New York Mets: Carlos Torres
FIRST PITCH: Their anemic hitting already has reached historic levels. And things get no easier for the Mets as they shift coasts to California.
The Mets are due to face All-Stars Scott Kazmir on Tuesday and Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday in Oakland. After a day off, the Amazin’s then draw expected NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw to open a weekend series at Dodger Stadium, followed by Dan Haren and Kevin Correia.
“We know going into Oakland and L.A., obviously we’re going to face good pitching,” David Wright said.
The Mets have now failed to exceed four hits in any of their past five games -- a franchise record. The last major league team to have a streak that long was the 2002 Mets.
If that streak continues against Kazmir and the A’s on Tuesday, the Mets will become the first MLB team since 1900 to have a single-season streak of six games producing four hits or fewer in each, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Also on the negative front: Despite splitting a four-game wraparound series with the Chicago Cubs, the Mets produced a total of 16 hits. That’s the fewest hits by a team in a four-game series in MLB since May 2-5, 2008, when the Chicago White Sox also mustered 16 hits against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“There’s no easy answers,” Terry Collins said. “It’s not the workload. These guys are working. As a matter of fact, at this time of year maybe they’re swinging too much.”
Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET.
Collins implied that Daniel Murphy is due for a day off in Oakland. That would seem more likely to occur against the southpaw Kazmir. Murphy is 3-for-6 with a homer in his career against Samardzija, the ex-Cub.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon was scratched from Monday’s scheduled start against the Cubs and traveled to the Dominican Republic, where his mother died at age 63 after battling breast cancer. Gonzalez Germen will join the Mets on the West Coast while Colon is placed on bereavement leave, which may last three to seven days. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Wright took batting practice in a cage early Monday and convinced Collins to place him in the lineup. Wright, after missing one game with a bruised left shoulder, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his return. Postgame, Wright denied the shoulder issue that initially arose on a headfirst slide on June 12 was hindering his substandard production. Read more in the Times, Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings as an emergency fill-in for Colon. However, once he departed, Dana Eveland surrendered an RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth as Chicago evened the score. Anthony Rizzo had a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth against Buddy Carlyle and Javier Baez had a two-run shot against Jenrry Mejia in the ninth and the Cubs ultimately beat the Mets, 4-1, Monday at Citi Field.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will not activated from the disabled list with Colon going on bereavement leave, instead will make his third rehab start on Thursday. Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park against the Staten Island Yankees.
• The Cyclones host the New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Brooklyn’s representatives include left-hander Shane Bay, right-handers Marcos Molina and Corey Oswalt, shortstop Amed Rosario, third baseman Jhoan Urena and outfielder Michael Bernal.
• Bobby Abreu went 1-for-4 with a walk and RBI in his return to Triple-A, but John Lannan was roughed up and Las Vegas lost at Omaha, 9-5. Travis Taijeron had four hits and five RBIs and Binghamton sliced its magic number to claim a playoff spot to three with an 11-4 win against Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• A bone-marrow donor and recipient met for the first time at Citi Field, Kathryn Cusma and David K. Li write in the Post.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a public service announcement of sorts.
BIRTHDAYS: Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ron Darling turns 54. ... Ex-Mets left-hander Chris Capuano is 36. ... Among Mets minor leaguers, Flabio Ortega is 24 and Ismael Tijerina is 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets exceed four hits on Tuesday?
@AdamRubinESPN At least the Mets are good at being 1st in something!!!— linda wolf@MetsMom31 (@lindawolf12) August 18, 2014
Torres became the first major league pitcher since Oakland’s Mike Mohler in 1993 to have a scoreless effort as a starting pitcher on no days of rest. Mohler tossed 3 1/3 innings. The last starting pitcher on no rest to contribute five-plus scoreless innings was Philadelphia’s Bruce Ruffin, who pitched eight scoreless innings in 1991.
It actually was Torres’ first scoreless start since he notched his first major league win -- on Sept. 3, 2009, in his third career game, while pitching for the White Sox.
Torres, who threw 86 pitches, found out he was starting in place of Colon about four hours before the scheduled 12:10 p.m. first pitch. Colon was scratched so he could travel to the Dominican Republic to be with his gravely ill mother.
Asked about his mindset pitching multiple innings with no rest, Torres said: “You start with one, and hope you get through one. And then you go from there.”
Said manager Terry Collins: “He’s done an amazing job. That’s really a tough assignment, especially when he pitched yesterday, to come back and have to start a game the next day. He gave us five quality innings. He ran out of gas. We couldn’t give him any help.”
After being limited to four hits by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks and two relievers, the Mets (59-67) became the first major league team in a decade to produce four hits or fewer in five straight games.
The last team to do it?
The 2004 Mets.
The Mets’ current streak of hitting futility actually matches the franchise record. In addition to ’04, the 1963 Mets also went five straight games with four hits or fewer.
The Mets produced only 16 hits yet split this four-game series against the Cubs (54-70).
Buddy Carlyle surrendered a tie-breaking homer to Anthony Rizzo to open the eighth inning. It snapped the journeyman right-hander’s scoreless streak at 13 innings, the longest by a Mets reliever this season.
Who needs rest? Subbing for Bartolo Colon, who flew to the Dominican Republic to be with his gravely ill mother, Carlos Torres tossed five scoreless innings in his first start since last Sept. 27.
Torres became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to make a start on no days of rest. He joined Dan Wheeler (2004), Kevin Kobel (1979) and Craig Anderson (1962).
In an 86-pitch effort, Torres limited the Cubs to three hits and two walks while striking out six. He faced a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth, but fanned Welington Castillo to escape.
Torres suffered a no-decision when Dana Eveland allowed a leadoff double to Rizzo and a one-out RBI single to Luis Valbuena in the sixth inning that evened the score at 1.
On the leaderboard: Lucas Duda's solo homer in the fourth inning against Hendricks opened the scoring. Duda upped his career high to 22 homers. He ranks fifth in the National League, trailing Giancarlo Stanton (32), Rizzo (28), Marlon Byrd (23) and Justin Upton (23).
Shouldering the load: After getting struck in his balky left shoulder Saturday and departing after six innings, then missing Sunday’s game, David Wright returned to the lineup. The captain went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Black Monday: Vic Black stranded two runners in the eighth inning. He has now prevented 21 straight inherited runners from scoring. That’s the longest streak by a Mets reliever this season.
Passing fancy: Travis d'Arnaud had his 12th passed ball, matching the Rockies' Wilin Rosario for the most in the majors.
Pitching in: Jonathon Niese pinch-hit for Torres with two outs and none on in the bottom of the fifth and grounded out. Niese became the first Mets pitcher to appear as a pinch-hitter since Jacob deGrom on May 30 in Philadelphia. deGrom struck out in the 14th inning in that game.
What’s next: The Mets fly to Oakland for a two-game series, and the challenge for their hitters does not get any easier. Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69 ERA) opposes old friend Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) at 10:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Jeff Samardzija starts for the A's on Wednesday.
Kazmir got roughed up at Citi Field on June 24, allowing a season-high seven runs in three innings, including homers to Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and d’Arnaud. Manager Terry Collins implied Daniel Murphy will be given the day off Tuesday. Murphy snapped an 0-for-12 drought with a leadoff double in the ninth. He went 5-for-28 on the homestand.
With a 4-1 victory in the series finale, the division-leading Washington Nationals won their 11th straight game in Queens. That's the longest-ever winning streak by a visiting team against the Mets. The Atlanta Braves won 10 straight games at Shea Stadium in 1991 and '92.
The Nats are 25-4 at Citi Field since September 2011. They now lead the Mets (57-65) by 10½ games in the NL East.
Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper produced two-run homers against Dillon Gee as Washington grabbed a 4-0 lead.
LaRoche, who went deep on an 0-2 offering, now has 27 career homers against the Mets. Among active players, that trails only a trio of Phillies -- Ryan Howard (40), Chase Utley (33) and Jimmy Rollins (30).
Three of Harper's six homers this season have come against the Mets.
The Nats have 29 homers during their 11-game Citi Field winning streak.
Gee’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K's, 2 HR. He is 0-4 with a 5.60 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
The Mets' lone run against Stephen Strasburg, which was unearned, came in the fourth when Daniel Murphy reached on an infield single, advanced to second on an error, ill-advisedly stole third and scored on Lucas Duda's sacrifice fly.
The Amazin's went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the series. After placing runners at first and second base with none out in the sixth, Murphy grounded into a double play and David Wright struck out.
Streaking: Wright produced a hit for the 13th straight game with a first-inning single against Strasburg. It matches the longest hitting streak by a Met this season. Juan Lagares had an identical streak April 5 through May 4.
However, during Wright's 13-game hitting streak, he has only one extra-base hit: a double last Thursday against Washington’s Craig Stammen in D.C.
Back to work: In his first action since suffering the loss Sunday and revealing he had a hernia, Jenrry Mejia tossed a perfect ninth. Carlos Torres, who surrendered a homer in each of his past four appearances, recorded four outs without issue. Torres inherited the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh from Josh Edgin and struck out Ian Desmond.
What’s next: The Chicago Cubs make their lone 2014 visit to Citi Field for a four-game wraparound series. Zack Wheeler (7-8, 3.53 ERA) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (7-9, 4.86) in Friday's 7:10 p.m. opener. Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his past eight starts.
Everyone gives up home runs in Las Vegas. The ball flies in the Pacific Coast League.
Montero allowed just four home runs in 74 Triple-A innings there this season. But he has now given up eight homers in 25 innings for the New York Mets. He surrendered three more in five-plus innings Tuesday, in the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
But the biggest issue at the moment is that he can't seem to keep the ball in the ballpark.
"I know he's not afraid to throw it over the plate," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But you've got to make better pitches. You see he's got weapons to be successful, but he's got to learn to use them better."
Montero is with the Mets for the second time this season. He's theoretically here for two starts while Jacob deGrom is on the disabled list, and Collins said Tuesday night that he expects Montero to remain in the rotation for his next start.
But the Mets would like to think Montero is more than just a two-start fill-in. He's not as highly touted as Noah Syndergaard (who was passed over for this assignment and started for Las Vegas on Tuesday), but he is supposed to be someone who can help the team at some point.
He can't do ithat if the results are always going to be like this.
Montero has made five big-league starts, and has a 6.12 ERA. The Mets have yet to win a game he has started.
And he's given up eight home runs.
"When you're throwing it in the middle of the plate, you're going to get hit," Collins said.
Montero didn't seem overly bothered.
"I felt good going in," he said through an interpreter. "I still feel OK."
Why all the home runs, when he wasn't giving up very many in Vegas (never more than one in a game there)?
"The batters here are a little better," Montero said.
Fair enough, but if he wants to pitch here, Montero is going to need to be a little better, too.
Is Torres tipping? Carlos Torres also gave up another home run Tuesday, the sixth he has allowed in the past 10 innings he has pitched. Torres has allowed a homer in each of his past four appearances.
"We talked about maybe seeing if he's tipping his pitches," Collins said. "Because he's getting hit way too hard."
FIRST PITCH: After a ninth-inning meltdown capped the squandering of a five-run lead, the Mets now need a victory Monday to avoid a split of their four-game series against the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
Jonathon Niese (5-8, 3.41 ERA) opposes right-hander David Buchanan (6-5, 4.39) at 1:05 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park.
Monday’s news reports:
• Jacob deGrom will be examined in New York on Monday and has been scratched from Tuesday’s scheduled start against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field because of shoulder soreness. DeGrom does not believe the issue is serious.
Montero, who has produced two straight scoreless appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas and already has appeared at the major league level, would appear more likely among the call-up options. Sandy Alderson did not reply to an inquiry from ESPNNewYork.com.
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Jenrry Mejia revealed he has a hernia that will require surgery. He hopes to take medication and pitch with the discomfort for the remainder of the season, but it is possible he is shut down before then and undergoes the procedure sooner. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and at MLB.com.
• Mejia failed to hold a one-run lead in the ninth and the Phillies rallied for a 7-6 win against the Mets on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets suffered their 11th walk-off loss of the season. No other team has suffered more than eight, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Zack Wheeler produced a quality start, but expressed disappointment with his high pitch count (112 in six innings). Wilmer Flores' failure to throw out Ben Revere on a two-out grounder in the seventh proved costly. Terry Collins explained several managerial moves afterward, including intentionally walking Chase Utley with the count already full to get to Ryan Howard for the walk-off RBI single.
Read game recaps in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Flores in Newsday.
• Pitching coach Dan Warthen tells columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post that John Smoltz offered advice to Wheeler during a June 30-July 2 series in Atlanta, which coincided with the beginning of Wheeler’s current streak of eight straight quality starts. “I do give credit to John for a couple of comments he made to him,” Warthen told Davidoff. “[It] really pumped him up. And he’s been outstanding since.”
• Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow inflammation) is due to make a rehab start for Class A St. Lucie on Monday. Matsuzaka then should be set to return from the DL.
• Jeremy Hefner, who had a forearm issue arise as he returns from Tommy John surgery, is due to be examined in New York.
• Bobby Abreu officially has been released by the Mets.
• Logan Verrett notched his 10th win as Vegas beat Albuquerque, 7-5. Steven Matz and Randy Fontanez combined on the shutout as Binghamton blanked Harrisburg, 3-0. Stefan Sabol had a game-tying RBI triple and scored the go-ahead run on Yeixon Ruiz’s single as Savannah beat Augusta, 6-4, in a rain-shortened game. Amed Rosario had a tiebreaking two-run double in Brooklyn’s 5-2 win against Batavia. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear takes note of some unusual Met stability.
BIRTHDAYS: Double-A infielder Wilfredo Tovar turns 23. ... Right-hander John Mitchell was born on this date in 1965.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Jenrry Mejia shut down his season now and undergo hernia surgery?
Dear Mr Mejia. I pitched with sports hernia in 2010, results will not get better because you won't be able to finish your pitches#justssayin— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) August 10, 2014
After Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Collins said he may end up needing to use Torres in relief on Monday, which would disqualify him from spot-start consideration.
That’s because Collins expects Jenrry Mejia to be unavailable for the matinee series finale against the Phillies. Vic Black and Josh Edgin potentially may be unavailable, too.
“We’ll just see,” Collins said. “We may need Torres tomorrow.”
The alternative, presumably, would be using Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard. Montero is listed as Monday’s starter and Syndergaard as Tuesday’s start for Triple-A Las Vegas. Neither has yet to be officially scratched.
As for his level of concern about deGrom, who is due to be examined Monday in New York, Collins said: “He’s not concerned about it. The trainers really aren’t. I’m not overly concerned, except that he’s a young kid who has got a sore shoulder. And that scares me. So we’re going to go get it checked and let the professionals tell us how it is.”
FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon may not be going anywhere until the offseason anyway, but whether he is eligible to be traded this month remains to be determined.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that while Curtis Granderson is currently on waivers, the Mets have not yet put Colon through the process.
If a player is claimed, the Mets can dump the contract on that team, work out a trade, or pull the player back. Pulling the player back makes him ineligible to be dealt this month. If a player clears waivers, he can be dealt without restriction in August.
With a victory, Colon would become the third active pitcher to reach the 200-win plateau, joining Tim Hudson (213 career wins) and CC Sabathia (208). Colon also would become the third Dominican-born pitcher, joining Juan Marichal (243) and Pedro Martinez (219).
Two pitchers have notched No. 200 as a Met: Orel Hershiser and Martinez.
Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• Carlos Torres surrendered a walk-off two-run homer to Bryce Harper in the 13th as Washington beat the Mets, 5-3, in Thursday’s rubber game. Torres has allowed five homers in eight innings over his last seven relief appearances.
Jenrry Mejia tossed one inning, but no more, because of calf stiffness.
Jacob deGrom had a quality start (three runs in six innings). The NL Rookie of the Month for July came away with a no-decision as his five-game streak of winning starts ended.
Juan Lagares departed on a double-switch in the eighth, and Terry Collins expressed no reservations.
David Wright says the Mets -- now 54-61, nine games back in the division and eight games back in the wild card -- need to take things one game at a time.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Mejia’s cranky calf in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post wonders about Collins’ future. The manager is under contract for next season. Writes Vaccaro:
Too many games have played out this way, truth be told, with him making some truly head-scratching decisions. Look, if most of them worked, you would salute his gut and his guts, and he would be praised for some unconventional thinking. But that’s the chance you take. And plays like [Eric] Young [Jr.]’s offer further evidence that Collins probably went too far to the other side after spending his early managerial years as a self-admitted tyrant. There seems little to fear inside the Mets clubhouse.
At this point, he deserves the rest of the season. He deserves another job in the organization, back in player development, where his true talent lies. But when Harper’s ball sailed over the Samuel Adams sign, it effectively ended the Mets for 2014, and put everyone on the clock for 2015. That ticking starts in the manager’s office.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News pronounces the Mets’ season over. Columnist David Lennon in Newsday agrees.
Can we officially be done with the silly talk that has lingered about the Mets making some late-season run at the playoffs?
The Mets can stop the pretending now.
• After three straight solid outings, Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks in a 102-pitch effort that lasted five innings Thursday. Jayce Boyd’s two-run double in the eighth broke a scoreless tie as Binghamton blanked Richmond, 3-0. Cam Maron had three errors in addition to producing a pair of doubles as Fort Myers beat St. Lucie, 6-2. Martires Arias tossed six scoreless innings in Brooklyn’s 4-0 win against Mahoning Valley. Dowling College product Tyler Badamo earned his first professional win as the GCL Mets beat the GCL Cards, 5-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Critic Bob Raissman in the Daily News wonders why Gary, Keith and Ron objected to Tuesday’s SNY extensive coverage of Matt Harvey's mound session in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
BIRTHDAYS: John Hudek was born on this date in 1966.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Luis M. Alvarez/Associated PressBryce Harper celebrates a walk-off two-run homer against Carlos Torres on Thursday.
Once one of the most dependable and versatile pitchers the Mets possessed, the 31-year-old Torres is now in a major rut.
Torres walked leadoff man Ian Desmond and surrendered a walk-off two-run homer to Bryce Harper on Thursday afternoon as the Washington Nationals beat the Mets, 5-3, in 13 innings.
Torres did not record an out.
He has now surrendered eight earned runs -- and five homers -- in eight innings over his past seven appearances. He had produced a 2.88 ERA and has surrendered only four homers in 59 1/3 innings through July 12.
“He’s just having a tough time keeping it in the park,” Terry Collins said.
After starting Harper with a cutter in for a ball, Torres aimed to throw a two-seam fastball down and away.
“It just didn’t move that much, unfortunately,” Torres said.
Torres lamented a spike in his walks of late more than the recent hits he has surrendered. He has now issued four walks in three innings spanning his last four appearances.
“Realistically, I don’t think the hits are as much of a problem as the walks,” Torres said. “I think it was the Giants game I ended up walking the pitcher, [Madison] Bumgarner. My cutters were out of the zone. Today I walked Desmond. The Phillies game was a fluke. I walked three or four dudes in that game (actually, two). The time before I think I walked a guy also. I think that’s the bigger problem than the hits themselves.
“Nonetheless the hit cost us the game today.
"The team played extremely well. They did everything they could do for 12 innings. I didn’t give them a chance to make a play.”
Torres said the at-bat against Desmond got away from him because he tried to make Desmond miss out of the strike zone rather than pitch to contact after getting ahead in the count.
“I don’t usually walk people,” Torres added about his recent body of work. “That’s why I’m a little shocked by it, too.”
Of course, it’s entirely possible Torres’ heavy workload over the past two seasons is catching up with him. Torres' 67 1/3 relief innings lead the National League.
“I know he’s real frustrated about it,” Collins said about Torres’ struggles. “I know we all are, because he’s a huge part of our bullpen -- a very, very big part of our bullpen. Right now he’s struggling as bad as I’ve seen him.”
The rubber-game loss means the Mets are now nine games behind the first-place Nats.
“We need to beat this team,” Torres said. “So, for me personally, it’s frustrating, because I cost us the game.”
Carlos Torres, the last remaining reliever, surrendered a two-run homer to Bryce Harper in bottom of the 13th as the Mets suffered a 5-3 walk-off defeat against the Nationals in the rubber game on Thursday afternoon. Torres has surrendered at least one run in four of his past five appearances. He did not record an out.
The Mets (54-61) dropped nine games behind first-place Washington.
Off the hook: A quality start was not enough to prolong deGrom’s winning streak, but a seventh-inning rally saved the rookie right-hander from getting tagged with a loss.
With the Mets trailing 3-1, deGrom departed for pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the seventh. The Mets evened the score that inning against Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen.
DeGrom’s winning streak nonetheless was snapped at five straight starts, two shy of matching the franchise rookie record shared by Jason Isringhausen (1995), Ron Darling (1984) and Dwight Gooden (1984).
DeGrom’s franchise rookie record streak of 67 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a homer also ended. Ian Desmond produced a two-run shot in the second inning to open the game’s scoring. DeGrom had not surrendered a homer since June 5, to Travis Wood at Wrigley Field.
Desmond plated Adam LaRoche for the second time in the game on an RBI single in the fourth to stake Washington to a 3-1 lead.
DeGrom’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. He now is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA for the season.
Rally time: Nieuwenhuis improved to 7-for-17 as a pinch hitter this season when he delivered a one-out single in the seventh that advanced Wilmer Flores to second and chased Zimmermann. Storen entered and uncorked a wild pitch with Eric Young Jr. batting that advanced both runners.
E.Y. Jr. then smoked a liner to right-center. Jayson Werth ran it down in the gap, but Flores tagged up and scored to move the Mets within 3-2. Curtis Granderson, in the midst of a 1-for-23 rut, then singled past Desmond at shortstop and into center field to plate Nieuwenhuis and even the score at 3.
Hit man: Daniel Murphy continued to torment Zimmermann. Murphy went 3-for-3 against the ace, including an RBI double in the third that pulled the Mets within 2-1. Murphy has 16 hits against Zimmermann, the most of any major leaguer.
Get out of the way: In only his second start since July 26, E.Y. Jr. arguably cost the Mets a run. Young stepped in front of Juan Lagares in left-center and fielded Desmond’s fourth-inning single. E.Y. Jr. casually returned the ball to the infield, allowing LaRoche to score from second base.
All aboard! The Mets take Amtrak to Philly for a four-game wraparound series. Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) opposes Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-11, 4.16) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.
Jonathon Niese surrendered a season-high six runs as Washington beat the Mets, 7-1, Wednesday at Nationals Park. Doug Fister took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and notched his 11th win.
The Mets (54-60) dropped eight games behind the Nats (61-51) in the NL East standings.
Niese is now 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
Adam LaRoche had a two-run homer in a three-run first inning. Danny Espinosa opened a 6-0 lead with a three-run homer against Niese in the sixth. It marked only the second time this season Niese allowed two homers in a game (also April 12, against the Los Angeles Angels).
Niese’s final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
LaRoche also had a solo homer against Carlos Torres in the eighth. He has 26 career homers against the Mets. That is fourth-most against the Amazin's among active players, trailing only Ryan Howard (40), Chase Utley (32) and Jimmy Rollins (30).
Snapped: Curtis Granderson ended an 0-for-18 skid with a sixth-inning bunt single. He was stranded in scoring position when David Wright grounded into an inning-ending double play with two runners on base.
Debutant: Matt Thornton, a waiver claim from the Yankees, inherited two baserunners from Fister with one out in the top of the eighth in his Nats debut. The southpaw coaxed a fly out from Granderson, but then surrendered a two-out dribbling single through the right side of the infield to Daniel Murphy. That plated Juan Lagares with an unearned run charged to Fister as the Mets avoided getting shut out.
What’s next: Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.77 ERA), the NL Rookie of the Month for July, opposes right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.00) in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. rubber game. DeGrom is 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his past five starts.
MILWAUKEE -- Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese’s first outing since coming off the disabled list was rocky. This one was better, but still not good enough as the New York Mets lost 5-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
Coming back from left shoulder inflammation, his first start ended with season-highs -- the bad kind -- in hits (11) and runs (4) over six innings in a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
The left-hander’s chances to rebound against the Brewers certainly looked promising. He came in 2-0 with a 4.64 ERA in six career starts against them, but ended up losing after allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over five innings.
Niese (5-6) cruised through the first four innings, but then came unglued with two out in the bottom of the fifth when Milwaukee pushed across three runs to take the lead.
Niese’s wild pitch allowed Jean Segura to score from third. Carlos Gomez followed with a single and scored on Jonathan Lucroy’s double, who then scored on Ryan Braun’s base hit.
The Mets had plenty of chances to help Niese in a close game, but failed to come up with any timely hits. They were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
Both managers changed pitchers simultaneously with two out in the top of the sixth.
With a runner at third, Terry Collins sent Bobby Abreu to pinch hit for Niese, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke pulled starter Wily Peralta (12-6) and brought on Zach Duke. Collins then countered by bringing Abreu back into the dugout and sending out Eric Campbell. Duke struck out Campbell to end the threat and preserve a 3-2 lead for Peralta.
Carlos Torres relieved Niese to start the bottom of the sixth. Mark Reynolds greeted him with a solo home run that upped Milwaukee’s lead to 4-2.
Milwaukee tacked on another run off Torres with two out in their half of the eighth, when Rickie Weeks singled and scored on a double by Khris Davis. Reynolds hit a roller to third that David Wright fielded and threw to first in a close play. Initially ruled safe with another run scoring, manager Terry Collins asked for a review for the third consecutive game. After a one minute, three second study, the safe call was reversed.
Just dandy: Granderson finally delivered what the Mets needed from their lead-off hitter.
Batting first for the 26th time this season, he flew out to right field, extending his futility streak to 0-for-18. But, in the third, he doubled leading off the frame and scored on a one-out bloop single by Lucas Duda. In the fifth, he led off with a solo shot just inside the right-field foul pole for his 15th home run. His first since July 8.
Murphy’s bat: Friday night, Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4. Saturday night, he came in tied for third in the NL with 121 hits. That total went up with a 2-for-4 effort.
What’s next: Right-hander Jacob deGrom (4-5, 3.01 ERA) gets his second shot at the Brewers this season after they beat him 3-1 on June 11 at Citi Field. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson (1-1, 5.06) goes for Milwaukee in the 2:10 p.m. finale of the four-game series.
The Mets had a season-high-matching four-game winning streak snapped with a 6-0 loss against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night at Petco Park.
The Atlanta Braves lost and Washington Nationals won on Saturday. So the Mets trail both teams by seven games in the NL East, as they did when the second half began. Sixty-five games now remain.
Silent night: The Mets did not muster a hit against All-Star Tyson Ross until the fifth inning, when Travis d’Arnaud sent a leadoff trickler up the third-base line. Chase Headley elected to let the ball roll and it kicked off the base for an infield hit.
The Mets finally threatened against Ross in the seventh. Lucas Duda had a one-out single, Kirk Nieuwenhuis walked with two outs and Juan Lagares singled. However, Ruben Tejada struck out to leave the bases loaded.
Ross limited the Mets to four hits in seven scoreless innings. The Padres had scored a total of five runs with him on the mound in his previous eight starts.
Gee fizz: Dillon Gee surrendered four runs in five innings, including solo homers to Yasmani Grandal and Will Venable to lead off frames. It was Gee’s shortest start since June 22, 2013. He departed with the Mets trailing 4-0.
Grandal’s homer to right-center was estimated at 440 feet -- the longest at Petco Park this season.
Seth Smith welcomed Carlos Torres with a leadoff homer in the sixth as the lead increased to five runs.
Gee’s final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 2 HR. He threw 80 pitches in his second start since returning from the disabled list.
Gets a pass? D'Arnaud had two passed balls in the game, including one in the eighth inning that allowed a run to score. He has eight passed balls this season -- two shy of the MLB lead.
What’s next: The Mets and Padres play the rubber game Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET. Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90 ERA) opposes right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35). The Cuban defector Despaigne rivals Bartolo Colon in hitting prowess.
FIRST PITCH: Play ball!
After a four-day All-Star break, the Mets get back to business, trying to build on their 8-2 homestand that closed the first half.
The Amazin’s resume play against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park at 10:10 p.m. ET Friday. Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA) opposes right-hander Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47).
The Padres rank last in the majors in runs (279), average (.214), OBP (.273) and slugging percentage (.334). They lost consecutive 1-0 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers to close the first half. However, San Diego’s staff has a 2.08 ERA in 24 games since June 18.
Read the Mets-Padres series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• Daniel Murphy tells Marc Carig in Newsday that his agents have not had any extension talks with the Mets. Murphy, making $5.7 million this season, is eligible for arbitration a final time this winter. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
"I think that anybody would be willing to listen to an extension," Murphy told the newspaper. "They're not just passing out at-bats in this league. I don't know what the years or anything would look like. But at the point you come and say, 'Hey, we trust you with 600 at-bats [in each] of the next three to five years,' you're like, 'Yeah, I would like that.'”
• Former Mets GM Omar Minaya tells Mike Puma in the Post that the contribution of holdovers from his regime -- including Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Murphy, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia -- does not feel like vindication.
“I don’t think that way,” said Minaya, who is currently helping oversee the Padres in an interim capacity after the firing of Josh Byrnes as general manager. “You do your job. And when teams don’t win in [New York], people’s opinions are a product of it. We felt very comfortable and believed we had a plan in place to get athletes, to get good players to the major leagues. And it’s an organization, not just one person. Part of it has been Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson. They are part of bringing these guys along. It’s not an individual thing.”
• In a lengthy ESPNNewYork.com article by Andrew Marchand on Mets fandom, Jonathon Niese said: “We are not filling the stadium. Where are the Mets fans when we are down-and-out? They were here in '06 and '07 when we were really good, but we have struggled and they are not coming to the stadium."
• Puma in the Post chats with Terry Collins on the eve of the second half.
On the Mets’ postseason potential, Collins said: “We’ve got 67 games to go and we’ve got 39 in our division. If we end up having a good record against our division, I think we’re going to be in the mix at the end.”
On whether key bullpen pieces are overworked, the manager said: “Hell, I won’t know that until the end of August. That last month of the season is when those guys who are in the big leagues for that first full season, some of that stuff starts to show up. The fatigue, the pressure of 145 games at that time, and you can start to see it … because their minor-league seasons would have been over and they’re still playing. So how they handle that situation will determine how that last month will go.”
Carlos Torres leads all major league relievers with 59 1/3 innings. Familia’s 45 relief appearances trail MLB co-leaders Brad Ziegler (Arizona) and Will Smith (Milwaukee) by four.
• Back from the Futures Game, Noah Syndergaard allowed seven runs in five innings as Las Vegas lost to Salt Lake, 7-6. Dustin Lawley had a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs as Binghamton beat Trenton, 8-4. Michael Fulmer tossed six scoreless innings in the nightcap as St. Lucie split a doubleheader with Brevard County. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Ron Darling is “extremely optimistic” about the Mets, he tells Bob Raissman in the Daily News.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal asks three questions: Can the Mets continue to produce at the plate? Will the Mets wheel and deal before July 31? And will Syndergaard debut this season?
• Diamond in the Journal also revisits signing Chris Young over Nelson Cruz.
• Justin Terranova in the Post writes that the Mets can become deadline buyers.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record lists five people under scrutiny in the second half: Collins, Alderson, Travis d'Arnaud, Ruben Tejada and deGrom.
• Tim Healey at MLB.com revisits last August’s trade of Marlon Byrd, which yielded Vic Black and Dilson Herrera.
• Jeremy Hefner tossed two innings in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday, in his second game since returning from Tommy John surgery.
• Zack Wheeler is one of nine candidates in MLB who could demonstrate significant second-half improvement, Baseball Prospectus suggests. The site writes:
Wheeler has walked more than two batters just twice in past 11 starts (after cracking that threshold five times in his first eight games), and he entered the All-Star break with a string of three consecutive starts in which he pitched six or more innings and surrendered just a single run. He has also honed his stuff since last season, adding 0.5 mph to his fastball (which is now averaging 95.9 mph) and diversifying his pitch mix. He has doubled the frequency of his changeup, and though it is still the weakest offering in a repertoire that features a pair of plus breaking pitches, Wheeler has the potential to be dominant if he can refine el cambio. He has also kept the ball on the ground this season, upping his ground-ball rate by 10 percentage points while surrendering just seven bombs across 108.3 innings (only two homers have come since he turned 24 on May 30th), while his component stats have all trended in positive directions.
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger looks at the value of catchers framing pitches.
• Mets first-round pick Michael Conforto was in L.A. on Thursday as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top collegiate player. The honor went to the University of Kentucky product A.J. Reed. Conforto is due to rejoin Brooklyn on Friday and make his professional debut shortly thereafter.
• Keith Law placed four Mets prospects in his top 50 in MLB: Syndergaard at No. 16, Conforto at No. 32, Brandon Nimmo at No. 34 and Dominic Smith at No. 49. ESPN Insiders can read the commentary here.
• Friday is the MLB deadline to sign players from June’s draft. The Mets do not plan to sign any more of their remaining picks, DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com. Eleven college-bound prep players went unsigned: Luke Bonfield (21st round), Richard Moesker (23rd), Tommy Pincin (26th), Keaton McKinney (28th), Chris Glover (32nd), Brady Puckett (33rd), Jordan Hand (34th), Jonathan Teaney (35th), Garett King (36th), Tristan Gray (37th) and Kyle Dunster (38th). Bonfield and McKinney are headed to the University of Arkansas.
• The Padres have narrowed their GM search to four finalists, Scott Miller tweets: Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, MLB senior VP Kim Ng and Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller.
BIRTHDAYS: Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who finished his playing career with the Mets, turns 74. ... Minor-league pitcher Robert Gsellman is 21.
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YOU’RE UP: Which Mets player will take the biggest leap forward in the second half?
I find it interesting when fans argue that Minaya deserves credit for building this 45-50 #Mets team as if it is some slight to Alderson— Sean Sullivan (@MetsExaminer) July 17, 2014
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesMiami's Jose Fernandez (left) is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Marlins have won the last 10 games started by Henderson Alvarez (right).
FIRST PITCH: The Mets portray themselves as still part of the NL East race.
If they want to validate a series win against the Atlanta Braves, then they better head into the All-Star break strongly by taking care of business against the Miami Marlins, too.
Zack Wheeler (4-8, 4.07 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (6-3, 2.27) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener. The Marlins have won Alvarez’s past 10 starts. He is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA since May 22.
Friday’s news reports:
• Bartolo Colon allowed a pair of first-inning runs and that proved enough as the Atlanta Braves snapped the Mets’ season-high four-game winning streak with a 3-1 win Thursday at Citi Field. The Mets fell short of claiming their first four-game sweep against Atlanta in 25 years.
Colon has allowed 18 first-inning runs, trailing only Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick (23) in the majors this season. The total matches the most allowed by a Mets pitcher before the All-Star break in the past 40 years, according to STATS. Dwight Gooden in 1993 and Paul Wilson in 1996 also surrendered 18 first-inning runs.
Opponents are hitting .363 against Colon in the first inning this season, compared with .246 the remainder of his outings.
After limiting the Mets to one run in seven innings Thursday, Aaron Harang -- who finished last season with the Amazin’s -- now has held his former club to two runs and six hits in 20 innings this season.
With 70 games remaining, the Mets (42-50) trail the co-division-leading Braves and Nationals by eight games.
Read game recaps in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Columnist George Willis in the Post takes the position that it is best to trade Colon this month. Writes Willis:
Trading Colon and what’s left on his two-year contract worth $20 million should be a no-brainer, but now that the Mets fancy themselves as a contender, general manager Sandy Alderson might decide to wait until they have no chance of making the postseason or wait until a team becomes desperate enough to make him an offer for Colon that he can’t refuse.
Clearly, Collins seems reluctant to move one of his more dependable starters, especially now that Jon Niese is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. Collins is not only battling to get into a pennant race, but also is trying to keep his job and probably isn’t concerned about the young prospects a Colon trade might bring in return.
• The heavy dependence on a handful of core relievers may be using up all of their bullets and leave the Mets in trouble down the stretch. This week, Jeurys Familia's velocity sagged in one outing. Then he had trouble loosening up for his next appearance, although the fastball zip returned. Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal about the relief workload:
Entering Thursday's series finale against the Atlanta Braves, Familia had appeared in 35 games since May 1, the most of any pitcher during that span. He worked more than one inning in 10 of those outings, giving him 46 total innings on the year -- fourth-most among National League relievers. (Famila threw 19 2/3 innings between the majors and minors in 2013 as he recovered from elbow surgery.)
Even more alarming, the leader in that category also plays for the Mets: Carlos Torres, the 31-year-old righty who entered Thursday with 57 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, the most of any reliever in baseball.
• David Wright’s jersey is the eighth-most popular in the majors in terms of sales via MLB.com since Opening Day.
• Lloyd Carroll at Latino Sports reviews Sandy Alderson’s press conference from earlier this homestand.
• The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka has a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow, but will try to rehab rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. That should sound familiar to Mets fans, who watched Matt Harvey deliberate for two months before ultimately undergoing the procedure. Of course, all partial ligament tears are not created equal, and Tanaka’s tear reportedly is considered small. Read about Harvey’s advice for Tanaka in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Although Terry Collins pinch-hit for Ruben Tejada in the eighth inning -- leading Eric Campbell to play his first major league inning at shortstop in the ninth -- Tejada has been producing, Michael J. Fensom writes in the Star-Ledger.
• Colon batted eighth for the first time in his career, Mike Puma noted in the Post. Colon ended up coming to the plate, and striking out, with two runners aboard to end the second inning. Previously, Collins had only used pitchers Jacob deGrom and Jonathon Niese in the No. 8 slot (three times apiece).
• Starter Tyler Pill allowed four runs in the fifth inning in his Triple-A debut on Thursday, but Las Vegas already had staked him to a seven-run lead by that point en route to a 9-4 win against Reno. Brandon Allen homered and produced five RBIs in the 51s win. Travis Taijeron had a three-run homer and Darrell Ceciliani and Xorge Carrillo each had two hits and two RBIs as Binghamton beat Portland, 13-3.
John Lannan allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings, but St. Lucie lost at Bradenton, 4-1. Ricky Knapp was credited with a rain-shortened, seven-inning complete game as Savannah beat Charleston, 4-1. Starter Yoan Gonzalez allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings as Kingsport lost to Elizabethton, 4-2.
Casey Meisner allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings as Brooklyn lost at State College, 4-1. Kevin Canelon allowed two runs in the 12th inning as the GCL Mets lost to the GCL Nats, 7-5. Dash Winningham had two extra-base hits and two RBIs in the defeat.
Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Citi Field is hosting the “Bacon and Beer Classic” on July 26, while the Mets are on the road. Read more here.
• Evan Drellich in the Houston Chronicle writes that the Houston Astros and Nationals are making progress toward becoming spring-training neighbors of the Mets in a shared complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., come 2017.
• Right-hander Kevin McGowan, the Mets’ 13th-round pick in 2013 out of Franklin Pierce University, is featured in The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H.
• From the bloggers … Blogging Mets says the Mets must find a way to keep Campbell in the lineup.
BIRTHDAYS: Blaine Boyer turns 33 today. … Minor-league right-hander Greg Peavey is 26. … 11th-round pick Connor Buchmann is 21. ... Donne Wall was born on this date in 1967.
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