Gut Reaction: Red Sox 6, Mets 4 (10 innings) 8/28/15

An exhausted bullpen could not handle a second straight extra-inning game, as the Red Sox exploded for three runs in the 10th inning for a 6-4 win Friday night.

Logan Verrett, pitching in back-to-back games just days after going 8 IP as a starter, surrendered a 2-0 lead and a win for Matt Harvey. He served up two gopher balls and three runs.

Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, both pitching for the third time in four games, kept the Red Sox in check. But when the Mets couldn’t win in regulation, Terry Collins opted to use Carlos Torres for the fourth time in five days and after pitching 2.1 innings on Thursday. The results were predictably bad.

Collins opted not to use Sean Gilmartin, who also pitched Thursday and who had thrown 5 IP in the past five days, and Hansel Robles, who pitched in three of the last five games.

Why are the Mets’ relievers so taxed right now? Part because of trips to offensive-happy parks in Colorado and Philadelphia, part questionable bullpen usage in previous nights by Collins and part because of the insistence on carrying a pitcher who is useless, simply because he throws with his left hand. The Mets continue to believe that’s a desirable trait, despite all evidence to the contrary since 2011.

During the game, Gary Cohen said, “Lack of depth in the Mets’ bullpen has shown tonight.” That’s an interesting interpretation of events. How about this, instead: Trying to compete with a six-man bullpen after seven games in Colorado and Philadelphia finally caught up with the Mets.

The shame of it all was wasting another terrific outing by Harvey. He pitched six scoreless innings, allowed just three baserunners, fanned eight and left with a two-run lead.

The Mets staged a two-out rally in the 10th, due to wildness from the Red Sox closer. New York loaded the bases, scored a run on a walk by Curtis Granderson before Yoenis Cespedes flew out to center to end the game.

Curve Hold Off Thunder Comeback

Jaron Long took the tough loss for Trenton Friday night.

CURVE, PA – Andy Vasquez’ blast off Jaron Long set the tone in the second inning Friday night and the Altoona Curve never looked back in a 3-2 victory over the Thunder.

Jaron Long allowed three runs over 7.0 innings in his third consecutive … [visit site to read more]

Bristol Edges Pulaski in Slugfest; Franklin, Katoh, Cortes Honored

Pulaski's Nestor Cortes earned a spot on the Appalachian Conference All-Star Team.

BRISTOL, Va. – After weeks wrapping up close games to win the Appalachian League’s Eastern crown, the Pulaski Yankees (41-23) let one get away Friday night, as the Bristol Pirates (28-32) notched a 10-9 win with a four-run eighthninning.

A total of … [visit site to read more]

Game Chatter: Henry Owens vs Matt Harvey (8/28/15)

RiverDogs Nearing Record-Setting Finish in the Stands

RiverDogs

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston RiverDogs are closing in on a franchise-best attendance record and are on pace to eclipse the 290,000-fan mark for the first time in franchise history.

Five scheduled openings remain for the RiverDogs this season … [visit site to read more]

Mark Simon on Yoenis Cespedes hitting lefties

“So far, this hasn’t been a huge factor in Cespedes’ performance with the Mets. He’s 8-for-32 against left-handed pitching with three home runs.

But there have been traces of some issues. Watch some of the wild hacks Cespedes takes when a lefty is in the game.

All eight of the hits have come against pitches in the lower half of the strike zone. He has seen 67 pitches in the upper half of the strike zone from lefties, swung at 27, missed 15 and fouled off 12.

But as the games get more important, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a team leave a lefty in (especially one who can attack the top of the zone) to try to get Cespedes out.”

Source: Mark Simon, ESPN.com

Haven’t run the numbers but it seems that all pitchers should look to attack Cespedes above the belt.

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From unbeatable to paper tigers, wtf happened to the Nats?

nats coverRemember this cover story? Sports Illustrated wasn’t alone. The Sporting News, ESPN the magazine and pretty much every baseball season preview anointed the Washington Nationals the 2015 World Series favorite. Nearly every baseball writer aside from this one picked the Nationals to run away with the National League East. Who could blame them? They won the division handily last year with a 96-win season and added a Cy Young Award winner to what was already considered the best pitching staff in baseball.  With a six-deep power rotation and a lineup full of proven veterans and promising kids, how could this team miss?

On paper they were the team to beat with Cy Young zillionaire Max Scherzer atop a rotation of fireballer Stephen Strasburg, the young stud Jordan Zimmermann, crafty lefty Gio Gonzalez, righty hurler Doug Fister and rookie 15-game winner Tanner Roark. The bullpen, even with the departures of Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard, still featured the effective Drew Storen, Matt Thornton, Aaron Barrett and Craig Stammen, plus they added Jonathan Papplebon at the trade deadline. The lineup, while not the ’27 Yankees, was stacked with proven veterans like Jayson Werth, Denard Span, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman, as well as emerging young stars like Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. Even Wilson Ramos, Yunel Escobar and reserve Danny Espinosa were replacement level players.

Sportswriters and broadcasters were calling this Nationals team “flawless” and “unbeatable.”  After signing Scherzer, Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci said, the Nationals were “built for October” and Harper asked, half-jokingly, “Where’s my ring?”

Well, in fairness, Harper has held up his end of the bargain, having the type of offensive season that will garner him MVP votes. Scherzer has been as good as advertised, among the league leaders in strikeouts and ERA all season. Jordan Zimmermann has been good, as has Escobar. The rest of the team has been very disappointing. Most of the rest of the Nats’ players have either been battling injuries – Span (61 games played), Strasburg, Rendon (46 games played) – down years – Fister (4.66 ERA, moved to bullpen), Gonzalez (1.48 WHIP), Zimmerman (.224 batting average), Desmond (.661 OPS, 23 errors) – or both – Werth (.205 batting average, only 55 games played). On top of the slumps and lumps, it’s also been speculated by numerous broadcasters and writers that the Nats have a clubhouse problem. Perhaps Matt Williams is not the right fit as their manager or perhaps chemistry is lacking in the dugout and on the field. In any case, that doesn’t appear to be an issue for the division leading New York Mets at the moment.

At this moment the Mets (71-56) sit atop the National League East with a 6 ½ game lead over the second place Nationals (64-62). That’s a nice lead, but with 35 games remaining, including six head-to-head games with the Nationals, it’s a little early to bring on the dancing girls. And the Nats just announced that they’ve shifted their rotation schedule so that Scherzer will pitch in both series against the Mets.

We have momentum on our side and we’re heading home to face the last place Red Sox with our top three guns taking the hill.  After that we’ll get three at home against our new favorite punching bag, the Philadelphia Phillies, followed by a day off and then three on the road in Miami. It’s hard to imagine the Mets not taking at least six of the next nine before they go to Washington for the first three-game series on September 7. We may well be able to deliver a knock-out punch.

If the Mets keep playing the way they have been, they’ll finish say, 94-68. To keep pace, the Nats would have to win 30 of their remaining 36 games. If we come back to earth a bit and finish at say, 90-72, the Nats would still have to go 26-10 to hang with us. In fact, even if we backslide a bit, and finish with say, 87 wins, the Nats would still have go 23-13 down the stretch. What was once the Nats’ division is now clearly ours to lose. Whether or not anyone saw this coming six months ago, it feels pretty damn good.

SI Yanks Knock ‘Gades Out of Second Place with Win

Domingo Acevedo was solid yet again for Staten Island (Robert M Pimpsner)

FISHKILL, NY – Kevin Cornelius and Jhalan Jackson had 2 hits apiece as the Staten Island Yankees defeated the Hudson Valley Renegades in the first game of a 3-game series.  With the win and an Aberdeen victory the Yankees added a half a game to … [visit site to read more]

Martini Leads GCL Yankees 2 to Victory

Renzo Martini  (Bryan Green)

With only two games left on their schedule and no chance of participating in the league playoffs, the Gulf Coast Yankees 2 are looking to end the season on a high note. On Thursday they won their third straight, beating the Astros 6-4 in Tampa.

The … [visit site to read more]

Gut Reaction: Mets 9, Phillies 5 (8/27/15)

Normally when you score seven, five, four, and five runs in a four game series, you’re looking to pull at least one or two wins away. Not the Philadelphia Phillies. They had the unfortunate task of taking on the hottest team in baseball. But it wasn’t always so. From June 30th to July 4th the Mets scored six runs in six games. They haven’t scored less than six runs in any of their last four games, the reason for the Philadelphia sweep. And the last time the Mets scored less than four runs was 12 days ago. The offensive explosion that has taken place over the past month have been nothing short of historic.

On Thursday night the Mets added three more home runs to their already franchise-leading 40 hit this month. They still have four more games to play in August, including another one versus the Phillies. But enough about the offense, how about that Carlos Torres/Daniel Murphy play in the 10th inning! A comedy of errors mixed with a beautiful ballet, the ricochet off Torres, which Murphy gobbled up just in time to make a backhanded toss back to Torres for the 1-3-1 putout, had announcer Gary Cohen in awe. It finally feels like all the things that went wrong early in the season, are finally starting to go right. The team hasn’t won like this in over a decade. September can be a notoriously long month, but this club seems determined to start it off well.