New York Mets: Marc Rzepczynski

Series preview: Mets at Indians

September, 6, 2013

USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesThe Met face (l to r) Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar this weekend.
METS (63-75, third place/NL East) vs. CLEVELAND INDIANS (74-65, second place/AL Central)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-3, 3.36) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.36), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54), 6:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 10.95) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.00), 1:05 p.m. ET

Indians short hops

Corey Kluber makes his first start since Aug. 5 when he faces the Mets on Saturday. The Indians originally intended to have Kluber “piggyback” Scott Kazmir’s start Friday, but Justin Masterson has a left oblique issue and will miss at least one turn in the rotation. Kluber dealt with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand.

Michael Bourn appeared to prefer signing with the Mets last offseason, but Mets officials insisted the fact that they would have needed to forfeit their 11th overall pick scuttled plans to ink him. Bourn instead signed with Cleveland for four years, $48 million, along with a vesting option for 2017. The Mets ended up using the draft pick on Los Angeles high school first baseman Dominic Smith.

Mark Duncan/Associated PressJoe Smith also faces his original organization for the first time this weekend.

• Sidearm-throwing set-up man Joe Smith is a free agent after the season. Smith (6-2, 2.47 ERA) originally was drafted by the Mets in the third round out of Wright State University in 2006. He made the major league team out of spring training the following season. The Mets dealt Smith to Cleveland on Dec. 11, 2008 in the three-team deal that brought relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green to Queens from the Seattle Mariners.

Smith has ascended to eighth-inning usage with the Indians in part because of Vinnie Pestano’s ineffectiveness. Pestano, who rejoined the Indians the week as a September call-up, had been demoted to Triple-A after Cleveland obtained left-hander Marc Rzepczynski before the trade deadline.

• The Indians reportedly will look to trade closer Chris Perez this offseason. He is making $7.3 million in 2013 and is eligible for arbitration once more before free agency.

• Rookie Danny Salazar will be making his seventh major league start. His fastball has averaged 96.0 mph. The Indians are keeping Salazar's pitch count to fewer than 90.

• The Indians brought a live chicken onto the field Wednesday and dubbed it their “Rally Chicken.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in Triple-A for Cleveland this season before being granted his release and signing with the Mets.

• Cleveland enters the weekend trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the second wild-card spot. The Yankees are 2 games behind the Rays.

• Ex-Yankee Nick Swisher is hitting only .237 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in 464 at-bats. He signed a four-year, $56 million deal with a 2017 vesting option last winter.

• Ex-Met Kelly Shoppach is a September call-up for the Indians. He was signed as a minor league free agent on Aug. 30. Shoppach hit .196 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners earlier this season, before his June 20 release.

Series preview: Mets at Cardinals

May, 13, 2013

Getty Images
The Mets face Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright consecutively to close this week's series.
METS (14-20, fourth place/NL East) vs. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (23-13, first place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.63) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (5-1, 2.72), 7:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-4, 5.55) vs. LHP John Gast (0-0, -.--), 8:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-3, 8.59) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (5-2, 1.58), 8:15 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-4, 5.93) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-2, 2.30), 1:45 p.m. ET

Cardinals short hops

Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright combined to retire 40 straight Colorado Rockies from the second batter of Friday’s game through the 13th batter Saturday. That matched the major league record for most consecutive batters retired in a series, initially set by the Texas Rangers against the Detroit Tigers on May 3-4, 1996.

The 22-year-old Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, allowed a game-opening single to Eric Young Jr., then retired 27 straight. The following day, Wainwright had a no-hit bid end after 7 1/3 innings on a Nolan Arenado single.

Despite missing an entire season, Wainwright is tied for the second-most shutouts in the majors since 2010 (six), trailing only Cliff Lee (seven). Miller, 22, made his major league debut last Sept. 5 against the Mets with two scoreless innings.

Mike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP Images
John Gast makes his major league debut Tuesday in place of Jake Westbrook.

St. Louis starting pitchers had a 21-7 record and MLB-leading 2.11 ERA until Jaime Garcia modestly tarnished that by allowing five runs in six innings in a loss Sunday.

Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.62 ERA), who had been scheduled to face the Mets, instead landed on the disabled list with right-elbow inflammation. Left-hander John Gast has been promoted from Triple-A Memphis and will start Tuesday in his major league debut in Westbrook’s place. Although not a top prospect like Michael Wacha (who is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts with Memphis), Gast is 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in six starts for that Pacific Coast League club this season.

Lance Lynn had a personal 10-game winning streak dating to last Sept. 9 snapped with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. It had been the longest active winning streak in the majors. Lynn (24-9 in his career) has never lost consecutive games.

Yadier Molina, who ranks fourth in the NL in batting at .343, lost an 11-game hitting streak Sunday. He has started all but one game this season. However, backup Tony Cruz is expected to get one start against the Mets. Cruz’s only start so far came April 19 at Philadelphia.

Pete Kozma showed enough during spring training to beat out ex-Met Ronny Cedeno for the shortstop job in place of the injured Rafael Furcal. Kozma, a 2012 postseason hero, provides steady defense (one error so far), albeit with unexceptional range or flair.

Furcal strained an elbow ligament near the end of the 2012 regular season and missed the postseason. After visiting James Andrews during spring training, Furcal concluded he would need Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season.

Kozma had the tiebreaking two-run single in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Cards’ division series, which knocked the Washington Nationals out last October.

• Second baseman Matt Carpenter never played that position in the minors. He is a natural third baseman who also played first base and the outfield with St. Louis in 2012. Fellow lefty hitter Daniel Descalso, who competed for the job in spring training, also sees some action at the position when Carpenter slides over to third base in place of David Freese.

• Left fielder Matt Holliday left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury after tripping at first base, but returned to action Sunday.

Carlos Beltran went 0-for-4 Sunday as his average dipped to .298. Despite reduced mobility in right field at this stage of his career, Beltran entered the series finale against Colorado hitting .345 since April 15.

Jason Motte, who had an NL-leading 42 saves last season, underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday after initially hoping to rehab and avoid the procedure. Edward Mujica is 9-for-9 in save chances.

The Cards’ bullpen still has the worst ERA in the NL, but it has dramatically improved with a shakeup that involved demoting left-hander Marc Rzepczynski on April 27 and right-hander Mitchell Boggs on May 3. Entering Sunday, when rookie Carlos Martinez surrendered three runs in relief, the Cards' bullpen had a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings since May 3.

Martinez’s fastball has averaged 96.4 mph since a promotion from Double-A Springfield 10 days ago. He is the No. 3-rated prospect in the St. Louis organization, according to Baseball America. He nearly exclusively started in the minors but is getting introduced to the majors as a reliever, which is tradition with the Cards. Pitching prospect Seth Maness, like Martinez, was promoted for bullpen use after primarily starting in the minors.

Chris Carpenter, whose career appeared in jeopardy because of nerve damage in his arm, may return this season. He threw a 75-pitch bullpen session Friday.

Mets 3, Cards 2: Harvey, d'Arnaud click

March, 18, 2013

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey limited St. Louis to two runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Harvey allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and Travis d’Arnaud went 2-for-3 and scored twice, including the tiebreaking run in the seventh, as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2, Monday at Roger Dean Stadium.

“I’m feeling loose and just having fun, not trying to overstress myself and overthink everything,” said d’Arnaud, who is hitting .345 with four doubles in 29 Grapefruit League at-bats.

D’Arnaud nonetheless is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to open the season.

Game tidbits:

HARVEY SHOW: Harvey limited St. Louis to six hits and a walk while striking out six in an 80-pitch effort that included 54 strikes. The two runs came in the fourth, on consecutive doubles by Matt Holliday and Matt Adams and a single by Oscar Taveras.

“I was really happy about my curveball,” Harvey said. “Unfortunately, I gave up too many hits in my mind, but overall I’m healthy and feeling good. The biggest thing from last year was not having my curveball. I threw a lot of good ones 0-0 [today] and was able to throw it in the dirt when I needed to. That’s a big pitch for me. Having that back is definitely a big plus for me.”

Harvey now has a 2.95 Grapefruit League ERA. He has struck out 24 in 18 1/3 innings.

“Obviously a strikeout is good here and there,” Harvey said. “I’m starting to learn that a groundball is just as good. Going deep into a game is on my mind. If I go seven or eight innings with three strikeouts, that’s seven or eight innings. … If the strikeouts come, then they come.”

Said d’Arnaud: “He was great. He kept his poise. He had command of all of his pitches. He left a couple of pitches over that resulted in a couple of hits and stuff. I just thought he had a tremendous day, especially with his curveball.”

DEEP THOUGHTS: Lucas Duda delivered an opposite-field two-run homer in the fourth against Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook. It was Duda’s third Grapefruit League homer.

“One of the biggest things of spring training that we’ve been trying to get him to understand -- from last August on, even before that -- is the great power he has to center field, to left-center field,” Terry Collins said.

CATCHING ON: D’Arnaud opened the seventh with a double against left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and scored on Andrew Brown’s ensuing single to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. D’Arnaud earlier reached base and scored on Duda’s homer.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 5, Mets 4

June, 4, 2012
WHAT IT MEANS: No-hitter to their credit? Yes. But the Mets ain’t perfect.

A half-inning after Scott Hairston’s pinch-hitting dramatics, Jon Rauch served up a tiebreaking two-run homer to Allen Craig in the eighth.

The Mets rallied back within a run on Andres Torres’ sacrifice fly a half-inning later. But David Wright then lined out to right field against Jason Motte to leave the tying run at third base and the Mets ultimately fell shy of a four-game sweep of St. Louis with a 5-4 loss in Monday’s matinee finale at Citi Field.

With Washington and Miami idle, the Mets missed a chance to take a half-game lead in the National League East. Instead, the Mets (31-24) head to D.C. for a midweek series trailing the Nats (30-22) and Marlins (31-23) by a half-game.

It nonetheless was a solid weekend for the Mets, who took three of four from St. Louis while enjoying Johan Santana’s historic no-hitter, R.A. Dickey’s follow-up shutout and John Franco’s induction into the team's Hall of Fame.

JOSE WHO? Wright has matched Jose Reyes for the franchise record for runs scored. The moment belonged to Hairston, though.

Pinch-hitting for Ike Davis against left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, Hairston delivered a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh that evened the score at 3. The shot plated Wright.

Wright now has 735 runs scored as a Met, matching Reyes for most in a career with the team. Darryl Strawberry (662), Howard Johnson (627) and Edgardo Alfonzo (614) round out the top five.

OH, GEE: Dillon Gee limited the Cardinals to one run entering the seventh inning, when his arm let him down.

With the score tied at 1, Gee walked Craig and surrendered a single to David Freese to place runners on corners to open the inning. Daniel Descalso then hit a soft comebacker to Gee, and Craig held at third base while Gee began to initiate a double play.

However, Gee skipped the throw and sent it into center field, allowing Craig to score.

After shortstop Omar Quintanilla could not handle a grounder that was ruled an infield hit, Freese later scored on Rafael Furcal’s fielder’s choice grounder as the Cards took a 3-1 lead.

DUDE ABIDES: Lucas Duda got the Mets on the scoreboard in the fourth with his team-leading ninth homer, a solo shot off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse.

BEL-BOTTOM: Carlos Beltran had a quiet but eventful return to Citi Field. He left two in scoring position with seventh-inning strikeout and went 2-for-18 during the four-game series. It marked his first time opposing the Mets since last July’s trade to San Francisco that netted Zack Wheeler. Beltran's grounder Friday down the third-base line, actually fair, was ruled foul by ump Adrian Johnson and preserved Santana's no-hit bid.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets have a showdown with the Nats in D.C. Chris Young will make his first major league start since May 1, 2011 in Tuesday's series opener, opposite Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.80 ERA). The reconfigured rotation now has Jeremy Hefner opposing Edwin Jackson on Wednesday and Dickey opposing Chien-Ming Wang on Thursday.



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187