New York Mets: Nate Schierholtz

David Wright: 'We gave this away'

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated PressThe Cubs celebrate a walk-off win at Wrigley Field with hero Nate Schierholtz on Tuesday night after the Mets failed to turn a critical ninth-inning double play.
CHICAGO -- The Captain did not mince words after he botched a potential double-play ball in the bottom of the ninth, capping a frustrating game in which the Mets squandered chance after chance at the plate.

"We gave this away," David Wright said after a walk-off 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. "Obviously not being able to get that lead runner in the ninth. And then we had numerous chances to what felt like kind of put that team away. We couldn't do it. Any time you get that many runners in scoring position and you only come away with one [run], that kind of gets the momentum back on their side."

After Josh Edgin gave up a game-tying solo homer to Chris Coghlan in the eighth, the teams went to the bottom of the ninth tied at 1.

Scott Rice surrendered a leadoff single to Anthony Rizzo. Starlin Castro then sent a potential double-play grounder to third base. Wright could not handle it cleanly and had to settle for the out at first base. With Rizzo on second, Luis Valbuena struck out. Nate Schierholtz then delivered a two-out, walk-off RBI single to right field.

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated PressZack Wheeler receives congratulations after departing a scoreless effort in the seventh inning.

The Mets are last in the double-play component of the Defensive Runs Saved statistic by a wide margin, ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon noted.

"It just bounced a little more than I thought and it got me in the heel, so I couldn't field it cleanly," Wright said. "It was just one of those ones where you're thinking two right off the bat. ... I'm not sure if we get both outs, but we definitely get the out at second. I wish I could have caught it cleanly."

By then, Wheeler already had suffered a no-decision, despite tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings.

"It's obviously frustrating when you lose any game," Wheeler said. "I can only do what I can do. We're playing good baseball right now for the most part."

Still, Wheeler was pleased with backing up a performance in Philly in his last start in which he took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning and ultimately allowed one run in a 4-1 win.

"For sure," Wheeler said. "Personally, it's two good starts in a row. So I'll take it into San Francisco next week and go from there."

The key to his success?

"I think it's a combination of just keeping the guys off-balance, not being too predictable and also locating," Wheeler said. "I've been trying to get ahead of guys a lot more. It's a lot easier to pitch when you do that."

As for Edgin, Terry Collins suggested it was just bad location on the game-tying fastball he served up to Coghlan in the eighth.

"He got the ball up," Collins said. "Four sliders in a row, or whatever it was, he wanted to run a fastball. And he just got it up over the plate. Instead of keeping the ball down so you can't get hurt with the long ball, he got it up and Chris put a good swing on it. It's not the pitch [selection] that was the difference. As we all know in this game, it's the location of it. He didn't make the pitch he wanted to make."

The Mets finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. They had a bases-loaded, no-out chance in the third inning and failed to score.

"The third inning we let get away from us," Collins said. "That came back to hurt us. We had nine guys on the first five innings, left nine guys on. And a number of them were in scoring position. ... That's one of the things obviously that we've talked about quite a bit in the last three weeks."

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 2, Mets 1

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
CHICAGO -- Zack Wheeler deserved a better fate!

Wheeler limited the Chicago Cubs to two hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings but came away with a no-decision after Chris Coghlan’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth against Josh Edgin evened the score.

The Mets ultimately lost to the downtrodden Cubs, 2-1, at 100-year-old Wrigley Field on Nate Schierholtz’s walk-off RBI single against Scott Rice with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. David Wright's bobble on Starlin Castro's preceding grounder had prevented the captain from attempting a double play and allowed Anthony Rizzo to reach scoring position.

The Mets (28-30) had been six outs from moving to .500 for the first time since May 13.

Wheeler’s line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. He sliced his ERA to 3.89.

Wheeler departed with his pitch count at 107 and a 1-0 lead after issuing a two-out walk to Luis Valbuena in the seventh. Edgin entered and struck out the lefty-hitting Schierholtz, who had produced both of the hits against Wheeler. The Cubs never had a runner advance past first base against Wheeler.

Wheeler was coming off an outing in Philadelphia in which he also took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning, that time en route to a 4-1 win.

O no: The Mets went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position during the first five innings alone.

They had umpteen chances to add to a 1-0 lead, but failed. That was highlighted -- or, more accurately, lowlighted -- by a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the third inning in which the Mets did not score. Chris Young’s grounder forced out Daniel Murphy at the plate. Lucas Duda then popped out and Wilmer Flores lined out.

Batting leadoff for the second straight game with Juan Lagares on the disabled list with a rib-cage strain, Matt den Dekker singled against Jake Arrieta to open the game. Den Dekker stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Curtis Granderson’s line-drive sacrifice fly to center field for the lone run to support Wheeler.

Den Dekker’s second-inning groundout stranded two in scoring position.

What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.45 ERA) enters the rotation and opposes right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81) at 8:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Series preview: Mets at Cubs

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood at Wrigley Field.
METS (28-29, third place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (20-34, fifth place/NL Central)

Tuesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.31) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.20), 8:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.45) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81), 8:05 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 2.42) vs. LHP Travis Wood (5-5, 5.15), 7:05 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

• UConn product and New Haven native Mike Olt leads National League rookies with nine homers and 24 RBIs. The righty-hitting third baseman was acquired last July 22 with three other players in a swap with the Texas Rangers for Matt Garza. Olt, 25, became the first Cubs rookie since Geovany Soto in 2008 with nine homers before June 1.

Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesUConn product Mike Olt leads NL rookies in homers and RBIs.

Olt experienced blurriness and depth-perception trouble with his vision last year while with Texas after being struck in the head the previous November while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. It affected his ability to catch baseballs in the field, not just to judge pitches at the plate. It since has been managed through eye drops.

Olt and lefty-hitting Luis Valbuena share duties at third base. The Cubs used six different players at the position last year.

Valbuena has been out since Friday with a sore abdominal muscle, but is expected to be available for the series opener against the Mets. He has started 21 games at third base and 14 games at second base this season. Ex-Marlin Emilio Bonifacio made his first third-base start of the season Saturday with Valbuena unavailable.

Bonifacio, who was released by the Kansas City Royals in February and signed by the Cubs, otherwise has 33 starts in center field and 14 starts at second base this season.

• The Cubs signed 42-year-old Manny Ramirez to serve as a player-coach with Triple-A Iowa. There is no intention of bringing Ramirez, who last appeared in the majors in 2011, to the big leagues.

“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “Manny will coach full time and play part time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here.”

• Wednesday’s game will feature two of baseball’s more deliberate pitchers. Edwin Jackson averages 25.1 seconds between pitches, tied for seventh slowest in MLB among qualifiers. Opponent Daisuke Matsuzaka checks in at 23.9 seconds, which is actually the fastest pace of his career.

Anthony Rizzo (.267, 10 HR, 28 RBIs) had his fifth career multi-homer game Saturday when he twice took Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta deep. A day later, the 24-year-old Rizzo was ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals in the fourth inning with the Cubs already trailing by eight runs for demonstrably arguing a called third strike. Rizzo has started 53 of the team’s 54 games at first base. He received his lone day off Friday, preceding his big day at the plate. Rizzo has lifted his on-base percentage to .398 this season, up from .323 a year ago.

•’s Bruce Levine reports the Baltimore Orioles are in the lead for soon-to-be-traded ace Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija’s ERA swelled from 1.68 to 2.54 after he was charged with eight earned runs in three innings at Milwaukee on Sunday. The Mets miss Samardzija and Jason Hammel (6-3, 2.78 ERA) in the three-game series. Hammel’s 0.869 WHIP ranks third in the majors, trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (0.758) and San Francisco’s Tim Hudson (0.866).

Starlin Castro has the most hits by a shortstop in the majors since 2011 with 612, considerably ahead of runner-up Alexei Ramirez (575) of the Chicago White Sox. Castro (.272, 7 HR, 26 RBIs) has started all 54 Cubs games this season. He was due to be given Sunday off, but talked his way into the lineup. Castro had missed the bulk of Cactus League action with a spring-training hamstring injury. He started 159 games at shortstop in 2013.

• Left fielder Junior Lake has 60 strikeouts in 160 at-bats. His vulnerability is balls on the lower half of the plate.

Jake Arrieta opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tightness. He made his season debut May 3. Arrieta had been acquired from the Orioles last July 2 with Pedro Strop and two international signing bonus slots for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Strop returned Friday from a DL stint for a left groin strain.

• Right fielder Nate Schierholtz went homerless in his first 42 games, which included 150 at-bats, but since has two homers in the past week.

• Former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan was promoted from Triple-A on May 3. He replaced fellow outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who landed on the DL with a right hamstring injury. Another backup outfielder, Justin Ruggiano, was activated from the DL last Monday after missing a month with a left hamstring strain.

Travis Wood enters Thursday’s start off his shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Brewers.

• The Cubs’ .231 batting average ranks 29th in the majors, better than only the San Diego Padres (.226).

• Closer Hector Rondon (6-for-7 in save opportunities) missed the weekend series against Milwaukee while on paternity leave but will be back for Tuesday’s opener against the Mets. Neil Ramirez, also acquired in the Garza trade, filled in as closer during Rondon’s absence.

• The Cubs are 0-11-3 in their past 14 road series. They have a 10-13 record at Wrigley Field this season.

Morning Briefing: Byrd migration to Texas?

July, 25, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Zack Wheeler, who tossed six scoreless innings in his major league debut at Turner Field in Atlanta, albeit with five walks, gets another crack at the Braves in an early start this afternoon.

Wheeler (3-1, 3.58 ERA) opposes rookie left-hander Alex Wood (0-2, 2.45) as the Mets look to salvage a split of the four-game series. First pitch: 12:10 p.m.

Tom Lynn/Getty ImagesZack Wheeler pitches on turn, despite recently dealing with a blister issue.

The Mets earlier this week debated delaying Wheeler’s start a day to allow a blister to further heal, but ultimately decided it was a nonissue and kept him on regular rest. Wheeler has dealt with blister issues throughout his pro career -- both as a San Francisco Giants farmhand and with the Mets.

Wood steps in for fellow southpaw Paul Maholm, who landed on the disabled list on the eve of the series with a bruised wrist.

With the Mets facing a left-hander, Josh Satin should start at first base and Juan Lagares in center field. Justin Turner also is due for his first start since returning from the disabled list.

Terry Collins planned for Turner to be used at a middle-infield position, but Turner might start at third base if David Wright needs a day for a sore back/neck. Wright inadvertently hit himself with the shattered bat during his own swing in the fourth inning Wednesday night.

Thursday’s news reports:

• The Texas Rangers are scouting Marlon Byrd among a bevy of outfield options, writes Alex Rios of the Chicago White Sox appears Texas’ primary target, according to the report. Writes Jon Heyman:

Ideally, Texas would have loved to make a run at young Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton, Hunter Pence (a local, being a U-T Arlington product) or perhaps Michael Cuddyer, but with those three apparently unavailable at the moment, the Rangers are surveying a market that's heavy on far lesser talents. Pence would seem to have the best chance to be traded of those three, and Texas would target him if he becomes free. Nolan Ryan is said to be a fan.

Seattle, which has Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse, isn't ready to trade anybody yet. And most believe they'll ultimately keep at least Ibanez and Morales now that they are showing decent signs of life. …

The Rangers reportedly have looked at Norichika Aoki, as well, and Danny Knobler reported they are scouting Marlon Byrd, their former player. Other outfielders who could go in trades include Justin Ruggiano, Chris Denorfia, Nate Schierholtz and Alejandro De Aza.

• Tim Hudson suffered a gruesome fracture of his right ankle when he was stepped on while covering first base by runner Eric Young Jr. on Wednesday night. Hudson had taken a scoreless effort into the eighth inning when the injury occurred.

“I saw them get tangled up,” Dan Uggla told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was just hoping he Charley-horsed him or something. I didn’t see the extent of it. Once I saw Huddy’s reaction, I was like, ‘Oh, no. This isn’t good.’ …

“He was kind of in disbelief, obviously in a lot of pain. You could see just the thoughts going through his head, ‘This can’t be happening. … This is unbelievable.’ That sort of thing. I know he was in a lot of pain.”

Young expressed remorse for what happened.

"I'm hustling down the line like I always do, going for the base," Young said. "I saw his foot, as I'm going for the base, right there in the middle, as I came down, I knew I didn't get any of the base. I know I got all of his foot. I pretty much knew it was probably broke right as I did it, and that's why I sprinted right back to him and tried to console him as much as I could and apologize.

"I was able to see Tim before they took him to the hospital. He told me it wasn't my fault, just one of those freak plays that happened."

Read more on the injury and reaction in the Post and Daily News.

Evan Gattis, Uggla and Andrelton Simmons all homered against Jeremy Hefner as the Braves beat the Mets, 8-2 at Citi Field. Hefner surrendered six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings. He became the first Mets pitcher to allow three homers in a home game this season. Hefner has allowed 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings over his past two starts. Daniel Murphy had two doubles, but also committed two errors.

Columnist John Harper in the Daily News summarizes the night.

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

• Read more on Wright’s status after getting struck with his own bat in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud returned to game action for the first time Wednesday, in the same Gulf Coast League game. D’Arnaud went 1-for-3 and caught five innings in his first official action since fracturing the first metatarsal in his left foot on April 17 with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Duda, who landed on the DL with an intercostal muscle strain on his left side after a June 21 game, went 0-for-2 with a walk. He played five innings in left field. It would have been far more noteworthy because of the implications for Ike Davis if Duda had played first base, but that was not the case. Read more in the Post.

Jonathon Niese, on the DL with a shoulder issue, is ready to pitch in a Gulf Coast League game this weekend or shortly thereafter. He likely will need multiple rehab starts before returning, so rejoining the Mets in mid-August is most likely. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Jenrry Mejia joined the Mets in advance of Friday’s start opposite Jordan Zimmermann in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. Matt Harvey opposes Ross Ohlendorf in the nightcap that day. The other matchups that series: Dillon Gee versus Dan Haren on Saturday and Carlos Torres versus Taylor Jordan on Sunday.

Adam RubinThe San Francisco Giants annually host a sleepover for fans on the night of a day game at AT&T Park.

Mejia told Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger that he has bone spurs in his right elbow that will need to be surgically removed during the offseason. Doctors proposed removing them during spring training when the issue first flared up, but Mejia preferred taking anti-inflammatory medication to get through the discomfort and to deal with it after the season. Read more in the Journal and Record.

• Matching an event annually staged at San Francisco’s A&T Park, the Mets will host a sleepover for fans at Citi Field on Aug. 10. Unlike with the Giants, it will not occur the night of a home day game. Tickets, which range $175-$200 per person and include admission to the Sept. 28 game against the Milwaukee Brewers, go on sale at 10 a.m. today at The Mets also announced PR man Jay Horwitz bobblehead day will be held Aug. 23. There’s also a Third Eye Blind concert after that game against the Detroit Tigers.

• Columnist Larry Brooks in the Post suggests the Mets are laying the groundwork for a brighter future.

• Mark Cohoon became the all-time innings-pitched leader in Binghamton history and closer Jeff Walters matched Jerrod Riggan’s B-Mets single-season record with save No. 28 in a 6-3 win against Reading. Read the minor league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Billy Wagner, now spending time with his alpacas, turns 42. … Where’s Mota? Guillermo Mota is celebrating his 40th birthday.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets hold onto Marlon Byrd unless overwhelmed by a trade offer?

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 6, Mets 3

June, 14, 2013
NEW YORK -- Cold as Ice.

Shaun Marcum dropped to 0-8, the second-longest skid in franchise history to begin a Mets career, as the Chicago Cubs won the series opener, 6-3, Friday night at Citi Field.

Since sweeping the Yankees in the Subway Series, the Mets (24-38) have lost nine of 11 games. They are a season-worst 14 games under .500.

Marcum surrendered a first-inning solo homer to Nate Schierholtz, and a three-run triple in the second to David DeJesus as Chicago grabbed a 5-0 lead. Marcum settled down to retire 12 straight at one point, but departed after Luis Valbuena’s two-out RBI double in the sixth.

The only losing streak longer than Marcum’s to begin a Mets career: Bob Miller, who began the Mets’ inaugural season in 1962 with an 0-12 record.

The franchise record for worst start to a season is 0-13 by Anthony Young in 1993. Like Marcum, John Franco opened a season 0-8, in 1998.

Marcum’s line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 6, R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

Ouch: DeJesus, the Cubs’ center fielder, left the game after slamming into the outfield wall on what became a third-inning triple for Juan Lagares. DeJesus eventually walked off the field himself and headed for X-rays on his right shoulder.

Silent night: The Mets had another quiet game at the plate. After Lagares’ triple, Daniel Murphy produced a two-out, run-scoring single in the third to pull the Mets within 5-1.

The Mets subsequently had two on and two out in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Each opportunity went for naught against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. The inning-ending culprits: Lucas Duda (strikeout), Marcum (pop out) and Marlon Byrd (strikeout).

Trailing 6-1, the Mets produced a pair of seventh-inning runs, on RBI singles by Murphy and Duda. David Wright was thrown out going first-to-third on Duda’s single.

Wright had just reached base for the seventh straight plate appearance (six singles, one walk).

What’s next: A Foreigner postgame concert. On Saturday, Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.24 ERA) opposes right-hander Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.22) at 1:10 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 8, Mets 2

May, 18, 2013

WHAT IT MEANS: Talk about a letdown. The Mets are now 0-9 this season in the game after Matt Harvey starts.

Jeremy Hefner departed after surrendering four runs in the fourth inning and remained winless in 2013 as the Chicago Cubs beat the Mets, 8-2, Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Adam RubinOrange-clad Mets fans who dominated the left-center bleachers at Wrigley Field had little to cheer about Saturday.
The damage in Hefner’s fateful frame included a two-out, two-run double by opposing pitcher Scott Feldman to right-center.

Hefner is now 0-5. The Mets have yet to win any of his eight starts -- matching the second-longest string of losses in one pitcher’s starts to open a season in franchise history.

The Mets lost Anthony Young’s first 10 starts in 1993, although that streak began when he moved to the rotation in June. They were 0-8 in Randy Jones’ starts to open the 1981 season.

Hefner’s final line: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP. Hefner’s ERA swelled to 5.00.

DEEP THOUGHTS: Long-ball prone Robert Carson, taking over for Hefner in the fifth, surrendered a homer on the second pitch he threw, to leadoff batter Anthony Rizzo. Carson has now allowed seven homers. That is one shy of matching Hefner’s team lead, despite Carson having pitched only 11 innings this season.

IKE WATCH: Ike Davis did not do much to dissuade a looming potential demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. Davis (0-for-4) combined with Lucas Duda to strand two runners in the first inning. He flied out in each of his first three at-bats, then grounded out to first base to complete a quiet afternoon. Davis also committed a fifth-inning error, when he failed to handle Luis Valbuena’s grounder. Davis is 9-for-75 (.120) as the cleanup hitter this season.

The Mets’ overall offensive malaise continued. They stranded four in scoring position over the first two innings alone against Feldman, who ultimately tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The lone runs came on a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel in the ninth. The Mets have scored three runs or fewer in 10 of their past 12 games.

DEBUTANT: Collin McHugh made his season debut with the Mets after arriving in St. Louis when Scott Atchison landed on the disabled list with finger numbness. McHugh, who had a 2.74 ERA in eight starts with Las Vegas, surrendered three runs in the eighth, in his second inning of work. He allowed a leadoff homer to Nate Schierholtz and a two-run bloop single by David DeJesus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13 ERA) opposes left-hander Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03) in Sunday’s 2:20 p.m. ET rubber game at Wrigley Field.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Cubs 2

May, 17, 2013
WHAT IT MEANS: Starter Matt Harvey drove in his own damn run.

With the Mets torn between desperately needing a run and also not wanting to pull their ace for a weak and undependable bullpen, manager Terry Collins allowed Harvey to hit with two outs, Rick Ankiel at second base and the score tied in the seventh inning.

Who needed a pinch hitter?

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Matt Harvey's bat won the game with a two-out RBI single in the seventh.

Harvey -- with his pitch count at 92 and having retired the last 11 batters he had faced -- gave himself a one-run lead by hitting the ball through the left side of the infield for an RBI single that chased opposing starter Edwin Jackson. That proved the decisive blow as the Mets held on for a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The Mets have won two in a row after losing six straight.

Right fielder Marlon Byrd threw out a runner at the plate in the eighth. David Wright and Daniel Murphy earlier produced solo homers.

Harvey improved to 5-0, snapping a streak of four straight no-decisions during which he posted a 1.98 ERA while the Mets scored only six runs with him on the mound.

Harvey’s final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. He threw 106 pitches (78 strikes).

He had retired 14 straight batters, and 20 of 21, until allowing a leadoff single to Darwin Barney in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Julio Borbon then bunted Barney to second. Collins pulled Harvey and inserted heavily used left-handed reliever Scott Rice to face the lefty-hitting David DeJesus.

DeJesus singled to right field, but ex-Cub Byrd -- who had entered the previous half-inning for Jordany Valdespin -- fired a strike to the plate to throw out Barney as he attempted to score from second.

Harvey has now allowed three runs or fewer in 16 straight starts, the fifth-longest streak by a starter in franchise history. The only longer: Dwight Gooden (24 straight, 1985), Johan Santana (21, 2008-09), Tom Seaver (19, 1971-72) and Gooden (17, 1985-86).

Harvey had showed his mortality in the first inning when the Cubs jumped on his fastball. He allowed a one-out single to Starlin Castro, then a double by Anthony Rizzo that put both Cubs in scoring position.

The fielding let Harvey down after that. Shortstop Ruben Tejada ranged to his left to field a grounder from Alfonso Soriano behind the bag, but bounced the throw to first baseman Ike Davis. Davis was unable to scoop it and the ball got by him. Both runners scored as the Cubs briefly grabbed a 2-1 lead.

The official scorer officially ruled it an infield single (very generous) and an E-6 allowing Rizzo to score from second. Both runs were earned because the scorer determined that Rizzo, who otherwise would have been on third base, would have scored on Nate Schierholtz’s subsequently shallow lineout to the strong-armed Ankiel in center field.

Gooden tweeted: “Love the way @MattHarvey33 bounced back after the 1st. Sign of a great pitcher in the making”

HIT, MAN: Davis snapped an 0-for-24 skid with a two-out single in the sixth against Jackson. Davis had struck out looking and grounded into a momentum-killing 4-6-3 double play earlier in the game. Davis’ skid was the longest by a Met this season. Josh Thole had an 0-for-30 streak in 2012.

WHAT’S NEXT: Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61 ERA) opposes righty Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53) at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

August, 27, 2012

US Presswire
The Phillies conceded 2012 with the trades of (l to r) Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Jim Thome.
METS (59-69, fourth place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (61-67, third place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (3-7, 4.33) vs. RHP Vance Worley (6-9, 4.06), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-3, 2.75) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.99), 7:05 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jon Niese (10-7, 3.51) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (7-9, 4.12), 1:05 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• The Phillies’ five-year run as division champs will come to an end. Philadelphia’s dismantling included trading:

Aug. 3: Right-hander Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ryan O’Sullivan.

July 31: Center fielder Shane Victorino to the Dodgers for Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom and a player to be named or cash.

July 31: Right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin and Tommy Joseph.

Benny Sieu/US Presswire
Cole Hamels committed to the Phillies long term, signing a six-year, $144 million extension.

July 1: Right-hander Chad Qualls to the New York Yankees for a player to be named or cash.

June 30: First baseman Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles for Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon.

• Left-hander Cole Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million extension on July 25, after the Phillies explored trades.

• Philadelphia swept the Nationals in a three-game weekend series at Citizens Bank Park. Cliff Lee had been winless in his past 12 home starts (0-6) before limiting Washington to one run in seven innings. The ex-Dodger Lindblom notched his first career save with closer Jonathan Papelbon having worked the previous three days.

• Left fielder Juan Pierre stole his 586th base Sunday, tying Maury Wills for 19th on MLB’s all-time list. Pierre is the majors’ active leader in steals.

• Outfielder Domonic Brown has missed two straight games with a sore left knee. Brown had started 22 straight games since a promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which coincided with the trades of Victorino and Pence. Brown initially started in left field, then in right field once the ex-Giant Schierholtz suffered a broken right big toe. Schierholtz began a rehab assignment Sunday. He is not expected to rejoin the Phillies until after the series against the Mets. John Mayberry Jr. has taken over for Victorino in center field.

• Despite being activated from the disabled list last Monday, Placido Polanco has started only two games in the past week because of continued lower-back inflammation. Kevin Frandsen has subbed for Polanco at third base.

• Journeyman Erik Kratz, 32, is the Phillies’ primary catch, with rookie Steven Lerud -- who has yet to make his major league debut -- the backup. Lerud has played in only nine career games above the Double-A level. Ex-Met Brian Schneider landed on the disabled list Friday with a strained left hamstring. He joined Carlos Ruiz (foot) on the DL.

• Right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont, who had been the centerpiece of the deal that sent Lee to Seattle in December 2009, made his major league debut Thursday.

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Citi Field, July 3-5 (AP game recaps)

Mets 11, Phillies 1: Jon Niese had a two-run single to back his fine performance on the mound and David Wright hit a three-run homer. Niese (7-3) pitched a season-high eight innings and gave up three hits, one a homer to Carlos Ruiz. His hit in the second inning put New York up for good in front of 42,516, the highest attendance in the four-year history of Citi Field. Ruben Tejada had an RBI single among his three hits. He put on a show at shortstop, too. Daniel Murphy finished a homer short of the cycle, doubled twice, drove in four runs and made a leaping catch and diving stop at second base. Tejada led off the game with an 11-pitch out and it rarely got much easier for Vance Worley (4-5) and Philadelphia's bullpen. More

Phillies 9, Mets 2: Cliff Lee finally posted his first victory of the season and Philadelphia hit three late homers. Lee (1-5) had gone a puzzling 13 starts this year without a victory. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit consecutive home runs in the seventh inning against Chris Young as the Phillies rallied from a 2-0 deficit. Ty Wigginton's two-run homer in the ninth against Jeremy Hefner capped the surge. More

Mets 6, Phillies 5: David Wright singled off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Mets to a comeback that preserved R.A. Dickey's 11-game winning streak. Josh Thole prevented a run in the eighth when he held on to the ball despite being barreled over at home plate. Daniel Murphy lined a shot off Papelbon's leg for the tying run with two outs in the ninth, setting the stage for Wright. Cole Hamels outlasted Dickey in a matchup of All-Stars that fizzled from the start. More

Mets morning briefing 8.2.12

August, 2, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Mets squandered bases-loaded chances in each of the final three innings, but held on for a 2-1 win against the Giants on Wednesday. Ruben Tejada opened the game with a homer, snapping his long ball drought at 628 at-bats, the fourth longest active streak in the majors. Jon Niese limited San Francisco to one run on three hits and two walks in seven innings, while Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell combined to retire all six batters they faced.

The Mets, now 4-3 on this road trip, will attempt to win the four-game series when Chris Young (2-5, 4.58 ERA) opposes left-hander Barry Zito (8-7, 3.89) at 3:45 p.m. ET today. Then it's off to San Diego for the weekend.

Thursday's news reports:

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

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. He will make his International League debut Sunday against Syracuse, the top affiliate of the Nationals. Wheeler, however, is unlikely to appear in the majors this season, Sandy Alderson said. Wheeler is nearing an innings limit, so he is expected to be shut down at the end of the month. Matt Harvey, too, has an innings cap -- at 165 or 170 innings -- that may prompt the organization to end his season in mid-September.

As for Wheeler's promotion, he told Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: “It’s probably a little bit better talent, but I’ve got to get up there and just pitch and do what I’ve been doing down here. Keep the ball down. Pound the zone. Hopefully it will work out for me." Read more in Newsday, the Times and Record.

Terry Collins sounded resolved to using R.A. Dickey on short rest when the Mets return home next week, as a way to afford extra rest for Chris Young as well as Johan Santana, who should return during that homestand-opening Marlins series. Alderson was slightly more cautious.

Arguably, unless you consider the Mets in the postseason race, it would seem wiser to have a sixth starter such as Jeremy Hefner step in from time to time to give Santana and Young extra rest, rather than risk overusing Dickey and causing potential injury problems that affect 2013 and beyond.

What is the rationale for Dickey pitching on short rest? "So he can win 23, 24 games," Alderson deadpanned. "I guess there could be a lot of reasons from his personal standpoint. From our standpoint, it's possible the more often we get him out there, the better we're going to do won-loss wise. But we've got to take into account what effect that would have not just this year on R.A. and on the rest of the pitching staff, but what effect that would have on R.A. going into next season. So that's very much just in a discussion stage at this point." Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Jordany Valdespin, who wore a non-collared shirt to the ballpark Wednesday, received a lesson in acceptable attire from veteran teammates. Valdespin, initially unreceptive to the lesson, ended up departing wearing his defaced T-shirt.

Ken Rosenthal of reported the Mets and Marlins at least broached a trade of Jason Bay for Heath Bell and John Buck, although the report did not portray the discussion as having reached an advanced stage. Bay told beat writers after the report surfaced that he had not been approached about whether he would waive his no-trade clause. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

• Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post about the Mets' subpar outfield production:

The goal is to create an outfield of greener pastures. That will be quite the challenge for the Mets. While Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler brighten the pitching landscape, the outfield continues to be a wasteland in many ways. Provided the Mets cannot dump Jason Bay for someone else’s headache, Bay, at best, will wind up platooning in left field next season with Lucas Duda, if he is still a Met. In center, the Mets would love for young Matt den Dekker to take over next season, preferably around June, but he has a long way to go. Den Dekker is struggling at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting only .197, but that’s his history, it usually takes a little bit of time for him to get going, but once he gets his feet under him, he takes off.

Frank Francisco, working a second straight day on a rehab assignment with Binghamton, tossed a scoreless inning, allowing one double. Francisco is expected to join the Mets on Friday in San Diego and be activated from the disabled list. Wrote Worthy in the Binghamton newspaper:

He hadn’t talked with the Mets major league training staff at the time, but he said he felt fine after throwing back-to-back days for the first time in his rehab assignment. Francisco, who gave up one hit and faced four batters Wednesday, called Tuesday night’s 1-2-3 inning featuring three strikeouts his best game of the rehab assignment. Francisco said he was happy with the way he pitched on Wednesday night, particularly with his fastball. The one hit he gave up was a double that wasn’t hit very hard, but sneaked down the first-base line. Another runner reached on a fielding error by first baseman Allan Dykstra.

“I was doing what I want to do, throwing my splitter,” Francisco said. “I knew everybody knows what I’m going to do. Everybody knows what I was working with. They were seeing the ball, but they weren’t hitting the ball in the air. It was more like a groundball or low line drive where we got a good chance. I can live with that.”

• 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo went 2-for-4 and scored the tiebreaking run in Brooklyn's 3-2 win against Connecticut. With Kingsport, 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini was pulled midgame for a pinch runner. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• The Mets successfully appealed to Major League Baseball to change the scoring decision on a ninth-inning play Monday. Nate Schierholtz, since traded to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal, initially was credited with a double when Ike Davis failed to field a grounder and the tying run scored. The ruling was changed to an error.

Brian Costa in the Journal revisits the unmemorable Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez for Angel Pagan trade. Torres missed a second straight start Wednesday because of a right thumb injury, but reported improvement. Regarding Ramirez, Costa writes:

Ramirez entered Wednesday with a 4.33 ERA in 36 appearances, up from 2.62 in 2011. But his fielding-independent pitching mark, a statistic that measures performance based only on the factors a pitcher can directly control, is 3.70. In other words, the Mets' defense has been partly to blame. "His ERA should be in the high twos right now, with plays that should have been made and things that happened in the course of the game," Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "Overall, we take about 11 or 12 of those runs off the board that should be off, and we get the guy that we bargained for."

TRIVIA: Which high school did Staten Islander Jason Marquis, who faces the Mets on Sunday in San Diego, attend?

Wednesday's answer: Pence, like Dillon Gee, played college ball at Texas-Arlington.

Mets morning briefing 8.1.12

August, 1, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jordany Valdespin misjudged a sinking liner and Ruben Tejada misfired to first base on a would-be inning-ending double play in the second inning, allowing two runs to score and depriving Matt Harvey of a potential win in his second major league start. After David Wright struck out looking as a pinch hitter on a wicked 2-2 curveball from Tim Lincecum in the seventh to strand the bases loaded, the Mets had missed their best chance to rally in a 4-1 loss to the Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

“The curveball he threw David, he didn’t throw one of those all night long,” Terry Collins said. “He saved it for David. It’s a great challenge when you go against a guy as good as he is. I know he’s had a down year, but that doesn’t mean he’s done.”

Wednesday's news reports:

• The entirety of the Mets' activity before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline? Well, that occurred July 20, when the Mets sold Omar Quintanilla to the Orioles. Speaking with reporters on a conference call a half-hour after the deadline passed, Sandy Alderson said the Mets remained buyers even after their post-All-Star-break swoon, although the targets became more "modest." The GM added that he had no interest in trading Scott Hairston for a Class A player not among the top 30 prospects in another organization, so he stood pat. Alderson expressed dismay the conference-call conversation gravitated toward why the Mets (now four games under .500) elected not to dismantle, rather than why they did not add at the deadline. The GM said there was no late-inning reliever available via trade a couple of weeks ago, when the Mets desperately needed someone of that ilk to potentially prevent their second-half struggles.

Hairston expressed satisfaction the deadline passed without his departure. Alderson said it's logical that he would engage Hairston's agent in contract-extension talks this month. Hairston, earning $1.1 million this season, is a pending free agent.

Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post:

Trader Jack McKeon once put it in perspective as to why he was not able to swing a trade, telling a rival general manager, “I’ve got enough garbage of my own, why would I want your garbage.’’ Essentially, there was nothing out there that interested the Mets enough to trade away Scott Hairston, who has been a success. “If we’re just going to get marginal talent,’’ Alderson said, “then we have a choice to make.’’ The choice was to hang on to Hairston. Ironically, before the game, Mets players were playing the 1940’s board game “Shoot The Moon’’ in the clubhouse. These Mets are shooting for 80 wins.

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

• Harvey, victimized by his fielders, ultimately was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks while striking out seven in six innings. He now owns a 1.59 major league ERA. Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Record.

Frank Francisco struck out the side in an inning for Double-A Binghamton in a rehab appearance Tuesday. He is due to again appear for the B-Mets on Wednesday, provided the left oblique that landed him on the DL during the Subway Series at Citi Field does not act up. Afterward, Francisco may be ready to join the Mets for the weekend series in San Diego.

• In what is expected to be his final Double-A start before a promotion to Buffalo, Zack Wheeler struck out a season-high 11 while allowing two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Binghamton beat Harrisburg, 3-2. Meanwhile, Zach Lutz had two homers in Buffalo's 5-4, 11-inning win against Indianapolis. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

Andres Torres (thumb) and Jason Bay (calf) both were held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of injuries. Bay pinch hit and made the final out. Read more in Newsday, the Record and Star-Ledger.

• Right fielder Hunter Pence, acquired from the Phillies for Nate Schierholtz and two minor leaguers, is due to be activated by San Francisco for Wednesday's game, when Jon Niese opposes Matt Cain. Writes Henry Schulman in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Unlike Carlos Beltran, a two-month rental acquisition last year, Pence will be under Giants control next season, his final year of arbitration eligibility. The Giants were able to fill a long-standing need for a right-handed power bat without surrendering top outfield prospect Gary Brown or any significant minor-league pitchers. Pence has 17 home runs this season, which immediately makes him the team leader. Buster Posey is next at 13. Manager Bruce Bochy said Pence will bat fifth, behind Posey, until Pablo Sandoval returns from the disabled list. Bochy then will re-evaluate the lineup, perhaps batting Pence sixth and Sandoval fifth.

TRIVIA: At which university did Pence play baseball? (Hint: It's also Dillon Gee's former college program.)

Tuesday's answer: Aside from four members of the rotation, Elvin Ramirez and Josh Thole were the only players unused by Terry Collins in Monday's series opener.

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.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 6, Mets 1 (Game 1)

April, 23, 2012
WHAT IT MEANS: Miguel Batista could not duplicate the two-hit shutout he tossed in his last start, in Game No. 162 of last season against the Cincinnati Reds. Making a spot start after Sunday’s rainout prompted a doubleheader, Batista served up homers to Buster Posey and Nate Schierholtz while surrendering six runs (three earned) in 3 2/3 innings. The Mets lost Game 1 to Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants, 6-1, Monday afternoon.

Schierholtz’s three-run shot in the third inning came after a two-out error by Ike Davis prolonged the inning. Batista then walked Posey to put two Giants on base for Schierholtz.

Davis also twice left the bases loaded.

DEBUTANT: After Manny Acosta bailed Batista out of further trouble by recording the final out of the fourth with runners on the corners, 26-year-old Jeremy Hefner entered for his major league debut with the Mets trailing 6-1.

Hefner eventually tossed three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk.

FREAK OCCURRENCE: Lincecum had struggled in his first three starts of the season, going 0-2 with a 10.54 ERA. He hardly was efficient, requiring 108 pitches to get through five innings. And he needed a highlight-reel play to avoid a far different line -- but he got it from second baseman Emmanuel Burris.

With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, Davis hit a grounder up the middle that seemed destined for center field. Burriss instead ranged to his right to snag the grounder. He flipped the baseball with his glove to Brandon Crawford covering second base. Crawford barehanded it and then threw onto first base for a picturesque double play.

As a result, Lincecum’s final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K.

UNLIKE IKE: Davis stranded eight runners while going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. His average dipped to .138 (8-for-58) with a team-high 19 Ks.

After the fifth-inning hard-luck double play, Davis again stranded the bases loaded in the seventh with a routine groundout to second base while facing left-hander Jeremy Affeldt. That inning, the Mets had two runners in scoring position with none out, but ex-Met Guillermo Mota retired Daniel Murphy on a shallow flyout and David Wright on a strikeout as the runners held. Affeldt then entered and loaded the bases with a walk to bring up Davis.

NEW DIMENSIONS: Schierholtz’s homer was the fifth, and latest, long ball that would not have left the yard under the former dimensions at Citi Field. The Mets have a 3-2 advantage in the new-dimension homers:

April 7, Lucas Duda, fourth inning off Jair Jurrjens
April 9, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, fourth inning off Edwin Jackson
April 20, Angel Pagan, third inning off Jon Niese
April 20, Nieuwenhuis, fifth inning off Barry Zito
April 23, Schierholtz, third inning off Batista

WHAT’S NEXT: The regularly scheduled game, in about a half-hour. Dillon Gee opposes left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

Mets morning briefing 4.22.12

April, 22, 2012

Al Bello/Getty Images
Philip Humber was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft, by the Mets. Here he pitches against the Nationals during the Mets' collapse in September 2007.
Bidding for his first complete game since last July 27, and the first by a Met against San Francisco since Kenny Rogers in 1999, Mike Pelfrey instead was pulled with his pitch count at 102 after eight innings. Then, all heck broke loose in the ninth inning as the Mets ultimately managed to claim a 5-4 victory against the Giants.

Closer Frank Francisco surrendered a leadoff single to Buster Posey, then a one-out walk to Nate Schierholtz and RBI single to Emmanuel Burriss that pulled the Giants within 4-2. Francisco then was given a quick hook by Terry Collins.

The Mets eventually were about to post the win, when Jon Rauch coaxed a fly ball to shallow center field from Brandon Belt. However, Ruben Tejada backtracked slowly and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who should have taken charge from the get-go, overran the ball. It dropped beyond the center fielder for a game-tying two-run double -- reminiscent of the June 12, 2009 loss at Yankee Stadium in which Luis Castillo flubbed a would-be game-ending popup and Francisco Rodriguez suffered a hard-luck first blown save as a Met after 16 straight conversions.

Meanwhile, the Mets won it in the bottom half of the ninth after a pair of miscues by the Giants. With runners at first and second and one out, Justin Turner appeared poised to hit into an inning-ending double play to shortstop. However, Aubrey Huff -- just placed at second base for the first time in his 13-year career -- did not cover second base. The shortstop Burriss ultimately did not throw to first base in time to record even one out. (Huff was playing second base because Ryan Theriot had the flu and was unavailable, and the righty-hitting Brett Pill had been replaced as a pinch-hitter by the lefty-hitting Belt when Rauch replaced Tim Byrdak in the top half of the inning. Huff's first step instinctively was to first base on Turner's grounder.)

Still, San Francisco appeared poised to escape when Nieuwenhuis also seemed to hit into an inning-ending double play. But Scott Hairston clipped Posey's right leg on the force out at the plate. Posey's throw to first base to try to complete the double play was wide and sailed into the outfield, allowing Tejada to trot home from second base with the winning run.

Sunday's news reports:

David Wright's streak of reaching base twice in each of his first 10 games of the season via hit, walk or hit by pitch -- the longest streak in the majors since 1999 -- ended Saturday with an 0-for-4 performance. Wright also had hit safely in each of his first 10 games. His average slipped to .439, which ranks second to the Dodgers' Matt Kemp (.474) in the major leagues.

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

• Francisco, who has now surrendered runs in each of his past four appearances, remains stuck on the three saves he recorded during the season-opening series against Atlanta. Given he got the quick hook Saturday, will he remain the closer? After all, Rauch is near-perfect this season, with 8 1/3 scoreless innings, during which he has allowed only one walk and three hits, including what was scored a double on Nieuwenhuis' botched play. "I'm going to talk to Frankie tomorrow," Collins said after Saturday's win in a less-than-definitive response. "I don't like to do too much after the game is over. He's not happy with what happened, but I need him." Rauch had 11 saves last season with the Blue Jays, while Francisco had 17 as his teammate in Toronto. Read more in Newsday the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and Daily News.

• Posey, who required season-ending ankle surgery after a takeout play at the plate last year courtesy of the Marlins' Scott Cousins, found no issue with Hairston's slide. The catcher merely tried to briefly protest to plate umpire Doug Eddings that Hairston may have been out of the baseline when he made contact with Posey's right leg. Hairston wasn't, and even Posey admitted he was just arguing for the sake of doing so. “I just … I don’t know,” Posey told Andrew Baggarly at "There was so much going on. You're just trying to plead your case for what it's worth."

On Hairston's motivation, Posey added: "I think it's just going in hard."

Posey insisted to Baggarly that his complaint to Eddings was not because of heightened sensitivity after last year's May 25 play that ended his season. “No, it has to do with this game,” Posey said. “We’re trying to stay in the game. I would have reacted the same way regardless.”

• Pelfrey now has a 2.29 ERA through three starts. He did not question his removal at 102 pitches, but noted pulling a pitcher on a high note -- Collins' stated motivation -- is for young pitchers, of which he may no longer qualify. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

Tim Lincecum enters Sunday's start against Dillon Gee having struggled in his first three starts of the season. Lincecum, who has a 10.54 ERA, has seen a significant decrease in his fastball velocity this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lincecum is averaging 90.2 mph this season, down a full 2 mph from last year's average. His maximum registered velocity so far in 2012 is 93.1 mph, versus 96.6 a season ago.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Tim Lincecum has a 10.54 ERA through three starts this season.

In fact, of the six lowest average fastball readings for a start in Lincecum's career, three have occurred since last Sept. 25. The percentage of strikes he gets with his fastball has decreased every season since 2009 too -- from 64 percent that year to 58 percent this season.

According to ESPN researchers, Lincecum's Fielding Independent Pitching -- which neutralizes teammates' effect by considering strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches and home runs -- annually has slipped. He ranked first and then second in the NL in his two Cy Young seasons, 2008 and '09, at 2.59 and 2.34. In 2010, his FIP drifted upward to 3.15 (15th). In 2011, it was 3.17 (18th). So far this season, it's 3.36 (38th).

Lincecum downplayed the 2012 start to Zach Berman in the Times, comparing it to August 2010, when he was 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA and then rebounded in September en route to a Giants championship. “You never try to panic over one game in the scheme of things, or even three games,” Lincecum told Berman. “Hopefully, it’s comparable to that and it’s something I can learn to get out of quicker and not have it turn into what I did that month. It’s just part of learning my body.”

Philip Humber became the latest ex-Met to toss a no-hitter. Actually, Humber tossed the 21st perfect game in major league history Saturday, at Seattle.

Humber originally was drafted by the Mets in the first round (third overall) out of Rice University in 2004. With Justin Verlander taken second overall by the Detroit Tigers in that draft, Mets officials desperately wanted to draft Stephen Drew, but the highest levels of the organization were worried about the cost, and the Mets instead selected Humber, whom they viewed as a signable and "safe pick." He received $3 million. Drew eventually went 15th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks and signed for $4 million.

The following spring training, Mets officials were in awe when Humber snapped off a full-count curveball that froze Miguel Cairo for a strikeout in an intrasquad game on the eve of the Grapefruit League season. Gary Carter, who was slated to manage the Mets' Gulf Coast League team that upcoming season, walked by Humber's locker after the intrasquad game and proclaimed, "Fast track!"

(Read full post)

Series preview: Mets vs. Giants

April, 19, 2012

US Presswire
The Mets face (l to r) Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum in the opening three games of the series.
METS (7-5, second place/NL East) vs. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (6-6, third place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.13) vs. LHP Barry Zito (1-0, 1.13), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 3.09) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 2.84), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 2.92) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (0-2, 10.54), 1:10 p.m. ET

Monday: LHP Johan Santana (0-2, 3.97) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 3.63), 7:10 p.m. ET

Giants short hops

• After a 3-for-27 start to his Giants career, center fielder Angel Pagan had three multi-hit games -- and three triples -- in a four-game span through Tuesday. He looked particularly good facing Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Pagan, known for his lapses in the field and on the bases, has been mostly sound in that respect -- albeit with one costly miscue. Playing center field behind Tim Lincecum on Monday in the first inning with one out and none on, Pagan did not take charge on a fly ball by Philadelphia’s Placido Polanco to right-center. He and right fielder Melky Cabrera both pulled off and the ball fell for a double that started a four-run rally. Pagan has batted leadoff in all but one of his starts this season. He was traded to San Francisco at the winter meetings in December for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez.

Chris Humphreys/US Presswire
Brian Wilson is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

• Closer Brian Wilson’s season appears to have ended after an April 12 appearance in Denver because of a right elbow injury that is expected to require Tommy John surgery. Wilson has a second-degree sprain of the UCL, which has not completely torn off the bone. Still, he was expected to opt for the procedure. Wilson has sought opinions from Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles and then Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. Santiago Casilla handled the first closing opportunity and should get the bulk of the chances in Wilson’s absence. Last season, when Wilson did not pitch over the final six weeks except for two appearances, the Giants were 9-for-9 in save conversions. Casilla recorded six. Ramirez, now with the Mets, handled the other three.

Barry Zito tossed a four-hit shutout at Colorado in his first start of the season, then limited the Pittsburgh Pirates to three runs (two earned) in seven innings in his second start. Zito changed radically changed his delivery over winter while working with former major league pitcher Tom House. The mechanical changes involve more drive with Zito’s legs as well as increased follow through.

Zito and Matt Cain, incidentally, attended a Sunday concert by Bay Area-spawned Train and were invited on stage, where they participated in performing “Save Me, San Francisco” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

• The Giants followed the major league trend of locking up young left-handed starting pitching, announcing this week the signing of Madison Bumgarner to a five-year extension, though 2017, with options for the following two seasons. Potentially worth as much as $70.5 million, it is the biggest contract ever given to a player with only one-plus years of major league service time. Bumgarner, 22, would not have been eligible for free agency until after the ’16 season.

The Texas Rangers similarly locked up left-hander Derek Holland and the Mets signed Jon Niese -- both for five guaranteed years -- during spring training.

Two starts ago, Bumgarner took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning against the Rockies. The southpaw matched up against Jamie Moyer that start -- marking the third-largest age disparity between starting pitchers in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Bumgarner’s deal came two weeks after the signing of Cain by the Giants to an additional five years at $112.5 million on top of the right-hander’s existing deal. After the two signings, the Giants made courtesy calls to representatives for Lincecum and catcher Buster Posey to say they are interested in extension discussions as well … after the season.

• Cain and Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee had a scoreless duel into extra innings Wednesday. Lee logged 10 scoreless innings; Cain logged nine. San Francisco won, 1-0, in 11 innings on Melky Cabrera’s RBI single against Antonio Bastardo.

• Posey, whose 2011 season ended with broken left leg suffered in a May 25 plate collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins, now is playing through shingles on his left arm.

• Lincecum is not eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season. The team wanted a longer deal with him, but he only agreed to a two-year, $40.5 million contract. Lincecum has allowed more first-inning runs this season (nine) than he did during all of his 2011 starts (eight). He has allowed at least five earned runs in each of his three starts this season. Since his first start, Lincecum has reincorporated a slider that he had hoped to shelve because it taxes his arm. Lincecum’s fastball velocity averaged only 90 mph in his third start, Monday opposite Halladay. His second outing, when he lasted only 2 1/3 innings at Colorado, was the shortest start of his career.

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Daniel Murphy
.287 7 38 57
HRL. Duda 15
RBID. Wright 51
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .840
WB. Colon 9
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112