New York Mets: Eric Campbell

Morning Briefing: L.A. luck; Sandy speaks

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
5:30
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a day off in California on Thursday, then get to work against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.

The Amazin’s get a reprieve of sorts, too.

Clayton Kershaw, originally due to start Friday’s series opener against the Mets, instead faces the San Diego Padres on normal rest on Thursday. So the Mets draw Dan Haren in the series opener, followed now by Zack Greinke on Saturday and Kevin Correia on Sunday.


Beck Diefenbach/Associated PressThe Mets get a reprieve in L.A. with Clayton Kershaw moved out of the series.


The L.A. shakeup allows Greinke two extra days of rest for a cranky right elbow that will not be 100 percent the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, the Mets will activate a pair of starting pitchers for the series.

After Jonathon Niese starts the series opener, Jacob deGrom is due to be activated from the disabled list to pitch Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Bartolo Colon will be activated from bereavement leave for Sunday’s series finale. Colon then plans to return to the Dominican Republic for the funeral of his mother, who died Monday at age 63 after battling breast cancer.

The Mets ultimately will need to make as many as three roster moves -- for deGrom, Colon and, presumably, for Daisuke Matsuzaka early next homestand.

Matsuzaka, currently on the DL with right elbow inflammation, is due to make his third minor-league rehab start Thursday. He pitches for the Brooklyn Cyclones at 7 p.m. against the Staten Island Yankees at Coney Island.

The Mets have a number of potential maneuvers to clear as many as three spots. Gonzalez Germen, promoted when Colon went on bereavement leave, could return to Las Vegas. So could Rafael Montero, who otherwise would be working out of the bullpen with deGrom reentering the rotation. Perhaps the Mets also could find a DL candidate among some banged-up players.

Jenrry Mejia, who has a hernia and cranky calf, was unavailable Wednesday in Oakland because of tightness in his lower back on the right side, which is a recurring issue. Dana Eveland required a cortisone shot in his left elbow. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with neck discomfort.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Sandy Alderson joined Seth Everett on WOR, reminiscing about his days in Oakland and also commenting about the state of the Mets. (Listen here.)

On the team’s offensive funk (Wednesday notwithstanding), the GM said: “It’s been pretty much across the board, starting with the top of our lineup all the way through. When you only get three or four hits a night, there’s a collective issue. We’ve got some young players in the lineup who we’ve got to give some time, but I think it’s been a collective thing. I do believe that offensively we will get better. The question is how much better.”

Addressing David Wright's subpar production, Alderson added: “First of all, no player is ever going to be at the top of his game consistently throughout a season, or over ‘X’ number of seasons. And part of dealing with the adversity is how it’s handled. David handles it very well. We certainly recognize this is a collective thing.”

On the evaluation process for Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores, Alderson said: “The one thing that we have to do is be patient and not reach those judgments prematurely.”

And on how Terry Collins will be judged, Alderson said: “It’s more than wins and losses. It’s how the team approaches each game and how it conducts itself over the course of an entire season. All those things are important.”

Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda homered in a five-run second inning against Jeff Samardzija and the Mets survived a pair of errors by Daniel Murphy en route to an 8-5 win against Oakland on Wednesday.

Zack Wheeler (9-8) allowed four runs (two earned). He was pulled after 5 2/3 innings and 103 pitches as the Mets kept him on a tight pitch limit after he threw 120 his previous outing. Wheeler improved to 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his past 10 starts and climbed above .500 for the first time this season.

With Mejia unavailable, Jeurys Familia produced a five-out save. Familia inherited the bases loaded in the eighth from Vic Black and walked in a run, but otherwise kept the A’s in check.

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

• Read more on Colon’s temporary return for Sunday’s start in the Daily News and Newsday.

• Read more on Eveland’s “tennis elbow” and cortisone injection in the Star-Ledger.

• Matt Bowman allowed one run in seven innings but suffered a hard-luck loss as New Orleans beat Las Vegas, 4-0. Behind three RBIs from Dustin Lawley, Binghamton trimmed its magic number to clinch an Eastern League playoff berth to one with an 8-5 win at Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Felix Millan turns 71 today. ... John Stearns is 63.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How should the Mets clear spots for deGrom, Colon and Matsuzaka?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Cubs 3

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
9:49
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Now that the undercard is over, it's on to the Boyz II Men postgame concert!

Vic Black bailed the Mets out of a precarious predicament in the seventh, and the Amazin’s held on to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 on Saturday at Citi Field.

Jonathon Niese had cruised into the seventh with a six-run lead, having only allowed a Welington Castillo solo homer, when things quickly cratered.

Justin Ruggiano led off with a homer, and the next four batters singled. By the time Niese departed, the Cubs had pulled within four runs, and the bases remained loaded, still with none out.

Black rescued the Mets.

He coaxed a fly out to left field from Chris Coghlan, and the runners decided to hold. Black then got Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo to pop out in the infield to preserve the 7-3 lead.

Black has now stranded 19 straight inherited baserunners.

Oh captain: Eric Campbell replaced David Wright at third base for the seventh inning, a half-inning after the captain was drilled by a pitch from Cubs starter Dan Straily in the left shoulder blade. The Mets labeled the injury shoulder soreness.

Early lead: After Wilmer Flores drove in two runs with a single to stake the Mets to a 3-0 lead in the second, Straily retired 12 straight batters in his Cubs debut. Things then unraveled for the former Oakland Athletics right-hander in what became a four-run sixth, despite the Mets' producing only one hit in the frame.

With one out, Straily drilled Wright, walked Lucas Duda, surrendered a single to Travis d'Arnaud and walked Matt den Dekker to force in a run and give the Mets a 4-1 lead.

Cubs manager Rick Renteria pulled Straily at that point.

Kyuji Fujikawa inherited loaded bases and immediately experienced a letdown behind him. Center fielder Arismendy Alcantara had Juan Lagares' line drive glance off his glove for a sacrifice fly and E-8, as two runs scored. After an intentional walk to Flores with first base open, Niese followed with a run-scoring groundout, and the Mets grabbed a 7-1 lead.

Buddy! Buddy Carlyle tossed a scoreless ninth to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 11 1/3 innings.

What’s next: Rafael Montero makes his second and potentially final start as a sub for Jacob deGrom at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. Montero (0-3, 6.12 ERA) opposes right-hander Jake Arrieta (6-4, 2.77).

DeGrom is due to throw off a mound Sunday and, if all goes according to plan, should return Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Montero allowed homers to Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond and was charged with five runs in five innings Tuesday against the Washington Nationals in the rookie’s return to the majors. He also made four major league starts in May.

Morning Briefing: Castro doesn't want to go

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
5:24
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: After getting swept in a three-game series at Wrigley Field in June, the Mets began getting some payback Friday against the Chicago Cubs.

Next up: Jonathon Niese (6-8, 3.46 ERA) opposes right-hander Dan Straily (1-2, 4.93) on Saturday at 7:10 p.m.

Saturday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler remained unbeaten in his last nine starts and Eric Campbell launched a three-run homer as the Mets beat the Cubs, 3-2, Friday at Citi Field. The Mets rebounded after a disastrous three-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Wheeler wants to go deeper in games, but nonetheless has a 2.02 ERA and is 5-0 since June 25. He struck out 10 and tossed a career-high 120 pitches on Friday. Campbell would be a regular starter if he displayed consistent power, according to Terry Collins. Campbell’s homer is the only hit the Mets have in 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position on the homestand.

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

• Read more on Wheeler from columnist George Willis in the Post.

• Six days after he was designated for assignment, Chris Young officially was released on Friday as the Mets ate what remained on his $7.25 million contract.


Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesStarlin Castro says he wants to remain a Cub.


• Although either shortstop acquisition would be costly in terms of young pitching, the Mets are getting to view two potential trade targets this weekend with the Cubs -- Starlin Castro and Javier Baez. Blocked, the rookie Baez is manning second base.

“I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here all my career,” Castro told reporters pregame Friday regarding the Cubs (via Anthony McCarron in the Daily News). “… I know myself. I know I can be a good player and I know a lot of teams can want me. But I’m here and I don’t want to leave here. I feel comfortable here and I want to be a part of this team when we compete, when we win playoffs and stuff like that.”

"The beauty of having shortstops is that they actually can transition into other positions," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said (via Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger). "They’re very athletic. … I don’t think it’s a problem. I think when you have to cross that bridge to make adjustments, you do. Right now I don’t have to really concern myself with it. Starlin’s our shortstop. And Javy is our second baseman. If there’s ever something that ever develops we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it."

• The Mets participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge on Friday afternoon to benefit ALS. They challenged the SNY broadcast crew and Mets fan Jon Stewart. Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes a rehab start Saturday for Double-A Binghamton at Reading. Collins said Matsuzaka’s role upon eventually returning from the DL will be contingent upon Jacob deGrom's timetable for recovery and, potentially, Rafael Montero's performance Sunday. DeGrom is due to throw Saturday for the first time since landing on the DL with rotator-cuff tendinitis. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Despite pitching with a hernia and cranky calf, Jenrry Mejia tossed a perfect ninth inning Friday for his first save in a week. Read more in the Post.

Travis d'Arnaud took a backswing off his left elbow and is expected to protect it with a pad Saturday.

Ruben Tejada will get a start during the Cubs series.

• Joe Lemire in the Journal discusses the travel rigors with having a Triple-A team so far away from New York.

• Will Sammon in Newsday interviews Wilmer Flores.

• Matt Bowman tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings and combined with Miguel Socolovich on the shutout as Las Vegas blanked Iowa, 2-0. Brian Burgamy had a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh and Binghamton beat Reading, 8-7. Jeff McNeil had a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 10-7. Jon Leroux had a grand slam in Savannah’s 16-4 rout of Greenville. Marcos Molina allowed one hit and one walk and struck out a career-high 12 in seven scoreless innings in Brooklyn’s 7-0 win against Vermont. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• John DeMarzo in the Post catches up with first-round pick Michael Conforto out of Oregon State, who is hitting .320/.415/.440 through 27 games with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets takes an early look at the possible Mets payroll for 2015.

BIRTHDAYS: Roger Cedeno turns 40. ... Rick Reed is 50. ... Mike Jorgensen was born on this date in 1948.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you think the Mets can work out a deal with the Cubs for a shortstop this winter?

Power keeping Campbell from everyday role

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
11:15
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Terry Collins notes that Eric Campbell really is not a power hitter. If he ever becomes one, the manager added, Campbell will have a hard time talking his way out of the lineup.

Campbell's second homer in 57 major league games proved the difference as the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, on Friday at Citi Field. Campbell, now regularly starting against southpaws in left field, delivered a three-run shot against left-hander Travis Wood in the fourth inning as the Mets overcame an early two-run deficit.

"He was struggling with his command that inning, so I figured if he's going to throw a strike, it's probably going to be something toward the middle, just trying to get it over," said Campbell, who had watched two teammates walk that inning. "He did. He left one over the plate and I got the barrel out there."

The shot also snapped an 0-for-18 beginning to the homestand for the Mets with runners in scoring position.

Collins, meanwhile, left Campbell in for the ninth inning with the Mets nursing a one-run lead, rather than insert Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis as a defensive replacement.

Collins noted Campbell has a couple of outfield assists and has overall played solidly in left field, even though he is a natural infielder. Still, Collins said, his primary motivation for leaving Campbell in the game was to keep his bat in the lineup in case the Cubs had happened to tie the score against Jenrry Mejia. That's the case even though Campbell made the final out of the eighth and likely would not have batted again until sometime in extra innings.

Save and a beaut: Mejia converted his first save in a week with a perfect ninth. Even though the Mets suggest the hernia and calf issues are not impediments to Mejia pitching, Collins asserted that a light workload the past week probably has done Mejia good. Mejia was working his second straight day after a three-day layoff.

Running wild: Wilmer Flores was thrown out at third base for the second out of the seventh inning while trying to tag up on Curtis Granderson's flyout to left field. Collins labeled that an "error of enthusiasm" by a young player.

Campbell also was doubled off the bases -- when he took off from first base and didn't turn back on Juan Lagares' lineout to right field. In that case, Collins offered somewhat of an alibi -- that Campbell was stealing and lost the baseball.

Ouch: The backswing that struck Travis d'Arnaud on the elbow "smoked him," according to Collins. The training staff told the manager that d'Arnaud probably will need to wear a pad over the swollen area on Saturday.

Like a gazelle: Lagares was so graceful, it may have gone under the radar. But he glided into right-center and easily ran down what initially looked like a dangerous shot by Ryan Sweeney to lead off the ninth. "He makes them look easy," Collins said.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Cubs 2

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
10:15
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler continues to look like a budding ace.

Wheeler remained unbeaten in nine starts since June 25 as the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in Friday’s series opener at Citi Field.

After a pair of walks to open the bottom of the fourth, Eric Campbell bashed a three-run homer against left-hander Travis Wood as the Mets (58-65) overcame an early 2-0 deficit.

Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia shut down the Cubs over the final two innings. The Mets won despite producing only four hits.


Elsa/Getty ImagesEric Campbell's three-run homer made Zack Wheeler a winner.


Wheeler improved to 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his past nine starts. He limited the Cubs to two runs on four hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out 10 in a career-high 120-pitch effort. It marked his third career double-digit strikeout game.

His lone issue is an inability to go deep into games because of high pitch counts, in part fueled by the walks. Wheeler has not completed seven innings in any outing during his nine-game unbeaten streak. He has issued 11 walks in 19 1/3 innings in his past three starts.

The damage Friday came in the third on a run-scoring groundout by Anthony Rizzo and RBI single by Starlin Castro. Wood, albeit a solid-hitting pitcher, walked to lead off that inning.

Snapped: David Wright's 13-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-3 night that included one walk. Wright had one extra-base hit during that stretch.

Late-game replacement: Ruben Tejada handled the final two innings at shortstop over Wilmer Flores after walking as a pinch hitter.

Ouch: Travis d'Arnaud was clocked with Javier Baez's backswing on the Cubs rookie’s foul pop-out in the fifth. D’Arnaud remained in the game after a visit from Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (6-8, 3.46 ERA) opposes Dan Straily in the right-hander’s Cubs debut at 7:10 p.m. Saturday. Straily went 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA earlier this season with the Oakland Athletics.

Lefty lineup includes Campbell, Duda

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
5:08
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Mets face only their 26th left-handed starter of the season on Friday night --

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Travis Wood, in the series opener against the Chicago Cubs. And Terry Collins' current lineup preference against a southpaw involves Eric Campbell in left field and Lucas Duda at first base.

After regularly starting a righty batter (Josh Satin and then Campbell) at first base against southpaws, the Mets recently resolved to give Duda a fresh chance against left-handed pitching. For the season, Duda is hitting .167 (12-for-72) with one homer against left-handers.

As for left field, Campbell essentially is in a platoon with Matt den Dekker at this point.

Rapid Reaction: Nationals 3, Mets 2

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
10:02
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have never won 10 straight games at Citi Field.

The Washington Nationals have.

The Mets have never homered in 10 straight games at Citi Field.

The Nationals have.

Whose home ballpark is this, anyway? Lately, it sure seems to belong to the Nationals, who beat the Mets again (and homered again) in a 3-2 win Wednesday night.

"We've got to be able to keep the ball in the park," Mets manager Terry Collins said Wednesday afternoon. "We can't match them home run for home run."

The Mets actually did match the Nationals homer for homer on Wednesday, but it wasn't that tough. The only Washington home run was Asdrubal Cabrera's eighth-inning shot off Jeurys Familia, after Bartolo Colon pitched seven homerless innings.

Travis d'Arnaud homered off Nationals closer Rafael Soriano in the ninth inning. The Mets then had runners at second and third with one out, but Soriano got ground balls from Eric Campbell and Curtis Granderson to end it.

No team has a longer Citi Field winning streak than the Nationals. The only other team to beat the Mets 10 straight times in New York was the Atlanta Braves, who did it in 1991-92 at Shea Stadium.

Lagares gives, and takes away: The Nationals knew better than to challenge Juan Lagares' arm in the seventh inning. But they didn't need to.

After Adam LaRoche doubled to start the inning, Ian Desmond singled to center field. Nationals third-base coach Bob Henley wisely held LaRoche at third, but Lagares unwisely fired the ball far over the head of cutoff man Lucas Duda. That allowed Desmond to take second base, and it eventually cost the Mets a crucial run, when Desmond scored the go-ahead run on a Kevin Frandsen sacrifice fly.

Mets get a gift: The Mets' fourth-inning run off Jordan Zimmermann was unearned -- very unearned. Duda was on first base with a two-out single when Travis d'Arnaud hit a routine fly ball to left field. Frandsen, playing because Jayson Werth is hurt and Denard Span got the night off, dropped it. Duda scored all the way from first base, and the Mets had a 1-0 lead.

And then almost another: The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but only with the help of a pair of Nationals errors and also a hit batter. Even that wasn't enough, because Wilmer Flores grounded weakly to third base (for a force at the plate), and pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out.

The good Bart: Who knows at this point if there will be any more trade interest in Colon this month than there was in July? But the Mets will no doubt hope teams were paying attention as he allowed just one earned run in seven innings against the a good Nationals team, allowing just six hits and striking out eight.

What's next: The Mets and Nationals complete this three-game series with a 7:10 p.m. ET game Thursday at Citi Field. Dillon Gee (4-4, 3.54) starts for the Mets, with right-hander Stephen Strasburg (8-10, 3.68) going for the Nationals.

Morning Briefing: Mets own Philly

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
5:20
AM ET
PHILADELPHIA

FIRST PITCH: The Mets continue to beat up on the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Amazin’s on Saturday improved to 10-4 against the Phillies this season. They are 46-57 against the rest of baseball.

The success includes a 7-1 record at Citizens Bank Park in 2014.

Dating back to last season, the Mets have won 12 of their last 14 in the City of Brotherly Love.

Zack Wheeler looks to continue that roll Sunday. Wheeler, who is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his past seven starts, opposes right-hander Kyle Kendrick (5-11, 4.74 ERA) at 1:35 p.m.

Sunday’s news reports:

Lucas Duda, getting a chance to prove he can produce against left-handed pitching, delivered a tiebreaking RBI single against Antonio Bastardo in the 11th as the Mets beat the Phillies, 2-1, Saturday.

It marked the sixth extra-inning game between the teams this season, matching the most between the Mets and one opponent in franchise history. The Amazin’s also played six extra-inning games against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With Jenrry Mejia having worked consecutive days with a tight calf, Jeurys Familia handled Saturday’s save, albeit allowing two baserunners in the 11th.

Dillon Gee limited Philadelphia to a seventh-inning solo homer by Carlos Ruiz as the right-hander put a subpar start to the second half behind him. Gee also overcame career-long woes in Philly.

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

Matt den Dekker joined the Mets on Saturday in place of Chris Young, who was designated for assignment. Terry Collins said den Dekker should bat sixth and start against right-handed pitching in left field, with Eric Campbell facing southpaws. Den Dekker, who led the Pacific Coast League in batting at .334, attributed the success partly to a more compact swing, which includes a wider stance and shorter stride. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post warns Mets brass not to let late-season success by young players prompt conservative spending this winter.

• Davidoff in the Post also asserts that the Mets and Yankees both support Rob Manfred as MLB’s next commissioner for different reasons. In the Mets’ case, Davidoff suggests, it’s because of the team’s cozy relationship with Bud Selig. Manfred is Selig’s preferred choice.

• Jeff Roberts in the Record writes about the longtime friendship between Mejia and Familia and details their pre-baseball lives in the Dominican Republic, including Mejia’s job shining shoes at age 10.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post begins to ask which young pitchers will stay and which will go as the Mets make moves this offseason.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record suggests the Mets made the right call emphasizing youth.

Matt Harvey threw 29 pitches off the slope of a mound Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Bill Price in the Daily News asserts it’s not prudent for Harvey to pitch in the majors this season. (He won’t be.)

Bobby Parnell tossed a baseball Saturday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 8.

• Noah Syndergaard talks about his progress in the Daily News. “I don’t feel like I’m ready quite yet, but if I were to get the call tomorrow, I would find a way to get the job done, somehow,” Syndergaard told the newspaper.

• Kevin Plawecki had a two-run homer as Las Vegas beat Albuquerque, 8-3. Rainy Lara tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings as Binghamton beat Harrisburg, 3-1. Dominic Smith produced his first 2014 homer as Savannah split a doubleheader against Augusta. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• The Brooklyn Cyclones, who host the New York-Penn League All-Star Game on July 19, had six players selected for the game: shortstop Amed Rosario, third baseman Jhoan Urena, right-handers Marcos Molina and Corey Oswalt, left-hander Shane Bay and outfielder Michael Bernal.

BIRTHDAYS: den Dekker turns 27. ... Chuck Carr is 47.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Has Zack Wheeler turned a corner?

Harvey takes Ice Bucket Challenge

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
1:02
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- Matt Harvey dunked himself in an ice-cold pool as part of the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to raise awareness of ALS.

The challenge is helping generate attention for former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates' battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Frates and Eric Campbell are former college teammates.

Writes Rachel G. Bowers in The Boston Globe:

Pinpointing the origin of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is like deciphering the original phrase in a jumbled game of Telephone, but the viral video stunt’s growth on the Internet was swift. It has been done by pro golfers Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Greg Norman, and Michelle Wie. So have NBC’s Matt Lauer and Martha Stewart, and the Boston sports community has embraced it lately.

The concept is simple: either douse or donate. As people accept the challenge and record themselves doing it, they call out others. The goal is to raise awareness, and money, for charity. Those challenged have 24 hours to do the challenge, donate to a charity, or both.

Morning Briefing: Nat-swatting

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
5:24
AM ET
WASHINGTON

FIRST PITCH: The Mets entered their series at Washington having lost 10 of their last 11 games against the Nationals.

Now, after a victory in Tuesday’s opener, the Mets attempt to make it two in a row on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at Nationals Park.

Jonathon Niese (5-7, 3.24 ERA) opposes right-hander Doug Fister (10-3, 2.68).

Before the game, the Mets will visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“It’s going to be a humbling experience,” Daniel Murphy said.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Zack Wheeler had a 33-pitch second inning and allowed the first two batters to reach in four of his seven innings. Yet Wheeler managed to limit Washington to one run in 6 2/3 innings as the Mets beat the Nationals, 6-1, Tuesday. Wheeler is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his past seven starts.

Eric Campbell threw out Jayson Werth at the plate and Juan Lagares had another big-time catch to stymie the Nats.

The Mets now own a 54-59 record and trail first-place Washington by seven games. The Mets also are seven games out in the wild card.

Lucas Duda, starting against a left-hander, went 0-for-3 against Gio Gonzalez but contributed after the southpaw’s departure.

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

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News believes that while the Mets might trade from their pitching surplus this offseason, Wheeler is making himself practically untouchable.

• In his first “official” mound session, Matt Harvey threw 20 pitches in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon and pronounced the activity a success. Watch video at TCPalm.com. Read more in the Times, Daily News, Newsday, Journal and at MLB.com.

• Stan Conte, vice president of medical services for the Los Angeles Dodgers, tells Marc Carig in Newsday that 12 months appears the minimum prudent recovery time following Tommy John surgery.

"When we start seeing some of these guys with a second Tommy John, it worries me as the guy who does the rehab that we're going too fast," Conte told Carig. "I don't want the perception to be that everybody comes backs at 12 months, and if they come back at 14 months, they're behind schedule. We do this all the time. Everybody quotes the same thing. It's 12 to 18 months. But nobody pays attention to the 18 months."

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post suggests that Masahiro Tanaka and Harvey throwing on consecutive days provide hope for both New York teams.

• Mets games on SNY are the seventh-most popular programming in prime time in New York -- one of the lowest rankings for a team in its home city, according to Nielsen data compiled by Maury Brown at Forbes. Yankees games on YES rank third in NYC in prime time. Twelve teams are the most popular prime-time programming in their home cities.

Rafael Montero allowed one hit in eight scoreless innings and Matt den Dekker had another multi-hit game as Las Vegas blanked Sacramento, 3-0. Tyler Pill tossed seven scoreless innings and Brian Burgamy had four RBIs as Binghamton built a big lead and held on to beat Richmond, 9-6. Miller Diaz had a seven-inning shutout as Savannah split a doubleheader with Charleston. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Ever spot those red marks on the necks of Mets players, particularly on Daisuke Matsuzaka? Jared Diamond in the Journal speaks with players about the ancient Chinese technique of cupping therapy, which several Mets -- and other major leaguers -- employ with the team’s blessing.

Not everyone is sold it is effective, though.

"There's absolutely zero evidence that cupping has any kind of positive role in medicine," Barrie Cassileth, the chief of integrative medicine service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told Diamond. "I cannot conceive of any benefit except a psychological benefit.”

• The Mets accidentally gave away a toy truck with a Phillies logo on the side during their last homestand, Eliot Shorr-Parks writes at NJ.com.

• Darryl Strawberry said allegations that a former teammate beheaded a cat in the mid-1980s are true, Bernie Augustine writes in the Daily News.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had a pinch-hit RBI single in his return to the majors Tuesday, told MLB.com pregame about his season of promotions and demotions: "You try and keep it on as much of an even keel as possible. I think one thing that's really been more evident to me this year is that it kind of builds character. I think you can really take some good stuff out of it. You really learn that you can only control how you play. You learn that it's a business in baseball."

BIRTHDAYS: Wilmer Flores turns 23. ... Victor Zambrano, who once was traded for Scott Kazmir, is 39. ... Reigning South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week John Gant is 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can Zack Wheeler be a No. 1 starter?

Campbell, Lagares plays aid Mets

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
11:54
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- A pair of stellar plays from Mets outfielders proved a big assist in allowing Zack Wheeler to get through Tuesday’s eventual 6-1 win against the Washington Nationals.

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lastname
Campbell
Novice outfielder Eric Campbell, in his second major league start in left field, threw out Jayson Werth at the plate in the sixth inning to prevent the Nats from pulling even at 2. An inning later, after the Mets had opened a four-run lead, Lagares dove forward and caught Denard Span's shallow fly ball to strand a runner at third.

Lagares got the wind knocked out of him but was uninjured on the play, according to Terry Collins.

“There’s no substitute for catching the baseball,” Collins said. “We’ll reiterate what we’ve said in the past: Last year, when we started playing good, it’s because we caught the ball. When you have good pitching and you catch the ball, it’s tough to score. And our defense played very well tonight.”

Campbell is a natural infielder, although he has played in 168 minor-league games in left field. His throw to the plate came on a single by Adam LaRoche.

“Even when I’m playing infield, I’m still long-tossing and stretching my arm out, so in case I do go back out to the outfield I’m ready for it,” Campbell said. “What I was more worried about was just catching it first. I knew I could make an accurate throw, but just fielding it cleanly was the key there.

“I hope it shows them that I can play out there a little more, and if they do put me out on a double-switch late in the game that I can handle myself.”

Said Daniel Murphy: “I played a little left field. That was really good. I couldn’t have done it. It changed the whole game right there.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 6, Nats 1

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
10:18
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- To say Zack Wheeler walked a tightrope would be an understatement. Regardless, he ended up barely scathed on the scoreboard … and a winner.

Wheeler faced a pair of baserunners aboard and none out in four of the seven innings he worked and had high early pitch counts (46 through two innings, 65 through three innings). Yet he somehow managed to limit Washington to one run in 6 2/3 innings as the Mets produced a 6-1 win against the first-place Nationals on Tuesday night.

The Amazin's won for only the second time in their last dozen games against the Nats. With 49 games remaining, the Mets (54-59) now trail Washington by seven games.

Wheeler issued three walks and a wild pitch in a rocky second inning, but limited the damage to one run in that frame.


Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday against Washington.


He has now made seven straight starts in which he has limited his opponent to two runs or fewer while logging at least six innings in each appearance. That’s the longest single-season streak by a Mets pitcher since Masato Yoshii went eight straight outings in 1999 allowing two or fewer runs while completing at least six innings in each.

Wheeler's final line in a 109-pitch outing: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.

Thanks! A pair of Nats plays on the bases helped Wheeler improve to 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his past seven starts.

A half-inning after the Mets took a 2-0 lead on Wheeler’s two-out bloop single in front of sliding right fielder Jayson Werth, Wheeler loaded the bases with three walks in the second. With No. 8 hitter Jose Lobaton batting, Wheeler then uncorked a wild pitch that got the Nats on the scoreboard and advanced Ian Desmond to third base and Asdrubal Cabrera to second base.

Lobaton then hit what should have been a run-scoring groundout to shortstop. However, the grounder struck Cabrera as he was running to third base. He was ruled out. And Desmond, who was racing home, was forced to return to third base on the dead ball. Wheeler ultimately stranded Desmond there. He ended the 33-pitch inning by coaxing a flyout from opposing pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

Still clinging to that 2-1 lead in the sixth, Wheeler surrendered a leadoff double to Werth. Adam LaRoche then singled to left field, and Nats third-base coach Bob Henley waved home Werth. Making only his second major league start in left field, natural infielder Eric Campbell threw out Werth for his second career outfield assist. A replay review initiated by the crew confirmed Travis d'Arnaud had not improperly blocked the plate.

Campbell also had an outfield assist May 22 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That happened to be Campbell’s only other major league start in left field. That time, Yasiel Puig was doubled off second base on Hanley Ramirez's lineout.

Adding on: The Mets finally got some breathing room in the seventh.

After Gonzalez departed with a pair of Mets on base and none out, Wheeler laid down a sacrifice bunt against Drew Storen. Juan Lagares was drilled with a pitch in the left arm to load the bases. And Daniel Murphy followed with a two-run single passed Cabrera’s backhand at second base as the Mets took a 4-1 lead. Lucas Duda added an RBI single later in the frame.

Had the recently acquired Cabrera been able to field Murphy’s grounder on the arguably makeable play, the Nats may have escaped with an inning-ending double play, still only trailing by a run.

Ouch: Lagares received an escort off the field from trainer Ray Ramirez and Terry Collins after appearing to twist his left ankle -- and possibly landing on an arm -- on an inning-ending catch in the seventh that stranded a runner at third base. Lagares remained in the game.

Audition flop: Getting a rare start against a left-hander, Duda went 0-for-3 against Gonzalez with two groundouts.

Welcome back: In his return to the majors, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth against Blake Treinen that staked the Mets to a 6-1 lead.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (5-7, 3.24 ERA) opposes right-hander Doug Fister (10-3, 2.68) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Phillies 1

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:05
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Don’t break up this juggernaut!

In his final start before the non-waiver trade deadline, Bartolo Colon took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and the Mets routed on-the-block A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies with a 7-1 victory on Monday at Citi Field.

Travis d'Arnaud doubled and scored in a four-run first inning and later had a three-run homer against Burnett as the Mets (51-55) emphatically snapped a streak of nine straight games scoring three runs or fewer.


Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesBartolo Colon took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning on Monday.


Pending the West Coast results, the Mets moved to within 6 games of a wild-card spot.

Coming off a start in Seattle in which he retired the first 20 Mariners, Colon surrendered 10 hits and one walk in a 121-pitch effort, but kept the Phillies off the scoreboard until consecutive two-out doubles in the eighth by Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz. Colon had faced a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth, but struck out Cody Asche.

Although Mets GM Sandy Alderson implied during pregame media time that waiting until the offseason to trade Colon would be more prudent, the 41-year-old right-hander did make a strong final pitch that he could be valuable to a postseason contender.

Colon improved to 10-8 with a 3.88 ERA. He joined Tom Glavine (2007) and Orel Hershiser (1999) as the only pitchers in franchise history to notch double-digit wins at age 41 or older, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays were among the teams with scouts at Citi Field on Monday, with speculation at the ballpark that they were at least monitoring both starting pitchers.

Burnett allowed seven runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings.

Snapped: The Mets scored four runs during a 33-pitch first inning by Burnett. That snapped a string of nine straight games in which the Mets scored three runs or fewer. The drought had matched the franchise’s longest streak since 1981, when the Mets went 11 straight games failing to reach four runs.

Daniel Murphy had an RBI double, Lucas Duda had a run-scoring single and Juan Lagares had a two-run double in the first.

D’Arnaud’s double preceded Lagares’ two-bagger. It ended a streak of 29 straight hitless at-bats with two outs and runners on base for the Mets, according to Elias.

D’Arnaud's fifth-inning homer staked the Mets to a 7-0 lead. He finished with three extra-base hits.

Ouch: Dana Eveland departed in the ninth inning after apparently getting struck in the back of the elbow by a line drive off the bat of Ben Revere.

What’s next: Dillon Gee (4-3, 3.49 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (5-5, 2.72) at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday. Eric Campbell will be in the starting lineup, Terry Collins pledged, although the manager was noncommittal about the position. Campbell would appear most likely to play first base, since Duda is a career 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts and five walks against Hamels.

Morning Briefing: Say cheese?

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
5:25
AM ET
SEATTLE

FIRST PITCH: After stops in San Diego and Seattle, the Mets now move further east as they begin a four-game series against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night at Miller Park.

Milwaukee is coming off a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

Dillon Gee (4-2, 2.92 ERA) opposes right-hander Matt Garza (6-7, 4.04) in the 8:10 p.m. ET series opener.

Read the Mets-Brewers series preview here.

Thursday’s news reports:

Bartolo Colon retired the first 20 batters he faced before surrendering a seventh-inning single to Robinson Cano and the Mets held on to beat the Mariners, 3-2, in Wednesday’s rubber game. The Mets are very open to dealing Colon before next Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, although they will need to locate a partner willing to accept the $11 million he is owed next season. Because of the size of Colon’s contract, he likely will remain eligible to be traded in August.

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

Ruben Tejada was beaned by a fastball from Mariners rookie Taijuan Walker in the fifth inning. Terry Collins said Tejada displayed no concussion symptoms and indicated no roster move was forthcoming. Tejada accompanied the team on its flight to Milwaukee. Still, Eric Campbell may start the series opener in Milwaukee at shortstop to give Tejada one day off. It would mark Campbell’s first major league start at shortstop, and his fifth professional game overall -- majors or minors -- at the position. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• Under-the-weather Curtis Granderson missed a second straight game Wednesday. It is not yet clear if he will be available for the series opener against the Brewers because of continued flu-like symptoms.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests Troy Tulowitzki is not a fit for the Yankees or the Mets. "[Sandy] Alderson’s priority has been building depth into the farm system," a GM told Harper. "So he wouldn’t give up multiple prospects, especially for that type of risk, regardless of whether ownership would take on the contract -- which seems unlikely."

• Right-handed reliever Buddy Carlyle, who lost his major league roster spot when Jonathon Niese was activated from the disabled list on Monday, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Las Vegas.

• Steven Matz allowed two runs in seven innings and Binghamton beat Portland, 4-2. Rob Whalen earned the win in his first Savannah start since May 1 as the Gnats beat Augusta, 7-2. Dale Burdick’s sacrifice fly broke an eighth-inning tie and the GCL Mets won, 9-6, against the GCL Nats. Read the full minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Las Vegas reliever Miguel Socolovich turns 28.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Is 3-3 acceptable through two legs of the road trip?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Mariners 2

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
6:47
PM ET
SEATTLE -- Forget about a no-hitter. Bartolo Colon flirted with perfection Wednesday.

Colon retired the first 20 batters he faced, until Robinson Cano delivered a two-out line-drive single into left field in the seventh. The Mets ultimately held on for a 3-2 rubber-game win against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Jenrry Mejia recorded the save despite allowing two baserunners in the ninth.

It marked the longest perfection bid by a Met since Matt Harvey also retired the first 20 batters on May 7, 2013 against the Chicago White Sox.

The ex-Yankee Cano had been a quiet 1-for-10 in the series before the opposite-field single.

Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsBartolo Colon retired the first 20 batters he faced on Wednesday.
Colon ran out of gas in the eighth. With the Mets leading 3-0, Colon issued a leadoff walk to Corey Hart and one-out single to Dustin Ackley. Brad Miller then nearly delivered a game-tying three-run homer. Instead, the ball struck the top of the right-center wall for an RBI double that pulled the Mariners to within 3-1.

With two in scoring position and one out, Terry Collins inserted Jeurys Familia, and he got Willie Bloomquist to bounce into a run-scoring groundout (after a replay review reversed the on-field call). Familia then struck out ex-Met Endy Chavez to strand the potential tying run at third base.

Colon’s final line in a 101-pitch effort: 7 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.

The Mets are now 3-3 through stops in San Diego and Seattle on their second-half-opening trip. They moved back within eight games of first-place Washington, which lost against Colorado.

The 41-year-old Colon was bidding to become the second-oldest pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter and the oldest to throw a perfect game. Nolan Ryan had two at an older age, at 43 and 44 with the Texas Rangers. Neither was a perfect game. Randy Johnson had a perfect game at age 40 and is the oldest ever with such a distinction.

The last perfect game in the majors came on Aug. 15, 2012 by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez against Tampa Bay.

Of course, Johan Santana tossed the only no-hitter in Mets history. It came on June 1, 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets have made Colon available in trade talks, although there did not seem to be much in the way of scouts at Safeco Field who came to evaluate him Wednesday.

The Mets gave Colon a run to work with before he took the mound on Daniel Murphy's RBI double against Taijuan Walker in the first inning. After the Mets loaded the bases against Walker in the sixth with none out, reliever Dominic Leone entered and limited the Mets to a sacrifice fly by Juan Lagares, which staked the Amazin’s to a 2-0 lead. David Wright added an RBI single the following inning.

Beaned: Ruben Tejada took a 94 mph fastball from Walker directly to the front of the helmet in the fifth inning. Tejada went straight to the ground, but ultimately walked off under his own power. Eric Campbell replaced him.

If Tejada lands on the concussion disabled list, the Mets could summon Wilmer Flores, who is playing nearby with Triple-A Las Vegas in Tacoma, Washington.

The Mets do not have a bona fide backup shortstop on the major league roster. Campbell’s action Wednesday marked only his second major league game and fourth professional game at shortstop.

What’s next: The Mets travel to NL Central-leading Milwaukee for a four-game series. Dillon Gee (4-2, 2.92 ERA) opposes right-hander Matt Garza (6-7, 4.04) in Thursday’s 8:10 p.m. series opener.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.301 9 53 73
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .845
WB. Colon 12
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.44
SOZ. Wheeler 155