New York Mets: Vance Worley

Rapid Reaction: Pirates 5, Mets 2

June, 26, 2014
PITTSBURGH -- Aaaargh!

The Mets were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2, Thursday in the opener of a four-game series at PNC Park.

The Pirates manufactured a pair of runs, scoring in the third inning without a hit, then plating a run the following inning when Ike Davis got caught in a two-out rundown between first and second and Andrew McCutchen scooted home from third.

The big blow against Daisuke Matsuzaka came in the fifth, when Pittsburgh grabbed a 5-1 lead on Gregory Polanco’s three-run homer.

Matsuzaka’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

Matsuzaka entered the start with a 2.21 ERA since Sept. 8 of last season.

Lucas Duda accounted for the opening Mets run when he tucked an opposite-field solo homer inside the left-field foul pole against Pirates starter Vance Worley in the fourth inning. It was Duda’s first career homer to the left-field corner.

Quiet night: Juan Lagares went 1-for-4 with an infield single and two strikeouts in his return from the disabled list.

Wright stuff: David Wright extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an eighth-inning RBI double. Wright has driven in a run in eight of his past nine games.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75 ERA), fresh off his first major league win, opposes right-hander Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93) on Friday at 7:05 p.m.

Series preview: Mets at Pirates

June, 26, 2014

Getty ImagesThe Mets face Vance Worley, Brandon Cumpton and Gerrit Cole in the opening three games of a series at PNC Park.
METS (36-42, fourth place/NL East) vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (39-39, fourth place/NL Central)

Thursday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68) vs. RHP Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98), 7:05 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75) vs. RHP Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (4-4, 2.78) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (6-3, 3.64), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-5, 3.67) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.35), 1:35 p.m. ET

Pirates short hops

Gerrit Cole (shoulder fatigue) returns from the disabled list to take Saturday’s start, pushing Edinson Volquez to Sunday and Jeff Locke out of the series against the Mets. Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, threw an 83-pitch simulated game spanning six innings Monday. Manager Clint Hurdle has not declared which starter will be dropped from the rotation with Cole reentering.

• Left fielder Starling Marte sat out Wednesday’s matinee against the Tampa Bay Rays. A day earlier, Marte departed the game with concussion-like symptoms after a headfirst slide into second baseman Sean Rodriguez’s knee in the fifth inning. Marte cleared a concussion test. He also suffered a swollen middle finger on his right hand and was unavailable Wednesday.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesIke Davis has a .360 on-base percentage since the trade.

• Ex-Met Ike Davis moved to the cleanup spot for Pittsburgh on May 23. The Pirates are 15-9 when Davis starts in the No. 4 slot. Davis is hitting .254 with four homers and 19 RBIs and has a .360 on-base percentage in 58 games since the trade.

• Second baseman Neil Walker returned from the disabled list Tuesday after recovering from an appendectomy. Outfielder Jose Tabata was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear the roster spot, even though he is due roughly $9 million through 2016.

Tabata had lost his playing time to Josh Harrison in right field, and then to rookie Gregory Polanco once Harrison shifted to second base to cover for Walker.

Travis Snider (.234, 4 HR, 137 ABs) started the season as the regular right fielder, but has receded to the bench.

Polanco made his major league debut June 10. He is hitting .325 with one homer, six RBIs and three steals in 65 at-bats since his promotion and has settled into the leadoff spot. His 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance Wednesday at Tampa Bay snapped a streak of reaching base in 14 straight games to begin his major league career. His 11-game hitting streak to begin his career set a Pirates franchise record. It was the longest hitting streak in the majors to begin a career since Glenn Williams had a 13-game streak with the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and the longest in the National League since Juan Pierre had a 16-game hitting streak with the Colorado Rockies in 2000.

• Center fielder Andrew McCutchen’s .315 average ranks fourth in the National League. He is fifth in the league in RBIs (48). Eight of his 12 homers have come this month. McCutchen is slated to be an All-Star Game starter. He has 2,461,722 votes. The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig narrowly leads NL outfielders with 2,468,376 votes. The Brewers’ Carlos Gomez is third at 2,409,860.

• Reclamation project Vance Worley is a combined 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in starts against the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins since making his Pirates debut on June 15. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins on March 25 for cash and spent the first portion of the season in Triple-A. Worley went 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA last season with Minnesota.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 16, Twins 5

April, 12, 2013
WHAT IT MEANS: It’s not quite as cold when you’re on the winning side of a laugher.

The Mets put up consecutive five-run innings to begin Friday’s interleague game en route to a 16-5 win against the Minnesota Twins amid snowflakes at Target Field. The first-pitch temperature officially was recorded at 34 degrees.

John Buck put an exclamation point on the early offensive explosion, greeting reliever Pedro Hernandez with a grand slam in the second inning. That closed the book on ex-Phillie Vance Worley, who was charged with nine runs (seven earned) in one-plus innings.

Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports
John Buck has homered in four straight games. He has 19 RBIs in the Mets' first 10 games of the season.

Buck has now homered in four straight games. That’s the longest streak by a Met since David Wright also went deep in four straight in June 2007. It’s one shy of matching Richard Hidalgo’s franchise record, set shortly after he joined the Mets in 2004.

Buck’s 19 RBIs surpassed his career high for a month (17 in August 2004, as a rookie).

Only three other players in major league history have produced 19 RBIs through their teams’ first 10 games of a season: Chris Davis this year with Baltimore, as well as Lou Gehrig in 1927 and Manny Ramirez in 1999.

The Mets’ record for RBIs in a month is owned -- at least for a few more days -- by Jeff Kent, who had 26 in April 1994.

Buck’s six homers this season already exceed the five Mets catchers produced last season (Kelly Shoppach 3, Josh Thole 1, Mike Nickeas 1).

Wright also had a noteworthy achievement Friday. With Jordany Valdespin and Daniel Murphy in scoring position to open the game, Wright delivered a two-run double to break a tie with Mike Piazza for the most RBIs in franchise history in interleague play. Wright added a run-scoring single in the second and run-scoring triple in the seventh, giving him 93 RBIs to Piazza’s 89.

Buck, Murphy and Wright had four RBIs apiece.

Worley had the shortest start by a pitcher against the Mets since the Yankees’ Darrell Rasner was forced from a May 19, 2007, outing at Shea Stadium without recording an out. Rasner took a sharp shot off the bat of Endy Chavez and broke his index finger in that game.

The 16 runs produced by the Mets matched their most ever in an interleague game. They beat Detroit 16-9 on June 29, 2011.

The Mets had scored one run total in the first inning of their first nine games of the season before posting a five-run first against the Twins.

The Mets became the first team in MLB history to score five-plus runs in each of their first two innings in their first-ever game in a ballpark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Murphy had four hits, matching a career high. The production included a three-run double in the seventh that gave the Mets a 13-5 lead.

SIXTH SENSE: Jonathon Niese, the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, departed after five innings with a 10-5 lead and his pitch count at 101. Niese’s streak of 22 straight starts completing six innings, the longest active in the majors, ended.

An error by Ruben Tejada, the shortstop’s fifth of the season, resulted in one of the runs against Niese being unearned.

Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee now has the longest active streak in the majors of six-plus-innings starts, with 19 straight.

LAFFEY MATTER: Aaron Laffey, who has eight days between starts, pitched the ninth to get work in. Laffey is due to start Tuesday in Colorado.

WHAT’S NEXT: Matt Harvey (2-0, 0.64 ERA) opposes left-hander Scott Diamond, who is making his first 2013 start after recovering from Dec. 18 surgery to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow.

Series preview: Mets at Twins

April, 11, 2013

Icon SMI
The Mets face (l to r) Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kevin Correia this weekend -- weather permitting.
METS (5-4, third place/NL East) at MINNESOTA TWINS (4-5, fourth place/AL Central)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (1-0, 2.13) vs. RHP Vance Worley (0-1, 5.73), 8:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 0.64) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (0-0, -.--), 4:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-2, 7.71) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (0-1, 3.14), 2:10 p.m. ET

Twins short hops

• Left-hander Scott Diamond, a SUNY Binghamton product, is due to be activated from the disabled list for Saturday’s start. He underwent Dec. 18 surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow. In a rehab appearance Sunday with Class A Fort Myers, Diamond allowed four runs on six hits in an 82-pitch effort spanning five innings. Among American League rookies in 2012, Diamond ranked fourth in wins (12), second in ERA (3.54) and sixth in innings pitched (173).

• Right-hander Vance Worley was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies with right-hander Trevor May for Ben Revere on Dec. 6, 2012. He is 3-3 with a 5.17 ERA (38.1 IP, 22 ER) in seven previous starts against the Mets.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Mike Pelfrey is not scheduled to face his former team this weekend.

• Center fielder Aaron Hicks’ role as leadoff hitter may be in jeopardy. The rookie is off to a 2-for-35 start to his major league career, with 16 strikeouts. He also drew criticism from manager Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday for not running out a ball that ended up being dropped by Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain. Hicks, 23, was the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of high school in Long Beach, Calif. The Mets took college players Ike Davis 18th overall and Reese Havens 22nd overall in that first round.

• The customary Twins lineup is:

Hicks, cf
Joe Mauer, c
Josh Willingham, lf
Justin Morneau, 1b
Ryan Doumit, dh
Trevor Plouffe, 3b
Chris Parmelee, rf
Brian Dozier, 2b
Pedro Florimon, ss

Mike Pelfrey, who was non-tendered by the Mets in December, signed for a base salary of $4 million with the Twins. He is next due to start Monday, after the Mets leave town. Pelfrey underwent Tommy John surgery last May 1. He was roughed up in Kansas City in his second Twins outing, lasting only two innings. Pelfrey did not allow an earned run in 5 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers in his Twins debut five days earlier.

• Twins setup man Jared Burton got to jam on his guitar at the team’s hotel Monday with Eddie Vedder. The Pearl Jam singer is friendly with Twins broadcaster Ron Coomer and watched the NCAA men’s basketball championship game with the team.

• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni has been dealing with a bone bruise on his left ankle, which he suffered in a March 25 Grapefruit League game.

• Roof-less Target Field, which opened in 2010, has never had a snow cancellation. The field is heated, aiding snow melting. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, four games were snowed out while the Twins played for 21 years at outdoor Metropolitan Stadium, before relocating to the Metrodome for the 1982 season.

• Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson have Mets ties. Gardenhire spent his entire five-year major league career with the Mets, hitting .232 in 710 at-bats from 1981 to ’85. Anderson debuted with the Mets in 1986 before being traded the following March to the Royals with Ed Hearn for David Cone.

• The Mets’ lone previous visit to Minnesota came in 2004. The Twins swept the series at the Metrodome. Johan Santana limited the Mets to one run in seven innings in the middle game of that series, topping Steve Trachsel. The 15-inning series finale ended with an RBI single by Mike Ryan against Ricky Bottalico.

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

April, 7, 2013

Getty Images/USA TODAY Sports
The Mets face (l to r) Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick this week in Philly.
METS (4-2, second place/NL East) at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (2-4, fourth place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (0-1, 13.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-1, 1.42) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (1-0, 0.00), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-1, 1.50) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 7.94), 7:05 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• Roy Halladay’s fastball averaged 89.6 mph and he used it far less often than is customary while surrendering five runs in 3 1/3 innings in his season opener at Atlanta. The fastball velocity is down from an average of 90.6 mph last season, 92.0 mph in 2011 and 92.6 mph in 2010. Halladay dealt with shoulder issues last season. He is seeking his 200th career win Monday. He is 7-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Mets since 2010.

• Phillies pitchers have surrendered an NL-leading 32 runs. The relief corps has allowed 10 of 11 inherited runners to score.

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports
Former Cubs great Ryne Sandberg is Philadelphia's new third-base coach.

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have started 962 games as a middle-infield combo, second to the Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (1,036 games) among active double-play partners. Rollins passed Richie Ashburn on Thursday for the second-most games played in Phillies history, with No. 1,795. Mike Schmidt is the franchise leader with 2,404 games played as a Phillie.

• Third baseman Michael Young was acquired from the Texas Rangers in December for right-handers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla.

• Center fielder Ben Revere was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in December for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May. Revere has played 166 straight error-free games. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Revere has 1,092 career plate appearances without a homer -- the most among active players. The next 35 on that list are pitchers.

• Opening Day starter Cole Hamels, whom the Mets do not face, is 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA.

• First baseman Ryan Howard is hitting .167 with no homers and eight strikeouts in 24 at-bats. He has yet to produce an extra-base hit through six games.

• Backup outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians last Tuesday, originally was signed by the Mets out of Venezuela. He was part of the three-team trade on Dec. 11, 2008 that landed J.J. Putz and Sean Green in Flushing.

Cliff Lee -- who was winless until a July 4 victory at Citi Field last season, and who went 6-9 overall in 2012 despite a 3.16 ERA -- is off to a more favorable start this season. Lee tossed eight scoreless innings at Atlanta on Thursday, limiting the Braves to two hits and no walks while striking out eight. Lee’s victory snapped Atlanta’s streak of winning 23 straight games started by Kris Medlen. Lee has made 18 straight starts of six-plus innings with one or fewer walks. That is a modern-era record, topping the 14 straight by Christy Mathewson (1908) and Greg Maddux (1997).

• Catcher Carlos Ruiz is serving a 25-game MLB suspension to open the season after testing positive for the stimulant Adderall. Fill-in Erik Kratz caught 40 percent of would-be base stealers last season.

• The Phillies overhauled Charlie Manuel’s coaching staff. The newcomers: third base coach Ryne Sandberg, hitting coach Steve Henderson, assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner and bullpen coach Rod Nichols.

Delmon Young, who signed with the Phillies in January, is playing in extended spring training games. He underwent ankle surgery in November.

• The Phillies’ primary batting order is:

Revere, cf
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Young, 3b
Domonic Brown, lf
John Mayberry Jr. (RH)/Laynce Nix (LH), rf
Kratz, c

These Mets magic moments ...

July, 11, 2012
US Presswire/Tim FarrellJohan Santana's June 1 no-hitter certainly was cause for celebration.
Here's a ranking of 10 memorable moments from the first half of 2012, with write-ups largely as they appeared on those days.

Obviously, Johan Santana's historic no-hitter -- the first in franchise history -- ranks No. 1. So what's your next favorite?

10. FRACTURED HOPE, April 14: Broken pinkie? Idle for four days? No problem. David Wright pounced on the first pitch he saw in his return to the lineup, sending a first-inning offering from Vance Worley over the center-field wall for a 428-foot homer in his return as the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-0. Wright avoided the DL and played through the fracture while unexpectedly missing minimal time.

9. BELL RUNG, April 26: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Mets swept the Marlins. Ex-Met Heath Bell walked four of the first five batters he faced and forced in the tying run with a 13-pitch free pass to Justin Turner. Bell threw 46 pitches in the ninth.

8. OPENING ACT, April 5: Santana successfully returned after missing the 2011 season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. And the Mets again were winners on Opening Day, improving their MLB-best mark to 33-18 in season openers, thanks to an RBI single from Wright and clutch relief from Tim Byrdak only 23 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Mets beat the Braves, 1-0.

7. CHICKEN DELIGHT, June 22: Frank Francisco labeled the Yankees "chickens" before the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. He ended up getting a save in the opener, in a 6-4 win. Things got weird, though, when Byrdak had a clubhouse attendant purchase a chicken in Chinatown for $8. Byrdak had the bird running around the Mets clubhouse. The good-luck chicken, dubbed "Little Jerry Seinfeld," eventually found a home at an upstate sanctuary.

6. RAY OF HOPE, June 12-14: The Mets answered getting swept in the Subway Series in the Bronx in resounding fashion. The Amazin’s scored 29 runs in a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, who had led the American League with a 3.40 ERA entering the series. The Mets -- who scored 11, nine and nine runs -- last posted at least nine runs in three straight games in 2006. They last did it consecutively in the same series back in 1990, when they scored 43 runs in the final three games of a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs.

Howard Smith/US Presswire
Jordany Valdespin's first major league hit was a game-deciding homer against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon on May 7.

5. PAPEL-BUMMERS, May 7 & July 5: Omir Santos … again? Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had not allowed a hit in the last 18 at-bats against him entering the series, surrendered a one-out walk to Ike Davis, two-out double to Mike Nickeas, then a three-run homer to pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win on May 7 at Citizens Bank Park. Then, July 5, also against Papelbon, Wright blooped in the game-winning single with two outs. It was Wright’s seventh-career game-ending hit and first since Aug. 7, 2008 (a home run). The third baseman finished with three hits -- including a homer -- and four RBIs.

4. CATCH 23, June 1: He struggled to put on his shirt in front of his locker, the pain of a crash into the left-field wall still reverberating through his left shoulder. The crash, which followed a catch that proved to be the biggest defensive play in preserving Santana's no-hitter, knocked him from the game, forcing him to watch the final innings in the training room and bringing on a litany of tests. The crash resulted in the best sore shoulder Mike Baxter has ever suffered in his 27 years. "Absolutely," Baxter said. "I'll take it any day of the week."

3. GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, March 19: The owners of the Mets settled with trustee Irving Picard for $162 million, their alleged profit from certain Ponzi scheme funds in the six years before Bernard Madoff's arrest. In reality, Fred Wilpon and family will be on the hook for only a fraction of that amount -- and will not be required to make any payments until 2016 and 2017. That's because, as part of the settlement, the Wilpons will be able to apply to the trustee to be reimbursed for $178 million in losses from certain funds.

2. ZEROES, June 13: R.A. Dickey ran his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 32 2/3 innings before Wright's ninth-inning error, a pair of passed balls from Nickeas and an RBI groundout ended the run. Dickey nonetheless passed previous record-holder Jerry Koosman (31 2/3 innings in 1973) as the Mets beat the Rays, 9-1, at the Trop. Dickey retired 22 straight batters at one point in claiming his 10th win.

1. NO-HAN: After more than a half-century and 8,020 games, Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Aided by an umpire's missed call and an incredible catch by a left fielder who grew up in Queens as a Mets fan, Santana's start is also the first no-hitter of his career. Mets manager Terry Collins said before the game that he wanted to limit Santana to a maximum of 110-115 pitches. Santana finished with a career-high 134. Afterward, an emotional Collins expressed his wariness about going after history instead of preserving Santana's long-term health.

Mets morning briefing 7.4.12

July, 4, 2012
The fireworks came a night early for the Mets. The Amazin's completed game No. 81 -- reaching the midway point of their season at 44-37 -- by blasting the reeling Phillies, 11-1, Tuesday night before a Citi Field-record crowd of 42,516. Daniel Murphy (4-for-5) and David Wright each produced four RBIs and Jon Niese tossed a season-high eight innings in the series-opening victory. Niese also contributed a two-run single against Vance Worley.

“We’re very pleased to be where we are,” Terry Collins said. “The guys have played very hard. I think the most impressive thing is their resilience. After a bad night or a bad series or whatever we’ve had, they’ve been able to bounce back from it. But we’ve got 81 more to go.”

The Mets will try to match their season high at eight games over .500 when Chris Young (2-1, 3.30 ERA) opposes winless left-hander Cliff Lee (0-5, 4.13) this afternoon.

Wednesday's news reports:

Jordany Valdespin appears headed back to the Mets, sources told Valdespin homered Tuesday for Triple-A Buffalo, a day after producing a four-steal game with the Bisons. It was not immediately certain who would be the roster casualty, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after suffering a bruised right hand during batting practice. Andres Torres instead started in center field.

• Wright's three-run homer moved him past Howard Johnson for sole possession of third on the club's all-time homer list at 193. He also became the first player in franchise history to reach double digits in long balls in nine different seasons. Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry and Ed Kranepool each had eight seasons of 10-plus homers as Mets.

In support of Wright, Sandy Alderson took to Twitter for a second time in three days to take a jab at the selection of Pablo Sandoval as the NL's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game.

Alderson tweeted on Tuesday: ASG election of "Kung Fu Panda" shows the value of a cute nickname. Surprised Giants fans didn't elect a "ball dude" to start at 3B.

That followed a Sunday tweet in which Alderson wrote: Wright vs.Sandoval: A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000.

Those jabs had been Alderson's first tweets from his account @MetsGM since April 12.

Read more on Wright's big Tuesday (and Alderson's tweeting) in Newsday and the Daily News.

• Meanwhile, retiring third baseman Chipper Jones has been added to the All-Star Game as a replacement for injured Dodger Matt Kemp, joining Sandoval and Wright.

• Murphy had two late shots at the cycle. And when bench coach Bob Geren brought up the possibility, Murphy quipped: "Not unless they let me hit it from second base," according to Conor Orr in the Star-Ledger. Read other game recaps in the Times, Record, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

• The Phillies dropped to 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2002. Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about floundering Philadelphia:

The Phillies look like a dead team that knows trades might be coming. At the very least, they may be digging themselves too deep a hole to climb out of, even with Chase Utley finally back from injury and Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay perhaps on the way as well. For that matter, I listened to Charlie Manuel talk on Tuesday about getting his injured stars back soon, perhaps making a big run in the second half of the season, and I thought I was hearing Jerry Manuel all over again, holding onto hope in 2009 for a turnaround that never came. It’s hard to believe but, somehow, the Phillies and their all-world starting rotation have become the Mets of recent years, when whatever could go wrong usually did. And, no less unexpectedly, the Mets have become the Phillies of recent years, tough in the clutch, riding a wave of dominant starting pitching, including eight innings of brilliance from Jon Niese on Tuesday night.

Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

In this upside-down National League East, the five-time defending divisional champions are looking like the broken team. The club that appears poised to dominate the trade deadline like the Mets did in 2011. The guys giving away good players -- Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, in this instance -- and looking ahead to next year, in other words. ... It’s a stunning development for an organization that had seemed to figure out everything. Sure, industry folks wondered if the big contracts (Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon) and win-now trades (for Lee, Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence) would eventually haunt the Phillies. Not this soon, though.

• Following up on a report in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday wrote about a potential reunion with Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez:

Courtesy of New York Mets
The largest crowd in Citi Field history was treated to a pre-July 4 fireworks display after Tuesday's rout of the Phillies.

Put it this way: they aren't against the idea, and a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday that Francisco Rodriguez is among the relievers currently being considered to add bullpen help. The New York Post first reported the Mets' interest in K-Rod, and it appears his past transgressions in Flushing won't get in the way of a possible reunion. Rodriguez, who earns $8 million this season on a one-year deal, is presently underperforming in a setup role for Brewers closer John Axford and might soon be available.

The Mets could probably get him by taking on most of the money -- down to $4 million by now -- rather than giving up a valuable prospect, something that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is very reluctant to do.

K-Rod's former teammates say they would not object to a return. Josh Thole told Mark Hale in the Post: “The people outside don’t know what kind of guy this guy is. He made one mistake.” Said Tim Byrdak to the newspaper: “I never saw any of [the problems] when I was with him last year. Great guy. ... Nice guy to play with. He was a good teammate.”

A team source, while not entirely ruling out acquiring a high-priced closer type, recently told that he did not foresee the Mets trading for another team's closer for setup duty. Of course, K-Rod doesn't exactly fit into that description anymore, since he has served as a set-up man for the past year.

Meanwhile, Tom Haudricourt in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chronicles K-Rod's 2012 struggles. Writes Haudricourt:

Rodriguez, who earlier in the season pitched with an ailing leg and back but supposedly has felt OK of late, surrendered two runs on two hits, including a homer, in two-thirds of an inning [Tuesday]. He emerged with a 1.53 WHIP (walks and hits per inning), compared with a 1.138 WHIP in 31 appearances with Milwaukee after being acquired from the New York Mets in a mid-season trade. [Brewers manager Ron] Roenicke said it has been a matter of command for Rodriguez, who has issued 16 walks in 36 2/3 innings while allowing five home runs.

"His stuff, for me, is actually better," said Roenicke. "I don't know [why his command has been worse]. Some of it was the issue with the leg but he's been feeling pretty good lately, so I can't answer that. He's usually not wild with his fastball. This year, he's been a little more wild with the breaking ball. The breaking ball used to be automatic. When I saw him three years ago [with the Angels], it was curveball, slider and then an in-the-dirt slider whenever he wanted to. It's not that way now, but I don't know what the difference is."

Jason Bay hit indoors and ran at Citi Field on Tuesday. He expected to head to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Thursday and potentially be activated from the disabled list in nine days, when the Mets reassemble after the All-Star break in Atlanta for the July 13 second-half opener. Read more on Bay's return from a concussion in the Record, Star-Ledger, Times and Newsday.

• Citi Field again will host soccer on Aug. 15, when Ecuador faces Chile at 8 p.m. Tickets, which begin at $30, go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at (718) 507-TIXX and at Ecuador and Greece met at the stadium on June 7, 2011 and played to a 1-1 draw before an announced crowd of 39,656.

• Valdespin had an infield single that scored Raul Reyes in the bottom of the ninth for Buffalo to make a winner of Jenrry Mejia, despite the reliever allowing two runs in two innings. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: The Mets have four players with 40-plus RBIs (Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Murphy). Name the only other NL team that can claim that distinction.

Tuesday's answer: The Phillies last finished in last place in the NL East in 2000, when they went 65-97 under manager Terry Francona.

W2W4: Phillies at Mets (July 3)

July, 3, 2012
Jonathon Niese Stats To Watch
We neglected to mention Niese in our list of Mets MVPs for June and perhaps that was a mistake, as he was 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in five starts.

Niese’s strikeout-to-walk ratio for the month was resemblant of R.A. Dickey, 34-to-5.

The key to that was fastball command. Niese threw his fastball for strikes 72 percent of the time last month, up from 61 percent in April and May.

There was a significant increase in called strikes. He got strikes on 52 of 126 fastball takes in June, compared to 52 of 162 fastball takes in May.

Niese has won three of his last four decisions against the Phillies. He’ll likely have to work around two hitters who will give him trouble. Placido Polanco is 11-for-29 with five doubles, and John Mayberry Jr., who has three homers against him.

Vance Worley Stats To Watch
Worley is 3-2 in five starts against the Mets and has allowed three runs or fewer in six straight starts overall. He allowed four runs in a loss to Jonathon Niese and the Mets on April 14.

Worley is very good at getting called strikes when hitters take a pitch and is particularly adept at nailing the outside corner, or just off it, for a strike against left-handed hitters.

Worley’s 38 strikeouts looking rank third in the majors behind David Price (44) and teammate Cliff Lee (39). The Phillies actually have the top three in the NL, with Joe Blanton next at 35.

At the Wright Time
Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that David Wright won’t start the All-Star Game. Because it makes it more likely he’ll play in the late innings.

For the first time in a long time, Wright is among baseball’s best end-of-game players. He’s 28-for-74 in the seventh inning or later this season, good for a .378 batting average.

That’s come with him being pitched extremely carefully. He’s drawn 17 walks in this part of the game, five of them intentional, resulting in a .500 on-base percentage.

He only has one late-game home run, but he has six doubles and two triples.

Wright and the NL's leading hitter, Carlos Ruiz will go head-to-head in this series. Ruiz is hitting .356, two points better than Wright.

Due-Da Lucas Duda may be due for a long ball. He’s 7-for-39 with no homers, one RBI and 12 strikeouts in his last 10 games. That’s partly due to facing an abundance of left-handed pitching (he’s 2-for-21 against lefties in this span).

Duda’s last game against the Phillies was a good offensive one for him. He went 3-for-4 with two homers against them on May 30.

Rollins not rolling vs. lefties
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is 0-for-his-last-12 against left-handed pitching, dropping his batting average against them to .237 this season.

Remember that the Mets shifted against Rollins when he hit left-handed against righties in the last series at Citi Field. He’s a borderline shift candidate from the right side, with 22 of 27 ground balls hit either up the middle, or to the third base side of second base.

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

July, 2, 2012

US Presswire
The Mets are expected to face (l to r) Vance Worley, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels during the midweek series.
METS (43-37, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADLEPHIA PHILLIES (36-45, fifth place/NL East)

Tuesday: LHP Jon Niese (6-3, 3.55) vs. RHP Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Chris Young (2-1, 3.30) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-5, 4.13), 1:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.15) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• The underwhelming Phillies traded a pair of veterans to the American League during the weekend. They dealt Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon. A day later, reliever Chad Qualls was sent to the Yankees for cash or a player to be named. Thome, 41, was hitting .242 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 62 at-bats, but back woes made it difficult for him to man first base. Qualls (4.60 ERA) had been designated for assignment Thursday.

Ex-Met Jason Pridie and left-hander Jeremy Horst took their roster spots. Horst had been acquired by the Phillies in January in the trade that sent infielder Wilson Valdez, another ex-Met, to Cincinnati. Pridie had signed with Oakland as a minor league free agent during the winter, was suspended 50 games by MLB for a second positive test for a drug of abuse in March, was released by the A’s last month and signed with Philadelphia on June 15.

Howard Smith/US Presswire
Chase Utley made his season debut last week after dealing with chronic knee woes.

• ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the dismantling may not be limited to peripheral players, with pending free agent Cole Hamels as well as Shane Victorino also potentially available.

• Hamels, catcher Carlos Ruiz and closer Jonathan Papelbon will represent the Phillies in the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, although San Francisco’s Buster Posey will start over Ruiz behind the plate. Ruiz, a first-time All-Star, leads the majors in batting at .356, two points ahead of David Wright.

• Second baseman Chase Utley made his season debut last Wednesday with a three-hit game. He homered against the Pirates’ James McDonald in his first at-bat. Utley, who played in 10 rehab games, has started three of five games since being activated from the DL. The absence was caused by chronic left knee woes. Mike Fontenot has started the other two games at second base since Utley’s return.

• First baseman Ryan Howard may not be too far behind Utley. He began a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Lakewood. Howard underwent surgery in October on his left Achilles and suffered a setback when the area got infected.

• Rookie infielder Freddy Galvis, who had started 45 games at second base in Utley’s absence, was suspended by MLB for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He already was sidelined with a back injury and will be allowed to serve the suspension while on the disabled list. In a statement, Galvis denied knowingly using the banned substance.

• The Phillies are nine games under .500 for the first time since July 25, 2006, when they were 44-53. A loss in the series opener against the Mets would drop Philadelphia 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2002. The Phillies had not had this bad a record at the midpoint of a season since they were 23-58 in 1997.

• After using Vance Worley in the series opener, the Phillies are expected to skip Kyle Kendrick and go with Cliff Lee and Hamels in the series.

• Lee remains winless through 13 starts. The last MLB pitchers to open a season with that many starts and not have one victory to show for it? They would be Kenshin Kawakami with Atlanta and Kevin Millwood with Baltimore, two seasons ago. They both failed to be credited with a win in their first 14 starts of 2010. Lee has allowed five or more earned runs in three straight starts, one shy of matching his career high, which came with Cleveland in 2007.

Roy Halladay threw a bullpen session Friday for the first time since landing on the DL with a back strain.

Last series results

Philadelphia won, 2-1, at Citi Field, May 28-30 (AP game recaps)

Phillies 8, Mets 4: Ty Wigginton drove in a career-high six runs with a homer and a pair of two-out hits and Cole Hamels won his eighth straight decision. Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino each hit tying two-run homers for the Mets. Down 5-4, the Mets threatened in the eighth when pinch hitter Andres Torres doubled. With one out and Torres on third, Daniel Murphy grounded out and then David Wright also grounded out to end the inning. Wright has gone hitless in his last 14 at-bats, dropping his average to .373. More

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Jeremy Hefner earned his first victory in the majors and highlighted the occasion by homering for his first big league hit. The 26-year-old rookie became the first major league pitcher to hit his first homer in his first win since 2002, when Dennis Tankersley did it with San Diego, STATS LLC said. Pinch hitter Scott Hairston had a two-run homer, and newcomer Omar Quintanilla doubled twice and singled. More

Phillies 10, Mets 6: Carlos Ruiz came off the bench with a sore hamstring to hit a tying homer in the seventh inning, Jimmy Rollins added a three-run shot and the Phillies busted loose late. Shane Victorino drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Philadelphia bailed out winless Cliff Lee to take two of three in the series. Ty Wigginton also homered for the Phillies, who improved to 3-6 against the Mets this season. Lucas Duda went deep twice, including a two-run shot off Lee in the sixth that gave the Mets a 3-1 lead. Dillon Gee pitched 6 2/3 effective innings, but the New York bullpen was battered after he left -- beginning with the pinch-hit homer by Ruiz. More

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

May, 28, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and winless Cliff Lee this series.
METS (27-21, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (25-24, fifth place/NL East)

Monday: LHP Jon Niese (3-2, 4.29) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17), 1:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.17) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (2-2, 4.55), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.92) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.82), 7:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

Cliff Lee is winless on May 28 for the first time since 2003, when he did not make his season debut until June 30 and opened the season as a minor leaguer. During Lee’s most recent outing, center fielder Shane Victorino and the southpaw were caught on camera in a verbal altercation in St. Louis in the dugout. The spat came after Victorino and Hunter Pence each lost fourth-inning fly balls in the twilight at Busch Stadium.

• The Phillies remain without the duo of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Howard, who is trying to recover from an infection in his surgically repaired left Achilles’ tendon, has taken live batting practice at the team’s complex in Clearwater, Fla. Utley (knee) has started taking grounders, but has yet to run the bases.

Jeff Curry/US Presswire
Shane Victorino and Cliff Lee jawed in St. Louis after Victorino lost a fly ball.

In Utley’s absence, Freddy Galvis has heated up at second base. Galvis is hitting .314 (22-for-70) with 15 RBIs in his past 18 games.

Ty Wigginton, Hector Luna and John Mayberry Jr. all have seen time at first base of late. Luna was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 11 when Laynce Nix landed on the disabled list with a strained left calf. He delivered a grand slam in his first at-bat as Phillie, while pinch-hitting five days later. Luna became the first player to produce a slam in his first at-bat as a Phillie since Gene Freese on April 18, 1959. Mayberry is 5-for-28 in his past 11 games (seven starts). Jim Thome (back) -- who also has logged time at first base this season -- has been on the disabled list for the past month, although he has resumed swinging a bat.

Cole Hamels’ seven wins are tied with R.A. Dickey, St. Louis’ Lance Lynn and ex-Met Chris Capuano for the National League lead. Hamels, a free-agent-to-be at season’s end, took a no-hit bid one out into the sixth inning in his most recent start. He ultimately tossed eight scoreless innings against the Nationals.

Joe Blanton has been knocked out in the fifth inning in each of his past two starts. He allowed seven runs apiece against Boston and St. Louis. The consecutive subpar outings have lifted his ERA from 2.96 to 4.55.

Roy Halladay departed Sunday’s game at St. Louis after two innings with right shoulder soreness. Halladay has logged 220 innings in each of the past six seasons. Since ’06, Halladay’s 1,487 innings are the most in the majors, ahead of runner-up CC Sabathia’s 1,463 and Dan Haren’s 1,429. Halladay had surrendered a grand slam to Yadier Molina before departing. Brian McCann also had a slam against Halladay this month. They are the first two slams allowed by the ace since Evan Longoria accomplished it in 2008. Fellow starter Vance Worley (elbow inflammation) may throw a bullpen session during the series in Queens but has yet to be activated from the DL.

• The Phillies are hitting .282 with 85 extra-base hits in May. They are averaging 4.8 runs per game this month. In April, they hit .247 with 47 extra-base hits and averaged 3.3 runs per game. Among the top May performers: catcher Carlos Ruiz (.410, 4 HR, 19 RBIs), Victorino (.288, 16 RBIs), Galvis (.283, 18 RBIs), Pence (.272, 8 HR, 18 RBIs) and left fielder Juan Pierre (.310). Ruiz has batted in the cleanup spot four of the past five games, with Pence moving to No. 3 and Victorino to fifth. Ruiz had never batted in the No. 4 hole in his seven-year career before this stretch.

• Philadelphia is carrying four left-handed relievers -- Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery and ex-Met Raul Valdes. Bastardo has allowed one run over his past 12 appearances, spanning 10 1/3 innings. Diekman and Valdes were promoted immediately after the meltdown series early this month against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, when Philadelphia failed to hold a lead in three straight games and was swept.

Jonathan Papelbon’s 14 saves lead the NL. He has converted every chance this season. His lone loss remains May 7, when Jordany Valdespin delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit three-run homer.

Jimmy Rollins took until at-bat No. 136 to homer. That was the second-longest drought to start a season in his career, only shy of the 155 at-bats required in 2004. Rollins missed three games last week on paternity leave for the birth of his first child, a daughter. If Rollins starts all three games this series, he will match Larry Bowa in Wednesday’s finale with 1,667 games played at shortstop for the Phillies.

Last series results

Mets won, 3-0, at Citizens Bank Park, May 7-9 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Phillies 2: Jordany Valdespin had a pinch-hit three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning for his first major league hit. David Wright hit a tying two-run double off Roy Halladay in the sixth. On the same day Ruben Tejada was placed on the disabled list, Josh Thole left with a concussion after colliding with Ty Wigginton at the plate. More

Mets 7, Phillies 4: Lucas Duda had a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh. The Mets took the lead with four two-out runs on four hits, including Duda's single off Antonio Bastardo (1-2). Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ RBI single pulled New York within 4-2. Chad Qualls replaced starter Joe Blanton and gave up an RBI single to David Wright. On Hunter Pence's throw home, Wright got caught in a rundown between first and second. After Jimmy Rollins threw to first while second base was uncovered, Pete Orr tried to get Nieuwenhuis off the bag at third. The throw bounced past Placido Polanco, allowing Nieuwenhuis to score. More

Mets 10, Phillies 6: Ike Davis hit a three-run homer and Andres Torres also connected as the Mets completed their first three-game sweep in Philadelphia in six years. The Mets rallied to win all three against slumping Philadelphia. They trailed after five innings against Roy Halladay in the opener, then after six against Joe Blanton, and after six against Cliff Lee in the series finale. The Mets (18-13) moved five games above .500 for the first time since July 19, 2010. The loss prompted manager Charlie Manuel to address his team. Lee left with a 4-2 lead, but Kyle Kendrick (0-3) quickly gave that up. More

Finger broken, Wright still has 3-hit return

April, 14, 2012
Broken pinkie? Idle for four days? No problem.

David Wright pounced on the first pitch he saw since Monday, sending a first-inning offering from Vance Worley over the center-field wall for a 428-foot homer in his return to the lineup Saturday as the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-0.

"Might as well and see how it's feeling," Terry Collins said after Wright went 3-for-5 in his first game back. "Might as well swing as hard as you can so you can get it over with, see if there's any pain. I'm not surprised. He's been swinging great. A few days off and he jumps back in there and is still swinging great."

Said Wright: "I jumped on that first one and kind of got lucky. … It's good for the confidence, it's good for the psyche when you do well your first at-bat back. It kind of puts that doubt in the back of your mind."

Worley intended to mostly pitch Wright inside to test the finger. But he tried to go away on the first pitch and missed over the plate.

"That was the plan. We just didn't do it good enough," Worley said. "I didn’t expect him swinging first pitch. Good for him. Wright was right."

Wright had the hand heavily wrapped afterward. During the game, he continually did hand exercises, including fiddling with clay, in order to keep the pinkie loose and avoid the finger stiffening.

"You feel it more on the bad swings and the balls off the end of the bat than you do the balls that you hit cleanly," Wright said. "Hopefully it only gets better. So that's the good thing. Like I said, you're hesitant. You know how you felt when you did it, so you're a little hesitant. And once you make a few plays and get a couple of at-bats, that hesitancy leaves your head."

The exact feeling?

"It's like you would imagine a fractured bone feeling," Wright said. "The main issue for me is I've got to make sure it doesn't stiffen up. Because once it stiffens up it's tough for me to get the mobility that I want."

Wright did not have any errors, although a few throws were imprecise.

"It was OK," Wright said. "Like I said, it's going to be a challenge. I don't think there's any question about that. I'm glad I got some chances. [Jon] Niese is a tough guy to play defense behind -- it's good to play defense behind, but it's tough -- because you get a lot of action, you get a lot of balls over there with those righties pulling the cutter. But I'm glad I was able to get a few balls and make the plays because that helps the confidence too."

Wright needed reminders a couple of times from first base coach Tom Goodwin, but he held batting gloves in his hands while on the basepaths to avoid getting into a situation where he would compromise the finger on a slide. He was on base twice aside from the homer.

"I was anxious to see him this morning," Collins said. "When he was in the cage this morning, I was just concentrating on his hands, to see if he was letting go of the bat early And he didn't. I watched him take batting practice downstairs and outside today and he looked great. That's why he's a star. The other balls he hit, he hit good. He's jumped back right in the fire.

"As I said earlier, when a guy like David Wright goes out and plays with a broken finger, and everybody knows he's got it, and plays the way he plays, all of a sudden the other guys, they don't hurt as bad. When they have something a little minor, they say, 'Hey, look, he can do it. So can I.' I think it sends a big message to everybody on the club."

As for how he might feel Sunday, Wright added: "I'm going to make sure I ice it and do all the exercises I'm supposed to do. Hopefully that will eliminate some of the swelling and some of the stiffness. But I'm sure tomorrow will probably be a little stiff."

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Phillies 0

April, 14, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: David Wright is back. After a three-game absence, Wright homered on the first pitch he saw from Vance Worley on Saturday while playing with a fractured right pinkie. The Mets went on to beat Philadelphia 5-0. On Sunday afternoon, the 6-2 Mets will bid for their first series sweep in Philly since June 13-15, 2006.

Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch combined on only the Mets' second shutout at Citizens Bank Park since the ballpark opened in 2004. The other came Aug. 7, 2010, when Johan Santana combined with Francisco Rodriguez, who had a five-out save.

WRIGHT STUFF: Wright went 3-for-5, with one out coming on a hard-hit smash up the middle that deflected off Worley to shortstop Jimmy Rollins for an unlucky double play.

The first-inning homer gave Wright 730 career RBIs, within three of matching Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record. Wright is now hitting .588 (10-for-17) with two homers and five RBIs on the season.

Matt Slocum/Associated PressIke Davis congratulates David Wright after the third baseman homered on the first pitch he saw since Monday.

Wright had quipped pregame that his throwing is generally subpar anyway and wouldn't be affected as much as hitting by the broken pinkie on his right hand. He nonetheless had a couple of rough throws.

The first came in the second inning with an off-line toss to Ike Davis after Wright fielded John Mayberry Jr.'s grounder, although Davis reached down the line for the throw and made the play. The second off-the-mark throw came in the sixth, when Wright fielded Placido Polanco's grounder and tried to initiate a double play. Wright bounced the throw to second baseman Daniel Murphy, but Murphy scooped the ball and the Mets got the out at that base.

No worries, though. Wright then made consecutive 5-3 putouts to end the inning, including ranging wide to his left to field Hunter Pence's grounder, spinning and throwing on target to Davis for the final out of the sixth.

DUUUDE: Lucas Duda snapped an 0-for-15 drought with a two-run homer off Worley in the fourth that staked the Mets to a 4-0 lead. The Mets had loaded the bases with none out in that inning before Jason Bay grounded into a run-scoring 6-4-3 DP that set up Duda's at-bat with one runner aboard. It was Duda's third long ball of the season. He had a two-homer game against Atlanta on April 7, with the shots coming against Jair Jurrjens and Chad Durbin.

THAT'S NIESE: Coming off a season debut in which he took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against Atlanta, Niese did not have comparable drama this time, surrendering a single to No. 2 hitter Polanco in the first inning. Yet Niese took a scoreless effort into the seventh for a second straight outing. This time, he was pulled with his pitch count at 102, two out in the frame and one runner on base after Carlos Ruiz was announced as the pinch hitter. Parnell recorded the final out, then pitched a scoreless eighth as well. Niese's line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

THIEF: The Mets stole their first base this season when Mike Baxter walked and swiped second in the ninth. Baxter then scored the Mets' fifth run on an RBI by Ruben Tejada. The Mets' first steal coming in Game 8 was the third-longest drought to start a season in franchise history. It took 17 games in 1963 and 12 games in '62.

WALLBANGER: Center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has a reputation for not fearing walls, which contributed to his suffering injuries in the minor leagues. That fearless play was on display Saturday. Nieuwenhuis went deep into the right-center gap to track down Brian Schneider's shot near the wall and end the second inning.

WHAT'S NEXT: Mike Pelfrey opposes Cole Hamels on Sunday as the Mets bid for their first series sweep in Philly in six years. Pelfrey's career ERA at Citizens Bank Park: 8.60, in eight starts. Hamels, though, has 10 losses against the Mets, more than against any other opponent. The southpaw's lifetime 4.46 ERA against the Mets is better than his ERA against only two National League opponents -- the Houston Astros (5.02) and Colorado Rockies (5.09). Of course, much of the career damage against Pelfrey has been inflicted by injured Ryan Howard (.372, 3 HR) and Chase Utley (.333, 4 HR).

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

April, 12, 2012

Howard Smith/US Presswire
The Mets face (l to r) Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels this weekend in Philly.
METS (4-2, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (3-3, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP R.A. Dickey (1-0, 3.00) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-0, 1.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (1-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Vance Worley (0-0, 1.50), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 4.76) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 5.06), 1:35 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• First baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Howard was examined Tuesday by foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson in Baltimore. He developed an infection in the back of his left heel as the result of surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon. That prompted a Feb. 27 surgical procedure to address the infection. Utley has dealt with chronic knee pain and is rehabbing in Arizona.

The Phillies already have used four different first basemen in Howard’s absence -- Ty Wigginton (twice), John Mayberry Jr. (twice), Laynce Nix and Jim Thome. Thome’s start was his first at the position since June 13, 2007. Nix previously had started only six career games at first base. Rookie Freddy Galvis has started all six games at second base. Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 pick last season, who now is Phillies property, started seven games at second base last season, but has a broken right foot. Martinez suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Jim Johnson in a March 20 spring-training game.

Howard Smith/US Presswire
With Chase Utley out, rookie Freddy Galvis is manning second base for the Phillies.

Galvis, 22, became the first player to make his major league debut on Opening Day with the Phillies since shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman Denny Doyle in 1970. He exclusively played shortstop in the minors and shifted to second base during spring training. Galvis hit a combined .278 with eight homers and 43 RBIs last season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He went 0-for-12 to start this season, before doubling in his final at-bat Monday, against Miami’s Anibal Sanchez.

Nix, 31, signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract in December. He hit .250 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 324 at-bats with the Washington Nationals last season.

• The Phillies had a fortuitous break in not re-signing Ryan Madson, whose agent originally believed the sides had agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal. Philadelphia quickly regrouped and landed former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for four years, $50 million. Madson then signed with the Cincinnati Reds late on a deal that guaranteed $8.5 million for 2012. He will end up missing the season following Tommy John surgery. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro publicly stated there was never an agreement, while Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, said at the time: "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction."

Papelbon last season became the first pitcher to have 30-plus saves in each of his first six full major league seasons. He also became the fastest to 200 saves -- in his 359th appearance. Papelbon’s new entrance music, by the way: Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box."

• Shortstop Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the organization on Dec. 17 for three years, $33 million, plus a 2015 vesting option.

• Reliever Jose Contreras, who underwent elbow surgery in September, has started a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater. Contreras is expected to work consecutive minor league games Thursday and Friday, after which he could be activated from the disabled list.

• Former Met-killer Pat Burrell plans to sign a one-day minor league contract with the Phillies next month and officially retire with the organization. Burrell is fourth all time in homers in the uniform, with 251. He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Philadelphia’s May 19 game against the Boston Red Sox.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Phillies 9, Mets 4

August, 23, 2011
WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets matched their season low-water mark by dropping eight games under .500 at 60-68. They also opened the season 5-13. The not-so-Amazin’s have lost five straight and 17 of 22.

With a matinee on Wednesday, Terry Collins pulled David Wright and Jason Bay from the game in the middle of the seventh, after the Mets’ scored their opening run on Justin Turner’s groundout to trim the deficit to eight runs. Lucas Duda added a two-run homer in the eighth.

NOT SO NIESE: Jon Niese, pushed back a day because he tweaked his back striking out during his previous start in San Diego, allowed a career-high eight earned runs. Niese also allowed eight runs against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 31, 2010, but five were unearned that time.

Niese lasted only four innings on this night, matching his shortest outing of the season (also an 11-0 drubbing by Roy Halladay and the Phillies on April 7).

Shane Victorino opened the scoring with a solo homer in the third. John Mayberry Jr. added a three-run shot later that frame.

Niese departed with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth. All three inherited runners scored against Pedro Beato as the Phillies grabbed a 9-0 lead. The final two runs that inning came home when Angel Pagan misread Victorino’s liner and it landed over the center fielder’s head for a two-run triple.

WATCH MEN: The Mets stranded five runners over the first two innings against Vance Worley, but that barely tells the story. With second and third base occupied in the first two frames, the Mets struck out FIVE times looking -- Duda and Nick Evans in the first, then Niese, Pagan and newly installed No. 2 hitter Ruben Tejada in the second.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets try to avoid the sweep as Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.61 ERA) opposes right-hander Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 3.24) in Wednesday’s 1:05 p.m. start.



Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187