New York Mets: Rafael Soriano

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets will face Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in a season-opening series against the Nats at Citi Field.
METS (74-88, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (86-76, second place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (1211, 3.62) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.00), 1:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-9, 3.25), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• First-year manager Matt Williams, 48, arrives from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he served the past three seasons as Kirk Gibson’s third-base coach. Williams was a five-time All-Star as a player. He had a relationship with Nats GM Mike Rizzo from their D-backs days.

Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMatt Williams is the first-year manager of the Nats.

Compared with predecessor Davey Johnson, Williams is expected to have the Nats much more aggressive on the bases trying to manufacture runs. Washington’s coaching staff remains basically intact, including Randy Knorr -- a managerial finalist -- continuing as bench coach.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing yips seemed to become even more pronounced during spring training on plays in which he has time to set and throw. The Nats may use Zimmerman on a limited basis at first base against difficult left-handers in place of Adam LaRoche. Zimmerman logged two Grapefruit League innings at first base. Once LaRoche’s contract expires after this season, Zimmerman could make a full transition across the diamond. Washington is expected to choose a $2 million buyout for LaRoche over a $15 million option for 2015.

• The Nats further upgraded their rotation by stealing Doug Fister in a trade from the Detroit Tigers, who were looking to shed payroll. Fister, who is under Washington’s control through the 2015 season, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $7.2 million salary for this year. He went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 33 appearances (32) starts last season with Detroit. Fister did lose three weeks of spring training because of elbow inflammation. The Nats hoped Fister would return from the DL to start the season’s sixth game -- the same type of plan the Mets have with Jonathon Niese. But then Fister strained a lat muscle Thursday. The Tigers received Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray in the trade.

• The Washington additions of note on the position-player side: catcher Jose Lobaton from the Tampa Bay Rays on Feb. 13 to serve as Wilson Ramos’ backup, and ex-Pirate/Brave Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, which will allow the regulars to get more time off. Lobaton’s acquisition prompted the release of Chris Snyder. The Nats then picked up Kevin Frandsen at the end of camp as the 25th man and as a righty-hitting first-base option. Frandsen had opted out of a guaranteed $900,000 contract days earlier with the Philadelphia Phillies after being sent to Triple-A. Frandsen was deemed a better option than in-house candidates Jamey Carroll and Tyler Moore.

Stephen Strasburg had bone chips removed from his right elbow in October. He unknowingly pitched with the issue last season. Strasburg emphasized holding runners during camp and added a slider.

Bryce Harper had knee surgery in October to address bursitis, which hampered him last season.

• Closer Rafael Soriano had a rough spring training. He allowed nine earned runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings during Grapefruit League play.

• A year ago, after the departures of Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez as free agents, the Nats entered the 2013 season lacking capable lefty relief. In fact, Zach Duke was the only southpaw in the bullpen to open the year. Now, Washington seemingly has remedied that issue. Former first-round pick Ross Detwiler, after losing out on a rotation spot, has shifted to the bullpen. Washington also acquired Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 11 for minor-leaguer Billy Burns. Gonzalez also was back in camp during spring training. He was released Tuesday, but re-signed on a minor-league deal and is ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse.

• Washington hopes to lock up Jordan Zimmermann on a long-term deal, although it would be costly. Zimmermann wants to be paid like a No. 1 starter, which means at least a $150 million commitment. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Anthony Rendon form the middle infield, which Danny Espinosa back on the big-league club as the backup. Espinosa, a starter in 2011 and ’12, was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse last June with a .158 average and did not return -- even on a September call-up. That decision prevented Espinosa from Super 2 status and arbitration eligibility a year early.

Rapid Reaction: Nats 3, Mets 0

September, 11, 2013

NEW YORK -- The suspense is over. The Mets have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

And the depleted lineup again barely mustered a peep while making it official.

Victims of a one-hit shutout by Gio Gonzalez in Monday's series opener, the Mets were blanked this time by Dan Haren and four relievers on three hits as the Washington Nationals beat the Mets 3-0 Wednesday.

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesZack Wheeler suffered the loss despite surrendering only one run in seven innings.

The Mets (64-80) dropped a season-worst 16 games under .500.

Washington will bid for its second four-game sweep at Citi Field in three seasons in Thursday's matinee series finale.

The latest victim of a lack of support: Zack Wheeler, who surrendered only one run -- on a solo homer by Ryan Zimmerman -- in a 101-pitch effort spanning seven innings.

Wheeler had gone 36 innings without surrendering a long ball when Zimmerman led off the sixth with a solo shot that broke a scoreless tie. Wheeler had not allowed a homer in six games since the Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill took him deep on Aug. 10 in Phoenix.

Wheeler twice stranded two runners in scoring position -- in the first inning by striking out Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond consecutively and to end his outing in the seventh by coaxing a groundout from Jayson Werth.

Wheeler's line: 7 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's, 1 HR.

He has now logged 163⅔ innings this season, 14⅔ innings more than he did a season ago. Wheeler likely has two starts left.

Vic Black surrendered a two-run double to Anthony Rendon in the eighth.

As for the Mets' offense, that came on a leadoff single in the fourth by Juan Lagares against Haren, a two-out single in the seventh by Josh Satin against Drew Storen, then Lagares' one-out bunt single in the ninth against closer Rafael Soriano.

Welcome back: In his first major league appearance since May 29, Ruben Tejada started at shortstop and went 0-for-3.

What's next: Aaron Harang makes his team debut as the Mets look to avoid getting swept. Harang went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts with the Seattle Mariners this season. He opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94 ERA) in the rookie’s second major league start. He moved from the bullpen to displace Ross Ohlendorf.

Series preview: Mets at Nationals

July, 25, 2013

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Jordan Zimmermann (left) and Ross Ohlendorf (right) in Friday's doubleheader in D.C.
METS (45-53, fourth place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (49-53, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (0-0, -.--) and RHP Matt Harvey (8-2, 2.23) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-5, 3.01) and RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.03), 1:35/7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79), 3:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Carlos Torres (1-1, 0.94) vs. RHP Taylor Jordan (0-3, 3.68), 1:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• The Nats fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein this week and replaced him with Rick Schu. The 51-year-old Schu had been a minor league hitting instructor for the Nats for the past four seasons. He played in the majors for parts of nine seasons, primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies. He previously had served as hitting coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Washington ranks 28th in the majors in runs (370), 27th in batting average (.239), 28th in on-base percentage (.299) and 24th in slugging percentage (.382).

Nick Wass/Associated PressRick Schu took over as hitting coach this week.

• The exception to the Nats’ struggles at the plate has been right fielder Jayson Werth. His gaudy production over the past month included consecutive two-homer games this week. Since June 23, Werth is hitting .354 (34-for-96) with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 28 games.

Bryce Harper produced his first career walk-off homer as the Nats snapped a six-game losing streak to open the second half with a 9-7 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon. Washington nonetheless is 8-13 in July.

Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol had combined to surrender four runs in the top of the ninth as Pittsburgh had evened the score at 7. Until Thursday’s long ball, Harper had been having a quiet month at the plate since returning from the DL on July 1. He missed five weeks with a left knee injury.

• The Nats acquired ex-Met Scott Hairston from the Chicago Cubs on July 8 for minor leaguer Ivan Pineyro, a player to be named and cash. Hairston hit .172 with eight homers in 99 at-bats in part-time use with the Cubs.

• Left-hander Ross Detwiler is due to spend another month on the DL with a pinched nerve in his lower back. Rookie Taylor Jordan, who faces the Mets on Sunday, has stepped into the rotation. But not too far removed from Tommy John surgery, Jordan is due to reach a season innings cap in 20-30 innings and be shut down.

Ross Ohlendorf, who has started for Triple-A Syracuse and primarily relieved at the major league level this season, could bridge the rotation gap between Jordan’s shutdown and Detwiler’s return. The Princeton-educated Ohlendorf gets a spot start Friday against the Mets with the need for an extra starter created by the doubleheader.

Jordan has a 76.2 percent rate of groundballs.

• Catcher Wilson Ramos returned July 4 after missing nearly two months. During two stints on the DL for a balky left hamstring this season, Ramos has missed a combined 58 games. Ramos missed most of 2012 recovering from right knee surgery.

• Rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon is hitting .182 in his past 23 games after hitting .354 in his first 26 major league games.

• Reliever Tyler Clippard has produced 13 consecutive scoreless innings.

Jordan Zimmermann has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 13 career starts against the Mets.

Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday became the second pitcher in modern major league history to lose a start in which he recorded at least 12 strikeouts, allowed two or fewer hits and surrendered no walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other: James Shields in 2012, for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Baltimore Orioles. Strasburg has a major league-high four losses this season in which he allowed one earned run of fewer.

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

June, 28, 2013

Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesThe Mets face left-handers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez during a weekend series at Citi Field.
METS (32-43, fourth place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (39-39, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (7-1, 2.05) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (2-6, 4.18), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.82) vs. RHP Taylor Jordan (9-1, 1.00 at Class A Potomac/Double-A Harrisburg), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0, 3.18) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 3.31), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Taylor Jordan is due to make his major league debut against the Mets on Saturday. Jordan, 24, is a ninth-round pick in 2009 who hails from Merritt Island, Fla.

After beginning the season in Class A, he posted a 7-0 record and 0.83 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) with Double-A Harrisburg. In 54 innings, he allowed 37 hits and nine walks while striking out 43. He tossed four scoreless innings in his Eastern League debut against the B-Mets on May 12.

Greg Fiume/Getty ImagesSecond baseman Anthony Rendon is hitting .367 in June.

Jordan should be on a conservative innings limit this season. He pitched only 54 1/3 innings in 2012 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He takes the rotation spot of Dan Haren, who landed on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Bryce Harper is expected to return from the disabled list Monday, after the weekend series in Queens. He has been sidelined since May 27 with bursitis in his left knee.

• Rookie Anthony Rendon, who returned to the majors during a Mets series at the beginning of June, is on a tear. He is hitting .367 in 19 games since the promotion, which coincided with him transitioning to second base.

With 35 hits in his first 100 career at-bats, Rendon equaled the franchise record for most hits in that span. He shares that mark with Coco Laboy, who went 35-for-his-first-100 during the Montreal Expos’ inaugural season, in 1969.

Incumbent second baseman Danny Espinosa, who was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on June 19 after completing a rehab assignment for a fractured right wrist, is hitting .106 (5-for-47) with 29 strikeouts in the International League.

• Top catcher Wilson Ramos may return to the Nats in a week. He has been absent since tweaking an already strained left hamstring on May 15.

• In his most recent outing, Gio Gonzalez earned his first win since May 5. He had posted a 2.18 ERA during an eight-start winless stretch, during which he had seven no-decisions.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman recently dealt with discomfort in his surgically repaired shoulder and sat Tuesday, even after a team off-day. After gutting through last season with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder with the aid of cortisone shots, Zimmerman had the shoulder surgically repaired during the offseason. Zimmerman has experienced significant throwing woes, but the rate has slowed after he committed eight errors in his first 27 games this season.

Ross Detwiler has a 1.48 WHIP, which would rank sixth-worst in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond has 59 straight error-free games. His last error: April 21 at Citi Field.

Rafael Soriano has converted nine straight save chances. His 21 saves rank third in the NL, tied with St. Louis Edward Mujica and trailing Pittsburgh’s Jason Grilli (26) and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel (22).

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

April, 18, 2013

The Mets face (l to r) Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (7-7, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (9-6, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (3-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 2.95), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50), 3:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-3, 8.36) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Catcher Wilson Ramos left Sunday’s game and landed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Kurt Suzuki has filled in strongly, hitting .360 with a .485 on-base percentage through 34 plate appearances. Nats catchers collectively have an NL-leading .333 average and 1.158 OPS.

Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Harper had four hits Wednesday after missing a game with the flu.

Bryce Harper, who received intravenous fluids pregame and vomited during the game, nonetheless went 4-for-5 in his return to the lineup Wednesday after missing a game with the flu. Harper had been in an 0-for-13 rut before the breakout. He’s hitting .364 with a 1.090 OPS this season.

• Second baseman Danny Espinosa has missed three games with a bruised right hand, which he suffered getting struck with a pitch. He is 50-50 for a return Friday. Steve Lombardozzi has started three straight games in Espinosa’s absence.

Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45 ERA) tossed his first career complete game Monday, in Miami. He has been the Nats’ top starter on a star-studded staff.

Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down last season after a Sept. 7 appearance at 159 1/3 innings, will not be held out of the postseason this year. While there is no formal limit, the goal is to keep Strasburg at about 200 innings. Two of Strasburg’s three highest career pitch counts have come in his last two starts. He threw 114 pitches on April 7 against Cincinnati, then 112 against the Braves last Saturday. His career high is 119 on June 8, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox.

Gio Gonzalez is coming off his worst start in two seasons as a National. He allowed seven runs in five innings as the Braves completed a weekend sweep with a 9-0 win against Washington on Sunday in D.C.

• While not a Chuck Knoblauch-type yips situation, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has mightily struggled making routine throws. He has four throwing errors in a five-game span. Zimmerman said his surgically repaired shoulder is fine and he is simply thinking too much about revised mechanics. The Nats have encouraged Zimmerman to throw more over the top this season.

• Like Harper, center fielder Denard Span had been slowed by the flu. He missed the Nats’ past two games. Span was acquired from the Minnesota Twins on Nov. 29 for minor league right-hander Alex Meyer. Span, the leadoff hitter, has produced a .421 on-base percentage. Jayson Werth slid from second to first in the order the past two games in Span’s absence.

• Davey Johnson became the 47th manager in major league history to suffer 1,000 losses on Sunday. Not to worry: Twenty-three of those managers are in the Hall of Fame. Johnson has a career 1,295-1,001 record. He was 595-417 in seven seasons with the Mets.

• The Nats added closer Rafael Soriano to an already deep bullpen on Jan. 17. The ex-Yankee signed for two years, $28 million, plus a $14 million team option for 2015. Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez combined for 87 saves last season.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche (.195, 2 HR, 5 RBIs) opened the season in an 0-for-15 slump before breaking out with a two-homer game April 9 against the Chicago White Sox. He earned his first Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards last year.

Nats land Soriano, keep bulking up

January, 15, 2013
The Washington Nationals continue to get more formidable. They have agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract with closer Rafael Soriano. Soriano also has a vesting option for 2015 based on games finished.

Read the full news story here.

Mets morning briefing 6.25.12

June, 25, 2012
R.A. Dickey's streak without allowing an earned run ended at 44 2/3 innings when Mark Teixeira had a sacrifice fly in the third inning and Nick Swisher belted a three-run homer later in the frame. The Mets did rally in the sixth to even the score at 5 and take Dickey off the hook, but Miguel Batista surrendered a tiebreaking eighth-inning solo homer to Robinson Cano as the Yankees beat the Mets, 6-5, in Sunday's Subway Series rubber game before a Citi Field-record crowd of 42,364.

"Not bad for a bunch of chickens," Swisher crowed afterward.

Dickey's streak was the second longest in franchise history without allowing an earned run, narrowly shy of Dwight Gooden's franchise-record 49 innings in 1985. The knuckleballer's streak without allowing an earned run was the longest in the majors since Orel Hershiser posted his MLB-record 59-inning streak without allowing any runs in '88. (Hershiser was Dickey's pitching coach with the Rangers when Dickey went from conventional pitcher to committing full time to the knuckleball.)

According to Elias, Dickey had held opposing batters without an extra-base hit in 105 consecutive at-bats before Swisher's long ball, the longest streak in the majors this season. Dickey also was charged with his first wild pitch this season.

The Mets completed a stretch of eight straight series against teams with winning records -- versus the Phillies, Cardinals, Nationals, Yankees, Rays, Reds, Orioles and Yankees again -- with a 12-13 record (including 1-5 against their Bronx rivals).

The Amazin's now open a three-game series at Wrigley Field at 8:05 p.m. Monday, with Johan Santana (5-3, 3.00 ERA) opposing left-hander Travis Wood (1-3, 4.14). The Cubs are an MLB-worst 24-48.

Monday's news reports:

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

Frank Francisco landed on the disabled list before Sunday's series finale with a left oblique strain. The Mets also demoted Jordany Valdespin, freeing roster spots for the returns of shortstop Ruben Tejada and reliever Ramon Ramirez from the disabled list. Terry Collins had indicated Bobby Parnell would get the first crack at closing in Francisco's absence Sunday, but the opportunity did not materialize. Valdespin's playing time would have been minimal with the number of middle infielders active -- Tejada, Ronny Cedeño, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla. Quintanilla is out of options, and team officials had been concerned they would lose him off waivers if they tried to get him through in order to attempt to send him to Triple-A Buffalo. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Record and Star-Ledger.

• Tejada went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and committed a throwing error in his return. Read more in the Post, Record and Star-Ledger.

• In obvious need of a second-lefty in the bullpen to pair with Tim Byrdak, which was made even clearer after Cano took Batista deep, the Mets designated for assignment Vinny Rottino postgame and called up ex-Padre Justin Hampson. Writes columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post about Terry Collins' own regret in hindsight for not using Byrdak to face Cano:

These are the torturous tests you endure sometimes as a manager. We already know how many headaches and how much heartburn the Mets’ bullpen has given Terry Collins -- and anyone else with a remote interest in the team’s fortunes. We already knew they have only one left-handed arm, Tim Byrdak’s, in that bullpen. And we already knew they were playing a man down, since Frank Francisco was placed on the disabled list early last night. We all know that. And Terry Collins knows that. We can get irrational about managers sometimes, so it’s best to think about them the way you think about commercial airline pilots if you happen to have a fear of flying: The man in the cockpit doesn’t want to crash, either.

Read more from columnist John Harper in the Daily News.

As for external assistance, Buster Olney tweeted: "Mets need bullpen help, but there aren't many sellers now, so they'll probably wait until the All-Star break before they dig into the market."

Little Jerry Seinfeld will lead a long life, at least by poultry standards. The chicken -- purchased by a clubhouse attendant in Chinatown for $8 at Byrdak's request for a gag, after Francisco called the Yankees "chickens" -- was presented to Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen, N.Y., in a pregame ceremony Sunday outside the clubhouse. Even Jerry Seinfeld seemed to embrace the ridiculousness. As the Mets rallied Sunday night, the devout-Mets-fan Seinfeld tweeted: "Yes! @mets #rallychicken comes through!!"

Francisco, by the way, maintained he own a chicken farm in his native Dominican Republic. David Waldstein of the Times reported via Twitter that Francisco raises fighting chickens. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Journal and Newsday.

• Dickey, whose ERA rose to 2.31 although he remained 11-1, said about his knuckleball Sunday: "It was coming out kind of wobbly a little bit and I kept searching for it through the innings."

Writes columnist Steve Politi in the Star-Ledger:

They don’t sing country songs about knuckleball pitchers, but R.A. Dickey sure sounded like he writing a couple stanzas as he reflected on pitching like an actual human being again. “I was going to live and die with my girl,” he said. “She’d been nice so far. That’s just the way of it, you know?” Well, that she left him last night, of all nights, was downright cruel. This was a nationally televised game. This was the largest crowd in Citi Field history. This was against the hated Yankees. But even if Dickey had controlled her over his previous five starts like no pitcher in baseball history, there is no pitch in the sport as fickle as a knuckleball, relying on whims and winds to sneak past batters.

Writes columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record about the hyped Dickey-CC Sabathia matchup:

How did his best pitch suddenly become so vulnerable? The answer speak to the volatility of the pitch itself, especially at the speeds Dickey throws it. He’s got an 80-mph freak of nature on his hands, and make no mistake the butterfly effect of Dickey’s knuckleball has turned him an All-Star this year. But try to squeeze even an extra mile or two out of the pitch, overthrow it by just a little, and the ball loses its mystery. And that seemed to be what sabotaged Dickey over the next four innings -- a clear case of too much adrenaline, too much arm-speed, which kept him to doing all the little things that’s previously made his knuckleball a nightmare for hitters. “You have to remember that throwing the knuckleball properly is like a symphony of micro-movements -- the back, the legs, the arm,” Jim Bouton was saying over the weekend. “All of it has to be perfect. That’s the thing about a knuckleball. You can be a little off with your fastball; it comes in at 89 instead of 92. But a knuckleball that’s a little off turns into a home run.”

Read more about Dickey's outing in the Times, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

• The three-game series drew a combined attendance of 124,677. The Mets had been averaging 28,279 per game entering the series. (It's fair to note that the season average includes midweek/bad-weather games earlier in the year, whereas the Yankees series fell during a time attendance would naturally be higher anyway -- although not as high, obviously, had the Bombers not been visiting Queens.)

ESPN's Jayson Stark notes the Subway Series, and other natural rivalries, now are slated to be reduced to four games a season -- two apiece in each ballpark -- rather than the six games a season that has been the norm.

Ike Davis was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day with a suspected case of food poisoning, which he believes is related to bad oysters. Davis pinch hit for Turner with two out in the ninth and Lucas Duda on first base. Yankees closer Rafael Soriano retired Davis on flyout to right field.

• The two-week program to prepare Jenrry Mejia at Triple-A Buffalo for major league bullpen readiness is now complete, Bisons manager Wally Backman said, via broacaster Ben Wagner's tweet. However, that does not mean Mejia will be an imminent call-up. Mejia has struggled in the role, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits, three walks and a hit batter in four innings spanning five appearances since the June 15 conversion. "When you have that natural cutter like he’s got, you’ve got to be able to command it," Collins told reporters Sunday. "And Wally said right now everything’s in the middle."

Matt Harvey allowed two runs in five innings in a no-decision with Buffalo, while Robert Carson recorded a five-out save for Binghamton and Cam Maron's South Atlantic League hitting streak ended at 16 games. Read the full minor league here.

• Dickey's knuckleball likely will pave the way for others to follow in his footsteps. There are only two minor leaguers throwing the pitch right now -- Double-A Akron's Steven Wright (Cleveland Indians) and Class A Boise's Joe Zeller (Chicago Cubs).

Brittany Viola, the daughter of Frank Viola, qualified for the Olympics in diving by winning the 10-meter platform competition at the U.S. trials. The ex-Met currently serves as the pitching coach for the organization's Class A Savannah affiliate. Read more in the Miami Herald and Newsday.

• With David Wright and Dickey likely representatives already and Santana at only 5-3, it seems unlikely the southpaw would make the All-Star squad. Regardless, GM Sandy Alderson told Mark Hale in the Post that the team would not stand in the way of Santana participating if selected, even though Santana missed last season with shoulder surgery. (New MLB guidelines make it tougher for players to wriggle free if selected anyway. They must be injured or excused, per the new CBA.)

TRIVIA: Who hit the homers for the Mets in a Sept. 25, 2004 game against the Cubs at Shea Stadium that dealt a critical blow to Chicago's postseason aspirations?

Sunday's answer: Jon Rauch was tied with Houston's Fernando Rodriguez for the MLB lead in losses by a reliever, with seven.

Mets morning briefing 6.11.12

June, 11, 2012
For only the second time since the annual Subway Series began in 1997, the Mets were swept in the Bronx portion. Russell Martin's second homer of the game, in the bottom of the ninth against Jon Rauch, lifted the Yankees to a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon at the Stadium.

The Mets now have an off-day in Tampa to regroup, with many players heading to Busch Gardens with their families. The Amazin's then open a three-game series Tuesday at the Trop against the AL East-leading Rays.

Chris Young (0-0, 3.60 ERA) opposes right-hander Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.12) in the opener. On Wednesday, R.A. Dickey (9-1, 2.44) takes a 24 2/3-inning scoreless streak into a matchup with left-hander David Price (8-3, 2.40). Dickey is within seven innings of matching Jerry Koosman's franchise record, which was set in 1973. Johan Santana (3-3, 2.96), pitching with one extra day of rest this time, like the rest of the staff, tries to bounce back from a four-homer barrage in the Bronx when he opposes right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65) in the 1:10 p.m. series finale Thursday.

Monday's news reports:

David Wright and Omar Quintanilla each committed errors to open the door for a late-inning comeback by the Yankees from a three-run deficit. After the Mets fell behind, 4-3, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis did deliver back-to-back doubles in the ninth against Rafael Soriano to pull the Mets even. But a half-inning later Martin ended the game with the shot off Rauch on a hanging slider. Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and Daily News.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday wonders if the Mets' ship is starting to sink. Writes Lennon:

Here's another thing the Mets should be feeling right around now: worried. We'll hold off on panic for the time being, but it's getting close, with three games against the Rays at Tropicana Field coming up starting Tuesday. Next is the Reds at Citi Field , followed by the Orioles and a Flushing rematch with the Yankees. For what it's worth, the Mets also dropped to 4 1/2 games behind the surging Nationals -- the Mets' largest NL East deficit of the season. More troubling, however, is the team's flawed roster. Already on their fourth shortstop, the Mets are struggling to find consistent power sources besides Wright, and the bullpen -- with 13 blown saves -- isn't inspiring much confidence. All of those problems were on display.

Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post agrees. Writes Davidoff:

We’re not here to talk about heart or grit or resiliency, because the Mets are plenty good at that stuff, starting with their manager. We’re here to talk about the stark reality of a 162-game season. This simply is not a very talented club, especially relative to the competitive NL East. The Mets have scored 262 runs and allowed 281 runs, and that produces a winning record only with the help of some good breaks and unsustainable performances.

Writes columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News:

As the Mets’ manager had to concede, his team had no one to blame but itself for Sunday’s loss. For one, the Mets failed to build on the three-run lead the lineup of scrubs put up against Andy Pettitte in the second inning, and then it was their mistakes in the field that allowed the Yankees, who had previously sputtered a few times in scoring opportunities against Niese, to get back in the game in the seventh and then briefly go ahead in the eighth.

Terry Collins hopes Davis' ninth-inning double, which came a half-inning after entering at first base as a defensive replacement for Vinny Rottino, is another sign Davis is emerging from his season-long funk. That better be the case, for Davis' sake. Otherwise, when the Mets return to NL play Friday against the Reds at Citi Field, Collins may feel compelled to use Lucas Duda at first base. Read more on Davis in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Times and Record.

• Rauch, testy after the game, said the elbow issue that caused him to miss the Nats series was a non-factor in surrendering the game-ending long ball. Read more on the reliever's postgame reaction to surrendering the homer in the Post, Record and Daily News.

Jenrry Mejia, after an unofficial rehab tour as a starter in the minors, will shift to bullpen work once he has enough days off following a start Saturday for Triple-A Buffalo, Bisons manager Wally Backman said. Mejia likely will need a couple of weeks in that role in the minors before contributing at the major league level in a relief capacity. Mejia missed most of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2011.

Justin Hampson, Manny Acosta and Fernando Cabrera combined for 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings as Buffalo beat Miguel Tejada and the Norfolk Tides, 4-2. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.

• The Mets are selling game-used items from Santana's no-hitter, in addition to reprinted tickets. Read more in Newsday.

Frankie Vanderka tossed a complete-game three-hitter to stymie LSU as Stony Brook reached the College World Series for the first time in the program's history.

TRIVIA: Who were the other two players involved in the July 30, 2004 trade that sent Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano?

Sunday's answer: Quintanilla played college baseball at the University of Texas. He was the 33rd overall pick in 2003 by the Oakland A's.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Mets 4

June, 10, 2012
WHAT IT MEANS: The euphoria generated by Johan Santana’s no-hitter nine days ago officially is extinguished.

A pair of infield miscues opened the door for a Yankees comeback as the Mets failed to protect a three-run lead over the final three innings. The Amazin’s ultimately were swept in the Subway Series with a 5-4 loss Sunday. Russell Martin delivered the walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff homer against Jon Rauch.

The Mets (32-29) were swept in the Bronx for only the second time since the inception of the Subway Series in 1997.

Having squandered a three-run lead, the Mets opened the ninth with consecutive doubles by Lucas Duda and Ike Davis against Rafael Soriano to pull even at 4 -- with Duda’s shot misread by center fielder Curtis Granderson. Davis, who produced his first ninth-inning hit in nine at-bats this season, then was erased at third base on a grounder to shortstop.

Where did things unravel?

With the Mets leading 3-2, Omar Quintanilla had a grounder from Derek Jeter roll under his glove to begin the bottom of the eighth, and the Yankee captain hustled to second base. Jeter ultimately scored the tying run on Mark Teixeira’s single up the middle against Bobby Parnell. Alex Rodriguez followed by driving in the go-ahead run with a bloop single to shallow right field.

The Mets held a 3-0 lead with two out into the seventh behind Jon Niese, when David Wright’s two-out throwing error, which Vinny Rottino could not handle at first base, allowed Andruw Jones to reach. Martin followed with a two-run homer to the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium for a pair of unearned runs that pulled the Yankees within a run.

Now at the midpoint of a stretch of eight straight series against teams with winning records, the Mets still have series with the Rays, Reds, Orioles and Yankees remaining in that stretch. So far against the Phillies, Cardinals, Nationals and Yankees, the Mets are 5-8.

Three of the wins came in the four-game series against the Cardinals that included Santana’s no-hitter.

Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information notes that six times this season Parnell has induced a groundball that has resulted in the batter reaching via error. (Jeter’s technically was scored a single, with the error allowing him to reach second base.) Thirty-five of the 84 balls his in the ballpark against Parnell have been hits or errors -- an amazingly high total.

THEY WERE HEROES: Using a makeshift lineup, the Mets received contributions from Rottino and Jordany Valdespin, who combined to drive in three runs in the second inning.

That rally actually stalled when Jason Bay and Wright consecutively struck out with the bases loaded. Bay is 0-for-11 since returning from the DL.

Scott Hairston continued to torment left-handed pitching as well as the Mets built the early lead. Hairston doubled and scored in the second inning on Rottino’s single. Hairston then singled in his next at-bat, although Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move froze him and led to a caught stealing (as was the case with Wright two innings later).

Rottino was starting at first base over Davis against the southpaw. Davis entered as a defensive replacement for the bottom of the eighth with the Mets trying to protect a one-run lead -- one inning after Rottino could not handle Wright’s throw at first base.

Hairston went 2-for-3 against Pettitte, upping his average against left-handed pitching this season to .364 (24-for-66). He also has started to see more action against righties, starting not only Thursday’s series finale in D.C. once Bay was scratched but also Friday’s series opener in the Bronx as well against Hiroki Kuroda.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets plan to fly to Tampa after the game and spend an off-day with their families in Florida. They return to action Tuesday against the Rays, with Chris Young making his second major league start since returning from shoulder surgery. Young (0-0, 3.60 ERA) opposes right-hander Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.12).

Series preview: Mets at Yankees

June, 8, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the Subway Series.
METS (32-26, third place/NL East) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (31-25, second place/AL East)

Friday: LHP Johan Santana (3-2, 2.38) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.82), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jon Niese (4-2, 4.11) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.78), 1:05 p.m. ET

Yankees short hops

• With a blood clot issue behind him, Mariano Rivera is due to undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL. David Robertson, who briefly took over the closing role before suffering a left oblique strain, may begin a rehab assignment soon. Rafael Soriano now is effectively handling the closing role. Since Rivera became Yankees closer in 1997, the most saves in a season by another Yankees pitcher were Steve Karsay’s 12 in 2002. Soriano now has eight.

• Ex-Met Ryota Igarashi, a waiver claim by the Yankees from Toronto, has been promoted from Triple-A. He replaces long man Freddy Garcia, another ex-Met, who went on bereavement leave because of his grandfather’s death in Venezuela. Igarashi was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA and had 11 strikeouts in five innings spanning three appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Andy Pettitte, back from retirement, enters the Subway Series having limited Tampa Bay to two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his most recent outing. Pettitte -- who turns 40 next Friday -- has struck out 32 batters in 35 2/3 innings over five starts while producing a 2.78 ERA.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Robinson Cano has six homers in his past 18 games.

Derek Jeter is 0-for-his-last-13. That is the captain’s longest streak since going hitless in 14 straight at-bats from May 14-17, 2011. Jeter (.319) nonetheless is second in MLB with 75 hits, tied with Miguel Cabrera and trailing only Melky Cabrera (87). Jeter leads in the balloting among American League shortstops in the first All-Star Game voting totals announced. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson rank second at their positions, which would make Granderson a starting outfielder.

Phil Hughes tossed a complete game against Detroit, allowing one run, in his most recent start.

• Granderson has played every inning for the Yankees this season. The only other players to have logged every defensive inning for their teams have played this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Dan Uggla, Adam Jones and Starlin Castro. Granderson did go 0-for-5 and matched a career high with four strikeouts Thursday against Tampa Bay. He has 22 homers against left-handed pitching since the start of last season, the most in the majors during that span.

• The Yankees have the best all-time winning percentage in interleague play (.592, 158-109). The Chicago White Sox rank second at .586, followed by the Los Angeles Angels (.569), Boston Red Sox (.567) and Minnesota Twins (.562).

• The Yankees have struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting .217 (103-for-474) this season. Cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez has only 22 RBIs in 207 at-bats in 2012. Despite errors by A-Rod and Nick Swisher on Thursday, the Yankees have been solid in the field, though. Their 22 errors are the fewest in the majors.

Hiroki Kuroda, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal during the offseason, has been wildly uneven, despite allowing two earned runs of fewer in seven of 11 starts. He has been prone to the long ball, having surrendered 11 homers in 68 1/3 innings. From 2008 to 2010 with the Dodgers, Kuroda allowed an average of 13.3 homers per season. Kuroda has a 7.36 ERA in the first inning. Only three current American League pitchers have more losses against the Mets than Kuroda’s five -- Carl Pavano (seven), Derek Lowe (six) and Kevin Millwood (six).

• Teixeira visited an ear, nose and throat specialist to determine the cause of a cough that won’t go away. The verdict: Texeira has residual nerve damage to a vocal cord from a bronchial illness. Teixeira, despite a slow start, has 10 homers.

Brett Gardner was unable to play in a rehab game with Class A Tampa on Thursday because of a cranky elbow, all but ensuring he will remain on the DL through the Subway Series. Lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez, in his first season as a Yankee, at 40 years old, has stepped into the primarily left-field role and flashed power (9 homers in 153 ABs). Righty-hitting Jayson Nix picks up some starts against southpaws.

• Cano has been streaky. He has six homers in his past 18 games. He had only three in his first 38 games.

• Catcher Russell Martin, who delivered a grand slam Tuesday against the Rays, homered for the second time in the series Thursday. He is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with seven RBIs in his past nine games. That has lifted his average from .173 to .210.

Last series results

Yankees won, 2-1, at Citi Field, July 1-3, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Yankees 5, Mets 1: Filling in for injured Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez got the big hits and made a clutch throw. Nunez had an RBI single among his career-high four hits and threw out Jose Reyes at third base on a favorable call for the Yankees. Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double, and Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano added RBI doubles. Ivan Nova (8-4) and six relievers stifled a Mets offense that scored 54 runs in its past five games. Jon Niese (7-7) was pitching for the first time since leaving his start June 25, 2011 with a rapid heartbeat. After giving up three runs in the first, he shut down the Yankees through six innings. More

Yankees 5, Mets 2: Eduardo Nunez homered in his latest big game at the plate and Bartolo Colon came off the DL to pitch six scoreless innings. Subbing at shortstop, Nunez is 7-for-8 with a homer and three doubles in the first two games of the series. Jose Reyes departed after two innings with tightness in his left hamstring. Held scoreless for the first five innings, the Yankees touched up rookie Dillon Gee (8-2) with four straight sharp hits in a four-run sixth. Curtis Granderson lifted a 1-2 pitch to right for his 22nd homer before Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez singled. Robison Cano ripped a two-run triple and Nick Swisher followed with a sacrifice fly. Nunez added a solo homer off Tim Byrdak in the ninth to make it 5-0. More

Mets 3, Yankees 2 (10 innings): Down to their last strike against Mariano Rivera, the Mets wouldn't wilt. Pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino came through with a tying single off Rivera, Jason Bay drove home the winning run and the Mets ended the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak. Playing without Jose Reyes, the Mets were shut down by Freddy Garcia for seven innings before rallying against Rivera in the ninth to avoid a Subway Series sweep at Citi Field. With two outs and nobody on in the ninth, Bay walked on a full count. He went to third on Lucas Duda’s single and scored the tying run when Paulino punched a 1-2 pitch through the right side. More



Carlos Torres
2 1.86 12 9
BAJ. Lagares .314
HRL. Duda 3
RBID. Wright 10
RE. Young Jr. 14
OPSJ. Lagares .816
ERAJ. Niese 2.84
SOB. Colon 18