New York Mets: Bryan LaHair

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jonathon Niese retired eight straight batters to open his outing, then ran out of steam. Niese allowed the next four batters to reach and departed after 52 pitches in what became a 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Tradition Field on Sunday afternoon.

Tyler Pill inherited the bases loaded from Niese in the third inning and walked Bryce Brentz to force in a run that evened the score at 2. The prospect then rallied to coax an inning-ending fielder’s choice grounder from Bryan LaHair.

Hansel Robles walked the first two batters in the fifth, then served up a tiebreaking three-run homer to Xander Bogaerts. Akeel Morris issued two walks to open the sixth and eventually uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch as Boston took a 6-2 lead.


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsKirk Nieuwenhuis upped his Grapefruit League average to .600 with a 3-for-4 game Sunday.


Mets pitchers issued leadoff walks in four straight innings and walked 10 batters in the game.

Manager Terry Collins acknowledged it might be nerves with the young pitchers, but added, “That’s still not an excuse for not being able to throw the ball over the plate. You’re going to get noticed by pounding the strike zone. I’d rather see guys get hit than 10 base on balls. They’re all known to have been strike-throwers. I know [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] is trying to get them to calm down. We’ll run them back out there.”

Niese said he had good command of his cutter early, but never commanded his curveball. His command completely unraveled in the third.

“The arm felt great,” Niese said. “I kind of ran out of gas there at the end and lost command, but it was good to get that 50 pitches, get the workload in. I haven’t thrown that many pitches in a while, so it’s building up. I’m feeling better and better each outing.”

Warthen has noted that Niese is using a higher arm slot this season as compared with 2014, when he was beset by shoulder woes.

“Last year I was just trying to find an angle where it didn’t hurt,” the southpaw said. “This year I feel 100 percent healthy, so I’m able to actually work on my mechanics and have proper mechanics.”

Jersey guy: Rick Porcello, a Seton Hall Prep product who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, limited the Mets to one unearned run in three innings. He surrendered a leadoff double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the second inning. Nieuwenhuis scored from second base on Wilmer Flores' infield single and an E-4.

“I was a pretty big Mets fan, probably up until I got drafted,” Porcello said afterward. “I stopped rooting for any baseball teams after that besides my own. 2000 was the peak of my being a fan. I loved watching them when I was a kid, but I’m past it now. They’re just another team.”

Porcello added that he was the black sheep in his family as far as New York allegiance.

“Nobody else in my family was a Mets fan,” he said. “We went to a lot of Yankees games. My brothers were Indians fans because my grandfather [Sam Dente] played for them in ’54. So we’d always go see a Yankees-Indians game in the summer.”

As for the 2000 Subway Series, when he was 11 years old, Porcello said, “I cried my eyes out.”

Beaming: Nieuwenhuis went 3-for-4 with two runs scored Sunday and is now hitting .600 (9-for-15) in Grapefruit League play.

“It’s early, but I’ll try to build on it,” Nieuwenhuis said.

Nieuwenhuis is out of options and appears a near-lock to make the Opening Day roster as a backup outfielder and lefty pinch hitter. He said he is not paying attention to his option status, though. The Mets would have to expose him to waivers before demoting him.

Ouch: Collins pulled Travis d'Arnaud because trainers were unable to stop bleeding on the catcher’s left ring finger. D’Arnaud was spiked while aggressively sliding into second base to break up a double play. He did not require stitches.

Flo! Flores made a diving catch on a first-inning line drive by Bogaerts.

What’s next: The Mets’ homestand continues Monday when Zack Wheeler faces ex-Yankee David Phelps and the Miami Marlins at 1:10 p.m. (SNY). Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Chasen Bradford also are scheduled to pitch. Collins expects that Daniel Murphy, who was struck atop the right hand on Friday, will return to the lineup against Miami.

Minors 4.28.14: Nimmo 4-for-4, HR

April, 28, 2014
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RENO 3, LAS VEGAS 0: Juan Lagares started in center field and led off as his rehab assignment shifted to Vegas. He went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and played the full game. Danny Muno started at shortstop a day after Wilmer Flores departed with a jammed finger. Flores was able to pinch hit. Starter Dana Eveland allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight. Box

AKRON 4, BINGHAMTON 0: Matt Reynolds produced three of Binghamton’s four hits while extending his hitting streak to 14 games. The RubberDucks cashed in on two first-inning

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walks issued by Tyler Pill to take a 1-0 lead. Giovanny Urshela made Pill pay with an RBI single. Pill settled in. The righty worked around an error in a scoreless second, posted a shutout third and struck out the side in the fourth. He worked around a one-out single in the fifth and departed trailing 1-0. Akron starter Will Roberts tamed the B-Mets through six innings. Reynolds collected Binghamton’s first hit in the fourth inning. Cory Vaughn followed with a single, but the B-Mets could not break through. Reynolds started another threat in the sixth. With two outs, he ripped a drive into the left-field alley for his first triple of the season. He was stranded when Matt Clark flied out. The RubberDucks took advantage of sloppy B-Mets fielding behind Adam Kolarek in the eighth. Third baseman Dustin Lawley booted a grounder to start the inning and the shortstop Reynolds followed by bungling a potential double-play grounder. After a sac bunt and an intentional walk, Bryan LaHair ripped two-run double. Tony Wolters capped the inning's scoring with an RBI single. Pill (0-4) allowed one run on three hits in the hard-luck loss. The B-Mets have provided him with an average of 2.0 runs per game in his four starts. Pill has started both of Binghamton’s shutout losses. The B-Mets have committed six errors in their past two games -- the most in a two-game span since they had seven in back-to-back games in June 2011. Box

ST. LUCIE 7, CHARLOTTE 3: Brandon Nimmo went 4-for-4 with a homer and double. He

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scored twice, drove in two runs and fell a triple short of the cycle. The Mets bashed a season-high four homers. Aderlin Rodriguez belted his third homer in five days to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Jairo Perez added a two-run shot against Bruedlin Suero in the fifth to open a 5-2 lead. Eudy Pina led off the sixth with his first homer of the year. Nimmo lined a long ball over the right-field wall in his final at-bat, in the eighth, to make it 7-2. Matt Koch tossed six strong innings, allowing four hits and two runs while earning his second win. He held the Stone Crabs without a hit through the first four innings. Jake Kuebler pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth. Randy Fontanez gave up a leadoff triple in the ninth but retired the next three batters out to finish off the Crabs. T.J. Rivera went 2-for-4 and delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the fifth against Suero to put the Mets ahead 3-2. Rivera and Nimmo both are hitting .407, tied for the best average in the Florida State League. Box

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Cubs 1

July, 7, 2012
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WHAT IT MEANS: Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis homered and Dillon Gee took a scoreless effort into the sixth en route to matching his longest career outing as the Mets beat the Cubs, 3-1, Saturday at Citi Field.

Given the start in left field, Valdespin homered for the second straight day and fourth time during his rookie season. The solo shot off Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the second opened the scoring. Davis’ two-run shot an inning later upped the Mets’ lead to three runs.

Davis’ homer was his 12th this season, tying him with Lucas Duda and Scott Hairston for the team lead. Valdespin, meanwhile, has produced 14 RBIs in his 67 at-bats. That matches Baltimore’s Steve Pearce for the most RBIs in the majors this season by players with no more than that at-bat total.

Gee held the 3-0 lead into the sixth, when he surrendered a leadoff double to Luis Valbuena and one-out RBI single to David DeJesus. Gee recovered to strand two baserunners by striking out Alfonso Soriano on a full-count offering with two outs.

Gee logged eight innings, matching his career high. He also went that distance in a June 10, 2011 victory against the Pirates. Gee will not pitch again until Game No. 3 or 4 of the second half, either July 15 in Atlanta or July 17 in Washington.

CLOSER CALL: Bobby Parnell continued his closing work with Frank Francisco on the DL. Parnell converted his second save in two chances since Francisco suffered the strained left oblique and was deactivated. Parnell did allow a leadoff double to Anthony Rizzo, snapping a string of four appearances in Francisco's absence in which he did not allow a batter to reach base.

Parnell benefited from a solid over-the-shoulder catch by Ruben Tejada retreating in shallow left field on a flare for the second out, off the bat of Bryan LaHair.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets (46-39) complete the first half by sending Jon Niese (7-3, 3.35 ERA) to the mound opposite on-the-trading-block right-hander Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11), who is returning from the disabled list. The Amazin’s can match their season high at eight games over .500 with a victory.

David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Terry Collins then head to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.

Also in K.C., right-hander Zack Wheeler and third baseman Wilmer Flores play in the Futures Game on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. The prospect showcase will be televised by ESPN2.

Series preview: Mets at Cubs

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The Mets face (l to r) Travis Wood, Randy Wells and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field.
METS (39-34, second place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (24-48, sixth place/NL East)

Monday: LHP Johan Santana (5-3, 3.00) vs. LHP Travis Wood (1-3, 4.14), 8:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27) vs. RHP Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91), 8:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jon Niese (5-3, 3.75) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34), 2:20 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

• Right-hander Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06 ERA in 14 starts) is among the most likely Cubs to be traded. Garza, 28, is earning $9.5 million this season and is under control via arbitration through 2013 before being eligible for free agency. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo lists the Braves, Tigers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Royals as potential landing spots.

• Left fielder Alfonso Soriano (.269, 14 HR, 44 RBIs) had 12 long balls in a 26-day stretch beginning May 15, but still has been the subject of fan booing. Soriano was caught standing at the plate when Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks dropped his screaming line drive in a June 16 game. “I think our fans know, because they’ve watched Sori play all year, that he’s been hustling from Opening Day on and given a great effort,” first-year president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told ESPNChicago.com in defense of Soriano. “It was an unfortunate natural reaction.”


Rick Scuteri/US Presswire
First base prospect Anthony Rizzo should make his Cubs debut during the series.


Randy Wells will make his second start for injured Ryan Dempster, whose 22-inning scoreless streak is frozen but intact because he landed on the disabled list last Monday with a tight right lat muscle. Dempster should return in plenty of time for the Cubs to trade him before the July 31 deadline. Wells allowed three runs on five hits and four walks and was pulled with his pitch count at 69 after 3 2/3 innings Wednesday against the White Sox.

Travis Wood has now drawn Justin Verlander, Jake Peavy and Santana in his past three starts. Opposite the White Sox’s Peavy in his most recent outing, Wood allowed one run on four hits in six innings to post his first victory since last Aug. 19, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Wood, 25, was acquired in a Dec. 23 trade for Sean Marshall. He has a 2.92 ERA over his past four starts. He opened the season by making seven starts with Triple-A Iowa.

• Hyped first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo is expected to be promoted this series. Rizzo was acquired from San Diego on Jan. 6 with Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na. Because he logged 68 days in the majors last season with the Padres, the 22-year-old Rizzo had to remain in the minors at least through Friday in order to delay his free agency for an extra year, until after the 2018 season. Rizzo had a rough time in the majors with San Diego last season, hitting .141 with one homer and nine RBIs in 128 at-bats.

• Rizzo’s imminent promotion should push lefty-hitting Bryan LaHair back into relatively unfamiliar right field, from first base. LaHair (.286, 13 HR, 28 RBIs) was a nine-year minor leaguer who was prepared to play in Japan this season before opting for one final stab at a major league career.

Jeff Samardzija moved into the rotation this year. Only five of his 128 major league appearances before this season had come in a starting role.

• In addition to Epstein, the Cubs’ new braintrust includes former Padres GM Jed Hoyer now serving in that role in Chicago. First-year manager Dale Sveum spent 12 seasons as a major league infielder. Sveum also managed the final 12 games of the 2008 season with the Brewers after Ned Yost was jettisoned. He rode CC Sabathia to a wild-card berth as the Mets missed out on the playoffs on the final day for a second straight season.

• With few opportunities, closer Carlos Marmol has only four saves this season. His next save will be the 100th of his career. The only other Cubs to have reached that plateau: Lee Smith (180), Bruce Sutter (133) and Randy Myers (112).

• Catcher Geovany Soto (.174, 5 HR, 8 RBIs) returned June 18 from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after missing a month.

• Shorstop Starlin Castro (.304, 6 HR, 38 RBIs), the Cubs’ lone representative at last year’s All-Star game, again has heated up. Castro drew Sveum’s attention earlier this month for repeated in-game mental lapses. He nonetheless has started all 72 games. Atlanta’s Dan Uggla is the only other major leaguer to start every game for his team this season.

• Third baseman Ian Stewart received another cortisone shot for a left wrist impingement, hoping to at least delay surgery until the offseason. He is not eligible to return from the disabled list until Thursday, after the series. Former Indian Luis Valbuena has manned third base in Stewart’s absence.

• Center fielder Tony Campana leads the majors with 24 steals, one ahead of the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon.

• The Cubs are 3-16 in games started by left-handed opposing pitcher.

Last series results

Chicago won, 2-1, at Citi Field, Sept. 9-11, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Cubs 4: Justin Turner doubled in the decisive run with two outs in the ninth inning. Manny Acosta had surrendered a tying single to Darwin Barney with two outs in the top half. Turner (three hits) also had a tiebreaking double in the fifth. Jason Bay doubled twice and threw out a runner at the plate. David Wright and Bay each had an RBI to help the Mets overcome an early 3-0 deficit. More

Cubs 5, Mets 4: Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth, a half-inning after the Cubs blew a three-run lead. Jason Bay had given the Mets a 4-3 lead with a two-out, two-run single. More sloppy play by New York in the ninth on an overall rough day in the field, and another meltdown by Bobby Parnell (3-6), aided Chicago. The Cubs built an early 2-0 lead with help from two errors by Jose Reyes. David Wright made his second error and New York's fourth of the game when he couldn't handle Geovany Soto's grounder leading off the ninth. Pinch hitter Bryan LaHair doubled to put runners at second and third. Parnell then got two outs to bring up Ramirez. Terry Collins considered walking him, but opted not to put pressure on Parnell to pitch with the bases loaded. More

Cubs 10, Mets 6 (11 innings): Carlos Pena hit a go-ahead single in Chicago's six-run 11th, and the Cubs won a game that ended nearly five hours after the Mets held a touching ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Josh Stinson (0-1) walked Marlon Byrd to start the 11th and gave up a single to Bryan LaHair. Pena singled for the lead. Pinch hitter Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney each hit two-run doubles off Ryota Igarashi before the first out, and Geovany Soto added a sacrifice fly. New York trailed 4-1 after five innings but scored twice in the sixth off Matt Garza. The Mets tied it with an unearned run when reliever Jeff Samardzija made a bad throw. The Mets loaded the bases in the first, ninth and 10th innings but came up empty. More

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187