New York Mets: Jordan Schafer

Rapid Reaction: Braves 13, Mets 5

September, 2, 2013
ATLANTA -- Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted only three innings Monday afternoon. Now, his Mets career looks done after three starts.

Working at his familiarly deliberate pace, Matsuzaka was pummeled for six runs in three innings as the Atlanta Braves beat the Mets 13-5 at Turner Field.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDaisuke Matsuzaka allowed six runs in three innings on Labor Day.

Dice-K's ERA now stands at an uncompetitive 10.95 after three starts, during which he has contributed a combined 12 1/3 innings while throwing a whopping 268 pitches.

Matsuzaka's next turn comes up Sunday in Cleveland, and it is hard to fathom the Mets allowing that to take place. (Matsuzaka, coincidentally, requested his released from the Indians, where he was pitching in Triple-A, in order to sign with the Mets.)

The Mets announced the signing of Aaron Harang to a minor league deal Sunday night and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. A seemingly viable alternative, Harang had been 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts for the Seattle Mariners this season.

Freddie Freeman had five RBIs against Matsuzaka, including a three-run homer in the second.

Black Monday: Right-hander Vic Black inherited the bases loaded from Pedro Feliciano with two outs in the sixth in the ex-Pirate's Mets debut. Black fired a pair of 97 mph fastballs, the latter of which coaxed an inning-ending fly out from Andrelton Simmons to hold the Mets' deficit at 10-3.

The Mets acquired Black and Class A infielder Dilson Herrera last week for Marlon Byrd and John Buck.

Shouldering load: Left-hander Tim Byrdak tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first major league appearance since undergoing surgery last Sept. 6 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder. Byrdak only surrendered a single to Jordan Schafer. Four of the five batters he faced were lefties.

Zach with an H: Zach Lutz, promoted Sunday as rosters expanded after Ike Davis suffered a strained right oblique, pinch hit for Matsuzaka and delivered an RBI double in the fourth. Daniel Murphy followed with a sacrifice fly that pulled the Mets within 6-3 against Paul Maholm.

It was Lutz's first career extra-base hit. His last Mets plate appearance had come on June 30.

What's next: Carlos Torres (3-2, 2.77 ERA) opposes right-hander Kris Medlen (11-12, 3.58) in Game 2 of the series, at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

August, 19, 2013

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood during a two-game series at Citi Field.
METS (57-66, third place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (76-48, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43) vs. RHP Brandon Beachy (2-0, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-6, 4.25) vs. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.61), 1:10 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Brandon Beachy made his season debut July 29 after missing 13 months recovering from Tommy John surgery. He took the rotation spot vacated by Tim Hudson, who underwent ankle surgery after getting stepped on by Eric Young Jr. at Citi Field during Atlanta’s last visit. Beachy had the NL’s best ERA at 2.00 when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on June 16, 2012 against the Baltimore Orioles.

• The Braves are 19-3 since July 26. They own a season-high 15-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals. The last time Atlanta enjoyed a larger division lead came when it won the NL East in 2002 by 19 games over the Montreal Expos, while going 101-59.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJason Heyward has moved to the leadoff spot.

Craig Kimbrel has an NL-leading 39 saves. He has converted 29 straight chances, topping the previous franchise record of 27 straight set by John Smoltz from Aug. 8, 2002 through May 1, 2003. Over his past 25 appearances, Kimbrel has struck out 42 batters while allowing 10 hits and 10 walks in 25 innings.

Overall, Atlanta’s relief corps ranks first in the majors in ERA (2.40), opponent batting average (.213) and WHIP (1.11).

• Since emerging as the leadoff hitter on July 27, Jason Heyward is batting .370 (30-for-81) with five homers, 15 RBIs and a .433 on-base percentage. Andrelton Simmons, who previously occupied the leadoff spot the bulk of the time, mostly has dropped to eighth.

• Rookie Alex Wood, a second-round pick out of the University of Georgia in 2012, makes his seventh major league start -- and third career start against the Mets. In his previous two appearances against the Mets, he has allowed a combined five earned runs on 10 hits and five walks (one intentional) in 7 1/3 innings.

Jordan Schafer has started the Braves’ last four games against right-handed pitchers over B.J. Upton in center field. Upton is hitting .186 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 317 total at-bats. He is in the first season of a five-year, $75.25 million deal.

Dan Uggla is on the DL after undergoing LASIK surgery to correct his vision. Tyler Pastornicky, Paul Janish and rookie Philip Gosselin have started at second base over the past five games in Uggla’s absence. Gosselin was promoted after Pastornicky tore the ACL in his left knee.

The Braves also have signed second baseman Tyler Greene to a minor league contact and assigned him to Triple-A. He previously was with the Chicago White Sox.

Uggla ranked second on the Braves in homers with 21 and had a team-leading 62 walks when he landed on the DL. But he also had the worst batting average (.186) among major league qualifiers and led the NL in strikeouts (146).

• Left-hander Paul Maholm, on the disabled list since July 29 with a bruised left wrist, is nearing a return after making a rehab start Saturday with Class A Rome.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Mets 3

June, 19, 2013

ATLANTA -- Shaun Marcum may make the decision regarding which pitcher to drop from the six-man rotation easy.

Marcum was knocked out in the fifth inning and remained winless this season as the Atlanta Braves beat the Mets, 5-3, Wednesday night at Turner Field.

A day after the intoxicating Matt Harvey-Zack Wheeler double-feature, Marcum fell to 0-9 -- the third-worst start to a season in franchise history. Only Anthony Young (0-13 in 1993) and Bob Miller (0-12 in 1962) started a season with more futility.

Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsShaun Marcum was knocked out in the fifth inning.

Marcum’s ERA swelled to 5.76 after getting charged with five runs on six hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. It could have been worse. He departed with two runners in scoring position. Carlos Torres entered and struck out Dan Uggla.

Terry Collins has not precisely revealed how many more turns the Mets will stick with a six-man rotation, but he vowed it will not persist beyond the All-Star break, and offered indications it may end sooner.

A half-inning after the Mets tied the score with a three-run fifth courtesy of Kris Medlen’s sloppiness after fielding a comebacker, Marcum could not prevent the Braves from regaining the lead.

Marcum surrendered a leadoff double to Jordan Schafer. He ultimately scored the tiebreaking run on a two-out wild pitch to Brian McCann with the count 2-2.

McCann eventually walked. Justin Upton followed with an RBI double that staked division-leading Atlanta to a 5-3 lead.

The big blow against Marcum had come on Chris Johnson’s three-run homer in the fourth.

Marcum entered this start off an outing against the Chicago Cubs in which he allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Debutant: Eric Young Jr., batting leadoff and playing center field, opened the game and his Mets career with a leadoff single. He finished 1-for-4, including grounding into an eighth-inning double play.

That’s a relief: Torres tossed 2 1/3 no-hit innings after taking over for Marcum. The ex-Rockie has now contributed 4 1/3 scoreless innings over two appearances since a promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas.

How they scored: Trailing 3-0, the Mets had good fortune in the top of the fifth.

Medlen retired 11 straight after Young’s game-opening single, until Marlon Byrd opened the fifth with a single. Lucas Duda was hit by a pitch. John Buck then sent a screaming comebacker to Medlen.

Medlen fielded the ball and attempted to get the lead-runner Byrd. He instead threw the ball past the third baseman Johnson, who had not yet arrived at the bag. Rather than Medlen initiating a crippling double play, two runs scored. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a game-tying RBI single. Two of the three runs were unearned.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (3-6, 4.15 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (8-2, 2.68) in the rubber game of the five-game series.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Braves 3

June, 18, 2013
ATLANTA -- The bar has been set pretty high for Zack Wheeler in the nightcap of a celebrated doubleheader.

Hopefully Mets fans will convince themselves to uncover their eyes and watch.

Matt Harvey carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before surrendering a leadoff infield single to Jason Heyward. The Mets eventually hung on by the skin of their teeth to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon at Turner Field.

Todd Kirkland/Associated PressMatt Harvey took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon.

Bobby Parnell inherited the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth inning with the Mets clinging to a one-run lead and struck out Chris Johnson.

Parnell ultimately produced the first legitimate multi-inning save of his career when he returned and posted a scoreless ninth. Parnell also was credited with a save for pitching the final three innings of a 9-0 rout on Aug. 5, 2009, against St. Louis.

Harvey -- who topped out at 100 mph -- produced a career-high 13 strikeouts, including six straight in the middle innings. It marked his sixth career double-digit strikeout game. He is the youngest Mets pitcher to reach that strikeout total since Dwight Gooden.

A victim of paltry run support this season, Harvey (6-1) won for only the second time since April 19.

He looked perturbed with how the no-hit bid ended.

Heyward hit a tapper to the right side of the infield grass, which Harvey fielded. Newly anointed first baseman Lucas Duda also broke for the ball rather than reading that Harvey would field it and retreating to the base. So Harvey ended up flipping the ball to an unattended first base for what became an infield single.

Harvey departed with the Mets leading 4-0, the bases loaded and none out in the eighth -- with his pitch count at 116 and having surrendered three hits.

LaTroy Hawkins -- making his 900th career appearance, matching Arthur Rhodes for 23rd all time -- entered and struck out pinch-hitter Brian McCann. Hawkins then surrendered a two-run single to Jordan Schafer as Atlanta pulled within 4-2. Justin Upton followed by grounding into a fielder's choice.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Scott Rice entered and surrendered a run-scoring double to Heyward off the glove of Duda at first base and into right field.

So, after an intentional walk reloaded the bases, Terry Collins finally turned to Parnell, who struck out Johnson and ended the three-run frame.

At least the Mets gave Harvey some runs with which to work.

The Mets opened the scoring in the third, when Marlon Byrd beat out a two-out infield single to third base and Daniel Murphy aggressively hustled home from second base.

John Buck added a solo homer an inning later against left-hander Alex Wood, who was making his first major league start. Buck retook sole possession of the team lead with his 12th homer, breaking a tie with Byrd and Duda. Buck had not gone deep since May 24, against Atlanta's Kris Medlen at Citi Field.

Jordany Valdespin’s bases-loaded walk and Omar Quintanilla’s sacrifice fly in the eighth pushed the lead to 4-0.

Q rating: Quintanilla snapped an 0-for-22 skid with a seventh-inning single.

What’s next: Wheeler makes his major league debut in the 7:10 p.m. nightcap opposite veteran left-hander Paul Maholm (7-5, 3.65 ERA). After posting a 5.70 ERA in his first five starts with Triple-A Las Vegas this season, Wheeler had a 2.98 ERA in his next eight starts with the 51s before the promotion.

Series preview: Mets at Braves

May, 2, 2013

The Mets are due to face (l to r) Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Tim Hudson this weekend.
METS (11-15, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (17-10*, first place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-2, 7.94) vs. LHP Mike Minor (3-2, 3.13), 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-2, 3.31) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.56) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (3-1, 3.86), 1:35 p.m. ET

* Atlanta plays Washington on Thursday night

Braves short hops

Justin Upton’s 12 homers in April were two shy of matching the major league record for that month. Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Albert Pujols (2006) each homered 14 times. Luis Gonzalez (2001) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1997) had 13 homers apiece. Matt Kemp (2012) also had 12. The old Braves record for April was 10 and belonged to Andres Galarraga (2000 and 1998) and Ryan Klesko (1996). Eleven of Upton’s homers were solo shots -- the most by a major leaguer in any month since Jason Giambi in July 2005.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press
The Upton brothers already have homered three times in the same game this season.

The next time Justin and brother B.J. Upton go deep in the same game, they will match a sibling record. Jason and Jeremy Giambi had four games in which they both went deep. Vladimir Guerrero and Wilton Guerrero had four, too. The Uptons have three such games this season.

According to Elias, the Uptons may become the fourth brothers to play at least 100 games each in the outfield for the same team in the same season. The others: Paul and Lloyd Waner for the Pirates (10 times from 1927 to 1938), Jesus and Matty Alou for the Giants (1965), and Tony and Billy Conigliaro for the Red Sox (1970).

Tim Hudson earned his 200th win Tuesday, becoming the fifth pitcher to reach the milestone in a Braves uniform. Hudson joined Phil Niekro, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Watch out for Hudson’s bat, too. He became the first Braves pitcher since Carl Morton in 1973 to produce a double and a homer in a game. Only one other pitcher homered in the game he earned his 200th victory: Bob Lemon in 1956, Elias reported.

• Third baseman Chris Johnson, who arrived with Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, leads the NL in batting average at .369, narrowly ahead of ex-Met Carlos Gomez (.367) with Milwaukee. The righty-hitting Johnson is sharing the hot corner with lefty-hitting Juan Francisco.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward underwent appendectomy surgery April 22 and will not return until the end of the month. Lefty-hitting Jordan Schafer and righty-hitting Reed Johnson are platooning in Heyward’s absence. Schafer, who had been traded by Atlanta to the Astros on July 31, 2011 in the Michael Bourn deal, was claimed by the Braves off waivers from Houston in November. Schafer, 26, hit .211 in 313 at-bats with Houston in 2012.

• Defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons ranked second among shortstops in defensive runs saved last season at +19 despite playing only 49 games. Seattle’s Brendan Ryan was a +27. Simmons is part of a group of promising MLB shortstops from Curacao. That list also includes the Diamondbacks’ Didi Gregorius as well as the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar (’s No. 1-ranked prospect), Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts ( No. 5) and Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop ( No. 50).

• If Craig Kimbrel converts his next two save chances, he will match Joakim Soria for the third-quickest to 100 saves (112 chances), according to Elias. Eric Gagne has the record, reaching the milestone in 104 chances. John Smoltz ranks second, at 107 chances. Kimbrel’s 89.1 conversion percentage (98-for-110) ranks fth all time among pitchers with at least 100 chances. Kimbrel’s strikeout rate last season (16.7 per nine innings) established a major league record (min. 50 innings).

• Atlanta relievers have an MLB-best 1.99 ERA. The Mets rank 28th at 4.87, better than only Tampa Bay (5.20) and St. Louis (5.77).

• Catcher Brian McCann (right shoulder surgery) has started a rehab assignment but is not due to be activated from the DL until after the Mets series. Rookie Evan Gattis (six homers) and Gerald Laird have shared the duties. Gattis, who has battled severe depression and was completely out of baseball for years, was named NL Rookie of the Month for April on Thursday.

• The Braves struck out 246 times in April, which would have been a major league record for that month. What disrupted infamy? The Houston Astros topped that, striking out 267 times for the new MLB mark. The previous record had been held by the 2003 Cincinnati Reds, with 242 April strikeouts.

Overall in baseball, there were more strikeouts this April (5,992) than in any other season in MLB history. The 15.29 strikeouts per game in April were second most for a month in MLB history, just shy of the record set last September (15.42).

• Ernie Banks (228) is the only middle infielder with more homers in his first seven seasons than second baseman Dan Uggla (209).

Braves 2, Mets 1: Opener looms for Niese

March, 17, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Jordany Valdespin homered and reached base in all three of his plate appearances and Jonathon Niese allowed only a solo homer to Chris Johnson in five innings, but the Mets were three-hit by Julio Teheran and three relievers in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at Tradition Field.

Game tidbits:

NIESELY DONE: Terry Collins is not ready to formally name Niese the Opening Day starter out of respect for Johan Santana. But Santana now has not been on a mound in 11 days. And it’s clear he is opening the season on the DL, with Niese facing the San Diego Padres on April 1.

Adam Rubin
Regis Philbin is escorted off the field after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

“There’s a strong possibility that’s going to happen,” Collins allowed.

Said Niese: “I guess it’s leaning toward I am getting Opening Day. I haven’t been told officially yet.”

On Sunday, Niese did require 82 pitches (59 strikes) to navigate five innings, but he allowed only three baserunners -- two hits by Johnson and a second-inning walk to Ramiro Pena.

“They made me throw a lot of pitches. They fouled a lot off,” Niese said. “I’ve just got to work on put-away pitches. Overall, it felt good.”

Johnson is 2-for-6 with a double and RBI lifetime against Niese in the regular season.

“[Catcher] Landon [Powell] and I said we wouldn’t have done that during the regular season,” Niese said about Johnson’s two-out homer in the fourth. “I got two quick outs. I should have been pounding the zone there. I was kind of nibbling with my changeup, trying to work on it. And then I fell behind obviously. He has a history of hitting me well. He’s a guy that I can’t fall behind or else he’ll make me pay for a mistake.”

O NO: Other than Valdespin’s homer and single, the Mets mustered only one other hit against Teheran -- on a first-inning double by Ike Davis. Relievers Luis Avilan, Dusty Hughes and Anthony Varvaro combined to toss three no-hit innings. Varvaro, who made 12 relief appearances for the Braves last season, hails from Staten Island and is a St. John’s product.

CLOSE CALL: After Robert Carson allowed consecutive one-out singles in the ninth, in his second inning of work, Bobby Parnell entered. Parnell immediately got Evan Gattis to ground into an inning-ending double play.

LEFT OUT? The Braves took the decisive 2-1 lead in the sixth against left-hander Scott Rice. Jordan Schafer had a leadoff bunt single and stole second. He scored when lefty-hitting Freddie Freeman singled to right field.

The Mets will weigh carrying Carson or Rice as a second left-hander alongside Josh Edgin if Pedro Feliciano does not make the club. But a team insider suggested it may be more likely the Mets just carry Edgin if Feliciano doesn’t make it and use righty pitchers to get lefties out. That way, Jeurys Familia and submariner Greg Burke -- both 40-man roster members -- would fit in the bullpen, too.

Feliciano entered in the seventh inning and surrendered a single to lefty-hitting Juan Francisco on an 82 mph fastball before retiring the lefty-hitting Schafer on a groundout on a pitch that registered 84 mph.

REGIS AND TERRY: Entertainer Regis Philbin, 81, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and sat in the dugout alongside Collins.

“He’s funny. I know that,” Collins said. “The first inning, when we got all those hits, he says [it was] because Regis is here. I said, ‘That’s probably it. I’ll have a uniform ready on Opening Day.’”

Farm report II: Leaders, player notes

July, 11, 2012
Organization leaders

Average: Maikis De La Cruz, Kingsport, .348; Eris Peguero, Kingsport, .346; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .328; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .324; Wilmer Flores, Binghamton, .309; Stefan Sabol, Brooklyn, .300; Matt den Dekker, Buffalo, .300; Cam Maron, Savannah, .297; Josh Rodriguez, Buffalo, .295; Cole Frenzel, Brooklyn, .295.

Homers: Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 16; Travis Taijeron, St. Lucie, 16; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 16; Matt den Dekker, Buffalo, 14; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 13.

RBI: Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 59; Travis Taijeron, St. Lucie, 54; Wilmer Flores, Binghamton, 53; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 51; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 48.

Steals: Alonzo Harris Jr., St. Lucie, 18; Fred Lewis, Buffalo, 16; Juan Lagares, Binghamton, 15; Matt den Dekker, Buffalo, 14; Pedro Zapata, Binghamton, 13.

ERA: Luis Mateo, Brooklyn, 1.90; Tyler Pill, St. Lucie, 2.53; Hansel Robles, Brooklyn, 2.57; Rafael Montero, St. Lucie, 2.58; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 2.62; Steven Matz, Kingsport, 2.65; Michael Fulmer, Savannah, 2.70; Collin McHugh, Buffalo, 2.96; Luis Cessa, Brooklyn, 3.20; Matt Harvey, Buffalo, 3.39.

Wins: Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 8; Gonzalez Germen, Binghamton, 8; Rafael Montero, St. Lucie, 8.

Saves: Fernando Cabrera, Buffalo, 16; Adrian Rosario, Binghamton, 14; T.J. Chism, Savannah, 14; Adam Kolarek, St. Lucie, 13; Robert Carson, Binghamton, 8.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Buffalo, 102; Collin McHugh, Buffalo, 92; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 88; Garrett Olson, Buffalo, 79.

Short hops

Valentino Pascucci won Monday’s Triple-A home run derby, in walk-off fashion no less, as the last batter in the event, with 17,400 on hand in Buffalo. The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski won the celebrity counterpart. Gronk launched one legit homer over the regular wall. A fence at 200 feet from home plate was erected for the celebrity competitors. The Bisons will have three representatives in Wednesday’s All-Star Game -- Matt Harvey, Pascucci and closer Fernando Cabrera. Harvey is due to pitch second for the International League side.

Zack Wheeler is attending today’s Eastern League All-Star Game in Reading, Pa., although he is not scheduled to pitch after recording two outs Sunday in the Futures Game in Kansas City. Also due to represent the B-Mets at the event: Eric Campbell, Jefry Marte and Armando Rodriguez. Sandy Alderson has publicly estimated Wheeler may make only two more Double-A starts before being promoted to Buffalo.

• Campbell has moved to left field with Binghamton since the return of first baseman Allan Dykstra. Campbell’s .328 average ranks second in the Eastern League. The leader? Former teammate Matt den Dekker, at .340. Den Dekker since has been promoted to Buffalo. And with 2.7 plate appearances per game required to remain listed, den Dekker is due to drop off the list once Binghamton plays its 100th game. The B-Mets so far have completed 88.

• Left-hander Josh Edgin, a potential call-up with Dillon Gee landing on the DL, has held lefty batters to a .220 average since joining Buffalo. Righties are hitting .256 against him in Triple-A. Edgin, who has a 3.89 ERA, lost an eight-appearance scoreless streak Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

• Brooklyn Cyclones mascot Jessica Klein -- who plays Pee Wee at the Coney Island ballpark -- took a week off to head to Europe. The reason? To participate in the International Quidditch Association's Summer Olympic Games in London. As a member of Team USA, Klein won a gold medal.

• Removed from the 40-man roster after clearing waivers, Chris Schwinden is nonetheless heading back into the Bisons’ rotation after temporarily working in relief -- which included Schwinden working on consecutive days for the first time in his career. When Buffalo play resumes after its All-Star break, Jeremy Hefner will handle the second-half-opening assignment Thursday at Pawtucket, followed by Jeurys Familia, Schwinden, Collin McHugh and Harvey. Garrett Olson and Dylan Owen are now assigned to the bullpen.

• Left-hander Mark Cohoon, who allowed 13 runs over eight innings in two starts for Buffalo, returned to Binghamton. He will form a six-man B-Mets rotation. Greg Peavey starts Game 1 after the break Thursday, followed by Wheeler, Cohoon, Cory Mazzoni, Gonzalez Germen and Darin Gorski. After recent blips, Wheeler, Cohoon and Mazzoni each put up seven innings and allowed one run or fewer in their most-recent B-Mets starts. Gorski surrendered one run in six innings.

• Corner infielder Zach Lutz should rejoin the Bisons as soon as Thursday. Lutz, who last played with Buffalo on May 12, has logged games on six straight days with Class A St. Lucie since returning from surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in the base of his hand.

Adam Loewen has been on a tear since returning from a stress fracture in his right foot. Loewen, who has been manning first base rather than playing the outfield, is 7-for-15 with two homers, seven RBIs and four walks in four games since rejoining Buffalo. Loewen logging first-base duty has pushed Josh Satin largely to second base, with some late-game action at third base after double-switches.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Astros 4, Mets 3

April, 30, 2012
WHAT IT MEANS: Make it 7,991 games in franchise history without a no-hitter.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey departed Denver, bound for Houston, wearing a sheriff’s outfit complete with badge, gun and holster -- part of the Mets western-themed dress-up day. And Dickey was well-armed early against Astros batters on Monday, keeping them hitless into the sixth inning.

But when it unraveled, it unraveled quickly.

The Mets eventually rallied to tie the score in the seventh, but ultimately lost to Houston, 4-3, at Minute Maid Park.

Former Boston Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie delivered a tiebreaking single in the eighth against Manny Acosta that scored Jordan Schafer with the decisive run. Acosta was working his second inning of relief in his first appearance since participating in that 11-run-inning debacle Friday in Denver.

Despite the defeat, the Mets finished a generally successful April with a 13-10 record, although their bid to move five games over .500 for first time since July 19, 2010 fell short.

As for Dickey’s effort, Schafer led off the bottom of the sixth by serving an opposite-field single over third baseman David Wright for Houston’s first hit. Schafer then scored on a broken-bat, fielder’s choice groundout by Travis Buck. Matt Downs followed by launching a two-run homer as a potentially historic evening turned into a 3-0 deficit for Dickey and the Mets.

Of course, Philip Humber became the seventh pitcher to leave the Mets and then toss a no-hitter elsewhere earlier this season, while the Mets remain without a no-no in franchise history. If the rotation remains in order, Johan Santana is lined up to pitch the 8,000th straight Mets game without a no-hitter on May 11 in Miami.

CAPTAIN KIRK: The Mets, who scored 22 runs in the three-game weekend series at Colorado, were held scoreless into the seventh inning by Astros right-hander Bud Norris.

That’s when newly installed left fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis -- who remained in the leadoff slot with Andres Torres’ return -- delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single with two out that evened the score at 3 and chased Norris.

Lucas Duda, held out of the starting lineup because of illness, had preceded Niewenhuis’ at-bat by pinch-hitting for Dickey and walking to load the bases.

Torres, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 and drove in the Mets’ opening run in the three-run seventh with a run-scoring infield single. It was Torres’ first game back since straining his left calf on Opening Day.

Torres struck out in his first at-bat, then was robbed of a potential extra-base hit in the gap in his second at-bat on a stellar catch by the left fielder Buck. He grounded out to second base to open the ninth inning.

Dickey’s final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 77 pitches (55 strikes).

WHAT’S NEXT: The Astros, who have lost six straight series, will look to win two straight against the Mets when they send left-hander J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.70 ERA) to the mound against Jon Niese (2-0, 2.81) Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Daniel Murphy is scheduled for his first game off this season.

Series preview: Mets at Astros

April, 30, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez during the final trip to Houston with the Astros an NL member.
METS (13-9, third place/NL East) vs. HOUSTON ASTROS (8-14, fifth place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.44) vs. RHP Bud Norris (1-1, 5.84), 8:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.81) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.70), 8:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Chris Schwinden (0-0, 11.25) vs. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 1.72), 2:05 p.m. ET

Astros short hops

• The Astros, who debuted as a member of the National League alongside the Mets in 1962, originally as the Colt .45s, move to the American League West next season as part of the conditions of Jim Crane's purchase of the team from Drayton McLane. Crane received a $65 million purchase credit to balance the leagues at 15 teams apiece.

As for Astros fans’ negative reaction to the AL move, Crane told The Houston Chronicle: “I think it's calmed down considerably once people understand that was our destiny. That's the way baseball had decided -- whoever owned the Astros was going to be in the American League. You can argue anything I guess, but what they did does make some sense for baseball. When you look at the two Texas teams, it evens out that, keeps the Rangers from traveling more. Our TV partner Comcast feels it's a stronger deal for us with the East Coast teams like Detroit and Cleveland and some of the old traditional teams -- the Yankees and Boston. And we're going to do better on the network because of that.

“The downside that we'll see is the DH and a little more travel. And we'll try to get games scheduled so that when we get getaway games they'll be in the afternoon, so you're not going to see that many late-night games.”

Brad Barr/US Presswire
Rhiner Cruz, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, is off to a solid start in Houston's bullpen.

• The Astros have lost six straight series, the latest secured with a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati in Sunday’s rubber game.

• Diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve is among the league’s hottest hitters. The 5-foot-5 Altuve went 3-for-5 Sunday to lift his average to .373. That trails only Matt Kemp (.425) and David Wright (.397) in the National League. Altuve, who turns 22 next Sunday, is the shortest player in the majors this season. He has runner-up Alexi Amarista of the Los Angeles Angels beat by two inches. Altuve had been the second-youngest too, behind Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison. But 19-year-old Bryce Harper and 20-year-old Mike Trout just made their major league debut/return. Altuve began last season at Class A Lancaster, but made his major league debut July 20 after jumping from Double-A.

• The Astros acquired shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland from the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 14 for right-handed reliever Mark Melancon, Houston’s 2011 saves leader with 20. Lowrie opened the season the disabled list with a sprained right thumb. He made his Astros debut April 13. Weiland (0-3, 6.62 ERA) landed on the DL with shoulder bursitis, and Jordan Lyles was promoted for a spot start Sunday. Lyles was returned to the minors postgame.

• Catcher Jason Castro, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft, out of Stanford, missed last season while recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. He also missed two games last week with a neck issue after a plate collision with Milwaukee’s Mat Gamel. Castro returned Friday. Opponents have been successful in all 13 steal attempts against Castro this season.

Carlos Lee left Friday’s game in the first inning with a left ankle sprain, which he suffered pursuing a low throw from third baseman Chris Johnson that eluded him at first base. X-rays were negative, but Lee (.273, 2 HR, 13 RBIs) likely will remain sidelined at least early in the Mets series. Lee exclusively has played first base this season, after splitting time evenly between that position and left field a season ago. Matt Downs has filled in at first base in Lee’s absence. J.D. Martinez is now the full-time left fielder.

• Backup infielder Marwin Gonzalez spent the weekend on paternity leave, but was activated for Monday’s series opener in the roster spot Lyles held for a day.

Wandy Rodriguez has a 1.72 ERA in five starts.

Bud Norris allowed seven runs in his last start, including two-run homers to Milwaukee’s Travis Ishikawa and Corey Hart.

• Closer Brett Myers is 4-for-4 in save chances.

• Right-hander Rhiner Cruz (1-0, 2.08 ERA) is Rule 5 pick from Metsm who is drawing rave reviews from scouts because of his 98 mph fastball from a “weird,” low arm slot. Cruz, who was not protected on the Mets’ 40-man roster, opened eyes with Cibao in the Dominican Winter League, before the December draft. He posted a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings over 21 relief appearances in winter ball. Cruz has not appeared since last Monday because of a twisted an ankle. Cruz, 25, had control issues last season between Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in the Mets organization. He walked 45 and hit seven batters in 71 2/3 innings.

Fernando Martinez, who was claimed off waivers by the Astros from the Mets during the offseason, is hitting .318 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 22 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He primarily has played left field, while being assigned to DH the past two games.

• Ex-Brave Jordan Schafer was ejected Sunday after disputing a caught-stealing call by ump Marvin Hudson in the second inning. Before that, the 25-year-old center fielder extended his streak of reaching base at least once to 22 games, the longest to open a season by an Astro since Ricky Gutierrez had a 23-game streak in 1998. Denis Menke owns the franchise record -- 25 games in 1969.

• Ex-Mets/Astros outfielder Richard Hidalgo is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s series opener.


Dickey vs. Astros (career: 1-2, 3.82 ERA)
Travis Buck .667, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Jason Castro .667, 3 PA
Jed Lowrie .500, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Matt Downs .500, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 PA
Jordan Schafer .429, 1 K, 7 PA
Carlos Lee .381, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 K, 21 PA
Chris Johnson .286, 1 RBI, 14 PA
Brian Bixler .200, 1 K, 5 PA
Chris Snyder .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA

Niese vs. Astros (career: 1-1, 1.80 ERA)
Brian Bixler .333, 2 K, 6 PA
Chris Johnson .333, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Carlos Lee .250, 1 RBI,1 BB, 9 PA
Jordan Schafer .000, 2 K, 8 PA
Jason Castro .000, 3 PA
Chris Snyder .000, 1 K, 2 PA

Schwinden vs. Astros (career: never faced)

Norris vs. Mets (career: 1-1, 4.85 ERA)
Daniel Murphy .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 6 PA
Justin Turner .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Josh Thole .250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 10 PA
Ike Davis .250, 1 BB, 2 K, 9 PA
Scott Hairston .200, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA
David Wright .000, 3 BB, 4 K, 12 PA
Andres Torres .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Happ vs. Mets (career: 2-2, 4.82 ERA)
Mike Nickeas .500, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 PA
David Wright .462, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 15 PA
Andres Torres .333, 1 RBI, 1 K, 3 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Daniel Murphy .286, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 7 PA
Justin Turner .200, 1 RBI, 5 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 RBI, 2 PA

Rodriguez vs. Mets (career: 3-2, 2.91 ERA)
Scott Hairston .462, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 15 PA
Justin Turner .333, 3 PA
David Wright .316, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 21 PA
Andres Torres .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA
Josh Thole .000, 1 BB, 3 PA

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Minute Maid Park, May 13-15, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Mets 6, Astros 4: David Wright hit a go-ahead homer to cap a four-run eighth inning that rallied the Mets. Wright's two-run shot was the last of three late homers by the Mets that helped them overcome a 4-0 deficit for their sixth win in eight games. Jason Bay got New York going with a solo shot in the seventh and pinch-hitter Fernando Martinez cut it to 4-3 with a long, two-run drive in the eighth. Jose Reyes walked and, with two outs, Wright homered off reliever Jeff Fulchino (0-1) into the Crawford Boxes in left field to put New York on top. It was the sixth home run of the season for the slumping Wright, who had been given the previous day off in Colorado to rest a sore neck and back.

Astros 7, Mets 3: Carlos Lee delivered his 2,000th hit with an RBI single during a four-run first inning. Lee also hit one of three Astros homers. J.A. Happ (3-4) pitched six innings for the win, scattering five hits and three walks. Michael Bourn tripled to open the game against knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey (1-5) and scored on a groundout by Clint Barmes. Hunter Pence and Lee followed with singles, and three more runs scored on a double by Brett Wallace and singles by Chris Johnson and Bill Hall. Dickey allowed six hits in the first inning, then held the Astros in check until the sixth, when Hall and pinch hitter Matt Downs hit solo homers. Dickey pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed 11 hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out two. Lee became the 17th active player to reach 2,000 hits, and he is the ninth active player to have at least that many hits while also belting 300 or more home runs. The Mets got one run in the third when Jose Reyes doubled and scored on a single to right field by Justin Turner, then added another in the fourth, when Daniel Murphy led off the inning with his third homer of the season. Reyes had an RBI single off reliever Mark Melancon in the ninth. Carlos Beltran sat out the game with swelling in his right eye.

Mets 7, Astros 4: Justin Turner homered and drove in a career-high five runs and Jason Pridie hit a go-ahead single and stole home for the Mets. Chris Capuano (3-4) allowed six hits and two runs in five innings. He struck out six. Aneury Rodriguez (0-2) didn't allow a hit until the fifth, but finished with five earned runs and four walks in his third major league start. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th straight save. He has not allowed a run in 14 appearances since April 14.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 6, Mets 3

June, 3, 2011
WHAT IT MEANS: Francisco Rodriguez’s saves streak is intact at 16 straight, but the closer was tagged with his second loss even while getting credited with a game finished. Eric Hinske’s solo homer in the ninth off K-Rod broke a tie and the Braves tacked on two more runs for a come-from-behind 6-3 win.

The Mets had a two-run lead entering the eighth. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the Mets’ last six home losses, they held a lead in the seventh inning or later. That’s a major league record.

Hinske had entered the game in the fifth inning for Jordan Schafer. Schafer bunted a ball that deflected off the bat and struck the upper lip and nose area on the right side of his face. He was forced to leave the game and was sent to the hospital for X-rays.

E-6: Jose Reyes was charged with a two-out error in the eighth inning on Alex Gonzalez’s routine grounder, which allowed the tying run, Dan Uggla, to score from second base. Jason Isringhausen had entered and walked Uggla, who was in a 4-for-54 rut (.074). A wild pitch advanced Uggla to second base.

Terry Collins had inserted Isringhausen to race Uggla even though the slumping Braves second baseman had been 0-for-3 in the game against Jon Niese and 6-for-58 (.103) against left-handed pitching this season.

The Mets have now been outscored 46-26 in the eighth inning this season.

NIESELY DONE: Niese limited Atlanta to two runs on eight hits and one intentional walk in 7 2/3 innings and departed with a one-run lead, but received a no-decision. The outing matched the third-longest of his career. Niese struck out seven in a 111-pitch outing. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his past four outings.

’LOS CAUSE: A day after passing Cleon Jones for seventh on the franchise’s RBI list, Carlos Beltran drove in Reyes with a fourth-inning single through the right side of the infield to pull the Mets even at 1. It was Beltran’s 526th RBI as a Met. The only players with more RBIs in the uniform: Darryl Strawberry (733), David Wright (682), Mike Piazza (655), Howard Johnson (629), Ed Kranepool (614) and Edgardo Alfonzo (538).

Reyes had appeared to be out attempting a leadoff triple that inning, but ump Gary Cederstrom ruled Chipper Jones’ tag was late.

Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan added RBIs later in the fourth as the Mets took a 3-1 lead.

CHIP SHOT: Jones’ leadoff homer in the eighth off Niese, which pulled Atlanta within 3-2, was his 46th career homer against the Mets, breaking a fourth-place tie with Hank Aaron (45). The only players with more career homers against the Mets: Willie Stargell (60), Mike Schmidt (49) and Willie McCovey (48).

K-ROD TRACKER: As the last Met to throw a pitch, K-Rod was credited with his 22nd game finished. He is on pace for 63 games finished, eight more than the threshold for his contract to kick in at $17.5 million for 2012.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dillon Gee, whose first major league start of 2011 came at Turner Field, with a borrowed glove and cleats because an airline lost his gear, opposes Jair Jurrjens (7-1, 1.51 ERA) on Saturday night.



Juan Lagares
.314 1 7 8
HRL. Duda 3
RBIL. Duda 8
RE. Young Jr. 12
OPSL. Duda .841
WC. Torres 2
ERAJ. Mejia 2.81
SOJ. Mejia 18