May 2013

Banner Day winners at Citi Field

Here’s the winning banner, courtesy Kelly, Tim and Denise Betts of Farmingdale, N.Y., and Rebecca Waddington of Rockville, Md.:

Winning Banner

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Pirates 11, Mets 2: Three Up, Three Down

What’s wrong with Jon Niese? The Mets would surely like to know.

Three Up:
1. OF Marlon Byrd: One of Byrd’s two hits (the RBI knock) may have been a cheapie, but there wasn’t much else to like about this offense on a dreary Saturday afternoon at Citi. At this point, the Mets will take their hits any way they can get them.

2. 1B Justin Turner: Cracking the starting lineup for a third consecutive game, Turner rebounded from Friday’s 0-for-4 to reach base twice. He continues to be a productive and versatile bat for the Mets.

3. SS Ruben Tejada: Another nice offensive rebound for Tejada, who finally gave the Mets a bit of production atop their batting order. His hustle to stretch a single into a double in a nine-run game did not go unnoticed.

Three Down:
1. LHP Jon Niese: Something is significantly wrong here, and it’s not clear if it’s physical, mechanical or something different. Niese has now given up 16 runs, 15 hits and nine walks over his last two starts, spanning 8 1/3 innings.

2. C John Buck: Not only was Buck helpless to stop Niese’s bleeding from behind the plate, he also finished 0-for-4 with the bat yet again. The Mets have received virtually no offensive production from their everyday catcher since mid-April.

3. 2B Jordany Valdespin: Valdespin’s right forearm will probably be sore tomorrow, after taking a Bryan Morris fastball off it. Most around baseball will say he got what he deserved, one day after showboating his homer in a five-run game.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+6
C John Buck
+5
3B David Wright
+4
RHP Matt Harvey, IF Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, OF Mike Baxter, OF Marlon Byrd
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, RHP Bobby Parnell, OF Juan Lagares, LHP Robert Carson
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Brandon Lyon, C Anthony Recker, OF Jordany Valdespin
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Dillon Gee, OF Lucas Duda, 2B Daniel Murphy
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RHP Shaun Marcum

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-7
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Pirates 7, Mets 3: Three Up, Three Down

In honor of Arrested Development’s return to the small screen, let’s call this show Arrested Momentum.

Three Up:
1. 3B David Wright: Leadoff hits in the fourth and sixth innings; it’s not Wright’s fault that the offense stalled behind him.

2. LHP Robert Carson: Solid work by Carson to record four outs, one of them on a nifty pickoff move to first. Carson hasn’t really pitched in many big spots this year, but on Friday he gave the Mets some must-needed work.

3. C Anthony Recker: Nice job by Recker to rap out two hits, including a home run, in a rare start behind the plate. With as little playing time as Recker has received, hitting even a little bit is difficult to do.

Three Down:
1. RHP Shaun Marcum: Marcum became the first pitcher in franchise history to fail to complete five innings in each of his first three starts with the team. That about says it all.

2. SS Ruben Tejada: Tejada avoided another 0-for-4 with his eighth-inning single, but furthered a second-inning rally by double-clutching a routine ground ball. Not the shortstop’s best stretch of the season.

3. 2B Justin Turner: Turner’s run as a do-everything utlityman took a hiatus Friday, when he cracked the starting lineup for a second straight day but finished 0-for-4.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+7
C John Buck
+5
3B David Wright
+4
RHP Matt Harvey
+3
Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, OF Mike Baxter
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, LHP Jon Niese, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Bobby Parnell, OF Juan Lagares, LHP Robert Carson
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Brandon Lyon, C Anthony Recker, SS Ruben Tejada
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Dillon Gee, OF Lucas Duda, 2B Daniel Murphy
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RHP Shaun Marcum

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-7
1B Ike Davis

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Mets 3, Pirates 2: Three Up, Three Down

Meet Mike Baxter. He’s the walk-off singles guy.

Three Up:
1. OF Mike Baxter: If the Mets need a home run in the later innings, they call on Jordany Valdespin. If they need a single, they call on Baxter, who continues to be one of the more valuable left-handed pinch-hitters in baseball.

2. OF Juan Lagares: That catch in center field saved the game. Lagares is receiving regular playing time almost exclusively because of his defensive reputation, and he justified it in the ninth inning Thursday.

3. RHP Brandon Lyon: He may have given up the tying run, but he entered with the bases loaded and no outs and allowed nothing more than that. That makes him one of the most valuable players of this game.

Three Down:
1. 2B Daniel Murphy: Four at-bats, four ground balls to first base This is one streaky hitter, who is having miserable start to the month of May.

2. SS Ruben Tejada: An 0-for-4 from Tejada meant the Mets absorbed an 0-for-8 from the first two batters in their lineup. That’s typically a recipe for a loss, though the Mets managed to recover.

3. RHP Bobby Parnell: Sure he earned the win with a scoreless inning. He also gave up a leadoff hit and a rocket fly ball to center, which probably should have cost the Mets the game. It was actually one of his worst-pitched innings of the season, which says more about Parnell’s year than anything else. He’s been terrific.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+7
C John Buck
+4
3B David Wright, RHP Matt Harvey, IF Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, OF Mike Baxter
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, LHP Jon Niese, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Bobby Parnell, OF Juan Lagares
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Brandon Lyon
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Shaun Marcum, OF Lucas Duda, 2B Daniel Murphy
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-7
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

White Sox 6, Mets 3: Three Up, Three Down

A two-game split with the White Sox.

Three Up:
1. OF Lucas Duda: If Duda went 1-for-4 with a solo home run every game, the Mets would be thrilled. So we won’t begrudge him the strikeouts as long as he keeps hitting the long balls.

2. OF Mike Baxter: A nice 2-for-3 game for Baxter, who reached base three times and seems to be hitting his stride. A month into the season, outfield playing time is still very much up for grabs. Even a brief hot streak would help Baxter grab some.

3. OF Justin Turner: The two hits were nice, as was the versatility in playing the outfield for the first time in his career. Though Terry Collins isn’t comfortable starting him out there just yet, it may only be a matter of time.

Three Down:
1. 2B Daniel Murphy: Not a great game for Murphy, who is slumping again. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .143 with one extra-base hit.

2. 1B Ike Davis: When will he start hitting? Last year, it was not until mid-June. The Mets would appreciate an earlier start to his hot streak this summer.

3. C John Buck: Offensively, Buck is regressing to the mean. That does not mean he won’t be an asset for the Mets all summer; it simply means he will not be an all-world catcher for six months. Common sense reigns supreme.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+7
C John Buck
+4
3B David Wright, RHP Matt Harvey, IF Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, RHP Bobby Parnell
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, LHP Jon Niese, OF Marlon Byrd, SS Ruben Tejada, OF Mike Baxter
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, 2B Daniel Murphy
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Lyon, OF Lucas Duda
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-7
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets 1, White Sox 0: Three Up, Three Down

Goodness.

Three Up:
1. RHP Matt Harvey: What additional superlatives can we rain on this guy? You get the feeling it’s really only a matter of time before he does throw a no-hitter. Or seven.

2. OF Mike Baxter: For all the praise we heap on Jordany Valdespin, guess who’s had the better success rate as a pinch hitter, both this year and last. It’s Baxter, and it’s not particularly close.

3. RHP Bobby Parnell: The 10th inning that Parnell pitched came under more stressful conditions than most save situations. Frank Francisco may be back soon, but Parnell more than deserves to remain the closer.

Three Down:
1. OF Lucas Duda: Two more called third strikes on an 0-for-4 night. He’s slashing .184/.310/.306 since April 20, a span of 14 games, and is 2-for-16 so far in May.

2. 3B David Wright: A rare off game for the captain on a day when the Mets very much needed some offense. When the offense struggles, Wright takes the rap.

3. SS Ruben Tejada: That would have been an amazing play had Tejada managed to nail Rios with his jump-throw in the seventh. More to the point: Tejada left two men in scoring position in the second inning, finishing 1-for-4 at the plate.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+8
C John Buck
+4
3B David Wright, RHP Matt Harvey
+3
INF Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, RHP Bobby Parnell
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, LHP Jon Niese, OF Marlon Byrd, SS Ruben Tejada
-1
RHP Scott Atchison
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Lyon
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Lucas Duda

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-6
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Braves 9, Mets 4: Three Up, Three Down

In rainy Atlanta, the Mets saw their momentum washed away.

Three Up:
1. 3B: David Wright: Captain America went deep for the third straight game, but also misplayed B.J. Upton’s single in the third inning on defense. It probably should have been an error.

2. OF Mike Baxter: Let’s give Mike from Whitestone some props for his pinch-hit double in the eighth, sparking what could have been a game-tying rally. Alas, it was not.

3. 1B Justin Turner: Pinch-hitting for Ike Davis, Turner worked a bases-loaded walk to further the rally that Baxter started. Both Mets pinch-hitters came through in this game.

Three Down:
1. LHP Jon Niese: Had the defense not betrayed him, Niese’s line might have looked much better. But the six walks against him were far too many, and Niese admitted that much after the game.

2. OF Lucas Duda: Before this week, Duda’s defense in left field had actually been passable. But he made a big mistake in Miami and another on Sunday, breaking in on a two-run double over his head.

3. OF Marlon Byrd: Byrd came to the plate in the eighth inning as the potential tying run. Eric O’Flaherty then threw him six pitches, five of them out of the strike zone, and Byrd swung at three of them to whiff.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+8
C John Buck
+5
3B David Wright
+3
RHP Matt Harvey, INF Justin Turner

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Scott Rice, SS Ruben Tejada
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, RHP Bobby Parnell, LHP Jon Niese, OF Marlon Byrd
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, OF Mike Baxter
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Lyon, OF Lucas Duda
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-6
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets 7, Braves 5: Three Up, Three Down

Terry Collins called this one the win of the year. It certainly felt that way for the Mets.

Three Up:
1. OF Jordany Valdespin: He makes so many mistakes throughout the course of a week, and yet it’s impossible to ignore this guy’s energy. Valdespin’s steal of second base was a critical play in the 10th inning, directly leading to the winning run.

2. 3B David Wright: A game-tying, ninth-inning home run against a guy who does not give up home runs? That was Captain America’s contribution to the win.

3. RHP Bobby Parnell: With all due respect to Jeurys Familia’s first career save, it was Parnell who entered with one out and the winning run on third base in the 10th. A popup and a groundout later, and the Mets were out of the jam.

Three Down:
1. RHP Shaun Marcum: A noted control expert, Marcum has now walked six batters in 10 innings this season. He is averaging five innings per start, which is taxing the bullpen and simply not getting it done.

2. 1B Justin Turner: Once again starting over Ike Davis, Turner finished with a rare 0-for-3 before giving way to a pinch-hitter. He entered the game with a .419 average in games that he started, versus a .143 mark coming off the bench.

3. RHP Brandon Lyon: Not a good day for the setup man, who coughed up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, then needed Parnell’s help to avoid doing so again in the ninth. Lyon’s ERA is slowly creeping up near five.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+8
C John Buck
+4
3B David Wright
+3
RHP Matt Harvey

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Marlon Byrd, LHP Scott Rice, LHP Jon Niese, SS Ruben Tejada, INF Justin Turner
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner, RHP Bobby Parnell
-1
RHP Scott Atchison, OF Lucas Duda
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, OF Mike Baxter, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Lyon
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-6
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mike Piazza, ballerino?

Believe it. Check out these pictures released today by the AP.

Mike PiazzaMike Piazza

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Mets 7, Marlins 6: Three Up, Three Down

For the first time in some time, the Mets pull out a close one.

Three Up:
1. OF Jordany Valdespin: He had been slumping hard for the past few weeks, but all bets are off when Valdespin comes up in a pinch-hit situation. His three-run homer marked the sixth pinch-hit shot of his career, delivering a win for the Mets.

2. 3B David Wright: Only Wright knows how much his stiff neck is still bothering him, but it hardly seems to matter. He homered and finished with three hits in Wednesday’s game, also making a nifty barehanded play on defense in the seventh.

3. RHP Bobby Parnell: It says something about Parnell’s character that he was so angry the Mets did not use him in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s loss. Perhaps channeling a bit of that ire, retiring the Marlins on seven pitches in the ninth.

Three Down:
1. OF Lucas Duda: To be fair, it was a devilish hop. But Duda’s misplay in left field brought the Marlins back into the game, at a time when the Mets had grown relatively comfortable with his defense out there. He also struck out thrice, finishing 0-for-4.

2. 2B Daniel Murphy: Murphy’s bat seems to be coming around again — this guy rarely slumps for long — but his glove cost the Mets in a ways that doesn’t show up in the box score. Murphy would be the first to admit he needed to glove Justin Ruggiano’s RBI single in the first.

3. RHP Dillon Gee: Simply put, Gee needs to pitch deeper into games. So far this season, he has not been the same pitcher who displayed genuine improvement across the board during the first half of 2012.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+8
C John Buck
+3
RHP Matt Harvey, INF Justin Turner, 3B David Wright

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Marlon Byrd, LHP Scott Rice, LHP Jon Niese, SS Ruben Tejada
+1
RHP Jeremy Hefner
-1
RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Jordany Valdespin, OF Lucas Duda
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, OF Mike Baxter, C Anthony Recker, RHP Dillon Gee
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-6
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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