Jeurys Familia

This Win Was Brought to You by Chapstick

If nothing else, Daniel Murphy keeps things interesting. He’s just as likely to make an amazing play as he is to make a routine play look like an adventure.  He will hit a double and then get lost on the way to third. 

Today was no exception. In the first inning, he singled setting up first and second with no out. After a Yoenis Cespedes single and a Lucas Duda popout, Travis d’Arnaud hit into the routine 5-4-6 double play. It wasn’t really routine, it was a classic Murphy TOOBLAN.  Murphy assumed the play was over and he got caught between second and third. He got burned so bad, he had to apply Chapstick. No, that’s not a joke. He literally applied Chapstick after the play.

Since it wasn’t a continuation play, the run counted giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. In the second, the lead would expand to 2-0 on a Michael Conforto opposite field homerun. Actually, it wasn’t a Conforto homerun, it was a:

Murphy would redeem himself for killing the first inning rally by hitting a two RBI double in the seventh scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (8 runs scored, no hits for the Mets) and Curtis Granderson (1-3, two walks, and two runs scored). Once again Granderson was a catalyst. Once again Murphy giveth and Murphy taketh. 

On the pitching side, Jon Niese pitched well after eight days of rest. He got a number of groundballs. His final line was six innings, three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Some questioned pulling him after six innings and 88 pitches, but I agree with Terry Collins. He’s been so bad lately that you get him out of there whe he’s feeling good, and he gave you enough depth. 

The 7-8-9 of Addison ReedTyler ClippardJeurys Familia combined to preserve the 4-0 win. Nothing like a bad Braves team and some Chapstick to smooth over the rough stretch and help get the Mets a win. 

Matz Takes the First Game of the Subway Series

Other than a win, if you set forth what you wanted from tonight’s game, it would be a strong start from Steven Matz and for Lucas Duda to get back on track. Well done and done. 

It didn’t start great for Matz. He was amped up in the first inning, and he wasn’t locating. He worked around a leadoff walk and single to Carlos Beltran  (seriously why was he booed), and only allowed one run on a sac fly. He got through six innings with the scored tied at 1-1.  His final line was six innings, seven hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and one earned. 

The score was tied at 1-1 when he left because Duda hit a homerun in the second. He looked back on track tonight going 2-4 with a run, an RBI, a double, and a homerun. Matz would get the win because Daniel Murphy would hit a go-ahead homerun in the bottom of the sixth. Murphy had a great night going 2-4 with a homerun and a triple (slight misplay by Jacoby Elssbury). 
Overall, four of the Mets five runs came via homerun. The last homerun was a two run pinch hit homerun by Juan Uribe in the seventh. You could say his ball went,”Bye, Bye, Bye.”  

The fifth run would save scored in the eighth on a wild pitch. The run was scored by Eric Young, Jr., who pinch ran for Murphy after his triple in the eighth. EY now has no hits and seven runs scored for the Mets. 

The bullpen kept the lead even with Tyler Clippard out with back problems. Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh, which included getting a lefty out. Addison Reed was terrific in the eighth showing he’s ready for the playoffs. Even without the save opportunity in a 5-1 game, Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth. 

It was an adventure. He loaded the bases with one out. That included an infield basehit off of his knee. He got Brett Gardner to fly out to left, and the runner did not try to run on Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm. He was in left because Juan Lagares came in for defense. Familia then struck out Chase Headley to preserve the 5-1 win. 

I think Matz made his case to pitch in the playoffs. Duda got back on track. Murphy remained clutch. The Mets beat a team that needed to win tonight. The Mets aren’t collapsing. 

They’re getting ready for the playoffs. 

Mets Win Even in Previews

One of the things I like to do is to go see a Broadway show during previews and right before Opening Night. By that time, many of the kinks are worked out, but the actors are still trying things to see if it works. Even better, the tickets are at a discount. 

Tonight was preview night at Citi Field. The Mets had BOGO tickets. Terry Collins tried some stuff out like batting Lucas Duda seventh against a righty. He started Michael Cuddyer in RF against the lefty over Curtis Granderson. He only let Logan Verrett go five innings in a game tied at one despite throwing under 70 pitches. 

Collins would bring in Sean Gilmartin in the sixth. Was this to see both potential long men, or was this a preview for a future Matt Harvey rumored half start. Gilmartin would show his rust giving up two runs to the Marlins. However, like the Broadway previews, the stars brought it and brought down the house. 

Yoenis Cespedes opened the scoring in the third with a bomb to left field. After the Mets fell behind, Travis d’Arnaud hit a game tying two run homer. Finally, the biggest star of them all, David Wright, hit the go-ahead ground rule double scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (who also stole a base). Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth and saved the 4-3 win. 

We can expect a lot more of this over the next month. These are the types of things you can and should do with a large division lead in September. Because the Mets are so good, they’re going to win a lot of those games. 

I can’t wait for when this show makes its October debut. 

Harder to Hit Than Spell Syndergaard

After skipping his last start, the Mets brought Noah Syndergaard to the mound. After shaking off some rust and allowing a first inning run, he was completely dominant.

His fastball was consistently between 98-100. He mixed in his breaking pitches keeping the Braves off balance all night. His final line was seven innings, two hits, eight strikeouts, and one earned. All of this was just on 94 pitches. He looked like an ace. He looked like someone that needs to be pitching in October

His fellow rookie, Michael Conforto, backed him up in the field. As Keith Law would say:

Conforto made some nice plays including this gem (even if the runner should’ve been called safe):

The Mets needs to be good in the field because the Braves were great in the field including turning four double plays. 

Unfortunately, Thor did not get the win even if Yoenis Cespedes hit another homerun in the eighth to get a 4-1 lead. Tyler Clippard imploded and allowed a game tying three run homer in the eighth. It’s hard to get on him with his great he’s been. The Mets would return the favor by giving him a cultured win. 

Travis d’Arnaud continued to be d’Man. He went 3-4 with an RBI, and he started the game winning rally with a ninth inning ground rule double. Eric Young, Jr. would pinch run and score on Kelly Johnson‘s RBI single. Johnson would score by beating Andrelton Simmons‘ throw him on Cespedes’ bases loaded fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 6-4 lead. 
Jeurys Familia would make it stand up with his 41st save of the year. He’s been dominant this year, and the Mets have been dominating lately. They now sit at 81 wins guaranteeing they will not have a losing season. 

I think I speak for everyone when I say that finishing above .500 is the least of the Mets goals right now. 

Mets 1-2 Punch Their Way to a Win

This was the Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes Show. With the offense scuffling tonight, they accounted for four of the Mets five runs. It showed why Cespedes receives the MVP talk while Granderson is truly the Mets’ MVP. 

In the third, Granderson walked and scored on a Cespedes double. In the fifth, Granderson scored on a balk after being moved to second on a Cespedes single and Daniel Murphy ground out (he was absolutely robbed of an RBI double by Freddie Freeman. He scored for the last time on a laser homerun by Cespedes in the ninth. 

Even though Steven Matz looked to be fitting himself and an inconsistent umpire, he only allowed one earned run in five innings. While Matz may not have been great, it was impressive he was able to get though five innings. 

Erik Goeddel pitched a 1-2-3 sixth despite letting up two deep fly balls. Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, further showing he’s the seventh inning guy. Tyler Clippard did his usual good work in the eighth. Jeurys Familia recorded his 40th save securing the 5-1 win. 

The only concern from the game was Murphy’s leg. He probably would’ve been safe on Freeman’s play if he was able to run full speed. As Keith Hernandez pointed out, Murphy seemed to be slow and since after his seventh inning single. Terry Collins may need to find him a couple of more days. 

Overall, it was an ugly win, but a win nevertheless. It was good enough to increase the lead to 8.5 games. 

Before the game, the Braves had a nice ceremony commemorating 9/11. They even showed the Mike Piazza homerun, which happened against them. They also wore the First Responder caps in batting practice, which they will auction off for charity. While I’ll criticize the Mets players and MLB, I’ll compliment the Braves here. 

The Braves also had a wonderful rendition of “God Bless America.”  They represented baseball and the country well. 

Win Was Rest Assured

Like his past few starts, this game was all about Bartolo Colon clobbering the NL East. He’s now 13-1 against the NL East with a 2.52. He had a 31 inning scoreless streak that surpassed Warren Spahn‘s record for most consecutive shut out innings for a 42 year old. It was also fell 1.2 innings short of R. A. Dickey‘s club record. 

Colon even asserted his dominance at the plate. After Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe scored on a Kevin Plawecki 4th inning RBI double, Colon would single him home. Colin’s dominance and scoreless streak would end in the seventh when he allowed two runs. With two outs, he was lifted for Dario Alvarez, who did his job as a LOOGY, and got the lefty Nick Markakis out. 

Hansel Robles was out attending to family matters. Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia were given the day off due to their usage in the Washington series. As such, Alvarez came back out for the eighth, and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning, which included getting Freddie Freeman out. It was a great job by him. 

It looked like Addison Reed was going to get the save opportunity until Uribe hit a two run double in the ninth. Reed still came on and secuted the 7-2 win. 

Colon’s battery mate, Plawecki, also had a good game. He went 1-3 with a double, a walk, and three RBIs, including an insurance run in the eighth. Overall, playing backups like Uribe, Johnson, and Plawecki allowed the Mets to rest Travis d’ArnaudDaniel Murphy and his quad, and David Wright and his back. 

That’s the benefit of building a big lead. You get to rest some guys who need rest. When you’re really good, you win those games, even when Yoenis Cespedes finally has an 0-fer. You win these games even with a two and a half hour rain delay and a flooded dugout:

Before moving along to the next game, our best wishes to Dan Warthen, who was not at the game because he had to go to the hospital with heart problems. I hope he gets better, and he comes back to enjoy this ride. 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

After last night’s big homerun, I wanted to write a post about Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ chances of making the postseason roster. I then realized such conversation is premature without first discussing who is definitely going to be on the roster, and what the roster needs will be. 

Please note this list assumes all injured players will be healed and ready for the playoffs. And yes, I’m taking Matt Harvey at his word. So without further ado, here’s my best approximation:

Position Players

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Wilmer Flores
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. Ruben Tejada
  7. Juan Uribe
  8. David Wright
  9. Kelly Johnson
  10. Yoenis Cespedes
  11. Michael Cuddyer
  12. Curtis Granderson
  13. Juan Lagares
  14. Michael Conforto

Pitchers

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Hansel Robles

While typically an MLB team carries 12 pitchers, that number is usually reduced to 11 relievers. That means there’s three spots open for pitchers like Sean GilmartinDario AlvarezCarlos Torres (if healthy), Erik GoeddelLogan VerrettJon Niese, and of course Steven Matz. Notice, I did not put Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty on the list. If all the position players make the list, there’s only room for 11 pitchers anyway. 

With an injury, like Cuddyer’s, the decision will come down between Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young, Jr., and yes, Eric Campbell

The Mets have tough decisions to make. They have about a month of tryouts. So far, Gilmartin, Alvarez, and Nieuwenhuis have made their cases. Other players have their opportunities as well. It’s nice having this conversation instead of talking about next year. 

Mets Deep Six the Nationals

It was like the Saturday press conference.  Matt Harvey was there by himself, all alone. He seemed unprepared and less sure of himself. He bungled everything from the start. In the process, he managed to anger the Mets fans. 

The Nationals jumped on Harvey early scoring two in the first and one in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Like he was Sunday, David Wright was there for him hitting a second inning solo homer. Other than that, no one supported him . . . including himself. 

Terry Collins let him leadoff the sixth with the team down two runs. It’s hard to argue with Harvey cruising and the bullpen usage yesterday. The Mets then wasted a gift triple to Curtis Granderson. Then the bottom of the sixth happened. 

The first two got on, and then Harvey bobbled a bunt loading the bases with no out. Harvey got a strikeout, then Michael Taylor stepped up to the plate. He then hit a Little League Grand Slam. It was a hard hit ball so a limited SS like Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] couldn’t make a play on it.  Then Cespedes charged the ball hard, but he olayed it allowing Taylor to go round the bases and give the Nationals a 7-1 lead. Apparently, the Nationals official scorer is a disgruntled Mets fan so it was ruled all seven runs were earned. 

The Mets woke up in the seventh and showed the Nationals who was the better, more resilient team. Down 7-1, the Mets went to work. They loaded the bases and Granderson got an RBI walk, and then Cespedes redeemed himself by hitting a bases clearing double to bring the Mets within 7-6. Upon reloading the bases, Lucas Duda got an RBI walk tying the game at 7-7. 

In the eighth, forgotten man Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch hit go-ahead homerun. Tyler Clippard did his job in the bottom of the inning. 

In the ninth, Jeurys Famila let up a leadoff single. He was helped out by Duda who made a nice play getting the lead runner out on a terrible Anthony Rendon bunt. Familia walked Bryce Harper, who is seemingly 0 for 2015 against the Mets. It would set up a huge 5-4-3 double play to end the game, and perhaps the NL East race. 

It took awhile, but the Mets picked up Harvey and themselves. This Mets team is resilient and looks like they’ve locked it up. Let’s now get Harvey ready for October. 

Post script: I stumped Gary 

  

Mets Are Resilient & Better

The Mets lost 2/3 to the Marlins. The Nationals were coming in hot. The Mets were starting their worst pitcher in Jon Niese, and the Nationals were starting their best in Max Scherzer. There was no reason why you would think the Mets would win this game. 

Except this – the Mets are resilient, and they’re a better team. Niese was handed a three run lead from Michael ConfortoKelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes solo homeruns. He then didn’t get a call leading to a walk loading the bases. Sure enough, he gives up the lead on a grand slam to Met killer Wilson Ramos

He’s pulled and Carlos Torres enters. Sure enough, he pulls up lame and has to leave the game early. The resilient Mets got terrific bullpen work today made all the more remarkable by the fact that Tyler Clippard was unavailable. Erik GoeddelDario AlvarezHansel Robles, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch four shutout innings allowing one hit and striking out eight. The highlights were Alvarez becoming the LOOGY we imagined he is by striking out Bryce Harper in the seventh, and Robles quick pitching his way into the Nationals’ heads. 

The Mets offense made sure the bullpens work was rewarded. After tying it with runs in the fifth and sixth, the Mets took over in the seventh. After Ruben Tejada negated a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] lead off double with an awful sac bunt attempt, the Mets were resilient and picked him up. After a Curtis Granderson walk, David Wright hit an RBI single to put the Mets ahead for good. He would later score on a Cespedes RBI double. The image so far for the season is Wright pumping his fist as he beat out Harper’s throw to score the eighth run of the game. 

By the way, Cespedes had himself a day at the plate. He went 3-5 with two runs scored, two RBIs, two doubles and a homer. Terry Collins also had himself a day. Before the game, he declared this is a playoff series, and he was going to manage accordingly. If this is what we can expect in October, I take back every negative thing I’ve said about his managing abilities

This was just a terrific win. It’s the type of game that can sink the Nationals and propel the Mets even further. This’s Mets team is resilient, and they’re taking control of the division again. They’re putting the Nationals in the rear-view mirror, and they’re not looking back. 

Take a Deep Breath, It’s the Marlins

For three straight seasons, I was there when the Mets season ended.  In 2007 and 2008, the season ended with a baffling loss to the Marlins. The 2006 – 2008 seasons left its scars.  Those years weren’t worse than the 2007 – 2014 irrelevance. Well, it’s 2015, and the Mets are back in first place. 

You know what else is back?  The talk of the Mets collapses. All over Twitter, there is discussion about not jinxing anything. Tom Verducci published an article in Sports Illustrated which, in part, highlighted Collins’ own collapses in his prior managerial experience. I’m sure with the Mets playing the Marlins that will only intensify. 

It shouldn’t even be a discussion. In 2007, the Mets entered September with a two game lead over the Phillies. In 2008, the Mets entered September with a one game lead. These Mets entered September with a 6.5 game lead. These Mets have an intact starting rotation even if the team is tempting fate with their handling of it. Even if there are issues with the bullpen, it’s in much better shape with a healthy closer like Jeurys Familia

The Marlins now are 14 games under .500 and are part of the Mets weak schedule. They’re a mess even by Marlins’ standards. They still don’t have Giancarlo Stanton back from the DL. The Mets are 9-4 against these Marlins. I’m not worried. 

The 2007 and 2008 Mets were a different team from top to bottom. They were lacking something. We don’t know the makeup of this team yet. There have been positive signs like the sweep of the Nationals. There were negative signs like getting swept by the Pirates

Today is September 4th. There’s one month of baseball left starting with the Marlins. For the fans that need it, those ghosts that haunt them will begin to be exorcized tonight. For the other fans, this is a series against a second division club. For everyone, it’s time to enjoy the winning baseball.