Morning Briefing: Time for some payback

July, 6, 2015
Jul 6
6:30
AM ET

LOS ANGELES --

FIRST PITCH: After winning two of three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, the New York Mets now look to get some retribution against San Francisco Giants right-hander Chris Heston.

Heston no-hit the Mets on June 9 at Citi Field.

Jonathon Niese (3-9, 3.90 ERA) opposes Heston (8-5, 3.78) at 10:10 p.m. ET on Monday at AT&T Park, as the teams begin a three-game series.

San Francisco enters the series off an 0-6 road trip to Miami and Washington, then a cross-country flight from D.C., which they are doing on Monday.

“What I was impressed by is how he threw his sinker on both sides of the plate,” manager Terry Collins said about Heston, reflecting on the rookie’s no-hitter. “He threw some balls to lefties that came back over the plate that were strikes. Then he nipped the outside corner. And the same with righties. He’d throw some balls down and in and then backdoor his two-seamer. And then his breaking ball we heard was very good, and it is.

“If his command is as good as it was last time, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

MONDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Steven Matz and Logan Verrett combined on a three-hit shutout as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 8-0, in Sunday’s rubber game. Collins said the Amazin’s needed the upbeat weekend “extremely bad” after having arrived at Dodger Stadium having been swept by the Chicago Cubs while mustering one run in 29 innings. Matz allowed two hits, two walks and hit a batter in six scoreless innings despite having dealt with lat stiffness between starts. Verrett earned his first professional save by handling the final three innings. Although Michael Cuddyer and Lucas Duda remain in deep ruts, Wilmer Flores produced a career-high four hits and drove in three runs. Flores went 10-for-13 with five RBIs during the weekend series. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, whose career with the Yankees was cut short by back pain, offered advice to David Wright this weekend. “David has got to find a routine that works for him," Mattingly told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post. “That’s what David and I talked about. There is no easy road. … It’s a battle. It’s going through the struggle of going out there and figuring it out and that is hard. The main thing is going to be strength and figuring out how to go with it.” Wright told Kernan: “With him going through the same kind of thing, it was nice to hear and get his advice. He told me how his routine changed and how his offseason preparation changed. He gave me some very good advice. Anytime it comes from a guy like that it really means something. It was pretty awesome."
  • The Mets will not have any starting position players in the July 14 All-Star Game at Cincinnati, but the pitchers who will represent the club will be announced on Monday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Jacob deGrom appears a lock, with Jeurys Familia also meriting selection. Read more in the Post, Newsday and at MLB.com.
  • Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests five obtainable lefty hitters who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center field: Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, David Peralta, Brock Holt and Seth Smith.
  • Collins suggested Matt Harvey needs to “get over” any distaste stemming from a six-man rotation and other off-days that are spreading out his time between starts. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and at MLB.com.
  • After recording a save for Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday night, Jenrry Mejia is due to fly to San Francisco on Monday. He will be activated on Tuesday. Mejia was handed an 80-game PED suspension back in April.
  • Dillon Gee allowed two runs in seven innings and Dilson Herrera and Travis Taijeron homered as Las Vegas beat Albuquerque, 3-2. Signed from the Long Island Ducks, knuckleballer Mickey Jannis allowed two runs (one earned) in seven innings in his organization debut, but St. Lucie lost to Fort Myers, 5-4. Patrick Biondi doubled and scored the tiebreaking run in the top of the ninth as Savannah beat Greenville, 8-6. Dash Winningham and Patrick Mazeika had two-run homers as Kingsport rallied for a 5-2 win against Greeneville. Brandon Brosher had a grand slam and finished with a Cyclones-record seven RBIs in Brooklyn’s 9-2 win against Williamsport. Read the full minor league recap here.
  • Read more about Flores’ weekend in the Daily News and at MLB.com.
  • Tim Rohan in the Times observed agent Scott Boras at Dodger Stadium during Harvey’s outing on Saturday.
  • Left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins, who suffered a fractured forearm in April, remains uncleared to throw.
  • From the bloggers … Mets Report suggests Harvey's grousing about a six-man rotation would carry more weight if he pitched better.

BIRTHDAYS: Willie Randolph turns 61. ... Lance Johnson is 52. ... Taylor Henry, the Mets’ 21st-round pick last month, is 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Which players should represent the Mets in the All-Star Game?

Sunday's power rankings

July, 6, 2015
Jul 6
1:00
AM ET

video1. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates: You don't often talk about guys this good gutting out a win, but the Bucs ace got touched for three early runs, and if you're a Pirates fan, you might have been worried. This was after he got lit up by the Reds on June 24 and gave up nine hits by the Tigers on June 30, so Cole hadn't won a game since June 18. But he retired 16 straight Indians while the Pirates rallied to put up a five-spot in the fifth, getting Cole his MLB-leading 12th win.

2. Steven Matz, New York Mets: Two turns into his big-league career -- it's almost cooler that he notched his fifth RBI than his second win -- Matz shut down the Dodgers with just five baserunners and no runs allowed over six innings in an 8-0 victory. He wasn't even at his best.

3. Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox: This came from a game that was the sort of contest the Astros are supposed to be built to win -- having taken a lead in the top of the seventh on back-to-back homers from Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis. In came veteran lefty Tony Sipp to protect a lead with one out to get lefty-batting David Ortiz. He walked after an epic 11-pitch at-bat after fouling off six pitches, and created the situation you really don't want: Hanley Ramirez with a big at-bat. Seeing somebody get out in front and one-hand a 1-and-2 changeup into the corner over the Monster? You don't see that every day. Ramirez's speed showed that the guy has hand-eye skills at the plate to do all sorts of unusual things, including win this game for the Red Sox by a 5-4 final score.

How weird a year has it been for Ramirez? In a season in which he has a career-low walk rate (fewer than 6 percent of his plate appearances) he's a fly-ball hitter putting the ball in play 74 percent of the time that he's at bat. That's a higher rate he has had in any season since 2007. Yet for all of that extra contact, he's putting a career-high 16.5 percent of all fly balls he's hit into the seats. Sunday's game-winner was his 18th, so he's having a great season … but one that's very different from anything he has ever done before, and perhaps very different from what the Red Sox expected when they ponied up major money.

4. Adam Lind and Gerardo Parra, Milwaukee Brewers: You might expect all sorts of guys on the Brewers to be rocking the Animals' “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” as they try to make themselves attractive as trade bait, so when you get to the Gap, you want people to make some noise at the plate. Given the comfort of Cincinnati's confines in their “play me and trade me” quests, Lind homered on both Saturday and Sunday while Parra added one of his own in the Brewers' 6-1 win over the Reds. Both boosted their value as rare commodities available at the deadline this year: productive lefty power sources. Given the number of contenders looking for help at first base, DH and the outfield, Doug Melvin's phone should be ringing.

5. Tommy Pham, St. Louis Cardinals: Given a third straight start in center field since his call-up on Friday, Pham belted his first homer, a second double, drove in his first three runs and stole his first base to spark the Cards' 3-1 win. Pham is sort of a fun story, in that he's a premium defender who was the last guy picked in the 16th round of the 2006 and has slowly developed into the Cardinals' latest later-round prospect. Across three seasons at Triple-A Memphis, he's put up an .867 OPS, and with a glove that doesn't give up anything to premium fly-chaser Peter Bourjos in center, he could be a bigger deal after this kind of weekend.

Extra-special De La Rosas-only power ranking: De La Rosa defeats De La Rosa for De La Rosa bragging rights. That's Jorge De La Rosa of the Colorado Rockies beating Rubby De La Rosa of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 6-4 win. It was the second-ever contest between the two in their battle for De La Rosa dominance, but both came away with no-decisions in their historic first matchup 11 days ago. So now this is settled … at least until their next confrontation, which will probably have to wait until the next time the two teams meet at the end of August.

Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.

LAS VEGAS 3, ALBUQUERQUE 2: Jenrry Mejia allowed a two-out single before recording the final out in the ninth for the save. It was Mejia's final appearance before being activated from an 80-game PED suspension. Dillon Gee (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk in seven innings to lower his Pacific Coast League ERA to 8.82. Las Vegas built a 3-0 lead behind homers from Dilson Herrera and Travis Taijeron. Herrera finished 3-for-4. Taijeron's long ball was his 14th of the season. Box

PORTAND 6, BINGHAMTON 1: John Gant allowed four runs (one earned) in six innings as right fielder Eudy Pina and first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez committed errors. Josh Smoker tossed a scoreless relief inning in his Double-A debut. Akeel Morris allowed a pair of ninth-inning runs as Portland took a 6-0 lead. The B-Mets' lone run came in the bottom of the ninth when Brandon Nimmo walked, advanced on a wild pitch and passed ball and scored on Dustin Lawley's groundout. Box

FORT MYERS 5, ST. LUCIE 4: The Mets appeared to tie the score at 5 in the ninth when Amed Rosario raced home from first on Champ Stuart's double to left field. But Stuart’s extra-base hit bounced off the foul poll and Rosario was sent back to third base on the ground-rule double. Yeixon Ruiz then grounded out with the infield drawn in and Jeff McNeil flied out to end the game as the tying run remained at third base. The Mets held a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth, but the Miracle plated three runs against Robby Coles. Marcus Knecht tied the score with a two-run single. Ryan Walker scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Mickey Jannis, signed by the Mets from the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, had a solid debut. The knuckleballer limited the Miracle to two runs (one earned) on three singles in seven innings. He walked four and struck out three. The Miracle were up 2-0 until Victor Cruzado ripped a two-run homer in the fourth. The Mets broke the tie on Stuart's sacrifice fly in the seventh. They went ahead 4-2 on Matt Oberste's sacrifice fly an inning later. Miracle starter Kohl Stewart, the fourth overall pick in 2013, allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings. Box

SAVANNAH 8, GREENVILLE 6: With the score tied at 6 in the top of the ninth, Patrick Biondi produced a leadoff double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on John Mora's sacrifice fly. Eudor Garcia followed with a solo homer for a two-run cushion. Vicente Lupo had delivered a three-run homer in a four-run second inning as the Gnats overcame an early 3-0 deficit. Jimmy Duff earned his ninth save. Gnats starter Ricky Knapp allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Box

KINGSPORT 5, GREENEVILLE 2: Dash Winningham evened the score at 2 with a two-run homer in the sixth. Darryl Knight doubled and scored the tiebreaking run an inning later. Patrick Mazeika added a two-run homer in the eighth. Audry German (3-0) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in eight innings. Joe Shaw earned his second save. Box

BROOKLYN 9, WILLIAMSPORT 2: Brandon Brosher delivered a first-inning grand slam and ultimately drove in a Cyclones-record seven runs. Kevin Canelon (1-1) contributed 4 2/3 scoreless relief innings. Box

Compiled with team reports.

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Terry Collins has one theory for Wilmer Flores' weekend surge at the plate: Flores is more relaxed at second base than shortstop, and it is translating to better all-around production.

“No question,” Collins said. “He’s happy to be there. He loves second base.”

Flores had a career-high four hits and drove in three runs as the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-0, in Sunday’s rubber game.

He finished the weekend series 10-for-13 with two doubles and five RBIs. Flores switched positions last Sunday.

“He’s hitting the ball to right field. He’s not trying to pull things,” Collins said. “They’re pitching him away and he’s taking hits the other way. Certainly that’s what the good hitters have to do.”

Still, Flores downplayed the impact of a position switch on his hitting surge.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with it,” he said.

On the team's recent offensive struggles, Flores added: "The only thing we had to do was keep swinging and keep pushing. That's it."

videoLOS ANGELES -- Rookie left-hander Steven Matz is off to a brilliant start to his career.

In his second major league game, Matz tossed six scoreless innings, as the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-0 in Sunday’s rubber game.

Matz became the fifth pitcher in franchise history to earn a win in each of his first two major league appearances. He joined Dick Selma (1965), Gary Gentry ('69), Roger McDowell ('85) and Mike Pelfrey (2006).

Matz also drove in another run, giving him five career RBIs.

Matz allowed two hits, two walks and hit a batter.

“This guy has got outstanding stuff. You saw it today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got three ‘plus’ pitches. He throws strikes. He doesn’t beat himself. He’s a great athlete. He fields his position. He handles the bat. He’s going to be really good.”

Matz dealt with stiffness in his lat, near his left arm pit, after possibly overthrowing in his debut a week earlier. He showed no ill effects against the Dodgers, though, while striking out eight batters in a 101-pitch effort.

“After his last start, he was a little stiffer than we liked,” Collins said. “[Pitching coach Dan Warthen] had him throw between starts and he had a little stiffness still. So we said the other day we’re going to have to back him down tonight. So we said about 100 pitches, and that’s where he got us to. … He’s fine, as you saw. That’s what that first start does to you -- all of that adrenaline and trying to overthrow a little bit.”

Said Matz: “I got my treatment and stuff. It was just a little tight. Once I got out there, it was feeling good. And it still feels good now.”

Matz said he was working too quickly early on against the Dodgers, rushing his delivery. He hit Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning and went to three-ball counts to the first three batters of the second inning. At one point, third baseman Daniel Murphy came to the mound to slow him down.

Matz’s best pitch was his fastball, which sat at 94 mph. He was able to work the fastball up in the zone late in counts. Matz described his curveball as “so-so,” yet he used it to strike out Yasiel Puig and complete his outing.

On hitting Gonzalez on the right hand, which eventually forced the cleanup hitter from the game, Matz said: “I really wanted to throw down and away, but I was kind of rushed a little bit. I was worrying about the runner on first a little too much and tried to be too quick and my arm dragged a little bit.”

As for his success through two starts, which includes a pair of wins and a 1.32 ERA, Matz added: “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great. It’s been a good learning experience so far. I’m going to keep on learning and try to get better.”

video

There will be a Royal influence in the Queen City as four Kansas City Royals players were named American League starters for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game being hosted by the Cincinnati Reds.

Outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain join Alcides Escobar (shortstop) and Salvador Perez (catcher) as Royals reps for this year's All-Star Game. Much was said of the potential ballot-stuffing being done by Kansas City fans, but ultimately only four players from the AL Central leaders made it to the starting lineup. Long a doormat in the AL, the Royals have more starters this season than in the previous 25 years combined.

"It's just been the support of our fans, really, over the last two years," said Gordon, making his third straight All-Star appearance. "Winning brings attention and that's what we've been doing. I think we play with a lot of energy, a lot of fun. People have noticed it."

While the Royals may have led the way with the most players per team, the leading vote-getter came from north of the border.

Toronto Blue Jays


(Read full post)


Rapid Reaction: Mets 8, Dodgers 0

July, 5, 2015
Jul 5
7:06
PM ET

video

LOS ANGELES -- Steven Matz's L.A. premiere went just as well as his first New York showing.

Matz tossed six scoreless innings as the New York Mets won Sunday's rubber game, 8-0, against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Despite early control issues, Matz limited Los Angeles to two hits, two walks and a hit batter in his second career start. His final pitch, No. 101, was a called third strike on a big-breaking curveball to Yasiel Puig. It was Matz's eighth strikeout of the game.

Matz's 14 career strikeouts are the second most in franchise history through two career starts. Matt Harvey had 18.

The Mets have scored 15 runs in Matz's two starts, albeit with him collecting five RBIs. They otherwise have scored 21 runs in 15 games since June 17.

Matz (2-0, 1.32 ERA) followed up his four-RBI major league debut with a run-scoring groundout in the fourth inning against Mike Bolsinger, which gave the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Matz's five RBIs match the most ever by a player in his first two games as a Met, joining Richie Hebner in 1979 and Bernard Gilkey in 1996. The RBI total also matches the most ever by a Mets pitcher in a two-start span, joining Dwight Gooden (Sept. 21 and 26, 1985).

Matz faced two runners on base in the first inning, but rallied by retiring Puig on a fielder's choice. The southpaw went to three balls to the first three batters of the second inning, but only walked the leadoff batter. Matz then stranded Scott Van Slyke on second base when he struck out Bolsinger.

Matz did plunk Adrian Gonzalez with a first-inning pitch. Gonzalez eventually left the game with a bruised right hand. Daniel Murphy subsequently was hit by a pitch in the sixth.

Flo charting: Wilmer Flores produced a career-high four hits and had three RBIs. He went 10-for-13 in the series.

Flores' RBI single in the first inning opened the scoring. Flores also contributed a run-scoring infield single in the fourth as the Mets took a 4-0 lead. He capped his day with doubles in the seventh and eighth innings -- the latter driving in the Mets' eighth run.

Slumping: After four games out of the starting lineup to deal with an ailing left knee, Michael Cuddyer returned with an 0-for-5 performance. The subpar return included grounding into an inning-ending fielder's choice in the fourth to leave the bases loaded. Cuddyer is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. He is hitting .107 (6-for-56) with 16 strikeouts in 18 games since June 13.

Lucas Duda is similarly slumping. Duda went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He is hitting .138 (9-for-65) with 25 strikeouts in 17 games since June 17.

Veritable fact: Logan Verrett handled the final three innings to earn his first professional save -- majors or minors.

The Mets' last three-inning-plus save was tossed by Raul Valdes on May 25, 2010 in an 8-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies.

What's next: The Mets head to San Francisco for a reunion with rookie right-hander Chris Heston, who tossed a no-hitter at Citi Field on June 9. Jonathon Niese (3-8, 3.90 ERA) opposes Heston (8-5, 3.78) in Monday's 10:15 p.m. ET series opener. The Giants are on a five-game losing streak entering their appearance on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at Washington.

LOS ANGELES -- New York Mets left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins' return from a left forearm fracture continues to move along on a slow track.

Blevins has not yet been cleared to resume throwing a baseball.

Blevins suffered the injury when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Dee Gordon on April 19.

Batters had been 0-for-15 against Blevins before he landed on the disabled list.

Jenrry Mejia on verge of rejoining Mets

July, 5, 2015
Jul 5
3:55
PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Former closer Jenrry Mejia will make one final minor league appearance Sunday night with Triple-A Las Vegas. Mejia then is due to fly to San Francisco on Monday. He will be activated Tuesday by the New York Mets after completing an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing-drug use.

Mets manager Terry Collins has not firmly articulated Mejia's role upon rejoining the team, but it is clear Jeurys Familia will remain the closer.

Once Mejia establishes he is sharp, he may serve as the primary setup man. Or at least share that responsibility with Bobby Parnell.

Mejia will be ineligible for the playoffs as part of his PED suspension. But Collins said it would be nonsensical to refrain from using Mejia in a late-inning role for that reason. After all, the Mets need to get to the postseason, the manager noted, so they might as well use their best pieces -- regardless of their October availability. If the Mets make it to the playoffs and don't have Mejia, they can deal with his absence then.

Collins said he expected Mejia would address the team Tuesday -- either en masse or individually. The manager added that an apology would not be required.

Mejia tested positive for the use of the steroid Stanozolol. He was part of a rash of positive tests across MLB in April.

Mejia has not acknowledged knowingly taking the banned substance.

"I know the rules are the rules and I will accept my punishment, but I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system," Mejia said in a statement at the time the suspension was imposed.

He has made five minor league appearances between the Gulf Coast League and Las Vegas entering Sunday while tuning up for his major league activation.

LOS ANGELES -- The starting position players for the July 14 All-Star Game in Cincinnati will be announced on ESPN Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The New York Mets do not figure to have any representatives named during that show. But the Amazin’s do figure to get some attention a day later.

The All-Star pitching staffs and reserves will be announced during a separate ESPN show Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

[+] EnlargeJacob deGrom
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsStarter Jacob deGrom is 8-6 with a 2.30 ERA and could be the Mets' best chance for an All-Star nod.

Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia are the Mets’ best candidates for the exhibition in Cincinnati.

“Pick up the program and look at what they’ve done,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I think they’re the best cases. You’ve got Jacob, who has put up a tremendous run. And Jeurys, had we had a lead a few more times, would be leading the league in saves. He’s been absolutely brilliant.”

While the starting position players are selected by fans, the pitching staff is primarily chosen by fellow players. So there’s a chance Familia, despite meriting selection, could be snubbed due to a lack of name recognition. For that same reason, Matt Harvey (7-6, 3.11 ERA) conceivably could sneak in as a second representative alongside deGrom.

Perhaps the best bet is deGrom alone representing the Mets.

DeGrom, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, is 8-6 with a 2.30 ERA.

“He went through a stretch early where he wasn’t pitching like we had seen him in the past, and then all of a sudden he fixed it, and fixed it fast,” Collins said. “He got on a great run. The other day wasn’t a normal outing for him. He’s got plus stuff with great makeup and the ability to adjust on the fly. He’s impressive to watch.”

Familia stepped in after the suspension of Jenrry Mejia and has converted 22 saves in 24 chances. He has a 1.16 ERA and 0.905 WHIP.

“There’s been a lot of nights he’s had to go out there in the eighth inning,” Collins said. “I think he leads the league in four-out opportunities.”

Familia insisted he is just taking his pitching day by day. Still, he acknowledged: “It’s part of my dream when I started to play baseball. One day I want to be an All-Star, and the World Series and that kind of stuff. If it happens, I’m going to enjoy it and live the moment.”

LOS ANGELES -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins had a diplomatic but blunt message Sunday for starting pitchers displeased with a six-man rotation and working with as much as two extra days of rest between starts: Get over it.

Collins’ message came a day after Matt Harvey struggled against the Los Angeles Dodgers while walking five batters in five innings. Harvey then groused about not feeling sharp with the irregular routine.

[+] EnlargeMatt Harvey
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIMatt Harvey is frustrated by the extra rest created by a six-man rotation for the Mets, but manager Terry Collins said it's time for his ace to get over it.

He is now expected to switch to twice throwing off a mound between starts to compensate for extra rest. His next start is scheduled for Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field.

The Mets went to a six-man rotation to conserve innings so that Harvey and Noah Syndergaard particularly would not reach team-imposed innings caps before the season ends.

“They’ve got to get over it,” Collins said. “Matt knows that. And I know he’s frustrated by it. He and I have talked about it that we have to be creative between starts. And I certainly understand it. I certainly understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor, and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis. I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘You know, Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you’ll enjoy ... sitting on the bench in September when we need you.' And so we’ve got to make the adjustment. And Matt knows that.”

Collins suggested Harvey may not be alone in his distaste for a six-man rotation.

“I just don’t know if the other guys will say anything about it,” the manager said.

Collins then joked that Harvey can pitch for the Brooklyn Cyclones during the All-Star break if he is displeased about getting that extra rest.

“We’ve got the break coming up, and he’s going to have more than five days off or six days off,” Collins said. “He can pitch in Brooklyn if he wants to. I think they’re playing.”

Collins then reiterated that he understands Harvey’s point and view.

“I love him. He’s fun,” Collins said. “He just likes to play baseball. He likes to be out there. I certainly totally, totally understand it. When we first sat down and did this, he came in and said, ‘It gets me out of my routine.’ I said, ‘Matt, I understand it. But here’s our options: We skip you and then we’ve got to skip Syndergaard. Or we’ve got to shut you both down.’ This has a lot to do with him and his health. And I totally understand it.”

Sunday's Mets-Dodgers lineups

July, 5, 2015
Jul 5
2:04
PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Here are the lineups for Sunday's 4:10 p.m. ET series finale between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Michael Cuddyer returns to the Mets' lineup after missing four starts with a cranky left knee, which required a cortisone injection.

Mets

Curtis Granderson, RF

Daniel Murphy, 3B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Wilmer Flores, 2B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Johnny Monell, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Steven Matz, LHP

Juan Lagares, CF

Dodgers

Enrique Hernandez, SS

Howie Kendrick, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

Yasiel Puig, RF

Scott Van Slyke, LF

Joc Pederson, CF

A.J. Ellis, C

Mike Bolsinger, RHP

LOS ANGELES --

FIRST PITCH: Hopefully Steven Matz remembered to pack Triple-A Las Vegas shortstop Matt Reynolds’ bat for the West Coast trip.

After using his minor league teammate’s lumber and setting an MLB record for a debuting pitcher by producing four RBIs last Sunday, Matz now makes an encore performance at Dodger Stadium.

In his second career start, Matz (1-0, 2.35 ERA) opposes right-hander Mike Bolsinger (4-2, 2.76) in a 4:10 p.m. ET rubber game on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

[+] EnlargeSteven Matz
AP Photo/Seth WenigWith a hit in his first at-bat Sunday, pitcher Steven Matz would set a record for most hits to start a Mets career.

Matz batted .304 with Las Vegas this season before his call-up. He always has taken pride in his hitting. He was a first baseman at Ward Melville High School on Long Island when he wasn’t pitching.

His 3-for-3 performance at the plate and 7T innings on the mound against the Cincinnati Reds in his debut might have been close to perfect, but Matz is not infallible.

The Mets have a wrestling-style belt they award to their player of the game. Matz, charged with ensuring the belt made it to California, failed in that responsibility.

“I didn’t realize. I forgot,” Matz said.

His penance: Teammates put all of their uniform belts in his locker. Matz had to rehang the belts in each locker.

“Not too bad,” he said about the punishment.

Meanwhile, if Matz gets a hit in his first at-bat, he will have sole possession of the franchise record for most consecutive at-bats with a hit to begin his career. He currently is tied with Kazuo Matsui.

SUNDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Matt Harvey allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks in five innings and the Mets lost to the Dodgers 4-3 on Saturday. Zack Greinke threw seven scoreless innings to lower his MLB-leading ERA to 1.48. The Mets pulled within a run in the ninth on Juan Lagares’ sacrifice fly. Curtis Granderson struck out to end the game with the tying run on first base. Afterward, Harvey said he needs to make adjustments because he is not used to pitching with two extra days of rest between starts. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
  • Ken Davidoff in the Post profiles 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto, who is hitting .325 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 120 at-bats since a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. General manager Sandy Alderson said Friday that Conforto will not be promoted to the majors in the “near term.” Said Conforto: “The front office is going to do what they deem is best for the team. All I can control is what I do on the field and the way I show up every day. That was kind of the attitude I took every day when I was at Oregon State.” Davidoff in the Post also catches up with former first-round pick Gavin Cecchini.
  • Anthony Recker produced his seventh homer in 13 Triple-A games, but Albuquerque beat Las Vegas 10-2. Cecchini produced a grand slam as Binghamton beat Portland 5-2. St. Lucie rallied with three ninth-inning runs in a 5-3 loss to Fort Myers. Corey Oswalt took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and Savannah beat Greenville 3-1. Matt Blackham tossed seven scoreless innings in Brooklyn’s 2-0 win against Williamsport. Read the full minor league recap here.
  • Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Matz. On his NHL allegiance, Matz tells Serby: “I’m an Islanders fan. I grew up a Rangers fan, which is kind of weird. I’m kind of fickle with my sports teams, but I used to love hockey growing up and then I kind of got out of it for a while. And then when I did my rehab in 2010 for my elbow, that’s where the Islanders would do their rehab. So I met like Mark Streit, who was with the Islanders at the time, and Kyle Okposo, and some other guys. I went to a couple of games that year and kind of got into the Islanders.” Read a preview of Matz’s start at Dodger Stadium in Newsday and at MLB.com.
  • John Smoltz tells the Daily News that even Harvey is susceptible to a period of struggles while returning from Tommy John surgery.
  • Manager Terry Collins expects Jenrry Mejia will address teammates when he returns on Tuesday from an 80-game PED suspension. Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.
  • Steven Marcus in Newsday speaks with experts about the merits of surgery to treat spinal stenosis vs. more conservative treatment.
  • Columnist Denis Hamill in the Daily News weighs in on the plight of a Mets fan.
  • Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests Alderson could learn from 1969, when the Mets acquired Donn Clendenon in mid-June en route to the title.
  • From the bloggers … Mets Report suggests that with Collins getting a temporary vote of confidence, Alderson is putting it on himself to bring in some hitting help.

BIRTHDAYS: Jeff Innis turns 53.

TWEET OF THE DAY:


YOU’RE UP: How will Matz do in his second career start?

ALBUQUERQUE 10, LAS VEGAS 2: Starter Luis Cessa allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Anthony Recker had his seventh homer in 13 games since a demotion. Box

BINGHAMTON 5, PORTLAND 2: Gavin Cecchini hit a grand slam in the second inning and Aderlin Rodriguez added a solo shot in the seventh. Michael Fulmer (3-1) allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings. He struck out eight and allowed only five baserunners. Adam Kolarek contributed a perfect seventh inning. After Kolarek allowed a single and produced a strikeout in the eighth, Matt Koch entered. Jantzen Witte greeted Koch with a single to bring the potential tying run to the plate. Koch proceeded to retire Sam Travis on a soft liner to first base, then froze Keury De La Cruz on an inning-ending strikeout. Jon Velasquez earned his ninth save with a perfect ninth. Box

FORT MYERS 5, ST. LUCIE 3: The Mets trailed 5-0 with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth. They managed to score three runs and put the tying run on first base before the rally fizzled. Colton Plaia delivered an RBI single to make it 5-1. Later, an error by third baseman Tanner Vavra loaded the bases and brought up Jeff McNeil. McNeil delivered a two-run single on the first pitch from reliever Todd Van Steensel to make it 5-3. With McNeil on first base as the tying run, Jairo Perez sent a grounder to first baseman Bryan Haar. He flipped the ball to Van Steensel covering the bag for the game's final out. Miracle starter Mat Batts blanked the Mets over six innings. He allowed two singles while striking out six. Mets starter Kevin McGowan was tagged for five runs on 10 hits in 6S innings. Box

SAVANNAH 3, GREENVILLE 1: Starter Corey Oswalt (6-3) allowed one run on six hits and a walk in 7S innings. Jimmy Duff earned his eighth save with a perfect ninth. With the game scoreless in the seventh, Vicente Lupo homered. The Gnats built a 3-0 lead in the eighth on Michael Katz's run-scoring double and Jon Leroux's RBI single. Box

BURLINGTON 3, KINGSPORT 2: Erik Manoah (0-2) allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in six innings. Box

BROOKLYN 2, WILLIAMSPORT 0: Matt Blackham limited the Crosscutters to two hits and a walk while striking out nine in seven scoreless innings. Vinny Siena scored on a wild pitch in the fourth for the opening run. Brandon Brosher added a solo homer in the eighth. Carlos Valdez tossed a perfect ninth to close out the win and pick up his first save of the season. Box

GCL METS 5, GCL NATIONALS 2 (5 innings): Box

Compiled with team reports.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Wilmer Flores
BA HR RBI R
.258 10 38 31
OTHER LEADERS
HRC. Granderson 13
RBIW. Flores 38
RC. Granderson 43
OPSC. Granderson .779
WB. Colon 9
ERAJ. deGrom 2.30
SOJ. deGrom 102