{}
CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

deGrom opens game with eight K's to tie MLB record

NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate finishes with 13 strikeouts

|
deGrom opens game with eight K's to tie MLB record play video for deGrom opens game with eight K's to tie MLB record

NEW YORK -- Some of the swings were not even close. Christian Yelich's bat drifted under a fastball. Justin Bour waved haphazardly at a pitch well out of the zone. Casey McGehee simply walked back to the dugout, knowing instantly that he had taken strike three.

Those and other Marlins had plenty of company thanks to Jacob deGrom, whose improbable rookie season continued Monday when he tied Major League baseball's modern-day record by striking out each of the first eight batters he faced at Citi Field.

"That's about as dominating a start of a game as I've probably ever seen, and I've seen some pretty good pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The location was just outstanding. You look some of those called strikes and they were right -- I mean, right -- on the corners. Unbelievable. He threw any pitch he wanted to, whenever he wanted to."

Coming into the night averaging a shade less than a strikeout per inning, deGrom opened the game with whiffs of Yelich and second baseman Donovan Solano. He froze McGehee on a 94-mph fastball to end the first inning, then caught Marcell Ozuna looking to open the second. Two more strikeouts followed, boosting deGrom even with Pete Falcone's 34-year-old franchise record to open a game.

Next up was the modern-day MLB record, which deGrom tied when he caught Jordany Valdespin looking and whiffed Jeff Mathis to open the third inning. Astros pitcher Jim Deshaies had held that mark by himself since 1986.

The Marlins finally snapped the rookie's record-tying streak when deGrom, believing he could sneak a 1-0 fastball past Jarred Cosart, watched the Marlins pitcher redirect it into right field with two outs in the third.

"I kind of threw it right down the middle," deGrom said. "I was trying to go outside corner and I left it over the middle."

DeGrom retired Yelich on a groundout to finish off that inning, extending his consecutive innings streak without an earned run to 25. He would further increase it to 28 before allowing three runs in the seventh inning, ultimately coming away with a no-decision.

"The way he started out was pretty incredible," Cosart said. "His numbers speak for themselves. He's got a chance to win [National League] Rookie of the Year."

With Monday's performance now stamped on the back of his baseball card, deGrom's NL Rookie of the Year Award chances indeed appear to be at an all-time high. While deGrom has been surging since mid-July, posting a 1.81 ERA over his last 11 starts, Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton -- his primary rival for the award -- has been slumping. Since Sept. 3, Hamilton is batting .128 with a single stolen base.

"I really try not to think about it," deGrom said. "I just try to go out there and do my best every time."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Bullpen can't hold lead on deGrom's record night

Rookie ties Major League mark with eight K's to begin game

|
Bullpen can't hold lead on deGrom's record night play video for Bullpen can't hold lead on deGrom's record night

NEW YORK -- Over the weekend, the Mets drifted away from the shoot-the-moon hopes they once harbored for a playoff spot. They always knew that was a long shot; such dreams have since faded.

Instead, a slew of front-office types stood in the dugout Monday as Matt Harvey threw his final rehab fastballs, curves and changeups of the summer. Moments later, about a dozen of the organization's brightest young prospects took batting practice at Citi Field, a reward for establishing themselves as the best of a rapidly improving farm system. Then they all watched as Jacob deGrom's record-tying strikeout performance went to waste in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins, which only dampened what was otherwise a forward-thinking day.

"There's some good arms here, and that's what makes this so interesting," manager Terry Collins said. "This game's about pitching. When you've got it, you're going to give yourself a chance to win a lot of baseball games, and that's why we're sitting where we are right now. Our pitching keeps us in games."

For most of the night, Collins-style enthusiasm permeated every crevice of the ballpark -- from a front-office laptop tracking Harvey's pitches to the deGrom-style wig that Mr. Met donned before the game. All of it hinted at the bigger, bolder, appreciably better things the Mets expect in 2015.

Of particular significance was deGrom, who owes at least a portion of his success to Harvey. Had the latter pitcher been healthy this summer, the Mets may never have given much of a look at the rookie, who tied a 28-year-old Major League record on Monday by striking out the first eight batters he faced in succession. DeGrom finished with a career-high 13 strikeouts over seven innings, walking just one.

"Once I get two strikes on a guy -- it's 1-2 or 0-2 -- I'm trying to strike them out," deGrom said. "I had all those guys with two strikes, so I was trying to strike them out."

Sounds simple. Yet deGrom did eventually relinquish his lead in the seventh inning, when Jordany Valdespin hit a game-tying two-run single and Reed Johnson added a pinch-hit sacrifice fly. An inning later, after the Mets reclaimed control with a three-run rally, Jeurys Familia gave up four consecutive hits to tie the game once more. Collins turned from there to closer Jenrry Mejia, who served up a go-ahead single to Jeff Mathis before escaping the inning.

"Just a bad day," was how Familia described it. "They made good swings."

With deGrom cruising, the Mets took an early lead when Wilmer Flores doubled home two runs in the first inning, then a late one when Daniel Murphy, Travis d'Arnaud and Curtis Granderson all drove in runs in the seventh. Neither lead proved big enough.

"Early, I think everybody was kind of expecting a pitcher's duel with how we'd both been throwing," said Marlins starter Jarred Cosart, who broke up deGrom's strikeout streak with a third-inning single and added six innings of two-run ball on the mound. "I stunk in the first. The way he started out was pretty incredible."

The Mets tried not to let their eventual loss dampen too much of their optimism. Even deGrom, disappointed as he was at giving back a would-be victory, admitted that he sometimes lets his mind drift to the Mets' 2015 rotation.

Harvey will be in it. So will deGrom and Zack Wheeler, who each emerged from the clubhouse Monday afternoon to watch Harvey's throwing session. By the end of next season, Steven Matz -- one of the Mets' Minor League honorees who once rehabbed from Tommy John surgery alongside deGrom -- could even play a major role.

The Mets don't have all the pieces they want in place for next year just yet. But they have enough -- deGrom included -- for excitement to become a regular thing.

"We've talked about it a little bit," deGrom said. "Next year should be a really fun year."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["injury" ] }

Sharp Harvey touches 95 mph in simulated game

Mets righty shut down for season after final throwing session

|
Sharp Harvey touches 95 mph in simulated game play video for Sharp Harvey touches 95 mph in simulated game

NEW YORK -- For the first time in over a year, Matt Harvey climbed atop Citi Field's main pitching mound on Monday afternoon, toed the rubber and began firing. Fastballs came out of his hand at 95 mph. Curveballs crashed to the dirt. After one particularly devilish changeup, Harvey grinned.

It was the final throwing session of the season for Harvey. The Mets did not make Harvey available for comment after his three-inning simulated game, though plenty of others were willing to gush about him.

"Everything we were trying to accomplish this season has been accomplished," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "From our standpoint, we wanted to make sure that he was physically back to a level that would ensure he wasn't behind in Spring Training. And then secondly, he needed to be back to a state, mentally, where he felt comfortable going into next season and any uncertainty had been eliminated. We feel we're at that point."

To be clear, Harvey will not go into the spring of 2015 completely unrestrained. He may need to alter his usual offseason routine to prepare, and the Mets may limit his innings and/or pitch counts at the beginning of the regular season. Alderson said the team will eventually map out a specific set of limitations for Harvey, preferring to limit him at the beginning of the season rather than the end.

In many ways, the Mets have been limiting Harvey ever since he underwent Tommy John surgery last October, squelching his desire to pitch in games this season -- even in instructional ball or the Arizona Fall League -- and even ordering him to scrap his slider during Monday's bullpen session.

"We didn't want him amping all the way up," Alderson said. "There's no reason to put a lot of torque on that elbow today."

By limiting Harvey in 2014, the Mets believe they have put him on schedule to become a force once more in '15. Monday's session was just the latest bit of tangible evidence.

"You can't look back and worry about what happened," manager Terry Collins said. "You look forward and say, 'That's a really nice piece.' Come February, that's a really, really nice piece."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

MLB.com Columnist

Marty Noble

In smaller Citi outfield, would grass be greener?

Mets, reportedly considering moving in fences, must consider pluses and minuses

|
In smaller Citi outfield, would grass be greener? play video for In smaller Citi outfield, would grass be greener?

MLB.com Columnist

Marty Noble

NEW YORK -- So now, for the sake of argument, let's say the Mets are considering another renovation of their outfield. No, no, not their outfielders, the outfield of Citi Field, the vast area that lies between David Wright and a season of 30 home runs, the expanse of manicured lawn and warning track dirt that clearly has had a less adverse effect on visiting teams than on Wright and his colleagues.

Is there wisdom in such modification? Would moving parts of Citi's outfield wall closer to the plate -- it would a simpler task than moving the plate closer to the walls -- create a net benefit the Mets? Would Wright, who hit 30 and 33 home runs in the final two summers of Shea Stadium necessarily become a "dangerous" hitter again if the erstwhile Mo Zone no longer were a personal no zone for him?

The answer comes from out of left field so to speak, which is to say it comes indirectly.

And it begins in center field, where Juan Lagares performs brilliantly on a routine basis. On given days, watching him run down fly balls that other center fielders would pursue unsuccessfully is worth the price of admission.

Whether by chance or design, whatever improvement the Mets have achieved this season has been mostly up the middle in nature, beginning with Lagares' defensive genius. The team is improving in the most critical, general area. So these days, when manager Terry Collins looks at his team through the prism of 2015, he comes away encouraged.

Travis d'Arnaud has eliminated many of the doubts that accompanied him to the big leagues. Collins said as much Monday night: "Any questions we've had behind the plate have been answered. d'Arnaud has really risen up." And to punctuate his manager's compliment, d'Arnaud later delivered a go-ahead run in the Mets' 6-5 loss to the Marlins.

Pitching -- starting and relief -- unquestionably is the Mets' greatest strength at this point. And more appears to be on the way. Greater up-the-middle prowess.

A serious, up-the-middle deficiency does exist, though. Daniel Murphy has made himself a darn good hitter. But his defense, though improved, remains his secondary skill. Teams that rely mostly in pitching and defense can't be compromised at second base. It is the position that requires flexibility and the ability to ad-lib.

If a maneuver can be practiced, Murphy will practice it and make himself at least borderline proficient. But ad-libbing cannot be practiced any more than range can be taught. Despite his admirable work ethic, Murphy will remain a challenged defender at second base.

If his double-play partner were Andrelton Simmons, Louie Aparicio, Rey Ordonez, Mark Belanger, Bud Harrelson or the wonderful Mr. Wizard, the Mets could have their shortstop cheat and live with compromised defense even at second. But with Wilmer Flores, seemingly a favorite of Sandy Alderson, now the likely shortstop for next season, there will be no cheating. And not that many double plays, either.

Instead, a wide expanse between the two most critical defenders, a three-lane autobahn for ground-ball base hits through the middle will be the Mets' soft spot and significant deficiency.

Now, if Mets starting pitchers were to perform regularly as Jacob deGrom did Monday night -- he struck out the first eight batters, tying a big league record, and struck out 13 in his seven innings - Dick Stuart could play shortstop with Albert Belle on his left flank, and it wouldn't matter much. But even the Mets teams of the '80s, with all their strikeout pitchers, needed better up-the-middle defense than Murphy and Flores are likely to provide.

So, the objective then for the Mets of 2015 ought to be to accumulate outs via a mixture of strikeouts and fly balls. But that, folks, is the fly in the pine tar. Fly balls may reduce the reliance on the middle-infield defense. Recall how Davey Johnson used third baseman Howard Johnson and even burly Kevin Mitchell as his shortstop when fly ball/strikeout pitchers Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez started because up-the-middle defense wasn't quite so critical. (Moreover, Johnson and Mitchell were productive hitters who might provide offense before a legit shortstop was inserted.)

But fly balls sometimes carry farther than pitchers want. And if the walls at the Big Citi are moved in again, then what? As it is this season, visiting teams have hit 71 home runs in Mets' 76 home games; the Mets have hit 53. And since Citi Field opened in 2009, Mets opponents have hit 435 home runs in 481 games in Queens. The Mets have hit 341. That is what is commonly known as a powerful difference.

So pick your potential poison: closer walls and more home runs -- for both sides -- or no architectural alternations and fewer home runs, at least for the Mets.

A solution would be to import a shortstop with range, a reliable glove and an accurate arm and do whatever with the walls. Easier said than executed. And/or decide to play Dilson Herrera -- they can't yet be certain of his big league readiness -- at second and use Murphy and some of the young pitching as a medium of exchange that imports a productive right-handed bat.

Otherwise eight strikeouts in the first three innings and 16 (for the team) each game will be needed. But even that didn't work Monday night.

Marty Noble is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["team_preview" ] }

Colon takes on Marlins in bid to bounce back from rough start

Marlins, Mets square off in penultimate matchup between two teams

|
Colon takes on Marlins in bid to bounce back from rough start play video for Colon takes on Marlins in bid to bounce back from rough start

Considering the Marlins have been above the Mets in the standings almost all season, it's interesting that both teams now find themselves fighting for third place in the National League East. They'll play their penultimate matchup of the year on Tuesday in New York, with starters Nathan Eovaldi and Bartolo Colon squaring off.

Eovaldi has faced the Mets just once this season, and when he did, he gave up three runs in a seven-inning no-decision on May 5. The right-hander was in top form then, but he's been going through a rough stretch of late. In his last six starts, he is 0-5 with a 5.74 ERA (20 earned runs in 31 1/3 innings) and opponents have hit him at a .369 clip.

Eovaldi started Thursday's game against the Brewers, the same night that saw Giancarlo Stanton struck in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball. The 24-year-old was charged with the loss after yielding four runs on eight hits in just four innings.

In terms of innings pitched, Eovaldi is at a personal high of 182 1/3 over his 30 starts. The Marlins are watching his innings, though they do want him to reach that 200-frame benchmark. It is more important, though, that he works on his consistency.

"He's had a tough time consistently commanding the zone," manager Mike Redmond said. "At the same time, too, he's gone out there and logged a lot of innings."

Mets starter Bartolo Colon has not had problems with inconsistency, but when he takes the mound on Tuesday, he'll be trying to rebound from one of his worst outings of the season. In just three innings on Thursday, Colon gave up six runs (five earned) on seven hits to the Nationals.

It was an uncharacteristically disappointing outing for the right-hander, who is also shooting to reach 200 innings by season's end. He stands at 182 2/3 so far, and with likely three starts to go, he'll have to average about six innings per start to reach that milestone.

Colon was solid the only time he has faced Miami this season. He went seven innings and allowed three runs. Given Miami's youth, it shouldn't come as a surprise that only Jarrod Saltalamacchia (5-for-18) and Reed Johnson (4-for-14) have more than five at-bats against him.

Mets: Black out of action until at least the weekend
Reliever Vic Black will not pitch against the Marlins this week. The Mets shut down the right-hander until at least this weekend due to what general manager Sandy Alderson called a "mild rotator cuff strain."

It isn't related to the herniated disk that kept Black out of action for two weeks recently, but Black said the way that injury interfered with his schedule -- not pitching for 10 days, followed by a sudden return to action -- might have triggered this fatigue.

He does, however, want to pitch again, as long as his shoulder permits it.

"I want to end on a good note," Black said. "Overall, personally it's been a good year. ... This was a victory for me. At the same point, this team is looking to finish strong and hopefully get to .500, and I'd like to be a part of it."

Marlins: While Stanton is tested, right field remains in flux
Stanton is scheduled to be examined by doctors in Miami on Tuesday. After being struck in the face, the All-Star he received a high number of stitches. The good news is Stanton has not shown any symptoms of a concussion.

If there is any chance he could return this season, more will be known after he is checked by team doctors. The likelihood of being medically cleared, however, is regarded as a long shot.

While Stanton has been out, the Marlins have been piecing together a right field platoon. Jordany Valdespin got the nod on Monday in the series opener at the Mets. The team has also used Ed Lucas, Garrett Jones and Reed Johnson in right field.

"We've been mixing and matching out there trying to find different guys to fill that role. It's been tough," Redmond said. "We're asking for somebody to go out there and get hits and drive in runs. I'd love to have somebody to just plug in there every single day, but we'll probably be mixing and matching the rest of the year."

Worth noting:
• Mets rookie righty Jacob deGrom tied the modern day record for consecutive strikeouts to begin a game on Monday when he punched out the first eight Marlins he faced.

• The Mets have proven to be a formidable opponent for the Marlins this year. In 17 games, New York leads the season series with their division rivals, 10-7, including a 5-2 record at Citi Field.

• The Marlins entered Monday's series opener with a .216 average against the Mets this season, while allowing New York a .273 average.

Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["team_preview" ] }

Black temporarily shut down with rotator cuff strain

Mets reliever could potentially return before end of season

|
Black temporarily shut down with rotator cuff strain play video for Black temporarily shut down with rotator cuff strain

NEW YORK -- Vic Black has a mild rotator cuff strain -- or, as general manager Sandy Alderson called it, "normal fatigue." He's tired.

As a result, the Mets are shutting him down for 5-6 days before trying to ramp him up again in an effort to allow the right-hander to pitch in another game this season. Black will likely throw in Atlanta this weekend, one test that will determine whether he sees more action.

"It's conceivable he won't pitch again this season," Alderson said. "But we're not shutting him down completely. It's possible with that with a little bit of rest he'll be able to pitch again. He won't pitch if it puts him in jeopardy in any way. We're not in the business of just shutting people down with only 150 games in the books. We'll see where it takes us."

The tired shoulder is not directly related to the herniated disk that recently sidelined Black for two weeks, Alderson said. But Black believes the necessary treatment for the neck issue -- ceasing baseball activity for 10 days, followed by jumpstarting the arm again -- might have triggered it.

That the MRI Monday revealed there is no structural damage and was generally clean otherwise provided some relief for Black.

Black has emerged this season as a top late-inning option in the Mets' bullpen this season, and manager Terry Collins stressed again Monday the importance the club is placing on all of their hurlers heading into the offseason healthy.

While it might make sense to shut Black down and not risk anything in the season's final week, there is value in him pitching one more game, as long as his shoulder responds well enough in the coming days.

"I want to end on a good note," Black said. "Overall, personally it's been a good year. ... This was a victory for me. At the same point, this team is looking to finish strong and hopefully get to .500, and I'd like to be a part of it."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Alderson praises Collins' performance, team's improvement

Mets manager remains under contract through 2015 season

|
Alderson praises Collins' performance, team's improvement play video for Alderson praises Collins' performance, team's improvement

NEW YORK -- General manager Sandy Alderson plans to sit down with manager Terry Collins this weekend in Atlanta and discuss, among other things, the manager's future in Flushing. Yet Alderson's comments on Monday left little intrigue for Collins, who remains under guaranteed contract for one more season.

"I don't frankly think the last 12 games have a lot to do with evaluating Terry," Alderson said before his team's 151st game of the season. "I think we've played well to this point and through the first half of September, even the latter part of August. I think the team has responded pretty well."

Entering Monday's play, the Mets were on pace to finish with 78 wins, their highest total since Alderson and Collins came aboard after the 2010 season. Injuries to Matt Harvey and David Wright hurt the Mets, as did a lack of production from Curtis Granderson and most of the offense. But Alderson praised Collins for helping to cultivate the team's youthful core.

"I think Terry's done a fine job this season," Alderson said. "I think we've improved in a lot of areas. We've seen growth in our young players. Particularly with our pitching, in the rotation and the bullpen, I think that's been well-managed. We're positioned well for 2015."

Alderson, for his part, is also technically in flux, with the Mets holding a 2015 team option on his contract. But the GM is already talking openly about next year in public press conferences; most around the team consider his return at this point a mere formality.

"I'd like to be back, but I try not to anticipate anything," Alderson said, "There are too many vagaries in the game."

• The Mets officially recognized their 2014 Minor League Sterling Award winners prior to Monday's game against the Marlins. Among the winners were infielder Dilson Herrera, left-handed pitcher Steven Matz and outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Niese, Mets upended by late Nationals homer

Southpaw's seven-strikeout game marred only by Ramos' two-run shot

|
Niese, Mets upended by late Nationals homer play video for Niese, Mets upended by late Nationals homer

NEW YORK -- Mathematically, the Mets officially withdrew from contention in the National League East once the final out of Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Nationals settled into Jayson Werth's glove. And much of that was largely because of the Nationals. With three games remaining against their division rival, all in Washington, the Mets are 3-13 against the Nats and 69-65 against everyone else.

The Mets are soon likely to lose their mathematical battle in the Wild Card race, as well, with their official elimination becoming a formality. They couldn't beat the Nats all summer long, thus robbing themselves of the chance to beat anyone in October.

"They're on top of the division because they're a good team," Mets starting pitcher Jon Niese said. "They do everything well."

There was no single game, inning or play that stood out among Washington's April-through-September dissection of the Mets, though Sunday's loss was typical of the way New York has played. Led by a rejuvenated Niese, the Mets pitched well -- but not well enough. Facing a characteristically consistent Jordan Zimmermann, they rapped out some hits -- but ultimately too few. And so they lost a game that they managed to keep close, without ever really threatening to seize it for their own.

Zimmermann made certain of that, scattering six hits and a walk over 6 2/3 scoreless innings, in what was essentially a playoff tuneup. Not many Mets hit the ball hard off him, leading to even fewer legitimate scoring opportunities. The best of those unfolded in the fourth inning, when the Mets loaded the bases with one out. But Ruben Tejada lined out to shortstop and Niese popped out, keeping the two teams locked in a scoreless tie.

The Nationals finally broke it open on Wilson Ramos' two-run homer in the seventh, after Ian Desmond beat Niese to first base on an infield grounder and Bryce Harper laid down a sacrifice bunt. Zimmermann recorded two more outs in the seventh before turning things over to a trio of relievers, who closed things out without any major issues.

"When they have men at second and men at first men at third, they bring runs in," said infielder Wilmer Flores, who paced the Mets' offensive attack with two hits, but allowed Washington's third run to score on his ninth-inning error. "They do it. We haven't done that."

Flores spoke those words shortly after the Mets retreated to their clubhouse, taking solace only in the fact that they won't be welcoming the Nationals back to Citi Field any more this season. Yet they will soon enough, with Zimmermann, Harper, Anthony Rendon and plenty of others here to stay. Given how much young talent Washington employs, the Nats will remain a critical litmus test for the Mets going forward -- for any club, really, with dreams of competing in the NL East.

"They've done an outstanding job of putting their team together," Collins said. "They've got a lot of big pieces for you. They're tough throughout the lineup. They've got power. They've got a good team."

Collins added that, in terms of sheer ability, he does not believe the Mets are too far away from what the Nats have established. Much of the statistical difference between the clubs has come about due to the games they played head to head. Both Niese and Flores added that it's more a matter of limiting their own mistakes, and taking advantage of Washington's, than it is any insurmountable talent gap.

Right now, the Nationals are -- as Jimmy Rollins might say -- the team to beat. If the Mets want to be the ones lining up their playoff rotation this time next year, they'll need to figure out a way to change that.

"It's going to be a challenge," Collins said. "They're going to be in good shape. They are young and they're going to have another year under their belt, also. But we've made a lot of changes here, and I agree with exactly what [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] said three months ago: We're very, very close. What a tremendous pitching division this is going to be. It's not going to be easy on anybody."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Eveland finished for the season

|
Eveland finished for the season play video for Eveland finished for the season

NEW YORK -- Dana Eveland's season is over. The left-handed reliever, who has been battling elbow inflammation as of late and pitched only once this month, will head home to California on Sunday to begin his offseason and a rehabilitation program.

"[Manager] Terry [Collins] brought me in yesterday and said there's really no reason for me to try to push it and try to get back," Eveland said. "So he said as opposed to taking me on the road trip and taking up space, send me home and let me start my rehab at home.

"[The elbow is] feeling better every day. I hate to leave here, because I do feel like, you know, maybe in another week or so I'd probably be able to pitch again."

So ends what is arguably the best season of Eveland's nine-year Major League career. He will finish with a career-best ERA (2.63), WHIP (1.10) and strikeout-to-walk rate (4.50), while fanning about one batter per inning.

Eveland picked up a save and a pair of holds in 27 1/3 innings over 30 games, after signing with the Mets as a Minor League free agent in Spring Training. He was called up to the big leagues in June.

There isn't anything structurally wrong with the elbow, according to Eveland. It's more just the wear and tear of nearly 1,500 innings in a decade-plus as a pro. The elbow has been enough of an issue that for the last few months he has iced it three times daily in an effort to keep the inflammation down.

Eveland will be a free agent this winter.

Worth noting
Vic Black said he will get a "precautionary" MRI on Monday, after complaining to Collins of an "achy" right shoulder on Saturday. It's worrisome, given that Black missed two weeks recently with a herniated disk -- a series of injuries similar to those experienced by Bobby Parnell, who eventually needed surgery.

"You're asking a layman about doctor stuff, but it is a similar situation," Collins said. "We're concerned about it, there's no question. This guy lives and dies with power stuff. Even though there's nothing wrong with 93 [miles per hour], that's not Vic Black. We're certainly going to be very careful with it."

Added Black: "If it's fatigued, then I think probably just not doing any more [pitching] would be the best decision."

Matt den Dekker beat out a pinch-hit, infield single in the ninth inning of the Mets' 3-0 loss to the Nationals on Sunday, his first at-bat since Tuesday, when he was hit in the hand by a pitch. He has dealt with bruising since.

Collins is hopeful the outfielder will return to the lineup on Monday against the Marlins.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

|
Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked play video for Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to MLB.com and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Montero moving back to duty in Mets' bullpen

|
Montero moving back to duty in Mets' bullpen play video for Montero moving back to duty in Mets' bullpen

NEW YORK -- Rafael Montero is headed to the bullpen again.

The 23-year-old rookie right-hander, who has appeared in eight games (seven starts) for the Mets, will serve as an additional relief arm for the time being, according to manager Terry Collins. Montero, who logged his first career win on Wednesday against the Rockies, will be available beginning on Sunday.

"We're not going to have him in there [Saturday against the Nationals] after throwing [106 pitches] the other day," Collins said. "An extra day will help him out."

Montero making an additional start in the final week of the regular season remains a possibility. The Mets have two off-days in the final two weeks, so inserting Montero for another turn would mean a full week of rest for those who start games after him, which is what Collins wants to avoid this time around.

"When we get toward the end, we'll see what happens with that last week, but right now, I want to leave them the way they are," Collins said. "We'll worry about 10 days from now, 10 days from now."

A starter by trade, Montero owns a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 38 big league innings. His most recent pair of Major League starts were better -- a combined 12 2/3 innings of one-run ball -- and in his only relief appearance, Montero allowed one run while recording one out.

Given the apparent glut of starters in the Mets' possession heading into Spring Training, having Montero work out of the bullpen represents a look at one intriguing option to potentially alleviate that logjam.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Former Major Leaguer Frank Torre dies at 82

|
Former Major Leaguer Frank Torre dies at 82 play video for Former Major Leaguer Frank Torre dies at 82

Former Milwaukee Braves and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Frank Torre died on Saturday. He was 82.

The brother of Hall of Famer Joe Torre, Frank Torre played seven years in the Major Leagues and won the 1957 World Series with Milwaukee.

Torre had been dealing with health problems for many years. He had a heart transplant in October 1996 while his brother was managing the Yankees to a World Series title over the Braves. He also had a kidney transplant in 2007.

Torre had been working as the vice president of the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps former Major League, Minor League and Negro League players financially and medically.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Frank Torre, a close friend for nearly 60 years and a man who marked the start of a great baseball family," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Before my career in baseball began, Frank and I formed a friendship that endured for decades, and I was touched to speak with him yesterday. Some of the fondest memories of my life involve Frank's Milwaukee Braves teams from 1956-1960, and his great play in the 1957 Fall Classic was one of the keys to bringing the World Series Championship to my hometown. Frank's longtime support of the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps the members of the baseball family who are in need, was an illustration of how much he cared about our game and the people who are a part of it.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Frank's children and grandchildren, to Joe and Ali Torre, to Frank's sisters and to his many friends and admirers throughout our game."

Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon also issued a statement:

"On behalf of the Mets, we send our condolences to Joe and the entire Torre family. Frank and I grew up together in Brooklyn and I always looked up to him as a baseball player and thereafter how he conducted himself as a person."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he reached out to Joe Torre on Saturday.

"I already texted him," Girardi said. "I'm sure Joe is inundated with calls and texts. I was there when Frank needed the heart transplant; I was in Cleveland that day when they found out. I worked with Frank with B.A.T. and he was a wonderful man. My heart goes out to the Torre family."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["injury" ] }

Black set to see doctor for sore right shoulder

|
Black set to see doctor for sore right shoulder play video for Black set to see doctor for sore right shoulder

NEW YORK -- More concerning than the run that reliever Vic Black allowed to the Nationals on Saturday night, and more perhaps than the Mets' 10-3 loss itself, was the lack of high-90s velocity on the right-hander's fastball.

Black averages nearly 97 mph on his four-seamer, but against Washington it was sitting at 92-93 in his lone inning of work. It's troublesome enough that the Mets will have Black see a doctor on Sunday morning for what he called "shoulder soreness."

"We have a few concerns there," manager Terry Collins said.

The issue might stem from Black's herniated disk, which kept him out of action for 15 days until earlier this week. A velocity drop on Aug. 24 -- Black was around 94 mph against the Dodgers, according to Brooks Baseball -- made the coaching staff question whether the reliever was OK. Black landed on the disabled list when an MRI revealed the neck issue.

The rest helped, Black said, but upon pitching against the Rockies on Monday, he didn't feel quite right. Now, Collins said, Black has changed his arm angle.

"Once I came back, it wasn't bugging me when I came off, but after that first outing back, I don't know. I've been aching," Black said. "My neck feels fine. My guess would be you take that many days off from throwing -- I didn't throw for 10 days -- it's almost like jump-starting again."

Black likened the lack of velocity Saturday to stepping on the gas, but not getting any movement on the speedometer. He insisted he felt OK, but it just wasn't there.

"There's going to be times when you don't have it. I know it shouldn't be that low," Black said. "It's kind of surprising to me."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Wheeler, Mets knocked around by Nats' bats

Right-hander allows six runs, including tone-setting two-run jack

|
Wheeler, Mets knocked around by Nats' bats play video for Wheeler, Mets knocked around by Nats' bats

NEW YORK -- In the second inning of the Mets' 10-3 loss to the Nationals on Saturday night at a soggy Citi Field, Zack Wheeler was careful with Bryce Harper. It was a reasonable tactic, given the damage Harper has wrought on New York this season, and with the count full, Wheeler didn't give in. Fastball high, fastball away, slider away, Harper fouled them all off.

Then, Wheeler made his mistake. It was a 95-mph fastball right over the plate that Harper didn't miss, as he belted a towering shot that landed a half-dozen rows back in the upper deck in right field.

That one sequence -- a very hittable fastball, a mighty swing, and a homer longer than most -- underscored the issue that, according to manager Terry Collins, plagued Wheeler throughout his four-plus innings, six-run outing: fastball command.

"He might be tiring a little bit, but I think it's really, really important for him to realize what he's got to do to get through [it]," Collins said. "If he's going to look at 200 innings in the face next year, he's got to learn to deal with it. Everybody has a tough night and tonight was his."

Washington touched Wheeler for seven hits and two walks when Jayson Werth's RBI single chased him in the fifth. Ian Desmond followed with a two-run single, completing the 24-year-old right-hander's worst line since getting peppered by the A's on June 25.

Wheeler said something was wrong with his mechanics.

"I couldn't figure it out," Wheeler said. "I came in looked at the videotape, still couldn't figure it out. So I just felt a little awkward, different out there, and hopefully me and [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] can figure it out between now and the next start."

That next start, which is slated to be on Friday in Atlanta, is one worth noting because, like Saturday, it will come with Wheeler on five days' rest. The ugly performance against the Nats further demonstrated what has become a startling, season-long trend for Wheeler, who has struggled mightily on five days' rest while regularly dominating on four days' rest.

With the extra day, Wheeler owns a 5.71 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. On regular rest, those numbers drop to 2.45 and 1.11.

Collins looks at the additional day off as potentially beneficial considering Wheeler has thrown a career-high 174 1/3 innings and is pitching deep into September for the first time. Wheeler's season suggests, however, it won't work out that way.

"That should help out," Collins said.

Wheeler, for his part, said he feels "healthy and strong."

Wheeler's struggles in this one mattered little with the way Doug Fister pitched for the Nationals. He allowed one hit through four innings and exited after six and only 75 pitches.

New York managed three runs (two earned), including two on Wilmer Flores' homer in the fifth that snapped a personal 0-for-21 skid and one on Curtis Granderson's RBI single in the sixth.

The Mets also made four errors, and at least two other plays that could have been scored as the same.

"When you don't pitch, the game gets ugly," Collins said. 'There were a couple of errors. That's two games in a row, Juan [Lagares] bobbles the ball in center field, and we never see that -- I mean, absolutely never. Dilson [Herrera's] error was a tough play. … The ball that Travis [d'Arnaud] threw to third slipped out of his hand. When you look up and there's guys all over the bases all the time, it gets ugly."

The Nationals trimmed their magic number in the National League East race to six and took a 12-3 lead in the season series with the Mets. That includes an 8-1 mark at Citi Field.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Murphy won't let plunked wrist impede goals

|
Murphy won't let plunked wrist impede goals play video for Murphy won't let plunked wrist impede goals

NEW YORK -- Though infielder Daniel Murphy avoided the worst after Matt Thornton hit him on the left wrist with a pitch in Thursday's loss to the Nationals -- "You're worried any time you take a stray bullet like that," Murphy said -- he was too sore to play on Friday night at Citi Field. Eric Campbell took his place at third base.

Both Murphy and manager Terry Collins are hopeful that one night of rest will be enough for the second-turned-third baseman to return to the lineup, but it could ultimately take a game or two longer than that.

"It's pretty swelled up," Collins said. "We'll see how it is [on Saturday]. He thought one day would suffice."

Murphy planned to receive treatment throughout the night on Friday before making a decision as to his weekend availability. Though the National League hits title is an extreme long shot for him, Murphy is within reach of career highs in hits and doubles, as well as a .300 batting average. For those reasons and others, he would like to return to action as soon as possible.

"I want to play," he said. "Whether I'm hitting .220 or .310, I want to play."

• Triple-A Las Vegas manager Wally Backman will temporarily join the big league coaching staff next Friday, the team announced. The Mets typically reward one Minor League coach or manager each season with a temporary promotion in September.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

d'Arnaud's double helps Mets snap Nats' Citi streak

|
d'Arnaud's double helps Mets snap Nats' Citi streak play video for d'Arnaud's double helps Mets snap Nats' Citi streak

NEW YORK -- On Friday, for the first time in more than 14 months -- for the first time since Travis d'Arnaud, Jacob deGrom, Eric Campbell, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera made it to the Major Leagues -- the Mets beat the Nationals at Citi Field.

The 4-3 win didn't come easily. The Mets blew an early three-run lead, made two errors, saw starter Dillon Gee exit in the sixth, finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and watched Jenrry Mejia work into and out of a ninth-inning jam.

At the end of the night, though, it was Mejia making his celebratory gyrations, the Mets victors over the National League East leaders for the first time in eight tries this season at home and the first time in 13 tries since June 29, 2013.

This also served as Mejia's first opportunity at a home save against Washington since becoming the closer in May, and when he got Ian Desmond to foul a slider into d'Arnaud's mitt to end the game, his enthusiasm manifested itself in a performance more elaborate than usual: casting an imaginary fishing rod, reeling in his imaginary prize and finishing with his trademark back-breaker move.

He was pretty excited.

"I wasn't thinking about it. I just go out there -- adrenaline," Mejia said. "I just do it because it comes naturally."

It was, perhaps, a bit cathartic, representative of a release of built-up frustration resulting from a prolonged period of futility against the Nationals. Washington, after all, is the class of the NL East, and given the core group that looks to carry the club deep into October, it will be near the top for years to come. When the Mets are competitive again, it will likely be the Nationals they will have to overcome.

"We've played them good -- they're just really tough," manager Terry Collins said. "There's been a lot of nights where we've had them late in the game and they've come back and done some big damage against us, but it was a good win for us tonight for sure."

Added Gee: "I've faced them so many times in my career, it's like I'm just trying to get different ways to try to get them out. It's definitely tough. They're a good team. I felt like early on it was like every ball they hit was finding a hole or against the shift or … It was just a weird night."

As he did the last time the Mets beat the Nats in Queens, Gee went down in the books as the winning pitcher. This time he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings, and Carlos Torres bailed him out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by inducing a double play off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera.

The first two Washington runs came in the third inning, on RBI singles from Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos. Anthony Rendon's line-drive homer to left in the fifth accounted for the third run.

Two hits drove in all four Mets runs. d'Arnaud was credited with the first two on his bases-loaded double to left. Lucas Duda scored the third, chugging home from first and scoring when his back foot collided with catcher Ramos' glove and knocking the ball loose -- an error on Ramos, and no third RBI for d'Arnaud.

Juan Lagares put the Mets on top for good in the fifth when his double plated Eric Young Jr. from first Young was off with the pitch in an attempt to steal second, and when he saw the ball head down toward the corner, he just kept running.

"I was already going full speed by my second or third step," Young said. "Juan made it real easy for me to keep going."

Young finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and in three consecutive starts -- a rare spurt of playing time during his up-and-down season -- he's 7-for-11.

"He's got this opportunity, and he's certainly made the most of it," Collins said. "It's been a tough year for him. When you're around him, he never lets it get to him. He always has a smile on his face and came to work and did his job, and now he's getting a chance to play, showing everyone what he can do."

It's just one win -- one mid-September win for a sub-.500 team -- but given the smiles in the clubhouse, it might have meant a little more.

"It's huge -- division rivals, pretty much had our number all year," Young said. "Hopefully, we can take the momentum from tonight and carry it on."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Binghamton wins Eastern League title

|
Binghamton wins Eastern League title

With Game 3 of the Eastern League championship series tied at 1 and runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday against Double-A Richmond, Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez had a choice to make. The pitcher's spot in his lineup was up, and the Mets had a chance to win the game, complete the sweep and capture the Eastern League title for the first time since 1994.

Lopez sent Gavin Cecchini to second base as a pinch-runner and tabbed Jayce Boyd as the pinch-hitter to face Richmond closer Steven Okert. Boyd ran the count to 2-2 before hitting a single to center field, scoring Cecchini. Binghamton walked off with a 2-1 victory and sweep of the best-of-five series.

Binghamton's pitching staff dominated the finals, holding Richmond to four runs in three games. On Friday it was 23-year-old left-hander Steven Matz, the Mets' No. 9 prospect, who stymied the Flying Squirrels. Matz made one of his best starts of the season, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Elliott Blair broke it up with a one-out single. Blair was the first Richmond batter to reach base since the fourth inning, a streak of 12 batters.

After giving up another hit, Matz was relieved by Hansel Robles, who allowed one of the runners to score before getting out of the inning. Matz finished the night with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. He threw 106 pitches.

While Matz was baffling Richmond's hitters, left-hander Ty Blach, the Giants' No. 6 prospect, was doing the same to Binghamton's lineup. He struck out seven and held the Mets to one run on five hits in seven innings.

But Binghamton had more success against Richmond's bullpen. The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but were unable to score before breaking through in the ninth against Okert, the Giants' No. 10 prospect.

Center fielder Brandon Nimmo, ranked No. 62 on MLBPipeline.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, went 1-for-4. The Mets' No. 3 prospect hit .324/.378/.412 and scored seven runs in eight playoff games.

Nimmo and Matz joined Binghamton in June after starting the season with Class A Advanced St. Lucie. They helped the Mets to an 83-59 record during the regular season, finishing second in the Eastern Division to qualify for the playoffs. Binghamton defeated Portland in five games in their semifinal series to advance to the finals for the first time in 20 years.

Binghamton has now won the Eastern League championship series all three times it advanced that far. It also won the title in 1992 and 1994.

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

C. Young's success with Yanks doesn't surprise Collins

|
C. Young's success with Yanks doesn't surprise Collins

NEW YORK -- Count manager Terry Collins among those unsurprised by Chris Young's resurgence on the other side of town.

After spending four-plus dour months in Flushing, Young has emerged with three homers in seven games since signing on with the Yankees, including a solo shot that temporarily gave his new team an 11th-inning lead in Friday's loss to the Orioles in Game 1 of their doubleheader.

Young did not homer in his final 54 plate appearances with the Mets, slugging a total of eight with a .283 on-base percentage in 88 games. The Yankees are paying him a pro-rated percentage of the Major League minimum, meaning the Mets are responsible for the vast majority of his $7.25 million salary.

"I'm very excited for him," Collins said. "He's a tremendous guy. You root for guys like him. I'm glad he's got another chance and he's making the most of it. It's cool to see."

Collins, who called Young this winter trying to recruit him for the Mets, believes the psychological aspect of Citi Field's dimensions negatively affected him.

"You've got to hit them here," Collins said. "And sometimes there's nights when you hit them, they don't go anywhere -- due to the wind, due to the humidity, whatever it is, sometimes balls just don't carry here. We see it every single day, that it's a tough place to hit. It affected Jason Bay immensely. It's affected David [Wright] some. It's affected [Curtis] Granderson some. It's affected Chris Young."

Collins is a proponent of the Mets' internally proposed plans to alter Citi Field's dimensions for the third time in six years, though he does consider the stadium much fairer than it used to be.

"I have no problem with this park -- none whatsoever," he said. "If you him 'em, they go."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["replay" ,"rivalries_east" ] }

Two reviews go visitors' way in Nats-Mets

|
Two reviews go visitors' way in Nats-Mets play video for Two reviews go visitors' way in Nats-Mets

NEW YORK -- For the second time this week, the orange line at the top of Citi Field's left-field wall created a moment of confusion, resulting in the first of two reviews over the course of several minutes that went in the Nationals' favor.

The first came as a result of an Anthony Rendon line drive in the fifth inning. The Nationals' third baseman sent a 2-2 slider to left that originally went for a double, but after a crew-chief review, replay officials overturned the call, and Rendon completed his trip around the bases. The review took 36 seconds.

Two batters later, Mets manager Terry Collins challenged the ruling on the field that deemed Ian Desmond safe on a 4-6-3 double-play attempt. Officials needed one minute and 15 seconds to determine Desmond was, indeed, safe.

Rendon's blast, his 20th of the season, tied the score at 3, erasing the Mets' early three-run lead.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ,"rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Rally efforts squashed after early ejections

Recker's HR provides spark but Mets fall to 6 1/2 back in race

|
Rally efforts squashed after early ejections play video for Rally efforts squashed after early ejections

NEW YORK -- A few weeks from now, when the Mets scatter to their various homes and begin the long process of dissecting what went wrong this season, they can point to a great many factors. Power production. Injuries. Situational hitting.

Or, they can simply point to the Nationals. The Mets, who stand four games above .500 against all clubs from outside the District of Columbia, have won just twice in 13 tries against their playoff-bound division rivals. Their latest loss, a 6-2 defeat that included ejections of both starting pitcher Bartolo Colon and manager Terry Collins and an injury to infielder Daniel Murphy, effectively shredded whatever wisps of playoff hope still floated around Citi Field.

"We've got to play better," Collins said of his team's 12th consecutive loss to the Nationals at Citi Field, a stretch that has seen the Nats outscore his club 80-23. "That's the only reason why they're beating us at home. We're just not playing."

"I don't think anybody in here thinks we can't beat them," added catcher Anthony Recker. "We just made a couple mistakes early in the game that obviously hurt us, and we can't do that against a team like that."

Coming into the night trailing a quintet of teams in the National League Wild Card race, the Mets quickly fell well behind the Nationals and never recovered. Serving up two-run home runs to Adam LaRoche in the first inning and Anthony Rendon in the fourth, Colon proceeded to plunk the ensuing batter with a fastball in each instance. The second of them earned him an ejection from home-plate umpire John Tumpane, who also tossed Collins for coming out to argue.

"I was surprised because I didn't think I did anything wrong," Colon said. "I was surprised they threw me out of the game."

Colon gave up a total of six runs in three-plus innings, one of them aided by his own throwing error. The right-hander's inconsistency was once again plain to see; Colon owns a 1.62 ERA in his 13 wins but a 7.25 mark in his 12 losses.

"I was a little surprised by it all," Collins said. "I actually thought with what's going on, Bart was going to step up and give us a good ballgame. You don't look up in the third inning and see 70 pitches when Bartolo Colon is pitching. So it's obvious that he didn't have command of his stuff tonight. These guys are good enough that they're going to hurt you."

The Mets did claw back on a Recker solo homer in the fifth inning, going as far as to bring the potential tying run to the plate in both the seventh and eighth. But after Dilson Herrera singled home a second run against Nationals starter Tanner Roark to spark the former rally, reliever Craig Stammen induced a rally-freezing 6-4-3 double play from Wilmer Flores. An inning later, with the bases loaded and one out, Lucas Duda lined to shortstop and Recker whiffed.

Missed opportunities were everywhere for the Mets, who also squandered a two-on, none-out situation in the second inning when Travis d'Arnaud, forgetting how many outs there were, was doubled off first base on a popup. In the sixth, Eric Young Jr. singled with one out and moved to second base on an error, but -- with the Mets down five runs at the time -- was thrown out trying to reach third.

By game's end, the Pirates were wrapping up a win in Philadelphia, pushing the Mets 6 1/2 games out of a playoff berth with just 15 to go. Murphy and d'Arnaud were nursing various maladies, David Wright and Matt Harvey were on the bench as usual and the Mets, so spirited coming into the night, were left wondering how everything went wrong so quickly.

"It didn't go our way," Recker said, "but we definitely showed some fight. Obviously we haven't quit on the season and we didn't quit on that game."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Mets have high hopes for catching prospect Plawecki

|
Mets have high hopes for catching prospect Plawecki play video for Mets have high hopes for catching prospect Plawecki

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

The New York Mets are a club fortunate to have two young catchers with solid Major League tools. With Travis d'Arnaud assuming the everyday backstop role for the parent club, right-handed-hitting Kevin Plawecki is continuing his development in the Mets' pipeline as a promising offensive and defensive catcher.

For me, Plawecki projects as a dependable everyday catcher with a bat that will provide a solid batting average to go along with consistent defense. In the event d'Arnaud is shifted to first base, the Mets have a very viable catching option in Plawecki.

Plawecki was a standout receiver at Westfield High School in Indiana, and he earned four varsity letters in baseball. He then attended Purdue University, where he was the recipient of countless awards and trophies, including being named the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2012. As one of the country's top catchers, Plawecki was also a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award.

The Mets selected Plawecki with a supplemental first-round pick (35th overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Plawecki has had three very good seasons in their organization and currently ranks No. 2 on the Mets' Top 20 Prospect list.

This past July, I got to see Plawecki start for the U.S. team in the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Plawecki went to the plate twice and collected an RBI in the game.

Plawecki is an extremely well-disciplined hitter. His pitch recognition and patience at the plate have become cornerstones of his offensive game. Plawecki makes consistent solid contact, having provided low strikeout totals in his three Minor League seasons while making things happen at the plate. Plawecki's hand-eye coordination and his overall reaction time at the plate are factors that allow him to time pitches and barrel the ball.

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Plawecki hasn't shown much homer power in his career so far. However, that can be explained when one sees his rather flat swing plane with little or no uppercut. The result is an array of line drives that he sprays from foul pole to foul pole. Plawecki has had a history as a doubles hitter, with the ability to hit the gaps by using powerful legs and his entire lower body in his approach. I think there is more growth and home run power to come in his 23-year-old frame.

Plawecki is such a disciplined hitter that he is a player I would trust at the plate with a runner trying to steal. I think his contact rate and his ability to hit line drives project him to be an ideal hit-and-run candidate.

Plawecki has flown through the Mets' system. He was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas from Double-A Binghamton in June after hitting .326 in 249 plate appearances for the Mets' Eastern League club.

Plawecki also got a taste of playing first base in his first two seasons in the Minors. Perhaps having d'Arnaud in the organization provided some motivation for the Mets to test the versatility of Plawecki by playing him at first. This year, however, the team concentrated on him catching, as he continued to hone his defensive skills and further refine his hitting.

Defensively, Plawecki is an improving shepherd to his pitchers, calling a good game and knowing the repertoire of each. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he is accurate, and his footwork is solid. Plawecki is mobile and moves well. His transfer of the ball from his glove to his hand is average. Plawecki's success throwing out potential basestealers will be very dependent upon the delivery speed and mechanics of his pitcher. There will be little time to waste for the pitcher/catcher battery on steal attempts.

Plawecki doesn't have much usable foot speed to speak of. I don't see him as a basestealer. I do, however, see Plawecki being able to move along well enough on the bases to contribute adequate first-to-third and second-to-home running ability.

When all is said and done, it is his consistent and refined line-drive hitting ability that will help carry Plawecki to his future in big league baseball.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Mets host Tuesday's Children as part of 9/11 tribute

Nonprofit formed 13 years ago to help families of those fallen

|
Mets host Tuesday's Children as part of 9/11 tribute play video for Mets host Tuesday's Children as part of 9/11 tribute

NEW YORK -- Thursday was a somber day of remembrance in this city and elsewhere, and Citi Field was no exception. But amidst the Mets' batting-practice caps honoring first responders and the where-were-you-when stories from 13 years prior, tucked away in the bowels of the stadium was a group of kids with smiles -- huge, unapologetic, cheesing smiles.

A handful of players were signing autographs for a special group of 100 or so fans in attendance as the Mets hosted the Nationals. These fans were from Tuesday's Children, a nonprofit formed in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, that vowed to help the families of those who lost their lives.

Tuesday's Children has since widened its scope -- from a Families of the Fallen initiative to creating the Resiliency Center of Newtown -- but Thursday brought a chance to remember its origins.

"A lot of people say, 'Well, it was 13 years ago, why are you still around? What are you still doing?'" Tuesday's Children vice chairman Fred Strobel said. "The reality is this morning I was opening up the New York Stock Exchange with two young ladies, one was 14 and one was 13. One was 10 months when their father died, and one was 2 years when their father died. There's a lot of support that's needed, and we're there to do that for them."

Another guest at Citi Field was a familiar face: former reliever John Franco. A Brooklyn native, Franco was a member of that 2001 Mets team remembered for helping the city and country begin the healing process, and his involvement with Tuesday's Children has continued. The group presented him with a "Keep the Promise" award at its annual gala this week.

"It's because we promised to be there for these families, these kids, and John is one of the people who does that," Strobel said. "He's there whenever we need him."

Several dozen Tuesday's Children participants took the field with the Mets prior to first pitch. The organization also thanked the Mets for their ongoing support with an award, accepted by Franco on behalf of the club, during an on-field pregame ceremony.

"It's humbling," Franco said. "When we started out to do this, it wasn't meant to get any awards. It wasn't meant to get all the accolades, the press clippings or anything. It was meant to help out.

"I'm a New Yorker. The one thing about New York is when there's devastation, when there's problems, the true New Yorkers come together and help each other."

In keeping with their annual tradition, the Mets wore hats from various local emergency responder groups -- NYPD, FDNY, etc. -- during batting practice and held a moment of silence pregame. Jefferson Crowther -- whose son, Welles, also known as The Man in the Red Bandana, saved numerous lives on Sept. 11, 2001 -- threw the ceremonial first pitch to Franco.

For more information on Tuesday's Children, visit TuesdaysChildren.org.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }

Colon, Collins tossed after Werth hit by pitch

Mets starter plunks two Nationals batters, both right after home runs

|
Colon, Collins tossed after Werth hit by pitch play video for Colon, Collins tossed after Werth hit by pitch

NEW YORK -- Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon and manager Terry Collins were ejected in the fourth inning Thursday, seconds after Colon hit his second batter of the game. Each plunking immediately followed a home run.

With the Nationals already leading by four runs in the fourth inning, Anthony Rendon increased their margin with a two-run homer off Colon. On his next pitch, the 41-year-old veteran drilled Jayson Werth in the left shoulder with an 89-mph fastball that soared near his head.

Home-plate umpire John Tumpane immediately ejected Colon, who remained on the field as Collins came out to argue. Only after Tumpane also tossed Collins did both men retreat to the dugout.

"I was surprised because I didn't think I did anything wrong," Colon said through an interpreter. "I was surprised they threw me out of the game.

"That was a two-seam fastball that moved inside to him. I was trying to pitch him inside. If it would have been a four-seam, it would have been a different story."

The story that Tumpane saw began three innings earlier, after Colon gave up a two-run homer to Adam LaRoche to open the scoring. He proceeded to throw consecutive fastballs to the next batter, Ian Desmond, plunking Washington's shortstop with the second of them.

"You have to be careful that you're getting banged around and drill somebody, an umpire can interpret it as intentional," Collins said. "You're going to go out there and argue with it, but you're going to lose the argument."

Asked if he thought the pitch to Werth was intentional, LaRoche smiled widely and said, "Nah, it just slipped."

Prior to Thursday, Colon had hit only three batters and walked 23 others in 179 2/3 innings. He gave up six runs (five earned) in three-plus innings against the Nationals, increasing his ERA to 4.14.

"I don't have an opinion one way or the other," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of the pitches. "I just know that he's got exceptional control. We deal with it and move on."

In the eighth inning, Mets third baseman Daniel Murphy was also hit by a Matt Thornton fastball. But considering how close to the strike zone that pitch was, and the fact that it brought the tying run to the plate, both Murphy and Collins said they never considered it intentional.

"Not at all," Murphy said. "Not at all."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["rivalries_east" ] }
{"content":["replay" ] }

Umps confirm Rendon's HR with brief review

Two-run shot precedes plunking of Werth, ejections of Colon, Collins

|
Umps confirm Rendon's HR with brief review play video for Umps confirm Rendon's HR with brief review

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins' contention of a home run call Thursday night at Citi Field initiated a crew-chief review, and it took replay officials only 54 seconds to determine that Anthony Rendon's line drive indeed cleared the wall in left.

The homer gave the visiting Nationals a 6-0 lead, and Rendon was the penultimate batter starter Bartolo Colon faced before being ejected. He hit Jayson Werth with the next pitch.

Rendon's hit landed between the orange line at the top of the wall that the ball must clear to be a homer and a fence immediately beyond it, then bounced back onto the field, which led to the brief confusion.

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Herrera wins top Minor League award

|
Herrera wins top Minor League award play video for Herrera wins top Minor League award

NEW YORK -- Infield prospect Dilson Herrera, who is playing every day down the stretch for the Mets with David Wright out for the season, highlighted the organization's annual Minor League awards released Wednesday.

Herrera won the Mets' organizational Player of the Year award, after flying through Class A Advanced St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton with a combined .323 average, 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 128 games. Coming to the organization last summer in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates, Herrera debuted in the big leagues late last month.

The Mets' Minor League Pitcher of the Year was left-hander Steven Matz, a different sort of success story. The organization's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Matz struggled through several injury-plagued seasons before reestablishing himself on the prospect map last summer. He was taken in the second round in 2009, when the Mets did not have a first-round pick.

This year, Matz went 10-9 with a 2.24 ERA in 24 starts split between St. Lucie and Binghamton, putting himself in position for a potential debut as soon as next season.

The Mets rounded out their Minor League awards by honoring their top performers at each level: shortstop Matt Reynolds at Triple-A Las Vegas, catcher Kevin Plawecki at Binghamton, outfielder Brandon Nimmo at St. Lucie, pitchers Dario Alvarez and Akeel Morris at Class A Savannah, pitcher Marcos Molina at Class A Brooklyn, outfielder Vicente Lupo at Rookie-level Kingsport, outfielder John Mora for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets, and catchers Ali Sanchez and Walter Rasquin in the Dominican Summer Leagues.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Murphy moves to third; Herrera to fill in at second

|
Murphy moves to third; Herrera to fill in at second play video for Murphy moves to third; Herrera to fill in at second

NEW YORK -- In an attempt to parlay David Wright's season-ending injury into an opportunity for team growth, the Mets are moving second baseman Daniel Murphy to third base for the rest of the season.

The shift allows the Mets to give 20-year-old infielder Dilson Herrera, the youngest player in the Majors, regular opportunities at second down the stretch.

"He did have a choice," manager Terry Collins said of Murphy, who made his first All-Star team earlier this summer as a second baseman. "I'm not going to put someone in a position they don't want to play. When I talked to Dan today, he said he knew … that might be brought up. He was fine with it. He has no issues at all. He knows he can play there. What he wants to do is play and he wants to win games."

Though Murphy's natural position is third base, he has not played there with any regularity since 2011. Instead, Murphy has worked tirelessly to improve from a well below-average second baseman to a roughly average one.

"It's nice to have had some experience there, so hopefully the learning curve has been shortened a little bit," Murphy said of third. "I haven't been over there in a couple of years. Every now and then I'll take groundballs with David, just kind of messing around. I think one of the big things is just restretching my arm out. It's a longer throw. I'm going to have to really stay on my legs a little bit more than I do at second to try to carry my throw over there. We'll see."

Had Wright not announced late Tuesday that he is done for the year with a sore left shoulder, Herrera would have spent most of the season's final 17 games on the bench. Instead, he will start regularly at second base, hoping to improve upon the .243 average, two home runs and .777 OPS he posted in 10 starts while Murphy was on the disabled list.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Wright, Gee visit first responders at firehouse

|
Wright, Gee visit first responders at firehouse play video for Wright, Gee visit first responders at firehouse

NEW YORK -- David Wright made an appearance away from Citi Field on Wednesday, and along with it came all of the usual indications of his stardom: cameras, some security and a handful of fans clutching fresh baseballs and pens. Then came the inevitable question: How's that shoulder?

"I'll be at the stadium later," said Wright, who on Tuesday decided to end his season due to lingering left shoulder inflammation. "I don't want to water down what it means to be here -- not to be rude."

This visit -- to FDNY Squad 288, HazMat 1 in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens -- wasn't about one shoulder or one player. It was about expressing an appreciation for the people Wright called "the real heroes of New York."

This firehouse, a mere 10-minute drive from Citi Field, lost 19 members in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Its relationship with the Mets organization began shortly thereafter, when Mike Piazza met Carol Gies, whose husband Ronnie was one of the Squad 288 firefighters to lose his life, and her sons at Shea Stadium.

Since breaking into the Majors in 2004, Wright has visited a local firehouse on or around Sept. 11 every year. On Wednesday, the eve of the 13th anniversary, he returned to Squad 288 with Dillon Gee.

Wright and Gee both have a special appreciation for emergency responders. Wright's father, Rhon, is a recently retired Virginia police officer. Gee's dad, Kevin, is a firefighter in Fort Worth, Texas.

"It's close to home for me," Gee said of the visit to Maspeth. "I was way back in Texas in high school when Sept. 11 happened. But over the last few years, I've been able to come up here and meet these brave men and women who were there that day, who helped out that day, who lost friends and loved ones."

"To see this memorial," Gee continued, pausing in front of plaques dedicated to the Squad 288 firefighters who passed away. "It definitely makes you realize what these guys do every day."

That was the important message for Wright -- the every day. The thankfulness that dominated the tone Wednesday should be the case regularly, not just the week of Sept. 11.

"Everybody can do a better job of not celebrating firefighters [only] once a year," Wright said. "I think it's something that we all can do a better job of -- understanding the sacrifice, and how brave these men and women are on a more consistent basis rather than having to have a catastrophe happen to understand what these men and women mean to the community, especially here in New York."

Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Montero's first win keeps Wild Card hopes alive

Young contributes three hits to help complete sweep of Rockies

|
Montero's first win keeps Wild Card hopes alive play video for Montero's first win keeps Wild Card hopes alive

NEW YORK -- The Mets understand more than anyone that really, truly playing meaningful games in September remains far from realistic. Though they entered Wednesday's play a tantalizing 5 1/2 games out of a National League Wild Card spot, they trailed five separate teams in that race. The most popular mathematical projection systems gave them less than a one percent chance to play in October.

But until the scientists tell them they're really, truly, seriously out of this thing, the Mets will continue revving forward with all the vigor they can spare. Rookie starter Rafael Montero gave them another nudge in that direction Wednesday night, delivering 5 1/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Rockies at Citi Field.

With 16 games remaining, the Mets stayed within shouting distance of their pipe dream for at least one more day, 5 1/2 games back of the Pirates for the NL's fifth and final playoff berth.

"When you walk through the clubhouse, those doors, right now in September, even though you're looking at a Wild Card, you're still playing for something," manager Terry Collins said. "That's the only way to come in every day, to know that it's fun to go out there and compete."

It was Montero, in a brief return to the rotation, who set the tone in his first career victory. Keeping the Rockies hitless until the fifth inning, Montero walked four batters but struck out seven, relying on his low-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider. By the time the Rockies started timing his arsenal, rapping out a pair of hits to open the sixth, Montero was at 106 pitches and out of the game. A quartet of relievers finished things off, anchored by closer Jenrry Mejia, who recovered from Tuesday's hiccup to submit a perfect ninth inning.

"It's huge for him," Collins said of Mejia. "There's going to be nights where it doesn't go good, but the only thing that matters is not how you did, but how the team did. He came to me today and he said, 'I need to get back in there.' And I love it. I love that stuff."

The Mets plan to move Montero to the bullpen to finish out this season, but could first give him one additional start.

"I felt pretty good," Montero said of his first career win. "Thank God it happened once. But if I continue to pitch the way I did tonight, there will be more to come."

Though offense continued to trickle in for the Mets, Montero and a quartet of relievers ensured that they wouldn't need much of it. Eric Young Jr. was first to break through against Rockies starter Tyler Matzek, tripling a ball off center fielder Drew Stubbs' glove to plate a run in the second. Five innings later, moments after Matzek left the game, Juan Lagares lofted a sacrifice fly deep enough to double the margin.

Playing in front of his father, the Rockies' first-base coach, Young finished 3-for-3.

"I struggled to get him out," Matzek said. "Had I had better fastball command, it probably would've been a lot easier. So I relied on secondary pitches. It's easier for him to hit offspeed pitches. Had I been able to throw the fastball in, where I wanted it, I wouldn't be talking about it right now."

The win moved the Mets to within four games of .500 for the first time in more than a month. More importantly, it further expanded their imaginations with less than three weeks left in the regular season.

The Mets understand that a playoff berth is still largely unrealistic. But they're looking at the calendar now, peeking at the scoreboard every now and then. A four-game series with the division-leading Nationals looms, and if the Mets can somehow win three or four of those contests, their dream will become that much more real.

"Coming off this Rockies series, everybody's feeling good," Young said. "Confidence is up amongst the players, and it's needed going into the Washington series. They've been hot the second half. But we can really put a damper in their season, as well as accelerate ourselves here in this last couple of weeks."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español