SAN FRANCISCO --
FIRST PITCH: Having completed an 80-game suspension for a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug, former closer Jenrry Mejia is due to be activated by the New York Mets before Tuesday's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Mejia never admitted wrongdoing in a statement when the punishment was handed down in April. Instead, he maintained he never knowingly used Stanozolol, but accepted the punishment.
One thing is clear: Jeurys Familia's dominance as closer means neither Bobby Parnell nor Mejia is dislodging Familia from the closer's role. Familia converted his 23rd save in 25 chances in Monday's series opener at AT&T Park.
The Mets will have to make a roster move before Tuesday's game to clear a bullpen spot for Mejia. That is no easy task, since rookies Logan Verrett and Hansel Robles are pitching well, while an underperforming reliever such as Alex Torres is one of two lefties and Carlos Torres has veteran status and is out of options.
"It's never easy to send anyone back to the minor leagues," manager Terry Collins said. "And our bullpen has done a good job of keeping us in games. Unfortunately, one of them is going to be gone."
TUESDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:
- Jonathon Niese limited the Giants to three hits in eight scoreless innings and the Mets scored three ninth-inning runs and beat San Francisco, 3-0, in Monday's series opener. Ex-Giant Johnny Monell delivered a tiebreaking two-run double. Niese earned his first win since May 9. Mets pitchers have now produced back-to-back three-hit shutouts. The Amazin's are 3-1 on their West Coast trip so far. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Jacob deGrom followed up last year's NL Rookie of the Year Award by earning his first All-Star selection. DeGrom was voted in by players. A complimentary NL manager Bruce Bochy named Familia one of five players on a fan ballot for the final NL slot, joining Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Martinez and Troy Tulowitzki. You can vote here. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis made an improbable return to the Mets on Monday, after a detour to the Los Angeles Angels and then to Triple-A Las Vegas. He then went 1-for-2 with a key ninth-inning double and two walks. Darrell Ceciliani was demoted to the Pacific Coast League club. Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Robert Gsellman allowed five runs in six innings and Portland beat Binghamton, 5-4. Jairo Perez had two of St. Lucie's three hits in a 9-0 loss to Fort Myers. Dawrin Frias allowed an eighth-inning run and Greenville beat Savannah, 8-7. Jose Figuera scored on an error as Kingsport earned a 5-4 walk-off win against Greeneville. Tyler Badamo allowed one unearned run in seven innings and Brooklyn beat Williamsport, 2-1, in 10 innings. Read the full minor league recap here.
- Tim Rohan in the Times notes that Mets starting pitchers are getting it done at the plate as well as on the mound.
- The Mets need better offensive contributions from Michael Cuddyer and Lucas Duda, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.
- Read more on Mejia's return in the Record.
- From the bloggers … Mets Report applauds Collins for telling Matt Harvey to get over the six-man rotation.
BIRTHDAYS: Tim Teufel turns 57. ... John Buck is 35.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
— Jack Trefry (@JackTrefry) July 7, 2015
YOU'RE UP: Which reliever should the Mets demote to make room for Mejia?
SAN FRANCISCO -- More than eight weeks after he last earned a victory, Jonathon Niese returned to the win column on Monday.
Niese required only 81 pitches to toss eight scoreless innings. He combined with Jeurys Familia on a shutout as the New York Mets blanked the travel-weary San Francisco Giants, 3-0, in the series opener at AT&T Park.
Coupled with Sunday's blanking of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game started by Steven Matz, Mets pitchers have now produced 19 consecutive scoreless innings. They have produced back-to-back three-hit shutouts for the first time since July 8-9, 2008, when Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana started games against the Giants at Shea Stadium.
Niese last had earned a victory on May 9 at Philadelphia. He since had been 0-6 in nine starts. The southpaw recently seemed to have turned a corner, though. He now has a 2.06 ERA in his past five starts.
Niese was in line for a no-decision until batterymate Johnny Monell broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double in what became a three-run ninth inning.
"He deserved it a lot," manager Terry Collins said about Niese earning the victory. "He's pitched very, very well lately and has just come up short. It was another tremendous outing by him tonight. I'm glad we scored some runs for him for a change."
Niese, victimized by sloppy fielding behind him for much of the season, got at least one highlight-reel play in support of his effort on Monday night. Benefiting from the Mets abandoning Wilmer Flores' use at shortstop, Niese received a pick-me-up when Ruben Tejada made a particularly deep throw from shortstop for an out at first base in the fourth inning that retired Matt Duffy.
Asked if he remembered a time when he averaged only 10 pitches an inning, Niese said: "It's been a while. ... We executed the game plan. We knew coming into the game that they were going to be aggressive. The plan was to pound the bottom of the zone with all of the pitches. We were able to do that."
The lone serious threat against him came in the sixth, when a pair of walks loaded the bases for Buster Posey with two outs. Posey grounded out to third base.
"I kind of lost my feel for everything there for a few batters," Niese said. "I just wanted to slow the game down, stay tall, stay on line and execute pitches."
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jonathon Niese earned his first win in nearly two months. He needed to toss eight scoreless innings and hold his breath for some run support to notch the victory.
Johnny Monell broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double against closer Santiago Casilla in the top of the ninth, and the New York Mets beat the San Francisco Giants, 3-0, on Monday night at AT&T Park.
After a leadoff single by Michael Cuddyer in the ninth, Kirk Nieuwenhuis doubled against Sergio Romo to put two in scoring position with none out. Casilla then entered and surrendered the decisive blow to Monell, who played for the Giants in 2013. Juan Lagares added an RBI single.
Jeurys Familia, pitching with NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy in the home dugout, handled the bottom half for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
Nieuwenhuis finished 1-for-2 with two walks in his return to the ballclub.
The Giants had limped back home to San Francisco on Monday after losing all six games on a trip to Miami and Washington. After playing ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the Giants successfully petitioned MLB to stay overnight in D.C. and fly back to San Francisco on their charter on Monday.
In a rematch with rookie right-hander Chris Heston, who tossed a no-hitter at Citi Field on June 9, Ruben Tejada produced a one-out single in the first inning to quickly extinguish any repeat no-hit talk. But the Mets produced little else until their three-run ninth-inning outburst.
Casilla was making his first appearance since Wednesday, when he allowed a three-run homer to Justin Bour and failed to record an out in a blown save in Miami. He since had been shut down with a sore arm.
Niese earned his first win since May 9. He limited San Francisco to three hits in eight scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 3.58. He departed with his pitch count at a modest 81 for a pinch hitter in the ninth, immediately after Monell’s two-run double.
The lone serious jam Niese confronted came in the sixth, when the Giants loaded the bases with two outs, aided by a pair of walks. Niese then coaxed Buster Posey into a groundout to third base to preserve a scoreless tie.
Heston tossed 7 1/3 innings scoreless innings, with some assistance from Lagares’ baserunning. Lagares was hit by a pitch in the left shoulder blade to open the eighth. Curtis Granderson then somehow dunked a pop fly inside the left-field line. Lagares, slow to read the play, was forced out at second base. The Mets nonetheless placed two in scoring position with two outs in that frame, but Romo entered and coaxed an inning-ending groundout from Wilmer Flores.
ALBUQUERQUE at LAS VEGAS (ppd.)
PORTLAND 5, BINGHAMTON 4: The B-Mets stranded the tying run in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings and left another man on base in the ninth en route to their fifth straight loss. Starter Robert Gsellman (2-5) allowed five runs in six innings. Dustin Lawley's two-run homer in the fourth pulled the B-Mets within 4-3. Portland answered with a long ball in the sixth inning, when Jake Romanski drove a pitch beyond the left-field fence against Gsellman for a two-run cushion. With Binghamton trailing 5-3 in the seventh, Luis Diaz allowed back-to-back singles to begin the frame. Left-hander Robby Scott entered and induced a foul pop-up from Gavin Cecchini. Scott proceeded to strike out L.J. Mazzilli. A balk pushed both baserunners ahead, but Scott struck out Michael Conforto to escape the jam. Lawley had an RBI double in the eighth. Representing the tying run, Lawley was left at second when Scott got pinch hitter Aderlin Rodriguez to fly out. Box
FORT MYERS 9, ST. LUCIE 0: Jairo Perez mustered two of the Mets' three hits as Fort Myers' Stephen Gonsalves and Matt Summers combined on the shutout. Victor Cruzado doubled to extend his hitting streak to eight games. The Miracle tagged Mets starter Miller Diaz for five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in seven innings. With the Miracle leading 2-0 in the fifth, Diaz recorded the opening two outs. Alex Swim then hit a liner that went off the glove of second baseman Phillip Evans. With the inning prolonged, Mitch Garver singled and Marcus Knecht belted a three-run homer. The Miracle plated its final four runs in the eighth against David Roseboom. Only one of the runs charged to Roseboom was earned because of first baseman Dominic Smith's error earlier in the frame. Box
GREENVILLE 8, SAVANNAH 7: Vicente Lupo had an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth to pull the Gnats even at 7, but Greenville plated the decisive run in the bottom half against Dawrin Frias. Gnats starter Casey Delgado allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings. Eudor Garcia homered and drove in three runs in the loss. Box
KINGSPORT 5, GREENEVILLE 4: Pinch runner Jose Figuera scored on a fielding error in the bottom of the ninth as the K-Mets earned a walk-off win. Dash Winningham's solo homer in the eighth had evened the score at 4. Box
BROOKLYN 2, WILLIAMSPORT 1 (10 innings): Despite mustering only three hits in the game, the Cyclones won in walk-off fashion. Pinch hitter Michael Bernal had a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 10th. Pinch runner Jeff Diehl advanced to second on Alfredo Reyes' sacrifice bunt. Diehl then scored on a throwing error by pitcher Anthony Sequeira on Tucker Tharp's grounder. Starter Tyler Badamo limited Williamsport to one unearned run on four hits and a walk in seven innings. Box
GCL CARDINALS 7, GCL METS 1: Starter Adonis Uceta allowed seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits in five innings. Box
Compiled with team reports.
SAN FRANCISCO -- All-Star manager Bruce Bochy said New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia received strong consideration for a guaranteed spot for the National League squad. Bochy added that it is a sign of respect that he named Familia to the five finalists eligible to be voted in by fans this week.
"I know all about him," Bochy said about Familia. "He's got great stuff. And, of course, he had a great first half. That's why he's on the fan voting. You're not on that unless you receive a lot of consideration. There's even some I had to leave off that. I hated to do it. That's how much I thought about him. He certainly earned to be on that."
Players selected Jacob deGrom as the Mets' lone guaranteed All-Star representative.
Bochy noted he only had nine selections after fan and player voting had taken place. And he had to take players from three teams that otherwise had no representatives: San Diego (Justin Upton), Milwaukee (Francisco Rodriguez) and Philadelphia (Jonathan Papelbon).
"I'm not surprised," Familia said. "Everything happens in my life for a reason. I'm not worried about it. I'm just going to try to keep doing my job. It is what it is."
Familia has exceptionally handled the closer's role, which he inherited with Bobby Parnell initially rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and with Jenrry Mejia serving an 80-game PED suspension. Four of Familia's 22 saves have spanned multiple innings.
"He's had an All-Star first half, I'll tell you that," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Twenty-two saves. Batting average of about .150 against him. 'Plus' stuff. In a decimated bullpen, this guy saved us. We've asked him to do things a lot of other closers don't do. In my mind, he's had an All-Star first half."
As for deGrom's selection in player voting, Bochy said: "I think you look at the respect he's gotten from all the other players -- and he's got tremendous stuff -- it's well earned. The numbers show that. That's a credit to the players. I thought they did a great job in selecting their players. They took all of the players that certainly deserved to be there. It made my job a little easier, too. They cut down the number I had to pick from."
Said deGrom: "It's been unbelievable. I would never have imagined it. I'm just thankful for the opportunity that I've had. … To hear that the players voted me in is definitely special. I'm really honored to be able to pitch in the All-Star Game."
SAN FRANCISCO -- With Lucas Duda hitting only .138 (9-for-65) with 25 strikeouts since June 17, the New York Mets first baseman finds himself with a day off in the series opener at San Francisco on Monday to clear his head.
"It's just today right now," manager Terry Collins said pregame.
Michael Cuddyer slides over to first base, with newly promoted Kirk Nieuwenhuis starting in left field.
Duda is particularly struggling with laying off changeups out of the strike zone.
"He's swinging at balls out of the zone," Collins said. "He wants to hit the ball out of the ballpark. And you look at the games in Los Angeles, the pitches he got that he could drive, he fouled them off. As we all know, you can't miss those. That's where you've got to do your damage."
Overall, Duda is hitting .248 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs.
"He's a big, big part of our lineup," Collins said. "We've got to have his offense. We've got to have his power. But nobody works harder at what he does. We met today, and everybody on the coaching staff still thinks he's going to hit 30 homers. So it means the second half is going to be pretty impressive."
SAN FRANCISCO --
Who got picked: Right-hander Jacob deGrom can add All-Star to his résumé. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year is, at least for now, the lone representative of the New York Mets in the July 14 All-Star Game in Cincinnati. DeGrom was voted in by his fellow players.
Closer Jeurys Familia has a chance to join deGrom. He is one of five finalists for the extra NL player fans will have a chance to vote into the game. Familia is competing with Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Martinez and Troy Tulowitzki for the final NL spot.
DeGrom, 27, is 8-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 16 starts. He has 102 strikeouts and a 0.965 WHIP in 105 2/3 innings.
DeGrom becomes the franchise’s fourth Rookie of the Year to make the All-Star team the following season. He joins Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
Who deserved to be picked: Familia really does merit joining deGrom in the All-Star Game.
Originally slated to be a setup man to Jenrry Mejia, Familia capably stepped into the closer’s role with Mejia serving an 80-game PED suspension. Now, with 2013 closer Bobby Parnell having returned from Tommy John surgery and Mejia eligible to be activated on Tuesday, there is no thought of dislodging Familia from the ninth-inning role.
Familia has converted 22 of 24 save chances this season. He also owns a 2-0 record, 1.16 ERA and 0.905 WHIP.
The Mets demoted Darrell Ceciliani, who was hitting .206 with one homer in 68 at-bats.
Nieuwenhuis began the season with the Mets. After going 3-for-38, he was designated for assignment and then traded to the Los Angeles Angels. The Mets eventually claimed Nieuwenhuis back off waivers and successfully outrighted him to Triple-A Las Vegas.
“A little bit weird, but definitely good,” Nieuwenhuis labeled his return to the Mets. “There are a lot of emotions, but I’m definitely glad to be back.”
Said manager Terry Collins: “He went down and swung the bat kind of like we knew he would after getting some consistent at-bats. So we’re going to get him in there tonight. Hopefully he can give us some offense.”
Nieuwenhuis hit .293 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 58 at-bats for the Pacific Coast League club.
In opting to call up Nieuwenhuis, the Mets passed on promoting 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton.
“I’m confident in what I can do and I’m definitely glad to be back,” Nieuwenhuis said.
NEW YORK METS (42-41, second place/NL East) at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (42-41, second place/NL West)
GIANTS SHORT HOPS
- Matt Cain made his season debut on Thursday. He allowed five runs in five innings against the Miami Marlins, including home runs by Jose Fernandez and Justin Bour. It marked Cain’s first major league action since July 9, 2014. Cain underwent surgery last year to remove bone chips and address spurs in his pitching elbow. He then suffered a strained flexor tendon in his final spring-training start.
- [+] EnlargeBrad Mills/USA TODAY SportsJake Peavy kept the Nationals to just two runs on on three hits in his return from the disabled list.
After missing 2˝ months dealing with chronic hip and back issues, Jake Peavy reentered the rotation on Friday. He limited the Washington Nationals to two runs on three hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. The damage came on a two-run homer by Clint Robinson. Peavy’s final rehab start came on June 26 against Triple-A Las Vegas. He allowed six runs in six innings, including a three-run homer by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
- The returns of Peavy and Cain have coincided with soon-to-be 40-year-old Tim Hudson (shoulder strain/hip injury) and Tim Lincecum (forearm bruise) landing on the disabled list.
- The Giants enter the series off an 0-6 trip to Miami and Washington. Rather than fly back to San Francisco from D.C. overnight after playing on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the club received permission from MLB to fly on Monday after a regular night’s sleep. “They prefer it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the Mercury News. “The red eye just flattens us, not that we don’t look flat now.” MLB typically mandates teams travel the day before a scheduled game.
- Buster Posey, who has an 11-game hitting streak, was selected as the NL starter at catcher. Nori Aoki finished fourth among NL outfielders and narrowly missed selection as a starter, although Aoki is out anyway with a fractured fibula in his right leg. Bochy will manage the NL squad.
- The Giants are looking to add an outfielder at the trading deadline. They have looked at Cameron Maybin and Gerardo Parra, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports.
- Since tossing a no-hitter against the Mets on June 9, Heston is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts.
- Despite homering Sunday against the Nats, Brandon Crawford is hitting .211 (23-for-109) since June 1.
- Closer Santiago Casilla has made one appearance since June 28. He allowed a walk-off three-run homer to Bour and failed to record an out in a blown save at Miami on Wednesday. Bochy afterward pledged to stay away from Casilla for a few days because the closer is dealing with arm fatigue. Castilla reportedly now is available to pitch.
- Hunter Pence remains on the DL with left wrist tendinitis, although he took on-field batting practice Sunday for the first time since landing on the disabled list and put on a home run exhibition.
- Travis Ishikawa was designated for assignment last week for the second time this season. He subsequently was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Gregor Blanco lost an 11-game hitting streak Sunday with an 0-for-4 performance.
- Ex-Met Angel Pagan has been dealing with knee inflammation.
- Ryan Vogelsong was ejected in the fifth inning of Sunday’s start against the Nats by umpire Phil Cuzzi after complaining about the strike zone.
LOS ANGELES --
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:
— Bernard (@longfordbenny) July 5, 2015
YOU’RE UP: Which players should represent the Mets in the All-Star Game?
1. 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.”
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."