New York Mets: Christian Bethancourt

Series preview: Mets at Braves

September, 18, 2014
9/18/14
9:42
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Associated Press/Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Ervin Santana this weekend at Turner Field.
METS (73-80, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (76-76, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89), 7:35 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55) vs. LHP Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-6, 2.68) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (14-9, 3.74), 1:35 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Catcher Evan Gattis has been sidelined for nine games with strep throat and a kidney stone, but may be close to returning. Christian Bethancourt has started the past eight games behind the plate.

Right fielder Jason Heyward departed Wednesday’s game in the eighth, two innings after getting hit by a pitch in the left thumb. X-rays were negative. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons earlier left the game with a sore left ankle.

The Washington Nationals clinched the NL East title at Turner Field on Tuesday. The Nats and Braves were even in the standings as recently as July 20. That defeat was Atlanta’s 11th in 14 games. It temporarily knocked the Braves under .500 for the first time since losing on Opening Day.

The Braves broke ground on a new ballpark in Cobb County this week that will open in 2017. It will be called SunTrust Park. The Braves have played at Turner Field since the 1997 season -- the year after it hosted the Olympics.

Closer Craig Kimbrel is the first pitcher to begin his career with four consecutive 40-save seasons. Overall, he is only the third pitcher to have four straight seasons reaching that save plateau. Trevor Hoffman achieved it from 1998 through 2001 and from 2004 through ’07. Francisco Rodriguez did so from 2005 through ’08.

Justin Upton's 27 homers are tied with Lucas Duda's total for third in the National League. Idle Marlin Giancarlo Stanton has 37. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo has 31. Upton also ranks third in RBIs with 97.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Braves 3 (11)

July, 7, 2014
7/07/14
11:01
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NEW YORK -- Ya Gotta Believe?

The New York Mets, who aim to use this series against the Atlanta Braves to catapult themselves back into relevance, squandered a late lead but ultimately rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win in 11 innings on Monday at Citi Field.

Curtis Granderson produced a game-tying, two-out, solo home run in the eighth inning, and the Mets scored the winning run three innings later on Ruben Tejada's two-out RBI single off Anthony Varvaro.

Tejada also had the Mets' last walk-off hit, on May 11 against Philadelphia (also in the 11th inning).

The Mets (40-49) pulled to within nine games of the first-place Braves (49-40) in the NL East.

Wacky ninth: Eric Young Jr. ended up grounding into a fielder’s choice against Shae Simmons to strand the bases loaded and end the ninth inning, but how the Mets got there left Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez ejected and Mets manager Terry Collins perhaps worthy of admittance to the bar.

With the score tied at 3, Eric Campbell singled to open the frame. Juan Lagares then bunted, and umpire Sean Barber ruled Campbell out at second base, though a throw to first base for a double-play bid was too late.

However, Collins complained that Andrelton Simmons pulled his foot off second base before accepting the throw (which television replays supported).

"Neighborhood plays” are excluded from replay review, but Collins convinced the umps to confer and then go to video anyway. The ruling from the home office came back safe, which placed runners at first and second with no outs.

Gonzalez again argued and was ejected. He clearly believed the play was not reviewable.

In order for it to be considered a “neighborhood play,” the fielder must have acted to avoid a collision, which arguably wasn't the case, with Simmons pulling his foot off the bag to accept the throw at second. Perhaps that was Collins' winning argument.

Crazy eighth: Vic Black, Josh Edgin and Jenrry Mejia combined to allow three eighth-inning runs, as the Mets failed to hold a 2-0 lead after receiving seven scoreless innings from starter Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Black turned the two-run lead over to Edgin with Freddie Freeman on third base and two outs. Things quickly unraveled.

Edgin fired a wild pitch that sailed above Jason Heyward’s head and allowed Freeman to scamper home, which pulled the Braves within a run.

Given the series’ importance, Collins then turned to Mejia for a four-out save. Instead, the closer surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Chris Johnson off the top of the center-field wall. After an intentional walk to New Jersey native Tommy La Stella, rookie Christian Bethancourt served a go-ahead RBI single into right field.

Mejia suffered his second blown save in 10 chances. The other was June 7 at San Francisco.

Edgin had retired the first batter he faced in each of his previous 23 appearances -- a franchise record to begin a season.

Made the most: The Mets mustered only four hits through eight innings but made them count. Travis d'Arnaud had a second-inning double that plated Eric Campbell, who had reached via walk. David Wright homered the following inning against left-hander Mike Minor. Then, trailing 3-2 with two outs in the eighth, Granderson homered against Luis Avilan to even the score. Daniel Murphy followed Granderson’s homer with a single that chased Avilan.

The Braves had retired 15 straight batters between Wright’s and Granderson’s long balls, with Minor retiring 13 straight to close his seven-inning outing.

d'Arnaud has reached base in all 11 games since returning from Triple-A. Wright is hitting .395 (32-for-81) against southpaws this season.

No Dice: Matsuzaka tossed seven scoreless innings in his longest start of the season but was deprived of his first win since June 10.

Matsuzaka allowed two baserunners in each of the first three innings but repeatedly escaped unscathed. His final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K. He threw 100 pitches and departed with a 2-0 lead.

With Dillon Gee ready to return from the disabled list, Matsuzaka might have been reassigned to the bullpen this week had Jonathon Niese not landed on the disabled list. Matsuzaka had surrendered five runs in each of his previous two starts. His previous season high had been six innings, which he had accomplished in three starts.

Struck: Carlos Torres was struck on the bare hand with a liner in the 11th but remained in the game after a visit from the trainer.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom (1-5, 3.77 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29 ERA) at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

July, 6, 2014
7/06/14
9:23
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Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsTommy La Stella, a native of Closter, N.J., has taken over at second base for the Braves.
METS (39-49, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (49-39, first place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.72) vs. LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.73), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-5, 3.77) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.73) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (7-5, 3.93), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-7, 4.04) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (8-6, 3.67), 7:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

• With a 3-1 victory Sunday at Turner Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks snapped Atlanta’s season-high nine-game winning streak. The Braves had been bidding for their third straight series sweep, after winning four straight at Philadelphia and then three games against the Mets at Turner Field. The bullpen allowed one earned run in 22 2/3 innings during the winning streak.

Gerald Laird returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing last week’s Mets series to rest a strained right oblique. Christian Bethancourt handled the catching duties against the Mets and figures to continue to get the bulk of the starts, even with Laird now available. The rookie has performed solidly since his call-up nine days ago, hitting .292.

No. 1 catcher Evan Gattis (.290, 16 HR, 39 RBIs) landed on the DL on June 29 with a bulging disk in his back. He subsequently received an epidural injection and remains sidelined. Gattis continues to experience tightness.


Alex Brandon/Associated PressJason Heyward was ESPN's Defensive Player of the Month for June.


• Right fielder Jason Heyward received ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Month Award for June. He tied for the major league lead with eight defensive runs saved during the month. Heyward is hitting .125 (6-for-48) with no homers, three RBIs and 10 walks in his last 15 games (14 starts). Heyward nonetheless has reached base safely in 48 of 54 games since May 9.

• Center fielder B.J. Upton had a career-high 11-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. The hitting streak coincided with becoming the team’s leadoff hitter.

• Reigning NL Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons was installed in the No. 2 spot in the batting order beginning June 27. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) in 12 starts in that slot.

• Right-hander Julio Teheran, first baseman Freddie Freeman and closer Craig Kimbrel will represent Atlanta in the July 15 All-Star Game at Minnesota. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been selected to serve on NL manager Mike Matheny’s staff.

Freeman has played all but two innings for the Braves this season.

Kimbrel struck out all three batters he faced in recording last Tuesday’s save against the Mets. It marked the fifth time this season and 24th time in Kimbrel’s career that he faced at least three batters in an appearance and struck out each one. Kimbrel has struck out 43 percent of the batters he has faced in his career, the highest percentage in major league history among relievers with at least 150 saves. Billy Wagner ranks second at 33 percent.

Kimbrel’s 89.7 career save percentage (166-for-185) ranks third all time among relievers with at least 150 chances, trailing only Eric Gagne (91.7 percent) and John Smoltz (91.1).

• The Braves are the youngest team in the National League. Their average age on Opening Day was 27 years, 255 days.

Dan Uggla (.163, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 39 Ks in 129 at-bats) has been relegated to the bench. He has started only two games since May 23. Uggla is earning $13 million this season. He also is under contract for 2015 at $13 million.

Rookie Tommy La Stella -- a Closter, N.J., native and product of St. Joseph High School in Montvale -- has taken over the position. La Stella, 25, got off to a quick start. He then became mired in an 0-for-23 skid until rebounding.

La Stella (.294) had been installed as the leadoff hitter beginning June 18, but he subsequently was moved to No. 2 and then No. 7. He has three straight multi-hit games. La Stella spent his freshman year of college playing at St. John’s before transferring to Coastal Carolina.

• Right-handed reliever David Carpenter was activated from the DL on Wednesday. He had landed on the DL on June 17 with a strained biceps. Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, who had been promoted to replace Carpenter, landed on the DL two days later with a right elbow strain.

Mike Minor is 0-2 with a 4.46 ERA in his last eight starts. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets last week.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Mets 3

June, 30, 2014
6/30/14
10:35
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ATLANTA -- Jeurys Familia had been nearly automatic of late as the primary setup man to Jenrry Mejia, tossing nine straight scoreless innings and posting a 0.71 ERA since May 25.

Even the best have hiccups.

Entrusted with a two-run lead, Familia committed one of the Mets’ three costly errors in a four-run eighth as the Atlanta Braves rallied for a 5-3 win Monday at Turner Field.

The Mets (37-46) fell a season-high eight games behind the division-leading Braves and are at nine games under .500, matching their low-water mark for the season.

The Mets fell to 33-5 when ahead after seven innings.

Leading 3-1, Familia surrendered inning-opening singles to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. He then coaxed a would-be double-play comebacker from Chris Johnson. However, Familia bounced the throw to Ruben Tejada covering second base and everyone was safe.

With the bases loaded and none out, Jersey native Tommy La Stella then sent a run-scoring single up the middle. A second run scored on the play, tying the score at 3, when center fielder Juan Lagares could not cleanly field the ball, for a costly E-8.

Later, with the bases loaded and two outs, Andrelton Simmons sent a routine chopper to third baseman Eric Campbell. The ball popped out of Campbell’s glove and his ensuing throw to first base was late, allowing the Braves to take the lead.

Dana Eveland subsequently entered and issued a bases-loaded walk to force in another run.

The Mets entered the day with 15 double-play misplays and errors, tied with the San Diego Padres for the most in the major leagues, according to ESPN Stats & Information’s Mark Simon.

Wild thing: Zack Wheeler issued five walks and hit a batter, but managed to limit the Braves to one run in 6 1/3 innings and stood in position for the win until the eighth-inning meltdown.

Wheeler had tossed 83 pitches through four innings and looked headed for a short outing.

He then got a double play in a nine-pitch fifth and began to get more efficient.

With Wheeler coming off a career-low two-inning outing against Oakland in which he tossed only 48 pitches, and with him due to get an extra day of rest before pitching again Sunday, Terry Collins extended the right-hander.

With the Mets holing a 3-1 lead, Wheeler returned to the mound for the seventh inning with his pitch count already at 104. Wheeler surrendered a leadoff single to Christian Bethancourt, then pinch hitter Jordan Schafer sent a deep shot to left field that Chris Young ran down.

At that point, Wheeler departed -- and things got interesting.

Vic Black got B.J. Upton to ground into a potential inning-ending double play, but Tejada could not handle the grounder, which was generously scored an infield single. With two on and one out, Black coaxed Simmons to fly out.

Collins then returned to insert Josh Edgin to face the dangerous Freddie Freeman.

Edgin is now 21-for-21 this season in retiring the first batter he faces. Freeman flied out to left field as the Braves stranded two baserunners and the Mets maintained a two-run lead.

Wheeler’s final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP. He threw 113 pitches.

Leading man: Curtis Granderson, again in the leadoff spot after a cameo Sunday at cleanup, produced a game-opening homer against left-hander Alex Wood. The shot snapped an 0-for-17 drought by Granderson, albeit which included three shots to the outfield wall in Pittsburgh.

Granderson also had a leadoff homer June 15 at Citi Field against San Diego Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy. Monday’s shot marked his 26th career leadoff homer.

Catching on: Travis d'Arnaud continues to produce since returning from Vegas. Now able to reach pitches on the outer half of the plate because of his adjusted stance, d’Arnaud produced an RBI double in the second inning. He finished 1-for-4 and has hit safely in all six games since rejoining the Mets. D’Arnaud is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with one homer and four RBIs during that span.

Three cheers: The Mets entered the series batting .164 with the bases loaded this season. That figure remained intact Monday, but the Mets did pick up an RBI in such a situation. C.Y.’s third-inning sacrifice fly against Wood with the bases loaded increased the Mets’ lead to 3-0.

What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50) at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Series preview: Mets at Braves

June, 29, 2014
6/29/14
5:35
PM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran during their upcoming series in Atlanta.
METS (37-45, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (44-38, first place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.45) vs. LHP Alex Wood (6-6, 3.07), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23) vs. LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.62) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (7-5, 2.34), 7:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Alex Wood was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett and reentered the rotation Wednesday. He tossed seven scoreless innings at Houston in his first major league start since May 4. Wood replaced Gavin Floyd, who fractured the olecranon (funny bone) in his pitching elbow throwing a curveball. Mets doctor David Altchek performed season-ending surgery Wednesday in New York. Wood had opened the season in Atlanta’s rotation, but was shifted to the bullpen once Floyd returned from Tommy John surgery in early May.

Evan Gattis was forced to depart Friday’s game and since has been sidelined with a muscle issue in his upper back. Gattis, who had a career-high 20-game hitting streak snapped a week ago, hopes to avoid the disabled list. He has 16 homers, most among MLB catchers and tied with teammate Justin Upton for fifth overall in the National League.

Atlanta promoted top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt as a hedge, so the Braves would not be overly reliant on Gerald Laird. Ryan Doumit also has catching experience, but has started only two games behind the plate this season, both in early April.

Bethancourt had one plate appearance last Sept. 29, in his lone previous major league action. He got his first career start and action behind the plate in Game 2 of a doubleheader Saturday at Philadelphia. The 22-year-old Panamanian went 1-for-4. He has been selected to participate in his third Futures Game, at Minnesota on July 13.

Dan Uggla (.164, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 38 Ks in 128 at-bats) has been relegated to the bench because of profound struggles. He has started only two games since May 23. Uggla is earning $13 million this season. He also is under contract for 2015 at $13 million.


Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsNew Jersey native Tommy La Stella has overtaken Dan Uggla as the Braves' second baseman.


After brief use of Tyler Pastornicky and Ramiro Pena at second base, rookie Tommy La Stella -- a Closter, N.J., native and product of St. Joseph High School in Montvale -- has taken over the position. La Stella, 25, got off to a quick start, but had been mired in an 0-for-23 skid until delivering a three-run triple in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader.

La Stella (.278) had been installed as the leadoff hitter beginning June 18, but he subsequently was moved to No. 2. Beginning this past weekend, he shifted to seventh. La Stella spent his freshman year of college playing at St. John’s before transferring to Coastal Carolina.

• First baseman Freddie Freeman has started every Braves game this season. The only other National League players to start all their teams’ games in 2014 are the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and Giants’ Hunter Pence. Freeman actually had logged every inning until he was hit by a pitch in the elbow in the eighth inning Wednesday by Houston’s Darin Downs and departed that game.

In his last 15 games, Freeman is hitting .371 (23-for-62) with nine extra-base hits and seven multi-hit games.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward’s six outfield assists are tied for the NL lead.

• The Braves will move into a new home ballpark beginning with the 2017 season. The site is located in Cobb County, in an affluent area north of Atlanta. The Braves have called Turner Field home since 1997, the year after the stadium hosted the Olympics.

B.J. Upton and Justin Upton both homered Tuesday. It marked the fourth time the brothers went deep in the same game, which tied the major league record. Jason Giambi and Jeremy Giambi as well as Vladimir Guerrero and Wilton Guerrero also homered in the same game four times.

Andrelton Simmons, the reigning NL Gold Glove winner at shortstop, is the third-toughest player in the NL to strike out.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel has four blown saves this season, matching last season’s total and already exceeding the three he suffered in 2012. Kimbrel’s 89.6 career save percentage nonetheless ranks third all time among MLB relievers with at least 150 chances, trailing only Eric Gagne (91.7 percent) and John Smoltz (91.1 percent). Kimbrel’s 155th save came on June 6 and set the Braves franchise record for career saves, passing Smoltz.

• Right-handed reliever David Carpenter has started a rehab assignment. He landed on the DL on June 17 with a strained biceps. Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, who had been promoted to replace Carpenter, landed on the DL two days later with a right elbow strain.

• Manager Fredi Gonzalez will serve as a coach on Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s NL All-Star staff.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

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