New York Mets: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Gee tossed seven scoreless innings and Anthony Recker homered and doubled as the Mets swept the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 5-2 win Wednesday at Chase Field.
After winning six of nine games on a trip to the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Diamondbacks, the Mets improved to 8-7 this season. They outscored Arizona 21-5 in the series.
It marked the Mets’ first sweep in Phoenix since a four-game series in 2006, when Carlos Beltran went 9-for-17 with 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored.
The reeling D-backs have lost six straight and dropped to an MLB-worst 4-14 this season.
The Mets carried a shutout bid into the ninth, in which Jose Valverde surrendered consecutive homers to Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt to open the inning, snapping a streak of 18 straight scoreless innings by Mets pitchers.
Gee did not allow a baserunner until Martin Prado’s two-out double in the fifth.
He allowed only two other hits.
One came when Gerardo Parra dropped a single in front of center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis with two outs in the sixth. Despite the D-backs trailing 3-0, Parra aggressively tried for a double with second base seemingly uncovered. However, Nieuwenhuis recovered the baseball and delivered it to Ruben Tejada, who in turn threw to Gee manning second, where he applied the tag.
The final hit against Gee came on a one-out double off the center-field wall by Goldschmidt in the seventh.
Gee managed to escape that inning unscathed. The next batter, Miguel Montero, sent a shot to the right-field wall, where Andrew Brown (2-for-5) made a stellar leaping catch. After a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen, Gee then stranded Goldschmidt in scoring position with a Mark Trumbo groundout to complete his outing.
Gee’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. He threw 72 pitches (48 strikes).
This season, Gee has allowed a .375 opponent batting average from his 76th pitch onward, and Terry Collins undoubtedly sensed him fading with the D-backs squaring up balls in the seventh.
Gee tossed the fewest pitches by a Mets starter in a performance of at least seven innings since Robert Person on June 13, 1996 (7 IP, 70 pitches against St. Louis).
In the eighth, Kyle Farnsworth entered and allowed a pair of baserunners, but he got a big strikeout call on a two-seam fastball with the count full against Eric Chavez for the second out. Scott Rice then entered and retired Parra to strand two inherited D-backs.
Valverde, pitching for the first time since surrendering a game-tying, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to the Angels’ Raul Ibanez on Saturday, had plenty of wiggle room after the Mets scored two runs in the top of the ninth to open a 5-0 lead. He needed it. With the two long balls surrendered by Valverde, Mets pitchers have now allowed an MLB-high 22 homers. The D-backs are second with 21.
Recker, in only his third start this season as the backup to Travis d’Arnaud, belted his second homer. The second-inning shot against Brandon McCarthy opened the scoring.
The Mets opened a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Ike Davis walked, Brown doubled and Nieuwenhuis produced a sacrifice fly. The Mets’ third run came in the sixth, when Brown singled, Recker doubled and Gee had an RBI groundout after an intentional walk to Tejada.
The Mets tacked on ninth-inning runs on RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright in a frame that also included two Arizona errors.
Welcome back: Curtis Granderson grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth. It marked his first game action since bruising his left wrist, rib cage and knee in a collision with the outfield wall Monday. He is expected to return to the starting lineup Friday.
What’s next: The Mets try to duplicate their road success at Citi Field, at which they are 2-4 this season and 105-144 in four seasons under general manager Sandy Alderson.
After an off day, Jonathon Niese (0-1, 3.46 ERA) opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Aaron Harang (2-1, 0.96) on Friday at 7:10 p.m.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets aim to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks and move above .500 for the first time this season when the teams play the series finale at 3:40 p.m. ET Wednesday at Chase Field.
Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.03 ERA) opposes right-hander Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 7.78) as the Mets attempt to complete their first series sweep in Phoenix since 2006.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Juan Lagares landed on the disabled list Tuesday with a pulled right hamstring, although Curtis Granderson remained active and labeled himself day-to-day.
The Mets promoted Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had a big day in his season debut. Nieuwenhuis went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs and made a headfirst diving catch in right-center.
Read more on Lagares’ DL trip in the Post, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• The Mets beat the D-backs, 9-0, behind a combined shutout from Jenrry Mejia, Gonzalez Germen and Kyle Farnsworth. However, Mejia was forced to depart after five innings and 77 pitches because of a torn blister on his right middle finger. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.
• Bartolo Colon has been dealing with a cranky bank, he exclusively told ESPNDeportes.com’s Marly Rivera. Read more in the Daily News.
• Jacob deGrom tossed seven scoreless innings as Las Vegas beat Reno, 6-3. T.J. Rivera went 3-for-5 with a double and homer as St. Lucie beat Jupiter, 11-6. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• After Chris Young hit .667 in three games in a rehab assignment with Vegas, Terry Collins expects the outfielder to rejoin the Mets on Wednesday at Chase Field and accompany the team to New York. C.Y. (quadriceps) is eligible to be activated from the DL on Friday.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests the Mets' endless talk of prospects gets "tiresome."
• Omar Quintanilla started for the second time in four games Tuesday, but Collins said the shortstop job still belongs to Ruben Tejada.
• Lucas Duda will not see time in the outfield with Lagares on the DL. Read more in the Record and Newsday.
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger discusses the early success of Jose Valverde and Farnsworth at the twilight of their careers.
From the bloggers … Faith and Fear enjoyed Tuesday night's romp in the desert. … NY Mets Life takes a look around the NL East.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever Ken Takahashi turns 45. ... 2013 draft pick Tyler Bashlor, selected in the 11th round out of South Georgia College, is 21.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Nieuwenhuis hit .189 with 32 strikeouts in 95 at-bats at the big-league level in 2013. He hit only .248 with 14 homers in 282 at-bats in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, too.
Still, Nieuwenhuis insisted Tuesday, he did not seethe over the snub.
“I’ve been up and down enough times,” Nieuwenhuis said after going 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in his season debut with the Mets on Tuesday, in a 9-0 win against the Diamondbacks. “You can’t worry about that. You can’t think about that. I don’t like to play with a chip on my shoulder. That just doesn’t suit me. I don’t do that.
“I just went into the winter working hard. I think going through so many bad stretches last year just really got me thinking. I started watching a lot of video. Once I got a month or two off just to decompress, I was able to look at it with a fresh perspective and see some things I didn’t see before.”
Nieuwenhuis, 26, became the first Met to produce three hits, a homer and three RBIs in his season debut with the club since Carlos Beltran in his Mets debut in 2005.
Nieuwenhuis earned the promotion once Juan Lagares landed on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. Nieuwenhuis had at least one Lagares-type play in Tuesday’s win, lunging in right-center to take away a hit from Mark Trumbo in the fifth.
“Three years ago at this time, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was the talk of this organization, a guy that people thought was going to be an offensive center fielder who could run, play the game the right way, add some power,” Terry Collins said. “Some injuries have kept him down a little bit. Hopefully this is his chance to come up and produce.”
Nieuwenhuis tried to calm his swing during the winter, reducing the movement in order to be quicker with his bat to the baseball. He suggested he is more relaxed at the plate and overall, and cited his Nov. 16 wedding as a potential reason.
“My parents were saying it’s because I got married,” Nieuwenhuis said about his renewed confidence. “I think maybe a little bit of that. But I put a lot of work into my swing this offseason, just trying to be more relaxed. I think I play better that way, for sure. Playing uptight I don’t do well at all.
“I will say there was a lot wrong with my swing. Everybody goes through those stretches, but for me last year just wasn’t good at all. I maybe had a couple of weeks where I was feeling good, but that was about it.”
Jenrry Mejia tossed five scoreless innings before departing with a blister issue, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered and drove in three runs in his return to the big leagues as the Mets routed the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-0 Tuesday night at Chase Field.
The Mets evened their record at 7-7 after failing in their five previous attempts this season to move to .500.
At the plate, the Mets aggressively jumped on D-backs starter Bronson Arroyo. They took a 3-0 lead six batters and 14 pitches into the game, when Nieuwenhuis produced an RBI single in his first big-league at-bat since last July 26. Nieuwenhuis had been bypassed for a September call-up.
Nieuwenhuis (3-for-5) also opened the scoring in a six-run fourth against Arroyo with a two-run homer. That was the 21st homer surrendered by Arizona pitchers this season, matching the Mets staff for the most long balls allowed in the majors.
Arroyo was charged with nine runs on 10 hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.
In center field, Nieuwenhuis did his best impression of slick-fielding Juan Lagares, the player he replaced on the roster.
In the fifth, Nieuwenhuis lunged headfirst in right-center to take away a hit from Mark Trumbo. Nieuwenhuis also ran down A.J. Pollock’s drive to the track in right-center to end the seventh.
Mejia retired the first nine D-backs batters, until issuing a leadoff walk to Gerardo Parra in the fourth. He kept a no-hit bid intact until one out in that frame, when Paul Goldschmidt singled down the third-base line.
Gonzalez Germen added three scoreless relief innings.
Guess who? Oliver Perez faced the Mets for the first time since being released by the club in spring training in 2011. Perez, who signed a two-year, $4.25 million with the D-backs, tossed two scoreless innings with four strikeouts. The lone baserunner against him came on a one-out single by Nieuwenhuis in the southpaw’s second inning of relief.
Perez had only faced the Mets twice before: in 2003 with the San Diego Padres and 2004 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What’s next: The Mets attempt to sweep the series at Chase Field at 3:40 p.m. ET Wednesday. Dillon Gee (0-0, 5.03 ERA) opposes right-hander Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 7.78). The Mets last produced sweeps in Phoenix in 2005 and 2006, when they went 4-0 against the D-backs in consecutive seasons.
Getty ImagesWith Juan Lagares landing on the disabled list, Kirk Nieuwenhuis gets another chance in center field.
Terry Collins and Nieuwenhuis believe the outfielder accomplished that mission.
Nieuwenhuis enters his season debut having struck out 130 times in 377 career major-league at-bats. His 2.9 at-bats per strikeout is the worst rate in Mets history among position players with at least 400 career plate appearances. Mo Vaughn ranked second as a Met with 3.4 at-bats per strikeout.
With the revised look, the 26-year-old Nieuwenhuis was hitting .310 with two homers and eight RBIs in 42 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas before the promotion.
"This offseason I put in a lot of work. I did a lot more video stuff, emailing back and forth with the coaches and stuff like that," Nieuwenhuis said about eliminating extraneous movements from his swing in order to have a quicker path to the ball. "I think that really helped. It's a lot shorter than it was. I'm trying to keep it short. Just watching some video from last year while I was at home in the offseason, there was just a lot of stuff that was going on. I just tried to eliminate that and iron it out."
As for whether he thought he would get a chance considering the volume of outfielders after the Mets signed Curtis Granderson and Chris Young during the winter, Nieuwenhuis said: "I've been doing it long enough to know you can't control that. You've just got to put your head down and work."
Said Collins: "I saw a different swing. He's worked very hard on his swing. It's a shorter swing."
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJuan Lagares will land on the DL and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be promoted Tuesday.
The Mets, who likely will be without Curtis Granderson for at least a few days as well, will officially add Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Nieuwenhuis, 26, was hitting .310 with two homers and eight RBIs in 42 at-bats with the 51s while appearing in nine games in left field and two games in center field. He had a strong spring training as well, hitting .256 with a .370 on-base percentage and driving in 10 runs in 39 at-bats.
Chris Young (quadriceps) is due to return from the disabled list Friday when he is eligible to be activated, so Nieuwenhuis' stay may be brief. Young has reached base safely in nine of 10 plate appearances through two rehab games with Las Vegas.
Granderson suffered bruises to his left forearm, rib cage and knee while colliding with the right-field wall in the first inning Monday. He departed the series opener in the sixth inning. Officially, Granderson is day to day.
The injury has come at an inopportune time for Lagares. He had extended his hitting streak to nine games Monday and been demonstrating he merited staying in the lineup when C.Y. returned from the disabled list for the weekend series against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated PressTrainer Ray Ramirez and Terry Collins check out Curtis Granderson's left arm after a collision with the outfield wall in the first inning Monday.
FIRST PITCH: For the sixth time this young season, the Mets (6-7) will attempt to move back to .500 on Tuesday night.
Each other time -- with their record at 0-1, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-6 -- they have lost.
Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 4.09 ERA) opposes Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Bronson Arroyo (1-0, 4.82) at 9:40 p.m. ET at Chase Field.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• The Mets suffered a pair of injuries to outfielders Monday. Juan Lagares pulled his right hamstring and Curtis Granderson suffered bruises to his left forearm, rib cage and knee. Lagares appears likely to land on the disabled list, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis expected to join the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas. Granderson officially is day-to-day, but may not see any action until the weekend at Citi Field at the earliest.
Lucas Duda was forced to play in the outfield for the first time since last June.
Chris Young, who has now reached base in nine of 10 plate appearances during his rehab assignment with Las Vegas, is not eligible to be activated from the DL until Friday.
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Zack Wheeler reverted to an old delivery, limited the D-backs to two runs in 6 1/3 innings and earned his first win since last Aug. 31 as the Mets beat Arizona, 7-3, Monday at Chase Field. Carlos Torres handled the final 2 2/3 innings to earn his first big-league save. Duda finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings and Eric Campbell played shortstop for the first time in his professional career as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 5-2. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Matt Harvey spent Sunday watching the Knicks game alongside a model, but was allowed because it was not a scheduled rehab day in Port St. Lucie, Fla., according to a team official. Read more in the Post.
• Ex-Met Frank Francisco has signed with the Chicago White Sox and was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte.
• The Mets plan to scout free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan’s showcase for teams on Thursday, Kristie Ackert in the Daily News confirms. Hanrahan is returning from Tommy John surgery.
• Ike Davis discusses his pinch-hitting role with Matt Ehalt in the Record.
• Tim Rohan in the Times recaps the Mets’ early season struggles.
• Oliver Perez discusses his reinvention as a successful reliever in the Journal. “That’s really hard for anybody, when you get fired from your work,” Perez told the newspaper about getting released by the Mets in 2011, during the same spring training that Luis Castillo also was cut loose.
• Chris Schwinden, released by the Mets during spring training, has signed with the independent Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers.
• From the bloggers … Mets Police offers some thoughts on the Mets brand. … The Eddie Kranepool Society suggests it may be time for Terry Collins to shake up the lineup by dropping Daniel Murphy to No. 7 and letting Travis d'Arnaud bat second. … NY Mets Life offers it take on the Mets season thus far.
BIRTHDAYS: Jeromy Burnitz turns 45. ... Aaron Laffey is 29. ... Ricky Otero was born on this date in 1972.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you approve of Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ expected promotion to replace Juan Lagares?
So the fans who were killing Wheeler in the first inning and saying he should be demoted (LOL) either went to sleep or are just hiding #Mets— Chris (@NyCJO88) April 15, 2014
BINGHAMTON 6, NEW HAMPSHIRE 0: Hansel Robles tossed five scoreless innings and the B-Mets cashed in on 10 walks to post their sixth win in seven games. The first challenge
ST. LUCIE 6, FORT MYERS 2: Domingo Tapia tossed five innings of no-hit ball before
SAVANNAH 6, ROME 2: The Gnats were held to one hit through five innings against rehabbing Braves left-hander Mike Minor, but unleashed six runs over the final two innings. The R-Braves took the lead for the first time all series when a ground-rule double by Joey Meneses plated Reed Harper in the first inning. Gnats starter Chris Flexen then settled down and logged 6 1/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs on six hits while striking out four and walking one. Dominic Smith had a single and Victor Cruzado walked for the only baserunners against Minor. The Braves took a shutout bid into the eighth. Patrick Biondi then led off with a triple against Andy Ubiera. Next, Gavin Cecchini singled home Biondi, who now leads the South Atlantic League with 10 runs scored. After Jeff McNeil's sacrifice bunt and L.J. Mazzilli's groundout, Jared King walked to put runners on first and second. League slugging leader Stefan Sabol (.741) then doubled both runners home to give the Gnats a 3-2 lead. The Gnats added three runs in the ninth against Race Parmenter, highlighted by McNeil’s first professional homer. McNeil now leads the league in extra-base hits with seven. Reliever Akeel Morris earned his first win of the season after pitching the final 2 2/3 innings. He had three strikeouts and now has a league-leading 18.90 strikeouts per nine innings. Box
Compiled with team reports
FIRST PITCH: After splitting a pair of extra-inning games, the Mets wrap up their series with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday at 3:35 p.m. ET.
Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.08 ERA) opposes left-hander C.J. Wilson (1-1, 4.61) in the rubber game.
Sunday’s news reports:
• Jose Valverde surrendered a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to suffer a blown save, but the Mets survived for a 7-6, 13-inning win against the Angels on Saturday night. Anthony Recker produced the decisive solo homer against Matt Shoemaker. John Lannan tossed two perfect innings to earn the win. Recker and Omar Quintanilla combined for five RBIs.
Terry Collins indicated afterward that Valverde will remain the closer, although Kyle Farnsworth may be required for that role Sunday.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
Read more on Valverde in the Star-Ledger.
Read more on Lannan in Newsday.
• Tim Rohan in the Times discusses Colon’s girth. “He’s a genetic outlier,” strength and conditioning coach Jim Malone tells Rohan.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka carried a no-hit bid into the sixth and Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a solo homer as Las Vegas beat Fresno, 1-0, in 10 innings. Cam Maron had a walk-off RBI single as St. Lucie beat Fort Myers, 5-4, in 10 innings. Colton Plaia delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth and Savannah beat Rome, 4-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses the slow starts of David Wright and Curtis Granderson.
• Juan Lagares has reduced his swing rate on pitches out of the strike zone from 35.6 percent last year to 31.7 percent this season, writes Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger.
• Matt Ehalt in the Record tackles the unforeseen resurgence of Farnsworth, whose velocity is dramatically up over spring training.
• Bobby Abreu, 40, has an April 30 out in his contract if he is not promoted from Triple-A Vegas by then, Mike Puma reports in the Post. At this point, it is worth noting, adding Abreu to the big-league roster likely would require the demotion (or trade) of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. Abreu, who had exclusively served as a DH or pinch hitter, started for the first time with the 51s in right field on Saturday. He is 11-for-22 with four walks and five RBIs so far with Vegas.
• A former Mr. Met discusses his time in that role in the Post.
BIRTHDAYS: Ricardo Rincón, whose final MLB pitch came with the Mets, was born on this date in 1970.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets promote Bobby Abreu if it means Ike Davis or Lucas Duda getting demoted?
After that pitch by Gonzalez Germen to Trout, if there's a reason to give Valverde another 2 mins. as #Mets closer I can't think what it is— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 13, 2014
NEW HAMPSHIRE 9, BINGHAMTON 4: Tyler Pill (0-2) surrendered seven runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings as the B-Mets had a five-game winning streak snapped. Kevin Nolan drilled an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall against Pill as New Hampshire took a 3-0 lead in the first. The Fisher Cats padded their lead with a sac fly by Kenny Wilson in the second. Binghamton cracked the scoreboard in the third against Fisher Cats starter Casey Lawrence. Travis Taijeron doubled, took third on a flyout and scored when Kyle Johnson singled. The Fisher Cats stretched their lead to five with another two-out rally in the third. Mike Crouse produced a run-scoring triple. Peter Mooney then made it 6-1 with a run-scoring single. In the fifth, New Hampshire chased Pill with two outs after a pair of singles and a walk. Jack Leathersich inherited the runners and walked Mooney, forcing in the Fisher Cats’ seventh run. Lawrence settled in comfortably after Johnson’s single in the third. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. New Hampshire added to its lead on Ryan Schimpf's homer in the seventh and a sac fly from Wilson in the eighth. The B-Mets pecked away at the lead against the Fisher Cats bullpen. Matt Clark led off the seventh with a homer against Tyler Ybarra. Binghamton tacked on two runs against John Anderson in the eighth. Cory Vaughn threw out two runners at second base and now has three outfield assists this season. Kevin Plawecki collected his first RBI as a B-Met with a double in the eighth. Box
ST. LUCIE, 5, FORT MYERS 4 (10 innings): Hicksville, Long Island, native Cam Maron delivered the go-ahead hit for a second straight day. This time, Maron delivered a walk-off
SAVANNAH 4, ROME 3: Colton Plaia delivered a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth against Rome's Richie Tate. Tim Peterson then tossed two scoreless relief innings for his first save. Starter John Gant limited Rome to three runs on nine hits and two walks in seven innings. Victor Cruzado had three hits and scored twice. Box
Compiled with team reports
BINGHAMTON 7, NEW HAMPSHIRE 0: Rainy Lara faced one over the minimum in seven scoreless innings, Brian Burgamy homered twice and Matt Clark also went deep as the B-Mets won their fifth straight. Binghamton broke a scoreless tie in the fourth against Scott Copeland on the first of Burgamy's two long balls. Kenny Wilson became the first player to
ST. LUCIE 6, FORT MYERS 3: Cam Maron broke a 3-all tie with one out in the eighth when he belted a 3-1 pitch from Matt Tomshaw into center field to score Aderlin Rodriguez from second base. The Mets added a pair of insurance runs later in the frame. Levi Michael’s throw home from second was wild and Maron scored. Maikis De La Cruz then hit a sac fly to plate Eudy Pina. The Mets (4-4) have now won three straight. Randy Fontanez worked a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts to earn his first save. Bret Mitchell pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth to earn the win. Starter Steven Matz allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings. He struck out six, walked one and surrendered five hits. Dilson Herrera led off the bottom of the first with a double and Brandon Nimmo followed with a run-scoring single. The 1-0 lead lasted until the fourth. The Miracle loaded the bases with no outs. Matz nearly escaped unscathed. He got Adam Brett Walker to fly out. Stuart Turner then grounded to third, but Rodriguez successfully threw home to record an out and preserve the Mets' lead. However, Niko Goodrum followed by belting a two-out, two-run single to put the Miracle up, 2-1. The Miracle added another run in the fifth, when Jonathan Murphy -- the brother of Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy -- reached on an error and later stole home. The Mets tied the score in their half of the fifth. Nimmo singled in Phillip Evans to make it 3-2. Then, with two outs, Jairo Perez grounded a ball to third that Goodrum kicked into center field, allowing Nimmo to score. Herrera, Nimmo, Rivera and Evans had two hits apiece. Rivera now has four multihit games in seven games this season. Box
SAVANNAH 4, ROME 1: Robert Gsellman limited Rome to one unearned run on six hits and a walk in seven innings. Robert Coles handled the final four outs for his second save. He inherited two runners in scoring position in the eighth and produced a strikeout to maintain a three-run lead. Stefan Sabol and Victor Cruzado had two RBIs apiece. Sabol had opened the scoring in the first with a two-run single. Cruzado had a two-run triple in the third that plated Sabol and Dominic Smith. Box
Compiled with team reports
BINGHAMTON 5, AKRON 4: Matt Clark and Dustin Lawley each went 3-for-4, and Kevin Plawecki was 2-for-4. Hansel Robles started and pitched five shutout innings in his Double-A debut, striking out eight and allowing just two hits. Jack Leathersich was charged with a blown save after giving up two runs in 1 1/3 innings, but ended up with the win. Box
PALM BEACH 1, ST. LUCIE 0: Phillip Evans had two of the Mets' five hits. Brandon Nimmo went 0-for-3 but had a walk and has now reached base in all four games. Domingo Tapia started and went five innings, giving up one run on three hits. Box
LAKEWOOD at SAVANNAH (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in Lakewood, N.J., later this month.
Seth Wenig/Associated PressDaniel Murphy commits the first of his two errors Thursday, after returning from paternity leave.
FIRST PITCH: After the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep on Thursday at Citi Field, Terry Collins insisted his ballclub is better than it demonstrated in the opening series.
The Mets dropped to 0-3 for the fifth time in franchise history, matching the 1962, 1963, 1964 and 2005 editions.
“We’re a lot better team defensively, we’re a lot better team offensively than we’re seeing right now,” Collins said. “It’s three days. It certainly leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you start out the season like this. But I can tell you a few teams that ended up being pretty good that got off to slow starts.”
The Mets now try to regroup against the Cincinnati Reds, who lost two of three at home to the St. Louis Cardinals to open the season.
Jenrry Mejia, who was named to the rotation over Daisuke Matsuzaka, opposes Mike Leake (17-, 3.37 ERA in 2013) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener at Citi Field.
Friday’s news reports:
• Sources say Collins plans to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base beginning Friday rather than juggle playing time between Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin. The Mets are due to face exclusively right-handers over the next two series, negating any thought of using the righty-hitting Satin anyway. “We’ve got to see one of these guys play,” Collins said, without acknowledging which player would get the extensive look. “Then, if he doesn’t get the job done, we’ll shift gears. But we’ve got to give him ample at-bats to have a better idea.” Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Daniel Murphy committed two errors at second base and felt “sluggish” in the field in his return after missing the season’s first two games on paternity leave. Murphy said he was fully justified in spending time with his wife and newborn son Noah, despite talk-radio criticism of him missing games. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• Bobby Parnell indicated it is “50-50” whether he ends up having Tommy John surgery to address a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow. Regardless, Parnell expects a relatively quick resolution so that he can avoid compromising his 2015 availability if he ultimately needs to undergo the procedure. Read more in the Post and Newsday.
• The Mets lost Thursday’s series finale, 8-2, to Washington. The Nats have won eight straight games against the Mets since last Sept. 1. Zack Wheeler expressed disappointment with allowing three runs in six innings. Of course, the bullpen allowed a one-run game to get out of hand. Overall, the underwhelming relief corps surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) in 9 1/3 innings in the three-game series. The Mets were outscored 22-4 after the first inning in the series.
“It was tough. We certainly didn’t pitch as well as we hoped to, but I thought the three starters (Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Wheeler) did a nice job, kept us in games,” Collins said. “We’ve got to come out of that bullpen and we’ve got to start throwing some strikes. When we’re successful, it’s because you make the other team swing the bat. Not that they can’t get a hit, but when you’re behind in the count, you’re going to get in trouble in this league.”
Collins added that the Mets lacking players -- Chris Young with the quadriceps injury and Murphy for the first two games for fatherhood duties -- has made things more challenging.
“We actually played very well toward the end of camp,” the manager said. “I think one of the things right now is we continue to be unable to put the team out in the field that we hoped to. … I can assure you we’re better than what we’ve seen the last three days.”
Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:
It has taken the Mets just one series into the season to be officially declared unwatchable.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Wheeler in the Post.
• Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests the Mets’ early season schedule does them no favors. Writes Rieber:
Strength of schedule often is an overlooked component in baseball and the Mets are facing a difficult opening stretch. For a team that needs a fast start, beginning with Washington-Cincinnati-at Atlanta is not helpful. That's two 2013 playoff teams and one that should have been.
The following four series aren't cakewalks, either: at Angels, at Diamondbacks, then home for the Braves and Cardinals. The Mets may be 10 games under .500 soon after Easter Sunday.
• Juan Lagares hit for the “cycle” if you combine his first two games. It took him seven at-bats. That’s the quickest in the majors to start a season since Ian Kinsler took six at-bats with Texas in 2012, according to Matthew Oshinsky in the Journal. Since 1997, only Kinsler has done it quicker than Lagares.
• Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson presented Jeff Wilpon with an award before Thursday’s game recognizing the Mets’ contribution to Hurricane Sandy relief. Johnson also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• David Wright (eighth) and Matt Harvey (15th) both checked in on the list of the most popular MLB jerseys sold since the World Series, as computed by sales on MLB’s web site.
• Rafael Montero tossed six scoreless innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered while going 4-for-4 in Las Vegas’ season-opening 9-2 win against Fresno. Zach Lutz added a grand slam. Bronx native T.J. Rivera’s tiebreaking grand slam helped lift St. Lucie to a 6-5 win against Palm Beach. Read the full minor-league recap here.
• Noah Syndergaard makes his Triple-A debut on Friday night. Paul DePodesta confirmed to Marc Carig in Newsday that all the Vegas starters, including Syndergaard, could skip occasional rotation turns during the Pacific Coast League season and instead pitch an inning out of the bullpen on those days to limit their season innings counts.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear returned to Citi Field Thursday afternoon to find the weather vastly improved from Opening Day but the Mets not getting any better. ... MetsMinors.net chats with Allan Dykstra.
BIRTHDAYS: Eric Valent, who hit for the cycle as a Met on July 29, 2004 at Montreal, turns 37. ... The late Gil Hodges and Jim Fregosi were born on this date.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you support Terry Collins’ decision to give Lucas Duda a prolonged look at first base to sink or swim?
@AdamRubinESPN Can someone recommend that the whole Mets bullpen get a group twitter account so I only have to go to one place to bash them?— Keith Raleigh (@raleigh80) April 3, 2014
AKRON 7, BINGHAMTON 1: Five Binghamton pitchers combined to issue 11 walks while the B-Mets mustered four hits. Akron's Giovanny Urshela had four RBIs. Starter Darin Gorski missed the strike zone on his first six pitches and walked three in the first. The
ST. LUCIE 6, PALM BEACH 5: T.J. Rivera broke a 2-all tie in the fifth with a grand slam that put the Mets ahead for good. The Cardinals answered with three runs in the sixth, but
LAKEWOOD 6, SAVANNAH 3: Patrick Biondi delivered a three-run homer for his first professional long ball in the bottom of the ninth to account for the Gnats' lone scoring. The former Michigan Wolverine finished 3-for-4 in his Sand Gnats debut. The BlueClaws plated the game’s opening run in the fourth inning against Savannah starter Robert Gsellman as Andrew Pullin doubled and scored on Larry Greene Jr.’s infield single. Greene finished 3-for-4 with a triple, a run scored and four RBIs. He tripled down the right-field line to drive in three runs and cap a four-run eighth that put Lakewood ahead 6-0. Lakewood chased Gsellman in the sixth. Two singles and a walk plated a run to put the BlueClaws up 2-0. Then Greene singled to center to load the bases, ending Gsellman’s night. Reliever Tim Peterson entered with one out and escaped further trouble by striking out two batters. Peterson worked a scoreless seventh. 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, making his Savannah debut, went 2-for-5. 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith was 1-for-4. Biondi’s homer was the only Sand Gnats’ extra-base hit. The Gnats had chances to score early in the game, but left three runners at third in the game’s first four innings. Box
Compiled from team reports
NFL prospects trained alongside too, including Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“Cutch doesn’t act like an NL MVP at all,” Nimmo said. “He’s a very down-to-earth guy. He’s very much like [Curtis] Granderson, where any questions that I had he would answer them, and anything that I needed he would come right to me and be honest with me. It was just awesome to be around that kind of guy and understand what kind of work ethic will get you there.”
The 21-year-old Nimmo arrived at IMG weighing 187 pounds. He departed at 207, which he believed translated into success while in big-league camp during spring training. Albeit in a small sample size, Nimmo hit .429 (3-for-7) with an RBI and two walks in Grapefruit League play.
Nimmo hit .273 with two homers, 40 RBIs and 10 steals and had a .397 on-base percentage in 480 plate appearances with low-A Savannah in 2013. Yet it was an uneven, complicated season.
Nimmo was hitting .444 two weeks into last season, but all of a sudden went into a nosedive, including going hitless in 20 at-bats over five games before disappearing from the Gnats lineup for a month.
Nimmo suffered a hand injury that resulted in a dislocated joint and partial tear of a couple of ligaments. The problem: The injury went undetected by an MRI taken in Savannah. So Nimmo resumed playing in late May and the issue lingered the whole season. He eventually was checked out by Mets doctors in New York and the full extent of the injury was discovered.
“It was a situation where we got the MRI done in Savannah, and it happens where nothing showed up, so I played the rest of the season with it,” Nimmo said. “I let the people know afterward it still wasn’t all the way there. I went to New York and that’s when we found out everything that happened. And we went to Cleveland, too, and saw a pretty good hand doctor there, Dr. Thomas Graham. He said, ‘It isn’t going to change things. You don’t need surgery. They’ve already repaired themselves. You’re just going to have to get it stronger.’ And, actually, we took a couple of months off.”
Nimmo insisted he did not want to use the hand injury as an excuse for his season.
“I came back because I wanted to play,” he insisted. “And we felt like nothing was really wrong there. The one thing I noticed was I never fouled so many balls straight back. I didn’t quite have my top hand on top of it. It happens. You’ve got to learn how to play with injuries sometimes. It just was a learning experience for me.”
The Gnats won the South Atlantic League title, so Nimmo did participate in a championship. But his first-half teammates and friends, including Kevin Plawecki and Jayce Boyd, had received midseason promotions to high-A St. Lucie while Nimmo was snubbed.
“With how I started I felt like I should have left earlier,” said Nimmo, who opens this season in the Florida State League. “But I didn’t play the way that I was supposed to after that point. After April, I didn’t deserve a promotion. So it’s nothing against the Mets. I was mad at myself for not playing better. I feel like if I would have played at my best, maybe I could have got to St. Lucie. But I didn’t. I didn’t play my best. And so I needed to learn more in Savannah. And then I got to win a championship with them. It ended up working out well.
“Kevin is one of my best friends. Me and him compete. And Jayce is one of my best friends out here, too. We really thrived off of each other and really got a lot of information from each other. So obviously those two leaving, yeah, I was upset with myself about not being there. I just took it as I needed to get better. And I felt like I finished the season well.”
What’s on Nimmo’s agenda to learn? He spent spring training working on covering more ground in the outfield, including putting his head down when a ball is clearly over his head and taking the first three strides full throttle before trying to locate the baseball. Offensively, being able to hit the curveball with two strikes is one thing to hone.
Nimmo, by the way, is fully aware of who was taken with the pick immediately after him in 2011. After the Mets selected Nimmo 13th overall, the Marlins used the next pick on now-reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez out of high school in Tampa.
Nimmo said there was not extra pressure on him because of Fernandez’s achievements. He noted he has been facing Bryce Harper since the Nat was on a travel team for 9-year-olds out of Denver called the Rocky Mountain Steel.
“He was 6-2, 185 when we were 12 years old. I mean, he was a beast,” Nimmo said about Harper.
As for the Mets picking him over Fernandez, Nimmo opined: “If everybody knew how it was going to turn out, I think he probably would have went No. 1 overall. There were 12 other teams that passed on him, too. But I can’t put any pressure on me. I played against Harper since I was 9 years old. I played those guys. There’s nothing that I can do. I’m myself. I just have to control what I can control and just go out there and have fun.
“It’s the way it is. They’re very talented. Very talented. And they learned the game a little bit quicker than I did. I don’t feel like I’m going to be anywhere behind them. I think I’m going to be playing against them one day and on the same playing field, but it just took me a little bit longer. I hope to face [Fernandez] 1,000 more times, hopefully in the big leagues. We’ll see how it goes. But no more pressure. I’ll just be myself and play.”
2013 organization leaders
Average: Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, .330; Jeff McNeil, Kingsport, .329; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, .321; Eric Campbell, Vegas, .314; Kevin Plawecki, St. Lucie, .305; Yeixon Ruiz, Kingsport, .304; Dominic Smith, Kingsport, .301; Jhoan Urena, GCL Mets, .299; Jeyckol De Leon, Kingsport, .298; Zach Lutz, Vegas, .293.
Homers: Dustin Lawley, Vegas, 26; Travis Taijeron, Binghamton, 23; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 21; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 16; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 15.
RBIs: Dustin Lawley, Vegas, 96; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 86; Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, 83; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 82.
Steals: Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, 31; Alonzo Harris, Binghamton, 25; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 24; Eudy Pina, Savannah, 21.
ERA: Rob Whalen, Kingsport, 1.87; Miller Diaz, Brooklyn, 2.03; Chris Flexen, Kingsport, 2.09; Robert Gsellman, Brooklyn, 2.58; Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 2.72; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 2.78; Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 2.85; John Gant, Brooklyn, 2.89; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 3.05; Noah Syndergaard, Binghamton, 3.06.
Wins: Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 15; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 12; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 12; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 10.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Vegas, 38; T.J. Chism, St. Lucie, 20; Beck Wheeler, Savannah, 19; Robert Carson, Vegas, 11; Bret Mitchell, St. Lucie, 10.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 150; Noah Syndergaaard, Binghamton, 133; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 132; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 125; Luis Cessa, Savannah, 124.
• Right-hander Cory Mazzoni, who strained his right triceps in the Grapefruit League finale, remained in Port St. Lucie when Triple-A Las Vegas players broke camp. The injury is considered “nothing significant” and Mazzoni is unlikely to miss much time, a Mets official suggested. Still, Mazzoni is due for a follow-up appointment with team doctors in New York.
Final Toronto 92 New York 95 Final Brooklyn 85 Cleveland 114
Final R H E Cubs 0 3 0 Yankees 3 5 0 Final R H E Cubs 0 6 1 Yankees 2 12 0 Final R H E Mets 5 10 0 Diamondbacks 2 8 2