New York Mets: Henry Rodriguez

Morning Briefing: Two-state split squad

March, 15, 2014
Mar 15

Adam RubinCurtis Granderson boards a Mets charter bus on Friday bound for the airport and the team's trip to Vegas.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets play two Saturday … in two different states.

In Port St. Lucie, Dillon Gee opposes Minnesota Twins left-hander Scott Diamond at 1:10 p.m. ET (PIX/WOR).

In Las Vegas, Bartolo Colon faces the Cubs at 4:05 p.m. ET (WGN).

See the Mets’ full travel roster for the Vegas weekend here.

Saturday’s news reports:

• Scott Boras has engaged the Mets in dialogue about Stephen Drew, although how recently is open to interpretation. "The message has always been that they have interest in Stephen but they wanted to see how things went in spring training," Boras tells Anthony Rieber in Newsday. Dan Martin in the Post cites “one person close” to Drew as saying he expected the free agent ultimately to sign elsewhere. Kristie Ackert in the Daily News reports the Mets have not had contact with Boras “in recent weeks.”

• Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler blanked the Mets for five innings and Zack Wheeler surrendered a solo homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the Miami Marlins beat the Mets, 1-0, Friday. Bob Geren managed the skeleton Mets team in their first night game with half the squad already having departed for Vegas.

Geren said he expected the low score given Koehler and reliever Henry Rodriguez’s flamethrowing, and given it was the Mets’ first 2014 night game. Geren, normally the bench coach and a former Oakland Athletics manager, said he was pleased with the Mets’ pitching.

Scott Rice, Jose Valverde and Jeurys Familia combined to blank the Marlins for 3 1/3 innings. Those three relievers look like sound bets to make the Opening Day roster, in a bullpen that may also include Bobby Parnell, Vic Black, Carlos Torres and John Lannan.

“I thought Valverde, he looked really good -- 93, 94 mph,” Geren said. “He had good command of his pitches. That was exciting. Scott Rice was like he always is: very consistent, good movement. And Familia pumping in there at 97 was impressive. A really good game all around for our pitching staff.”

Read more on Friday’s game at

Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) got five plate appearances apiece in A-ball games Friday while not running after making contact. They expect to repeat that DHing Saturday. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record and

• The Mets sent Jacob deGrom and Jeff Walters to minor-league camp, reducing the number of players remaining to 47 (including rehabbing Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner). DeGrom, as well as still-in-camp Rafael Montero, could make their big-league debuts sometime this season in the bullpen. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal discusses the importance of Noah Syndergaard, and all young pitchers, working on their changeups.

From the bloggers … With the Mets in Las Vegas, Faith and Fear in Flushing considers the odds of a 90-win season.

BIRTHDAYS: 2011 supplemental first-round pick Michael Fulmer, a right-handed pitcher raised in Oklahoma, turns 21.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Does it matter if the Mets wait until the season’s fourth game to start Zack Wheeler?

Series preview: Mets vs. Cubs

June, 13, 2013

Getty Images/USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face (l to r) Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (24-37, fourth place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (26-38, fifth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-7, 4.96) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (2-8, 5.76), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.24) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.22), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-6, 4.11) vs. RHP Matt Garza (1-1, 6.26), 1:10 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

Matt Garza is the most logical Cub to be traded before the July 31 trade deadline,’s Bruce Levine reports. Garza drew interest last July from the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, but any trade discussions were scuttled by an elbow injury. Since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2011 season, Garza is 17-18 with a 3.60 ERA. Other potential trade chips include Scott Feldman and relievers Kevin Gregg and Carlos Villanueva, according to Levine.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated PressStarlin Castro is hitting .122 in June.

Garza, who made his season debut May 21 after returning from a lat injury, is coming off an outing in which he surrendered nine runs in five-plus innings against Cincinnati.

Villanueva moved to the bullpen when Garza was activated from the DL.

• Shortstop Starlin Castro was hitting .059 (2-for-34) in June before a 3-for-7 performance Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds.

• Second baseman Darwin Barney has not committed an error this season. He has a 53-game errorless streak dating to last Sept. 30. However, Barney is hitting .208 with a .283 on-base percentage this season.

• Before breaking out with 15 hits in a 6-5, 14-inning win against the Reds on Thursday afternoon, Chicago had scored 11 runs in its previous six games and had not produced more than six hits in a game since June 5. The Cubs are 3-10 against Cincinnati this season. They had lost a record 12 straight to the Reds at Wrigley Field before the series-ending victory. The Cubs’ longest losing streak against one opponent at Wrigley Field previously was 10, done three times, most recently against the Montreal Expos in 1982 and ’83.

• The Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez from the Washington Nationals on Tuesday for prospect Ian Dickson. Rodriguez had been 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances with the Nats before being designated for assignment on June 4.

• Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.

• The Cubs suspended Ian Stewart, who had been playing with Triple-A Iowa, because of his series of critical tweets about the organization that included imploring the club to release him. Although Stewart is in the minors, he has a $2 million salary this season.

• Left fielder Alfonso Soriano has 379 career homers, tied with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 64th all time. Next up: Albert Belle with 371.

Scott Hairston (.155, 5 HR in 83 ABs) is off to a slow start in limited playing time as a Cub. Hairston signed a two-year, $5 million deal with Chicago after waiting for a Mets offer that did not come.

• First baseman Anthony Rizzo, 23, signed a seven-year, $41 million in May that includes team options for 2020 and 2021. The guaranteed portion covers one year Rizzo otherwise would have been eligible for free agency.

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

April, 18, 2013

The Mets face (l to r) Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (7-7, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (9-6, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (3-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 2.95), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50), 3:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-3, 8.36) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Catcher Wilson Ramos left Sunday’s game and landed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Kurt Suzuki has filled in strongly, hitting .360 with a .485 on-base percentage through 34 plate appearances. Nats catchers collectively have an NL-leading .333 average and 1.158 OPS.

Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Harper had four hits Wednesday after missing a game with the flu.

Bryce Harper, who received intravenous fluids pregame and vomited during the game, nonetheless went 4-for-5 in his return to the lineup Wednesday after missing a game with the flu. Harper had been in an 0-for-13 rut before the breakout. He’s hitting .364 with a 1.090 OPS this season.

• Second baseman Danny Espinosa has missed three games with a bruised right hand, which he suffered getting struck with a pitch. He is 50-50 for a return Friday. Steve Lombardozzi has started three straight games in Espinosa’s absence.

Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45 ERA) tossed his first career complete game Monday, in Miami. He has been the Nats’ top starter on a star-studded staff.

Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down last season after a Sept. 7 appearance at 159 1/3 innings, will not be held out of the postseason this year. While there is no formal limit, the goal is to keep Strasburg at about 200 innings. Two of Strasburg’s three highest career pitch counts have come in his last two starts. He threw 114 pitches on April 7 against Cincinnati, then 112 against the Braves last Saturday. His career high is 119 on June 8, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox.

Gio Gonzalez is coming off his worst start in two seasons as a National. He allowed seven runs in five innings as the Braves completed a weekend sweep with a 9-0 win against Washington on Sunday in D.C.

• While not a Chuck Knoblauch-type yips situation, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has mightily struggled making routine throws. He has four throwing errors in a five-game span. Zimmerman said his surgically repaired shoulder is fine and he is simply thinking too much about revised mechanics. The Nats have encouraged Zimmerman to throw more over the top this season.

• Like Harper, center fielder Denard Span had been slowed by the flu. He missed the Nats’ past two games. Span was acquired from the Minnesota Twins on Nov. 29 for minor league right-hander Alex Meyer. Span, the leadoff hitter, has produced a .421 on-base percentage. Jayson Werth slid from second to first in the order the past two games in Span’s absence.

• Davey Johnson became the 47th manager in major league history to suffer 1,000 losses on Sunday. Not to worry: Twenty-three of those managers are in the Hall of Fame. Johnson has a career 1,295-1,001 record. He was 595-417 in seven seasons with the Mets.

• The Nats added closer Rafael Soriano to an already deep bullpen on Jan. 17. The ex-Yankee signed for two years, $28 million, plus a $14 million team option for 2015. Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez combined for 87 saves last season.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche (.195, 2 HR, 5 RBIs) opened the season in an 0-for-15 slump before breaking out with a two-homer game April 9 against the Chicago White Sox. He earned his first Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards last year.

Series preview: Mets at Nationals

June, 5, 2012

US Presswire/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Chien-Ming Wang with first place at stake in D.C.
METS (31-24, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (30-22, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (1-0, 1.88 in 2011) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.80), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-2, 5.60) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-3, 3.17), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (8-1, 2.69) vs. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 6.43), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

Bryce Harper, who made his major league debut on April 28 at Dodger Stadium, is hitting .386 with three homers in his past 12 games. Harper is the reigning NL Rookie of the Month. The team leader in OBP at .380 and OPS at .922, he was drafted first overall two years ago. If Harper can maintain that OPS for the season, he would have the highest ever in the majors for a 19-year-old, surpassing Mel Ott’s .921. Fellow rookie Steve Lombardozzi (.309 average), who has settled into left field, also is off to a quick major league start.

• Closer Drew Storen (elbow) was transferred to the 60-day DL and should be out until the All-Star break. Fill-in Brad Lidge also is on the DL. The ex-Phillie began a rehab assignment following hernia surgery with Class A Potomac on Monday. He allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base. Lidge is scripted for at least two more minor league relief appearances before returning from the disabled list. Henry Rodriguez, who had flopped as closer, has been idle since May 28 after slamming a door on his right index finger. Tyler Clippard, who primarily is handling the closing duties at this point, has converted his past four chances. Sean Burnett also converted a pair of saves last month after bailing out Rodriguez. If a situation arose with lefties due up in the ninth, Burnett might close over Clippard.

Zuma Press/Icon SMI
Bryce Harper has been as good as advertised for the Nats.

• With Wilson Ramos out with a torn ACL, former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores -- a Rule 5 selection by the Nats in December 2006 -- has now started 23 games behind the plate. Ramos underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus, and will need a second procedure to address the ACL tear. Flores had been tormented for years by shoulder woes.

Jayson Werth is on the 60-day DL after fracturing his left wrist in the outfield against the Phillies on May 6. Werth is expected to be sidelined until August.

• Cleanup hitter Michael Morse returned from the DL on Friday after missing the season’s first two months with a strained right lat muscle. Morse is manning right field, with Harper in center and Lombardozzi in left field.

Chien-Ming Wang will make his second start of the season Thursday. He missed the Nats’ opening 42 games with a strained left hamstring. Wang allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in four-plus innings against the Marlins last week after making one three-inning relief appearance. Wang’s return bumped Ross Detwiler to the bullpen.

• The Mets miss Stephen Strasburg (6-1, 2.35 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (7-2, 2.31), but the Nats overall still rank first in the NL in ERA (2.95) and opponent batting average (.223). Washington’s 446 strikeouts are one shy of matching Milwaukee’s total for the league lead. Gonzalez was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for May.

• Left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez, who signed a minor league deal in May after recovering from offseason knee surgery, joined the Nationals on Sunday.

• Left-hander John Lannan remains at Triple-A Syracuse, where he is 4-5 with a 5.62 ERA in 10 starts. Lannan is earning $5 million this season.

• The Nats are 16-9 at home this season.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-his-last-29. Rick Ankiel, now coming off the bench, is 1-for-13 in his past six games.

• The Nats selected Santa Monica, Calif., prep right-hander Lucas Giolito in the draft Monday night, with the 16th overall pick. He was projected to be the top pick a few months back, before an elbow issue prematurely ended his senior season.

Last series results

Washington won, 2-1, at Citi Field, April 9-11 (AP game recaps)

Mets 4, Nats 3: Daniel Murphy singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the undefeated Mets took advantage of a throwing error by reliever Henry Rodriguez. Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. After a surprising sweep of Atlanta, New York rallied from a three-run deficit. Several fans filed out chanting "Undefeated! Undefeated!" Miguel Batista got out of trouble in the sixth, Ramon Ramirez escaped a seventh-inning jam with a double-play ball and Jon Rauch (1-0) worked two hitless innings for his first win with New York. David Wright’s right pinkie was broken when he dived back to a base. More

Nats 6, Mets 2: Ross Detwiler (1-0) allowed two hits in five scoreless innings, struck out six and walked one, denying the Mets what would have been their first 5-0 start since 1985. Ian Desmond homered off Dillon Gee (0-1) leading off the game, and Jayson Werth had four of the Nationals' 13 hits and drove in a run. Werth began the season hitting 1-for-14. After Desmond's early homer, Werth's RBI single made it 2-0 in the sixth. Bobby Parnell relieved with two on, Daniel Murphy booted a grounder at second base for an error as Werth scored, and Wilson Ramos’ RBI double made it 4-0. More

Nats 4, Mets 0: The Nats let young ace Stephen Strasburg go past 100 pitches for the first time in the major leagues and he worked his way out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth inning of a one-run ballgame. Strasburg threw 108 pitches in outlasting Johan Santana for six innings in a marquee matchup of aces on the mend, and the Nationals' bullpen made the lead stand up on the 50th anniversary of the Mets' first game. Strasburg allowed two hits and struck out nine. Santana (0-1) allowed five hits in five-plus innings. His wild pitch gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the second inning. New York had only three hits, and Mets pitchers combined to walk 10 and hit one batter. New York's bullpen gave up two bases-loaded walks and an RBI grounder to Chad Tracy in the eighth. More

US Presswire
The Mets face Mike Leake (left) and Mat Latos (right) during a two-game midweek series against Cincinnati.
METS (20-16, third place/NL East) vs. CINCINNATI REDS (18-17, second place/NL Central)

Wednesday: LHP Johan Santana (1-2, 2.92) vs. RHP Mike Leake (0-5, 7.11), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (5-1, 3.65) vs. RHP Mat Latos (2-2, 4.54), 1:10 p.m. ET

Reds short hops

• The right side of Cincinnati’s infield should remain stable for a long time. First baseman Joey Votto signed a 10-year, $225 million extension with the Reds on April 4 that locks him up as least through 2023. Six days later, second baseman Brandon Phillips signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract, through 2017. Votto won the 2010 NL MVP, is a two-time All-Star and earned last year’s Gold Glove at first base. Phillips has been an All-Star the past two seasons and has three Gold Glove awards.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Jay Bruce is hitting .365 with seven homers in his past 17 games.

Votto on Sunday became the first player in major league history with three homers in a game including a walk-off grand slam. The final blow came against Washington’s Henry Rodriguez. Votto joined Johnny Bench, Gus Bell, Eric Davis and Aaron Boone as the only players to have multiple three-homer games in their Reds careers. His bat will be turned over to the Hall of Fame, although Votto is not done using it yet. Votto’s first two homers came off Nats starter Edwin Jackson.

• Former Phillie Ryan Madson, who signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds last offseason that includes a 2013 mutual option, will not throw a pitch for the organization this season. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery last month. Sean Marshall, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in December for left-hander Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes, has six saves in the closer’s role.

• The Reds will become the first team since interleague play began to face both New York teams consecutively in the Big Apple. After the two-game series against the Mets, Cincinnati shifts to Yankee Stadium for a weekend interleague series. According to STATS LLC, it will mark the seventh time since interleague play began that a team consecutively has faced opponents in the same market. The Texas Rangers will become No. 8 next month, when they have a combined seven straight games at Oakland and San Francisco.

Aroldis Chapman has tossed 18 1/3 scoreless innings, the most innings logged without allowing a run in the majors among relievers this season.

Mike Leake (0-5, 7.11 ERA) produced his shortest career start Friday at Washington, lasting only three innings while allowing six earned runs. He played at Arizona State with Ike Davis.

• Third baseman Scott Rolen landed on the disabled list Saturday because of left shoulder soreness. Rutgers product Todd Frazier has manned the position in Rolen’s absence, with infielder Mike Costanzo called up to take Rolen’s roster spot.

Zack Cozart became the first rookie shortstop to start on Opening Day for the Reds since Dave Concepcion and Frank Duffy did it consecutively in 1970 and ’71.

• Right fielder Jay Bruce is hitting .365 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his past 17 games.

Mat Latos was acquired from the San Diego Padres on Dec. 17 for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger.

• Ex-Met Miguel Cairo returned May 7 from the disabled list, where he had landed with a left hamstring strain. The Reds also employ a second former Met as a utility infielder: Wilson Valdez. Cairo could see limited action at third base if Frazier underperforms.


Santana vs. Reds (career: 4-0, 3.23 ERA)
Miguel Cairo .294, 2 BB, 6 K, 20 PA
Brandon Phillips .263, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 22 PA
Joey Votto .250, 3 BB, 3 K, 15 PA
Wilson Valdez .200, 2 K, 5 PA
Jay Bruce .182, 1 RBI, 3 K, 11 PA
Ryan Ludwick .160, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 9 K, 27 PA
Drew Stubbs .000, 4 PA

Dickey vs. Reds (career: 1-0, 2.70 ERA)
Ryan Ludwick .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 PA
Todd Frazier .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Jay Bruce .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Miguel Cairo .333, 3 PA
Wilson Valdez .250, 1 BB, 3 K, 9 PA
Drew Stubbs .250, 1 RBI, 2 K, 4 PA
Brandon Phillips .200, 1 RBI, 1 K, 5 PA
Ryan Hanigan .000, 1 PA

Leake vs. Mets (career: 0-1, 2.19 ERA)
Justin Turner .667, 1 BB, 4 PA
Ronny Cedeno .364, 1 RBI, 12 PA
Daniel Murphy .333, 3 PA
Andres Torres .286, 1 BB, 4 K, 8 PA
David Wright .167, 2 K, 6 PA
Ike Davis .000, 2 PA

Latos vs. Mets (career: 2-1, 3.00 ERA)
Ronny Cedeno .500, 1BB, 5 PA
Lucas Duda .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Andres Torres .308, 1 RBI, 5 K, 13 PA
David Wright .143, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 8 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 K, 2 PA
Rob Johnson .000, 2 PA

Last series results

Cincinnati won, 2-1, at Citi Field, Sept. 26-28, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Reds 6, Mets 5: Chris Heisey hit a go-ahead, three-run homer just moments after making a diving catch and Cincinnati held off New York. Jose Reyes had three hits for the Mets to take over the NL batting lead, but his baserunning blunder in the eighth inning cost them a chance to tie the game. Reyes lined an RBI double into the right-field corner to cut it to 6-5. Perhaps expecting a throw to the plate that would allow him to take third, Reyes took a wide turn around second -- much too far. The Reds threw behind him and he was easily tagged out. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce singled off Tim Byrdak (2-1) in the seventh before Heisey hit the first pitch from Josh Stinson over the 16-foot fence in left field. Logan Ondrusek (5-5) got one out for the win and Francisco Cordero escaped a jam in the ninth to earn his 36th save.

Reds 5, Mets 4 (13 innings): Jose Reyes hit two solo homers, putting pop into his bid for the NL batting title, but the Reds won on Drew Stubbs' squeeze bunt in the 13th inning. Juan Francisco, who entered after Reds star Brandon Phillips exited early with a strained left quadriceps, hit a tying double with two outs in the ninth. He then hustled for a triple in the 13th and scored on Stubbs' bunt. Justin Turner lined into a double play with the bases loaded to end the game, leaving Reyes on deck. The Reds left the bases loaded in the 10th when pinch-hitter Dontrelle Willis struck out, and left them loaded again in the 11th when Chris Heisey grounded out. Sam LeCure (2-1) got the win and Francisco Cordero held on for his 37th save in 43 chances. Dale Thayer (0-3) took the loss. Both of Reyes' home runs came against Bronson Arroyo. Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run and Joey Votto hit his 29th for the Reds.

Mets 3, Reds 0: After a bunt single in the first inning, Jose Reyes was finished. The strategy paid off: Reyes won the National League batting title that night when Milwaukee's Ryan Braun went 0-for-4. The hit elevated Reyes' average to .337057 and gave him a 2-point lead over Braun. The Brewers star needed to go 3-for-4 to overtake Reyes. He finished at .332. And that gave the Mets their first batting champion. Fans chanted "Please stay, Jose!" throughout the ninth inning, and he gave a salute to the crowd as he walked off the field. Chants of "Jo-se Re-yes!" continued after he threw his hat into the stands as he disappeared into the home dugout. Meanwhile, Miguel Batista (5-2) pitched a two-hitter for his 11th complete game -- and his first since July 19, 2006, for Arizona. He allowed a one-out single to Edgar Renteria in the first and leadoff double to Chris Heisey in the second. Queens product Mike Baxter hit his first big league homer, a two-run drive off Edinson Volquez (5-7) in the sixth. Nick Evans singled in a run in the fourth. The Mets, beset with financial issues, traded Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez during the season, lost David Wright for several months with a back injury and finished their third straight losing season at 77-85. The Mets announced a crowd of 28,816, giving them a final attendance of 2,352,596, a drop of about 7 percent from 2010 and their lowest total since ’04.

Mets on brink of matching club-best start

April, 10, 2012

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Mets celebrate Daniel Murphy's walk-off single on Monday night.
Don’t look now, but the Mets are a win Tuesday away from matching the best start in franchise history -- established by the 1985 edition, which opened 5-0.

“Everybody is excited about the start,” Terry Collins said after the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 4-3, Monday night at Citi Field on Daniel Murphy’s walk-off RBI single. “We talked about it in the first meeting we had in spring training -- the importance of getting out of the gate. No. 1, we know it’s a long year. We know it’s four games. But I think we want to show our fans, what we say, maybe there’s some truth to it. And that is that we’re a better team than people are giving us credit for.”

Murphy had two key plays in the final frame -- the hitting heroics with the single off Henry Rodriguez and a fielding play that preceded it.

In the top half while manning second base, Murphy ranged to his right and smothered Ryan Zimmerman’s grounder up the middle. He then got the ball to Ruben Tejada covering the bag for a forceout of Ian Desmond that ended Jon Rauch’s second scoreless inning.

“A great play to knock that ball down,” Collins said. “If that balls gets through, they’re first and third. Holes open up in the infield. Dan Murphy, what can I say? Every minute of every game he’s all out.”

Murphy came to bat in the ninth with Mike Baxter at third base, Tejada at second and none out.

Baxter, pinch-hitting, had walked to open the bottom of the ninth. Tejada then produced a sacrifice bunt with two strikes, which Rodriguez fired past first base. On the play, Baxter nearly tried to score. But third base coach Tim Teufel managed to hold Baxter up halfway down the line. Baxter slid awkwardly while stopping. Murphy then followed with the game-winning single.

“The last thing I wanted to do was have the first out at home,” Teufel said. “So when I saw him reach down for the ball, that’s when I decided to put the brakes on for him.”

Said Baxter: “A skid out. I took some grass, but it worked out well. Thankfully I saw the stop sign and pulled up. It all worked. I was trying to score. Once I saw the ball get away I figured we might have a chance to score. And then he put the brakes on. I did my best to stop, but I lost the edge. I just saw the replay. It’s not too nice.”

As for bunting with two strikes on a challenging slider from Rodriguez, Tejada said: “It’s a tough at-bat, but I have to do my work in that situation. A runner at first, nobody out, I have to put the ball in play. It’s not easy.”

• As for Mike Pelfrey’s performance in allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings, Collins said: “I said, ‘Look, you’ve got to be positive. You got groundballs.’ It’s there. Stay with it. … I thought Mike battled. I thought he really did. I thought he hung in there. That’s what he does. He did it last year. I can see him doing it this year. That’s why he gives you 200 innings.”

Said Pelfrey: “I think we introduced the curveball maybe in the fourth or fifth inning. That kind of helped. Definitely, early, I missed a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate. You can’t do that. I think I need to be down a little bit more and, like I said, keep it out of the middle and I think I’ll be fine. But stuff-wise, I thought it was good. If I could take that out there every night, it’s going to be a good year.”

Series preview: Mets vs. Nationals

April, 9, 2012

US Presswire
Edwin Jackson makes his Nats debut Monday against the Mets, followed by Ross Detwiler on Tuesday and Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday.
METS (3-0, first place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2-1, second place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Mike Pelfrey vs. RHP Edwin Jackson, 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee vs. LHP Ross Detwiler, 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Johan Santana (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 1.29), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

Ross Detwiler claimed the fifth-starter’s job over fellow southpaw John Lannan, in the spot available because Chien-Ming Wang strained his left hamstring March 15. Lannan, assigned to Triple-A Syracuse, asked GM Mike Rizzo for a trade after the decision, then sent an email to beat reporters the following day acknowledging the request. After Wang suffered the injury, manager Davey Johnson had said Lannan would be the fifth starter. Lannan is due to earn $5 million this season. The Nats are only expected to trade Lannan if they get something of consequence in return, since they will need starting pitching depth during the season. Detwiler’s spring-training ERA was 3.06, to Lannan’s 5.14. The Nats did not think Lannan would be comfortable in the bullpen, so they sent him to Syracuse and instead carried Craig Stammen in a major league relief role.

• Cleanup hitter Michael Morse is expected to be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday. He homered Friday, during a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg, as he returns from a right lat muscle tear. After coming to New York on Saturday for preplanned treatment, Morse returned to the Eastern League club Sunday to continue a rehab assignment. Bergen Catholic product Mark DeRosa started in left field the first two games of the season, while ex-Met Xavier Nady manned the position Sunday. DeRosa was signed at winter meetings to fill the void after Chris Marrero suffered a hamstring injury in winter ball in November that will sideline him the first half of the season. DeRosa has undergone three wrist surgeries in past two years, but appears healthy now. Nady signed in mid-March after being jobless.

Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
With Drew Storen on the DL, ex-Phillie Brad Lidge picked up the save on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

Jayson Werth is expected to play center field against left-handed pitchers, with Nady manning right field. Primarily the right fielder, Werth is due to make $13 million in 2012, in the second season of a seven-year, $126 million deal. He hit .232 with 20 homers, 58 RBIs and 19 steals in his first season with the Nats.

Roger Bernadina has started in center field the first three games against right-handers, while fellow lefty-hitting outfielder Rick Ankiel opens the season on the disabled list with quadriceps tightness. Ankiel, who originally re-signed with the Nats on a minor league deal, will earn $1.25 million this season. He has started a rehab assignment, but is not eligible to be activated until Saturday.

Chad Tracy spent last season in Japan, where he hit only .235 with one homer and 19 RBIs in 149 at-bats with Hiroshima. Tracy has been big off the bench so far. After making the Opening Day roster because of Ankiel’s quadriceps injury, Tracy already twice has delivered successful pinch hits -- including a two-run, go-ahead single in the eighth Saturday against Carlos Marmol, who was attempting a four-out save.

Stephen Strasburg started Opening Day and limited the Cubs to one run and five hits while striking out five and walking one in seven innings. Strasburg breezed through the first two innings, requiring only 14 pitches. He ultimately received a no-decision. The Nats have pledged to cap Strasburg’s innings at 160 this season after he missed most of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, although playoff contention would test that commitment.

Drew Storen, who recorded 43 saves last year, opened the season on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Brad Lidge, who signed a one-year, $1 million deal, and flame-throwing Henry Rodriguez will close in Storen’s absence. Lidge, 35, picked up the save on Opening Day at Wrigley Field -- only the ex-Phillie’s second save since Sept. 27, 2010. The Nats have an ultra-deep bullpen. Rodriguez has been clocked at 101 mph, with a 94 mph changeup. Set-up man Tyler Clippard (3-0, 1.83 ERA in 2011) earned an All-Star invitation last season.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman agreed to a six-year, $100 million extension Feb. 26. The deal is on top of the combined $26 million he was due to earn between this season and 2013. The Nats have a team option for 2020.

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Juan Lagares
.314 1 7 8
HRL. Duda 3
RBIL. Duda 8
RE. Young Jr. 12
OPSJ. Lagares .816
WC. Torres 2
ERAJ. Mejia 2.81
SOJ. Mejia 18