New York Mets: Russell Martin

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11)

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
PITTSBURGH -- At least no one else in the division is winning, either.

After David Wright was scratched with a painful left shoulder Friday, the New York Mets proceeded to lose their third straight game.

Josh Harrison hit a walk-off RBI double against Vic Black in the 11th inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates won, 3-2, at PNC Park.

The Mets are in last place in the NL East at 36-44, but only 5½ games out of first.

No harm: The Mets faced two runners in scoring position with no one out after a hotly disputed call in the 10th inning, but Jenrry Mejia wriggled free of the jam to send the game to the 11th.

With Harrison on second base and no outs, Gregory Polanco hit a comebacker to Mejia. The closer trapped Harrison in a rundown, but Harrison flopped to the ground on the infield grass, evaded a tag from Ruben Tejada and reached third base as Polanco arrived at second.

Mets manager Terry Collins argued to no avail that Harrison left the baseline. As a result of the play, the Pirates had two in scoring position with none out. After a one-out intentional walk to Andrew McCutchen loaded the bases, Mejia struck out Neil Walker. Russell Martin then flied out to right field as Mejia preserved the 2-2 tie.

No-decision: Jacob deGrom followed up his first major league win with a no-decision, although he mostly performed well. The lone damage against the rookie came on a two-out, two-run single by No. 8 hitter Jordy Mercer in the fourth inning that evened the score at 2. DeGrom had lamented not covering first on a grounder knocked down by Lucas Duda earlier in the inning.

DeGrom retired seven straight batters at that point, until Pedro Alvarez’s leadoff single in the seventh. After a sac bunt advanced Alvarez into scoring position and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle inserted pinch runner Starling Marte at second base, deGrom struck out the pinch-hitting Harrison.

Collins then summoned Josh Edgin to face the lefty-hitting rookie phenom Polanco. Edgin retired Polanco on a foul fly ball down the right-field line. That stranded the potential go-ahead run at second base and closed the book on deGrom.

Edgin has now retired the first batter he has faced in all 20 appearances this season.

DeGrom’s line in a 90-pitch effort: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP. His ERA stands at 3.62.

The Pirates are the first team deGrom has faced twice in his career. He tossed 6⅔ scoreless innings against Pittsburgh at Citi Field on May 26.

In the swing: Duda continues his surge at the plate. Duda produced a two-run single against Brandon Cumpton in the fourth inning that opened the scoring. Duda went 1-for-4 with a walk. He is now hitting .357 (15-for-42) with six doubles and four home runs in his past 12 games.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (4-4, 2.78 ERA) opposes right-hander Gerrit Cole (6-3, 3.64) at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday. Cole is returning from the disabled list after dealing with shoulder fatigue.

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 5, Mets 3

May, 26, 2014
May 26
NEW YORK -- Mets fans mostly greeted Ike Davis with polite applause in his first game at Citi Field since the April 18 trade that sent him to Pittsburgh. His Pirates first-base platoon mate eventually deprived Jacob deGrom of his first major-league victory and sent the Mets to a demoralizing 5-3 defeat.

After Davis went 0-for-2 with a walk, he was replaced by righty-hitting Gaby Sanchez in the eighth when Terry Collins inserted southpaw Scott Rice to protect a two-run lead.

The bullpen surrendered five runs the rest of the way.

Sanchez homered against Rice and Jose Valverde allowed a game-tying RBI single to Jose Tabata later in the eighth.

The Pirates added three ninth-inning runs to take a 5-2 lead in the Memorial Day win at Citi Field, highlighted by Sanchez's tiebreaking single against Valverde. Two runs scored on the play, the latter courtesy of a throwing error by left fielder Curtis Granderson.

The loss dropped the Mets to 22-28. They are now 19-3 when leading after seven innings.

Valverde (1-1) was charged with four earned runs while recording only two outs. His ERA ballooned to 5.66.

Total package: Between pitching assignments, deGrom may be worthy of playing some shortstop, his original position at Stetson University.

Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsJacob deGrom tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and went 2-for-2 at the plate in a no-decision.

Five of the first seven batters deGrom faced reached on Memorial Day. Yet deGrom wriggled free and ultimately dazzled in his third major-league start. He tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and continued to swing a mean bat, too, going 2-for-2 to raise his career average to .800. DeGrom’s fifth-inning single initiated the two-out rally that resulted in two runs.

With Terry Collins being refreshingly liberal with pitch counts of late, even for his young starters, deGrom was permitted to toss 122 pitches.

DeGrom departed after issuing his fifth walk -- to Neil Walker in the seventh, which advanced Travis Snider to second base. Jeurys Familia, who had appeared in both games on Sunday’s doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks, then struck out reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen looking to strand both runners inherited from deGrom and preserve a 2-0 lead.

The Pirates had loaded the bases in the first inning, but deGrom coaxed Russell Martin into an inning-ending double play. An inning later, deGrom allowed a single and walk to open the frame but stranded both runners.

His pitch count was at 47 after two innings, but deGrom became efficient. His final line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. He threw 122 pitches (67 strikes) and departed leading 2-0.

The 122 pitches were the most by a Mets pitcher within his first three major-league appearances since Bill Pulsipher tossed 131 and then 122 in June 1995.

Collins has been less conservative of late with pitch counts. Zack Wheeler has thrown 118 in two of his past three starts. Rafael Montero threw 113 on Sunday.

As for his bat, deGrom’s two-out single in the fifth against Brandon Cumpton ignited the Mets to open the scoring. Juan Lagares followed with a walk. Daniel Murphy then laced a two-run single to right field.

Well, it was a two-run single after a replay review.

Lagares had attempted to score all the way from first on Murphy’s single after right fielder Josh Harrison’s throw eluded third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Lagares initially was ruled out by plate umpire Laz Diaz. However, the umpires initiated a review of whether catcher Russell Martin illegally blocked the plate -- the Rule 7.13 adopted this year to prevent horrific collisions and injuries like the one that occurred with San Francisco’s Buster Posey.

The video review ultimately determined Martin had blocked the plate, Lagares was ruled safe, and the Mets took a 2-0 lead.

It was not the first time this year a runner had been awarded home because a catcher blocked the plate. On April 19, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado was ruled safe because, after a review, Carlos Ruiz was determined to have blocked the plate.

Meanwhile, with singles in each of his two at-bats against Cumpton, deGrom is now 4-for-5 this season. He became the first pitcher in franchise history with a hit in each of his first three career games. Include position players and deGrom still is the first Met since Victor Diaz in 2004 to hit safely in each of his first three major-league games.

DeGrom has four of the six hits by Mets pitchers this season. He had snapped the pitchers’ 0-for-64 drought to begin the season with a hit in his May 15 debut.

Snapped: Lucas Duda snapped the longest active streak in the majors of innings pitched without allowing a homer with his leadoff blast in the bottom of the ninth against Mark Melancon. Melancon had tossed 86 homer-free innings.

Debutant: Matt den Dekker entered on a double-switch in the ninth for his first major-league action in 2014. He struck out to end the game.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.70 ERA) opposes right-hander Edinson Volquez (2-4, 4.37) at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Series preview: Mets vs. Pirates

May, 26, 2014
May 26

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Brandon Cumpton, Edinson Volquez and Charlie Morton at Citi Field.
METS (22-27, fourth place/NL East) vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (22-27, fourth place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 2.77) vs. RHP Brandon Cumpton (0-1, 4.26), 1:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.70) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (2-4, 4.37), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (1-6, 3.29), 1:10 p.m. ET

Pirates short hops

• Right-hander Brandon Cumpton was selected to replace Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and will start the series opener against the Mets. Cumpton, 25, received the nod over Jeff Locke.

Rodriguez was designated for assignment after surrendering six runs and failing to complete the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. He had an 0-2 record and 6.75 ERA in six starts. Rodriguez is making $13 million this season, although $5.5 million of that amount is the responsibility of the Houston Astros.

Cumpton was 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Indianapolis. He made two starts for the Pirates earlier this season.

Ike Davis is hitting .347 (25-for72) in 22 games in May. He has reached base in 20 of 22 games this month. Davis was acquired from the Mets on April 18 for reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named. That other player is expected to be announced next month because he came from the 2013 draft.

Davis replaced third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the cleanup spot on Friday. Alvarez, dropped to No. 6 in the lineup, is hitting .209 with nine homers and 28 RBIs.

• 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen is hitting .325 (26-for-80) in 21 games this month. McCutchen comfortably beat runner-up Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks for last year’s award.

Neil Walker leads NL second basemen with 10 homers and 26 RBIs. Walker’s 10th homer last season did not come until Sept. 2.

Edinson Volquez signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Pirates on Dec. 11. He began last season with the San Diego Padres and, after his Aug. 27 release, latched on with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Volquez surrendered four homers at Yankee Stadium two starts ago, but rebounded to limit the Washington Nationals to one run six innings on Thursday.

• Riding the hot hand, the Pirates have started Josh Harrison in right field for the past six games.

• Reliever Mark Melancon has not allowed a homer in 86 innings, the longest active streak in the majors. He last surrendered a long ball on April 14, 2013, against Cincinnati’s Joey Votto. Melancon has nine saves in 11 chances this season.

• Closer Jason Grilli returned from the disabled list on Friday. He had been sidelined since April 21 with a left-oblique strain.

Charlie Morton snapped a six-game losing streak over his first nine starts this season by limiting the Nationals to one run in 5 2/3 innings in an eventual 4-3 win Friday.

• Catcher Russell Martin returned from the disabled list Thursday. He had been sidelined since April 26 with a left-hamstring strain.

Morning Briefing: Mets-Phillies still rivalry?

August, 28, 2013

Getty ImagesJohn Buck and Marlon Byrd are now Pirates, while second baseman Dilson Herrera joins the Mets organization.

FIRST PITCH: Where have you gone Mets-Phillies rivalry?

From the Mets finally unseating the Atlanta Braves in 2006, to the following year’s “team-to-beat” proclamation by Jimmy Rollins, the NL East seemed to revolve around New York and Philadelphia.

Now? The teams are a collective 24 games under .500 and merely jockeying for third place in the division.

And we’re left tonight with Daisuke Matsuzaka Night at Citi Field against an eight-games-under-.500 Cole Hamels (5-13, 3.62 ERA).

Matsuzaka (0-1, 9.00 ERA) makes his second Mets start at 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• The Mets traded Marlon Byrd, John Buck and cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Class A second baseman Dilson Herrera and a player to be named. Herrera, a Futures Game participant from Colombia, will be assigned to low-A Savannah for the remainder of the season.

"Marlon Byrd is an impactful bat with significant numbers against left-handed pitching and John Buck is a strong receiver who works well with a pitching staff," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters in Pittsburgh. "Those were areas we were looking to improve upon and strengthen, and the trade also adds a couple of layers of experience to our club."

Writes ESPN’s Keith Law on Herrera:

Playing full time at age 19 in the low-Class A Sally League, Herrera has shown somewhat surprising pop, with a .156 isolated power and 41 extra-base hits in 109 games. He's got a simple, quiet approach, just loading his hands a little higher than he should, with adequate hip rotation for 15-20 homer power at his peak.

He's an above-average runner whose speed hasn't translated into baserunning value, and is presently a fringy defender at second, but should develop into an above-average glove given time and instruction. I'd call him a future everyday second baseman, a solid regular with a chance to be an above-average one.

I'm told by multiple sources that the Mets will receive another player-to-be-named who is a "solid" piece, enough to make this deal even better for New York.

(Insiders can read Law’s full trade write-up here.)

Writes columnist Dejan Kovacevic in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

I got to know Herrera a bit during the All-Star Futures Game in New York last month and loved his backstory: Orlando Covo, the Pirates' lead scout in Colombia, works by day as, of all things, the president of a bank. He moonlights because of a passion for baseball and for the Pirates, who hired him under Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo a half-decade ago.

Colombia is no baseball hotbed, but Covo and Gayo invest disproportionate energy into making it work. In the case of the prized Herrera, Covo pushed so hard that, as the kid told me, “I was wearing a Pirates cap when I was 12.”

Herrera's a quality second baseman with a live bat. As [GM Neal] Huntington put it, “The Mets did well” to get him. But the Pirates also did well to have him.

With Matt Harvey landing on the DL and the two departures via trade, the Mets promoted Matt den Dekker, Anthony Recker and Robert Carson from Triple-A Las Vegas. The lefty-hitting Den Dekker and righty-hitting Andrew Brown should combine to fill the void left by Byrd’s departure -- although den Dekker’s starts may primarily come in center field, pushing Juan Lagares to right field on those days.

Sandy Alderson indicated the Mets’ trade activity likely was completed. The GM also reiterated that Terry Collins will be judged by more criteria than simply wins and losses.

In a humorous twist, the trade occurred hours before a Byrd T-shirt promotion at Citi Field.

With Pittsburgh, Buck will back up Russell Martin. Backup catcher Michael McKenry underwent season-ending surgery for a torn meniscus. As for Byrd, he particularly will help with outfielder Starling Marte out for a few weeks with a sprained ligament in his right hand.

Read columnist Larry Brooks’ take on the trade in the Post and news stories in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and Read more on Herrera in Newsday.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post suggests the Wilpons must show Mets fans the money this offseason. Writes Vaccaro:

Does Harvey’s absence allow another mailed-in offseason?

It had better not. And the men who own the Mets had better be prepared to keep to whatever plans they had about strengthening this team, and not allowing the abyss to run to six full seasons of non-competitive baseball. The tough talk of February had better be able to stay intact by November, regardless of whether Harvey is a part of 2014 or not.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsMatt Harvey tweeted that he will be pitching next April 1.

Their credibility was at stake anyway, their show-me fan base eager to see if the Wilpons’ claim of financial freedom was legitimate. It should be even more so now. The Mets have crowed about their pitching depth. But even if Harvey pitched to a 0.01 ERA next year, he already knew -- and [Zack] Wheeler learned Monday -- it hardly matters if the Mets offense remains somewhere between inept and impotent.

• Harvey tweeted he will be pitching next April 1, but Alderson responded there is no new information on which to base that conclusion. Harvey will get another MRI in two to three weeks, once swelling in his pitching elbow subsides, in order to determine the extent of his UCL tear and whether Tommy John surgery will be required. Read more in the Post, Newsday and Record.

Jeremy Hefner is due to undergo Tommy John surgery today. Mets doctor David Altchek is due to perform the procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Hefner will miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season.

Jonathon Niese tossed a three-hit shutout and also produced a three-run double as the Mets blanked the Phillies, 5-0, Tuesday at Citi Field. The teams are again even for third place in the NL East. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, and

David Wright should be hitting in games -- but probably not fielding -- in Port St. Lucie as soon as Sunday or Monday, Collins said. Read more in the Post.

• The Mets named right-handers Chasen Bradford and Hansel Robles, catcher Cam Maron, infielder Aderlin Rodriguez and outfielder Cory Vaughn to their Arizona Fall League contingent. Two more pitching spots will be filled later.

• Las Vegas’ rally from a four-run deficit in the ninth fell a run short in a 13-12 loss at Colorado Springs. Jeff Walters set a new Binghamton career saves record with No. 37 as the B-Mets beat Bowie, 3-2. Read the full minor league recap here.

From the bloggers: Faith and Fear in Flushing contemplates how rosters turn over and over. … Mark Berman from Blogging Mets wonders if the Mets are partly to blame for Harvey's injury.

BIRTHDAYS: Joel Youngblood turns 62. … Mike Torrez is 67.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe Matt Harvey will bypass undergoing Tommy John surgery?

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 4, Mets 2

July, 13, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Ike Davis may be playing himself into watching from the bench Sunday, even with the Pittsburgh Pirates having switched from left-hander Jeff Locke to right-hander Gerrit Cole for the series finale.

Davis, who continues to bat cleanup, went hitless in four at-bats Saturday. He originally was charged with a costly seventh-inning error that later was reversed and scored a hit. Either way, it led to two runs scoring as the Pirates beat the Mets, 4-2, Saturday night at sold-out PNC Park.

The Mets had been 5-0-2 in their last seven road series, their longest unbeaten streak since winning eight straight series in 1999. But that has been snapped with consecutive losses to the Pirates.

Davis is 2-for-20 with five walks in his past five games, including a fifth-inning strikeout Saturday with two in scoring position.

On a tough but makeable play, Davis had a one-out grounder in the seventh off the bat of pinch-hitter Travis Snider scoot by him on the glove side.

Snider ultimately scored with two outs for a 3-2 lead when Andrew McCutchen delivered an RBI single against Greg Burke.

In between, Snider could have been doubled off first base. But on Starling Marte’s lineout to third base, Davis could not hold a low throw across the diamond from David Wright.

Later in the seventh, Josh Edgin issued a bases-loaded walk to Russell Martin to force in a run.

Gonzalez Germen finally ended the inning and stranded the bases loaded by entering and coaxing a foul pop-out in his second major league appearance.

Collins for days had planned to start Josh Satin on Sunday, but that was before Cole unexpectedly replaced Locke, who had lower-back tightness.

Start of something: Carlos Torres Day proved a suitable alternative while it lasted.

Given the start in place of Matt Harvey with the Mets seeking to limit their ace’s innings and allow a blister to heal (and, shhhh, start the All-Star Game), Torres took a scoreless effort into the fifth inning. Torres had not started, or exceeded three innings, since a complete game with Triple-A Las Vegas on June 9 and undoubtedly ran out of gas in his final frame.

He departed with a 2-1 lead after escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth by coaxing a double-play groundout from Jose Tabata. Torres’ final line in a no-decision: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. He threw 80 pitches (50 strikes).

Torres, who last had started a major league game with the Chicago White Sox in 2010, now has a 0.79 ERA in 22 2/3 innings as a Met.

At least until Jonathon Niese returns from the disabled list, Torres is due to remain in the rotation after the All-Star break in the spot formerly held by Shaun Marcum. Marcum is due to undergo season-ending surgery Monday in St. Louis to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which led to hand numbness. Niese just started long-tossing this week in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and will need to pitch in rehab games before rejoining the Mets.

Torres had been staked to a 2-0 lead.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis opened the scoring with an RBI double against A.J. Burnett in the fourth that plated Marlon Byrd, who had walked. An inning later, after the Mets appeared poised to waste an opportunity with two runners in scoring position, Byrd beat out a two-out infield single and Daniel Murphy scored.

Aargh! David Aardsma surrendered a leadoff homer to McCutchen in the sixth as Pittsburgh evened the score at 2.

Boo hoo? Wright was booed for a second straight day at PNC Park for not originally picking Pedro Alvarez for the Home Run Derby. Wright tabbed Alvarez as the replacement for Carlos Gonzalez on the eve of the Mets-Pirates series.

What’s next: The Mets and Pirates conclude the first half as Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60 ERA) opposes the former first overall pick Cole (4-2, 3.68) at 1:35 p.m. Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11)

July, 12, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Aarrrrrgh!

Jordy Mercer's two-out single against Gonzalez Germen in the reliever's major league debut scored Andrew McCutchen from second base after a leadoff walk and steal and the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped the Mets' four-game winning streak with a 3-2 walk-off victory in the 11th inning on Friday night at PNC Park.

With Terry Collins leery of using Germen at the major league level, the rookie had made only one appearance since June 29 -- six days ago with Las Vegas.

The Mets had escaped a bases-loaded predicament in the ninth when Gaby Sanchez grounded out to first base against Josh Edgin.

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsTerry Collins pulled Jeremy Hefner after seven innings with Hefner's pitch count at 78.

Edgin was the fourth pitcher used by the Mets in the ninth. Scott Rice had inherited runners on the corners from David Aardsma with one out and struck out Pedro Alvarez before turning the ball over to Greg Burke to face Russell Martin, who walked to load the bases.

Edgin also stranded two runners in the 10th.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis had evened the score at 2 with a solo homer in the seventh against Pirates starter Charlie Morton.

Take that, David! Alvarez, initially passed over for the Home Run Derby by NL captain David Wright, belted a two-run homer in the first inning against Jeremy Hefner.

Even though Wright selected Alvarez as the injury replacement for Carlos Gonzalez, fans still lustily booed the Mets third baseman as he was announced for each of his plate appearances Friday at PNC Park.

Wright otherwise had a mostly fine day. He went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Wright's sixth-inning single plated Eric Young Jr. and pulled the Mets within 2-1. Wright did strand two runners in the 10th with a flyout.

Quick hook: Hefner was pulled for pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin with the score tied at 2 to lead off the top of the eighth, even though Hefner's pitch count was only 78.

After Alvarez's first-inning homer, Hefner retired the next 14 batters.

He ultimately trimmed his ERA to 3.33 in the no-decision. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.

Hefner has now limited opponents to two earned runs or fewer in eight straight starts. That is the longest streak by a Met since Johan Santana went 13 straight starts spanning the 2008 and ’09 seasons allowing two earned runs or fewer.

What's next: Carlos Torres makes his Mets starting debut, after team officials decided to have Matt Harvey skip his final first-half outing. Torres, who has limited opponents to two runs (one earned) in 17 2/3 relief innings since a promotion from Las Vegas, opposes right-hander A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.05 ERA) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

Because of a scoring change from his Tuesday appearance in San Francisco, Torres has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 1/3 innings. Torres’ last major league start came Aug. 3, 2010, with the Chicago White Sox. He allowed five runs in six innings in a loss at Detroit.

Series preview: Mets at Pirates

July, 11, 2013

Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke this weekend at PNC Park.
METS (40-48, fourth place/NL East) vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (54-36, second place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.39) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.38), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Carlos Torres (0-1, 0.51) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.05), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15), 1:35 p.m. ET

Pirates short hops

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsPedro Alvarez is one shy of the NL home run lead.

• New York City-raised third baseman Pedro Alvarez has 23 homers, one shy of NL leader Carlos Gonzalez and tied with Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown. Only two other players in franchise history have reached that long ball total before the All-Star break: Willie Stargell (30 apiece in 1971 and ’73) and Ralph Kiner (24 in 1950 and 23 apiece in 1948 and ’49). Alvarez has the most homers in the NL since June 1. He also has an eight-game hitting streak. David Wright will not be a fan favorite in Pittsburgh after omitting Alvarez from the Home Run Derby.

• The Pirates have four All-Stars: Andrew McCutchen, Alvarez, Jason Grilli and Jeff Locke. Pittsburgh last had that many All-Star representatives in 1981.

• Second baseman Neil Walker landed on the disabled list Tuesday with a right oblique injury. Jordy Mercer has started both games at second base since Walker was deactivated. Josh Harrison, promoted from Triple-A, as well as Brandon Inge are capable of starting at second base.

• Grilli’s 28 saves lead the National League. The total is a franchise record before the All-Star break, and the most in the NL before the Mid-Summer Classic since Chad Cordero had 31 in 2005 with the Washington Nationals. Grilli, 36, had declared an out in his contract while pitching with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate in July 2011 and has taken off since subsequently signing with Pittsburgh.

• Outfielder Jose Tabata is hitting .423 (11-for-26) with four doubles and a triple in his last seven games. He returned July 3 after missing six weeks with a left oblique strain.

• The Pirates had a combined .291 on-base percentage from their leadoff hitters last season. This year, Starling Marte had an MLB-leading 59 runs scored out of the leadoff spot. Marte also has 27 steals, already the most by a Pirate since Tony Womack had 31 in 1998.

• McCutchen is hitting .350 at PNC Park this season.

• Free-agent addition Russell Martin has thrown out 50 percent of would-be base stealers this season. His 21 runners caught are the most in the majors. Martin defected from the Yankees for a two-year, $17 million deal last Nov. 29. He batted cleanup Wednesday for the first time since 2009, after the Pirates scored only six total runs during their previous four games -- all losses.

• Pittsburgh produced its 13th shutout Wednesday, in a 5-0 win against Oakland. The staff ERA is an MLB-best 3.12.

• Although they are only 3-6 in July, causing hesitation, this looks like the year the Pirates may produce their first winning record since going 96-66 in 1992, with a squad that included Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek … and Terry Collins as bullpen coach. It was Collins’ first year on a major league staff.

Pittsburgh was 16 games over .500 last Aug. 8, but finished 79-83 in 2012.

The 20 consecutive losing seasons is a North American professional sports record. The NBA’s Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (1983-98) and NHL’s Vancouver Canucks (1976-91) each suffered 15 straight losing seasons. The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-96) had 14 straight losing seasons.

The reason for hesitation: a recent history of second-half swoons. Pittsburgh was 41-39 at the end of June in 2011, but went 31-51 the rest of the season. Then, last year, they were 42-35 at that point, only to go 37-48 the rest of the way.

• Locke had a personal eight-game winning streak snapped Monday, although he allowed only two runs in seven innings in a 2-1 loss against Oakland. The 25-year-old southpaw entered 2013 with a career 1-6 record in 12 appearances (10 starts) over two seasons.

Series preview: Mets vs. Pirates

May, 9, 2013

Associated Press
The Mets face (l to r) Jeff Locke, Wandy Rodriguez and Jeanmar Gomez during a four-game weekend series, plus Francisco Liriano making his Pirates debut.
METS (13-17, fourth place/NL East) vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (18-15, second place/NL Central)

Thursday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-4, 6.16) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.21), 7:10 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 4.02), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-3, 4.66) vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (0-0, -.--), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.28) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.38), 1:10 p.m. ET

Pirates short hops

• Left-hander Francisco Liriano is expected to be activated from the disabled list to make his Pirates debut Saturday. Liriano originally agreed to a two-year, $12.75 million deal with Pittsburgh. Before he had taken a physical, he suffered a broken humerus bone in his non-throwing arm. Officially, Liriano suffered the injury slamming his arm on a door to scare his children, although multiple other stories have floated around. Liriano’s substitute deal calls for only a guarantee of $1 million, although he has a vesting option for next season and can earn roughly the same amount as the original deal if he produces.

Liriano, 29, went a combined 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 appearances (28 starts) for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox last season. Bounced from Pittsburgh’s rotation is Jonathan Sanchez (0-3, 11.85 ERA), who was designated for assignment by the club.

• Leadoff hitter/left fielder Starling Marte led off Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners with a double -- his 17th leadoff hit of the season (whether top or bottom of the first inning). Nobody else in the majors has more than 10. Marte, who made his major league debut last July 26, has displayed a phenomenal blend of reaching base (.396 OBP), speed (10 steals) and power (five homers). He particularly jumps on fastballs.

• Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez will stick in the rotation and make his third start of the season Sunday. Gomez -- previously the long man in the bullpen -- stepped in for James MacDonald, who now has landed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness after experiencing a pronounced velocity drop.

Gomez, who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in January, limited the Mariners to two hits and two walks in a 66-pitch effort over five scoreless innings Wednesday. His season-high pitch count was 79, in a May 1 start at Milwaukee.

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press
Two-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen has heated up the past week.

• The back end of the Pirates’ bullpen is particularly formidable. Pittsburgh is 14-0 when leading after seven innings. Set-up man Mark Melancon -- originally a Yankee before being traded away in the Lance Berkman deal with the Houston Astros in 2010 -- has surrendered only one run in 17 innings this season. Closer Jason Grilli, a Seton Hall product, is tied for the major league lead with 13 saves and has converted every chance.

• The Yankees let catcher Russell Martin depart as a free agent to Pittsburgh for a two-year, $17 million deal on Nov. 29. Martin, who was scratched from Tuesday’s start with neck stiffness and did not play Wednesday, leads the Pirates with six homers. After opening his Pirates career in a 2-for-31 rut over his first 10 games, Martin since is hitting .377 (23-for-61). His next homer will be the 100th of his career. Martin has thrown out an MLB-leading 223 runners since his debut in 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Two-time All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen has two four-hit performances in his past seven games. McCutchen is signed through 2017, with a team option at $14.5 million for the following season.

• Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, a former second overall pick in the draft and a product of Horace Mann School in Riverdale, is hitting .168 with 38 strikeouts in 107 at-bats.

• This could be the year the Pirates produce their first winning record since going 96-66 in 1992, with a squad that included Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek … and Terry Collins as bullpen coach. It was Collins’ first year on a major league staff.

Pittsburgh was 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8, but finished 79-83 in 2012.

The 20 consecutive losing seasons is a North American professional sports record. The NBA’s Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (1983-98) and NHL’s Vancouver Canucks (1976-91) each suffered 15 straight losing seasons. The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-96) had 14 straight losing seasons.

d'Arnaud loved Piazza as youngster

December, 18, 2012
Newly acquired Travis d'Arnaud grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan in California. So it's no wonder the highly regarding catching prospect revered Mike Piazza as well as Russell Martin as a youngster.

"I actually met Russell Martin one time last year," d'Arnaud said. "I played against him in spring training and told him I grew up watching him play and we had a little laugh about it."

As for Piazza, d'Arnaud said: "Growing up as a catcher, I used him as my role model and tried to play like him and catch like him and hit like him. I'm really honored to be a part of the New York Mets, where he played as well."

Read a full feature story on d'Arnaud here.

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.

Rauch insists elbow fine after Martin HR

June, 10, 2012
Jon Rauch served up the game-deciding homer to Russell Martin on a hanging slider. And the 6-foot-11 right-hander was in no mood afterward to offer small talk about whether it was bad location, since the answer was clear.

“What do you think?” Rauch said. “I mean, if I make good pitches, are they going to hit them?”

Rauch, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal in December to serve as the primary setup man to Frank Francisco, suffered his sixth loss this season. That’s now tied with Houston’s Fernando Rodriguez for the most by a major-league reliever.

“It pisses me off I’m not doing my job,” Rauch said. “Yeah, it’s frustrating. I’m glad I keep going out there getting opportunities to pitch. But it’s pretty disheartening to keep going out there and keep making mistakes that’s costing us games.”

Rauch had stayed in New York during the previous series in Washington to allow elbow irritation to heal. He insisted that is now a non-issue. He also disputed the team announcement that he has debris in the elbow. Rauch said the issue arose from two bones somehow awkwardly rubbing against each other. He took anti-inflammatory medication and the issue is now behind him, he insisted.

As for the decisive long ball from Martin, Rauch said: “You guys watched the game. He [expletive] hit it a mile. And I cost the game. I made a couple of good pitches and hung one and he hit the [expletive] out of it.

“Obviously I wasn’t looking to throw it where I threw it,” Rauch added. “…. I’m out there to get the guys out. Historically, I’ve done a pretty good job of it. But I’ve been pretty horse [expletive] this year.”

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

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Mets 1

July, 1, 2011

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Since exploding for a franchise-record 52 runs in a four-game stretch, the Mets have mustered a combined three runs in a pair of losses. The Amazin’s slipped back to .500 with Friday’s Subway Series defeat before a Citi Field-record crowd of 42,020.

ON A CURVE: Jon Niese surrendered consecutive hits to Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira to open the game -- Teixeira’s an opposite-field two-run double to right field. Robinson Cano capped the three-run first inning with an RBI double.

Niese then held the Yankees off the scoreboard through the sixth, recording several strikeouts looking with big-breaking curveballs. That included pinch-hitter Jorge Posada looking with the bases loaded for the second out of the sixth. Niese then escaped that jam when he retired Swisher on a groundball to Justin Turner at third base.

The Yankees actually should have scored earlier in the sixth. Preceding Posada’s at-bat, Eduardo Nunez blooped a single narrowly over Jose Reyes and into the shallow outfield. However, a confused Cano held at third base, where he began the play.

Niese was making his first start since a rapid heartbeat on the mound at Texas last Saturday prompted a battery of exams at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit on Tuesday. His final line: 6 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Niese threw 101 pitches (69 strikes).

CLOSE CALL: Hours after Alex Rodriguez called Reyes the “world’s greatest player,” they were involved in a critical seventh-inning play at third base. Reyes tagged to second on Turner’s deep fly ball to center, and advanced toward third when the shortstop Nunez had the relay throw bounce away from him. Reyes eventually was ruled out at third by plate umpire Jerry Layne, who had to cover on the ump rotation. However, A-Rod appeared to have missed the tag. Reyes, then third base coach Chip Hale and Terry Collins argued.

Collins was ejected for the second time this season. He also was tossed April 21 against Houston.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Ivan Nova struck out Angel Pagan with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning as the Mets’ remained in a 3-1 hole.

E-3: Daniel Murphy failed to catch a throw from Reyes to open the eighth on Russell Martin’s grounder. Martin then scored to give the Yankees a three-run cushion on Nunez’s career-high fourth hit of the game.

ON A ROLL: Martin slid hard and late into Ruben Tejada at second base while attempting to prevent a double play in the sixth. Tejada produced the Mets’ lone run, on a second-inning RBI single.

K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez did not appear and remained at 30 games finished. He is on pace for 59 games finished, four more than the threshold for his contract to kick in at $17.5 million for 2012.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dillon Gee (8-1, 3.32) opposes Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.10), who comes off the disabled list for the start. First pitch: 4:10 p.m.



Bartolo Colon
11 3.85 125 161
BAD. Murphy .299
HRL. Duda 23
RBIL. Duda 69
RD. Murphy 70
OPSL. Duda .841
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.48
SOZ. Wheeler 148