The Mets avenged dropping last week’s home series to the Washington Nationals by taking two of three games at Nationals Park.
“It’s big, because they’ve got a great team,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “They’re playing good. Especially after they just beat us two out of three at home, to come in here and win a series is huge. But we had to really pitch to do it.”
The Mets moved back within a half-game of the Nationals for first place in the National League East.
“I don’t see this being a one-sided affair this year,” Mets third baseman David Wright said about the division race. “I think we’re evenly balanced. I think we both have very, very good starting rotations. The back end of the bullpens for both teams have been very good. Offensively, I think we can do some things better to be a little more consistent. But we’re two very evenly matched, very, very good baseball teams.”
The Mets now take Thursday off before what should be a fun weekend hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers. The organization will spend the three-day series saluting the 1986 Mets on the 30th anniversary of their championship season. The highlight will be a pregame ceremony Saturday in which the living members of the club will be honored.
The only people not expected to participate are Mel Stottlemyre, Roger McDowell, Kevin Elster and Doug Sisk. Stottlemyre has been battling multiple myeloma, while McDowell is tied up as pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, Elster is ill and Sisk had a falling-out, a team official said.
The current Mets will wear ’86-style uniforms all three weekend games, which they already have shown off on home Sundays this season.
The pitching matchups:
THURSDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- After a morning confab with Harvey in the visiting manager’s office at Nationals Park on Wednesday, Collins announced that the Dark Knight would remain in the rotation and make his scheduled start Monday against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field. Collins pointed to some positive signs during Harvey’s most recent outing, when he allowed five runs in five innings against the Nationals. Assistant general manager John Ricco acknowledged a minor league demotion was internally discussed, although Collins said the option was not broached with Harvey. Harvey could not have blocked such a move. As was the case after Tuesday’s start, Harvey did not address reporters Wednesday. Read reports in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Steven Matz is looking like the ace of the staff, arguably even over Syndergaard. Matz tossed a career-high eight innings and improved to 7-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his past seven starts as the Mets beat the Nationals 2-0 in Wednesday’s rubber game. “When you play the Nats, you better be good, because they’ve got too much firepower for you,” Collins said. Wright contributed a first-inning solo homer against Tanner Roark. Ex-Met Daniel Murphy's fielding error set up the Mets’ second run. Matt Reynolds notched his first major league hit after replacing Asdrubal Cabrera. Jeurys Familia set a franchise record for consecutive regular-season save conversions despite allowing the first two batters of the ninth to reach base. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Cabrera departed Wednesday’s game before ever appearing because his back locked up. Cabrera suggested he would be fine to play Friday. Wright, Colon and Duda also are dealing with back issues of various degrees of seriousness. Read more in the Post, Daily News and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Wright disapproved of Harvey avoiding the media after Tuesday’s poor performance. “A lot of us don’t necessarily agree with what he did,” Wright told Mike Puma in the Post. Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record is still perturbed by Harvey’s media shutdown. Writes Klapisch: “If Harvey wants to be a celebrity, and it’s a near-obsession at this point, then he needs to accept the accompanying responsibility. This isn’t Hollywood, where images are carefully crafted and protected by publicity agents. As a major [league] ballplayer -- indeed, a front-line star -- Harvey has to answer for himself. He has no business forcing Kevin Plawecki to be his spokesman, as was the case Tuesday night.”
- Wilmer Flores played the second game of a rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday. He went 0-for-5 and played a full nine innings at first base. Flores is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Friday.
- Travis d'Arnaud (rotator cuff) resumed working out at the Mets’ Florida complex Wednesday after spending multiple weeks with his own physical therapist at home in California. D’Arnaud has resumed throwing without discomfort and should begin standard baseball activities Thursday, according to Ricco.
- Dario Alvarez was claimed off waivers by the Braves. The left-handed reliever had been removed from the 40-man roster Monday when the Mets needed to create a spot for Ty Kelly.
- Ricco explained that Kelly was promoted over T.J. Rivera because Kelly is a switch-hitter and Mets officials preferred someone who hits from the left side.
- Ray Knight plans to attend this weekend’s 1986 celebration. He tells the Post about his one-time estrangement from the organization: “I never called, they never reached out to me, and it just became more and more and more of a separation. I saw guys getting called back to throw out first pitches and things like that, and I never got a call like that. What really stung me was some of the publications that the Mets put out -- whether it was a yearbook or a poster or something commemorating the ’86 team -- there’d be seven or eight pictures of guys on there, and I’d never be on there. And it’s hard for me to understand, as much as I contributed to that team, why I was never even featured in the small thing. Sensitivities are big. We just want to be appreciated. I knew my teammates appreciated me, but the powers that be, I don’t know that they did at that time.”
- Kevin Mitchell discusses his medical ordeal with columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post.
- Tim Peterson allowed six runs in relief in his season debut with the B-Mets in what became an 11-2 loss to Richmond. Patrick Biondi walked and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh to lift St. Lucie over Charlotte 2-1. Patrick Mazeika drove in four runs in Charlotte’s 7-4 win against Augusta. Read the full minor league recap here.
- Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post wanted to see the Mets send Harvey to Port St. Lucie to work with rehab coordinator Jon Debus. Columnist David Lennon in Newsday also thought some type of break from the rotation was warranted.
- Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post dissects Matz’s eighth-inning showdown with Bryce Harper.
- The ex-Met Murphy has five errors this season, Davidoff notes in the Post.
- The New York Times has hired James Wagner to cover the Mets. He most recently has worked for the Washington Post as a Nationals beat writer. He is expected to begin June 13.
- From the bloggers … Faith and Fear devotes attention to a Mets pitcher whose excellence is too often treated as background noise. … Mets Report would have demoted Harvey for a couple of starts.
BIRTHDAYS: Kevin Mulvey turns 31. ... Paul Sewald is 26. ... Gabriel Ynoa is 23. ... Ivan Wilson is 21.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Just finished my day job, now I'm working for @AdamRubinESPN clicking links. :)
— John FC (@JFJC26) May 26, 2016
YOU’RE UP: Which Mets starter would you want pitching today if the Mets were in a winner-take-all wild-card game?
Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts continues to rake as well, the San Francisco Giants won their fifth in a row, and Dusty Baker made a curious lineup decision. Five things we learned Wednesday ...
1. Bryce Harper sits: Sorry, I don't get this at all. I want to defer to Baker's experience, and there's no doubt Washington Nationals star Harper has been scuffling in the batting-average department, but why would you sit your best player against the New York Mets? It makes no sense. Baker said Harper needed a mental day off. "I told him to do nothing, just concentrate and watch the game," Baker said. "You can straighten yourself out by watching others and by what they're doing or not doing." By, what, watching Michael Taylor? You're sitting Bryce Harper against the Mets to play Michael Taylor? Check out Eddie Matz's report on the benching, including Harper's success in day games.
Cubs have now won 23 straight regular-season games started by Jake Arrieta, tying longest streak in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/id9OKQYKJ1
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 25, 2016
The Cubs and Arrieta equal the mark set by the Braves and Kris Medlen in 2012. Which is a reminder that Kris Medlen had a nice run as a starting pitcher before he got hurt. Arrieta has won 20 of those 23 games, although Mets fans will be quick to mention that the Mets beat Arrieta in the National League Championship Series last year. But postseason results don't count! Arrieta did give up four runs for the first time in a regular-season game since June 16 -- ending a stretch of 29 consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer, the longest such streak since at least 1916, according to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index. (Chris Short had 26 such games from April 1967 to April 1968.) So what did we learn? I guess that even Jake Arrieta can be mediocre.
3. Nomar Mazara hits the longest home run of the season ... or does he? We can agree on this: Mazara's second-inning home run for the Texas Rangers off the Angels' Hector Santiago traveled a long way. MLB's Statcast said 491 feet, making it the longest home run of the season and the longest in the history of Globe Life Park/The Ballpark in Arlington/AmeriQuest Field/Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (Maybe that's why the Rangers need a new park; they can't settle on one name for this one.) Here's the home run:
— MLB (@MLB) May 25, 2016
Does that look like that longest home run of the season? Longer than this Giancarlo Stanton homer on May 6 that Statcast measured at 475 feet and the ESPN Home Run Tracker clocked at 490? The ESPN Tracker measured Mazara's blast Wednesday at 453 feet -- which seemed more in line with seasoned observers who cover the team. Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram wrote, "Mazara found the second row of the upper deck Tuesday night with a homer measured at 422 feet. The naked eye says the Wednesday homer didn’t go 70 feet farther."
4. That big Chicago White Sox lead? Almost gone: Indians starter Corey Kluber outpitched Jose Quintana and Cleveland overcame three errors to beat the White Sox 4-3. The White Sox were six games up on May 9 but have gone just 4-11 since, and their lead over Cleveland is down to a half-game after the Indians took three of four in the series.
5. Oh, Canada! Not only did Russell Martin finally go yard for the first time this season in the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-4 victory over the Yankees, but then he did it again. Michael Saunders also homered, making it the first time in Blue Jays history that two Canadians homered in the same game. Not sure that makes up for no Canadian teams making the NHL playoffs this season.
“A lot of us don’t necessarily agree with what he did,” Wright told Mike Puma in the Post. “But we take this game very personally. And when we don’t play at a level we’re accustomed to, sometimes we make decisions that we regret. ... You want to be known as an accountable player. You want to be a stand-up guy. And this is a little blip on the radar screen. Hopefully we all learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again.”
Harvey also declined to speak to reporters Wednesday. The team announced he will remain in the rotation despite recent struggles that have lifted his ERA to 6.08.
NASHVILLE at LAS VEGAS: Box
RICHMOND 11, BINGHAMTON 2: B-Mets starter Rainy Lara (2-5) lasted only four innings. He allowed three runs on five hits a walk. Reliever Tim Peterson allowed six runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings in his first appearance after a promotion from St. Lucie. Phillip Evans recorded his first Double-A three-hit game. Trailing 3-0, Binghamton got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Evans' single plated Jared King. Binghamton produced its second run in the ninth when Victor Cruzado singled to drive in Evans. Cruzado finished 3-for-4 with a double. Wilmer Flores went 0-for-5 and played a full nine innings at third base in his second rehab game. Box
ST. LUCIE 2, CHARLOTTE 1: The Mets broke a 1-all tie in the seventh without putting the baseball in play. Crabs starter Hunter Wood walked Patrick Biondi and Lednier Ricardo to begin the inning. A passed ball from catcher Nick Ciuffo advanced both runners. And after Edwin Fierro replaced Wood, the reliever tossed a wild pitch that plated Biondi. Mike Hepple pitched a perfect eighth and Corey Taylor induced a double-play grounder in the ninth en route to his fifth save. St. Lucie starter Josh Prevost limited the Stone Crabs to one run on eight hits -- all singles -- in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five. Prevost struck out Andrew Velazquez to strand the go-ahead run at third base in the top of the seventh, after the Crabs got on the scoreboard earlier in that frame with a sacrifice fly. The Mets had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Champ Stuart walked, stole second, advanced to third on a bunt and scored on Kevin Taylor's groundout. St. Lucie has won two of its past three games despite going 3-for-31 with runners in scoring position during that stretch. Box
COLUMBIA 7, AUGUSTA 4: Patrick Mazeika's three-run double highlighted a four-run fifth as Columbia overcame an early 3-1 deficit en route to a sweep of the three-game series. Mazeika finished with four RBIs. He is batting .444 (12-for-27) with seven RBIs in eight games since returning from a season-opening DL stint. Jose Garcia added a run-scoring double in the eighth. Starter Kevin Canelon allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings. Box
Compiled with team reports
BOSTON -- Wade Boggs will ascend to the ranks of Boston Red Sox royalty on Thursday night when the team retires his No. 26 jersey in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park. As a warmup to that signature achievement, Boggs got together with a couple dozen old friends to reminisce, enjoy a cold beverage and lament what might have been.
The Red Sox, who are as adept as any team in baseball at celebrating the past, turned Yawkey Way into Memory Lane on Wednesday night when they paid tribute to the 1986 American League pennant club that lost to the New York Mets in seven games in the World Series.
Three decades later, many of the former Sox are predictably grayer or balder. They're also slightly conflicted, taking pride in their achievements while acknowledging their star-crossed place in history. Before the Red Sox got off the schneid with titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the 1986 club was another in a long line of bonding agents for Boston baseball fans who reveled in their designation as "long-suffering."
WASHINGTON -- Wilmer Flores went 0-for-5 and played a full nine innings at first base in his second rehab game with Double-A Binghamton.
Flores, who is working back from a strained left hamstring, is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Friday.
Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back.
WASHINGTON -- Yes, it was interrupted by three blown saves in the World Series. But New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia now owns sole possession of the franchise record for consecutive regular-season saves.
Familia allowed back-to-back singles to Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy to open the bottom of the ninth inning, but ultimately stranded both baserunners to preserve the Mets' 2-0 rubber-game win against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
Familia broke a tie with Billy Wagner, who converted 31 straight save attempts with the Mets in 2006 and '07. Among active streaks, only Arizona's Brad Ziegler has more consecutive save conversions (36).
Familia is 16-for-16 this season. That's tied with Francisco Rodriguez (2009) for the second-longest streak to begin a season in Mets history. Armando Benitez owns that franchise record. He opened 2001 with 25 straight save conversions.
"You saw what happened when he got in trouble," manager Terry Collins said about Familia's performance Wednesday. "He picked his game up."
Added captain David Wright, who also played with Wagner: "It's nice having those two guys at the back end of a game. When we had Billy, you might as well just have made it an eight-inning game. When he came in, he was getting the job done. And Jeurys is slowly getting there. He obviously doesn't have the track record Billy's got, but he's certainly got the stuff. That's a tremendous compliment, because Billy arguably had some of the best stuff of anybody in baseball. Familia is right there in this day and age."
Can Familia keep this streak going for the full season? Among the recent closers to have a perfect season are Eric Gagne (55-for-55 in 2003), Jose Valverde (49-for-49 in 2011) and Brad Lidge (41-for-41 in 2008).
"I don't know," Familia said. "I can't answer that question."
“Somehow, being in New York this year, he’s kind of gone a little bit under the radar with some of the other guys that we have,” captain David Wright said after Matz tossed eight scoreless innings Wednesday in a 2-0 rubber-game win over the Washington Nationals. “That was about as dominant of a performance as I’ve seen this year. That’s a very, very good lineup. That’s a very good team. To come in here on the road and pitch the way he pitched and just dominate a very, very good lineup, that’s impressive. And we needed it.”
Since allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in his season debut, Matz is 7-0 with a 1.13 ERA in seven starts. He is one of the clear-cut favorites for National League Rookie of the Year, along with a trio of shortstops -- Aldemys Diaz of the St. Louis Cardinals, Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies and Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He’s going to get plenty of publicity,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Matz. “Don’t be fooled. He’s making a name for himself in this league, and it’s going to get around fast.”
Matz had retired 16 straight batters before Clint Robinson delivered a two-out single in the eighth. With the Mets leading 2-0, Collins had lefty specialist Jerry Blevins ready for pinch hitter Bryce Harper. But Collins wanted to test Matz’s mettle and stuck with his young southpaw.
Matz issued two straight balls to Harper, which prompted pitching coach Dan Warthen to tell Collins in the dugout: “Well, we’ll find out what he’s made of right here.”
After a called strike, Harper grounded out on the 2-1 offering as Matz completed his outing with a huge out. Matz allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven in eight innings.
“It definitely means something,” Matz said of remaining in the game to face Harper. “As a competitor, you don’t want to come out in that situation. And for your manager to have faith in you to leave you out to face arguably the greatest hitter in the game right now, it’s pretty awesome.”
Said Collins: “When you have a young player, there are certain situations where you’ve got to challenge them. That was one of them for me. I said, ‘Hey, look, if he’s going to be a big winner for us, if he’s going to pitch in big games, he’s got to learn how to get those guys out in tight situations.’”
Matz has been a big winner so far for the Mets. He is now 11-1 in the regular season in his career. That matches the most wins through 14 career appearances in the majors since 1913. Matz joins Masahiro Tanaka (2014), Kazuhisa Ishii (2002), Cal Eldred (1991-92), Dave Ferriss (1945) and Tiny Bonham (1940-41) in that 11-win group.
In Mets history, there is only one pitcher besides Matz who has allowed two earned runs or fewer while winning seven straight starts. He’s known as “The Franchise:" Tom Seaver.
“Now it’s a matter of making sure his health stays to the point where he can be consistent going to the mound because I think he’s got a chance to win a lot of games,” Collins said.
Sure enough, two starts into his major league career last season, Matz went on the disabled list with a lat strain and missed two months. This season, he experienced left forearm soreness. But he has not missed a beat since skipping a start May 14 in Colorado.
“I wasn’t that nervous,” Matz said about the latest injury scare. “Like I said last time, I got everything checked out, and everything came back clear. It’s a long season. You’re going to go through some nicks and nacks.”
After Wright suggested postgame that Matz might be under the radar because of the other rotation members, it was suggested to the captain that perhaps if Matz had Syndergaard’s imposing physical presence things might be different.
“Physical stature? He’s put together pretty well,” Wright playfully countered about Matz.
But Matz doesn't have the Thor-like personality that has people captivated, Wright was told.
“He’s got a good personality,” Wright replied, trying to be difficult. “What are you trying to say about the guy? He’s put together well, and he’s got a very good personality. I don’t know why you’re bashing him like this, but I’ll stick up for him.”
New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first start of the season against the Marlins, leaving some wondering if he’d be as good in 2016 as he was in a brief look in 2015.
He’s been much more than as good as he was. He’s been better, far better.
Matz’s eight scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday gave him four starts with at least six scoreless innings this season. That matches arguably the two best pitchers in baseball – Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta - for the major-league lead.
Since allowing those seven runs, Matz has yielded six runs … in 48 innings. His ERA has dropped from 37.80 to its current 2.32. The eight innings against the Nationals marked the longest start of his career.
Matz also became the second pitcher in Mets history to win seven straight starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in each. The only other pitcher to do that is the best pitcher in Mets history, Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver, who ran off seven straight wins in the championship 1969 season.
Matz is 11-1 for his career, including 7-1 this season. He has seven wins in the team’s first 46 games. He’s already halfway to the win total of the Mets team leaders in wins last season (Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom) less than 30 percent of the way through the season.
How he’s winning
First and foremost, Matz is winning because he limits hard contact. He’s allowing a hard-hit ball (determined by video review) in 8.3 percent of at-bats, a rate bettered by only teammate Noah Syndergaard (7.7 percent and Clayton Kershaw (8.0 percent). Matz’s ground-ball rate is nearly 59 percent, fifth-lowest among starters who have qualified for the ERA title.
Matz isn’t overpowering, but he throws four pitches well. He has a strike rate of 66 percent or better with his fastball, changeup, curveball and slider.
As was noted on the Mets game telecast today, Matz has shied away from his slider a little bit the last two starts to avoid the strain it was causing his elbow. He threw five two starts ago against the Brewers and then 13 against the Nationals.
Matz favored his fastball Wednesday, throwing it 65 percent of the time, his second-highest usage rate this season.
Nationals hitters went 2-for-14 against it, with only one ball that rated as hard-hit (and seven that were soft hit).
Matz has also caught a couple of breaks along the way. Wednesday he got three called strikeouts on borderline pitches, on which the strike probabilities (based on pitch count and location) were 19 percent, 19 percent and 13 percent. He's one of two pitchers (along with David Price) to get three such strikeouts in a game this season. Matz has a higher rate of called strikes above average than any other Mets pitcher (18th-best in the majors), which may be a credit to the work of catchers Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera
On a broader scale, opponents are 10-for-22 when hitting a line drive against him. The average major-league pitcher gives up a .700 batting average on his line drives (the Nationals were 2-for-3 on Wednesday).
In the longest outing of his young career, Matz tossed eight scoreless innings and won his seventh straight start as the Mets beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 in Wednesday's rubber game at Nationals Park.
Jeurys Familia improved to 16-for-16 in save conversions despite allowing the first two batters to reach in the ninth.
The Mets (27-19) moved back within a half-game of the Nationals (28-19) for first place in the National League East.
Matz retired 16 straight batters until pinch hitter Clint Robinson's two-out single in the eighth. He limited Washington to four hits and one walk in a 104-pitch effort that included seven strikeouts.
Since a disastrous season debut in which he allowed seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Miami Marlins, Matz is 7-0 with 1.13 ERA in seven starts. That's the longest streak of consecutive appearances with a win by a Mets pitcher since Steve Trachsel also won seven straight in 2006. The franchise record is a win in nine straight appearances by Frank Viola, which spanned the 1989 and '90 seasons.
Matz improved to 11-1 in the regular season in his career. That matches the most wins in the majors since 1913 through 14 career appearances. He joins Masahiro Tanaka (2014), Kazuhisa Ishii (2002), Cal Eldred (1991-92), Dave Ferriss (1945) and Tiny Bonham (1940-41).
Deep thoughts: David Wright's first-inning solo homer against Tanner Roark was the captain's fourth long ball of May. That's the most homers produced by Wright in a calendar month since he went deep five times in June 2013.
Oh, Murph: Ex-Met Daniel Murphy may be flirting with .400, but his production at the plate comes with fielding limitations. Murphy butchered a would-be inning-ending double play on Eric Campbell's seventh-inning grounder. That allowed Rene Rivera to follow with an RBI single that staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead.
Balky back: Asdrubal Cabrera was pulled from the game with back spasms without ever appearing. Matt Reynolds, who entered at shortstop, produced his first major league hit with a fifth-inning single against Roark. Reynolds had opened his career 0-for-7 with a walk.
What's next: The Mets take a day off before entertaining the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Jacob deGrom (3-1, 3.07 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (1-3, 4.03) in Friday's 7:10 p.m. series opener. The Mets will honor their 1986 World Series championship team this weekend, including a pregame ceremony Saturday recognizing the contributors. All the living members are expected to attend with the exception of Kevin Elster, Roger McDowell, Doug Sisk and Mel Stottlemyre. Clayton Kershaw pitches on Sunday for the Dodgers.
Alvarez had been designated for assignment by the New York Mets on Monday when they needed to create a 40-man roster spot for the promotion of utility player Ty Kelly once Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list.
Alvarez, 27, was 0-1 with a 9.98 ERA in 17 relief appearances for Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He made a combined 10 relief appearances with the Mets in 2014 and '15.