New York Mets: Jordany Valdespin

The Mets' best moments of 2013

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
3:15
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AP Photo/Kathy WillensThe Mets were a jubilant group after a walk-off win against the Yankees.
The Mets finished 74-88 for the second straight season, but this year had more of an upbeat feel to it than 2012, with come-from-behind wins, some prospects heralded and unheralded coming to Citi Field, and plenty of exciting wins as the Mets went 49-48 in their last 97 games.

We're not looking to sugarcoat what was another rough year for Mets fans (particularly once Matt Harvey got hurt). But the good times should be remembered.

Here is a chronological look at the Mets most memorable moments of 2013.

April 24 -- 'Spin for the Win
The Mets had 10 walk-off wins in 2013 and one of the most exciting ones came when they rallied to beat the Dodgers.

David Wright tied the game and kept Matt Harvey's unbeaten record intact with a two-out hit in the ninth inning. Jordany Valdespin won it with a 10th inning grand slam.

Stat to Remember: This was the sixth walk-off grand slam in Mets history, the first since Kevin McReynolds hit one against the Expos in 1991.

May 3 -- Wright goes deeper than ever before
The Mets scored a dramatic 7-5 win over the Braves. Trailing by a run in the ninth inning, Wright took invincible Braves closer Craig Kimbrel deep.

The 464-foot homer marked the longest one in Wright's career. They would pull ahead in the 10th inning on a pair of 0-2 RBI hits, one by Ruben Tejada, the other by Daniel Murphy.

Stat to Remember: The Mets won seven games in which they were trailing entering the ninth inning, their most such wins in a season since they had seven in 1998.

May 7 -- Almost Perfect
Matt Harvey pitched a lot of great games in 2013 (an early-season win over Stephen Strasburg just missed our cut). His best was his nine scoreless innings against the White Sox, a game in which the only baserunner he allowed was an infield single by Alex Rios in the 7th.

Harvey would get a no-decision (a theme throughout 2013) in a game the Mets would win on a walk-off hit in the 10th inning by Mike Baxter.

Stat to Remember: Harvey is the only pitcher in Mets history to throw nine scoreless innings, allow one hit or fewer, strike out at least 12 and walk none.

May 26-29 -- Sweeping the Yankees
There were minimal expectations for the Mets heading into their four-game series with the Yankees. But the Mets pitching dominated, allowing only one run in three of the four games, winning all four.

Murphy won the opener with an eighth-inning hit, then started an improbable two-run rally in the ninth inning with a leadoff double in a 2-1 walk-off win against Mariano Rivera the next day.

The Mets bats had one really good day, knocking out David Phelps in the first inning of a 9-4 romp. Dillon Gee closed the series with an unlikely 12-strikeout gem that turned his season in the right direction.

Stat to Remember: This was the first time in Mets history that they swept the Yankees in a season series.

June 16 -- A "Nieu" beginning
Terry Collins would point to this game, not Harvey/Wheeler day (the next on our list) as the one that got the Mets headed out of their early-season doldrums.

Trailing 3-0 in the ninth inning, the Mets were the recipients of an implosion from Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who first gave up a leadoff homer to Marlon Byrd, then allowed a three-run walk-off shot to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who entered that at-bat 3-for-31 for the season.

Stat To Remember: This marked the second time in the last 30 seasons that the Mets won a game on a walk-off homer that game with them down by at least two runs. The only other instance in that span was Bobby Bonilla's game-winning homer against Rob Dibble and the Reds on August 30, 1992.

June 18 -- Harvey/Wheeler Day
This marked the brightest-looking day for the Mets future when Harvey and Zack Wheeler beat the Braves in a doubleheader sweep.

Harvey struck out 13 and took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of the opener. Wheeler wowed in his debut with six scoreless (albeit a little wild) innings in the nightcap.

Those wins started the 49-48 season-ending run.

Stat to Remember: This marked the Mets first doubleheader sweep of the Braves in Atlanta since 1987.

July 8 -- Leaving their hearts in San Francisco
The Mets played a bunch of long games in 2013, though none ended later than the 3:41 a.m. conclusion to the 4-3 win in 16 innings against the Giants.

The game might have actually gone longer had Brandon Crawford cleanly fielded Anthony Recker’s grounder with runners on the corners and two outs in the 16th, which produced the winning run. The teams combined to go 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position.

Stat to Remember: The Mets played 57 extra innings in 2013, three shy of the club record of 60 set in 1979 and 1985.

July 16 -- Star of Stars
Harvey proved he belonged on the game's biggest stage when he started the All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field. After allowing a leadoff double to Mike Trout and hitting Robinson Cano, Harvey retired the heart of the American League lineup (Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Jose Bautista), then pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, highlighted by a 10-pitch strikeout of Adam Jones.

Stat to Remember: Harvey became the second Met to throw at least two scoreless innings as an All-Star Game starter. The other was Tom Seaver in 1970.

August 6 -- Young's Mookie-like dash
In the eighth inning of a tie game against the Rockies, Eric Young Jr. brought back memories of Mookie Wilson scoring from second on an infield single by Juan Lagares. That would give the Mets a win and a nice moment for Young, who was traded from the Rockies to the Mets earlier in the season.

Stat To Remember: The Mets led the majors in Fangraphs' advanced baserunning metric (UBR) due largely to plays like the one that won this game.

September 20 -- Wright Passes Piazza
Wright homered in his first at-bat against Cole Hamels after missing seven weeks with a hamstring injury and passed Mike Piazza into second place on the club's career home run list. The Mets would go on to sweep the Phillies in Philadelphia, those wins making the difference as they finished in third place in the NL East, one game ahead of the Phillies.

Stat to Remember: Wright finished with a .307 batting average, a .390 on-base percentage and a .514 slugging percentage. Wright has four .300/.390/.500 seasons in his career. The only other Met with more than one is Mike Piazza, who has two.

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11)

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
10:34
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PITTSBURGH -- Aarrrrrgh!

Jordy Mercer's two-out single against Gonzalez Germen in the reliever's major league debut scored Andrew McCutchen from second base after a leadoff walk and steal and the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped the Mets' four-game winning streak with a 3-2 walk-off victory in the 11th inning on Friday night at PNC Park.

With Terry Collins leery of using Germen at the major league level, the rookie had made only one appearance since June 29 -- six days ago with Las Vegas.

The Mets had escaped a bases-loaded predicament in the ninth when Gaby Sanchez grounded out to first base against Josh Edgin.


Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsTerry Collins pulled Jeremy Hefner after seven innings with Hefner's pitch count at 78.


Edgin was the fourth pitcher used by the Mets in the ninth. Scott Rice had inherited runners on the corners from David Aardsma with one out and struck out Pedro Alvarez before turning the ball over to Greg Burke to face Russell Martin, who walked to load the bases.

Edgin also stranded two runners in the 10th.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis had evened the score at 2 with a solo homer in the seventh against Pirates starter Charlie Morton.

Take that, David! Alvarez, initially passed over for the Home Run Derby by NL captain David Wright, belted a two-run homer in the first inning against Jeremy Hefner.

Even though Wright selected Alvarez as the injury replacement for Carlos Gonzalez, fans still lustily booed the Mets third baseman as he was announced for each of his plate appearances Friday at PNC Park.

Wright otherwise had a mostly fine day. He went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Wright's sixth-inning single plated Eric Young Jr. and pulled the Mets within 2-1. Wright did strand two runners in the 10th with a flyout.

Quick hook: Hefner was pulled for pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin with the score tied at 2 to lead off the top of the eighth, even though Hefner's pitch count was only 78.

After Alvarez's first-inning homer, Hefner retired the next 14 batters.

He ultimately trimmed his ERA to 3.33 in the no-decision. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.

Hefner has now limited opponents to two earned runs or fewer in eight straight starts. That is the longest streak by a Met since Johan Santana went 13 straight starts spanning the 2008 and ’09 seasons allowing two earned runs or fewer.

What's next: Carlos Torres makes his Mets starting debut, after team officials decided to have Matt Harvey skip his final first-half outing. Torres, who has limited opponents to two runs (one earned) in 17 2/3 relief innings since a promotion from Las Vegas, opposes right-hander A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.05 ERA) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

Because of a scoring change from his Tuesday appearance in San Francisco, Torres has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 1/3 innings. Torres’ last major league start came Aug. 3, 2010, with the Chicago White Sox. He allowed five runs in six innings in a loss at Detroit.

Rapid Reaction: Nats 3, Mets 2

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
9:33
PM ET


WASHINGTON – Again!

The site of many a late-inning meltdown in recent years again proved a house of horrors for the Mets.

Bobby Parnell, aiming to protect a one-run lead in the ninth, coughed up the lead as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 3-2, Tuesday night in walk-off fashion.

Parnell had converted seven straight save chances. The blown save spoiled a stellar night from Jeremy Hefner and would-be heroics from Omar Quintanilla.

Ryan Zimmerman opened the ninth with a double off the right-center wall. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run when Adam LaRoche followed with a single.

Ian Desmond then doubled and Roger Bernadina was intentionally walked to load the bases for Steve Lombardozzi.

Lombardozzi delivered a shallow sac fly to left field -- the only out recorded by Parnell.

The Mets had taken a 2-1 lead into the ninth as Hefner continued to state the case that he ought to remain in the rotation when Zack Wheeler is promoted within the next couple of weeks.

Hefner had surrendered a second-inning solo homer to Desmond, then retired the next 10 batters. His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 103 pitches (67 strikes). Hefner has a 3.60 ERA over his past eight starts.

Quintanilla’s two-out, two-run triple in the fifth against Jordan Zimmermann scored a pair of unearned runs and had given the Mets the one-run lead. Hefner then stranded the bases loaded in the sixth by coaxing a groundout to third base from Desmond.

The Mets mustered only four hits -- two from Quintanilla, who doubled, tripled and walked in four plate appearances.

A pair of sloppy Nats plays preceded Quintanilla’s go-ahead two-run triple. Jordany Valdespin reached when LaRoche’s toss to Zimmermann covering first base was dropped, on a play ruled an infield single. Zimmermann then coaxed a groundball to first base from Rick Ankiel. LaRoche, trying to get the lead runner, threw errantly to second base and the Mets had two on base.

Zimmermann’s final line: 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

The Mets, who had been swept in Miami over the weekend, have lost four straight.

What’s next: Dillon Gee (3-6, 5.68 ERA) -- coming off an outing in which he limited the Yankees to one run in 7 1/3 innings in the Bronx -- opposes right-hander Dan Haren (4-6, 5.09) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Gee, like Hefner, is trying to ensure he remains in the rotation.

Latest in Jordany Valde-drama

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:36
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ST. LOUIS -- Terry Collins said Jordany Valdespin acted on his own when he had an ill-advised bunt attempt in the seventh inning Thursday.

Valdespin, batting with runners on the corners and one out and the Mets leading 4-1, ended up popping up in foul territory to catcher Yadier Molina on a bunt. The Mets ultimately stranded the bases loaded when Daniel Murphy subsequently walked and David Wright lined out to second base.

The play did not end up costing the Mets because they won, 5-2. But it's the type of fundamentally lacking play that costs teams in tight games.

Valdespin finished 1-for-5 while starting in right field for the second time this season.

He did have a two-out drag bunt in the third and scored the Mets' opening run when Murphy followed with a double. Collins suggested a two-out bunt isn't typical in that situation -- aiming for a double is optimal -- but it is at least acceptable for a player with speed like Valdespin who potentially could then steal to get into scoring position.

Collins resigned to 'Spin homer antics

May, 10, 2013
5/10/13
11:58
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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jordany Valdespin admires his ninth-inning solo homer.


After producing a solo homer in the ninth inning that pulled the Mets within five runs, Jordany Valdespin flipped his bat and slowly rounded the bases.

Did Terry Collins like it?

Doesn’t matter, the manager replied. He is pretty much resigned to it.

“We’ve talked about this individually. We’ve talked about it as a group,” Collins said. “In the game today, you’ve got to turn your head on some things. It’s done everywhere. Do I like it? I don’t know if it really matters. I can’t change the game.

“I know he’s trying to make a statement because he hasn’t been in the lineup. I know he’s trying to make a statement to everybody what he can do. If he keeps hitting homers, he can stand at home plate all he wants, I guess. As long as they start coming up at the right time.”

Whether Valdespin’s teammates will like it probably will ultimately depend upon whether teams target them with retaliatory plunkings or Valdespin.

“When you hit the ball, you’ve got to enjoy your hit,” Valdespin said unapologetically. “When you strike out, you’ve got to keep your head down. Every time I hit the ball -- a home run or something -- I enjoy it. … Every hit, I’m enjoying. My family enjoy. My friends enjoy.”

The series in Metrics (Mets at Marlins)

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
6:45
PM ET
The win!
The Mets found a way to avoid a third embarrassing loss to the Marlins, salvaging the series finale by a run on Wednesday afternoon.

Jordany Valdespin’s pinch-hit home run was the 10th homer of his career and his sixth as a pinch-hitter. No other player entered Wednesday with more than three pinch-hit home runs since the start of last season.

Dillon Gee somehow got credited with the win, despite allowing four runs and 11 baserunners in five innings, with only one strikeout.

Mets starters have gotten two wins this season from starters with the five-inning, 11-baserunner, four-run, one-strikeout combo.

Those kinds of wins are unusual. Mets starters only had four of them from 1962 to 2012. Two of them also came in 1985- from Ron Darling and Rick Aguilera.

The walk-offs
The Mets lost the first two games of this series in walk-off fashion on consecutive days, the first time they’ve done so in 10 years.

The last time they lost via walk-off on consecutive days was also to the Marlins in 2003. And just as happened this time, the 2003 Mets lost the second game by blowing a one-run lead in the ninth inning.

The Mets have now lost eight times via walk-off wild pitch, but three of those have come within the last four seasons, including one such game against the Marlins in 2010.

Rob Brantly got the game-tying hit for the Marlins in the 15th inning, the third-latest into a game that a player got a game-tying hit against the Mets. However in the previous two instances (Yadier Molina’s game-tying hit in the 19th inning in 2010 and Rick Camp’s home run in the 18th inning in 1985), the Mets went on to win the game.

The game-winning sacrifice fly by Nick Green was the first walk-off RBI against the Mets that late into a game since 2004 when Twins backup Mike Ryan got the game-winning hit in the 15th inning against the Mets.

The Elias Sports Bureau had the capper on all of this. It marked the fifth time in Mets history that they lost at least two games in a row by walk-off, with both games being ones in which they led in the ninth inning or later.

It happened previously in 1978 (July 28 and 30 against the Astros), 1982 (August 18-20 -- two games against the Reds, one against the Braves), 1983 (April 12-13 against the Phillies), and 1980 (June 9-10 against the Pirates).

Props to Hefner
Yes, Jeremy Hefner ended up taking the loss and yes it was the Marlins, but it’s worth pointing out a few things about his performance and his last two outings.

Hefner seems to be making a concerted effort to pitch to the lower half of the strike zone more often. His rate of pitches to the lower half or below increased from 56 percent (in his first four appearances) to 64 percent (in his last two starts). That may be why his homers allowed went from dipped from seven to none.

Hefner also had considerably better offspeed stuff in those two games, particularly against a Marlins team that struck out seven times against those pitches, the most offspeed strikeouts he’s had in any major-league appearance.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd greet Jordany Valdepsin after his critical pinch-hit three-run homer.
MIAMI -- Too valuable to be an everyday player?

The more success Jordany Valdespin has as a pinch hitter, the less often he might find himself cracking the starting lineup regularly -- even with the Mets’ desperately needing outfield contributions.

Since Valdespin launched a walk-off grand slam last Wednesday to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets had lost six straight games. That skid ended this afternoon, when Valdespin again launched a homer.

This time, Valdespin produced a pinch-hit three-run shot in the sixth against right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos to stake the Mets to a one-run lead en route to a 7-6 victory against the Miami Marlins.

“He’s mastered the art of pinch hitting,” David Wright said. “I’ve pinch hit a few times in my career, and he makes it look a lot easier than it really is. I mean, he’s figured out a way to get himself loose and get himself ready. It’s impressive to watch because he goes up there and has a good at-bat cold.”

Said Terry Collins: “That’s what he does. For some reason he loves to come off the bench. Everybody likes to play, but he loves to come off the bench when the pressure is on, the heat is on. He’s amazing. I mean, it’s truly amazing what he’s done as a pinch hitter. His eyes seem to get bigger, and he seems to see the ball better.”

So success means more playing time?

Well, maybe not.

Collins noted the value in being able to pick a spot to insert Valdespin as a pinch hitter late in games given his knack for rising to occasions. Valdespin had a franchise-record five pinch-hit homers last season.

“One of those things with those bench players like that, you create the scene for them,” Collins said. “If he’s hitting third, he doesn’t come up in that situation. If he’s hitting first, he doesn’t come up there. All of a sudden, here comes the eighth hitter in a big situation. Here he is. Now you can put him in.

“When you start the game, you look at the other team’s bench and you’re saying, ‘OK, who are they going to use if it’s a big situation? We’ve got to have somebody ready.’ Today, when they brought the reliever in, we had someone ready for him.”

As an everyday player, Collins said, Valdespin tends to change his approach at the plate.

“He gets a little aggressive at times where he gets out front a little bit,” Collins said. “But, for some reason in those big situations, he doesn’t do that. He doesn’t get that big stride going. And I think it helps.”

Maybe pinch hitting just suits Valdespin’s personality?

“It might be,” hitting coach Dave Hudgens said. “He’s real intense and high energy and high emotion. And he kind of feeds off that kind of situation.”

Said Valdespin: “I’m ready for any situation they want. Just give me the chance to get in there and do my job. That’s what I want to do.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Marlins 6

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
3:44
PM ET


WHAT IT MEANS: Jordany Valdespin was “El Hombre” Wednesday afternoon.

With the Mets in danger of getting swept by the lowly Miami Marlins, Valdespin produced a pinch-hit three-run homer in the sixth against Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos to stake the Mets to a one-run lead.

John Buck added a two-run double an inning later -- which it turned out the Mets would desperately need -- and the Amazin’s narrowly held on to salvage the finale, 7-6, at Marlins Park. The Mets (11-15) snapped a six-game losing streak.

Scott Atchison, protecting a 7-4 lead in his second inning of work in the seventh, surrendered three straight one-out singles. On the third of those hits, by Justin Ruggiano, Donovan Solano and Greg Dobbs had stopped in scoring position. But the ball got by left fielder Lucas Duda and both restarted and scored as the Marlins pulled within 7-6 with the pair of unearned runs.

The Mets had failed to protect one-run leads with three outs to go three times in the first two games of the series. This time, they stranded the potential tying run at third base in consecutive late innings and eked out a win.

Atchison left Ruggiano at third base in the seventh by getting Chris Valaika to fly out. An inning later, after Nick Green doubled against LaTroy Hawkins and reached third with two outs, Scott Rice entered and retired Juan Pierre on a groundout.

Bobby Parnell, who was upset he went unused Tuesday in a game Brandon Lyon uncorked a game-ending wild pitch, this time handled the ninth. Parnell retired the Marlins 1-2-3 on seven pitches for his third save.

SPIN-SANITY: Valdespin had set a franchise record with five pinch-hit homers a season ago. He had been 1-for-10 with a single, RBI and four strikeouts this season as a pinch-hitter before Wednesday’s three-run shot.

Six of Valdespin’s 10 career homers have come as a pinch hitter, which is one reason Terry Collins uses to justify using Valdespin in that role rather than as a more frequent starter.

That pinch-hit homer total does not include his walk-off grand slam last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which came two innings after Valdespin entered that game as a pinch hitter and then took over in center field, also for Juan Lagares.

This afternoon, Ramos had inherited two baserunners with two outs from left-handed starter Wade LeBlanc. The righty reliever’s insertion prompted Collins to counter with the lefty-hitting Valdespin for the righty-hitting Lagares.

GEE FIZZ: Dillon Gee surrendered four runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings. He was pulled with his pitch count at a modest 70 after Valdespin provided the 5-4 lead. Gee’s ERA ballooned to 6.16.

WRIGHT STUFF: David Wright and Buck each had three hits. Wright scored three times.

Wright put the Mets in position for Valdespin’s three-run shot to be meaningful. He pulled the Mets within 3-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. And Wright doubled to lead off the sixth against LeBlanc and scored on Marlon Byrd’s two-out single to make it 4-2.

Wright has three homers this season. The other two came against Juan Nicasio in Colorado on April 16.

WHAT’S NEXT: After an off-day in Atlanta, the Mets play a weekend series against the first-place Braves at Turner Field. Shaun Marcum (0-2, 7.94 ERA), who pitched in relief on Monday, starts Friday night’s series opener opposite left-hander Mike Minor (3-2, 3.13).

The series in Metrics (Mets vs. Dodgers)

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
6:30
PM ET
It’s rare that we would do a series recap writeup from one in which Matt Harvey pitched in which Harvey was not featured in any way. But here we go ...

Wright’s equalizing hit
In the second game of the series, David Wright tied a game with a hit with the Mets down to their last out. The only other instance in Wright’s career that he tied a game with a hit and with the Mets down to their last out was on June 16, 2008 with a single against Francisco Rodriguez and the Angels. The Mets would win in extra innings for Jerry Manuel’s first win as Mets manager.

The last time the Mets were down to their last out against the Dodgers and got a game-tying hit was in 1997 when John Olerud hit a tying single against Todd Worrell, though the Dodgers would win in 14 innings.

The last time they got one in New York was in 1978, a Tim Foli two-run double against Terry Forster. The Mets would win that one a batter later on an error by shortstop Bill Russell.

A ‘Spin through the notes
Jordany Valdespin’s walk-off grand slam was the sixth such grand slam in Mets history. The chart listing them is on the right.

Some additional details:

This was the second walk-off grand slam for the Mets against the Dodgers. Mike Jorgensen’s in 1980 came against ESPN’s Rick Sutcliffe.

The Mets now have four extra-inning walk-off grand slams. Only two teams have more since the Mets beginnings in 1962- the Angels and Mariners (five each) (cap-tip to Stats & Info’s Doug Kern).

The last of those extra-inning walk-off slams was by none other than Mets third base coach Tim Teufel.

The Mets went nearly 22 years without a walk-off slam. The only team with a currently longer drought than that is the Giants, who haven’t had one since 1973. The Rays are the only current team without one, but they have only been playing since 1998.

In between Mets walk-off grand slams, the Indians have had nine walk-off grand slams, most in the majors.

In between Mets walk-off grand slams, the Mets allowedseven of them, tied for the most in the regular season in this span with the Tigers (who allowed an eighth in the playoffs to Nelson Cruz).

Robin Ventura’s walk-off grand slam single in the 1999 NLCS was not included in this tally, because in the end, the scoring of the play was not a home run.

Ellis rounds out the diamond
Mark Ellis had four hits and two home runs in the Dodgers series-opening win. It marked the 39th time that a player has had four hits and two homers in a game against the Mets but the first time a second baseman has done so.

A player has now done this versus the Mets from every position around the diamond, except pitcher.

Ellis is only the second Dodgers player to have such a game against the Mets, joining Maury Wills who did so in 1962.

A dubious record
The Mets have set a club record with five straight games of at least 10 strikeouts. They previously had four in 1995, 2007 and 2012.

This streak isn’t that unusual baseball-wise. There have been 27 streaks of five or more since 1960, with 25 of them coming since 1995.

Morning briefing: 'Spin Citi slam

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
6:51
AM ET

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Jordany Valdespin celebrates with teammates after the first walk-off grand slam by a Met in 22 years.
FIRST PITCH: David Wright had a game-tying two-out single in the ninth that plated Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin belted a grand slam an inning later as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 7-3, Wednesday night at Citi Field.

It was the first walk-off grand slam by a Met since Kevin McReynolds against Montreal’s Scott Ruskin on June, 25 1991 and the sixth in franchise history. It also marked the second walk-off hit by a Met this season, joining Marlon Byrd against the Miami Marlins on April 7.

(Robin Ventura had a grand-slam single to end Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. He was not credited with the homer because teammate Todd Pratt interrupted his trip around the bases to celebrate.)

Collin Cowgill and John Buck also have slams this season.

The late comeback got Matt Harvey off the hook for his first 2013 loss. It prevented the Mets from dipping below .500 for the first time this season.

Baxter had hustled for a double to lead off the ninth with the Mets trailing 3-2 after Carl Crawford could not hold onto his leadoff sinking liner.

The Mets (10-9) now send Jeremy Hefner to the mound for today’s rubber-game matinee.

Hefner, who has allowed an NL-high seven homers, opposes South Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the 1:10 p.m. series finale. (Interesting side note: Ryu learned his changeup from ex-Met Mr. Koo.)

Also, please join me for a noon Mets chat here.

Thursday’s news reports:


Elsa/Getty Images
Matt Harvey was displeased with his performance despite a quality start.


• Harvey surrendered a replay-awarded two-run homer to Matt Kemp in the sixth that gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead. It marked the first time this season an opponent had scored more than a run against Harvey and the first time he failed to complete seven innings. Harvey (6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) watched his ERA rise to 1.54.

Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 remains the last major leaguer to toss seven-plus innings and allow one or fewer runs in each of his first five starts of a season. Still, Wright’s two-out hit in the ninth will allow Harvey on Monday in Miami to try to join Pedro Martinez (2006) and Dwight Gooden (1988) as the only Mets to produce 5-0 April records. Harvey's 109 strikeouts through 15 career starts trail only Gooden (113) and Nolan Ryan (112) in franchise history.

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

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes the attendance is not seeing a Gooden-like bump from Harvey starts. Not yet anyway.

You’d think Mets fans would be filling up Citi Field to see him, the way they once did for Dwight Gooden, but only 26,000 or show showed up for the much-hyped Harvey-Strasburg duel on Friday, and then on Wednesday, even with the ballclub offering discounted tickets and Matt Harvey T-shirts to promote his start, the place looked two-thirds empty. Certainly the attendance seemed smaller than the announced crowd of 24,130.

What it tells you is just how disillusioned Mets fans are with everything that has transpired in recent years, and all too aware that everything GM Sandy Alderson has done is with 2014 and beyond in mind.


Read more on Harvey in the Post, Times and Journal.

• The Mets, Mayor Bloomberg and MLB held a midday press conference at City Hall on Wednesday to launch All-Star voting.


Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
David Wright and brother Daniel ride during last year's All-Star parade in Kansas City. This year, 42nd St. in New York City will be the parade route.


Light on substance, the event did reveal the pregame parade featuring All-Stars riding in cars will travel down 42nd St. on July 16 from Bryant Park, past Grand Central Station, to between Second and Third avenues.

Also revealed: The Mets selected Baxter, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to appear on the All-Star ballot as the team’s outfielders -- omitting Byrd, Cowgill and Valdespin.

In a lighter moment, a questioner asked Wright why he sticks his tongue out while playing. Wright suggested it is a focus thing, which he has been doing since childhood. “I used to get yelled at by my teachers when I was taking tests in elementary school, because when I concentrate, my tongue just comes out,” the six-time All-Star said. “And that’s about all I’ve got.”

In discussing New York City as a sports mecca, Bloomberg noted the Mets soon should have a soccer-playing neighbor at adjacent Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Hizzoner said he “hopefully” expected a stadium announcement soon.

There were a few painful moments of forced humor. Bloomberg, who is the subject of a parody Twitter account about his Spanish (@ElBloombito), lightheartedly told Mets ambassador Edgardo Alfonzo: "Tu español es bueno.” Bloomberg, at the outset of the press conference, had said: "Welcome to our home field, City Hall.” After no reaction from those assembled at City Hall, the mayor added: “That’s funny. You're supposed to laugh."

MLB and the Mets also announced plans to donate more than $4 million to causes including FirstStepNYC (PS/IS 41 in Brownsville, Brooklyn), youth-field renovations at Hinton Park in Flushing and O’Donohue Park in Far Rockaway, St. Albans Community Living Center in Jamaica, Boys & Girls Club Construction Project (South Queens Boys & Girls Club in Richmond Hill), City Harvest and Wheelchair Sports Federation.

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

Jonathon Niese, who was struck with a comebacker in the lower right leg off and forced from Tuesday’s game, had some swelling and tightness a day after receiving the jolt. He may delay his bullpen session by a day to Friday and throw more lightly than customarily between starts. But Niese intends to proceed with his next scheduled start, against the Philadelphia Phillies opposite Cole Hamels on Sunday at Citi Field. Read more in the Record and Times.


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Wheeler looks to rebound from a six-walk outing when he opens the 51s' homestand tonight.


• Zack Wheeler is listed as the scheduled starter for Triple-A Las Vegas tonight -- leapfrogging others in the rotation. The 51s have not played since Sunday because of frigid weather and a pre-scheduled off-day. Wheeler, who will face Tacoma (Seattle Mariners) at 10:05 ET, is coming off an outing last Friday in which he was charged with four earned runs on three hits and six walks while tossing 108 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. Three of the runs charged to Wheeler scored after he departed with the bases loaded. You can listen to the radio call of 51s games for free here.

Shaun Marcum joined his teammates at Citi Field in advance of Saturday’s start against the Phillies. He indicated the nerve inflammation that caused pain in his neck and shoulder had calmed with injections. Terry Collins plans to cap Marcum at 90 pitches in his Mets debut. Read more in the Post, Times, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• Mets security guard Paolo Neto said Kemp's replay-reviewed ball to the right-field corner definitely was a homer. “It was over the fence,” Neto told Howie Kussoy in the Post. “I was just sitting there when I saw the ball. I didn’t even think it was going to reach me, but it came right at me. I was just trying to protect myself and it hit me in the hands.” Read more in the Daily News.

• Jayce Boyd went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, two runs scored and three walks and Jeff Glenn went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs as Savannah beat Delmarva, 9-3. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Read more on Baxter's hustling leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth in the Post.

From the bloggers … Shannon from MetsPolice.com will forgo sleep to watch Harvey, but not to watch the bullpen.


BIRTHDAYS:
Blaine Beatty, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for Doug Sisk on Dec. 8, 1987, turns 49.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which Mets will be selected to the All-Star Game?

Valdespin has grand moment in the clutch

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
12:24
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Where the ball landed had little significance to Jordany Valdespin.

Whether his 10th-inning rocket ended up short of the wall, 100 feet past it, or on top of the wall before bouncing into the stands like it ultimately did, all those landing points meant just one thing for the charismatic utility player.

"I hit the ball in the air, the only thing I think is I win the game," Valdespin said.

[+] EnlargeJordany Valdespin, Josh Wall
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJordany Valdespin celebrates after hitting a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning on Wednesday.
And that's precisely what he did.

Valdespin hit a walk-off grand slam to give the New York Mets a dramatic 7-3 win in 10 innings over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on Wednesday night. It's the sixth time in franchise history the Mets hit a walk-off grand slam, and the first since June 25, 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It was awesome. Any time something like that happens, it’s pretty electric," said Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey. "You know, we needed that hit."

Before becoming the hero, Valdespin came up small in his previous opportunity. In the eighth inning with the Mets down 3-2 and a runner on third with two outs, Valdespin entered as a pinch hitter, only to weakly ground out. Disgusted with himself, he hoped for one more shot to make up for his failure.

"I never put my head down," Valdespin said about his groundout in the eighth. "Every moment, every second, I think 'I want to win the game.'"

David Wright helped him out by tying the game at 3-3 with an RBI single in the ninth, and Valdespin got his chance at atonement in the 10th. With men on second and third and one out, the Dodgers intentionally walked Lucas Duda to face Valdespin.

According to Harvey, Mets bench coach Bob Geren told Valdespin this scenario would unfold, with Duda being walked to load the bases, and that Valdespin would make the Dodgers pay by sending the Mets home victors.

The Dodgers played just two outfielders, waiving the white flag on any fly ball, and Valdespin jumped all over a 2-1 pitch, sending an arching shot to right. The only question was where the ball would land, and it ended up just crossing the wall after bouncing off the top of the fence. Valdespin didn't pay any attention to whether he had his first homer on the year.

"I was thinking about seeing the ball good, good swing and hitting the ball because they have two outfielders and they have the space in right field," Valdespin said. "I want to try to hit the ball well and that's what happens."

Valdespin has developed a reputation on the team for coming through in big spots, notably as a pinch hitter. Wednesday, though, marked his first career walk-off RBIs. Valdespin, who is known for having a big personality, made sure that moment came in as grand a manner as possible.

"He just relishes that big moment during a game," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Jordany Valdespin: A true Met

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
2:38
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Jordany ValdespinAP Photo/Matt SlocumReally, Mets fans -- what's not to love?
Whether it's hitting a game-winning homer off Jonathan Papelbon, getting hit in the groin by a Justin Verlander fastball while not wearing a cup, or getting blamed for Daniel Murphy’s baserunning blunder, Jordany Valdespin is always in the middle of something, good and bad.

Unlike Woody Allen's Zelig, this isn’t by accident. Valdespin plays with a flair typically associated with pro wrestlers, and his Instagram account suggests a man who is sure of himself. Baseball culture has always discouraged individualism, and it seems like Valdespin’s histrionics have made him a lightning rod.

In a recent road game against the Phillies, Valdespin earned a hearty round of boos from the Philly faithful when, after hitting a fifth-inning triple while the Mets were trailing 8-2, he pounded his chest and pointed to the sky. The incident caused a bit of a stir, and Valdespin was forced to answer questions about his antics.

"Everybody knows that's how I play my game,” he told Newsday. “I don't care. If they hit me [with a pitch as retaliation], I'll say I'll steal second and give David [Wright] a chance for an RBI."

Good for him. The Mets' identity as a franchise is steeped in players who were outsized characters -- the goofiness of the likes of Choo-Choo Coleman and Tug McGraw defined the early years, while unapologetic cockiness typified the 1986 club. And let’s not forget Jose Reyes, who was criticized for a lot of the same kind of antics that Valdespin is getting heat for, though Reyes is obviously a better player. Nonetheless, Valdespin fits the Mets' mold, and fans should embrace him for it.

There is a tendency of the Mets to want to emulate the Yankees, which is understandable because of their success. However, the Mets are different, and that should be celebrated. The Mets wear bright colors, they have an absurdly awesome mascot and a giant mechanical apple to celebrate home runs.

The Yankees would never feature any of those things. And if they did, their fans wouldn’t even notice, as they’d be too busy deciding who is a True Yankee. Mets fans have no such debates, but if someone were to name me arbiter of True Mets, Valdespin would qualify.

He may never be that much of a player, as he has a tendency to swing at everything and does make some baserunning blunders that are worthy of scorn. (Like when he only made it from first to second on a ball that Murphy hit off of the wall in Minnesota.) However, he has crazy bat speed, is one of the fastest players on the team, and can play a number of positions (albeit poorly). Because of his impressive raw tools, and the fact that he is just 25 years old, he has a chance to be a useful player, and when he’s on the field, you always want to see what he is going to do next.

Fortunately, Terry Collins appears willing to let Valdespin do his thing, recently telling the Daily News, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, keep your eye on the ball on the field and don’t watch it. Let him play his game.”

Valdespin could have a 10-year career or be out of the majors in August; neither would be surprising. But while he’s around, it’s important to embrace what he represents, which is a history that makes the Mets lovable and unique. (And how could any Mets fan have anything bad to say about a player who seems to make a point out of getting under the skin of the Phillies and their fans?)

Like him or not, Valdespin is a Met in their grand tradition of colorful characters, which should make him a fan favorite. As a bonus, he may even turn out to be a decent player, too.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Nats 1

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
9:54
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Citi Field crowd said it best, chanting in the sixth inning: "Har-vey’s better! Har-vey’s better!"

That certainly was the case at least on this night, in a hyped matchup between Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg.

Harvey took a scoreless effort against the Washington Nationals into the seventh inning. Then, after surrendering a run, he wriggled free of a bases-loaded, no-out jam that teammate Daniel Murphy helped create.


Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Matt Harvey took a scoreless effort into the seventh, then really rose to the occasion.


The final score: Mets 7, Nats 1.

The crowd, announced at a paid 26,675, included Dwight Gooden. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each homered twice.

Harvey ultimately limited the Nats to one run on four hits and three walks while striking out seven in a 105-pitch effort spanning seven innings.

Harvey’s ERA actually rose to 0.93. He has limited opponents to 10 hits and nine walks while striking out 32 in 29 innings this season.

He became the first Met since Pedro Martinez in 2006 to earn the victory in each of his first four appearances of a season.

The tense moment came in the seventh, which Harvey entered working on a two-hit shutout.

Adam LaRoche opened the inning with a walk and Ian Desmond and Chad Tracy singled as the Nats pulled within 4-1.

Steve Lombardozzi then hit into a would-be 4-6-3 double play. But as Ruben Tejada crossed the bag, Murphy’s flip was behind him, toward the third-base side of the infield. The duo failed to connect. Instead, Washington had the bases loaded and none out, trailing by three runs.

Tejada received a visit from trainer Ray Ramirez, but remained in the game.


Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Ike Davis homered twice Friday.


As Brandon Lyon warmed in the bullpen and Harvey’s pitch count approached triple-digits, the Mets’ ace stepped up.

Harvey struck out Kurt Suzuki and coaxed a foul pop-out to the catcher from Roger Bernadina, who was pinch-hitting for Strasburg. Denard Span then grounded out on Harvey’s final pitch as the Mets maintained a three-run lead.

Strasburg, who surrendered solo homers to Davis and Duda in the sixth that expanded the Mets’ lead to 4-0, matched a career high with his third straight loss. He allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings.

Davis also delivered a two-run shot in the eighth against Drew Storen. Duda again followed Davis' lead, with a solo shot that frame.

The Mets scored a pair of unearned runs in the first. Jordany Valdespin opened the half-inning by reaching on an error by Desmond at shortstop. Valdespin advanced to third on a single by Murphy and scored on a wild pitch. Murphy scored with two outs on a single by John Buck.

Harvey did not allow a hit until Strasburg’s one-out, opposite-field double in the third. The next hit came from Span on a single to open the sixth. Span was erased when the ensuing hitter, Jayson Werth, grounded into a double play.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jeremy Hefner, who served up two homers in an inning of relief Thursday at Colorado, starts for the first time since April 10. Hefner (0-2, 7.20 ERA) opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50) at 3:05 p.m. at Citi Field.

Rapid Reaction: Rockies 11, Mets 3

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
6:05
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets were swept in a snow-shortened series at Colorado with an 11-3 loss Thursday afternoon.

The first-pitch temperature officially was 28 degrees -- matching the lowest recorded in the 20-year history of baseball in Denver.

The Mets (7-7) fell to .500.

Jack Dempsey/Associated PressTerry Collins argues a non-call during Thursday's game.
After dropping two of three in Philadelphia, then winning both games in an abbreviated series at Minnesota, the Mets lost three straight against the Rockies to complete the three-city trip.

The Mets have now lost a franchise-record seven straight games to Colorado.

Wednesday's postponed game will be made up June 27 at 6:10 p.m. ET at Coors Field.

POISON PEN: Colorado posted six runs in the seventh -- all with two outs -- against Josh Edgin, Scott Atchison and Jeurys Familia to turn a 3-2 score into a rout.

The big blows came on a two-run single by Wilin Rosario and a two-run double by Todd Helton, both against Atchison. Two runs were charged to Edgin. Three runs were charged to Atchison. One was charged to Familia, who was making his first appearance since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Jeremy Hefner -- working in relief in preparation for Saturday’s start, since he had not pitched since April 10 -- surrendered solo homers to Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth.

In the three-game series, Mets relievers allowed 18 runs (16 earned) and 22 hits in 11 innings.

ALMOST FAMOUS: David Wright twice drove in Daniel Murphy, the second instance in the sixth to even the score at 2.

Tulowitzki answered a half-inning later, though. Tulo’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth scored Carlos Gonzalez, who had doubled and advanced to third base on an error by left fielder Jordany Valdespin.

Gonzalez went 8-for-13 with four extra-base hits in the series.

Wright went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs on Thursday. He is now hitting .392 with 38 RBIs in 32 career games at Coors Field.

Trailing 3-2, the Mets got a one-out double from Marlon Byrd in the seventh against Jon Garland, but stranded Byrd in scoring position when Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada grounded out.

L: Jonathon Niese suffered his first 2013 loss. He allowed three runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out three in a 96-pitch effort spanning six innings. Niese (2-1) surrendered a fourth-inning solo homer to Josh Rutledge.

WHAT’S NEXT: Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg face off Friday night at Citi Field as the Mets open a nine-game homestand. The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies visit Queens.

Duda sits, Byrd gets center attention

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
1:00
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DENVER -- Lucas Duda, who departed Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader with back tightness, was held out of Thursday's afternoon series finale against the Colorado Rockies.

"I know that, as of yesterday, he was still a little stiff," Terry Collins said. "The pain wasn't too bad, but there's a process we want to make sure he goes through before he's ready. Twenty-two degrees is not really the time to test it. So I'll play the other guys today."

Minus Duda, Collins chose to put Jordany Valdespin in left field, Marlon Byrd in center and Mike Baxter in right field.

Byrd actually has started far more major league games in center field (770) than either left field (119) or right field (96) during his career.

"You saw the other day, this is a tough place to play the outfield," Collins said about Coors Field. "I'd rather have the experienced guy in center field. That's why I decided to put Marlon out there. When Duda was going to be out, I wanted to get Baxter in there and I wanted to get Valdespin in there also. I just thought putting [Valdespin] in center field is an injustice to him -- here."

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.298 9 54 76
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 28
RBIL. Duda 86
RD. Murphy 76
OPSL. Duda .827
WB. Colon 14
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 180