New York Mets: Matt Downs

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Where's Mejia's cutter?

February, 26, 2013
JUPITER, Fla. -- Terry Collins said Jenrry Mejia needs to rediscover what happened to the natural cutting action on his fastball -- the movement that once had been compared to the action on Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

Mejia surrendered five runs, including a grand slam to Casey Kotchman, while lasting only an inning in his first 2013 Grapefruit League action. The Mets ultimately lost to the Marlins, 7-5, Tuesday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Zach Lutz, playing first base, tracks down a pop-up from Giancarlo Stanton during Tuesday's loss to the Marlins.

“I haven’t been around him much except for the first year,” Collins said, referring to 2011, when Collins oversaw the farm system. “I don’t know if with the elbow injury, the Tommy John, there are any mechanical changes that have occurred because of that. I don’t know.”

Collins said Mejia was prepared for Tuesday’s outing, noting the right-hander actually pitched in two games -- not one -- at the team’s Dominican academy while his visa issue was being resolved.

Collins added that Mejia ought to have an urgency to perform (although, it’s worth noting, Mejia would not be a candidate to break camp with the Mets unless a starting pitcher is unavailable).

“Because he has been throwing every day, he certainly should be ready,” Collins said. “… It’s a little different when you’re a 10-year veteran and you know how to get ready. It’s another thing when you’re somebody who is trying to impress the manager. … He just threw way too many balls in the middle of the plate.”

Collins, like Dan Warthen and Wally Backman previously, suggested he can see Mejia’s career role being in the bullpen, even if he is a starting pitcher now.

“Jenrry, maybe, his best slot is going to be coming out of that bullpen,” Collins said. “He’s got a great arm. If he can regain the cutter that he had three years ago, that’s a pretty dynamic situation.”

Game tidbits:

MR. PERFECT: Right-handed prospect Cory Mazzoni tossed three perfect innings in relief of Mejia, including coaxing Giancarlo Stanton into a pop out. Mazzoni, a second-round pick from NC State in 2011, has now tossed five scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play, allowing only one hit and no walks.

“He’s been everything I heard about him,” Collins said. “This winter I had some people tell me, ‘Wait until you see [Rafael] Montero and Mazzoni.”

WE MEET AGAIN: Ex-Met Jon Rauch tossed a scoreless inning against his former employer. He consecutively retired Zach Lutz, Brian Bixler and Landon Powell.

TWO DEEP: Hansel Robles surrendered sixth-inning solo homers to Stanton and Matt Downs as Miami built a 7-2 lead.

HOW THEY SCORED: The Mets produced three runs in the eighth against right-hander Chris Hatcher. Travis d’Arnaud contributed a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Wilfredo Tovar added an RBI single.

Mets morning briefing 5.1.12

May, 1, 2012
R.A. Dickey took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, when it unraveled. The Mets ultimately lost, 4-3, to the Astros on Monday on Jed Lowrie's tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning against Manny Acosta. The Mets nonetheless produced a 13-10 record in April.

Tuesday's news reports:

• Dickey suggested he only threw one bad pitch in Monday's loss -- the knuckleball that stayed up that Matt Downs belted for a two-run homer. Read game recaps in the Times, Record, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post and Journal.

• Under a new scheduling plan with the Astros going to the American League, the Mets and Yankees are no longer likely to play six games a season -- except every third year when the NL East and AL East face off in interleague play. Instead, the Mets and Yankees will play one three-game series a season at one ballpark, or home-and-home two-game series, sources told Read more in the Daily News.

Mike Pelfrey will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday in Gulf Breeze, Fla. Dr. James Andrews will perform the procedure. Because Pelfrey likely will require a 12-month recovery period, the Mets are likely to cut loose Pelfrey at the Dec. 2 non-tender deadline, making him a free agent. Chris Schwinden continues in the rotation spot Wednesday. Chris Young could be in a Florida State League game as soon as Saturday. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and Newsday.

Andres Torres returned from the disabled list Monday and went 1-for-4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis moved to left field to accommodate Torres' return, but the rookie remained in the leadoff spot. Read more in the Times.

Lucas Duda pinch hit and walked in the Mets' three-run seventh, but he did not start because of illness. Terry Collins does not believe Duda will be capable of starting Tuesday, either. Closer Frank Francisco also was unavailable, because of an upper-hamstring issue, but Collins portrayed that as likely a one-day absence caused by dehydration suffered during the weekend in Denver. Read more in the Post.

Johan Santana aced April, despite being winless, writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday. "I think, obviously, because he's Johan Santana, there were expectations," Collins said. "But due to the seriousness of the injury that he had and the operation, everybody, including myself, we were hoping we were going to get quality innings out of him. And he's gone above and beyond it all."

Mike Puma in the Post labels David Wright the MVP and Jason Bay the LVP for April.

Travis Taijeron homered twice and had five RBIs. An 18th round pick last June out of Cal Poly Pomona, Taijeron also scored the decisive run in the 12th on a wild pitch as Savannah beat Lexington, 10-9. Read Monday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: Which current NL East manager had the best finish in last year's manager of the year voting, regardless of league?

Monday's answer: Danny Heep came to the Mets in the Dec. 10, 1982 trade that sent Mike Scott to Houston.

Rapid Reaction: Astros 4, Mets 3

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

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

But when it unraveled, it unraveled quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series preview: Mets at Astros

April, 30, 2012

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

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

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

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

Astros short hops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wandy Rodriguez has a 1.72 ERA in five starts.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Schwinden vs. Astros (career: never faced)

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

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

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

Last series results

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

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

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

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



Daniel Murphy
.295 9 54 75
HRL. Duda 27
RBIL. Duda 83
RD. Murphy 75
OPSL. Duda .827
WB. Colon 14
ERAJ. Niese 3.55
SOZ. Wheeler 173