New York Mets: Hector Santiago

FIRST PITCH: The Mets will see no shortage of left-handers during a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates that opens at 7:10 tonight at Citi Field. And that should mean more Juan Lagares, Andrew Brown and Marlon Byrd and not very much of Jordany Valdespin.

Southpaw Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.21 ERA) faces Dillon Gee (2-4, 6.16) in the series opener. Left-handers Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano -- the latter in his Pirates debut -- start the following two days before the Mets see 25-year-old right-hander Jeanmar Gomez on Mother’s Day opposite Matt Harvey.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The Mets lost to the White Sox, 6-3, Wednesday at Citi Field to split a two-game series against Robin Ventura’s crew. Jeremy Hefner (0-4) surrendered a homer to the game’s first batter, Alejandro De Aza, and ultimately was charged with four earned runs on eight hits and a walk in six innings.


Mike Stobe/Getty Images
The Mets fell to 0-6 in games started by Jeremy Hefner this season.


The Mets are now winless in Hefner’s six starts this season, although they have scored a combined 10 runs while he has been in those games. The Mets are now 0-7 in the game after Harvey pitches.

Lucas Duda had a solo homer against Jake Peavy in the second inning to even the score at 1. Duda now has seven homers, but only 11 RBIs.

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

• Hefner acknowledged before Wednesday’s start he would be on thin ice if Zack Wheeler were promoted now. “If it was right now, if he came up today, then yeah I would probably be the one that gets sent down,” Hefner told Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger. “I’m realistic enough to know that, but I can’t control that.” Wheeler next pitches for Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday.

• After delivering a pinch-hit single in the eighth, Justin Turner remained in the game in left field -- his first outfield action since limited exposure in 2006 with Class A Billings. Turner, who had one spring-training appearance in the outfield in March, did not have any chances Wednesday -- just a homer over his head off the bat of Alex Rios. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Harvey discussed Tuesday’s flirtation with a perfect game with Mike Lupica on ESPN New York 98.7. Listen to the podcast here.


Seth Wenig/Associated Press
After 24 hours to enjoy his near perfection Tuesday, Matt Harvey is back to being all business.


Benjamin Hoffman in the Times assesses the likelihood of Harvey throwing a no-hitter. Writes Hoffman:

Bill James once devised a method of determining how many no-hitters a pitcher could be expected to have pitched based on how often he allowed hits and how many games he started. While the method was somewhat accurate, with [Nolan] Ryan expected to have thrown the most, the same calculations effectively showed how hard it is to predict a no-hitter. Besides Ryan, the only pitchers reasonably expected to have thrown even one no-hitter over the course of their careers were Walter Johnson, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

Clemens, who twice struck out 20 batters in a game, never threw a no-hitter at any level despite finishing his career with a higher expected no-hit total (1.07) than Sandy Koufax (0.92), who threw four.

Using the James method, it would take hundreds of starts for Harvey to be expected to throw a no-hitter regardless of how well he pitches, but his incredibly low hits per nine innings, which outpaced any of the pitchers at the top of James’s list, makes each of his starts intriguing as long as his current magic lasts.

Ron Darling, comparing Dwight Gooden with Harvey to columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record, said: “The results are about the same in their ability to win at-bats even in a hitter’s count. But whereas Doc was Baryshnikov, Harvey is more workmanlike. With Doc, it was all about the strikeouts; Harvey can defeat you in different ways because he has more pitches.”

Read more thoughts on Harvey’s outing after time to reflect in the Times, Newsday and Star-Ledger. By the way, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was among who texted Harvey after the dominating performance against the Sox.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday recreates the timeline of Mets PR man Jay Horwitz’s tweets about Harvey’s supposed intention to skip last night’s Mets game to watch the Rangers at MSG. Horwitz was joking, but some on Twitter took him literally. Read more in the Daily News.

Frank Francisco worked a scoreless inning with two walks for Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. Francisco, nearing activation from the disabled list after experiencing spring-training elbow inflammation, pitched for the third time in four days.

• Cesar Puello homered twice, Logan Verrett came within an out of his third career complete game and Jeff Walters produced his Eastern League-leading ninth save in Binghamton’s 3-1 win against Trenton. Aderlin Rodriguez had a walk-off single that plated T.J. Rivera as St. Lucie beat Daytona, 6-5, in 10 innings. Zach Lutz produced a three-run homer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went deep after replacing ejected Collin Cowgill, but starter Carlos Torres surrendered nine runs in four innings as Las Vegas lost to Round Rock, 9-5. Wally Backman also was ejected by the first-base ump after Cowgill was ruled out to end the fifth inning.

• White Sox left-hander Hector Santiago, who tossed seven scoreless innings opposite Harvey on Tuesday, talks in the Star-Ledger about his Newark roots. Santiago’s favorite player growing up: fellow southpaw John Franco.

From the bloggers … Mike Baxter discusses the Mets' hitting approach with Metsmerized Online. … Mets Police offers some unofficial rules for Saturday’s Banner Day. … Faith and Fear reports on one Mets fan who experienced his own kind of perfection at Citi Field Tuesday. … John Delcos at Mets Report writes that it isn’t important for Harvey to pitch a no-hitter -- just to pitch.

BIRTHDAYS: Jerry Buchek, an infielder in the late ’60s with the Mets, was born on this date in 1942.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What is the one change you would immediately make to the 25-man roster if you were in charge?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 1, White Sox 0 (10)

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
9:44
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WHAT IT MEANS: Matt Harvey pitched nearly perfectly against Robin Ventura’s club -- retiring 27 of 28 batters. He received the cruelest of no-decisions.

Pitching for the first time since being named NL Pitcher of the Month for April, and with three extra days of rest thanks to a rainout in Atlanta, Harvey retired the first 20 Chicago White Sox batters he faced.


Adam Rubin
Robin Ventura, Fred Wilpon and John Franco chat during batting practice.


The perfect-game bid ended in the narrowest of fashions. With two outs in the seventh, Alex Rios sent a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop. Ruben Tejada fielded it and went airborne for a throw as his momentum carried him toward left field. First-base ump Mark Carlson properly called Rios safe by a hair and the perfect-game and no-hit bids ended.

That was the only batter who reached in nine innings against Harvey, but the Mets also failed to score. So when Bobby Parnell entered for the 10th, Harvey was saddled with a no-decision despite shaving his ERA to 1.28.

The Mets ultimately won in walk-off fashion, 1-0 in the 10th, when pinch-hitter Mike Baxter singled against Nate Jones to score Ike Davis. Davis had walked to open the inning and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Juan Lagares. It was Baxter's first career walk-off hit.

The last MLB pitchers to log nine or more innings, allow no runs and one or fewer hits and get a no-decision: Travis Wood (Cincinnati, 2010), Ben Sheets (Milwaukee, 2004), Miguel Batista (Arizona, 2002), Ryan Rupe (Tampa Bay, 1999), Francisco Cordova (Pittsburgh, 1997) and Alan Benes (St. Louis, 1997).

Harvey's 6 2/3 perfect innings marked the longest perfect stretch by a Met since Rick Reed against Tampa Bay at Shea Stadium on June 8, 1998. Reed also was perfect for 6 2/3 innings, until Wade Boggs doubled.

Harvey -- who pitched the first inning with blood running from his nose -- finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts. It was his second double-digit strikeout performance of the season (also April 3 against San Diego) and fourth of his career. His previous career high had been 11 strikeouts in his major league debut last July 26 at Arizona.

He required only 105 pitches to complete nine innings. He had been annoyed with his most recent outing in Miami, when he tossed a career-high 121 pitches in 5 1/3 innings against the Marlins.

Newark’s Hector Santiago matched the zeroes Harvey was putting up before departing with his pitch count at 111 for the bottom of the eighth in a 0-0 game. The Mets left four runners on base over the first two innings and mustered only four hits against Santiago.

WHAT’S NEXT: The two-game series comes to a close Wednesday as Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34 ERA) opposes right-hander Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38) at 7:10 p.m.

Series preview: Mets vs. White Sox

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
9:28
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Getty Images
The Mets face Hector Santiago and Jake Peavy during their first series against the White Sox in 11 years.
METS (12-16, fourth place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (13-17, fifth place/AL Central)

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.56) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (1-1, 2.29), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-3, 4.34) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38), 7:10 p.m. ET

White Sox short hops

Jake Peavy was scratched from Monday’s start against Kansas City with back spasms, but threw a bullpen session and declared he would instead be ready to face the Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field. Peavy last pitched April 26.

• Mets doctor David Altchek is due to perform season-ending surgery on Gavin Floyd for a tear of the flexor muscle near his right elbow on Tuesday in New York. The Sox also are missing rotation member John Danks, who is planning to return later this month from shoulder surgery after not being deemed ready out of spring training. Hector Santiago has stepped into the rotation. Santiago hails from Newark. He is a prep product of Bloomfield (N.J.) Tech. Santiago had been the long man to open the season. He was in the mix to fill in for Danks out of spring training, but that job instead went to Dylan Axelrod.


Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Ex-Met Joe McEwing is the third-base coach on Robin Ventura's staff.


• The Sox are not setting the table for their middle-of-the-order hitters. Leadoff man Alejandro De Aza ranks last in the American League in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot at .286. Ex-Met Jeff Keppinger ranks last among No. 2 hitters in OBP in the AL at .202. De Aza does have five homers.

• Closer Addison Reed had converted 17 straight save chances dating to last season before suffering a blown save Sunday on a game-tying two-run double by K.C.’s Billy Butler.

The Sox’s bullpen had been projected to be a major strength, but instead has struggled. The relief corps has an MLB-high eight losses despite a 3.38 ERA. Reed along with fellow flamethrowers Nate Jones and ex-Met/import Matt Lindstrom were supposed to dominate the final two innings, with Jones initially projected as a co-closer type. Right-hander Jesse Crain and left-hander Matt Thornton were supposed to shore up the seventh inning as a tandem before going to the kids late in games.

• First baseman/DH Paul Konerko went 0-for-5 Monday, dropping his average to .225 with four homers and 15 RBIs. That is an atypically slow start for Konerko. Over the previous three seasons he has averaged hitting .304 with 32 homers and 97 RBIs a season.

• Ex-Met Robin Ventura has been viewed as a breath of fresh air as White Sox skipper -- the anti-Ozzie Guillen. Injuries have undermined Ventura’s Sox in his second season at the helm. Second baseman Gordon Beckham broke the hamate bone in his left hand and is still a few weeks away from returning. Power-hitting left fielder Dayan Viciedo is on the disabled list with a sprained oblique and is just starting a rehab assignment.

• The lone other meeting between the Mets and White sox came June 10-12, 2002 in Chicago. Flushing is the last National League venue the Sox had never visited.

Morning briefing: Harvey vs. Ventura, Sox

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
8:39
AM ET

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
Robin Ventura visits Flushing today as manager of the Chicago White Sox.
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey, pitching with three days of extra rest, aims to go to 5-0 when he faces Robin Ventura and Joe McEwing’s Chicago White Sox at Citi Field tonight at 7:10.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

Harvey has allowed more than one run in only one of his past eight starts, dating to last season. His only prior interleague start was eight innings of two-hit ball against the Minnesota Twins on April 13.

Ventura played only three seasons for the Mets (1999-2001), but made quite an impact. David Wright, Dave Kingman and Ventura share the club record for the most six-RBI games in Mets history with three. Ventura also hit five grand slams with the Mets, one shy of Mike Piazza’s club record.

Of course, that does not include Ventura’s “grand-slam single” in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series against the Braves to cap an epic comeback win.

The White Sox are actually playing the Mets in New York for the first time.

Harvey opposes Newark's Hector Santiago tonight. Harvey originally was supposed to line up to face fellow 2010 first-round pick Chris Sale, but Sale's start moved up a day to Monday in K.C. after Jake Peavy needed to be delayed due to back spasms.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Harvey last pitched last Monday in Miami. He is unconcerned about the extra rest as well as logging a career-high 121 pitches against the Marlins. His last offering in Miami registered 96 mph. "I feel like I can go out there 120, 130 pitches each time and my body can handle it," Harvey said. (Terry Collins said that pitch count will not be the norm.) Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal:

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander led baseball with six complete games last season and still averaged only 114.2 pitches per start. No other pitcher even averaged 110. Harvey is averaging 104.5 so far this year.

Last season, the Mets curtailed Harvey's season after 169 1/3 innings between the majors and minors. They say they won't limit him this season, but their actions suggest they remain at least somewhat concerned about their phenom's workload.

After Harvey's 121-pitch outing last week, the Mets planned to give him an extra day of rest so he could recover. Harvey said he didn't need it and wanted to start on his regular rotation.

Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.


Courtesy of New York Mets
Zack Wheeler has shaved his ERA to 4.00 with Las Vegas.


• In his past two starts with Triple-A Las Vegas, Zack Wheeler has limited opponents to one run, eight hits and two walks while striking out 12 in 12 innings.

“Outstanding -- the best he’s pitched all year,” 51s manager Wally Backman told Mike Puma in the Post. “He’s turning the corner. That is what we have seen the last two starts. If we see that a couple of more starts, he’s going to be pushing the door open himself, forcing the issue for sure. … He’s showed excellent command the last couple of starts. Before he was missing up and out of the strike zone, arm side, all the time and [Sunday] he never missed one time up and out of the zone arm side.”

• Sandy Alderson tells Kristie Ackert in the Daily News about Ike Davis: “I don't think he's happy with what has happened to date. We would have hoped for a better performance to this point, but the evidence is he can do it. And he could do that again this season. We'll see what transpires. But Ike is a big part of the team. We expect him to come around soon.”

Read more on Davis’ slow start in the Post.

• 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo was batting .414 for low-A Savannah through April 23. He now is in an 0-for-20 rut with the Gnats and actually has not played since April 29 because of a hand injury.

"We want him to go through this," Savannah manager Luis Rojas told Clint Robus in Newsday. "This is part of his development, and this is the part where he's going to ... figure out a lot more things."

Said Nimmo about the slump: "I knew this was going to happen. So I'm not too surprised."

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes there is one player from the Johan Santana swap with the Twins that is contributing big time. That is Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, who leads the NL with a .368 average. Gomez along with Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra went to Minnesota on Feb. 2, 2008 for Santana.

• Wright had six steals in April -- on pace for a 30-steal season. He had one 30-30 season in his career -- in 2007. "When the situation presents itself, I feel like I have the ability to take a base here and there," he told Mike Kerwick in the Record. "But I’m not going to steal bases for the sake of trying to get a certain [number of] bases or for the sake of doing it. I’m going to do it for a reason."

• St. Lucie right-hander Hansel Robles returned from an upper-back injury to limit Daytona to one run in five innings in a 6-2 win Monday. Frank Francisco pitched for the second straight day for the Florida State League club, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning. Read the full minor league recap here.

• It’s a safe bet Bobby Parnell will not lose his closer’s job once Francisco is activated from the disabled list. Read a profile of Parnell’s adaption to that role from Anthony DiComo at MLB.com.

• The Mets’ Saturday postponement in Atlanta will be made up on June 18 as part of a split doubleheader at Turner Field. It now becomes a five-game series against the Braves.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin Burkhardt and 92.3 Now's Ty Bentli will judge Saturday’s Banner Day at Citi Field.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets checks in to see how several ex-Mets are doing with their new teams so far this season.

BIRTHDAYS: Brook Fordyce, who was drafted by the Mets in the third round out of high school in Connecticut in 1989 and made his major league debut with the club six years later, is 43.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Where does Robin Ventura factor in among your favorite Mets of all time?

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.294 7 37 56
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 14
RBIL. Duda 49
RD. Murphy 56
OPSL. Duda .832
WB. Colon 8
ERAJ. Niese 2.96
SOZ. Wheeler 105