Two weeks ago, the New York Mets sat a few games over .500 knowing that if they wanted to make the 2008 postseason, they’d have to start playing better baseball. With last nights 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves, the Mets now find themselves 14 games over .500 at (71-57), atop the NL East by 2.5 games and 9-1 over their past 10 games. If that’s not better baseball, I don’t know what is.
Carlos Delgado exploded for five hits and three RBI’s to lift the Mets to their ninth win in 10 games. The five hit performance ties a career high that he had previously accomplished back in 1998 with the Toronto Blue Jays. With the score tied at 4-4, his fifth and final hit came in the bottom of the ninth inning, finding an outfield hole allowing David Wright to score the winning run from second.
“I’m seeing the ball well,” Delgado said. “It was a big win for us. We’re really confident. We’ve been able to find a way to win ballgames. That is something we weren’t doing early in the year.”
Since July 1st, Delgado is batting .321 with 12 homeruns and has driven in 49 runs over the past 48 games. The win also completed a three game sweep of Atlanta, the Mets first three-game sweep at home against the Braves since Sept. 1-3, 2003.
Pedro Martinez gave the Mets seven quality innings allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out two. His first pitch of the game was sent by Yunel Escobar deep into the left field stands for his seventh homerun of the season but Martinez settled down into a groove retiring 15 of the following 16 batters he faced including 1,2,3 innings in the third, fourth and fifth. He got into a little trouble in the sixth, allowing three runs on three hits but he retired the side in the seventh before being lifted in the eighth.
“We continue to put ourselves in position day in and day out to win games,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We have a good team. We have good chemistry. A lot of things are really working in our favor right now.”
For Atlanta, Mike Hampton made his first appearance against the Met s since July 17, 2005. The southpaw had missed the two previous seasons with elbow surgeries and only made his 2008 debut about a little over a month ago. Hampton pitched well but did not factor into the decision going six innings and allowing three runs on eight hits. He is currently 2-1 with a 6.47 ERA.
“It was fun being out there,” said Hampton who was the MVP of the 2000 NLCS for the Mets. “I might have an opportunity to be out there one more time in September before this place goes but it’ll definitely hold a special place in my memories in my baseball career.”
The loss drops the Braves to a season worst 16 games below .500 at (56-72) and 15 games behind the Mets for the division lead. Since the All-Star break, Atlanta is only 11-22, have lost five in a row and nine of their last 10 games.
The Mets will now welcome the Houston Astros to Shea for a four game series. Tonight’s game features an incredible pitching matchup between Johan Santana (11-7, 2.75 ERA) and Roy Oswalt (11-8, 4.28 ERA). Although neither has a stellar record, both pitchers have absolute filthy stuff and are capable of shutting down any lineup in baseball on any given night.
Even without Manny Ramirez in their lineup, the Florida Marlins are still making noise in the NL East and with the MLB trade deadline approaching, their 7-5 victory over the New York Mets Wednesday night pulls the division race even tighter.
On a day when the main baseball talks revolved around the Boston Red Sox left fielder, the Marlins capitalized on 11 hits and a five run fourth inning to lift them to their 24th win of the season against an NL East opponent, the most from within the division.
Josh Johnson won for the first time in almost two years pitching 6 2/3 solid innings allowing four earned runs on eight hits. The starter who had reconstructive elbow surgery in August of 2007 had not won a game since Aug. 28 2006. With the win, the Marlins are also now 4-0 on his four starts this season.
“Two years, wow,” Johnson said when a reporter told him. “Time flies, I guess.”
For the Mets, it was their first loss in a game that Mike Pelfrey started since June 11th. They had won nine consecutive times with him on the hill, and he had picked up eight wins during that span. Pelfrey was only able to throw 4 innings in this one, allowing five earned runs on eight hits before he was pulled from the game. His display equaled his shortest outing on the season.
With the loss, the Mets drop out of first place in the NL East and find themselves a half game behind the Philadelphia Phillies who beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 yesterday. The win for the Marlins pulls them only 1 game behind New York and 1 ½ games behind the Phils for the division lead.
Members of the Marlins were excited about the win but with trade talks in the air some are also uncertain about their future with the team. Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida, both brought up as part of a possible trade, had two hits apiece for Florida.
“You put that aside when you step between the white lines,” Hermida said. “I’ve still got a Marlins jersey on. It didn’t affect me whatsoever.”
If a trade were to take place, and under the collective bargaining agreement with the players union, Ramirez would have to approve any deal before it were to happen but with his recent comments and antics on the field, he may approve anything proposed just to get out of Boston.
The Marlins will now welcome the Colorado Rockies into town for a four game series while the Mets will travel to Houston to take on the Astros for a three game set starting tomorrow.
Saturday’s game left the New York Mets bullpen utterly depleted. The 14-inning affair lasted 5 hours, and required 9 innings from the bullpen. The Mets burned through nearly every arm they had, and essentially needed Johan Santana to throw a complete game. He delivered.
Santana threw his 7th career complete game, giving up one run on 6 hits and one walk. He struck out five, and contributed offensively with two hits and an RBI. Albert Pujols’ 7th inning home run was the only blemish on Santana’s day.
“I know what my job is,” Santana said. “I want to give us a chance to win every time, to be consistent. I think I have been. Could it be better? Maybe. But today I wanted to give us a chance to win and give the bullpen a chance to rest. I’m very happy I did that.”
The Mets offense helped out as well, scoring 9 runs on seventeen hits. Fernando Tatis had a monster day, hitting two doubles and a homer. David Wright and Ramon Castro also contributed home runs. The win put the Mets in sole possession of first place in the NL East, one game ahead of the Phillies and two ahead of the Marlins.
The Mets and the Marlins start a three game set at Dolphin Stadium on Monday night.
Pedro Martinez will be spending some time away from the New York Mets after the passing of his father in the Dominican Republic. Among the candidates to fill-in for him on Saturday were Ruddy Lugo, Brian Stokes, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa, and Claudio Vargas. All of those players either did not have adequate rest or Major League experience. Chosen instead was journeyman right-hander Brandon Knight. Knight appeared in 11 games for the Yankees in 2001-2002, and spent time since then in the Pirates system, as well as independent leagues.
Knight was close to retirement earlier this year, but encouragement from his wife helped him choose to return to baseball.
“My wife, Brooke, convinced me to go for it and in my heart, I felt I needed to give myself one more chance,” he said.
Since Knight joined the Mets AAA affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs in May this season, he has a 5-1 record and an era of 1.60, with 49 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. His performance helped earn him an invite to the US Olympic Team in Beijing, as well as Pacific Coast League player of the week award after a 6-inning 12 K performance.
Martinez is only expected to miss one start, but Knight’s performance will decide if he will stay with the NL East leading Mets for longer.
Entering the 9th inning Tuesday trailing 5-2 to the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies knew that with closer Billy Wagner unavailable to pitch due to muscle spasm in his throwing shoulder, anything was possible. Six runs and four relief pitchers later, the Mets witnessed just how valuable a good closer can be.
The Phillies batted around sending 11 batters to the plate in the 9th inning rally that helped lift them past the division rival Mets and take a 1 game lead in the NL East standings. The devastating blow came from 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins when he clocked a go-ahead two-run double to propel the Phillies to their 54th victory on the season.
“It started last year,” Rollins said, referring to the Phillies’ comeback from seven games behind the Mets with 17 to play to win the division. “You never give up.”
New York had played the spoiler in Joe Blanton’s first start with Philadelphia since being traded from Oakland. Blanton allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of work in his NL debut but did not factor into the decision because of the late inning heroics by his teammates.
Johan Santana also did not factor into the game’s decision after pitching very well for the Mets. Santana tossed eight solid innings allowing only two runs on eight hits but got nothing to show for it after his bullpen could not close the game out.
“After seeing that, you can’t help feeling that you want to be out there,” said the sidelined Wagner, who has 24 saves in 30 chances. “A lot of different things might have happened if I was out there. I’d rather be the guy standing here taking the blame instead of letting my teammates suck on this one.”
The loss puts the Mets 1 game behind the Phillies in the NL East standings and 4 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wildcard race.
The speculation is over. So is Willie Randolph’s 3 season run as the manager of the New York Mets. The Mets fired Randolph overnight in response to a lackluster season (34-35) from a very talented Mets team. Bench Coach, Jerry Manuel will take over as the Mets Manager. The move comes one month shy of Randolph coaching the NL squad in this year’s All-Star game at Yankees Stadium. The event would have been very special for Randolph given his many years of success as a member of the New York Yankees.
The Mets also fired Pitching Coach, Rick Peterson and 1st Base Coach Tom Nieto.
In a rain shortened two game weekend series, the New York Mets took both games over the crosstown rival New York Yankees. With Friday night’s game postponed due to rain the matchup of Johan Santana vs Andy Pettite had to wait until Saturday and Santana didn’t disappoint, earning his fifth win of the year in a 7-4 victory by the Mets. Despite giving up homers to Jeter, Giambi and Abreu, Santana was mainly dominant over the Yankees lineup. The Mets got big homeruns out of David Wright and Jose Reyes.
In Sunday’s game two, the Yankees didn’t fair much better against the Met’s Oliver Perez, scoring two runs on a Hideki Matsui homerun. The Mets had another great offensive night, putting up eleven runs on Yankees pitching. Chien Ming Wang took the loss for the Yankees, his 2nd of the year. At 20-24 the Yankees remain in last place in the AL East and are four games below .500. They hope the return of Alex Rodriguez on Tuesday night can jump start their offense.
After making it through the top of the 3rd inning, the rains came and washed out the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in their season opener. The defending NL Champions were trailing 5-1 at the time the game was called but it will all be erased and replayed at a later date.
The Arizona Diamondbacks still have a bitter taste in their mouth after being swept last October in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies. Taking the field for the first time since that playoff series, the defending NL West Champions looked very solid in a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Brandon Webb picked up right where the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner left off pitching 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in route to his first victory of the year. The offensive attack was led by three solo bombs hit by Chris Young and Eric Byrnes in the 3rd inning and the other hit by Jeff Salazar in a PH at bat in the 7th that gave the D-Backs some breathing room with a 2 run cushion. Brandon Lyon recorded the save pitching a perfect 9th inning.
It was a pitchers duel for 8 innings in Chicago at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers before both teams came to life for 3 run 9th inning performances, but it was the Brewers who would prevail with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. Corey Hart lifted the Brewers with a 2 RBI double in the ninth that put them ahead 3-0. Closer Eric Gagne came in and suffered his first blown save of the season (surprise, surprise) by allowing a three-run home run to Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome, the first of his major league career, which knotted the game at 3-3. In the 10th inning, Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a sac-fly that plated Craig Counsell for the game winning run for the Brewers. David Riske pitched a perfect 10th frame and recorded the save.
With 5 runs on 5 hits in the top of the 9th inning, the Washington Nationals turned a close game into a statement win in their 11-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday at Citizens Bank Park. Nick Johnson’s RBI double opened the flood gates for National bats, and the hits just kept on coming as the team chased out Phillies closer Tom Gordon after allowing 5 earned runs on 4 hits and only recording 1 out. Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge each produced 2 hits and 2 RBI’s for the Nationals in the win. The Phillies were led by SS Jimmy Rollins who went 2-4 on the game with a pair of RBI’s and a HR.
Behind the arm of Johan Santana, the New York Mets captured their first victory of the 2008 season over the Florida Marlins with a 7-2 win. Santana struck out 8 and allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings. The one mistake he made came in the 4th inning when he allowed a two-run homer to Josh Willingham. After the HR, Santana would only allow two runners to reach base. The Mets scored 6 of their 7 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, led by a bases clearing double by 3B David Wright. Wright went 2-4 with 3 RBI’s for the game. New York’s bullpen worked a scoreless 8th and 9th to preserve the win for Santana, Mark Hendrickson suffered the loss for Florida.
Brad Penny pitched 6 and 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers back it up with some early runs that would be hold up for a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Barry Zito struggled for the Giants allowing 3 runs in the 1st inning and another in the 2nd. He last only 5 innings and was pulled after 87 pitches and allowing 8 hits. The Dodgers runs in the 1st came on a Matt Kemp RBI single, followed by a Jeff Kent two-run blast to deep left-center field. SS Rafael Furcal also added three hits in the winning effort.
The Atlanta Braves came up just short, twice, in a thrilling 12-11 twelve innings game that ended with the Pittsburgh Pirates on top. The Braves mustered up a 5 run 9th inning to tie the game at 9-9 and left the winning run on base. After a few scoreless innings, the Pirates were able to score three runs in the 12th on Xavier Nady three-run homer to dead center field. The Braves made things interesting scoring 2 in the bottom of the 12th on a Jeff Francoeur solo shot and an RBI single by Matt Diaz but stranded the tying run on base to suffer their second loss of the season. Tom Glavine pitched well for the Braves but took a no decision with 5 innings pitched, 7 hits and 1 earned run allowed. Pirates relief pitcher, Franquelis Osoria, pitched from the 10th inning on, and finished the game for the win.
Jake Peavy helped his own cause by going 1-1 at the plate with 2 RBI’s and then made those runs stand up by pitching 7 scoreless innings in San Diego’s 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros. 2B Tadahito Iguchi paced a balanced offensive attack for the Padres with 3 hits on the night. The Astros looked rusty at the plate only collecting 4 hits in the contest, 2 of them coming from newly acquired SS Miguel Tejada. Row Oswalt took the loss for Houston, scattering 11 hits and 3 strike outs over 5 and 1/3 innings worked.
The New York Mets have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. How could you not after acquiring Johan Santana during the off-season. After dealing for arguably the best pitcher in the game, the Mets become overnight contenders in the NL East for obvious reasons. Santana has won 90 games since the 2002 season, an average of 15 a year. In that time period he struck out 1289 batters, the most in baseball over the six year span. Not to mention, boasted a career 3.22 ERA.
Saying this guy’s good is an understatement, it’s almost an insult, because Johan Santana is amazing.
For the Mets, spring training will only be a chance to showcase their talented new ace that joins a staff of two other pitchers, when in their primes, were also once considered the stud on a staff. Pedro Martinez and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez are not strangers to the number one spot in the rotation. Martinez was there with the Montreal Expos, (may you Rest In Peace) and then the Boston Red Sox while Hernandez was the anchor to the New York Yankees club in the late 90′s.
Aside from what looks to be a dominant staff of starting pitchers, the Mets look very solid in the field as well. SS Jose Reyes is the fastest man in MLB, and is the first legitimate player since Ricky Henderson’s 1983 season to have a chance at stealing 100 bases in a year. 3B David Wright’s numbers have gotten better in each of his first three campaigns in the big leagues, and last year he finished 4th in the MVP balloting so look for this season to be even better. Veteran 1B Carlos Delgado still has some pop in his bat and should provide 20-30 HR’s and right around 100 RBI’s.
Another great sign for the Mets is having outfielders Moises Alou and Carlos Beltran reporting to camp on time, in shape, and completely healthy. The two roaming the outfield at Shea Stadium this season certainly will help Mets pitchers because their defensive prowess closes the gaps for opposing hitters. If both can continue to produce their career averages at the plate, the Mets have nothing to worry about from the two sluggers.
Lots will be going on in New York this year, but the Mets will be taking the ‘one game at a time’ approach because they do not want a duplicate of last years September collapse to repeat itself. With a new field and stadium scheduled to open for 2009 (Citi Field), the Mets would love to go out with a Championship for their loyal fans.
Before they even step foot in New York, the first thing the Mets want to do is get through spring training. They opened their first Grape Fruit league game against the Detroit Tigers and looked very solid through the first 6 innings holding the Tigers scoreless. The Tigers ended up winning the game 4-2 but team officials were very pleased with the effort the squad put forth.
As for Mets fans, they have every reason to smile this spring. Some guy named Santana is coming to town, and he’s bringing the heat. The NL better be ready for him or they are going to get burned.
2008 New York Mets tickets are now available.
This summer on July 16, Billy Joel will make “The Last Play at Shea” in a final concert at Shea Stadium in New York. Mark your calendars because this is a show that you will not want to miss.
Earlier this week, the Mets organization announced that The ‘Piano Man’ will sing and play the night after baseball’s All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. “It’s an honor to help throw Shea the ultimate concert farewell party,” said Joel, 58. “As a sports fan and a music lover, I will always have a place for Shea Stadium in my heart. I thank the Mets for giving me and my fans a chance to rock Shea Stadium one last time for the ages.”
Only occasionally has the stadium has been used as a concert venue, most notably, when the Beatles played there in 1965 and 1966. Other Shea headliners have included Elton John, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Police. Joel has never played there before.
The new stadium will be named Citi Field and is to open for the Mets 2009 season.