Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Church’

Robust Is One Way to Describe the Mets Offense

August 19, 2009

The war of words between Mets manager Jerry Manuel and Atlanta Braves centerfielder Ryan Church was brought to another level yesterday. Prior to the start of last night’s 9-4 victory by the Mets, Manuel took a jab at Church, questioning his inability to bounce back quickly from two very severe concussions last season. Manuel eventually apologized to his former player and now hopes that one of his current players, Oliver Perez, will be able to recuperate rather quickly from an injury as well. Perez, who earned his third win of the season last night, aggravated the same knee that kept him out for a large part of the season.

The good news is, the Mets offense exploded for seventeen hits. Outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Gary Sheffield along with second baseman Luis Castillo (who is now batting .306) each had three hits apiece. Fernando Tatis, who for the time being has replaced David Wright at third base, went 2-for-4. Atlanta starting pitcher, right-hander Derek Lowe, was roughed up for eight runs on eleven hits in just three and two-thirds innings of work. If you recall, the Mets were interested in Lowe as a number two starter to complement Johan Santana before the start of spring training. Instead, they went with the southpaw in Perez. With last night’s very impressive victory, I guess you could score one for the left-hander.

It Could Be Worse

June 30, 2009

In the top of the ninth inning of last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, David Wright was at the plate with a runner on second and one out. Wright, who is currently leading the National League in hitting, is struggling. Prior to that at-bat, the Mets third baseman had just one hit in his last eighteen at-bats to go along with six strikeouts. Looking at the current Mets active roster, it’s easy to see their limitations in giving any of their everyday players a day off. With that said, all Wright can do is work his way out of it. Fortunately for him, he did. Wright smacked the next pitch for a double to left scoring Daniel Murphy from second giving the Mets offense some much needed help.

The next batter due up for the Mets was cleanup hitter Gary Sheffield. His final at-bat produced a two-run home run that landed into the highest deck in left-center field at Miller Park. As Sheffield rounded the bases with his tenth home run of the season, a Brewers fan proceeded to throw the ball back into the field of play. No love lost though because the Mets had just equaled the total amount of runs they scored throughout the weekend series against the Yankees, three. Before you get your hopes up, the score at this point is Milwaukee, 10, and the Mets, 6. The Mets next two hitters, Ryan Church (4 for 5) and Fernando Martinez (2 for 5), both managed to reach base safely in the ninth inning with one out. Alright, the probability of them staging a comeback is highly unlikely. Adding Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman via pitching change doesn’t help matters, either.

To make a long story short, catcher Brian Schneider swung at the first pitch and hit into a game-ending double play before the tune of Hell Bells even had a chance to fade out. Hoffman earns career save number 572, the Mets fall under five hundred and end the night behind the Florida Marlins in third place.

Some Have Been Known to Say That Home Runs Are Part of the Game

June 10, 2009

If you happen to be one of the unlucky Mets fans who were unable to catch the game last night but were able to listen in and hear Mets starting pitcher, Johan Santana, pinpoint each one of his mistakes during the post-game press conference, you might have thought that the Mets had lost. If for some unfortunate incident last night Santana was not awarded the victory for his sub-par performance then the storyline may have read, Mets’ ace tagged for four home runs compliments of the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies. There was no doubt that last night’s 6-5 win by the Mets was one of those games that when it was all said and done, Mets fans would find a pile of pulled out hair atop their coffee tables.

Each Philadelphia extra-base hit that cleared a section of the Citi Field wall sent a strong message to all who were in attendance last night and to the rest of the league for that matter that no ball park could hold Philadelphia’s free-swinging, homer-heavy lineup in check. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins smacked a two-run dinger in the top half of the sixth inning that put the Phillies ahead, 4-3, and without hesitation forced every one of the 37,000 screaming Mets fans to doubt their ace’s staying power for the evening. At that point in the game, I’ll be honest. I was heard in the next room accusing Santana of being a chucker. Eventually, the Mets would regain the lead but would receive a scare when Phillies second baseman Chase Utley’s solo home run soared just over the shortest part of the right field wall in the top of the seventh inning quietly bringing his team to within a run.

The Mets did however prevail with a power stroke of their own. Third baseman David Wright and centerfielder Carlos Beltran went plenty deep to give the Mets an early 3-0 lead, which is to say that Santana received more than enough run support for the evening. Nonetheless, it was right fielder Ryan Church’s solo blast that landed inside Citi Field’s version of the Homerun Apple in the bottom of the seventh that proved to be the difference in the ballgame.

“Yeah, it’s a big win for us,” Church said after the game. “We win tomorrow and we win the series.”

Tonight, the Mets will be looking towards right-hander Mike Pelfrey to bounce back after a tough outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he lasted just three and two-thirds innings and gave up a total of eight earned runs. Philadelphia will be sending their top left-hander, Cole Hamels, to the mound with the hope of having Church’s prophecy go unfulfilled.

Bruised and Battered, the Mets Find a Way to Win

May 26, 2009

It’s safe to say that on any given night this season the New York Mets have given themselves a good chance at winning. However, for the last week and a half that chance has been met with the question of which players will be asked to uphold it. With one third of their active roster decimated by injury, the Mets everyday lineup card these days can look as unpredictable as an Oliver Perez start. Prior to last night’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel delayed his decision to start centerfielder Carlos Beltran and back-up shortstop Ramon Martinez until thirty minutes before the start of the game. Reason being, Beltran was nursing a sore knee and Martinez was ailing from a bad back. Fortunately for the Mets, both players made their starts and helped the team to a 5-2 victory over the last place Washington Nationals.

Last night’s win earned Mets starter John Maine his fourth victory of the season. Maine looked well in command throughout the game, although he was not asked to pitch the seventh inning. Manuel was given the opportunity after the game to respond to why he opted for a reliever in the seventh instead of continuing with his starter. Manuel felt that too much time elapsed between the umpire’s review of Gary Sheffield’s three-run homerun and the start of the seventh inning. In hindsight, reliever Bobby Parnell began the seventh inning and surrendered three walks (the Mets pitchers had nine overall) which led to a run. Parnell was yanked and it took two more Mets relievers to limit the damage in the seventh.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes continues his recovery from tendinitis of the calf and left fielder Ryan Church was again unavailable for the second straight game. On the bright side, closer Francisco Rodriguez kept his perfect save streak going last night and earned his thirteenth save of the season. If you remember, Rodriguez collapsed on Saturday in Boston from back spasms. He was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment and was then cleared to play.

With the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves losing their games yesterday, the Mets are now all alone in second place just one-half game back.

Mets Attempt to Escape Reality Tonight with a Win

May 20, 2009

As the Mets prepare for the final game of their current seven-game road trip on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the number one thing that should be on each and every Mets players’ mind is how they will earn a victory and salvage the final leg of their recent West coast swing. Not only will this be the Mets’ twentieth scheduled game in row, it will also give them another chance to prove to their beleaguered fans that they still possess some might after dropping the last three games in disappointing fashion.

The only way perhaps to explain the latest Mets swoon is that they wandered into San Francisco’s notorious Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and left with what is known in some circles as “Purple Haze.” There’s no question that last Saturday’s comeback-win against the 2008 NL Cy Young-award winner, Tim Lincecum, could be seen as the “peak” of their performance. Unfortunately, even the strongest dose of LSD causes you to eventually “come down.” Prior to having their infield fully decimated, the Mets were Truckin’. Jerry, in this case Manuel, not Garcia, had his team performing on all cylinders. As we all know, there are many other social aspects that are synonymous with the City by the Bay that don’t involve the colors of the rainbow. Eventually, reality begins to settle in.

Ask Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey to explain why he committing three balks in Sunday night’s game, he’ll tell you that he had a case of the “yips.” Hmm…makes you wonder if that’s code word for something else or quite possibly the acid was beginning to wear off. Perhaps the same could be said for right fielder Ryan Church. You never know, instead of trying to score the go-ahead run during Monday night’s extra-inning game, he could have been trying to avoid being captured by little green men as he rounded the third base bag and that’s why he completely missed the base. All in all, the Mets have no reason to make excuses. If they are able to take tonight’s game, they can pat themselves on the back for avoiding a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only then will they be able to look back on these last seven games and remind themselves, “What a strange trip it’s been.”

Six in a Row Would Be Nice, Too

May 9, 2009

One if not the most important aspect for a hitter is his ability to see the ball well on its way towards home plate. Mets cleanup hitter, first baseman Carlos Delgado reiterated that point last night by going 3 for 4 including a whopping three-run homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the Mets up, 6-2, and the game out of reach. Delgado, who also drove in two more runs in the first inning with a single, finished the night with a total of 5 RBI. Unfortunately, for one or two other Mets players, being able to locate the baseball was not so easy.

With a runner on second and the score, 2-1, in favor of the Mets, Pittsburgh’s Nate McLouth hit what seemed like a routine fly ball to right-center field. Mets Carlos Beltran began drifting under it. Right fielder Ryan Church had a beat on it, too. As the two outfielders converged under the ensuing popup, the ball landed to the right side of Beltran allowing the tying run to score. After the game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel was in good spirits. However, he felt that the Mets defense was somewhat lacking in some areas. Hmm, I wonder what areas he was speaking of.

The Mets, again, received another solid performance from their starting pitching. This time, from an unlikely source their young left-hander, Jon Niese. Niese pitched six strong innings in which he failed to surrender a walk. Right-hander Bobby Parnell earned the victory, the first win of his career, with another impressive outing in the eighth. With a Philadelphia win last night, the Mets still remain a half game out of first place in the ultra-competitive NL East. The Mets will try and continue their winning ways this afternoon at Citi Field.

Offense to Dictate Which Corner Outfielder Will Start or Sit

February 24, 2009

On September 16, 2008, the New York Mets dropped their second straight game to the lowly Washington Nationals. Not only were they shutout that night, 1-0, but their position atop the NL East went from first to second place. That disappointing night for the Mets also marked another devastating loss: the loss of one of last year’s key players, Fernando Tatis. Tatis was attempting to snag a blooper hit by then Nationals’ pitcher Odalis Perez, when he missed the ball on the way down and landed on his right side. The fall ultimately knocked him out for the rest of the 2008 season with a separated shoulder.

At the conclusion of the season, Tatis received many accolades for coming through in the clutch, earning him the award for NL Comeback Player of the Year. Last October, the Mets rewarded the 34 year-old utility player with a one year contract and told him to be ready for spring training.

“I feel fine now — I didn’t need surgery and I will be ready to go in the spring,” Tatis said.

With Tatis on-board, the Mets seemed satisfied and eager to continue using a platoon situation in left field. The veteran Tatis would be given the start against left-handers and the emerging Daniel Murphy would be plugged into the lineup against right-handers. However, this past weekend, Mets manager Jerry Manuel had a change of heart. He decided to ditch the idea altogether and give the starting job exclusively to Murphy.

“I don’t want him to get into a strictly platoon situation,” Manuel said of Murphy. “I think he’s a little better player than that.”

By making Murphy the everyday left fielder, Manuel was asked what his plans for Tatis were. Manuel’s response? The Mets manager suggested the veteran could now be a platoon for Ryan Church in right field. Church struggled against left-handed pitching last season after his return from the disabled list.

Acting as if he was the last to know, Church broached the subject with his skipper. “I knew all I had to do was talk to him. He’s very approachable. He’ll tell you how it is. He came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it — you’re getting prepared to be the everyday right fielder for the New York Mets.'”

Since day one, Manuel has preached that his job is to predict which players will give him the best chance of winning. Ideally, he would love to have both left-handed hitting outfielders, Church and Murphy, make contact when facing both righties and lefties. If that’s the case, Tatis would be utilized as a right-handed hitting threat coming off the bench. Problem solved.

“He’s the boss,” Church said. “I can’t write my name in the lineup card. All I can do is control what I do on the field, and make sure I’m ready and do what he says. He’s our general, and I’ll go to war with him any day.”

By starting Murphy no matter who the opposing starter is on the mound, it allows the Mets to play the hot hand. In just 131 at-bats last season, Murphy batted .313 with 41 hits and finished the season with a .397 on-base percentage.

“I’m going to treat this just like I’m trying to win a job for the next month that we’re here,” Murphy said. “My job is still to get ready to play, and that’s what I’m going to do.”