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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mets Streak Hits 7 Games, Best start since 1985 and 1986

METS 5 - Marlins 4 
W - DeGrom (2-1)
L - Latos (0-3)
S - A. Torres (1)

The New York Mets are making winning a trend. No longer are wins a stunning occurrence at Citi Field, winning is now expected. Granted it's only 12 games and the season is only two weeks old, yet the Mets are quickly becoming an interesting story.

They are 9-3 on the year, the best record in the National League, and second best record in the Majors behind both Detroit and Kansas City. The 9-3 start is the best start to a season by a Mets' team since 1985 and 1986. And the club has now won seven straight games, including their first six games at home this year.

While one should expect the Mets to come back down to earth eventually, this ride is so much fun no one wants to get off.

On Saturday, the star of the show was Jacob deGrom who gave the Mets seven shutout innings, scattering six hits and striking out eight. Last season's Rookie of the Year, was untouchable in the biggest moments of Saturday's game, rearing back to get big strikeouts when he needed it the most. Perhaps his biggest of the night came in the sixth inning with a slim two run lead, when deGrom struck out Giancarlo Stanton with men on base to preserve the lead. Stanton was held hitless on Saturday, after hitting home runs in the first two games of the series.

The Mets backed-up deGrom with some key hits. Travis d'Arnaud lined a solo home run to left in the third inning to push New York up 2-0.  In the sixth inning, with Michael Cuddyer on third, Eric Campbell pushed a base hit over a drawn in infield to make it 3-0. Two batters later, Wilmur Flores launched a 2-run homer to left to make it 5-0.

Still the game was not without drama. Terry Collins wanted to give closer Jeyrus Familia a night off, and it almost blew up in his face. Carlos Torres got the ball in the ninth and struggled to close the door. Between a couple of strikeouts, Torres gave up three runs on four hits in the inning, forcing Collins to go back to the pen. So it was up to Alex Torres and his Mario Brothers sized baseball cap to shut it down, and the lefty did. He struck out Christian Yelich swinging to end it.

New York (9-3) goes for the sweep with Matt Harvey on the mound on Sunday.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Islanders Blow 3-1 lead, drop Game 2 to Caps

CAPITALS 4 - Islanders 3 
Series tied 1-1

The New York Islanders had a great opportunity in front of them. And in a lot of ways they still do. However, New York held a 3-1 lead after Kyle Okposo scored his first goal of the series in the second period, and it looked like the Isles would be on their way to a shocking 2-0 series lead.

Just the idea of New York heading back to the old Coliseum in Hempstead, Long Island with a 2-0 series lead in front of thousands of rabid Islander fans who have not seen playoff success in a generation, with this being the final postseason run for the old building. It was a dream only Hollywood could write.

Then, like a shooting star that 3-1 lead was gone. That potential 2-0 series lead was gone. And now New York has a series that is undefined at 1-1.

The Capitals came back with three straight goals to steal the game away. It started with Washington's leader, Alex Ovechkin who scored with a little less than four minutes to go in the second period to cut the Islander lead to 3-2.  It then snowballed in the third period as Nicklas Backstorm and Jason Chimera scored two goals in the first seven and a half minutes of the third period, stunning the Islanders.

New York never recovered. They managed only seven shots on goal in the final period, and 21 shots for the entire game. Washington, by comparison, had 35 shots on goal in Game 2.

If the Islanders are indeed serious about taking full control of this series, and winning it, they need to show some great perseverance when they hit the ice in a couple days on the Island. Blowing a chance at a 2-0 series lead can be devastating, it is up to this young Islanders team to prove that such a loss isn't a fatal one. Even with the series tied at one there is a great opportunity in front of the Islanders right now. They will be playing at home for three of the next four games of the series - their fans will be ready to rock. The Islanders need to be ready too. In the playoffs there is not time to dwell on past mistakes, there is only time for the next game.

Red Hot Mets Roll to Sixth Straight Win

METS 4 - Marlins 1 

W - Colon (3-0) 
L - Hand (0-1)
S - Familia (5)

If you told me that the Mets wouldn't miss a beat without David Wright in the lineup, I would have said you are crazy. But that is the case. The Mets won their third straight game since Wright landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. A combination of clutch hitting and good pitching, the Mets have found a formula in the early season that is paving their way to the top of the National League. At 8-3 the Mets are in first place of the NL East, and own the NL's best record through 11 games. Not to mention they have won six straight.

For a team that had such lofty expectations this season, they are proving to be better than advertised. It's one thing to say how good a team could be, it's another when they find ways to win through tough times. That is what the Mets have done lately. Granted it's still early.

The Mets trailed the Marlins 1-0 for much of the night until an unlikely hero turned the tide in the fifth inning. With Eric Campbell at third, Bartolo Colon lifted a sacrifice fly to center that drove in Campbell with the tying run. While a sac fly seems harmless enough, the fact it came off the bat of Colon, who makes at bats into a running cartoon, with his helmet flying off his head every time he tries to swing a bat was a sign that this night would be a good one for New York.

By the sixth inning, the Mets offense woke up. Juan Lagares and Lucas Duda led off with back-to-back singles to set the table for Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer, who is still trying to get used to New York, reached on an infield single to score Lagares to give the Mets the lead 2-1. Later on, it was Campbell who drove in Duda with a sac fly to give the Mets a 3-1 advantage.

New York scored one last run in the eighth inning when Daniel Murphy doubled to right to drive in Cuddyer.

On the mound, Colon was solid. He gave the Mets seven terrific innings, allowing only a run on six hits. He improves to 3-0.

Jeurys Familia once again was automatic in the ninth, locking down his fifth save in as many chances since becoming the Mets closer.

New York keeps it going with Miami on Saturday from Citi Field.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A-Rod Carries Struggling Yankees to Win

YANKEES 5 - Rays 4 

W - Betances (2-0) 
L - Joseph (0-1)
S - Miller (3)

Who is best player on the Yankees this season? Alex Rodriguez. Who is going to carry the Yankees this year if they are to do anything this year? Alex Rodriguez.

Yes, that's right the same guy who missed all of 2014 because he was caught as a lying cheat for steroid use, is the only reason to watch the Yankees right now. And would you believe for all the right reasons for once.

A-Rod powered the Yankees with a pair of home runs and four RBI in the Bronx Bombers 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Rodriguez now leads the team with four bombs and 11 RBI, and is four homers away from tying Willie Mays on the All-Time Home runs list. That is if you count those home runs, of course.

Early home runs by Rodriguez and Stephen Drew gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead, before Adam Warren gave it all back in Tampa's four-run fourth inning, as Allen Dykstra and Logan Forsythe hit back-to-back homers to power the Rays to a 4-2 lead.

Then in the sixth it was all A-Rod. Rodriguez hit a 2-run homer to left to tie the game at four. Finally in the eighth Rodriguez won it for the Yankees with a RBI single, scoring Brett Gardner.

The struggling Yankees are now 4-6 on the season, and are still in last place in the AL East.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jenrry Mejia suspended 80 games, Mets need to move on

As seen on 

Jenrry Mejia did the Mets a huge disservice and now New York has to make sure the reliever never hurts them again, ever.

Unlike their crosstown rivals who are in the pits for $61 million to keep steroid cheat and liar Alex Rodriguez around the clubhouse, the Mets do not have to suffer the same fate.  When word came down that Mejia was going to be suspended 80 games for using Stanozolol, a banned substance that will not only cost him most of the season, but also the playoffs, the first thing that came to mind was pretty simple: cut him.
Financially, Mejia only counts $2.60 million this year, and has no long-term contract hanging over the franchise. They have nothing to lose by sending the sternest message any major league team could possibly make in the post steroid era.

Whether he did it with full knowledge of what he was putting into his body or not, the fact remains Mejia was selfish in either regard. If he didn’t know what he was drinking, eating or injecting he should have asked the Mets training staff, or even the Players Union for guidance before ever taking anything. There are steps in place now where players can make sure that when they take a certain medication it won’t come back positive for steroids later.

Mejia didn’t do that, so we have to assume he knew what he was doing.

David Wright was correct when he said: “You’re letting down your teammates, and that probably means just as much if not more than hurting yourself.”

The Mets are now without a closer for the forcible future. The guy who stepped up big time last season and nailed down 28 games is now gone, creating a hole in the Mets pen. 

That being said all is not lost. At the beginning of spring training I wrote an article that Jeurys Familia could be the Mets best option to close down games for the Mets this season. He has a tremendous fastball, is very difficult to hit from either side of the plate, and was big in big spots last year.  One of the earmarks of a closer is to have a short memory and incredible intestinal fortitude. I think Familia has that.

If Familia takes the roll and makes it his own, why should the Mets give the closer’s job back to Mejia when he does return? In fact this makes Mejia expendable.

In addition, the Mets are going to get Vic Black and Bobby Parnell back by the end of the month. While Parnell has never been automatic in the ninth inning, he could be serviceable as a seventh or eighth inning man moving forward. Vic Black has potential to be a closer one-day himself.

The return of Parnell and Black also allows Terry Collins to move Rafael Montero into the starting rotation where he belongs.  In other words, unlike a lot of teams, the Mets have options in the bullpen. They can withstand this kind of blow.

The Mets should not let this episode hang over them. Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins: do the right thing, and let Mejia go.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Matt Harvey dominates Nats in return to Major League mound

METS 6 - Nationals 3 
W - Harvey (1-0)
L - Strasburg (0-1)

Thursday afternoon really was #HarveyDay after all. The Mets ace made his triumphant return to the majors with a dazzling showcase against the Washington Nationals, holding them to only four hits over six innings.

Harvey, who hadn't thrown a pitch in a regular season game since August of 2013, waited 20 months of surgery, rehab and anticipation for this very moment, and it was all worth it. Harvey's fastball was topping at around 97 mph, and pretty much stayed around 95-96 for much of the afternoon. Of the 91 pitches he threw 63 of them were for strikes. Harvey struck out nine Nationals, including making Bryce Harper look foolish on a rising fastball in the third inning. Harper struck out three times against Harvey for the golden sombrero.

Meanwhile the Mets offense came to life against Washington's Stephen Strasburg knocking him out of the game in the sixth. New York scored four runs in the top of the third to take the lead. Michael Cuddyer got it started with a bases loaded bloop single to right to make it 1-0. Daniel Murphy followed with an infield single to make it 2-0, Mets. Finally, Travis d'Arnaud continues to swing a hot bat, with a two-run single to center.

The Mets tacked on two more when David Wright drove in both d'Arnaud and Wilmur Flores to make it 6-0 Mets.

The bullpen had a rough time of it for the Mets, but still managed to hold on for the 6-3 victory.

The Mets complete a 2-1 road trip in Washington, a terrific and important start for this ball club as they try to not only back-up the high expectations, but make a statement as well in the National League.

Jets & Giants Preseason Schedules announced

The 2015 NFL preseason schedule is now available, and while these games are pretty pointless, the only real significance of it has to do with the fact that it means in one week the NFL regular season schedule will be released.

No matter here is the schedule for both New York City football teams.

NY Giants Preseason:
@ Cincinnati
@ New England

NY Jets Preseason:
@ Detroit
@ NY Giants

Other fairly notable games during the preseason include: Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota during the Hall of Fame Game, Green Bay @ New England, St. Louis @ Tennessee, Chicago @ Indianapolis, Green Bay @ Pittsburgh, New England @ Carolina, Denver @ Seattle, San Francisco @ Denver, and San Francisco @ San Diego. Why those match-ups? Because all of them are past Super Bowl match-ups, and the NFL is going heavy with honoring the past 49 Super Bowls this year in preparation for Super Bowl 50. Those games are considered "Gold Games" that are put throughout the schedule, and more will be featured once the regular season schedule is revealed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

DeGrom vs. Zimmerman lives up to Hype as Nats win

NATIONALS 2 - Mets 1 

W - Zimmerman (1-0)
L - DeGrom (0-1)
S - Storen (1)

The Mets are proving one thing, two games into the 2015 season, they can match pitch for pitch with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals came into this season with five top flight starting pitchers, something that was supposed to be unmatched in the majors. Yet the Mets have hung right there with them. 

On Wednesday a terrific match-up was on display between the Mets' Jacob DeGrom and Washington's Jordan Zimmerman. Rookie of the Year vs. All Star. The match-up didn't disappoint. 

Both starters traded their fair share of zeros over the course of six innings of work, yet Zimmerman pitched a little bit better. He held the Mets to only one run on four hits, as New York's offense looked sluggish and off-balance all night. 

The Mets had a great shot at Zimmerman early in the game. After Travis d'Arnaud drove in the Mets lone run on a single to left, the Mets actually had the bases loaded on Zimmerman, but the right-hander got out of it by forcing Curtis Grandson into a groundout. 

The Mets never threatened quiet like that again. 

The Nats got two early runs on DeGrom when Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run homer to left to put Washington up 2-0 in the first inning. That was all the scoring they needed. 

Now all the attention turns to Thursday afternoon when Matt Harvey makes his highly anticipated return to a major league mound after more than a year away from the game because of Tommy John's Surgery. He will square off with another TJS patient in Steven Strausberg. If DeGrom vs. Zimmerman was good, Thursday's match-up could be classic.