New York Mets: Matt Cain

Harvey: Mets pitchers not protecting Wright

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
NEW YORK -- David Wright has been getting his share of up-and-in pitches recently, including from Matt Cain in San Francisco and Milwaukee's Wily Peralta on Wednesday. And powerless Matt Harvey has seen enough.

“It’s hard for me to watch David keep getting pushed back," Harvey told the Daily News. “I’m not happy about it. It’s not right how guys are being able to manipulate his entire at-bat by pitching him up and in. It’s tough for him. He’s had to adapt to a different style. And it’s frustrating to watch from the sidelines and not be able to do something about it.

“When it would happen once in a while last year, I’d be the first guy to throw one behind somebody’s ear. And I don’t forget. Once I’m back I’ll be excited about getting the chance to help the captain.’’

Why hasn't more been done by Mets pitchers?

"It’s out there, everybody knows," Harvey told the newspaper. "If guys don’t know by now that something needs to be done, it’s going to continue to happen and that’s not acceptable."

Morning Briefing: Quiet bats draw Huddy

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7

Ben Margot/Associated PressBuster Posey strikes a pose after connecting on a game-deciding two-run homer against Carlos Torres on Friday.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets will need a win against the pitcher with the top ERA in the majors to prevent their dive from reaching five Saturday.

Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.52 ERA) opposes San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Hudson (6-2, 1.75) at 10:05 p.m. ET at AT&T Park.

Saturday’s news reports:

Carlos Torres surrendered a tiebreaking two-run homer to Buster Posey in the eighth and the Mets lost to the Giants, 4-2, Friday night.

Matt Cain no-hit the Mets into the sixth, but served up a go-ahead two-run homer to Daniel Murphy an inning later. Jonathon Niese allowed a game-tying RBI single to Brandon Crawford in the bottom of the seventh.

Travis d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 and grounded into two double plays as his average dropped to .180.

“I got to be better than this,” d’Arnaud told reporters. “This is unacceptable to me."

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

• Read more on d’Arnaud in the Star-Ledger.

John Korduner/Icon SMIThe Mets selected LSU catcher Tyler Moore with their sixth-round pick.

• On Day 2 of the draft, the Mets selected defensive whiz Milton Ramos, a high school shortstop from Florida, in the third round. They then selected slugging third baseman Eudor Garcia out of El Paso Community College, Seton Hall right-hander Josh Prevost and LSU catcher Tyler Moore. Read the recap of rounds 3-10 here and comments from amateur scouting director Tommy Tanous and VP Paul DePodesta here. The draft concludes Saturday with rounds 11 to 40.

Matt Ehalt in the Record profiles first-round pick Michael Conforto out of Oregon State. College coach Pat Casey compares Conforto favorably with fellow Beavers product Jacoby Ellsbury in terms of demeanor and bat.

Read more on the Mets draft in the Post, Times and Star-Ledger.

• Top prospect Noah Syndergaard again dodged a serious injury bullet. Syndergaard, who injured his left shoulder covering the plate after delivering a first-inning wild pitch Thursday with Las Vegas, was diagnosed with a sprained A/C joint in his left, non-throwing shoulder. An X-ray of the scapula was negative for a fracture. Syndergaard may resume tossing a baseball in five to seven days if he is comfortable. He watched Friday’s Las Vegas game from the stands wearing a sling. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record and at

• Former Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca ripped into ex-GM Omar Minaya and the organization’s culture and mocked current the catchers, d’Arnaud and Anthony Recker, during a WFAN radio appearance Friday. On SNY, Lo Duca added: “The Mets need to go back to square one, go back to their roots, go to younger players. If that means to trade David [Wright], that means to trade David.”

Read more in the Post and Daily News.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post suggests the Mets can learn a lot by observing the Giants.

Johan Santana, who was nearing a return to the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles after undergoing shoulder surgery for a second time, suffered a serious blow to his comeback bid. The 35-year-old Santana tore an Achilles tendon in an extended spring training game and will miss the remainder of the season. Read more in the Baltimore Sun.

Eric Young Jr. suffered tightness in his strained right hamstring while attempting to run and will be backed off his rehab. As a result, he will not return from the DL on Tuesday when eligible.

Dillon Gee (lat strain) has resumed tossing a baseball on flat ground, but will take a while to get back into game-ready shape.

• Gabriel Ynoa struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings as St. Lucie blanked Dunedin, 5-0. Brandon Nimmo left that game an inning after being struck in the right wrist/forearm by a pitch. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Mets shortstops are outperforming Yankees shortstops, Cody Deraspina writes in Newsday.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a uniquely Metsian take on the legacy of Don Zimmer.

BIRTHDAYS: Speedy outfielder Esix Snead, who appeared in 18 major league games with the club in 2002 and ’04, turns 38.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets consider demoting Travis d’Arnaud?

Rapid Reaction: Giants 4, Mets 2

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
SAN FRANCISCO -- After the New York Mets were swept by the lowly Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the team with Major League Baseball's best record handed the Amazin's their latest defeat.

Hey, at least they weren’t no-hit!

New York survived a dominant performance by Matt Cain and actually chased him with a lead. However, Carlos Torres issued a four-pitch leadoff walk to ex-Met Angel Pagan and then surrendered a tiebreaking one-out home run to Buster Posey in the eighth as the San Francisco Giants beat the Mets, 4-2, Friday at AT&T Park.

Cain unable: Cain retired the first 12 Mets batters, took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, and didn’t win? Yep.

Matt den Dekker had a leadoff double in the seventh and Daniel Murphy followed that with a two-run homer on a hanging slider and all of a sudden the Mets, who had been silent offensively, had a 2-1 lead.

Cain had faced the minimum through six innings in his return from a DL trip for a right hamstring strain.

The Mets (28-33) had their first baserunner when plate umpire Rob Drake did not give Cain a strike call on a 3-1 pitch to Curtis Granderson at the inside corner to lead off the fifth. The Giants ace immediately erased Granderson anyway by coaxing a double-play grounder from Andrew Brown.

Ruben Tejada produced the Mets’ first hit on an infield single into the hole at shortstop to lead off the sixth. Travis d’Arnaud followed by grounding into a double play, too.

Cain at least was absolved of getting tagged with a loss once Brandon Crawford delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle in the seventh against Jonathon Niese to even the score at 2. Niese had walked former Mets farmhand Brandon Hicks and uncorked a wild pitch to advance him into scoring position.

Cain’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.

Niesely done: With less flair than Cain, Niese took a scoreless effort into the fifth inning. The southpaw then surrendered a one-out triple to Hicks. Crawford followed with the first of his two RBIs, on a sacrifice fly to left field.

For the second straight game, Brown made a strong throw to the plate. This time, however, the ball struck Hicks as he slid into the plate, preventing d’Arnaud from even attempting to make a play, and San Francisco took a 1-0 lead.

Niese’s line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. He departed at 94 pitches and was replaced by Torres for the eighth.

You? Hicks doubled, tripled, walked and scored twice -- hard to believe considering his dreadful showing in major league camp with the Mets in 2013. Hicks hit .116 (5-for-43) and committed four errors in Grapefruit League play. He then spent last season at Triple-A Las Vegas before departing as a free agent.

Freefalling: d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a foul pop out and two double plays. He is 3-for-26 since returning from the disabled list for a concussion and is now hitting .180.

What’s next: Things do not get any easier for the Mets as Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.52 ERA) faces right-hander Tim Hudson (6-2, 1.75) at 10:05 p.m. ET on Saturday. The ex-Brave's ERA leads the majors.

Series preview: Mets at Giants

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum this weekend in San Francisco.
METS (28-32, fourth place/NL East) vs. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (39-21, first place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.69) vs. RHP Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66), 10:15 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.52) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (6-2, 1.75), 10:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-5, 3.89) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (4-4, 5.01), 4:05 p.m. ET

Giants short hops

• Three-time All-Star Matt Cain will be activated from the disabled list to face the Mets. He departed a May 21 start after three scoreless innings with a strained right hamstring. Former Mets farmhand Yusmeiro Petit, who was traded to the Miami Marlins to acquire Carlos Delgado on the eve of Thanksgiving in 2005, had stepped into the rotation in Cain’s absence. Petit has returned to the bullpen.

• In the same May 21 game against the Colorado Rockies that Cain became injured, reliever Santiago Casilla also strained his right hamstring. His remains on the disabled list and is at least two weeks away from being activated.

• After nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, 38-year-old Tim Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million contract with San Francisco during the offseason. Hudson’s 1.75 ERA ranks second in the majors, trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (1.68). Hudson has tossed seven scoreless innings in each of his past two starts.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesEx-Met Angel Pagan is hitting .321 this season.

Sergio Romo’s 18 saves are tied with San Diego’s Huston Street for the major league lead. Romo has converted 90 percent (18-for-20).

• Right fielder Hunter Pence (.290, 8 HR) signed a five-year, $90 million extension with the Giants on Sept. 29. Pence has started 232 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.

• San Francisco has won 11 of its past 14 games to move a season-high 18 games over .500. The Giants’ 39-21 record is the best in the majors. They play 20 of their next 25 games at AT&T Park.

• The Giants have scored an MLB-best 47 runs in the first inning.

Tim Lincecum, who appeared last season like he may be headed elsewhere, re-signed with the Giants for two years, $35 million on Oct. 23. Linecum allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings at Cincinnati in his last start as his ERA swelled to 5.01. He left his previous start with a blister on his right middle finger after tossing five no-hit innings against the Cubs, albeit with four walks and 96 pitches thrown. Lincecum turns 30 on June 15.

• Reliever Jean Machi has a 21 2/3-inning scoreless streak, trailing only Atlanta’s David Hale (22 2/3) on the active leaderboard. Miami’s Henderson Alvarez ranks third at 21 innings.

• Outfielder Tyler Colvin was promoted from Triple-A Fresno on May 10 after first baseman Brandon Belt suffered a broken left thumb. Belt is scheduled to get two pins removed on Friday. The fracture occurred when he was struck by a fastball from Paul Maholm.

Belt’s injury prompted Michael Morse to move from left field to first base. Morse is 14-for-his-last-36 (.389), with 11 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs during that span. He signed with the Giants on Dec. 12 for one year at $6 million.

• Shortstop Brandon Crawford had been 4-for-his-last-32 before producing a three-run homer in the fourth inning Thursday afternoon against Cincinnati’s Mike Leake.

• With Marco Scutaro having missed the season’s first 60 games with a lower-back strain, Brandon Hicks has emerged as the regular second baseman. Brandon Hicks? Yes, the same player who looked challenged defensively in spring training with the Mets in 2013 and went on to hit .283 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 318 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas. Hicks is in the midst of a 4-for-37 slump over his past 13 games that has dropped his average to .182, albeit with a .303 on-base percentage. Scutaro recently received platelet-rich plasma therapy.

• Ex-Met Angel Pagan is hitting .321 and has a .370 on-base percentage as San Francisco’s leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Buster Posey, whose gruesome left leg fracture in 2011 prompted MLB to institute the new blocking-the-plate rule, is 11-for-his-last-63. He has missed five games since May 20 with lower-back tightness related to a nerve issue. Posey has started 40 games at catcher and nine games at first base this season.

Madison Bumgarner, whom the Mets do not face, is the reigning NL Pitcher of the Month. He was the first Giant to win the award since Lincecum in June 2009. Bumgarner went 5-0 with a 2.08 and MLB-best 48 strikeouts in six starts in May.

Associated PressKeith Law projects the Mets will draft Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb in Thursday's first round, with NC State shortstop Trea Turner another option.

FIRST PITCH: The Chicago Cubs have not won three straight games all season, much less swept a series. They will have a chance to do both Thursday at Wrigley Field.

After winning four of five in Philly during a series in which the teams played 14-, 14- and 11-inning games, the Mets have stumbled twice in the Windy City. And Terry Collins believes there is some exhaustion carrying over from the extra-inning affairs.

“I think some of it is a residue of what we went through in Philly,” the manager said.

Collins said he will give a couple of starters off for Thursday’s 7:05 p.m. ET series finale in Chicago. That should include second baseman Daniel Murphy, who has started 57 straight games since opening the season on paternity leave. Wilmer Flores is expected to play second base.

Julie Jacobson/Associated PressJacob deGrom again bids for his first major league win Thursday.

Jacob deGrom (0-2, 2.42 ERA) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (5-5, 5.15). DeGrom remains in search of his first major league win. The bullpen has failed to hold a lead for him in each of his past two starts.

Despite two straight victories, the Cubs are a National League-worst 22-34.

David Wright also is due for a day off on this trip. That now would seem likely to wait for San Francisco this weekend, since the Mets face a southpaw in the finale against the Cubs.

Also Thursday, the draft begins in Secaucus, N.J. The Mets will select 10th overall.

ESPN’s Keith Law has projected the Mets will select University of Hartford left-hander Sean Newcomb. One alternative is NC State shortstop Trea Turner.

The Mets do not have a second-round pick because of their signing of Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal. The organization’s second pick will come Friday in the third round (84th overall).

Thursday’s news reports:

• Benefiting from a pair of misplays from Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, the Mets produced three first-inning runs. However, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dana Eveland and Jeurys Familia combined to surrender three fifth-inning runs as the Cubs took the lead and held on for a 5-4 victory Wednesday. Anthony Recker and Granderson stranded the bases loaded in consecutive innings.

The Mets are now hitting .148 (9-for-61) with the bases loaded this season.

“We’ve had opportunities to put games away. We’ve had bases loaded several times,” Collins said. “They’re getting guys on, so it’s not like we’re not getting on base. We’re just not hitting with guys on base, which has been the tune thus far from when we started the season.

“They haven’t let down. I just think sometimes you go through playing all those innings in all those days the way we did, we’ve got to find some energy somewhere.”

Collins said Matsuzaka (4.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) will remain in the rotation.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at

• Right-hander Buddy Carlyle was designated for assignment after Wednesday’s game to clear a roster spot for Andrew Brown, which restores the bench and bullpen to their customary numbers. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.

Dillon Gee has not picked up a baseball in 11 days. He last attempted to throw May 25 at Citi Field. That day, Gee planned to step on a mound for the first time since landing on the disabled list, but he aborted the session after two throws on flat ground because of renewed discomfort with his strained right lat muscle. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

• Don Zimmer, who started at third base for the Mets in the franchise’s first-ever game on April 11, 1962, died Wednesday. He was 83.

“We are saddened by the passing of Don Zimmer, an original Met, who played in our very first game,” the Mets said in a statement. “He gave six decades of his life to baseball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Read more in the Times, Daily News, Post, Newsday, Journal and at

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests the NL East is looking weak, so the Mets need to commit dollars now in an up-for-grabs division. Writes Sherman:

In the last week, Miami got proactive -- trying to address a weak setup crew by trading the 39th pick in the draft to Pittsburgh for Bryan Morris and signing Kevin Gregg. Maybe Gregg is just another way of saying Kyle Farnsworth or Jose Valverde. But give the Marlins credit for trying. Too many teams are playing for 2016 or to be loved by Baseball America for their prospect base.

Do I think the Mets can make the playoffs? It remains unlikely. But I will say this: I thought it was, at best, a 5 percent chance a month ago, but now I think it is better than that. Just six of the 15 NL teams began Wednesday over .500 and just three were more than two games over .500. …

There are four months of the season left, so maybe the Nationals get their act right. Maybe. Perhaps the Braves’ power bats overcome all. Perhaps. But there is opportunity here for [Sandy] Alderson and the Mets. If the Marlins are trying to get their team better, Alderson should be proactive as well. Ownership needs to stop talking about the money it is willing to spend and open wallets.

Matt Cain will come off the disabled list to face the Mets on Friday in San Francisco. The Mets also will face Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park. Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

• Read a draft preview from Zach Braziller in the Post and Matt Ehalt in the Record.

Matt Harvey is due to throw off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Monday. A day later, Jeremy Hefner is scheduled to do the same thing. Hefner’s elbow procedure actually was performed two months before Harvey’s, but Hefner began throwing on flat ground early this year only shortly before Harvey did.

• A Wrigley Field scoreboard operator fell asleep during Tuesday’s game, the Star-Ledger notes.

• Pinch hitter Rylan Sandoval had a game-ending strikeout with the tying run on second base and Altoona held on to beat Binghamton, 6-5. Luis Cessa struck out 10 and rehabbing Gonzalez Germen had a scoreless inning in which he allowed two hits as St. Lucie beat Dunedin, 4-3. Colton Plaia had a two-run homer, but Savannah lost to Asheville, 12-6. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Mike Puma in the Post chats with Bobby Abreu. “I think to be around with these young guys, they make you feel younger,” Abreu told Puma.

• Tim Rohan in the Times, Marc Carig in Newsday and Anthony DiComo at look at the playing-time distribution at shortstop between Ruben Tejada and Flores.

BIRTHDAYS: Former lefty reliever Paul Siebert was born on this date in 1953.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can the Mets actually win the NL East?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Giants 2

July, 10, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO -- Zack Wheeler certainly showed the San Francisco Giants what they’re missing without him.

Wheeler, 18 days shy of the two-year anniversary of his trade from the Giants to the New York Mets for Carlos Beltran, took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning in his fifth major league start and first matchup with his former employer.

The Mets ultimately completed their first sweep in San Francisco since 1994 with a 7-2 win Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

Eric Risberg/Associated PressZack Wheeler earned the win against the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2009.

Wheeler (3-1) held the Giants hitless until Pablo Sandoval’s two-out dunk single into center field in the fourth.

Brandon Crawford, Wheeler’s former teammate in Class A San Jose in 2011 before the trade, delivered a two-out RBI single in the seventh for the lone damage surrendered by the rookie.

His final line: 7 IP (a career high), 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. He threw 101 pitches, including 64 strikes.

Wheeler even contributed his first career major league RBI, on a double against Michael Kickham in the sixth that plated John Buck and staked the Mets to a 6-0 lead.

The Giants have lost 14 of their past 16. The Mets climbed to eight games under .500 for the first time since May 31.

Tweeted Justin Turner: "That's how you treat the team that traded you! That a boy @Wheelerpro45 and doing with the stick too! #LGM"

Tweeted Dwight Gooden: "Fun watching @Wheelerpro45 performance today on the mound... He looked pretty good swinging the bat as well!"

Cain not able: Matt Cain had the shortest start of his major league career. He was knocked out after pitch No. 36 -- Buck’s bases-loaded, two-run single with two outs in the first, which gave the Mets a 3-0 lead.

Cain’s previous shortest start had been on July 11, 2009, against the San Diego Padres, when he was knocked out after 1 2/3 innings, after getting struck on the right arm by a line drive off the bat of opposing pitcher Tim Stauffer.

Word on Byrd: Marlon Byrd produced his 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot against Kickham in the fifth. The homer total is the second highest of Byrd’s career. He had 20 homers with the Texas Rangers in 2009.

What’s next: The Mets spend an off-day in Pittsburgh before concluding their first half with a weekend series against the Pirates. Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.39 ERA) opposes right-hander Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.38) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. series opener. Carlos Torres replaces Matt Harvey as Saturday’s starter.

Series preview: Mets at Giants

July, 8, 2013

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face (l to r) Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain during a three-game series in San Francisco.
METS (37-48, fourth place/NL East) vs. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (40-47, fourth place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.27) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (4-9, 4.66), 10:15 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.45) vs. LHP Barry Zito (4-6, 4.44), 10:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-1, 4.29) vs. RHP Matt Cain (5-5, 4.85), 3:45 p.m. ET

Giants short hops

• The Giants placed catcher Buster Posey, second baseman Marco Scutaro and pitcher Madison Bumgarner on the NL All-Star team, which will be managed by San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy. Hunter Pence is on the five-man NL ballot for additional fan voting. A year after having four starters selected to the game, including Pablo Sandoval over David Wright, the Giants will have none in the opening lineup at Citi Field on July 16.

Angel Pagan is likely out for the season after undergoing left hamstring surgery in late June. The ex-Met signed a four-year, $40 million deal in September. Pagan originally was injured on May 25, when his inside-the-park homer lifted the Giants past Colorado. He aggravated the tear during a rehab game. Fellow ex-Met Andres Torres primarily has played center field in Pagan’s absence. Torres was forced to leave Friday’s game with a right calf cramp, but since has returned.

Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsAndres Torres has taken over for injured fellow ex-Met Angel Pagan in center field.

• Posey has been starting at first base more frequently of late because of leg tightness.

• San Francisco was no-hit by Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey last Tuesday. The Giants last had been no-hit in 2003, by Kevin Millwood of the Philadelphia Phillies. Since the move to San Francisco, the Giants have been no-hit 11 times. The others to accomplish the feat against them: Warren Spahn (1961), Sandy Koufax (1963), Ryan Washburn (1968), Jerry Reuss (1980), Charlie Lea (1981), Mike Scott (1986), Terry Mulholland (1990), Kevin Gross (1992) and Kevin Brown (1997).

• San Francisco has lost 11 of 13 and 16 of 21. The Giants have scored two runs or fewer in 12 of their past 16 games. They are 2-for-their-last-36 with runners in scoring position.

• Scutaro, in a 5-for-34 slump, recently has dealt with back problems. Also slumping: Pence is 0-for-his-last-22. Sandoval is 5-for-45 since returning from the DL for a foot injury. The Big Panda is homerless in his last 24 games. Brandon Crawford is 7-for-his-last-58 with no extra-base hits or RBIs in his past 18 games.

• The Giants got caught batting out of order Saturday. After the third hitter, Posey, delivered an RBI double in the first inning, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly informed umpires Posey was listed as the cleanup hitter, so it really had been Sandoval’s turn to bat. Sandoval was ruled out, the runner returned to third and Posey had to bat again. He flied out.

Tim Lincecum is winless since June 4. He is 0-for-4 with a 4.45 ERA in his past five starts.

Matt Cain enters the series off an outing against the Dodgers in which he allowed eight runs while recording only seven outs. Cain had produced a 1.82 ERA in his previous five starts and had been unbeaten in his past 11 starts against the Dodgers. Cain had retired the final 20 batters he faced against the Colorado Rockies in his previous start.

Santiago Casilla should return to the bullpen this week, after two more rehab appearances. Casilla had mid-May surgery to remove a bone cyst near his knee.

• Closer Sergio Romo allowed a three-run double in the ninth inning Sunday as San Francisco lost its rubber game to Los Angeles. Romo had mocked Hanley Ramirez after earning a save Saturday.

Mike Kickham was demoted Sunday, after going 0-3 and surrendering 16 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings as a starter. His 13.94 ERA is the highest ever by a Giants starter in his first three outings. The decision coincided with Chad Gaudin’s return from the disabled list.

• The Giants had scout Lee Elder watching Minnesota Twins relievers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Ryan Vogelsong suffered a broken right hand getting hit by a pitch May 20. He may resume throwing next week.

• Outfielder Gregor Blanco snapped an 0-for-25 drought Saturday with a three-hit game.

Tejada boasts to Turner about homer lead

August, 2, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- After snapping a 628 at-bat homerless drought with a game-opening shot in what became a 2-1 win Wednesday, Ruben Tejada approached Justin Turner and playfully told the fellow infielder: “Hey, me 1-0.”

Sure enough, Turner now has the longest homerless drought on the Mets. It’s been 236 at-bats since Turner twice went deep last Aug. 6 against Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson.

“After like two years, it’s great,” Tejada said about his long ball against Matt Cain. “I was looking for a fastball. ... But I didn’t think homer. I’m thinking, ‘Make a good swing up there, good contact.’”

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was the last Met to produce a leadoff homer, on June 14 at Tampa Bay.

Terry Collins had engaged Tejada in a lighthearted exchange before the game. Tejada responded by going 3-for-4 with the homer and a walk.

“Look, I need you to step up tonight,” Collins told Tejada pregame, according to the manager.

“I’ll try,” Tejada replied.

Said Collins about the conversation: “I gave him the old, ‘Well, I can get a truck driver to try.’

"He just came in my office [afterward] and asked me if I can drive a truck.”

• Collins said, by right, the Mets ought to have scored “about nine” runs on Wednesday. The Mets had 20 baserunners, partly courtesy of nine walks, a hit batter and an error. The last team to have that many baserunners and produce only two runs in a win? That would be the Padres in 2008, against the Mets no less, according to Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information.

Jon Niese limited the Giants to one run on three hits and two walks in seven innings to improve to 8-5. He has shown a pattern this season of bouncing back from rocky outings with solid performances.

The start after allowing eight runs in Toronto, he limited Pittsburgh to one run in 7 2/3 innings on May 23. After allowing seven runs against the Cubs on July 8, he limited the Nationals to one run and three hits in seven innings, albeit with the All-Star break separating those appearances. Wednesday night’s start came off an outing in Arizona in which Niese allowed eight runs (six earned).

“He gets frustrated,” Collins said. “He knows he’s very good. And when he has a bad outing, he takes it as hard as anybody. He’s bound and determined to show it’s more on the side of an aberration than it is really the way he’s capable of pitching.”

• Collins said Josh Thole being ruled out of the baseline when he was struck with an eighth-inning throw from catcher Buster Posey trying to complete a double play technically was correct, but the manager wouldn’t mind the rule amended. After all, Collins reasoned, if first base is in fair territory, at some point the runner has to enter fair territory to touch it.

“That’s a bad rule,” Collins said. “Unless you put first base outside that white line, that’s a bad rule. Because sooner or later you’ve got to come inside that line. ... They ought to have a 20-foot line or a 15-foot line or something.”

Wright chooses to face Cain over Lincecum

July, 31, 2012

Getty Images
Tim Lincecum won't face David Wright, because the third baseman picked a day off against the Freak rather than Matt Cain.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Terry Collins said David Wright was given the choice of a day off Tuesday or Wednesday, and opted to face Matt Cain over Tim Lincecum.

That makes sense, even though Lincecum is having a rough season. Wright is hitting .429 (9-for-21) with five doubles and three strikeouts in his career against Cain, who starts Wednesday. Against Lincecum, Wright is hitting .105 (2-for-19) with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts.

Still, it's worth noting that it was Cain who beaned Wright on Aug. 15, 2009, so clearly there is no residual issue of being gun shy.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 8, Giants 7 (10)

July, 31, 2012

WHAT IT MEANS: Scott Hairston may remain a Met beyond the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. That’s undoubtedly fine with his teammates.

Hairston tied the score with a two-run homer in the eighth against Sergio Romo. Then, a half-inning after the Mets blew a two-run lead in the ninth, Hairston went deep again. His tiebreaking solo homer against Santiago Casilla in what became a two-run 10th lifted the Mets to an 8-7 win against the Giants on Monday night at AT&T Park.

It was Hairston’s sixth career two-homer game, and his second as a Met. He also homered twice last July 31 in a 3-2 loss at Washington.

A day after Terry Collins suggested teams in playoff contention undoubtedly ought to covet Hairston and Justin Turner, it was precisely that duo who rallied the Mets.

After Hairston’s two-run homer against Romo evened the score at 4, the lightly used Turner followed with his first hit in 11 days -- a pinch-hit RBI double -- as the Mets scored four runs in the eighth to take a 6-4 lead.

The Mets ultimately won for only the third time in 45 games when trailing after seven innings.

HELP WANTED: Won’t you save them Frank Francisco?

Asked to protect a two-run lead after a late rally by his teammates, Bobby Parnell again failed to close the door in the ninth.

Parnell surrendered a run and was pulled by Collins with the tying run at third base. Rookie Josh Edgin then entered the high-pressure situation with one out and coaxed Nate Schierholtz into a grounder to first.

However, Ike Davis couldn’t handle it and the tying run scored. (It was very generously ruled a double, although Davis appeared poised to field it, freeze the runner at third and get an out at first.)

Edgin escaped a loss. Ultimately confronted with the bases loaded, two outs and a full count, he got a called third strike on Marco Scutaro on a backdoor cutter to force extra innings.

It officially was the first blown save of Edgin’s career, although that’s not exactly fair. It actually was a testament to the manager's faith in Edgin that the rookie remained in for the duration of the ninth, since Manny Acosta had warmed in the bullpen.

Acosta did protect a two-run lead in the 10th, despite issuing two walks and surrendering a run. He notched his ninth career major league save and first since last Sept. 24, with the Mets against the Phillies. Edgin notched his first major league win.

Francisco, by the way, is due to pitch for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Mets consider activating him from the DL.

E-4: Filling in for Daniel Murphy at second base, Ronny Cedeño delivered a two-run double in the fourth inning that staked the Mets to a 2-1 lead. Two innings later, however, Cedeño muffed a would-be inning-ending double-play grounder, allowing the tiebreaking run to score.

Ryan Theriot followed with a seeing-eye RBI single that chased Jeremy Hefner as the Giants took a 4-2 lead in the sixth.

There’s little doubt Hefner will continue in the rotation until Johan Santana returns from the disabled list. Had Cedeño successfully initiated the double play, rather than muffing Aubrey Huff’s grounder and having to settle for only the out at second, Hefner would have completed the sixth inning with the score tied at 2.

The worst part: Huff injured himself and had to deliberately limp up the first-base line on his grounder to Cedeño, so any sort of clean play would have resulted in a double play. Matt Cain had to pinch-run for Huff.

OUCH: Andres Torres appeared to jam his right hand/wrist falling to the ground after getting tangled with Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner on an infield single in the fifth inning, during a bang-bang play at first base. Trainer Ray Ramirez visited Torres, and the ex-Giant remained in the game at that point. He departed later amid the defensive maneuverings, so it was unclear if the injury was an issue.

Angel Pagan, for whom Torres was traded, also departed midgame without immediate explanation.

BAY WATCH: Jason Bay snapped an 0-for-23 drought with a two-out single off the right-field wall in the sixth. Bay ended his hitless streak one shy of matching his career high, produced last season with the Mets.

WELCOME BACK: Mike Baxter singled against Casilla as a pinch hitter in the 10th, in his first major league at-bat since separating his right shoulder on the June 1 catch that preserved Santana’s no-hit bid.

NOT AGAIN: The same umpiring crew that gave the Mets fits in Atlanta again had Collins on the field disputing a call.

In the fourth, David Wright singled. Hairston then sent a grounder to third base. Theriot, covering second, dropped Scutaro’s throw, but ump Dale Scott ruled he held the ball long enough and lost the ball on the transfer -- a debatable call.

That’s the inning Cedeño followed with the two-run double, so arguably it could have been a bigger inning.

It was Scott who gave Jordany Valdespin credit for a catch in left field, which was then overruled by his crewmates, during a game at Turner Field that opened the second half. A day later in Atlanta, Dan Warthen erupted at plate umpire C.B. Bucknor over the strike zone afforded Santana. Bucknor again was behind the plate Monday night.

WHAT’S NEXT: Matt Harvey, coming off a major league debut in Phoenix in which he tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings, opposes Tim Lincecum (4-11, 5.88 ERA) Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. ET.

Series preview: Mets at Giants

July, 30, 2012

Associated Press/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain during the opening three games of a series in San Francisco.
METS (49-53, third place/NL East) vs. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (55-46, first place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-4, 5.40) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.10), 10:15 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (4-11, 5.88), 10:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday: LHP Jon Niese (7-5, 3.86) vs. RHP Matt Cain (10-3, 2.80), 10:15 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Chris Young (2-5, 4.58) vs. LHP Barry Zito (8-7, 3.89), 3:45 p.m. ET

Giants short hops

• Infielder Marco Scutaro made his Giants debut Saturday, starting at third base. Scutaro was acquired from the Rockies for 23-year-old infielder Charlie Culberson. Scutaro, 36, hit .271 (102-for-377) with four homers and 30 RBIs in 95 games with Colorado. He last had manned third base in 2008 with Toronto. Scutaro had roughly $2 million remaining on his contract, which the Rockies are subsidizing. He took No. 19, pushing pitching coach Dave Righetti to No. 33.

Middle infielder Emmanuel Burriss was designated for assignment to clear the roster spot. He was hitting .214 with no homers in 131 at-bats.

Scutaro is being used at third base because NL All-Star starter Pablo Sandoval (.299, 8 HR, 33 RBIs) landed on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Sandoval suffered the injury while doing a split manning first base on a double play. It was Sandoval’s third game appearing at first base this season.

• San Francisco TV station KPIX reports the Giants are poised to acquire Hunter Pence from the Phillies, but the San Francisco Chronicle did not corroborate the report.

Cary Edmondson/US Presswire
Marco Scutaro made his Giants debut Saturday after being acquired from Colorado.

Aubrey Huff (.150 in 60 at-bats) played Saturday for the first time since July 28. He missed 35 games with a sprained right knee, which he suffered jumping over the dugout railing to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game. Huff will serve as a reserve first baseman/pinch hitter.

• Ex-Met Angel Pagan, who was shipped to San Francisco for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, is hitting .218 (17-for-78) in July. Pagan was caught Sunday for only the fourth time in 21 steal attempts this season. He has started 92 of San Francisco’s 101 games in center field.

• First baseman Brandon Belt went 1-for-3 Sunday, but is hitting .140 (8-for-57) with four RBIs in 21 games (13 starts) since July 3.

• After limiting Houston and Philadelphia to a combined two runs and 10 hits in 15 innings while striking out 17 and walking three in consecutive starts, Tim Lincecum was roughed up by San Diego last week. Lincecum allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, including homers by Chase Headley and Jesus Guzman.

• Cain’s .214 opponent batting average ranked fourth in the National League entering Sunday, trailing only Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (.197), San Diego’s Edinson Volquez (.209) and Chicago’s Ryan Dempster (.210).

• All-Star Melky Cabrera’s .353 average ranks second in the NL, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen (.368).

• The Dodgers completed a weekend sweep of the Giants with a 4-0 win Sunday to pull even in the NL West standings. The teams finish the season with a three-game series at Dodger Stadium from Oct. 1-3.

• A handful of Mets players noticed while watching on TV on Saturday that catcher Buster Posey is gun shy on plays at the plate after suffering last year’s season-ending leg fracture. Posey stands in fair territory fielding outfield throws and tries to reach back toward the plate for the tag. The positioning added to the scoring damage against Barry Zito over the weekend.

Hector Sanchez (left knee sprain) is likely to return from the DL on Thursday and catch Zito.

• Against Cincinnati on June 28, Madison Bumgarner became the fourth Giants pitcher age 22 or younger in the live-ball era to throw a shutout while allowing one hit or fewer, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The others: Mike McCormick in 1959, Juan Marichal in 1960 and Cain in 2006.

• With closer Brian Wilson out for season following elbow surgery, Santiago Casilla has 24 saves, which ranks third in the NL. However, Casilla has blown six chances, tied for the league high. That includes five blown saves in his past nine attempts.

• Left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt had an 8 1/3-inning scoreless streak and lefty batters were hitting only .136 against him this season before L.A. touched him for two runs Sunday.

Brad Penny, who began the season with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan, signed a minor league deal with San Francisco on May 18 and was promoted June 29. Working in relief, Penny has allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 15 hits and two walks in his past six appearances, spanning eight innings.

• Ex-Met Joaquin Arias, who had arrived in New York in a trade with Texas for Jeff Francoeur, is 3-for-his-last-45 with runners in scoring position.

• The Giants’ AT&T Park will host the semifinals and finals of the World Baseball Classic during spring training.

Last series results

San Francisco won, 3-1, at Citi Field, April 20-23 (AP game recaps)

Giants 4, Mets 3 (10 innings): Clay Hensley came in and escaped a two-on, none-out jam in the 10th to preserve the win. Hector Sanchez tagged out Kirk Nieuwenhuis to prevent the Mets from winning in the ninth, then singled home the go-ahead run off Frank Francisco in the 10th. San Francisco took a 3-0 lead in the third when Angel Pagan homered in his return to New York, Buster Posey hit an RBI double and Jon Niese threw a run-scoring wild pitch. New York's first two hits off Zito were homers, by Jason Bay in the fourth and Nieuwenhuis in the fifth. Bay reached on an infield hit to deep shortstop off Santiago Casilla leading off the ninth. Javier Lopez entered and retired pinch hitter Lucas Duda, then threw a wild pitch. Nieuwenhuis walked and Josh Thole singled to drive in the tying run. More

Mets 5, Giants 4: A high popup that started twisting in the wind turned the ninth inning into an adventure at Citi Field. In one of the craziest endings imaginable, Ruben Tejada scored the winning run on a throwing error by catcher Buster Posey and the Mets won after blowing a three-run lead moments earlier. Mike Pelfrey tossed eight terrific innings, outpitching Ryan Vogelsong and helping the Mets build a 4-1 cushion. Emmanuel Burriss hit an RBI single in the ninth, but New York appeared poised to lock up a fairly simple victory when Jon Rauch entered with two outs and got pinch hitter Brandon Belt to hit a high fly to shallow center. Tejada had trouble with it immediately, though, fighting to get under the ball behind shortstop as it swirled around in the wind. Rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis came rushing in and overran the ball, which dropped behind him for a two-run double. More

Giants 6, Mets 1
Giants 7, Mets 2:
Madison Bumgarner pitched seven neat innings, Pablo Sandoval homered to match a team mark set by Willie Mays and the Giants notched a doubleheader sweep. The Giants took the opener as Tim Lincecum posted his first win of the season. Sandoval hit a three-run homer in the first inning to back Bumgarner. He has a 16-game hitting streak, tying the San Francisco record at the start of a season set by Mays in 1960, STATS LLC said. Hector Sanchez later hit his first big league homer, a two-run shot. Bumgarner (3-1) allowed one run and three hits. He won his third straight start, a streak that began shortly before the 22-year-old lefty signed a $35.56 million, six-year contract. Both games were similar: Sandoval put San Francisco ahead for good in the first inning, the Giants supported their starter with two homers, and they got plenty of pitching. Nate Schierholtz and Buster Posey homered in the opener. Schierholtz had six hits during the day, including two triples. Battered in his first three starts, Lincecum (1-2) allowed one run in five innings and struck out eight. He also walked five and gave up four hits in lowering his ERA from 10.54 to 8.20. More

Dickey-Ruiz combo works, Wright quiet

July, 10, 2012

R.A. Dickey surrendered a leadoff single to Mike Trout upon entering with an eight-run lead in the sixth inning, and Trout swiped second base, but the 37-year-old knuckleballer eventually stranded the Angels phenom to post a scoreless frame in his first All-Star Game appearance.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz got through the inning unscathed as well, although Dickey told reporters in Kansas City afterward that Ruiz on one knuckleball "looked like he was catching with chopsticks."

Dickey struck out Mark Trumbo and hit Paul Konerko with a pitch before coaxing a 6-4-3 double play from Miguel Cabrera to post the scoreless frame and preserve the NL's eight-run lead.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Dickey said about his knuckleball: "I didn't throw many super-duper ones."

David Wright went 0-for-2. After Pablo Sandoval contributed a three-run triple in the first inning, Wright eventually entered at third base. He grounded into a fielder's choice in the fifth against Jered Weaver and struck out looking against Ryan Cook in the seventh.

Matt Cain, who started over Dickey for the NL, tossed two scoreless innings.

Terry Collins, a coach on Tony La Russa's staff, made a ninth-inning pitching change to get some air time.

Mets morning briefing 7.10.12

July, 10, 2012
Three days until the Mets resume game action Friday in Atlanta ...

Tuesday's news reports:

• San Francisco's Matt Cain was announced as the NL's starting pitcher for tonight's All-Star Game by skipper Tony La Russa, not R.A. Dickey. Instead, Dickey's entrance should coincide with backup catcher Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies entering the All-Star Game, according to Terry Collins. La Russa pledged he would use Dickey, and that it would be during the first half of the game. La Russa selected Carlos Gonzalez as the NL's designated hitter, so David Wright and Chipper Jones will be the reserve third basemen behind San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval.

"Well, I'm not going to break down in tears over it," Dickey dryly told New York reporters. "But, at the same time, I'm a competitor. I want to pitch. I want to start. I feel like I had a good-enough first half to be considered. But I'm not the boss. I don't have to necessarily agree with it, but I certainly have to respect it. That's the way it is. I think that might be one of my bigger disappointments because I really felt like it would have been a neat thing for the New York Mets organization and the fan base. Having shared so much of this story with them, I felt like that would have been a neat culmination or apex to the story."

Columnist John Harper in the Daily News faults the silly this-game-counts mantra for the decision to snub Dickey, which was a lost opportunity for MLB to tell -- and market -- the knuckleballer's story. Writes Harper:

But I blame Bud Selig for screwing this up, as well. His insistence on making the All-Star Game count for home-field advantage in the World Series, a ridiculous idea from the start, is surely what sent La Russa into Bill Belichik mode, preparing for his one-game return to baseball as if designing a game plan for a Super Bowl. If the game were still merely a showcase for baseball’s best players, with nothing at stake but league pride, I’m convinced La Russa would have given Dickey the start Tuesday night, rather than Matt Cain. It’s not as if he doesn’t understand the national appeal of Dickey’s story, or wouldn’t enjoy rewarding the perseverance of a 37-year-old pitcher who endured years as a journeyman before turning himself into a knuckleball star.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Snubbed R.A. Dickey finally gets to chat with NL skipper Tony La Russa during the team's Monday afternoon workout in Kansas City.

Writes Kevin Kernan in the Post:

Plain and simple, the Mets got hosed. Manager-for-a-day Tony La Russa chose to be a knucklehead by choosing Giants ace Matt Cain over the Mets’ R.A. Dickey to start tonight for the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. The former Cardinals manager never discussed the situation with Dickey before making the decision. Dickey is tied for the league lead in wins in his storybook season, but La Russa made it an all-Giants battery with Cain throwing to Buster Posey, saying he wanted to “reward Matt Cain for a career of excellence.’’

Derek Jeter told Kernan: “I looked kind of foolish when I faced him at Citi Field. I’m happy he’s not starting.’’

Brian Costa in the Journal looks at the history of catchers handling the knuckleball in the All-Star Game, which is one reason why Tim Wakefield went unused when he was selected in 2009 and Phil Niekro similarly did not get into the game his final two selections. Writes Costa:

Consider the fate of the last man to catch the pitch in the All-Star Game. In 1986, Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman came off the bench in the eighth inning with Texas Rangers knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound. In one humiliating sequence, Gedman allowed a runner to advance to third base on a wild pitch; dropped a third-strike knuckleball to allow the runner to score and the batter to reach first; and then dropped another third strike before tagging the batter out. Another run scored before American League manager Dick Howser mercifully pulled Hough from the game, which the AL barely held on to win, 3-2.

For years after, Gedman refused to even play catch with a teammate who wanted to toy around with a knuckleball. And even today, his nightmarish All-Star appearance remains a sore subject. "I'm sensitive about it, because it's a reminder of the time I failed -- and failed miserably," said Gedman, now the hitting coach for the Class A Salem (Va.) Red Sox. "I did the best I could. It just wasn't very good."

Columnist David Lennon in Newsday polled American League players and asked if they would prefer facing Cain or Dickey. Wrote Lennon: It was no question. Every one preferred to hit against Cain.

Read more in from Ken Davidoff in the Post as well as in the Daily News, Newsday, Times and Journal.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger looks at Wright's resurgent season, which got off on the wrong foot with a rib-cage injury in spring training, then a broken pinkie that threatened to land him on the disabled list in April. “I don’t think I’m as bad as I was last year,” Wright told McCullough. “It’s tough to say I’m as good as I am this year. It’s probably somewhere in between. I have to keep that in perspective. I didn’t all of a sudden find some magic potion, and think I can do this for the rest of my career. You’ve got to take advantage of when you’ve hit a hot streak. And we’ve been fortunate enough that in this lineup, this year, I’ve been able to do that.”

Writes Mike Kerwick in the Record in a profile of Wright:

There are plenty of moments that still bring him joy. On June 18, before a 5-0 win over the Orioles, Wright was playing catch on the field with members of Hofstra’s softball team. One of the college’s pitchers was throwing fastballs. Wright politely requested changeups. And last week, after a night game, the Mets were putting on a postgame fireworks show. Wright grabbed some food and headed for the door. He walked out of the clubhouse to watch the fireworks.

Valentino Pascucci won the Triple-A Home Run Derby on Monday night before a crowd of 17,244 in Buffalo, beating Charlotte's Dan Johnson of the Chicago White Sox organization in the finals. Buffalo hosts the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, with Matt Harvey, Pascucci and closer Fernando Cabrera due to represent the Bisons/Mets. “He’s a big dude and he was bombing them 400 plus over the net,” the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, who won the celebrity derby, told Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News about Pascucci. “That was cool to see.”

• Brooklyn players Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Phillip Evans and Paul Sewald recorded a segment at the Coney Island ballpark showing MTV's Lenay Dunn how to play baseball. View a photo here.

• Former phenom Scott Kazmir is trying to make a comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League, in the southpaw's native Texas. Kazmir auditioned for the Mets during spring training but went unsigned. Writes Joshua Siegel in the Houston Chronicle:

The past two years have not been easy on Kazmir as he suffered a drop in his velocity and confidence. In 2010, he saw his ERA balloon to 5.94 and, after one horrific outing in 2011, he found himself pitching in extended spring training and the minors. After going 0-5 for the Angels’ Class AAA affiliate and allowing 30 runs in 151D3 innings, the Angels let him go despite owing him $14.5 million. Kazmir said that during his time in the minors it was a coin flip whether he would be able to get the ball over the plate. “I mean when you go out there and you struggle like I did, it’s tough to have confidence. It really is,” he said. “Today being able to do what I did, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.” On Sunday, Kazmir’s fastball was in the low 90s and topped out at 95 mph.

• Left-hander Steven Matz, the organization's top draft pick in 2009, tossed six scoreless innings, but the bullpen squandered a 6-0 lead in Kingsport's loss. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Kerwick in the Record reviews the Mets at the midway point.

Mike Puma in the Post offers grades. Wright gets an A. Jason Bay gets a D.

Richard Sandomir in the Times reviews devout Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld talking about his admiration for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and the "Who's on First?" routine. Writes Sandomir:

Seinfeld's fascination with Abbott and Costello began in the 1960s when he started to watch reruns of the comedy team’s syndicated TV series. He plucked some of what he admired for his own series: a short routine to open each episode; playing the Abbott-like straight man to the other characters, and emphasizing the physical differences between Kramer’s lean physique and Newman’s porcine one. And George Costanza’s middle name, Louis, paid homage to Costello. Seinfeld said he experienced a “Who’s on First?” moment in an episode, “The Package,” in which Kramer says the Postal Service will take a write-off if Jerry files a fraudulent claim that his stereo was damaged during delivery.

TRIVIA: Citi Field will host the 2013 All-Star Game. Where is the 2014 game due to be played?

Monday's answer: Darryl Strawberry was the youngest Met ever to have a plate appearance in an All-Star Game. He was 22 years, 120 days old on July 10, 1984 when he went 1-for-2 as the starting right fielder for the NL at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

TLR explains snub, promises Dickey use

July, 9, 2012

Associated Press/Getty Images
Tony La Russa picked Matt Cain over R.A. Dickey as the NL All-Star starting pitcher.
NL manager Tony La Russa said Matt Cain and R.A. Dickey were "equally legitimate" contenders to serve as the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game, but he selected Cain in part because he already is catcher Buster Posey's regular-season batterymate and therefore they have familiarity.

La Russa, who said he has watched Cain a lot while living in the Bay Area and semi-retired, nonetheless pledged Dickey would pitch in the first half of the game, although he could not specify whether that would be the second or fourth or some other inning.

"I know Dickey's going to pitch," La Russa said. "And I'm very aware of the first half that he's had. By the way, our club and our hitters [with the Cardinals] in particular the last couple of years have [been] up close and personal to see how tough he is.

"The one edge that I thought would make sense, we've got Buster catching, and Matt is equally legitimate as far as getting the honor. And then we're just going to play the game. I can't bet you that Dickey will come out second or fourth. I just know that he's going to pitch in the first half of the game."

Cain candidly noted that he thought it might actually have been beneficial for Dickey to start, since it would have afforded the knuckleballer more time pregame to work with Posey so they could get acclimated.

"I was actually thinking that it might be a little bit of help if R.A were able to start it, because maybe Buster would be able to catch him today and then catch him warming up or something like that -- maybe a little bit of help doing it that way," Cain said. "But I found out yesterday when I was getting over to the hotel, and was just extremely excited about the whole thing and just started to think about what their lineup was going to be."

La Russa also selected Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez over David Wright as the NL designated hitter.

Mets morning briefing 6.18.12

June, 18, 2012
After sweeping the Rays at the Trop, the Mets returned home and found themselves swept by the NL Central-leading Reds. Chris Young surrendered three fifth-inning runs (two earned) and Cincinnati won Sunday's finale, 3-1, at Citi Field. Reds starter Johnny Cueto, shaking off in-game dizziness, limited the Mets to a bases-loaded walk to Young in seven innings. The Mets went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position during the series.

The last time Cincinnati swept the Mets: April 4-7, 2005 at Great American Ball Park, in the first series of the "New Mets," with Willie Randolph as manager as Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran also debuting.

Monday's news reports:

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

Eli Manning, with 14-month-old daughter Ava cradled in his left arm, tossed the ceremonial first pitch to David Wright before Sunday's game. Read more in the Daily News and Times.

R.A. Dickey opposes Baltimore right-hander Jake Arrieta in the opener to an interleague series Monday night at Citi Field. Perhaps the better matchup is Dickey versus Matt Cain, who is starting for San Francisco tonight against the Los Angeles Angels. After all, both are strong candidates to start for the NL in the July 10 All-Star Game at Kansas City.

ESPN Stats & Information guru Mark Simon notes Dickey enters the start with an eight-game winning streak, 2.20 ERA and a streak of four straight starts without allowing an earned run. The knuckleballer's franchise-record 32 2/3-inning scoreless streak ended in the ninth inning at the Trop last Wednesday when Wright committed an error, Mike Nickeas had a pair of passed balls and a groundout plated an unearned run. Cain, meanwhile, has a 2.18 ERA -- 0.59 in his past four starts -- as well as a seven-game winning streak.

Writes Simon in comparing the duo:

We’ll use Bill James Game Score, which is a scale that rates starts usually on a 0-100 scoring, based on a pitcher's innings pitched, runs, hits, strikeouts and walks. Cain’s perfecto is one of the rare starts in baseball history that surpassed 100. (He finished with a 101.) Dickey’s one-hitter last Wednesday was a 95.

Dickey’s average Game Score this season is a 64.7. He’s had five straight starts with a Game Score of 74 or better, the first pitcher to do that since Chris Carpenter had six straight in 2005. The only other Mets pitchers to run off five straight starts of that nature were Tom Seaver in 1975 and Dwight Gooden in 1985. Of Dickey’s 13 starts, 11 have rated above MLB average. (Average historically has been a Game Score of 49.)

Cain has Dickey beat in this area. His average game score thus far is a 66.8. He posted a Game Score of 96 in a start earlier this season and is the first pitcher with two starts in a season of 96 or better since Randy Johnson in 2002. (The only pitcher with three in the Live Ball Era was Nolan Ryan in 1990.) Cain has 10 starts out of 13 with a Game Score of 50 or higher, one fewer than Dickey.

The highest average game scores among NL starters:

Cain 66.8
Dickey 64.7
Gio Gonzalez 63.0
Ryan Dempster 62.4
Brandon Beachy 62.0

Jason Bay, who stayed away from Citi Field during the weekend as he deals with concussion symptoms, may be examined by doctors Monday. After a July 23 concussion two years ago, which Bay suffered at Dodger Stadium, the left fielder missed the remainder of the season. Terry Collins said "anything's possible" when asked if Bay might miss the remainder of this season now too.

“We are going to follow the doctor’s lead,’’ Sandy Alderson told Kevin Kernan in the Post. “We certainly are not going to push to get him back if it is not medically indicated at this point, particularly with the fact that he has a history. We have to be cautious and make sure from a medical standpoint. It’s a tough situation because he plays all out. He gives it everything he’s got. The results have not been what he would like, what Mets fans would like, but it’s really unfortunate that some people can’t separate the effort from the results.”

A fresh reminder of the gravity of concussions will be in the visitors' dugout during the upcoming series. Brian Roberts returned last week after missing nearly 13 months with the effects of concussions. Eduardo A. Encina in the Baltimore Sun writes:

[Dr. Michael] Collins said Roberts’ return is a major success story when it comes to concussions. When he first began working with Roberts, the goal wasn’t a return to big leagues. It was making sure Roberts could live out his daily life without suffering from concussion symptoms -- among them the headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue that Roberts overcame during his recovery. “I think anybody who knows Brian knows how badly he wanted to get back to playing,” said Collins, who played college baseball at Southern Maine. “But we didn’t even think about that until months into it. It’s a hard injury for someone to go through. Everyone thinks, well 13 months is a long time, but actually I’ve got to tell you, it’s a good outcome. To get him back to playing, not every athlete that goes through what Brian went through gets back to playing. A lot of players who’ve gone through what he’s gone through have had to hang them up. He persevered through it.”

Read more on Bay in the Daily News, Newsday, Record and Star-Ledger.

Ruben Tejada is scheduled to make a second attempt at a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Monday night. His first try two weeks ago was abandoned when Tejada had a recurrence of trouble with the right quadriceps, which originally sent him to the DL. Ronny Cedeño (calf) has now played three rehab games with the Bisons, all manning shortstop. He went 1-for-4 Sunday and is now 2-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts with the Triple-A club. Collins has estimated a midweek activation from the DL for Cedeño.

• Collins had an easy explanation for sending Scott Hairston to pinch hit for Ike Davis in the eighth inning Sunday against left-hander Sean Marshall with two men on base, even though Davis -- whose average has climbed to .194 thanks to an eight-game hitting streak -- has started to heat up. Hairston grounded out, but there is no question he mashes left-handed pitching. He is hitting .338 with seven homers in 74 at-bats against southpaws even after Sunday's unsuccessful matchup against Marshall. Davis similarly had been replaced for a pinch-hitter Friday, against nasty southpaw Aroldis Chapman. Read more in Newsday.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post reviews the all-time Mets team selected for SNY by a panel of experts, which included him. The winners:

Mike Piazza, c
Keith Hernandez, 1b
Edgardo Alfonzo, 2b
Wright, 3b
Jose Reyes, ss
Cleon Jones, lf
Beltran, cf
Darryl Strawberry, rf
Tom Seaver, rhs
Jerry Koosman, lhs
Roger McDowell, rhr
Tug McGraw, lhr
Davey Johnson, manager

On Beltran, Vaccaro writes:

Oh, this is surely where we’ll hear some backlash from backers of Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra and Tommie Agee, but Beltran was the most complete everyday player the Mets ever had, his seven-year stats dwarf Dykstra’s and Mookie’s, and though Agee should be remembered fondly as a core member of the ’69 Miracle boys, he had just three average to above-average seasons with the Mets.

The show will be televised Thursday night on SNY. Read more in the Daily News.

• Young, who has returned from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder, was pleased with exceeding 100 pitches in back-to-back starts while working on standard rest in Sunday's outing. Young actually was tagged with his first loss since June 14, 2009. Of course, he has made only 11 major league starts over the past three seasons. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

• Right-hander Collin McHugh, a sleeper but legitimate prospect scouts compare with Dillon Gee, was promoted from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo and will make his Triple-A debut Monday for the Bisons at Norfolk. In 30 Double-A appearances (28 starts) over roughly a calendar year, McHugh went 13-7 with a 2.68 ERA. He takes the rotation spot of now-reliever Jenrry Mejia. "He was legitimately our best starter, most consistent starter in the second half of the season last year," Wally Backman, who managed McHugh in Double-A last season, told Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News. "And that was with a couple other big boys there too [Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia]. He knows how to pitch. He's not a power guy, but he can sink it, he can cut it, make the ball do things."

• Mejia had a rough second appearance since a move to the bullpen as Pawtucket beat Buffalo, 6-1. He faced five batters and allowed two hits, a walk and hit a batter. Mejia also had a wild pitch. "Command was definitely an issue," Backman told Harrington. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• The Brooklyn Cyclones open their season tonight at Coney Island against the Staten Island Yankees. The roster includes 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo, a high school outfielder from Wyoming, as well as this month's supplemental first-round pick, Purdue catcher Kevin Plawecki. Read more in the Daily News.

• Seaver discussed Johan Santana's no-hitter with Stephen Hayes in Newsday.

Mark Hale in the Post notes Daniel Murphy's power has been absent all season as well as the second baseman's recent overall production. Murphy is hitting .148 since June 4 with no walks and two extra-base hits in 50 plate appearances. His average has slipped to .274 as well. Writes Hale:

Murphy’s last homer was back on last July 16 -- he has gone 338 at-bats and 364 plate appearances since going deep, which is absolutely staggering. “Just not centering the ball enough,” Murphy said.

TRIVIA: Who were the Game 1 starters when the Mets faced the Orioles in the 1969 World Series?

Sunday's answer: The last Met to start an All-Star Game: Dwight Gooden, in 1988. Gooden started opposite the AL's Frank Viola at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.



Bartolo Colon
8 4.12 95 126
BAD. Murphy .287
HRL. Duda 15
RBIL. Duda 50
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .841
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112