New York Mets: Jonathan Papelbon

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

July, 18, 2013
7/18/13
4:29
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USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face Cole Hamels (Saturday), Kyle Kendrick (Friday) and Cliff Lee (Sunday) in the second-half-opening series.
METS (41-50, fourth place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (48-48, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.33) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 3.68), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-1, 3.54) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (4-11, 4.05), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.35) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (10-3, 2.86), 1:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• The Phillies are 6-3 but averaging only 3.6 runs a game since losing Ryan Howard to left knee surgery. The debridement surgery is expected to cost Howard six to eight weeks. Rookie Darin Ruf has handled first base in Howard’s absence. Ruf slugged 38 homers last season with Double-A Reading. He has reached base safely in 18 straight games at the major league level.


Michael Perez/Associated PressBen Revere suffered a broken right ankle on foul ball while batting.


• Center fielder Ben Revere underwent surgery Tuesday for a broken right ankle and also is expected to miss six to eight weeks. It is a big blow to the offense. Revere, the team’s leadoff hitter, had been hitting .305 with 22 steals. Revere suffered the injury fouling a ball off the foot. He had two screws inserted.

GM Ruben Amaro has said the Phillies will shop for a fill-in center fielder. John Mayberry Jr. has handled the position the past two games. Prospect Cesar Hernandez has moved from second base to center field in the minors to provide another option.

• First-time All-Star Domonic Brown is third in the National League with 23 homers, trailing Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez (25) and Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez (24). Brown’s 67 RBIs rank fourth.

Cole Hamels has a 1.57 ERA with 19 strikeouts and one walk in his last three starts.

Cliff Lee is the only active left-hander to pitch in four All-Star Games.

• The Phillies could be buyers or sellers depending upon the direction their season takes before July 31. They reached .500 on Sunday for the first time since June 7, when they were 31-31. Before the first-half-closing win, they had spent only five days at or above .500 this season. They have won five of their past six series.

Potentially on the block if things go south: centerpiece players Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Ruiz and Lee as well as Delmon Young and Michael Young. Utley and Ruiz are eligible for free agency after the season. Lee is owed a combined $50 million in 2014 and ’15, and also has a $12.5 million buyout owed if a $27.5 million club option for 2016 is not exercised. Papelbon is signed at $13 million a season through 2015. He also has a vesting option at that amount for 2016.

Kyle Kendrick limited the Washington Nationals to one run in seven innings in a win in his last start, despite four errors committed by his fielders, including three by Utley.

• Since June 17, Papelbon has five blown saves in 12 chances. Manager Charlie Manuel told SiriusXM that Papelbon was dealing with occasional hip soreness. Papelbon nonetheless has reached 20 saves for the eighth straight season. That is the longest active streak in the majors and the eighth-longest in major league history. Mariano Rivera holds the record with 15 straight 20-plus save seasons, from 1997-2011.

Jimmy Rollins has gone 156 at-bats without a homer.

• Infielder John McDonald was acquired from the Cleveland Indians on June 27 for a player to be named or cash.

• Backup catcher Erik Kratz was activated from the disabled list Sunday after missing 4 weeks with a left knee injury.

• Manuel has 995 career wins. He is due to become the 59th manager in major league history to reach the 1,000-win plateau. There are seven active managers at that level: Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Terry Francona, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia and Buck Showalter.

Morning Briefing: Harvey Day in Philly

June, 23, 2013
6/23/13
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Eric Hartline/USA TODAY SportsKevin Frandsen is greeted by teammates after his walk-off homer Saturday.
PHILADELPHIA

FIRST PITCH: Five days after his dominance in Atlanta in an uplifting doubleheader display with Zack Wheeler, it once again is Matt Harvey Day.

Harvey (6-1, 2.16 ERA) opposes Philadelphia Phillies left-hander John Lannan (0-1, 5.49) in the 1:35 p.m. series finale today at Citizens Bank Park.

Josh Satin is due to get the start at first base, according to Terry Collins.

Writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News on Harvey:

Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen talked to Harvey this past week about being more open with them about how he is feeling during starts.

Harvey admitted after the Atlanta game -- in which he racked up 13 strikeouts -- that he was gassed when he went back out for the eighth and that he did not tell Collins or Warthen. That much was obvious when he started out the inning by walking Gerald Laird and then giving up back-to-back singles to Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons. At that point, Collins had no choice but to go get his ace.

Sunday’s news reports:


Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesLucas Duda is on the DL after complaining of left side discomfort after Friday's game, which included this play at the plate.


• An MRI on Saturday in New York revealed Lucas Duda had an intercostal muscle strain on his left side. The Mets placed Duda on the disabled list and promoted corner infielder Zach Lutz from Triple-A Las Vegas. A team official told ESPNNewYork.com Ike Davis was not an immediate consideration for a promotion in Duda’s absence because more time working on his refinements is required.

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

• The Mets rallied from a six-run deficit to tie the score in the ninth when David Wright scored from first base on Daniel Murphy’s single against Jonathan Papelbon. But Carlos Torres surrendered a walk-off homer to Kevin Frandsen to open the bottom half and the Phillies beat the Mets, 8-7. Dillon Gee surrendered a pair of homers to Ryan Howard, who now has six long balls in 15 career at-bats against Gee.

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

Read columnist Kevin Kernan’s take in the Post.

• Do Wheeler and Harvey need to be best buds? Not exactly Columnist David Lennon in Newsday asks Tom Glavine and Ron Darling, and writes:

Ron Darling, now an SNY analyst, was on two of the better starting rotations in baseball history with the Mets. In 1986, Darling went 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA on a group that included Dwight Gooden (17-6, 2.84), Bobby Ojeda (18-5, 2.57) and Sid Fernandez (16-6, 3.52). Two years later, the Mets featured Darling (17-9, 3.25), Gooden (18-9, 3.19), Fernandez (12-10, 3.03), Ojeda (10-13, 2.88) and David Cone (20-3, 2.22).

Were they all best buddies? No. But did they recognize the importance of competitive bonding as a rotation? Absolutely.

"If you have that fraternity, if you get that feeling that you're all brothers in this thing, it's as good as it gets as far as being in a team sport," Darling said. "Hitters look at pitchers like a necessary evil. You're like a separate element on the team, so it makes you become close.

"There's nothing worse than being on a team -- a bad team -- and you've got some guys in the rotation that they're all for them. And on the day you're pitching, they don't [care]. We'd be on the bench cheering a guy on when it was his day, and making sure that, hey, I'm here for you."

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests that while the Mets have pitching prospects, the hitting prospects do not exist in the minors. Writes Madden:

A veteran National League scout, who has spent much of the last two months evaluating other teams’ minor-league talent, told me last week: “The Mets are loaded with pitching prospects but have zero bona fide position prospects, and while the Yankees have a couple of position prospects, especially catchers, down low, I didn’t see any potential impact players in their system either. They’re both in big trouble as far as filling their needs from within.”

• Binghamton rallied from a four-run ninth-inning deficit to beat Erie, 6-5 in 10 innings, on Josh Rodriguez’s walk-off double. Steven Matz tossed six scoreless innings in a no-decision for Savannah. First-round pick Dominic Smith went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Highly regarded right-handed prospect Noah Syndergaard, who was acquired with Travis d’Arnaud in the R.A. Dickey trade in December, has been promoted to Double-A Binghamton.

Tim Byrdak, recovering from shoulder surgery, made his first Gulf Coast League appearance. Including back-field games, Byrdak has now pitched on consecutive days twice.

• Dan Duggan in Newsday speaks with 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini about his relationship with his brother Garin, a Red Sox prospect.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record tackles Mets fandom.

From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets should not be seduced by Davis’ early Pacific Coast League stats.

BIRTHDAYS: Juan Castillo, whose only two major league games came as a starting pitcher with the Mets in 1994, turns 43.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets have promoted Ike Davis with Lucas Duda landing on the DL? Or is more minor league time the wise decision?

Rapid Reaction: Phillies 8, Mets 7

June, 22, 2013
6/22/13
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PHILADELPHIA -- Jordany Valdespin did it again. This time it went for naught.

A half-inning after the Mets completed a rally from a six-run deficit, Carlos Torres served up a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to Kevin Frandsen as the Philadelphia Phillies survived for an 8-7 win against the Mets on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

A year after Valdespin burst onto the major league stage with a tiebreaking pinch-hit homer against Jonathan Papelbon for his first major league homer, JV1 again homered in the ninth inning against the closer. This time, the one-out solo shot pulled the Mets within 7-6. The Mets then benefited from some Phillies sloppiness to even the score.


H. Rumph Jr./Associated PressRyan Howard homered twice against Dillon Gee.


David Wright reached on third baseman Michael Young's error. Stealing second with two outs and Daniel Murphy at the plate, Wright scored on the play when Murphy punched a single through the vacated hole at shortstop and center fielder Ben Revere flubbed picking up the baseball.

Papelbon suffered his third blown save this season -- and this week.

Oh, Gee: Next time, Dillon Gee might want to pitch around Ryan Howard.

Howard continued to torment the right-hander, homering twice and driving in four runs against Gee.

Howard is now a career 7-for-15 with six homers and 14 RBIs against Gee. He has gone deep in five of the six games in which they have met.

Fellow nemesis Michael Young also had a solo homer against Gee, whose streak of stellar starts was snapped at four.

The all-time homer list versus Gee: Howard 6, Young 3, John Mayberry Jr. 2, Alex Gonzalez 2, Ian Desmond 2, Travis Ishikawa 2.

Gee ultimately was charged with six runs (five earned) on eight hits in a 67-pitch effort over five innings. He had produced a 1.53 ERA over his previous four starts.

Gee’s career numbers in Philly: 1-2 with a 10.38 ERA in six appearances (five starts).

Comeback: The Mets began their rally from a six-run deficit in the seventh -- the inning after Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone was forced to depart with lower-back tightness.

After Omar Quintanilla’s RBI single pulled the Mets within 7-2, Josh Satin walked to load the bases and chase Michael Stutes. Eric Young Jr. followed with a two-run double against Justin De Fratus. Valdespin then had an RBI groundout as the Mets pulled within two, 7-5.

The four-run frame ended when left-hander Jacob Diekman entered and struck out a perturbed Murphy looking, stranding two runners.

Satin, who is due to start at first base Sunday, has reached base in six straight plate appearances (three hits, three walks).

Buck-E: John Buck had a passed ball in the first inning that contributed to an unearned run charged to Gee.

With Greg Burke pitching in the sixth, Ben Revere stole second and third against the tandem and scored on Buck’s errant throw to third base as the Phillies took a 7-1 lead.

Welcome back: Burke, who surrendered the unearned run in one inning of work, was making his first appearance since returning to the majors this weekend. His promotion coincided with Jonathan Niese landing on the disabled list.

Burke may not be around long. The Mets will need to clear a roster spot Tuesday when Zack Wheeler is re-promoted to face the Chicago White Sox.

What’s next: Matt Harvey Day! Harvey (6-1, 2.16 ERA), who took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in Atlanta in his last start, opposes left-hander John Lannan (0-1, 5.49) in the rubber game at 1:35 p.m. Sunday.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

June, 21, 2013
6/21/13
12:50
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Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone and John Lannan this weekend.
METS (28-41, fourth place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (35-38, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-6, 3.96) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (2-10, 4.40), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.56) vs. RHP Jonathan Pettibone">Jonathan Pettibone (3-3, 4.40), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (6-1, 2.16) vs. LHP John Lannan (0-1, 5.49), 1:35 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

Cole Hamels’ 10 losses are tied with the Angels’ Joe Blanton for the major league lead. Hamels is the first Phillie with 10 losses before the All-Star break since Kyle Abbott in 1992.

• Left-hander John Lannan faced his former club, the Washington Nationals, on Monday in his first major league start in two months. Lannan allowed two runs in five innings. He had been on the DL since an April 17 appearance at Cincinnati with a strained tendon in his right knee. The Long Beach, L.I., native signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Philadelphia on Dec. 18.


Matt Slocum/Associated PressJonathan Papelbon blew his first two saves this season against Washington this week.


Chase Utley, who has missed a month with a right oblique strain, began a rehab assignment Wednesday with Double-A Reading. He is expected to return at some point this weekend. Kevin Frandsen has started the past four games at second base. He is hitting .350 with two RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage over his last eight games (five starts).

Carlos Ruiz was activated from the DL on Tuesday after missing four weeks with a strained right hamstring.

Jonathan Papelbon blew his first two saves of the season in a three-day span against the Nationals this week.

• Rookie Jonathan Pettibone’s rotation spot may be in jeopardy. Carlos Zambrano tossed seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He will make another minor league start Sunday, but can opt out if he is not promoted by July 1. Zambrano is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in five minor league starts over three different levels. He signed with Philadelphia on May 15. Pettibone is coming off an outing at Colorado in which he surrendered seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and a walk in three innings.

• Left fielder Domonic Brown is hitting .135 with no extra-base hits in 37 at-bats over his past 10 starts.

• Third baseman Michael Young notched his 1,000th RBI on Wednesday, on a two-run homer against Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. He is the 18th active player to reach that threshold.

Ben Revere has a 10-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .391. Revere has spent the past seven games in the leadoff spot.

Cliff Lee, who potentially could be traded, has a 1.97 ERA in his last nine starts and has won seven straight decisions. He is owed $25 million a season in 2014 and ’15, and has a $27.5 million club option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout.

Toxicology report -- bad MLB contracts

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
8:18
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US Presswire
Vernon Wells, Juan Uribe and Chone Figgins (l to r) are among the bloated contracts around Major League Baseball.
The Mets’ first task this offseason regarding Jason Bay, and for that matter Johan Santana, likely should be to see if any team has trade interest. A swap appears unlikely, though, even discounting the no-trade clause each possesses.

After all, Bay is hitting .155 with eight homers in 187 at-bats. And he is owed $19 million next season including a 2014 buyout, making it a toxic contract.

Similarly, Santana -- despite the June 1 no-hitter -- finishes the season on the DL after allowing six-plus runs in each of his final five starts. Santana is owed $31 million next season including a ’14 buyout.

Still, if the Mets were to find another team with toxic contracts to swap, who is logical? With the help of reporters around baseball, here’s a look …

THEY’VE GOT POTENTIAL

Angels: “Oh, you've come to the right place,” our friend who covers the Angels says. “The Angels have the deadest of dead weight -- Vernon Wells. The Angels are paying Wells $21 million this year to be their fourth outfielder. They owe him $21 million more in 2013 and again in 2014.”

Blue Jays: Left fielder/first baseman Adam Lind (.240, 10 HR, 40 RBIs) is owed $5 million in 2013. With buyouts of option years, the minimum owed is $7 million. “He cleared waivers at one point this season and the Blue Jays would love to get rid of his contract -- even though it's unlikely that can happen,” a team observer said.

Braves: Second baseman Dan Uggla (.215, 19 HR, 73 RBIs) is owed $39 million over the next three seasons.

Cubs: Alfonso Soriano ($18 million apiece in 2013 and ’14) and Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million next season) are the remaining sizable contracts.

Dodgers: The Dodgers inherited Carl Crawford ($102.5 million through 2017) and Josh Beckett ($31.5 million through 2014) while acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, but both should contribute. The least-productive contract: Juan Uribe, who finally pinch hit Sunday after going unused for nearly a month. Uribe, with one year remaining, is still owed $8 million.

Mariners: Left fielder Chone Figgins (.183, 2 HR, 11 RBIs) is owed $8 million next season. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (.258, 4 HR, 14 RBIs) is owed $7.5 million in 2013 with a buyout of the following season. Says one observer: “Gutierrez has been hurt or sick for most of his deal and might produce if ever healthy. Figgins is literally dead weight.” Bay does live in the offseason in Seattle. And the combined $15.5 million owed to those two are close to Bay's $19 million.

Marlins: Heath Bell has two years, $18 million guaranteed remaining. He also has a $9 million option for 2015 based on games finished -- 55 the previous season or 100 combined in 2013 and '14. (The Mets have been down that route before.)

Pirates: Clint Barmes is signed for 2013 at $5.5 million. He's hitting .228/.266/.325 with eight homers.

Red Sox: John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 ERA) has two years left for a combined $30.5 million, with a 2015 club option at the major league minimum because of a preexisting elbow injury.

Twins: Nick Blackburn (4-9, 7.39 ERA) and middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka -- both relegated to the minors -- are under contract for 2013 and “practically sunken cost.” Blackburn is owed $5.5 million. Nishioka is owed $3.25 million including a 2014 buyout. The Twins likely would never trade Joe Mauer, despite him being owed $23 million annually through 2018.

Yankees: Alex Rodriguez to Flushing? Don't hold your breath. Still, A-Rod is owed $114 million over the next five seasons. Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia could emerge as bad contracts, with $90 million over four seasons and $119 million over five seasons owed, respectively.

(Read full post)

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
10:30
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US Presswire
The Phillies conceded 2012 with the trades of (l to r) Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Jim Thome.
METS (59-69, fourth place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (61-67, third place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (3-7, 4.33) vs. RHP Vance Worley (6-9, 4.06), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-3, 2.75) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.99), 7:05 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jon Niese (10-7, 3.51) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (7-9, 4.12), 1:05 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• The Phillies’ five-year run as division champs will come to an end. Philadelphia’s dismantling included trading:

Aug. 3: Right-hander Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ryan O’Sullivan.

July 31: Center fielder Shane Victorino to the Dodgers for Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom and a player to be named or cash.

July 31: Right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin and Tommy Joseph.


Benny Sieu/US Presswire
Cole Hamels committed to the Phillies long term, signing a six-year, $144 million extension.


July 1: Right-hander Chad Qualls to the New York Yankees for a player to be named or cash.

June 30: First baseman Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles for Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon.

• Left-hander Cole Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million extension on July 25, after the Phillies explored trades.

• Philadelphia swept the Nationals in a three-game weekend series at Citizens Bank Park. Cliff Lee had been winless in his past 12 home starts (0-6) before limiting Washington to one run in seven innings. The ex-Dodger Lindblom notched his first career save with closer Jonathan Papelbon having worked the previous three days.

• Left fielder Juan Pierre stole his 586th base Sunday, tying Maury Wills for 19th on MLB’s all-time list. Pierre is the majors’ active leader in steals.

• Outfielder Domonic Brown has missed two straight games with a sore left knee. Brown had started 22 straight games since a promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which coincided with the trades of Victorino and Pence. Brown initially started in left field, then in right field once the ex-Giant Schierholtz suffered a broken right big toe. Schierholtz began a rehab assignment Sunday. He is not expected to rejoin the Phillies until after the series against the Mets. John Mayberry Jr. has taken over for Victorino in center field.

• Despite being activated from the disabled list last Monday, Placido Polanco has started only two games in the past week because of continued lower-back inflammation. Kevin Frandsen has subbed for Polanco at third base.

• Journeyman Erik Kratz, 32, is the Phillies’ primary catch, with rookie Steven Lerud -- who has yet to make his major league debut -- the backup. Lerud has played in only nine career games above the Double-A level. Ex-Met Brian Schneider landed on the disabled list Friday with a strained left hamstring. He joined Carlos Ruiz (foot) on the DL.

• Right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont, who had been the centerpiece of the deal that sent Lee to Seattle in December 2009, made his major league debut Thursday.

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Citi Field, July 3-5 (AP game recaps)

Mets 11, Phillies 1: Jon Niese had a two-run single to back his fine performance on the mound and David Wright hit a three-run homer. Niese (7-3) pitched a season-high eight innings and gave up three hits, one a homer to Carlos Ruiz. His hit in the second inning put New York up for good in front of 42,516, the highest attendance in the four-year history of Citi Field. Ruben Tejada had an RBI single among his three hits. He put on a show at shortstop, too. Daniel Murphy finished a homer short of the cycle, doubled twice, drove in four runs and made a leaping catch and diving stop at second base. Tejada led off the game with an 11-pitch out and it rarely got much easier for Vance Worley (4-5) and Philadelphia's bullpen. More

Phillies 9, Mets 2: Cliff Lee finally posted his first victory of the season and Philadelphia hit three late homers. Lee (1-5) had gone a puzzling 13 starts this year without a victory. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit consecutive home runs in the seventh inning against Chris Young as the Phillies rallied from a 2-0 deficit. Ty Wigginton's two-run homer in the ninth against Jeremy Hefner capped the surge. More

Mets 6, Phillies 5: David Wright singled off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Mets to a comeback that preserved R.A. Dickey's 11-game winning streak. Josh Thole prevented a run in the eighth when he held on to the ball despite being barreled over at home plate. Daniel Murphy lined a shot off Papelbon's leg for the tying run with two outs in the ninth, setting the stage for Wright. Cole Hamels outlasted Dickey in a matchup of All-Stars that fizzled from the start. More

These Mets magic moments ...

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
2:00
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US Presswire/Tim FarrellJohan Santana's June 1 no-hitter certainly was cause for celebration.
Here's a ranking of 10 memorable moments from the first half of 2012, with write-ups largely as they appeared on those days.

Obviously, Johan Santana's historic no-hitter -- the first in franchise history -- ranks No. 1. So what's your next favorite?

10. FRACTURED HOPE, April 14: Broken pinkie? Idle for four days? No problem. David Wright pounced on the first pitch he saw in his return to the lineup, sending a first-inning offering from Vance Worley over the center-field wall for a 428-foot homer in his return as the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-0. Wright avoided the DL and played through the fracture while unexpectedly missing minimal time.

9. BELL RUNG, April 26: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Mets swept the Marlins. Ex-Met Heath Bell walked four of the first five batters he faced and forced in the tying run with a 13-pitch free pass to Justin Turner. Bell threw 46 pitches in the ninth.

8. OPENING ACT, April 5: Santana successfully returned after missing the 2011 season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. And the Mets again were winners on Opening Day, improving their MLB-best mark to 33-18 in season openers, thanks to an RBI single from Wright and clutch relief from Tim Byrdak only 23 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Mets beat the Braves, 1-0.

7. CHICKEN DELIGHT, June 22: Frank Francisco labeled the Yankees "chickens" before the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. He ended up getting a save in the opener, in a 6-4 win. Things got weird, though, when Byrdak had a clubhouse attendant purchase a chicken in Chinatown for $8. Byrdak had the bird running around the Mets clubhouse. The good-luck chicken, dubbed "Little Jerry Seinfeld," eventually found a home at an upstate sanctuary.

6. RAY OF HOPE, June 12-14: The Mets answered getting swept in the Subway Series in the Bronx in resounding fashion. The Amazin’s scored 29 runs in a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, who had led the American League with a 3.40 ERA entering the series. The Mets -- who scored 11, nine and nine runs -- last posted at least nine runs in three straight games in 2006. They last did it consecutively in the same series back in 1990, when they scored 43 runs in the final three games of a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs.


Howard Smith/US Presswire
Jordany Valdespin's first major league hit was a game-deciding homer against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon on May 7.


5. PAPEL-BUMMERS, May 7 & July 5: Omir Santos … again? Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had not allowed a hit in the last 18 at-bats against him entering the series, surrendered a one-out walk to Ike Davis, two-out double to Mike Nickeas, then a three-run homer to pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win on May 7 at Citizens Bank Park. Then, July 5, also against Papelbon, Wright blooped in the game-winning single with two outs. It was Wright’s seventh-career game-ending hit and first since Aug. 7, 2008 (a home run). The third baseman finished with three hits -- including a homer -- and four RBIs.

4. CATCH 23, June 1: He struggled to put on his shirt in front of his locker, the pain of a crash into the left-field wall still reverberating through his left shoulder. The crash, which followed a catch that proved to be the biggest defensive play in preserving Santana's no-hitter, knocked him from the game, forcing him to watch the final innings in the training room and bringing on a litany of tests. The crash resulted in the best sore shoulder Mike Baxter has ever suffered in his 27 years. "Absolutely," Baxter said. "I'll take it any day of the week."

3. GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, March 19: The owners of the Mets settled with trustee Irving Picard for $162 million, their alleged profit from certain Ponzi scheme funds in the six years before Bernard Madoff's arrest. In reality, Fred Wilpon and family will be on the hook for only a fraction of that amount -- and will not be required to make any payments until 2016 and 2017. That's because, as part of the settlement, the Wilpons will be able to apply to the trustee to be reimbursed for $178 million in losses from certain funds.

2. ZEROES, June 13: R.A. Dickey ran his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 32 2/3 innings before Wright's ninth-inning error, a pair of passed balls from Nickeas and an RBI groundout ended the run. Dickey nonetheless passed previous record-holder Jerry Koosman (31 2/3 innings in 1973) as the Mets beat the Rays, 9-1, at the Trop. Dickey retired 22 straight batters at one point in claiming his 10th win.

1. NO-HAN: After more than a half-century and 8,020 games, Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Aided by an umpire's missed call and an incredible catch by a left fielder who grew up in Queens as a Mets fan, Santana's start is also the first no-hitter of his career. Mets manager Terry Collins said before the game that he wanted to limit Santana to a maximum of 110-115 pitches. Santana finished with a career-high 134. Afterward, an emotional Collins expressed his wariness about going after history instead of preserving Santana's long-term health.

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
9:30
AM ET

US Presswire
The Mets are expected to face (l to r) Vance Worley, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels during the midweek series.
METS (43-37, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADLEPHIA PHILLIES (36-45, fifth place/NL East)

Tuesday: LHP Jon Niese (6-3, 3.55) vs. RHP Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Chris Young (2-1, 3.30) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-5, 4.13), 1:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.15) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• The underwhelming Phillies traded a pair of veterans to the American League during the weekend. They dealt Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon. A day later, reliever Chad Qualls was sent to the Yankees for cash or a player to be named. Thome, 41, was hitting .242 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 62 at-bats, but back woes made it difficult for him to man first base. Qualls (4.60 ERA) had been designated for assignment Thursday.

Ex-Met Jason Pridie and left-hander Jeremy Horst took their roster spots. Horst had been acquired by the Phillies in January in the trade that sent infielder Wilson Valdez, another ex-Met, to Cincinnati. Pridie had signed with Oakland as a minor league free agent during the winter, was suspended 50 games by MLB for a second positive test for a drug of abuse in March, was released by the A’s last month and signed with Philadelphia on June 15.


Howard Smith/US Presswire
Chase Utley made his season debut last week after dealing with chronic knee woes.


• ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the dismantling may not be limited to peripheral players, with pending free agent Cole Hamels as well as Shane Victorino also potentially available.

• Hamels, catcher Carlos Ruiz and closer Jonathan Papelbon will represent the Phillies in the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, although San Francisco’s Buster Posey will start over Ruiz behind the plate. Ruiz, a first-time All-Star, leads the majors in batting at .356, two points ahead of David Wright.

• Second baseman Chase Utley made his season debut last Wednesday with a three-hit game. He homered against the Pirates’ James McDonald in his first at-bat. Utley, who played in 10 rehab games, has started three of five games since being activated from the DL. The absence was caused by chronic left knee woes. Mike Fontenot has started the other two games at second base since Utley’s return.

• First baseman Ryan Howard may not be too far behind Utley. He began a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Lakewood. Howard underwent surgery in October on his left Achilles and suffered a setback when the area got infected.

• Rookie infielder Freddy Galvis, who had started 45 games at second base in Utley’s absence, was suspended by MLB for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He already was sidelined with a back injury and will be allowed to serve the suspension while on the disabled list. In a statement, Galvis denied knowingly using the banned substance.

• The Phillies are nine games under .500 for the first time since July 25, 2006, when they were 44-53. A loss in the series opener against the Mets would drop Philadelphia 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2002. The Phillies had not had this bad a record at the midpoint of a season since they were 23-58 in 1997.

• After using Vance Worley in the series opener, the Phillies are expected to skip Kyle Kendrick and go with Cliff Lee and Hamels in the series.

• Lee remains winless through 13 starts. The last MLB pitchers to open a season with that many starts and not have one victory to show for it? They would be Kenshin Kawakami with Atlanta and Kevin Millwood with Baltimore, two seasons ago. They both failed to be credited with a win in their first 14 starts of 2010. Lee has allowed five or more earned runs in three straight starts, one shy of matching his career high, which came with Cleveland in 2007.

Roy Halladay threw a bullpen session Friday for the first time since landing on the DL with a back strain.

Last series results

Philadelphia won, 2-1, at Citi Field, May 28-30 (AP game recaps)

Phillies 8, Mets 4: Ty Wigginton drove in a career-high six runs with a homer and a pair of two-out hits and Cole Hamels won his eighth straight decision. Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino each hit tying two-run homers for the Mets. Down 5-4, the Mets threatened in the eighth when pinch hitter Andres Torres doubled. With one out and Torres on third, Daniel Murphy grounded out and then David Wright also grounded out to end the inning. Wright has gone hitless in his last 14 at-bats, dropping his average to .373. More

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Jeremy Hefner earned his first victory in the majors and highlighted the occasion by homering for his first big league hit. The 26-year-old rookie became the first major league pitcher to hit his first homer in his first win since 2002, when Dennis Tankersley did it with San Diego, STATS LLC said. Pinch hitter Scott Hairston had a two-run homer, and newcomer Omar Quintanilla doubled twice and singled. More

Phillies 10, Mets 6: Carlos Ruiz came off the bench with a sore hamstring to hit a tying homer in the seventh inning, Jimmy Rollins added a three-run shot and the Phillies busted loose late. Shane Victorino drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Philadelphia bailed out winless Cliff Lee to take two of three in the series. Ty Wigginton also homered for the Phillies, who improved to 3-6 against the Mets this season. Lucas Duda went deep twice, including a two-run shot off Lee in the sixth that gave the Mets a 3-1 lead. Dillon Gee pitched 6 2/3 effective innings, but the New York bullpen was battered after he left -- beginning with the pinch-hit homer by Ruiz. More

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
8:30
AM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and winless Cliff Lee this series.
METS (27-21, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (25-24, fifth place/NL East)

Monday: LHP Jon Niese (3-2, 4.29) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17), 1:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.17) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (2-2, 4.55), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.92) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.82), 7:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

Cliff Lee is winless on May 28 for the first time since 2003, when he did not make his season debut until June 30 and opened the season as a minor leaguer. During Lee’s most recent outing, center fielder Shane Victorino and the southpaw were caught on camera in a verbal altercation in St. Louis in the dugout. The spat came after Victorino and Hunter Pence each lost fourth-inning fly balls in the twilight at Busch Stadium.

• The Phillies remain without the duo of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Howard, who is trying to recover from an infection in his surgically repaired left Achilles’ tendon, has taken live batting practice at the team’s complex in Clearwater, Fla. Utley (knee) has started taking grounders, but has yet to run the bases.


Jeff Curry/US Presswire
Shane Victorino and Cliff Lee jawed in St. Louis after Victorino lost a fly ball.


In Utley’s absence, Freddy Galvis has heated up at second base. Galvis is hitting .314 (22-for-70) with 15 RBIs in his past 18 games.

Ty Wigginton, Hector Luna and John Mayberry Jr. all have seen time at first base of late. Luna was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 11 when Laynce Nix landed on the disabled list with a strained left calf. He delivered a grand slam in his first at-bat as Phillie, while pinch-hitting five days later. Luna became the first player to produce a slam in his first at-bat as a Phillie since Gene Freese on April 18, 1959. Mayberry is 5-for-28 in his past 11 games (seven starts). Jim Thome (back) -- who also has logged time at first base this season -- has been on the disabled list for the past month, although he has resumed swinging a bat.

Cole Hamels’ seven wins are tied with R.A. Dickey, St. Louis’ Lance Lynn and ex-Met Chris Capuano for the National League lead. Hamels, a free-agent-to-be at season’s end, took a no-hit bid one out into the sixth inning in his most recent start. He ultimately tossed eight scoreless innings against the Nationals.

Joe Blanton has been knocked out in the fifth inning in each of his past two starts. He allowed seven runs apiece against Boston and St. Louis. The consecutive subpar outings have lifted his ERA from 2.96 to 4.55.

Roy Halladay departed Sunday’s game at St. Louis after two innings with right shoulder soreness. Halladay has logged 220 innings in each of the past six seasons. Since ’06, Halladay’s 1,487 innings are the most in the majors, ahead of runner-up CC Sabathia’s 1,463 and Dan Haren’s 1,429. Halladay had surrendered a grand slam to Yadier Molina before departing. Brian McCann also had a slam against Halladay this month. They are the first two slams allowed by the ace since Evan Longoria accomplished it in 2008. Fellow starter Vance Worley (elbow inflammation) may throw a bullpen session during the series in Queens but has yet to be activated from the DL.

• The Phillies are hitting .282 with 85 extra-base hits in May. They are averaging 4.8 runs per game this month. In April, they hit .247 with 47 extra-base hits and averaged 3.3 runs per game. Among the top May performers: catcher Carlos Ruiz (.410, 4 HR, 19 RBIs), Victorino (.288, 16 RBIs), Galvis (.283, 18 RBIs), Pence (.272, 8 HR, 18 RBIs) and left fielder Juan Pierre (.310). Ruiz has batted in the cleanup spot four of the past five games, with Pence moving to No. 3 and Victorino to fifth. Ruiz had never batted in the No. 4 hole in his seven-year career before this stretch.

• Philadelphia is carrying four left-handed relievers -- Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery and ex-Met Raul Valdes. Bastardo has allowed one run over his past 12 appearances, spanning 10 1/3 innings. Diekman and Valdes were promoted immediately after the meltdown series early this month against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, when Philadelphia failed to hold a lead in three straight games and was swept.

Jonathan Papelbon’s 14 saves lead the NL. He has converted every chance this season. His lone loss remains May 7, when Jordany Valdespin delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit three-run homer.

Jimmy Rollins took until at-bat No. 136 to homer. That was the second-longest drought to start a season in his career, only shy of the 155 at-bats required in 2004. Rollins missed three games last week on paternity leave for the birth of his first child, a daughter. If Rollins starts all three games this series, he will match Larry Bowa in Wednesday’s finale with 1,667 games played at shortstop for the Phillies.

Last series results

Mets won, 3-0, at Citizens Bank Park, May 7-9 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Phillies 2: Jordany Valdespin had a pinch-hit three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning for his first major league hit. David Wright hit a tying two-run double off Roy Halladay in the sixth. On the same day Ruben Tejada was placed on the disabled list, Josh Thole left with a concussion after colliding with Ty Wigginton at the plate. More

Mets 7, Phillies 4: Lucas Duda had a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh. The Mets took the lead with four two-out runs on four hits, including Duda's single off Antonio Bastardo (1-2). Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ RBI single pulled New York within 4-2. Chad Qualls replaced starter Joe Blanton and gave up an RBI single to David Wright. On Hunter Pence's throw home, Wright got caught in a rundown between first and second. After Jimmy Rollins threw to first while second base was uncovered, Pete Orr tried to get Nieuwenhuis off the bag at third. The throw bounced past Placido Polanco, allowing Nieuwenhuis to score. More

Mets 10, Phillies 6: Ike Davis hit a three-run homer and Andres Torres also connected as the Mets completed their first three-game sweep in Philadelphia in six years. The Mets rallied to win all three against slumping Philadelphia. They trailed after five innings against Roy Halladay in the opener, then after six against Joe Blanton, and after six against Cliff Lee in the series finale. The Mets (18-13) moved five games above .500 for the first time since July 19, 2010. The loss prompted manager Charlie Manuel to address his team. Lee left with a 4-2 lead, but Kyle Kendrick (0-3) quickly gave that up. More

Mets morning briefing 5.9.12

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
2:31
AM ET
The Mets overcame a four-run deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4, on Tuesday. It was the Mets' 10th come-from-behind win this season, matching the Atlanta Braves for the most in Major League Baseball.

On Wednesday, Dillon Gee opposes Cliff Lee with the Mets aiming for their first three-game sweep in Philly since June 13-15, 2006. David Wright homered in each game of that series.

"When you've got a young team, they're going to at times make you pull your hair out," Terry Collins said. "But, for the most part, they fight back and they play nine innings."

Wednesday's news reports:

Josh Thole landed on the seven-day DL with a concussion, although Sandy Alderson projected the catcher will nearly certainly miss more than that time, because doctors have advised Thole to remain idle for a week or more before doing any activity whatsoever. The Mets promoted catcher Rob Johnson from Triple-A Buffalo and transferred Pedro Beato to the 60-day disabled list. Beato has been working back from a shoulder issue at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Alderson said Mets doctors evaluated Ruben Tejada for a concussion as well because of Sunday's tumble at Citi Field, but the shortstop was cleared. Tejada landed on the DL on Monday with a strained right quadriceps.

Ty Wigginton, who delivered the blow that nailed Thole on Monday night, told Zach Schonbrun in the Times: "I didn’t even know honestly that I made contact with him. I get to the dugout and turn around and he’s just laying there. I saw the replay and realized my shoulder got him. I didn’t realize it was anything like that.” Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News and Newsday.

Jenrry Mejia is due to throw 75 pitches in a start for Class A St. Lucie on Wednesday. Chris Young is scripted to go that same length Thursday for the same Florida State League club. Both pitchers underwent surgery last May 16. Mejia is returning from Tommy John surgery. Young is returning from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder, which is the same procedure Johan Santana underwent the previous September.

• Collins said Miguel Batista will remain in the rotation for another turn in Mike Pelfrey's former slot. Batista was charged with four runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings, although he needed Manny Acosta to strand two runners in scoring position in the sixth to hold the damage to that level.

Jordany Valdespin on Wednesday should receive the baseball from his first major league hit -- Monday's tiebreaking, ninth-inning homer off Jonathan Papelbon. The ball actually was thrown back onto the field after Valdespin's long ball, but a ball girl flipped it back into the stands to a child, who departed the stadium. According to Mets PR man Jay Horwitz, the father of that child heard Tom McCarthy mention it on the Phillies TV telecast and recognized it was his son whom McCarthy was describing. The man contacted the Mets, who have made arrangements for the entire family to come to Citizens Bank Park for the series finale. Read more in Newsday.

• The tying run in the four-run seventh Tuesday scored when Wright got caught in a rundown between first and second and Kirk Nieuwenhuis eventually scampered home from third base. Collins and Wright portrayed it as a heady play by Wright to prevent Nieuwenhuis from being nailed at the plate by right fielder Hunter Pence, but that seemed like a stretch. After all, Nieuwenhuis had started the play on first base and had only just rounded second when Pence fielded the ball. No matter. It worked out for the best as second baseman Pete Orr errantly flung the ball to third base, allowing Nieuwenhuis to scamper home to draw the Mets even at 4.

Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda each had RBIs in the seventh and ninth innings. Both of Duda's came against left-handed relievers -- Antonio Bastardo and Joe Savery. Duda entered the game hitting .154 (4-for-26) against southpaws this season. "I kind of struggled throughout the first part of the season with lefties," Duda said. "Luckily, the ball found some space and I got a hit. Guys got on, and I swung the bat and hit the ball, and it was a base hit."

Collins said he was considering pinch hitting for Duda in the seventh before Wright's rundown allowed Nieuwenhuis to score and make it 4-4. Duda followed with the go-ahead RBI hit against Bastardo.

Said Collins about Duda: "Those were big hits. As a matter of fact, we were sitting there today. Lucas has been struggling a little bit against lefties. But the fact that he had the flu so bad -- he's really been struggling -- I'm really concerned about the fatigue factor more than anything. We were talking about the possibility of, 'Hey, look, if the bases are loaded, we might have to hit for him here.'"

• Read game recaps from Tuesday's win, which lifted the Mets to four games over .500, in the Post, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record and Daily News.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post seems like he's starting to believe. Writes Davidoff:

It’s a typical Mets con job, right? Gotta be. No, no -- not that type of con job. They beat that rap. I’m talking about the Mets’ annual first-half surge that fires up their fan base, only to lead to second-half heartbreak and apathy. Well, after witnessing the Mets outlast and outwit the Phillies last night, 7-4 at Citizens Bank Park, it should be said: If this early charge proves nothing more than a mirage, then kudos to the Mets for putting on a particularly enjoyable sell.

Matt Harvey tossed six scoreless innings in Buffalo's 3-0 win at Gwinnett, the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: For which team did Omir Santos make his major league debut?

Tuesday's answer: Warren Spahn is the oldest player to have thrown a pitch for the Mets. He was 44 years, 78 days old when he faced Houston on July 10, 1965.

'Spin has Omir moment vs. Papelbon

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
11:35
PM ET


Jordany Valdespin relived his first major league hit in the clubhouse moments after the blast.

On the day he returned to the big leagues with Ruben Tejada landing on the DL with a right quadriceps strain, Valdespin channeled his inner Omir Santos and belted a three-run pinch-hit homer off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

He became the first Met to homer for his first major league hit since Mike Jacobs did it on Aug. 21, 2005, against Washington's Esteban Loiaza. Jacobs went on to homer four times in his first four games.

Howard Smith/US PresswireJordany Valdespin pumps his fist after his tiebreaking ninth-inning homer Monday against Jonathan Papelbon.
Asked what entered his mind as he circled the bases, Valdespin said: "Just excited because -- you know -- first hit in the big leagues. It's exciting. I'm thinking, 'Giving the chance to my team to win.'"

Terry Collins already had promised pregame that Valdespin would start Tuesday at shortstop. The rookie had been 0-for-6 during his first tour of duty with the Mets. He had been demoted after Saturday's game, a day before Tejada suffered the leg injury, to clear roster room for the activation of reliever D.J. Carrasco.

Valdespin reeked of beer as he spoke with reporters afterward. Teammates had bathed him in uniform in the clubhouse with whatever they could grab. They then wildly cheered as replays of the game, including Valdespin's dramatic homer, were played on "SportsCenter" in the clubhouse.

"Everything they had in their hands," Valdespin said about what he got doused with.

The homer, which broke a 2-all tie, was set up by a walk to Ike Davis, then a two-out double by Mike Nickeas.

"When I see Nicky hit with a strong at-bat, I think, 'I'm the man right now. I'll hit the ball to the middle,'" Valdespin said. "He made a mistake and I hit the ball well."

Said Terry Collins: "He is an extremely talented young player. So we're going to run him out there tomorrow. You know, he hasn't played shortstop [a lot this season]. But he's just so athletic that I know he'll handle himself great."

Papelbon, of course, had allowed the homer to Santos in 2009 to blow a save at Fenway Park against the Mets. He had faced the Mets only once since then -- earlier this season.

"I threw him a sinker and it wasn’t executed as well as I’d like it to be, but we’re in the big leagues man," Papelbon said. "That’s part of the game. I could have thrown him a better pitch."

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Phillies 2

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
10:10
PM ET


WHAT IT MEANS: Omir Santos … again?

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had not allowed a hit in the last 18 at-bats against him entering the series, surrendered a one-out walk to Ike Davis, two-out double to Mike Nickeas, then a three-run homer to pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

It was Valdespin’s first major league hit. He is due to start at shortstop Tuesday in place of injured Ruben Tejada.

Papelbon, of course, served up the infamous two-run homer on May 23, 2009 to Santos at Fenway Park in a blown save.

GAMER: Ex-Met Ty Wigginton knocked Josh Thole from the game in the bottom of the eighth on a play at the plate. Thole took a jolt to the head from Wigginton’s left shoulder. He walked off under his own power, but seemingly will need to be monitored for a concussion. Thole held onto the ball, preserving the 2-2 score. Tim Byrdak recorded the final out of the eighth to strand the go-ahead run at third base with a strikeout.

Wigginton has a history of hard-nosed plate collisions. As a Met in 2003 in San Juan, he locked his arms and struck Montreal Expos catcher Michael Barrett, jarring a ball loose.

In the six weeks after he was traded from the Mets to the Pirates in the Kris Benson deal at the July 2004 deadline, Wigginton broke Koyie Hill's ankle and bruised St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina in jarring home-plate collisions while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

DRIVEN: David Wright pulled the Mets even at 2 with a two-out, two-run double in the sixth against Roy Halladay. It was the 740th and 741st RBIs of Wright’s Mets career, extending his franchise record.

HALLADAY SPREE: Halladay’s streak of winning eight straight starts against the Mets ended with a no-decision. Barely.

In the bottom of the seventh, in an inning in which Halladay departed for a pinch hitter with the score tied at 2, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out against Bobby Parnell. Parnell then induced a groundball to Daniel Murphy, who initiated a 4-6-3 inning-ending double-play attempt.

First base ump Alan Porter ruled Hunter Pence had beaten the relay throw from Justin Turner, seemingly allowing Juan Pierre -- who walked as the pinch hitter for Halladay -- to score the go-ahead run. Terry Collins got halfway to first base to argue the call when Pence then was ruled out.

The out call came from second base ump Ron Kulpa, who ruled Shane Victorino had left the base line to interfere with Turner.

It’s not the first time at Citizens Bank Park an interference call affected a game late.

Back on Aug. 29, 2007, during a four-game sweep of the Mets by the Phillies, the third game ended with Marlon Anderson called by umpire C.B. Bucknor for an illegal takeout slide against second baseman Tadahito Iguchi.

Halladay, who received a no-decision, fell short of matching Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax for the fourth-longest streak all time of consecutive starts with a win against the Mets. They both had wins in nine straight starts. Only Larry Jackson (13 straight), Don Drysdale (12) and Bob Friend (10) have longer streaks.

Coming off an outing against Atlanta in which he surrendered eight runs, Halladay had limited the Mets to one hit entering the sixth. Then, in that inning, he issued a two-out walk to Andres Torres and single to Kirk Nieuwenhuis preceding Wright’s game-tying double.

FIVE AND DIVE: Jon Niese limited the Phillies to two runs, but the southpaw walked four and departed Monday’s game having logged 101 pitches in five innings. He received a no-decision. It was the most pitches in a five-inning-or-less outing by a Mets starter since Chris Capuano went 4 2/3 innings in a 103-pitch outing at St. Louis last Sept. 22.

WHAT’S NEXT: Miguel Batista steps into the rotation slot that Chris Schwinden occupied for two unsuccessful turns. And this is not a make-or-break start for the 41-year-old Batista, according to Collins. “He’s going to get a few chances to show us what he can do,” Collins said. The manager added that Batista is not a placeholder for Chris Young, although it certainly seems that’s the case. Young, working back from May 16, 2011 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder, is scheduled to throw 75 pitches Thursday for Class A St. Lucie in his first official minor league game.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
11:35
PM ET

US Presswire/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton and Cliff Lee in Philly this week.
METS (15-13, third place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (14-15, fifth place/NL East)

Monday: LHP Jon Niese (2-1, 4.08) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (3-2, 3.40), 7:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Miguel Batista (0-1, 6.92) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (3-3, 2.83), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-2, 4.50) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-1, 1.96), 7:05 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

Cliff Lee returns from a left oblique strain for Wednesday’s start. The southpaw had been on the disabled list since April 21. With Lee’s return, Kyle Kendrick reverts to bullpen use. Kendrick made three starts in Lee’s absence, going 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA. On Friday at D.C., Kendrick did limit Washington to one run in five innings to outperform Stephen Strasburg (three runs in six innings), although the Nats won, 4-3, in 11 innings.

Ryan Howard, who is trying to work back from left Achilles surgery and an ensuing infection in the repaired area, expects to hit and run at the team’s Clearwater, Fla., complex this week. Meanwhile, Chase Utley (knee) also could begin working out there this week, in a quasi-beginning to spring training. Utley spent the past five weeks rehabbing in Arizona. Since Jim Thome landed on the DL on May 2 with a lower-back strain, righty-hitting Ty Wigginton and lefty-hitting Laynce Nix exclusively have shared first-base duties. Meanwhile, with rookie Freddy Galvis (.198) underperforming, Pete Orr has started seven of the past 12 games at second base. Philly media speculation is former Cub/Giant Mike Fontenot soon could be promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with Galvis demoted.


Miles Kennedy/Getty Images
Carlos Ruiz had seven RBIs in a game against the Braves last week.


Roy Halladay enters Monday’s start having allowed eight earned runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings in his most recent outing, at Atlanta. The damage, which came after Halladay needed only 46 pitches to navigate the opening four innings, included a grand slam by Brian McCann. It was the most earned runs allowed by Halladay since surrendering nine in 5 1/3 innings at Texas on May 5, 2007 while with the Toronto Blue Jays. The last grand slam allowed by Halladay? That came in 2008, courtesy of Evan Longoria. Halladay’s fastball has averaged 90.4 mph this season, down from 92.0 mph last season and 92.6 mph in 2010.

• Right fielder Hunter Pence homered twice Sunday night against the Nats. He has a nine-game hitting streak.

Joe Blanton tossed a three-hit shutout Thursday at Atlanta. It was the third shutout of Blanton’s career, and first since June 2, 2007 with Oakland against Minnesota.

• Philadelphia’s bullpen has blown three of its past five save chances, although that is before the ball got to Jonathan Papelbon. The former Red Sox closer is 9-for-9 this season. He was named MLB’s Delivery Man of the Month for April. Since a single by Angel Pagan on April 16, Papelbon has not allowed a hit in the last 18 at-bats against him. Papelbon’s nine saves are tied with Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead.

• The Phillies snapped a string of seven straight losses to the Nationals with a 9-3 win Sunday night.

• Catcher Carlos Ruiz produced seven RBIs against Atlanta on Wednesday. That was one RBI shy of matching the Phillies’ single-game record, which is held by Jayson Werth (2008), Mike Schmidt (1976) and Willie Jones (1958).

• Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who moved to the leadoff spot April 28 as Charlie Manuel tried to jumpstart the Phillies’ offense, went 5-for-27 on Philadelphia’s six-game trip.

• Reliever Jose Contreras was activated from the DL on April 16. He had undergone elbow surgery on Sept. 2, 2011.

Cole Hamels told Philly reporters he purposely plunked Washington's Bryce Harper during Sunday's first inning. Harper got the last laugh, ultimately stealing home that inning. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann subsequently hit Hamels with a pitch in the left leg. "I'm not gonna lie," Hamels said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "It's kind of welcome to the big leagues. He kind of did the same to me."

Matchups

Niese vs. Phillies (career: 4-4, 3.58 ERA)
Ty Wigginton .500, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA
Placido Polanco .417, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 26 PA
Carlos Ruiz .357, 2 RBI, 4 K, 14 PA
Freddy Galvis .333, 1 K, 3 PA
John Mayberry .294, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K, 17 PA
Shane Victorino .278, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 19 PA
Jimmy Rollins .263, 2 BB, 3 K, 21 PA
Hunter Pence .143, 1 BB, 4 K, 15 PA
Brian Schneider .000, 1 K, 4 PA

Batista vs. Phillies (career: 3-3, 4.42 ERA)
Jimmy Rollins .550, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 1 K
John Mayberry .500, 1 RBI, 2 PA
Placido Polanco .343, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, 40 PA
Ty Wigginton .308, 4 RBI, 3 K, 13 PA
Carlos Ruiz .286, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K
Hunter Pence .250, 1 BB, 1 K, 5 PA
Brian Schneider .231, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 16 PA
Juan Pierre .227, 4 BB, 1 K, 27 PA
Laynce Nix .000, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 10 PA
Shane Victorino .000, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 5 PA
Pete Orr .000, 1 PA

Gee vs. Phillies (career: 2-1, 7.85 ERA)
Jimmy Rollins 1.000, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 PA
Brian Schneider .500, 2 BB, 4 PA
Shane Victorino .286, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 10 PA
Laynce Nix .200, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA
Carlos Ruiz .200, 1 K, 5 PA
Hunter Pence .167, 3 BB, 1 K, 9 PA
John Mayberry .167, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 7 PA
Placido Polanco .167, 1 BB, 7 PA
Pete Orr .000, 1 K, 1 PA

Halladay vs. Mets (career: 9-2, 2.88 ERA)
Justin Turner .500, 1 K, 2 PA
Josh Thole .438, 2 K, 16 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 1 BB, 2 K, 7 PA
Andres Torres .231, 1 BB, 2 K, 14 PA
Ike Davis .211, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 20 PA
Daniel Murphy .167, 1 K, 6 PA
David Wright .143, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 11 K, 22 PA
Ruben Tejada .000, 1 RBI, 8 PA
Lucas Duda .000, 1 K, 6 PA
Mike Baxter .000, 1 K, 2 PA

Blanton vs. Mets (career: 3-1, 3.50 ERA)
Scott Hairston .500, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K, 6 PA
Ike Davis .455, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 12 PA
Andres Torres .333, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 4 PA
David Wright .261, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, 24 PA
Josh Thole .111, 1 RBI, 3 K, 9 PA
Daniel Murphy .000, 1 BB, 2 K, 4 PA
Ruben Tejada .000, 3 PA
Lucas Duda .000, 2 K, 3 PA
Justin Turner .000, 1 PA

Lee vs. Mets (career: 2-1, 1.61 ERA)
Andres Torres .500, 2 K, 7 PA
Ruben Tejada .500, 6 PA
Josh Thole .500, 2 PA
Daniel Murphy .333, 1 RBI, 2 K, 6 PA
David Wright .286, 3 K, 7 PA
Lucas Duda .167, 3 K, 6 PA
Scott Hairston .143, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K, 14 PA
Justin Turner .000, 1 BB, 3 K, 10 PA
Ike Davis .000, 2 K, 6 PA

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Citizens Bank Park, April 13-15 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Phillies 2: R.A. Dickey threw seven sharp innings, Jason Bay hit a two-run homer and the Mets beat Cliff Lee. Scott Hairston also homered. Freddy Galvis hit his first major league homer for the Phillies. Dickey (2-0) allowed one run despite nine hits. The knuckleballer struck out seven and lowered his ERA against Philadelphia to 2.40 in seven career starts. Dickey has compiled 14 straight quality starts -- six or more innings with three earned runs or less -- dating to last July 25. Lee (0-1) gave up four runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out seven. He allowed just nine runs in his previous 11 starts, spanning 83 2/3 innings. The Mets played without David Wright for the third straight game.

Mets 5, Phillies 0: Jon Niese and two relievers combined on a six-hitter and David Wright homered despite a broken finger. Niese (2-0) allowed five hits and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings. Bobby Parnell got four outs and Jon Rauch pitched the ninth. Wright was 3-for-5, including a long homer on the first pitch he saw after missing three games with a broken right pinkie. Lucas Duda also connected for the Mets, who are off to a surprising 6-2 start. Phillies starter Vance Worley (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings.

Phillies 8, Mets 2: Cole Hamels pitched seven strong innings and Ty Wigginton drove in four runs. Hamels (1-1) struck out 10 to help the Phillies avoid a three-game sweep at home against the Mets for the first time since June 13-15, 2006. Philadelphia struggled to cross the plate until scoring twice in the seventh inning against Ramon Ramirez (1-1). The Phillies blew the game open with five unearned runs in the eighth off two Mets relievers. The Phillies tied it at 2 in the seventh on Wigginton's sacrifice fly that scored Jimmy Rollins. Rollins could've been the second out of the inning, but right fielder Lucas Duda misjudged Rollins' lazy flyball to short right field, allowing Rollins a single. Helped by Ruben Tejada's throwing error, the Phillies tacked on five unearned runs run in the eighth. Manny Acosta walked Hunter Pence with the bases loaded before Wigginton hit a bases-clearing double off Miguel Batista for the five-run lead. Ike Davis' two-run homer in the first had staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
9:34
PM ET

Howard Smith/US Presswire
The Mets face (l to r) Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels this weekend in Philly.
METS (4-2, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (3-3, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP R.A. Dickey (1-0, 3.00) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-0, 1.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (1-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Vance Worley (0-0, 1.50), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 4.76) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 5.06), 1:35 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• First baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Howard was examined Tuesday by foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson in Baltimore. He developed an infection in the back of his left heel as the result of surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon. That prompted a Feb. 27 surgical procedure to address the infection. Utley has dealt with chronic knee pain and is rehabbing in Arizona.

The Phillies already have used four different first basemen in Howard’s absence -- Ty Wigginton (twice), John Mayberry Jr. (twice), Laynce Nix and Jim Thome. Thome’s start was his first at the position since June 13, 2007. Nix previously had started only six career games at first base. Rookie Freddy Galvis has started all six games at second base. Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 pick last season, who now is Phillies property, started seven games at second base last season, but has a broken right foot. Martinez suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Jim Johnson in a March 20 spring-training game.


Howard Smith/US Presswire
With Chase Utley out, rookie Freddy Galvis is manning second base for the Phillies.


Galvis, 22, became the first player to make his major league debut on Opening Day with the Phillies since shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman Denny Doyle in 1970. He exclusively played shortstop in the minors and shifted to second base during spring training. Galvis hit a combined .278 with eight homers and 43 RBIs last season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He went 0-for-12 to start this season, before doubling in his final at-bat Monday, against Miami’s Anibal Sanchez.

Nix, 31, signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract in December. He hit .250 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 324 at-bats with the Washington Nationals last season.

• The Phillies had a fortuitous break in not re-signing Ryan Madson, whose agent originally believed the sides had agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal. Philadelphia quickly regrouped and landed former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for four years, $50 million. Madson then signed with the Cincinnati Reds late on a deal that guaranteed $8.5 million for 2012. He will end up missing the season following Tommy John surgery. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro publicly stated there was never an agreement, while Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, said at the time: "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction."

Papelbon last season became the first pitcher to have 30-plus saves in each of his first six full major league seasons. He also became the fastest to 200 saves -- in his 359th appearance. Papelbon’s new entrance music, by the way: Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box."

• Shortstop Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the organization on Dec. 17 for three years, $33 million, plus a 2015 vesting option.

• Reliever Jose Contreras, who underwent elbow surgery in September, has started a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater. Contreras is expected to work consecutive minor league games Thursday and Friday, after which he could be activated from the disabled list.

• Former Met-killer Pat Burrell plans to sign a one-day minor league contract with the Phillies next month and officially retire with the organization. Burrell is fourth all time in homers in the uniform, with 251. He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Philadelphia’s May 19 game against the Boston Red Sox.

(Read full post)

Closer look

November, 1, 2011
11/01/11
10:07
PM ET
ESPN Stats & Information did an in-depth look at the free-agent closer market. Here's a look at their research ...

The most abundant position in this year’s free-agent class is relief pitcher. There are nine high-level closers/ex-closers on the market.

Teams that could be looking for a closer include those that are losing them and a few whose bullpens struggled in 2011. They include/could include the Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Padres, Phillies and Red Sox.

Notable Free Agents:

Player, 2011 saves-save chances, ERA, WHIP, K per 9

Ryan Madson, 32-34, 2.37, 1.15, 9.2
Heath Bell, 43-48, 2.44, 1.15, 7.3
Francisco Cordero, 37-43, 2.45, 1.02, 5.4
Francisco Rodriguez, 23-29, 2.64, 1.30, 9.9
Jonathan Papelbon, 31-34, 2.94, 0.93, 12.2
Jonathan Broxton, 7-8, 5.68, 1.90, 7.1
Matt Capps, 15-24, 4.25, 1.20, 4.7
Brad Lidge, 1-1, 1.40, 1.50, 10.7
Joe Nathan, 14-17, 4.84, 1.16, 8.7

NEXT LEVEL: Win Probability Added measures a pitcher’s contributions on a play-by-play basis, assigning value to each plate appearance based on how much it contributed to the team’s chance of winning or losing (based on historical data). Value is measured in “wins added.”

Highest Win Probability Added Among Free Agent Relievers (2011 Season)

Papelbon 3.53
Madson 2.33
Rodriguez 2.13

Largest Free Agent Contract- Total Value (Relief Pitcher)

B.J. Ryan, 2005-06, Blue Jays, five years, $47.0 million
Cordero, 2007-08, Reds, four years, $46.0 million
Mariano Rivera, 2007-08 Yankees, three- years, $45.0 million
Billy Wagner, 2005-06 Mets, four years, $43.0 million

Largest Free Agent Contract- Average Annual Value (Relief Pitchers)

Rivera, 2007-08 Yankees, $15.0 million/year
Rivera, 2010-11 Yankees, $15.0 million/year
Rodriguez, 2008-09 Mets, $12.3 million/year
Rafael Soriano, 2010-11 Yankees, $11.7 million/year

Heath Bell

** Bell has the most saves of any pitcher in the last three seasons with 132, ahead of Brian Wilson (122), Rivera (121), Cordero (116) and Papelbon (106).

Francisco Cordero

** Cordero’s 194 saves are the most of anyone in the last five seasons, ahead of Jose Valverde (191) and Rivera (190). One area of intrigue for Cordero is that he’s managed to keep his job despite his strikeouts-per-nine-innings dropping from 10.0 in the first year of his deal (2008) to 5.4 in the last year (2011).

Brad Lidge

** Since going a perfect 41-for-41 in save chances in 2008, Lidge has experienced both mound struggles and injuries.

Brad Lidge- Last 4 Seasons

Category, 2008, 2009-11
ERA, 1.95, 4.73
K per 9, 11.9, 9.9
BB per 9, 4.5, 5.2
HR per 9, 0.3, 1.2

Ryan Madson

** In his first season as a full-time closer, Madson had the second-best save percentage in the NL (32-34, 94.1 percent), just behind John Axford (46-48, 95.8).

Joe Nathan

** Joe Nathan was one of the game’s premier closers until getting hurt in spring training in 2010.

Joe Nathan -- 2004-2009

Save Pct, 90.8, rank: 2nd (246-271)
ERA, 1.87, 2nd
WHIP, 0.93, 1st
K per 9, 11.1, 5th
>> Minimum 200 IP

Jonathan Papelbon

** Papelbon has ranked in the top eight in the AL in saves in each of the last six seasons. His 8.7 K-to-BB rate was third-best in baseball behind Koji Uehara (9.44) and Rafael Betancourt (9.13).

Francisco Rodriguez

** Since breaking the single-season saves record in 2008, Rodriguez hasn’t had more than 35 saves in a season. However, in the three-year stretch since, his peripheral numbers are similar to 2008.

Francisco Rodriguez- 2009-2011

Category, 2008, 2009-11
K per 9, 10.1, 10.0
BB per 9, 4.5, 3.9
HR per 9, 0.5, 0.6
WHIP, 1.29, 1.26
ERA, 2.24, 2.88

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Carlos Torres
WINS ERA SO IP
2 2.08 11 8
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Lagares .314
HRL. Duda 3
RBIL. Duda 8
RE. Young Jr. 12
OPSL. Duda .841
ERAJ. Mejia 2.81
SOJ. Mejia 18

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