Archive for April, 2010

Mets 9, Phillies 1

Posted: April 30, 2010 in Mets

Jonathan Niese tossed seven strong innings Friday night.

The Mets continued their run of great baseball tonight by clobbering the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, 9-1. The Mets hit four homers, including two by Rod Barajas, and got a stellar pitching effort from Jonathan Niese.
Niese worked seven innings, allowing a run on four hits with seven strikeouts. This kid is a showing he belongs in the bigs, and is clearly the Mets’ No. 3 starter behind Johan and Pelfrey. His fastball was consistently in the low 90s and even touched 95 on one or two occasions. His curveball was much better than in previous outings, and if he has that pitch working, watch out National League.
The Phillies have some problems right now, namely pitching. Kyle Kendrick is pretty useless, and he was tagged for three homers (Barajas, Wright, Francoeur) and five extra-base knocks in his five-inning stint. The bullpen wasn’t much better, with Danys Baez getting rocked and Brad Lidge allowing Barajas’ second homer in his 11-pitch outing.
The Mets improved to 14-9, while the Phillies fell to 12-10. The surprising Nationals are now in second place at 13-10. Can’t see that lasting.
Tomorrow’s game should be very interesting, with Phillies ace Roy Halladay opposing Mike Pelfrey in a nationally televised game on Fox. Pelf has a 24-inning scoreless streak, which will likely end tomorrow. (Scoreless streaks and tiny CBP don’t mix). If the Mets can somehow win that one, they’ve got the clear pitching advantage Sunday night when Johan Santana takes on Jamie Moyer, who was apparently around in the Lincoln administration.


I’m fired up

Posted: April 30, 2010 in Mets

Yes, I’m at work at the moment but I can’t help feel excited about this weekend’s series with the Phillies. One, it feels good the Mets are playing well and somewhat relevant right now (after the 3-7 start, I was thinking the worst). Plus, this is a rivalry that is good for baseball. Sure, it doesn’t and never will get the attention of the Yankees-Red Sox, but baseball is better off when the Mets and Phillies are both good. Mets fans hate the Phillies, Phillies fans hate the Mets, all is right with the world. Last year, when the Mets were a joke and basically a shell of a team with all the injuries, I know Phillies fans were loving it. But I’m sure beating the Mets didn’t provide the same satisfaction (although I know they still loved it) as it did when they beat them out for two divisional crowns the previous two years. And for Mets fans, they’d love nothing more than to see the Phillies knocked from their perch atop the division and the league.
That said, this series is far more important to the Mets than the Phillies. The Phillies are two-time league champs, winning the World Series two years ago. They’ve won three division titles in a row, they know how to win. If the Mets can win this series, their fans will be energized and have some hope this seven-game winning streak wasn’t just a mirage. Yes, it’s only April 30th. There are 140 or whatever games left in the season, but I see this is an important series for the Mets. They can make a statement here, let’s hope it’s not one of “here we go again…..”

Mets win again, complete 9-1 homestand

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Mets

I don’t know what happened to the Mets, and I don’t really want to know. Just keep it going, fellas.
The Mets won their seventh straight game this afternoon, getting six solid innings from John Maine and some timely hitting in a 7-3 win.
Maine’s fastball is still lacking, as he hit 90 on the gun just twice by my count, but he struck out nine. He was especially impressive in the fifth, as I was sure he was about to implode. Up 5-1, he gave a walk and two-run homer followed by a Matt Kemp double, so he was clearly on the ropes. But Maine struck Andre Ethier out and got James Loney out on a grounder to end the threat. He finished by striking out the side in the sixth before he was lifted following a leadoff walk in the seventh. By far his best effort of the season.
Offensively, Angel Pagan highlighted a four-run second with a two-run triple, while David Wright continued to break out of his slump with a couple hits and a walk. Jeff Francoeur added a pair of RBIs and Ike Davis drove in a run with a single. It’s no coincidence the Mets started playing well just as Davis was called up, he’s provided energy and more importantly, production from the first-base position.
With the Phillies losing 4-1 in the eighth to Tim Lincecum and the Giants, it looks like the Mets will enter this weekend’s series with a 1 1/2 game lead over their rivals. Nobody would have thought that possible two weeks ago, especially me.
It’s very early in the season and the Phillies are the clear favorites in the NL East, but it’s nice to see the Mets playing good baseball right now. Let’s hope it continues this weekend!

Six in a row!

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Mets, Odds and Sods

All of a sudden, the Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball after sweeping a doubleheader from the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight.
New York won the opener 4-0 behind Johan Santana and prevailed 10-5 in the nightcap despite a typically shaky outing from Oliver Perez. New York has now won six games in a row, improving to 12-9 and a tie for first in the NL East (pending result of the Phillies game, the Mets will either be a half-game ahead or back). The Mets are 9-2 since starting the season 3-7, despite the offense nowhere near clicking on all cylinders.
Free-agent acquisition Jason Bay is heating up, belting a solo homer off Hiroki Kuroda in Game 1, his first with the Mets. He added an RBI triple in Game 2 off knuckleballer Charlie Heager.
Santana didn’t have his best stuff, but gutted it out through six shutout innings. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano combined to finish the game.
The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2, with Jose Reyes, Bay and Ike Davis driving in the runs. In typical Perez fashion, he gave it all back in the fourth, thanks to his usual wildness. It looked like he might escape with only one run scoring, but he fell apart against the bottom of the order, surrendering a walk to Jamey Carroll and RBI single to backup catcher A.J. Ellis before walking the pitcher Heager on four pitches to load the bases. Hisanori Takahashi walked in a run on a 3-2 pitch, but escaped the inning tied at 3-3 and did a great job with 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball. This guy has been a godsend, much like Darren Oliver was in 2006, providing big-time middle-relief innings to pick up guys like Perez and Maine, who have been erratic all year.
The Mets scored three in the fifth to take the lead for good, with Wright singling in a run and Davis doubling in two more. Wright’s three-run triple highlighted a four-run sixth, and the Mets coasted from there.
New York goes for its seventh straight win tomorrow afternoon, with John Maine gunning for that elusive first victory of 2010.

It’s been almost 20 years since seminal rap group Cypress Hill arrived on the scene with their brilliant self-titled release. Coupled with the 1993 classic album Black Sunday, the weed-loving Latino rappers rattled off a 1-2 punch of greatness rarely seen in the rap world – two extremely enjoyable, consistent albums all the way through with very little or no filler.
After Black Sunday, Cypress Hill continued to deliver albums, and while they’ve never released a terrible disc, their output has been increasingly uneven over the years.
B-Real, Sen Dog and D.J. Muggs took a six-year hiatus before releasing Rise Up this week, not so coincidentally on 4-20. Even on some of the latter-day inconsistent discs, the group has always embraced a wide array of sounds, never sticking to one style. But rarely have they been able to fuse everything together consistently. Until now, that is.
Throughout Rise Up, Cypress Hill drift seamlessly from the bass-heavy funk of their old days to heavy-rock guitar-infused tracks with a bevy of quality guest starts. Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello lends his shredding ability on two of the standouts – the title track and “Shut Em Down.” System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian delivers another heavy track (Trouble Seeker), while Everlast and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda lend their vocals to two others (“Take My Pain, “Carry Me Away”.
I love the rockers, but the hip-hop tracks are just as good, including the pumping bass-heavy opener “It Ain’t Nuthin.” Throughout the album, as usual, the boys let it be known that they love a certain herb, and that lifelong passion blazes through (pun fully intended) on tracks like “Pass the Dutch”, “K.U.S.H (Keeps Us So High) and “Light it Up.”
But my favorite track is the final one on the album, and one of the most catchy things they’ve ever done. Surprisingly using the sample of the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and getting a helping hand from Latino singer Marc Anthony and rapper Pit Bull, “Armada Latina” is the best thing they’ve done in years and a brilliant way to cap off a stellar return to form. Great to have these guys back, doing what they do best.

Sod rating: ****

Mets 5, Braves 2

Posted: April 23, 2010 in Mets, Odds and Sods

All of a sudden, the New York Mets are playing pretty good baseball. Starting with the 20-inning marathon, New York has won five of seven games, including tonight’s 5-2 victory over the division rival Atlanta Braves. The Mets have pulled to within a game of .500 at 8-9.
Everyone who reads the blog knows I’m not a fan of Jerry Manuel’s, but at least for one night, his lineup shakeup worked pretty well. He moved dynamic leadoff hitter Jose Reyes to the third spot, dropping David Wright to the No. 5 hole. Angel Pagan led off, with Ike Davis moving to the sixth hole and Jeff Francoeur to No. 7.
Reyes responded with a pair of hits, Bay drove in a run with a triple, and Wright knocked in a pair with a single and sacrifice fly. Oh yeah, Davis launched a 450-foot bomb for his first major-league homer.
John Maine, despite having decreased velocity yet again, looked pretty good early but left with an injury to his non-pitching arm with two outs in the fourth. Hisanori Takahashi did an amazing job in relief, tossing 3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out seven. Raul Valdez coaxed a key popout from Chipper Jones, Pedro Feliciano worked a scoreless inning, and Francisco Rodriguez gutted out the ninth for his second save in as many nights.
The Mets try to reach .500 for the first time since they were 1-1 when Jon Niese opposes Jair Jurrjens at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Mets 5, Cubs 2

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Mets

Sixteen games into the season, the Mets finally have their first series win.
The Metropolitans, behind Johan Santana, picked up a 5-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday night at Citi Field.
The offense started very slowly to say the least, as the Mets didn’t have their first hit off Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny until the fifth inning. New York put up a four-run sixth, with David Wright and Jeff Francoeur providing run-scoring hits and two more runs scoring on a Cubs error.
Santana worked the first 6 1/3, getting lifted after Kosuke Fukodome’s pinch-hit RBI single made it 4-1. Manager Jerry Manuel then did his best Tony LaRussa imitation, using four pitchers to get the final eight outs, with K-Rod nailing down his first save of the season with 1 2/3 strong innings to finish it.
Ike Davis continues to look like he belongs in the bigs, going 3-for-4, including his first extra-base hit (an eighth-inning double). Davis also scored twice.
The Mets open a series with the Atlanta Braves tomorrow night, as John Maine takes the hill against Kenshin Kawakami.

Big Pelf dominant again; Mets win 4-0

Posted: April 20, 2010 in Mets

Finally! A winning streak. Granted, it’s only two games, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Mike Pelfrey was brilliant for the third consecutive start, delivering seven shutout innings in the Mets’ 4-0 win over the Cubs.
Jose Reyes showed signs of life, notching four hits, including a two-run triple in the second that gave Pelf all the support he needed.
Fernando Tatis, who has been pretty bad to this point, also came through with a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth for some breathing room. Both of the big hits came with two outs and runners in scoring position, situations the Mets have whiffed on time and again over the last few years.
Ike Davis had a relatively quiet second night in the bigs, going 0-for-3. He did walk and score ahead of Tatis’ homer. The Mets’ middle of the order continued to struggle, with David Wright, Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur all taking 0-fers. Francoeur has plummeted back to earth of late, seeing his batting average drop more than 100 points in the last five days or so. He’ll be fine, you knew he was going to hit .400, so no big deal. Wright concerns me though, he looks absolutely lost at the plate. Maybe a day off would do him some good, seemed to work for Reyes, who had the night off last night.
The Mets go for their first series win of the year tomorrow in Game 3 of this four-game set. Wednesday’s game pits two guys who were absolutely horrible last year, yet have managed a pair of decent starts to kick off 2010 – Cubs righty Carlos Silva against the $36 million walk machine, Oliver Perez. Ollie had his best start in two years last Friday, carrying a shutout into the seventh of an eventual 4-3 Mets loss. Good news for the rest of the NL East…the Phillies blew one big time today and seem to have some serious bullpen problems. Their offense masked some of these woes early on, but they’ve cooled off a bit (they’ll eventually heat back up of course). The last-place Mets, 6-8, are now 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Phillies and Braves. I know it’s a bit early to talk about the divisional race, but the Mets were five games back a few days ago, and have looked better this week. Of course, much of that (dis)credit has to go to the Cubs, who were struggling just as much as the Mets were.

Davis era begins with win

Posted: April 19, 2010 in Mets

Rookie first baseman Ike Davis made his presence felt in his first big-league game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single as the Mets beat the Cubs at Citi Field tonight, 6-1.
Angel Pagan, who led off tonight after several games where clueless Jerry Manuel had him batting eighth, belted a two-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the seventh. The blast highlighted a five-run frame against the inept Cubs bullpen.
Jason Bay showed signs of breaking out of his slump, going 2-for-3 with an RBI double.
Jon Niese did a nice job of pitching out of trouble, going 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He struck out seven and walked three in his best outing of the season. Fernando Nieve picked up the win, and Jenrry Mejia finished the game with two hitless innings. The Mets are now 5-8 and have three more games with the Cubs. Let’s hope they finally break the season-opening string of winning one game every series.
Mike Pelfrey takes the hill tomorrow night against Carlos Zambrano.

Davis era about to begin

Posted: April 18, 2010 in Mets

Ike Davis connects for an opposite-field double during spring training. The Davis era is about to begin in New York.

Despite another series loss, which puts the Mets at a putrid 4-8, I’m actually a bit upbeat. For it looks like the Ike Davis era is about to begin in New York.
Davis, a 6-4 215-pound sweet-swinging first baseman, is about to get called up to the Mets, according to several published reports. It can’t happen soon enough for this anemic offense, stifled again 5-3 tonight by the Cardinals (I’ll get to that in a bit). Davis was hitting .364/.500/.636 at Triple-A Buffalo with three doubles and two homers, walking nine times. He mashed in spring training as well, vastly outperforming Mike Jacobs (and Daniel Murphy for that matter). The Mets, understandably at the time, thought Jacobs could hold down the fort while Murphy recovered from a knee injury and Davis got some Triple-A experience. But with the team struggling to score runs and Jacobs flailing away pathetically most games, they aren’t waiting. Davis had a strong year last year, batting .298/.381/.524 with 20 homers and 71 RBIs, adding 31 doubles across two levels. I’ve seen him play a few times now, and he definitely looks ready. Sure, it will take some adjusting, but he’s got a plan at the plate and works the count pretty well.
Now, for tonight’s atrocity. Ultimately, you have to tip your hat to Adam Wainwright. Aside from a rough second, the guy was awesome tonight. But what in God’s name provoked Jerry Manuel to trot out a spring training lineup out there?
Yes, I know the Mets played 20 innings, but batting Frank Catalanotto in the cleanup spot. Even when he’s hitting (which he isn’t), he’s a singles hitter. He had never batted cleanup anywhere before. And why does this sack of excrement continue to bat Angel Pagan eighth? He was one of the few bright spots in the marathon game, and he had two more hits and two RBIs tonight. He’s got to be batting second, especially with Reyes struggling. With Jason Bay and Luis Castillo sitting, the lineup should have looked like this: Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Francoeur, Matthews, Catalanotto, Barajas, Cora, Maine. Instead, it was this: Reyes, Cora, Wright, Catalanotto, Francoeur, Matthews, Barajas, Pagan, Maine.
Granted, both lineups aren’t worldbeaters, but my lineup is much better than Jerry’s. He seems to believe that you absolutely have to separate the righties and lefties in your batting order. I can buy splitting lefthanders up (so a manager can’t bring in a lefty specialist late in the game), but righthanders can hit back-to-back. Happens all the time. He just didn’t get it. He kept trotting Jacobs in the No. 4 and 5 spot while Francouer was hitting No. 6 and batting over .400. Get your best hitters more chances at the plate, nimrod! This guy can’t manage, all there is to it.
Oh well, Cubs into Citi Field for four games. Wonder if Omar will be happy with one win yet again….