Tagged: Bartolo Colon

Big Sexy Returns and Mets Fall in 12 Innings To Braves

By Paul DiSclafani

With all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in the rear-view mirror, the Mets and their fans were looking forward to welcoming back one of their most popular players in recent years, the one they call “Big Sexy”, the ageless Bartolo Colon.  Unfortunately, they didn’t anticipate having to wait through eight pitchers and 12 innings as the Mets (1-1) lose their first game of the year, 3-1 to the Braves.

Rafael Montero (L, 0-1), the seventh pitcher for the Mets, continues to defy logic as he just simply can’t get out major league hitters.  Montero, once the jewel of the Mets minor league pitching arms, has not proven he can pitch at this level.  Time and again, Montero dominates in AAA, only to fail here in the majors.

He worked out of trouble in the 11th, getting a double play with the go-ahead run on third, but couldn’t wiggle his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 12th.  Matt Kemp laced his third double of the night, knocking home two runs as the Braves beat them Mets, 3-1.

But this night started out as a love-fest between the fans, players and Colon.

As usual, Colon did not disappoint.  He pitched six shutout innings and held the Mets to just two hits, just like we figured he would.  Colon, who had been the virtual anchor of the Mets pitching staff in his three seasons in the Orange and Blue, leading the team in innings pitched every season.  He won 44 games.  Colon, who turns 44 in May, said that the Mets never offered him a contract in the off-season, so he signed a 1-year, $12M deal with the Braves.

Lost in the Colon hype was Jacob deGrom’s first start since September 1st of last season.  DeGrom was equally effective, striking out in the first three innings and giving up just two hits, but threw too many pitches and was gone after six shutout innings

While deGrom and Colon were dealing zeroes from the mound, everyone was anticipating Colon’s first at bat, which came in the third inning.  With a runner on second, Colon strode to the plate to a standing ovation from the Citi Field faithful.  DeGrom joked before the game about facing Colon as a batter, “I’m not going to buzz him or anything, I just don’t want him to get a hit off me.”  Although he did foul a pitch off, deGrom struck out his former teammate looking.  Colon did get a little bit of revenge in the sixth, making contact, but grounding out to shortstop.

Bruce got things going in the fifth with the Mets first home run of the year, bouncing a 2-2 pitch from Colon off the top railing of the right field fence and giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

While deGrom continued to put up goose eggs, he had to bow out after six innings after throwing 95 pitches, departing with a 1-0 lead.  Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless inning on Opening Day and benefited from the Mets scoring six runs as he was the winning pitcher, just didn’t have it.  After getting Matt Kemp to tap a ball just two feet for the first out, Nick Markakis drilled a ball past Bruce in right center for a triple.  He then walked Brandon Phillips on four pitches and fell behind Adonis Garcia 1-0 before Garcia lined a double over Bruce’s head, tying the game 1-1 and putting runners on second and third.  With first base open, Robles hit Kurt Suzuki, the #8 hitter to load the bases.

That brought out Terry Collins, who called for Jerry Blevins to get them out of the jam.

Emilio Bonifacio then pinch hit for Colon, ending Big Sexy’s night with at least a no-decision.  Bonifacio worked Blevins to a full count, then struck out on a fastball for the second out.  Ender Inciarte then grounded out to Lucas Duda to end the threat and keep the game tied at 1-1.

Mets threatened in the bottom of the 10th after Bruce doubled and Lucas Duda was issued a no-pitch intentional walk, but reliever Jose Ramirez struck out Travis d’Arnaud and pinch hitter TY Kelly.

After Montero gave up two runs in the 12th to give the Braves the lead, Jimmie Johnson (W, 1-0) got the Mets to go quietly in their half of the 12th with his second scoreless inning of relief.  After handing the Mets the game on Opening Day, the Braves bullpen backed up Colon’s gem with six scoreless innings.

Matt Harvey makes his season debut on Thursday (weather permitting), returning from his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery against Jamie Garcia and the Braves in the rubber game.

POSITIVES:  Jay Bruce had three hits and with three walks on Opening Day has been in base six times in two games … Yoenis Cespedes was on base twice against Colon, a walk and a single … Travis d’Arnaud had one of the Mets hits … Lucas Duda received the Mets first “no-pitch” intentional walk in the 10th inning.  There were three no-pitch intentional walks in the game … In-between Robles and Monero, the bullpen put up four shutout innings with just two hits … Colon was 4-1 against the Mets in his career with a 2.81 ERA in five starts

NEGATIVES:  Pitchers hit .351 against deGrom last season … Jose Reyes was charged with the Mets first error of the year … d’Arnaud took a call strike three right down the middle of the plate in the 10th inning with Bruce on second and one out … Mets struck out 12 times …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

 

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Mets Continue Opening Day Dominance, Beat Braves 6-0

By Paul DiSclafani

AP Photo / Julie Jacobson

The Mets continued to be the most successful franchise in baseball’s storied history as they beat the Braves 6-0, improving their record to an astounding 36-20 after Game 1 of their 56 seasons.  And would you believe they started 0-8 on Opening Day?  I’ll do the math for you, that’s 36-12 since 1970.  They have also won 21 of their last 24 Home Openers.

The Mets scored six times in the seventh inning on the Atlanta bullpen, specifically former Met Eric O’Flaherty.

In a season that is starting with a lot of hope, Noah Syndergaard took the mound for his first ever Opening Day start and promptly threw the first pitch of the season at 98 miles per hour, eventually striking out the leadoff batter, Ender Inciarte on three pitches.  Welcome to 2017, Mets fans.

Syndergaard was outstanding, striking out seven in his six innings, including five with his slider, which averaged 94.3 mph.  He scattered five hits and didn’t walk anyone, but left after 86 pitches with a blister which will cause the Mets to hold him back a day, making his next start Sunday.

“The blister popped during the last inning”, said manager Terry Collins, “He will dry it out in the next couple of days and be ready to go on Sunday.”

But while Syndergaard was putting up zeroes, so was Atlanta Ace Julio Teheran, keeping the Mets off the scoreboard, matching Syndergaard inning for inning.  Teheran has only allowed three earned runs to the Mets in 48 innings against them.

In the seventh, with the game still scoreless, the difference between the teams became apparent.  The Mets sent out Hansel Robles (W, 1-0), who needed only 13 pitches to get a 1-2-3 seventh.  The Braves sent out Ian Krol (L, 0-1), who could only get one out.

Syndergaard’s personal catcher, Rene Rivera, singled to open the inning, then Krol got an out when Wilmer Flores (batting for Syndergaard) grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring up the top of the order.  Flores then stole second and Krol walked Jose Reyes, his second walk of the game.  Asdrubal Cabrera then laced his third single of the game into center field, allowing Flores a chance to score.

Inciarte’s throw was in time to nail Flores, but catcher Tyler Flowers took the throw behind the plate and had to reach to tag Flores, who was ruled out by umpire Jeff Kellog.  Collins challenged the play and it was overruled as replay confirmed that Flores got his cleat on the plate before the tag.  Last year, Flores fractured a finger when he tried to score head first at the plate., learning his lesson and coming in feet first.  The Mets had the first run of the game, 1-0.

That was it for Krol, who was replaced by Chaz Roe, who promptly walked Yoenis Cespedes (0-4, 1W), loading the bases and got the quick hook, bringing former Met O’Flaherty to the mound.  And just as he did as a Met, O’Flaherty couldn’t get the job done.  Curtis Granderson greeted O’Flaherty with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Reyes and giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

After a wild-pitch moved Cabrera and Cespedes up a base, O’Flaherty walked Neil Walker to load the bases and followed that up with a five pitch walk to Jay Bruce (who walked three times) to force in a run, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.  Time for another pitcher?  Not yet.

O’Flaherty got ahead of Lucas Duda 0-1, but Duda laced a bases clearing double over Inciarte’s head in center and the Mets had broken the game open, 6-0.  It took the Braves 35 minutes to get three outs in the seventh inning.

Starting the season at 1-0 is something that the Mets seem to have a good handle on.  Let’s see what happens in Game 2.

With an off-day tomorrow, former Met Bartolo Colon will make his first start for the Braves on Wednesday, facing Jacob deGrom.  DeGrom was shut down in September, having surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow.  He is 3-3 lifetime with a 1.90 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.

POSITIVES:  Opening Day crowd was 44,384 … Braves had won six straight at Citi Field, sweeping the last two series in Queens … Mets fans gave Bartolo Colon a big ovation during the Opening Day ceremonies … Cabrera had three hits and scored a run … Bruce walked three times and scored a run … #5 starter Robert Gsellman struggled in the ninth inning, but got out of it as the Mets pulled off a strange double play to end the game … Met pitchers struck out 11 … Fernando Salas struck out two in his one inning of work in the eighth, giving the bullpen 3.0 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits and 4K … Braves had seven baserunners and didn’t steal a base

NEGATIVES:  Collins said that after an evaluation, P-Seth Lugo will miss a couple of weeks … Guess the speed up rules didn’t apply, a game that was 0-0 after six innings still took 3:13 to finish 8 ½ innings …

Mets Sunday Brunch 11/13/16: Thanks for Everything, Big Sexy! Now Let’s Go Out and Get Back Yo…

By Paul DiSclafani:

mets sunday brunch2Big Sexy is headed to Atlanta to try to win 11 more games so he can have the record for the most wins by a Dominican-born player (244). And if he can eke out two more and get to 13 wins, he can best Dennis Martinez with the most wins by a Latin born player (246). I understand and respect that.  And if the rebuilding Braves want to invest $12.5 million in the 43 (going on 44) year old Colon, so be it.

For everything that Colon is and was to the Mets these past three years, they were never going to pay him $12 million dollars for one more year of it. In 2016, he was more than a temporary starter, more than an insurance policy and more than the plucky comic relief.  He was a player that made a difference on this team.

He was the heart and soul of the Mets in 2016. While all else was collapsing around him, Bartolo leaned over and offered his teammates a ride on his back.  He would lead them through the muck and mire and get them into the Wild Card game.

Even if Colon accepted less money to return to the Mets, he could see the writing on the wall. Not because his career is dwindling – hell, he won 15 games – but because the Mets pitching depth was not going to offer him a starting position for the entire season.  The emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman sealed his role on this pitching staff for 2017 to a spot starter and long reliever.

With Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom all poised to rejoin Noah Syndergaard in the rotation come February, where would that leave Bart now that Lugo and Gsellman proved they are ready to step in if there is a need?

Lugo (5-2, 2.67 ERA in 17 appearances and 8 starts) and Gsellman (4-2, 2.42 in 8 appearances and 7 starts) stepped into the major leagues in the middle of a pennant race, proving they have the chops and deserve to be on a major league mound in New York, unlike Rafael Montero.  We keep hearing things about Montero that just doesn’t translate to the Major Leagues.  Montero is 43-29 in the minors with a 3.29 ERA, but just 1-5 during three seasons with the big club and pitching to a 5.15 ERA.

The Human Highlight Reel may be gone to the Braves, but during his three seasons here in New York, his statistics were largely ignored because of his entertainment value. He was one of us, he even looked like one of us.  Yet year after year, he performed over expectations and was the steady hand that calmed the ship.  And yeah, he made us smile all the time.  Maybe that was because he was smiling all the time.  He made baseball fun again.

And if you are lucky enough to have tickets to Opening Day in 2017 on April 3rd at Citi Field, make sure you get there early so you can thank Bartolo Colon, who will be wearing an Atlanta Braves jersey, during the pre-game ceremonies.  I can’t think of any Mets player more deserving than Big Sexy.

MORE METS CONNECTIONS FOR THE BRAVES

The Braves continue to snatch up former Met pitchers as R.A. Dickey lands in Atlanta. One day before announcing they were going to sign the Bartolo Colon, the Braves added the former CY Young winning knuckleballer.  They now have the two oldest starters in the major leagues with Dickey (42) and Colon (43).  Only one other team in major league history has ever had two pitchers at least 42 years old make a start; the 1981 Atlanta Braves, with Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry.

Both Dickey (with the Mets in 2012) and Colon (with the Angels in 2005) are former CY Young winners.

YO, JUST PAY THE MAN

Now that the Mets trimmed Colon’s $7.25M salary and Neil Walker is not expected to accept the Mets $17.2M qualifying offer, why not use that money and go out and sign Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $125M contract? Those savings alone just about get you the first year of Yo for free, doesn’t it?  Throw in the $13M you will get back when you trade Jay Bruce somewhere (anywhere) and the insurance money from David Wright’s back injury (he’s not coming back, folks, let’s face it) and this deal is a no brainer.

But is it going to be enough? What if the Yankees drop $150 for four or $175 for five years, or someone else approaches the $200M plateau for six or seven years?

Sandy Alderson and the front office need to grab Cespedes right now and give them their best offer, no fooling around. No offering three years and $90M and asking them to come back to the table if they get a better offer.

Of course they are going to get a better offer. That’s why they need to let Cespedes know how much he means to them and how they are going to invest in him because they believe in him.  He is going to get his money no matter what, so he needs to know that the Mets need and love him.

Last year, the Mets were concerned that they hadn’t seen enough of Cespedes to know what type of player he really is and were reluctant to offer him a long-term deal.  Now they know – he is a game changer, he plays hurt and he makes everyone around him play better.

Since he joined the Mets on August 1, 2015, the Mets are 32 games over .500 when he is in the lineup (106-74) and just 18-23 when he isn’t. Need I say more?

REBUILD THE BULLPEN

Jeurys Familia is going to face a long suspension for domestic abuse, and rightfully so. It doesn’t matter if his spouse decides against pressing charges.  There is no place for that kind of behavior in Major League Baseball, period.

That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve his day in court (if that ever come to fruition) and he should return to his job when his suspension is over, why not? He is a flawed human being, just like you and me, but he crossed a line.

So what does that mean to the Mets bullpen? Looks like they will have to wait and see about Cespedes to see if there is enough money to make a run at Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon.  What about Aroldis Chapman, you say?  Not a chance.  Could you imagine the backlash with three of the top domestic abusers in the game in the same clubhouse in Reyes, Familia and Chapman?

Both the Cubs and Indians gave the rest of baseball the blueprint to playoff success in how they used their bullpens. Looks like it is time for the Mets to go out and get themselves another closer so they don’t have to burn one out by the middle of July.

CUBS WIN, CUBS WIN!

I can’t say I was rooting for the Cubs to break their streak. Misery loves company, right?  But the night they beat the Dodgers in the NLCS changed everything for me.

With a five run lead going into the ninth inning, the story was no longer on the field, it was in the stands. As the cameras were panning around and trying to capture the feel for what was going on as the fans anticipated that final out, you got a chance to look into their eyes and their souls.

You could feel the emotion through their tears. There was absolute joy and maybe disbelief that this was not only possible, but was actually happening.  The thought of how many of those fans were not only thinking about that moment, but also thinking about their fathers or their grandfathers and wishing they could share that moment with them.

As Mets fans, I believe we share a common bond with these long-suffering fans. Winning is not a birth right with us, it is a joy to behold and a true treasure.  I’ve always told my kids that the Mets don’t win a lot of the time, but when they do – ho boy!  It means something and it is true joy.

That’s what I saw that night in the faces of those Chicago Cubs fans, pure joy and a sense of relief.

So congratulations to the Cubbies and their fans. Enjoy this moment because as we both know, nothing in baseball is ever guaranteed year after year.

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

They’re Back! Mets Clinch NL Wild Card With 27-12 Finish

Paul DiSclafani:

AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

Come on, raise your hand if you thought this was even possible in the middle of August?

The Mets (87-74) get a chance to defend their National League Championship crown after beating the Phillies 5-3 and clinching the top Wild Card spot. They will now host the Wild-Card game on Wednesday night at Citi Field against either the St. Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants.  The Wild-Card winner will head to Chicago to play the 100+ win Cubs in the best of five National League Divisional Series.

On August 20th, the Mets were sitting at 60-62 and had just lost the first two games of a four game series against the Giants in San Francisco.  They were 4.5 games behind the Cardinals for the final Wild-Card spot and both the Pirates and Marlins were ahead of them.  They were 7.5 games behind the Giants (68-55), who were in First Place in the NL West at the time, ahead of the Dodgers by a game.

Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard won the final two games to split the Giants series, then the Mets went into St. Louis and won two out of three. The Mets went on to win 9 of 11 to close out what started out to be a miserable August, then posted a 17-10 September.  They only needed one win in October to make up almost eight games in the standings.  They had a major league best 27-12 over that period of time.

Now they Mets face a one game playoff for the right to play in the NLDS, setting up a rematch with the Cubs, whom they swept in the NLCS last year.

This is only the second time in franchise history that the Mets were able to get to the post season in consecutive seasons. In 1999 and 2000, they lost in the NLCS to the Braves in 1999, then lost to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series.

Bartolo Colon (15-8) gets the clinching win, allowing just two runs and five hits in his five innings. Colon struck out four of the first eight Phillies he faced and will finish with the most wins on the team this season.

When asked about being the winning pitcher in the clincher, the 43 year-old Colon said, “This is very meaningful for me. It’s hard for me to believe I’m here at this age.”

Should the Mets advance to the NLDS against Chicago, Colon will most likely start the series. Colon was used exclusively out of the bullpen in the 2015 post season as Matt Harvey, Syndergard,  Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz made all the starts.  Now if the Mets expect to go deep into this post season, it will be Colon and Syndergaard sharing the bulk of the load.

James Loney put the Mets ahead for good with his 9th home run, a two-run shot in the 6th inning to make it 4-2.

Jeurys Familia got his franchise record 51st save of the season.

Sunday’s regular season finale will see most of the regulars getting the day off including Wednesday’s starter, Noah Syndergaard. There was talk Syndergaard might pitch a few innings, but that is not going to happen.

POSITIVES: Mets Bullpen put up 22 2/3 scoreless innings until Darin Ruf hit a home run in the 8th inning … Curtis Granderson is 12-23 this week …  Addison Reed got his 40th “hold” and finished the regular season with a 1.97 ERA …

NEGATIVES: Nah, not today!

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Colon Outduels Arrieta as Mets Beat Cubs Again, 4-3

By Paul DiSclafani:

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

What is going on out there in Flushing?

The Mets (43-37) got to Chicago ace Jake Arrieta early and held on for their third straight win against the NL Central leaders, 4-3. Unbelievably, the Mets go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.

When the Mets limped home from Washington DC after being swept by the Nationals on Wednesday, they were facing an 11 game home stand starting with four games against the best team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs. In third place and now six games behind the Nationals, fans on Social Media were jumping off the bandwagon and already looking forward to the opening of NFL training camps.

Instead of throwing in the towel against the formidable Cubs, who not only had beaten the Mets nine straight since 2014 but had a chip on their shoulder and something to prove after being swept by the Mets in the NLCS, they regrouped and circled the wagons.

“You can believe you can compete, but then when you go out and do it, it means a lot,” manager Terry Collins said about the importance of playing well in this series against the Cubs. Thursday they managed a comeback 4-3 win, Friday they hit five home runs in a 10-2 drubbing and tonight they beat Chicago’s Ace, who was 12-2.

“The confidence that it sends throughout the clubhouse, there is no other way to do it except to go out there and beat one of the real good teams and we’ve done that and we want to finish it off tomorrow.”

Just as they did in Game 2 of the NLCS, the Mets got a first inning, 2-run home run from their second baseman just inside the right field foul pole, only this time it was Neil Walker giving the Mets an early 2-0 lead with his 15th home run of the year.  Arrieta then gave up a double to Yoenis Cespedes, then settled down to get the next 10 in a row.

Starter Bartolo Colon cruised through the first three innings without allowing a hit, but Kris Bryant led off the fourth with a single right before Anthony Rizzo launched a 423 foot shot to center field to tie the game at 2-2.

In the Mets half of the fourth with one out, Asdrubal Cabrera broke through the shift with a base hit and after Wilmer Flores popped out, Arrieta walked Alejandro Del Aza, moving Cabrera to second with two outs. That brought up Travis d’Arnaud who took a strike, then blooped the next pitch into nowhere man’s land over second base and just out of the reach of second baseman Javier Baez.  De Aza scored all the way from first behind Cabrera to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Colon (W, 7-4) was magnificent the rest of the way, allowing just two more hits and departing in the sixth with the 4-2 lead. “Sometimes he escapes words,” said Collins after the game about Colon.  “He just never ceases to amaze you.”  Of course, the Cubs were not going to go quietly.

Eric Goeddel got the first two outs in the seventh, but Ben Zobrist made it 4-3 on the first pitch he saw with a home run to right. That brought in Jerry Blevins who got ahead of Jason Heyward 0-2, then walked him, prompting Collins to go to Addison Reed a little early to face Kris Bryant.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Addison,” Collins said about bringing Reed in before the eighth inning. “You just gotta trust him.  You trust guys that can throw strikes, because hitting is hard.  If you can locate and you can make your pitch and a guy gets a hit, you tip your hat.  And that’s what Addison has done ever since he’s been here.  He just makes pitches.  There is a certain stage in the game where you think, ‘Hey, this is where we are going to win the game or lose the game’, and I thought we needed to get Bryant out and I thought Addy was the guy to do it.”

Reed got ahead of Bryant 1-2, but a wild pitch moved Heyward into scoring position. Reed then bore down and got Bryant swinging to end the inning.  Back in his more familiar position in the eighth, Reed allowed a leadoff single to Rizzo, then struck out the next three – Wilson Contreras, Miguel Montero and Addison Russell, all flailing at strike three.

That set up Jeurys Familia to try and nail down the save. Unlike Friday night when the Cubs loaded the bases, Familia needed just nine pitches to secure his 28th save of the season and his 44th consecutive regular season save.

Arrieta (L, 12-3) had won his first 12 decisions this year and has now lost three of his last six starts. He allowed four earned runs and eight hits in just 5 1/3 innings and struggled with a 35-pitch first inning. Arrieta, the reigning CY Young Award winner in the NL, had not lost a game on the road since May of last year (19-0 in 24 starts).

Noah Syndergaard (8-3) goes for the sweep on Sunday against Jon Lester (9-3). Matt Harvey beat Lester in the NLCS Opener last year and Syndergaard beat Arrieta in Game 2.

POSITIVES: Loney made a nice 3-3-6 DP in the third … Walker with 15 home runs, is just one shy of his total for all of 2015 … Colon has not given up more than 2 earned runs in a game since May 18 … Juan Lagares got into the game, but hit into a double play in the sixth … Curtis Granderson could return to the lineup on Sunday … Brandon Nimmo led off again with a walk and another hit … d’Arnaud was 2-3 with 2 RBI.

NEGATIVES: Mets had eight hits against Arrieta, but failed to get a base runner after he left them game with one out in the sixth … Loney and Flores were both 0-4

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Mets Pound Gio And The Nats 7-1; Duda to the DL – Could Miss Six Weeks

By Paul DiSclafani:

Cespedes launches number 15 AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Cespedes launches number 15
AP Photo / Alex Brandon

The Mets (26-18) hit three home runs off Nats starter Gio Gonzalez to win their fourth straight game and pull to just one-half game of Washington, 7-1. The Nationals (27-18) took two of three last week at Citi Field as Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings in a 7-1 win over Bartolo Colon.  What a difference a week makes.

This time it was Colon (W, 4-3) who was the master, following up his miserable performance last week where he walked five and hit a batter with seven innings of five hit ball, walking just two.

Gonzalez (L, 3-2), who had gone 44 consecutive starts without giving up more than one home run, was  tagged for three dingers and charged with all seven runs.  He had a microscopic 0.97 ERA against the Mets in his last four starts. Gonzalez gave up a 3-run home run to David Wright in the third inning, when the Mets strung together six consecutive base runners to put up a five spot and erase a 1-0 deficit.  Then in the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes launched his 15th to right center followed two pitches later by Neil Walker’s 11th of the year.  It’s the seventh time the Mets have gone back-to-back this year already.

DUDA TO THE DL

Fresh off their weekend sweep of the Brewers, the Mets needed to make a statement against Washington. With all the talk about Matt Harvey’s confidence being shot, Jacob deGrom’s velocity being down and Colon being rocked in his last two starts, the Mets got more bad news when they learned Lucas Duda would miss significant time with a stress fracture in his lower back.  He could miss as much as six weeks.

“There’s no real timetable,” Manager Terry Collins said. “It’ll be a while. I guess there are some exercises he can do, but nothing baseball related for a while. We’re looking at a fairly long period before he’s going to be able to get back and do some baseball stuff.”

David Wright had a similar injury in 2011 and tried to play through it before it was diagnosed properly and he missed two months. He had words of encouragement for Duda, but didn’t sugarcoat it.

“You have to be conservative with it. You have to take your time with it,” Wright said. “You have to make sure that you’re meticulous with your rehab. It’s something where you’re talking about a bone being damaged. There’s going to be a time, if it was anything like mine, where you can’t do anything. You have to be very aware of your movements on a daily basis. You have to do things that keep that area stabilized so the bone can heal itself. And then, after that, is when the rehab comes into play. That’s when you really have to stay on top of it. It’s pretty boring. It’s a little long. It’s monotonous. But you have to stick with it because, as me being somewhat of a case study now, these things can kind of creep on you later in your career. And I felt like I did my rehab as good as I possibly could have.”

WHO’S ON FIRST?

So what is Plan B for the Mets? Eric Campbell made the start on Monday and Wilmer Flores is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.  The Mets are exploring other options, including using Michael Conforto and David Wright.  Conforto never played first base in a game, but has taken ground balls there in college.

“They always had me taking ground balls,” Conforto said about college. “They always had me make sure I was available in case there was an emergency situation, or if something wasn’t working out with one of our infielders. I was always taking ground balls at third, shortstop, first base. So I’ve been in there. I’ve practiced there. Just not a whole lot of game experience. … I’ll give it my best. I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for that if that becomes an option.”

Collins said he even approached The Captain, who of course agreed to do whatever is best for the team.

“I said that my entire career: Whatever this organization, whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll be on board as long as I can do it and can help,” Wright said. “With that being said, besides the handful of times that we played the shift, that’s about as many groundballs as I’ve ever taken on that side of the infield.”

Mets brought up career minor leaguer Ty Kelly, who has spent more than seven seasons in the minors, but whose .391 average at AAA is the best in all of professional baseball. Kelly plays all positions (except pitcher and catcher) and worked as a first baseman after being drafted by the Orioles in 2009.  Mets indicated that 2013 first round pick Dominic Smith, a 20-year old who was drafted out of high school and has only been at AA for two months, is not ready for the majors.

Bet the Mets wish they still had Kelly Johnson …

UP NEXT: The soap opera that is Matt Harvey will debut another chapter tomorrow as The Dark Knight tries to find himself after two straight disappointing starts, including the worst outing of his career last time against Steven Strasburg, when he gave up nine runs while recording just eight outs.  Harvey spoke about his frustration with ESPN, but he is not going to miss a start.  “For me, taking time off isn’t going to do anything.  I’m not a quitter.  I’m not going to just quit and put the ball down.”

Terry Collins poo-poo’d the notion of skipping Harvey against the Nationals tomorrow.

Nobody is more frustrated than him. He said, ‘I’m not backing away from this.’ A lot of guys would have taken that out. He had a shot to. He could have said, ‘I need to get away from this.’ But he didn’t. He just said, ‘I’ve got to get back out there and I’ve got to pitch. That’s the only way I’m going to get through this.’ I thought that was the most impressive part of it.”

POSITIVES: Six Mets had two hits each – Granderson, Lagares, Cespedes, Walker and Cabrera .. Colon turns 43 tomorrow – Happy Birthday, Big Sexy! … Wright’s home run in the third inning was the 86th of his career that put the Mets in the lead and his 240th as a Met.  He is just 12 behind Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record … Cespedes’ home run was his 32nd since he joined the Mets on 7/31/15, Matching Chris Davis and Khris Davis for the most in the majors since then …

“The Impossible Has Happened” – Bartolo Colon Goes Deep in San Diego

By Paul DiSclafani

bartolo home run appleNo single home run in baseball history has generated the Social Media buzz that Bartolo Colon’s did on May 7th, 2016.  This event may one day be remembered in infamy.

This video combines all four memorable calls:  Gary Cohen (the Mets TV announcer), Howie Rose (the Mets Radio Announcer), the Mets Spanish Broadcast team and the San Diego Padres announcers.  But MLB has put together the video so that each call stands alone with a different video angle associated with it, making it even more memorable.  You can see it on the Mets Facebook page (unless you don’t have a Facebook account).

SEE THE MLB VIDEO HERE

Talk about, as President George Bush once put it, “Shock and Awe”, this was not only all of that, but brought a smile to everyone’s face.  And that is what Bartolo Colon has done for not only baseball, but all sports, bring a smile to the face of his teammates and, more importantly, the fans.

Colon always seems like he is out there having a good time, and 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, why shouldn’t he?  He plays the game the way any true baseball fan would – with enthusiasm and enjoyment.  That’s why every Mets fan loves him.  He is one of us.  He even looks like most of us.  That’s why his nickname of “Big Sexy” is so perfect for him.

Terry Collins was the only Met in the dugout when Colon completed his record 30.6 second trot around the bases.  Curtis Granderson, walking to the plate as the next hitter and David Wright, in the on-deck circle, didn’t know all their teammates had vacated the dugout into the tunnel as if they were five year-olds at a surprise birthday party when the birthday boy arrived.

When asked about his first thought when the ball landed 365 feet and over the left field fence, Collins simply said, “Oh My God, he hit a home run.” We all know he’s an entertaining guy at home plate.  So to have him ambush something like that and hit a homer, it’s pretty special.”

Colon himself could hardly put it into words – even through his interpreter.  “I don’t even know how to explain it,” Colon told a group of reporters after the game. “Once I hit it, I knew it was gone.”

He added: “I think right now, this is the biggest moment of my career.” “Any time I see a fastball, I swing hard because I’m not a curveball hitter,” he said, disbelief coloring his words. “Once I hit it, I knew it was gone.”

When told that he was the oldest MLB player to hit his first home run, Colon said “It means a lot, and it’s something that I still can’t believe until now.  It means a lot.”

The players and coaches all know how hard Colon has worked on his hitting and although the lasting image of a Bartolo Colon At Bat is him swinging himself out from under his batting helmet, Colon takes hitting seriously, as do all of the Mets pitchers.  As a group, the Mets starters all can handle the bat.  After all, there is not DH, so they have to be productive and be able to help themselves.  There was talk in Spring Training that Colon had hit a batting practice home run, but no video evidence to back up his claim.  But his teammates all agree that he takes BP seriously and has hit a few in major league ballparks.

Kevin Plaweski, the Mets backup catcher, was on second base ahead of the Colon home run.  “I almost missed third base, I was so excited,” Plawecki said.  “We all had a hunch that if he were to run into one, it was going to go.  “I was just kind of in awe about the whole thing.”

“It’s one of those things where you come to the ballpark never knowing what you’re going to see,” Captain David Wright said after the game. “And you saw it.”

The Wall Street Journal, that bastion of Sports journalism, said in an article by Andrew Beaton:  “This wasn’t a dream. Or an elaborate Internet hoax. It really happened.  Bartolo Colon, the 42-year-old folk hero pitcher for the New York Mets, hit a home run.”

There were many famous radio / TV calls in sports history.  Jack Buck’s call of Dodger Kirk Gibson’s “Limp-Off” Home run in the World Series, “I can’t believe what I just saw!”; Howard Cosell’s famous “Down goes Frazier, Down goes Frazier”; Bob Murphy’s “It get’s by Buckner!”; Russ Hodges, “The Giants win the Pennant!”; Al Michael’s “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”.  The list goes on and on.

Maybe Gary Cohen’s call should be on the list.  The sheer amazement in his description as the ball left the bat (He drives one, deep left field.  Back goes Upton, back near the wall..) and the crack in his voice as it lands in the stands during is signature “It’s outta here” home run.  Even the giggle from Ron Darling in the background is classic as he tries to stay professional and not step on Cohen’s call.  “Bartolo has done it!  The impossible has happened!!”

After throwing the pitch that led to hitting the Colon home run, Padres pitcher James Shields, who will be forever linked to Colon as the answer to a trivia question (like Braves pitcher Tom House catching Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in the Atlanta bullpen – now you know how old I am) would not make the same mistake twice, respecting Big Sexy enough to strike him out on a curve ball.  After all, Colon did say he can’t hit a curveball.

Now opposing pitchers have a book on how to pitch to Bartolo Colon.  Imagine that…