in a spacious ballpark.

There are few players in the majors who fit that mold better. Astros centerfielder Michael Bourn might be the closest to that.

Baseball Tonight analyst Doug Glanville referred to Gardner as “a left fielder in a cente rfielder’s body -- a caged animal waiting to be set free.”

One major league scout told us there were two teams that could use a Gardner-like player in the worst way -- the Mets and Nationals.

That’s no knock on Pagan, the current Mets center fielder, who noted after Friday’s robbery by Gardner that “he’s got the speed to get to every ball.”

The Mets would get the most out of their outfield defense 81 times a season in spacious Citi Field by having a center fielder and right fielder who can save runs. Gardner, as pointed out in a recent article, is among the best in the majors in the advanced stat Defensive Runs Saved.

With Reyes potentially departing for big bucks in free agency this offseason, the Mets may have a hole at the top of the lineup, where Gardner seems to fit best.

We polled ESPN’s Aaron Boone, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine on the subject of who would win a race between Gardner and Reyes. Gardner thought the idea would be cool, saying so during a recent interview on ESPN 1050. Hershiser and Valentine both picked Gardner to win.

Gardner brings speed and grit. Robertson does too.

Robertson has shown that he has the stomach to pitch in New York with his performance this season. His work resembles that of Mariano Rivera circa 1996 when Rivera was a setup man, not yet a closer, on this Yankees dynasty's first championship team.

Since May 20, a day in which he struck out two Mets in an inning of work, Robertson has been a magician. He’s allowed one run in 17 2/3 innings, with 29 strikeouts and seven walks. Opponents have a .399 OPS against him in that stretch.

Robertson is unflappable with men on base, basically what the Mets hope someone like Bobby Parnell will someday become. He locates his pitches -- a 95 mph fastball and knee-buckling breaking ball -- so well in those situations that no one can put them in play.

Consider how Robertson performs in the following situations:

• Left-handed hitter.
• With runners in scoring position.
• Two-strike count.
• He throws a fastball.

Do you know what left-handed hitters are when the at-bat ends with that pitch? Try 2-for-25 with 20 strikeouts. Robertson knows how to finish the deal.

“You have to have been in big situations and have an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish to be able to focus with guys on base or the game on the line,” ESPN baseball analyst Mark Mulder, a former pitcher for the Athletics and Cardinals, said prior to a show the other day. “Good ones are able to slow the game down better than the ones who struggle.”

Robertson has shown himself to be a really good one.

With men on base, hitters have only put the ball in play on 21 percent of their swings against Robertson this season. The next-closest pitcher statistically, Pirates starter James McDonald, is six percentage points behind.

That is how a pitcher like Robertson earns the nickname “Houdini” and ends up averaging an astounding 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

“The guy probably desereves to be on the All-Star team,” said Jason Bay after whiffing against Robertson Friday, “doing what he does in that division, in that market, it’s pretty impressive.”

Robertson was impressive from the first time he was seen by Yankees scouts D.J. Svihilik and Jeff Patterson, and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, who made the call to select Robertson, a rare sophomore draft-eligible, in the 17th round in 2006.

“They told me he had a fastball that disappears, and a nasty, nasty (breaking ball),” Oppenheimer said last week. “He was pitching for Yarmouth-Dennis (Mass.) in the Cape Cod League, and my friend, Scott Pickler, who coaches them, said he was the real deal. He had a first-round pick for the Mariners on his team, but he said that (Robertson) was the best guy, hands down.”

In the scouting community, guys like Robertson and Gardner -- who parlayed a walk-on stint at College of Charleston into being an All-American and a third-round pick in the 2005 draft -- are home runs. The scout we talked with said it was “amazing” that Robertson lasted as long as he did.

The Mets have a couple of guys who were draft steals -- Dillon Gee, a 21st-round pick in 2007, for example -- and a couple of pitchers in their system, such as Chris Schwinden and Robert Carson -- who could contribute to the team’s success at some point.

But with Rodriguez likely closing somewhere else next season, the Mets would seem to have an immediate need for a pitcher of Robertson’s ilk -- a swing-and-miss fearless competitor who can demoralize opponents.

“It’s tough to get guys (from the draft) to the big leagues no matter what,” Oppenheimer said. “It’s even harder somewhere like in New York to have both impact and longevity. At least for now, (Robertson and Gardner are) having a major impact. They don’t have the longevity (yet), but that’s what we’re looking for.”

So are the Mets. And they need that a little bit more than the Yankees do.

"In-depth" appears Tuesdays during the season



Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187