Gut Reaction: Mets 10 Cardinals 6 (8/25/16)

In a game the Mets absolutely had to have to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, they got big performances from a couple of unlikely heroes. Seth Lugo and Alejandro De Aza kept the Mets above water tonight.

Lugo made his second strong start in a row before leaving after the fifth inning with a calf cramp. De Aza contributed a home run and five RBI, as well as setting the tone for this game in the first inning. After the Mets squandered a Jose Reyes single leading off the game, Matt Carpenter led off for the Cards by smoking a 3-2 pitch to dead center field. From the sound and the trajectory, it had “HR” tattooed on it, but De Aza raced back and plucked the ball out of the air right at the top of the fence. From there, Lugo settled in and the Mets piled on. They scored on a James Loney single, a Curtis Granderson line-hugging double to right and a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly off Cardinals’ starter and Mets’ all-time villain Adam Wainwright. In the fourth, Granderson reached on an error, Flores doubled and De Aza chased them both home with a single. In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk, Loney singled, Flores reached on another Cardinal error and De Aza put one in the right field seats and suddenly, the Mets led 7-0. For his part, Lugo was looking pretty fine. He dodged some trouble in the second, but after that, it was smooth sailing until his leg tightened up during his sixth inning warm-ups. His final line: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 R.

So it was left to the bullpen to close this one out and they were just able to do it. Jim Henderson pitched the sixth inning and was greeted by an immediate two run homer by Brandon Moss. Jerry Blevins pitched a relatively clean seventh, despite nearly having had his head taken off by a Carpenter line drive with two outs. The Mets tacked on a run in the eighth when De Aza walked, Rene Rivera doubled and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a single. The bullpen follies continued when Josh Smoker entered the eighth and gave up another homer to Moss, a single to Stephen Piscotty and Alberto Rosario reached on an infield bobble by Flores. Addison Reed came in and got an out, gave up an infield hit to Randal Grichuk to load the bases and got Greg Garcia to ground into an RBI force, and suddenly this game was a less-comfortable 8-4. The Mets, though, added two in the ninth on singles by Loney, Flores and Rivera. Of course, this game would not be complete without the newly-arrived Sean Gilmartin surrendering home runs to Jedd Gyorko and Piscotty, just to spice things up a little.

For all the clamoring Met fans have done on the subject, for one night we’re all very glad Alejandro De Aza was not DFAd.

The Mets return home to phace the Phillies with their post-season hopes still very much alive.

Game Chatter: Seth Lugo vs Adam Wainwright (8/25/16)

Michael Conforto, James Loney and the goodwill of a one-month hot streak

Michael ConfortoYesterday, uber commenter Jimmy P. made what seems to be a very valid point. He wrote about the Mets’ front office: “Perhaps they lack the organizational courage to go with and support a young player.” His comment seemed to be focused on Michael Conforto but it could be applied to virtually anyone in the system since the current administration took over in late 2010.

Let’s look at Conforto. At the end of April, he topped out with a 1.118 OPS and looked every bit the star we thought he was going to be. Then, over his next 157 PA, he was miserable. In May and June, Conforto posted a .148/.217/.303 line and was demoted to Triple-A. Very few people argued with the decision at the time.

Now, let’s look at James Loney. Because of one of the best power streaks in his career, Loney jumped out to an .840 OPS after his first 29 games with the club. Since then, Loney has not been good. In his last 154 PA, he’s put up a .241/.279/.303 slash line. But there’s been absolutely no talk about replacing him.

Yes, Conforto was worse than Loney. But in Loney, we’re talking about a guy who performed better than we had any right to expect and now is putting up sub-replacement numbers. How much goodwill does his roughly one-month hot streak buy him? We saw that with the youngster Conforto, a much-better one-month stretch didn’t even get him two additional months.

But Loney’s going to get much more rope than Conforto. Can anyone see the Mets cutting ties with him before the end of the year? Sure, some of this is timing. It’s really too late to send him to the minors and rosters are going to expand in a week, anyway. But pretend that the Mets signed Loney a month earlier than they did. He put up the same exact numbers, except now it’s July 25 rather than August 25. Would the Mets move on from him? You’re kidding yourself if you say yes.

The Mets should have absolutely no ties to Loney. He’s been with the club roughly three months and for two of those he’s been lousy. But he carries the veteran sheen that the club finds so appealing. An experienced gambler goes on a hot streak and leaves once the table turns cold. The Mets are staying at the table and are going to throw away all of their “Loney winnings” by continuing to play him well past his expiration point. That’s if they haven’t pissed it all away already.

In 71 games overall, Loney has a (-0.4) fWAR. For the month of June, he had a 0.3 fWAR. Loney earned more playing time with his hot first month. But playing him now is a mistake and one the Mets certainly wouldn’t have made if Loney was 22 rather than 32.

He only has five extra-base hits in his last 154 PA and none since August 1. Yet every time there’s a RHP on the mound – there’s Loney in the order, usually batting fifth. An optimist might say that at least they’re sitting him against lefties.

Wilmer Flores has a lifetime .653 OPS versus RHP and he’s pigeonholed as a lefty masher. Loney has a .582 OPS in the last two-thirds of his time with the club with 98% of his PA coming against righties and somehow he’s the preferred option. If you have no interest in seeing Flores any more than you have to – why not play Kelly Johnson at first against righties? It’s not like he’s one of the unwashed young guys; he’s been in the majors longer than Loney, has experience playing first base and since July 1 has an .841 OPS with a .295 BABIP.

And before you say anything about defense, know that Loney has seven errors in 70 games at 1B. That’s tied for the third-most errors at the position, even though he has about half the time there as someone who’s played the whole year. He also has a (-2.8) UZR, which translates to a (-7.6) UZR/150. If this holds, and there’s no reason to expect that it won’t, it will be the third straight season he’s finished as a below-average fielder.

So, we have Conforto tearing apart Triple-A pitching with little hope of returning to the majors until rosters expand, even if Jay Bruce is hitting .158 and playing every game. And we have Loney, who in the last two months is hitting even worse than he did in Tampa last year, which earned him a release, yet he starts whenever the other club throws a righty.

It’s good to be a veteran on these Mets.

Timmy Time! Robinson Helps Staten Island Walks-Off Again In Topsy Turvy Thriller

Timmy Robinson (Robert M. Pimpsner)

STATEN ISLAND-The late Yogi Berra once said that it was “deja vu all over again”.

Despite playing two seemingly completely different games on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Staten Island Yankees lived out that quote it in the most important way possible.

For the second consecutive night, the Yankees topped the Aberdeen IronBirds in walk-off fashion, as DH Timmy Robinson’s RBI single in the bottom of the 9th scored two, giving Staten Island an 8-7 victory. The win follows Tuesday’s flair for the dramatics, where Kendall Coleman, ironically also serving as the team’s designated hitter that night, had a walk-off sacrifice fly to top the IronBirds 1-0.

“It was a great game,” said “Our games have been close all year. These guys have played some very good games against us. Every game is important in the stretch run. These guys are busting their butts every day. They can smell it, they want to get into the playoffs.”

It was part of a big night at the plate for Robinson, who went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s on the evening. Prior to his last inning heroics, Robinson crushed a Zach Muckenhin pitch over the left field wall in the bottom of the 5th, his 7th home run of the season. His trio of RBIs gives him 43 on the season, putting him back in the league lead alongside State College’s Vince Jackson.

With the win, Staten Island (36-27) not only secured a series victory over Aberdeen, but also established a small bit of breathing room in the New York-Penn League wild card chase. With both Connecticut and Williamsport losing, they now lead the race for the coveted lone wild card spot by a game and a half and three games respectively. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 12. In addition, by picking up another win at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the Yankees, at 22-11 are tied with Hudson Valley for the best home winning percentage in the NYPL.

It was almost a win that slipped away from them.

Whereas Tuesday’s walk-off win took a mere 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete, Wednesday’s win went just over 3 hours. In another contrast from Tuesday’s heroics, both teams struggled pitching-wise.

Staten Island jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening frame, two runs of which came on an RBI double by Kane Sweeney. The other runs came on Angel Aguilar’s RBI single that scored Ben Ruta, while Sweeney later scored on an error and Dalton Blaser came home on a wild pitch.

However, starting pitcher Austin DeCarr struggled against the Aberdeen (27-36) lineup, removed during a messy 3rd inning. DeCarr went 2 ⅔ innings, allowing 3 runs on hits, walking and striking out a couple each. He was relieved by Chad Martin, who was pitching for the first time in 10 days. After a solid start, Martin struggled as well, allowing three more runs over 3 ⅔ innings thrown. Claudio Custodio (3-0) eventually came in, allowing the go-ahead run, but mostly settling down the Aberdeen bats.

“We had to piggy-back tonight with DeCarr and (Martin),” said Bialas. “DeCarr wasn’t strong tonight, but he only had 60 pitches to work with so his pitch count was down. Martin hadn’t pitched in 10 days, he had a little something with his arm. Custodio came in there did a good job. The guys battled back.”

Now trailing 7-6, Staten Island immediately went to work. Nick Solak, pinch-hitting for Yancarlos Baez, led things off with a walk, and was moved to second on Ruta’s sacrifice bunt. It’d be the only out Aberdeen would tally in the frame, as Aguilar’s single moved Solak to third, before Drew Bridges walked, setting up Robinson’s bases loaded heroics.

For more on the Staten Island Yankees, keep following pinstripedprospects.com.

Pinstriped Performances – Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016-08-25_06-44-30

Check out the top performances across the New York Yankees farm system in the latest edition of Pinstriped Performances.

Yefrey Ramirez, SP, Tampa Yankees (Single A Advanced): Yefrey improved to 3-6 on the season after earning the victory in his start against the Dunedin Blue Jays. Ramirez tossed eight innings of near perfect baseball. He threw a perfect game heading into the seventh when Ryan McBroom led-off the frame with a single. Yefrey got the next hitter to ground into a double play and was able to face the minimum through eight. He struck out eight and induced seven ground-outs to six fly-outs.

Timmy Robinson, DH, Staten Island Yankees (Single A Short Season): Timmy paced the Staten Island offense in a 8-7 victory over the Aberdeen Ironbirds. Robinson went 3-4 at the plate with a home run, walk, two runs scored, and three runs batted in.

Blake Rutherford, DH, Pulaski Yankees (Rookie): Blake went 2-4 with a home run, walk, two runs scored, and two runs batted in against the Bluefield Blue Jays.

Gut Reaction: Cardinals 8, Mets 1 (8/24/16)

The Mets lost to the Cardinals in St. Louis tonight 8-1.

  • Jacob deGrom was once again knocked around. He lasted only 4.2 innings and was charged with 5 runs on 12 hits, including 3 home runs. According to the booth, it was the first time in Mets history that a Mets starting pitcher has had back-to-back outings of 12 hits or more. If you recall, he didn’t do so well against the Giants his last time out. These weren’t cheap shots, either, as deGrom was getting hit pretty hard all night. He’s human and bound to fall into slumps, but perhaps he’s a bit fatigued from attempting to keep this team afloat almost all by his lonesome.
  • The Mets managed only 1 run on 4 hits. It’s a broken record, the same old story, etc. The Cardinals had 19 hits. That’s just impressive, and probably should’ve led to more runs.
  • After getting a bloop double in the second inning, Jay Bruce immediately left the game with an injury. Welcome to the 2016 NY Mets, folks. Reports state that he left with a simple cramp in his right calf. We’ll see.
  • Curtis Granderson threw a runner out at the plate in the second inning. That’s something you don’t see everyday.
  • Nothing to see here, really. It was another lackluster performance by a Mets team that appears more and more ready to pack it in with each game. Uninspired, bland baseball. It’s the worst. Oh and the they dropped back down to .500.

Severino Notches Eighth Triple-A Win

Cito Culver helped ignite a rally for the RailRiders Wednesday night. (Photo by Cheryl Purcell)

SYRACUSE, NY –  The SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) routed the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals) on Wednesday night, 10-4. The RailRiders (82-49) lowered their magic number to clinch a post-season berth to five. The Chiefs (58-73) have lost seven straight to the RailRiders.

Down 4-1, the RailRiders claimed command of the game with a five-run sixth that sent 10 men to the plate. The inning included run-scoring plate appearances by Jake CavePete KozmaCito CulverMason Williams and Rob Refsnyder.

The rally helped Luis Severino (8-1) secure the win. He gave up four runs on nine hits and two walks while whiffing six. Syracuse reliever Justin DeFratus (1-2) took the loss.

The RailRiders’ road trip concludes at 6:35 p.m. in Syracuse on Thursday night. SWB southpaw Jordan Montgomery (3-1, 0.71) is scheduled to face right-hander Paolo Espino (7-10, 3.53).

The RailRiders return home for a short two-game stay at PNC field on Friday, Aug. 26 against the Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins). It will be Pierogi Night at the park, presented by T&L Pierogies. The team will change its nickname and colors for the night, donning uniforms as the “SWB Pierogies”. For tickets or more information, please call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.

OFF THE RAILS:

SWB’s 17 hits fell one short of the season-high mark of 18 set on June 7 versus Charlotte.

Relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos retired all 10 men they faced with seven combined strikeouts.

Eight of the RailRiders’ nine men in the order had a hit including three apiece by Mason WilliamsDonovan Solano and Jake Cave.

Ben Gamel extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He went 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored.

The teams combined for 14 runs on 26 hits with four errors and a collective 12-for-24 showing with men in scoring position.

The RailRiders’ magic number could hit four if Norfolk beats Rochester. As of this article, the Red Wings and Tides were tied in the 11th inning.

Adams Fans 10, Bullpen Secures Thunder Sweep

Chance Adams struck out 10 in 4.1 innings Wednesday afternoon (Photo by Martin Griff)

TRENTON, NJ – The first seven outs recorded by Chance Adams were strikeouts and the Thunder scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to push them to a 4-1 win over the Bowie Baysox  Wednesday afternoon at ARM & HAMMER Park.

With the win, the magic number to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastern League is five games.

After the Baysox scored in the top of the first, the combo at the top of the order of Tyler Wade and Dustin Fowler combined for a run. Wade hit a ground-ruled double and Fowler drove him in with a single through the middle, later in the frame Mark Payton drove in Fowler with a run-scoring groundout.

Staked to the 2-1 advantage, Adams struck out the side in order in the second inning and struck out the lead off man in the third inning. The 22-year-old right-hander finished his outing after 4.1 innings and matched his career-high with 10 strikeouts.

JP Feyereisen and J.R. Graham finished the Thunder victory with 4.2 scoreless innings combining for six strikeouts. The 16 K’s from the staff on Wednesday afternoon was one shy of the season-high.

Michael O’Neill and Jose Rosario also added run-scoring swings later in the game to aid the Thunder offense. The Thunder had a hit in each of the first six at bats in the game.

The Thunder begin their final road trip of the regular season to Portland and New Hampshire with a four-game set against the Sea Dogs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:50pm on 91.3 FM WTSR.

Game Chatter: Jacob deGrom vs Carlos Martinez (8/24/16)

Old King Cole-man! Sac Fly Ends Quick, Minimum Scoring Game

Kendall Coleman had the game winning RBI. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

STATEN ISLAND-On Tuesday night, the Staten Island Yankees and Aberdeen IronBirds played a game that indulged both fans of quick baseball and fans of pitchers’ duels.

The Baby Bombers probably didn’t care about what kind of game it was, though they’re perfectly fine with the result, as DH Kendall Coleman hit a walk-off sacrifice fly that scored Timmy Robinson, complimenting 9 shutout innings from Freicer Perez and Justin Kamplain in a 1-0 victory.

“(Perez) was really in the zone with his fastball, he really gave it life,” said Staten Island manager Dave Bialas. “(Kamplain) was awesome. He cued his pitches real well, his changeup, his breaking ball, he pitched well.”

With the win, Staten Island (35-27) reentered the New York-Penn League playoff picture, moving back ahead of Connecticut by a half game for the lone wild card spot. The Tigers, who swept the Yankees over the weekend, fell to Hudson Valley later that night.

“The pitchers have throwing really great as of late,” Coleman said. “Today it felt great to finally get the pitcher a win. Freicer threw great, Justin threw great, so it feels good, especially after just getting swept.”

The shutout victory was quick and efficient, taking just 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete. It featured tremendous victory from the home side at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, as Perez threw six innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out six. He did not allow a hit through the first 4 ⅓ innings.

He was relieved by Kamplain (1-1), who completed the shutout, tossing a trio more of run-free innings. He ran into a bit of jam in the 8th, as Alejandro Juvier led off with a single. After he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, Juvier stole 3rd, despite C Jerry Seitz’s throw appearing to beat him there. Bialas briefly came out and argued the call with umpire So Yamauchi, to no avail.

Controversy was avoided, however, when Kamplain retired Jerry McClanahan and Kirvin Moesquit to end the frame and keep the zero in the run column in place.

“I thought the ball was there in plenty of time, I thought the tag was made,” Bialas said. “I thought (Yamauchi) was in no position to make that call. It’s tough with a two man staff, but I thought no doubt he missed it.”

With bats on both sides mostly silenced throughout the evening, Staten Island’s 9th opened things up with a double by Robinson. After Kane Sweeney walked, Angel Aguilar singled, loading up the bases. Coleman took the bat, and hit a deep fly to left field. The out was made, caught by Jaylen Ferguson, but the damage was done. Robinson scored from third, and the celebration was on, as the Yankees stormed the field, celebrating Coleman’s 13th RBI of the season by dousing 2013’s 11th round pick with the refreshment from the Gatorade bucket.

“The guys in front of me did a great job of getting on,” Coleman said. “The only thing that was going through my head was that I had to get the ball in the air. I got a good pitch to hit and I did my job.”

Back in the playoff scene, at least temporarily, the Yankees are looking to stay in that place. It begins with this trio with Aberdeen, which continues tomorrow night.

For more on the Staten Island Yankees, keep following pinstripedprospects.com.