The New York Mets have finished below .500 in each of the past five seasons and haven't made the playoffs since 2006, but hope springs eternal as a new crop of stars prepares to make an impact in 2014.
New York managed to finish third in the NL East last season with a record of 74-88, but the expectation seems to be that the Mets are destined for a fourth-placed showing this year ahead of only the lowly Miami Marlins.
One person who doesn't agree with that assessment is general manager Sandy Alderson. According to John Harper of the New York Daily News, he has reportedly set a goal of 90 wins for his team this season.
All I'll say is we have higher expectations than we've had in the past ... Because I think it has to be a mind-set. Part of creating a winning environment is setting ambitious goals and working toward them. But it has to be systematic and it can't be totally unrealistic. I don't think it is in this case.
Some might view that as overly ambitious considering the Mets' recent struggles, but with the addition of outfielder Curtis Granderson and veteran starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, along with the continued development of an elite prospect pool, perhaps the Amazins have a chance to shock the world.
Better-than-expected performances have been a hallmark of Mets baseball over the years, and simply finishing .500 or better in 2014 would be considered a massive leap forward with new potential stars on the horizon.
New York's drive for 90 starts in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where it hopes to get off on the right foot during spring training.
Along with a look at the Mets' spring training schedule and predictions on how they will fare during the regular season, check back here after every Mets spring training game for score updates, breaking news and much more.
|New York Mets 2014 Spring Training Schedule|
|Friday, Feb. 28||Washington Nationals||1:10 p.m.||Nationals 5, Mets 4|
|Saturday, March 1||Miami Marlins||1:10 p.m.||Marlins 9, Mets 1|
|Sunday, March 2||St. Louis Cardinals||1:05 p.m.||Cardinals 7, Mets 1|
|Monday, March 3||Atlanta Braves||1:05 p.m.||Mets 6, Braves 2|
|Tuesday, March 4||Houston Astros||1:10 p.m.||Mets 6, Astros 2|
|Wednesday, March 5||Washington Nationals||1:05 p.m.||Nationals 11, Mets 5|
|Wednesday, March 5||Miami Marlins||1:10 p.m.||Marlins 5, Mets 2 (10)|
|Thursday, March 6||Houston Astros||1:05 p.m.||Cancelled|
|Friday, March 7||St. Louis Cardinals||1:10 p.m.||Mets 5, Cardinals 5|
|Saturday, March 8||Detroit Tigers||1:05 p.m.||Mets 3, Tigers 2|
|Sunday, March 9||Atlanta Braves||1:10 p.m.||Mets 8, Braves 2|
|Monday, March 10||Miami Marlins||1:10 p.m.||Marlins 11, Mets 1|
|Tuesday, March 11||St. Louis Cardinals||1:05 p.m.||Mets 9, Cardinals 8|
|Wednesday, March 12||St. Louis Cardinals||1:10 p.m.||Cardinals 6, Mets 4|
|Thursday, March 13||Washington Nationals||1:05 p.m.||Mets 7, Nationals 5|
|Friday, March 14||Miami Marlins||7:05 p.m.||Marlins 1, Mets 0|
|Saturday, March 15||Chicago Cubs||4:05 p.m.||Mets 9, Cubs 4|
|Saturday, March 15||Minnesota Twins||1:10 p.m.||Twins 3, Mets 3|
|Sunday, March 16||Chicago Cubs||4:05 p.m.||Cubs 6, Mets 3|
|Sunday, March 16||St. Louis Cardinals||1:05 p.m.||Mets 10, Cardinals 4|
|Monday, March 17||Miami Marlins||1:05 p.m.||Marlins 10, Mets 7|
|Tuesday, March 18||Detroit Tigers||1:10 p.m.||Mets 5, Tigers 4|
|Thursday, March 20||Atlanta Braves||1:10 p.m.||Mets 7, Braves 6|
|Friday, March 21||Minnesota Twins||1:05 p.m.||Mets 9, Twins 1|
|Saturday, March 22||Miami Marlins||1:05 p.m.||Mets 10, Marlins 2|
|Sunday, March 23||Atlanta Braves||1:05 p.m.||Braves 4, Mets 1|
|Sunday, March 23||Washington Nationals||1:10 p.m.||Mets 3, Nationals 1|
|Monday, March 24||St. Louis Cardinals||1:10 p.m.||Mets 5, Cardinals 3|
|Tuesday, March 25||Washington Nationals||1:05 p.m.||Nationals 7, Mets 3|
|Wednesday, March 26||Houston Astros||6:05 p.m.||Astros 9, Mets 6|
|Thursday, March 27||Washington Nationals||12:10 p.m.||Nationals 4, Mets 0|
|Friday, March 28||Toronto Blue Jays||7:05 p.m.||Blue Jays 5, Mets 4|
|Saturday, March 29||Toronto Blue Jays||1:05 p.m.||Blue Jays 2, Mets 0|
March 29: Mets Lose Spring Training Finale, 2-0
The Mets lost the last game of their exhibition season to the Toronto Blue Jays, but it was a fairly close affair. It was scoreless until the eighth inning, until Melky Cabrera knocked one out of the park off left-hander Adam Kolarek.
The two-run homer was the difference in the game, but the Mets offense was lackluster, accumulating only two hits on the afternoon.
Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was good in his five innings, striking out eight batters and giving up five hits but no runs.
Regardless, the performance didn't help him make the final roster, as he was assigned to Triple-A ball. Here's how Matsuzaka reacted to the news, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News:
I always knew there was a possibility I would be going to the minors, but with what I have been doing in the past few games, I have had confidence in what I am doing. But, I am definitely shocked at this.
March 28: Mets Competitive Until Bitter End, Lose 5-4
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at four, the Mets and closer Bobby Parnell surrendered a walkoff single to pinch hitter Ricardo Nanita to lose the contest in Montreal.
Jenrry Mejia looked great early as he allowed just one run via a Jose Bautista homer in the fourth inning, but things unraveled later as others took the mound.
Offensively, New York actually had a two-run lead at one point, highlighted by a RBI double from Daniel Murphy. Travis d'Arnaud added a solo homer later to extend the lead, but the positives end there.
Edwin Encarnacion stepped to the plate in the seventh and hit a two-run single off Gonzalez Germen to knot things up before the fateful finish in front of 46,121 fans in attendance to honor the Expos.
March 27: Nationals Shut Down Mets Offense as New York Loses 4-0
Jordan Zimmerman got the start for the Nationals against the possible Opening Day lineup for the Mets, but the home team could not score despite eight hits in the loss.
While Eric Young had three hits in the game and Ike Davis added two of his own, the rest of the offense did very little against Washington.
Besides the lack of hitting, the Mets should also be concerned about the health of Cory Mazzoni. The pitcher allowed one run in the second inning before being removed due to an injury, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN:
Mazzoni is likely headed to the minor leagues anyway, but he had the potential to play his way into the major league bullpen. Unfortunately, the latest setback makes this unlikely.
Although this was a disappointing performance, the Mets will get another chance when they compete against the Nationals on Opening Day.
March 26: Gee Brilliant But Mets Fall to Astros, 9-6
Dillon Gee did his job. The Mets just wish their bullpen could have done the same.
Buoyed by a seven-run seventh inning, the Astros came storming back from three runs down and held off a New York rally late en route to a 9-6 victory. Relievers John Lannan Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres each gave up multiple runs in the seventh, with Lannan struggling with control and the latter two getting pelted for hard base hits.
Three consecutive doubles from Carlos Corporan, L.J. Hoes and Matt Dominguez knocked in five of the seven runs, and later some small-ball plays added to the total. Hoes added an additional RBI in the eighth after the Mets rallied to get within one at 7-6.
The bullpen struggles ruined a sterling outing from Gee, the Mets' opening-day starter. Gee went six innings of hitless ball, striking out seven and walking just one. The 27-year-old righty was in command of all of his pitches and had little trouble with a lineup filled with Houston regulars.
"Outside of one base on balls, he was about as on—location-wise and stuff-wise—as you'd want to see," Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters. "He's ready to go. He's ready to open up. He's excited about it, and tonight he showed it. He's really working to get himself ready."
March 25: Wheeler Comes Unraveled As Nationals Crush Mets, 7-3
After what has been an up-and-down spring thus far for Zack Wheeler, the 23-year-old starter was blistered by the Nationals' bats in a 7-3 loss for the Mets.
Following two innings where Wheeler went unscathed against Washington, the righthander surrendered five earned runs in the third and was pulled after just 2.2 innings. Wheeler gave up a total of five hits while recording just one strikeout to go with three walks.
That start triggered a tough response form Tom Watson of Cause Wired:
As for any down time from seeing the division rivals again soon, Adam Rubin of ESPN shares that the two will meet yet again when the regular season starts next week:
While Wheeler struggled, his battery mate put together a strong performance that should have Mets fans excited. Travis d'Arnaud crushed a 2-2 offering from Stephen Strasburg in the third inning of the contest to get the first run on the board for either team.
Unfortunately, that run wouldn't hold for the Mets as they would get their only runs of the game in the same frame. After hitting a home run on Saturday for New York, d'Arnaud seems to have settled in heading into the regular season.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about the homer over the weekend with Marc Craig of Newsday, saying "Hopefully, it does get him to relax a little bit." Needless to say, it looks like Collins was correct about his young catcher.
March 24: Dice-K Deals As Mets Down Cardinals, 5-3
It's been somewhat of a blast from the past with Daisuke Matsuzaka reclaiming some of the brilliance that he showed early in his career with the Boston Red Sox during this spring with the Mets.
The Japanese starter has been working during the Grapefruit League to earn himself a coveted rotation spot when the season opens next week. After cruising through a start against the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, Dice-K might have given himself a great chance at shoring up one of those spots.
Matsuzaka went six innings, allowing one earned run on three hits to lower his ERA to 3.86 for the spring. After posting five strikeouts, Matsuzaka actually tripled his walk total throughout the spring with three, something he hasn't done thus far in five previous starts.
Keith Hernandez, a former first baseman for the Mets and current broadcaster, believes the Japanese starter has already earned the rotation spot over Jenrry Mejia, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN:
While Matsuzaka was mowing batters down, Daniel Murphy and Chris Young had great days at the plate. Murphy put together a 2-for-3 day with a double and two RBI and Young finished the day going 1-for-1 along with two walks.
Both players kept their averages above .300 for the spring and could be spark plugs for the Mets' lineup along with Granderson and Wright.
March 23: Curtis Granderson Drives Mets to 3-1 Win vs. Nationals; Split-Squad Falls to Braves, 4-1
Strong starting pitching gave way to a 1-1 gridlock between New York and Washington on Sunday, but Mets All-Star Curtis Granderson socked a two-run homer in the seventh off Drew Storen to break the tie and drive his club to victory.
Flashes of defensive brilliance in the infield were a great sign for New York. Daniel Murphy made a sensational, between-the-legs throw to put out Nationals phenom Bryce Harper on a bunt attempt in the sixth, and Miguel Tejada made a strong play at shortstop to help close out the game, per the Mets' official Twitter account:
The winning trend didn't continue for the split-squad, who fell to Atlanta 4-1 as its offense couldn't muster much against the likes of Freddy Garcia. However, the Braves deployed many of their starters and still struggled to fight off the Mets.
At least New York's A-team kept the tone upbeat as the end of spring training approaches. It's been a long process, but the regular season has nearly arrived, and the Mets are generating some nice form down the stretch.
Of course, it won't matter until the real games actually start. Until then, the Mets need to keep their eyes on the ball and continue making the most of this developmental stage before the 162-game grind. Monday promises to be a stern test against the St. Louis Cardinals.
March 22: Bartolo Colon Shines as Mets Defeat Marlins, 10-2
The Mets offense was hot, and 40-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon looked solid on the mound against the Marlins on Saturday.
Colon earned the win by pitching 6.2 innings, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out three batters for a 5.28 ERA. The remainder of the rotation looked good as well, as the two runs allowed by Colon in the fourth inning were the only runs scored by Miami on the day.
Offensively, the Mets got off to a fast start.
Travis d'Arnaud ripped a two-run jack to left field to start the scoring in the second inning. Not to be outdone, Wilmer Flores got into the action with a three-run homer of his own in the fourth inning.
Flores kept at it in the sixth, as he netted an RBI single. Colon wasn't just contributing on the mound on Saturday, as he followed up Flores' single with one of his own, bringing Flores home.
In the seventh inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuis scored on a wild pitch. Then, to add insult to injury, Ike Davis ripped a two-run homer during the same at bat.
The Mets are starting to heat up toward the end of spring training, which bodes well for the regular season.
March 21: Huge First Inning Lifts Mets Past Twins, 9-1
The Mets looked as good as they have throughout spring training on Friday. Bats were hot early in the game, and a great performance from Dillon Gee on the mound secured a blowout victory for New York.
Gee earned the win for the day, pitching 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out four batters along the way.
New York hit for the cycle as a team in the first inning.
Ike Davis and Andrew Brown got things started, as each recorded RBI doubles. Davis brought home two runners, and Brown allowed Davis to cross home plate. However, the Mets weren't done there.
Zach Lutz ripped a single to right, scoring Brown. Kirk Nieuwenhuis tripled just after on a fly ball to center, bringing home Lutz.
The inning was capped off with Taylor Teagarden's two-run jack to left field, concluding the seven-run scoring bonanza.
Not to be outdone, Lucas Duda ripped his own two-run jack in the fourth inning, which completed the Mets' scoring for the day.
Relief pitching was solid for New York, as the rotation did not allow another run over the final five innings.
This is exactly the kind of production that the Mets are looking for this late in spring training.
March 20: Walk-Off HR Lifts Mets over Braves, 7-6
Anthony Recker blasted a long walk-off home run with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth to steal a victory in Port St. Lucie. Braves reliever Eric Pfisterer got the first two outs before a walk and a single set up Recker for his heroics on a 2-0 count.
Zack Wheeler started for the Mets and went 5.1 innings, yielding two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out a pair and held his ERA at 1.69 for the spring. New Braves pitcher Ervin Santana opposed Wheeler for the first two innings and gave up one run.
Wheeler gave up some long shots early, but eventually settled down for a solid outing. Juan Lagares, who hit ninth in the order behind Wheeler, robbed B.J. Upton of a home run to bail out his pitcher.
Lagares was also hit by a pitch on the shoulder on a seventh-inning bunt attempt and was removed for a pinch runner, though he appeared to be OK after the initial cringing in pain.
New York got some timely pitching from Kyle Farnsworth. He replaced Wheeler in the sixth with two on and promptly loaded the bases. He then induced a come-backer to produce an out at home followed by a routine ground out to end the threat.
The Mets also committed three errors and played generally poor defense. SNY announcer Keith Hernandez repeatedly criticized Josh Satin for his poor footwork, and it allowed a run to score on Jose Valverde in the ninth, though Hernandez also labeled Satin as "sure-handed."
Ruben Tejada collected three hits on the day, which is always a good sign. Ike Davis made his return and went 0-for-3 as the team keeps its fingers crossed about him. Curtis Granderson went 0-for-3 as well, grounding into a double play and leaving four runners on base.
There was a loud "Let’s go Soup" chant for Eric Campbell, followed by a loud "Bring Soup home" chant after he doubled in the eighth with two out, his sixth two-bagger of the spring; then Andrew Brown struck out. Wilmer Flores pulled a couple of long foul balls out of the ballpark, drawing ooh and aahs from the crowd.
Braves outfielders B.J. Upton and Justin Upton each had a pair of hits and totaled three RBIs between them. B.J., who was also caught stealing, is looking to rebound from a brutal first season in Atlanta that saw him bat just .184.
With the win, the Mets move to 10-10 for the preseason.
March 18: Mets Defeat Tigers, 5-4
Here's something you don't hear often, the Mets bullpen pitched well to give the offense a chance to make a late comeback against Detroit.
Daisuke Matsuzaka started the game for New York, going five innings and allowing seven hits, four runs (all earned), two homers, one walk and five strikeouts. Four relievers combined to throw four innings of one-hit baseball.
After trailing 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Mets' offense came to life. Chris Young had an RBI double to center field. He's hit well this spring with 11 hits in 37 at-bats, so the Mets may have found something in center field this year.
A wild pitch by Detroit's Jose Ramirez with the bases loaded allowed the tying run to score in the bottom of the sixth inning. The score would stay 4-4 until the bottom of the ninth when Omar Quintanilla walked and was replaced by pinch runner Anthony Seratelli.
Seratelli stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday. Andrew Brown would end the game with a single to left field.
As far as regulars go, it was a slow day. David Wright and Curtis Granderson each went 1-for-4. Catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud went 0-for-2 with two walks and one strikeout.
March 17: Mets Fall to Marlins, 10-7
New York's St. Patrick's Day showdown with the Miami Marlins ended in disappointing fashion as the Mets were unable to fight back from an 8-1 deficit entering the eighth inning.
Zach Lutz's single would spark a five-run inning for New York in the top of the eighth, but it wasn't enough as Miami's Juan Diaz helped put two more runs on the board for the Marlins in the bottom of the inning.
The Mets would narrow the gap in the ninth, but were ultimately undone despite having the bases loaded with no outs. Carter Capps earned the save for the Marlins.
Miami's Henderson Alvarez picked up the win, his second of spring training, while Mets left-hander John Lannan took the loss, surrendering eight hits and five earned runs in three and one-third innings pitched.
With the loss, Lannan drops to 0-2 on the preseason while the Mets fall to 8-10-2 this spring.
March 16: Mets Defeat Cardinals 10-4; Split Squad Loses to Cubs 6-3
It was an eventful Sunday of spring training for the Mets, and even though they won over St. Louis, there was some bad news that emerged.
New York pitcher Jon Niese was tagged for two runs in two innings and didn't return to for the third frame because of elbow discomfort, per the team's official Twitter account:
But any doubt about the game's outcome was mostly erased in the top of the sixth, when the Mets erupted for three runs to take a 6-3 lead. The victors had 19 hits and plated four more runs in the ninth to discourage any aspirations the Cardinals had of mounting a rally in the bottom of the last inning.
Cory Vaughn led the charge for New York, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, including his first home run of the spring—a two-run shot off St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright in the second inning to give the team a 3-0 lead.
It was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Mets come out on top, but it may have been a Pyrrhic victory of sorts if Niese's injury issues persist. A lot will be determined by the MRI Niese undergoes in New York, and hopefully it doesn't reveal anything too serious.
As for the split-squad, the Cubs jumped out to a two-run first inning at Las Vegas' Cashman Field, which put the Mets in an early hole that they ultimately couldn't recover from.
The lead swelled to 5-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, where New York pushed back and got on the board with a solo shot from infielder Zach Lutz.
A two-run homer by Andrew Brown in the sixth sliced further into the lead. Chicago added some insurance in the ninth with its third solo dinger of the day. Carlos Torres struck out five in three innings but yielded the final run to Arismendy Alcantara. That gave way to Cubs closer Alberto Cabrera pitching a hitless ninth for his third save of the spring.
March 15: Mets Tie Twins, Defeat Cubs in Split-Squad Action
There wasn't much offense in the New York Mets contest against the Minnesota Twins, but Matt den Dekker was 2-for-5 with a run scored at the top of the lineup. Chris Young, batting third, launched his first home run of the season in the first inning against starting pitcher Scott Diamond.
Dillon Gee was strong in the first three innings of the game, holding Minnesota scoreless while surrendering five hits. He struck out three.
The Twins were scoreless until Vic Black came into the game and allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in just an inning pitched. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.
There was far more offense in the second game of the split-squad tilt against the Chicago Cubs. Wilmer Flores launched a home run, David Wright collected two RBI and Andrew Brown collected two hits and three RBI in the one-sided affair.
Bartolo Colon struggled on the mound, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4.2 innings pitched. The hefty right-hander has a 7.27 ERA this spring.
March 14: Marlins Defeat Mets 1-0 in Pitcher's Duel
If you missed the second inning of the New York Mets tilt against the Miami Marlins, you missed all of the scoring.
Jared Saltalamacchia hit a home run to give the Marlins the one run they needed to prevail in a pitcher’s duel. It was the first night game of spring training for both squads, but there certainly weren’t a lot of offensive fireworks.
Zack Wheeler started the game for the Mets and was impressive in his 4.2 innings of work. He did give up the home run, but he only allowed three hits and tallied two strikeouts.
New York did threaten in the third inning but ultimately stranded two runners with strikeouts from Matt den Dekker and Chris Young.
On the bright side, the pitching as a whole was strong. In addition to Wheeler, Scott Rice pitched a scoreless inning of relief and struck out two batters.
March 13: Late Outburst Fuels Mets' 7-5 Victory over Nationals
The Mets plated four runs in the top of the eighth and then two in the top of the ninth to earn a 7-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Daisuke Matsuzaka got the start for the Mets. He pitched 3.2 solid innings by allowing three hits and one earned run.
The Nationals plated their run off of Matsuzaka in the first. That 1-0 lead held until the fourth inning when the Mets tied the game at one after Josh Satin's double drove home David Wright.
The Mets were then held scoreless until their four-run explosion in the eighth. The Nationals, however, were able to take a one-run lead into the ninth after plating three runs of their own in the inning.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis knocked a two-run single in the ninth to bring the Mets to their winning total of six.
March 12: Cardinals top Mets, 6-4
The Cardinals built a 4-0 lead before the Mets could get on the scoreboard and a comeback wasn't in the cards for New York on Wednesday.
In typical St. Louis fashion, it found ways to manufacture runs in the early innings. Shane Robinson brought home a run with an RBI groundout in the first. Another run crossed the plate on a Tony Cruz double play in the second.
Juan Lagares and Brandon Allen had RBI singles for the Mets in the seventh. Andrew Brown had a sac fly in the eight, but the Cardinals had already pulled away. John Lannan pitched well for the Mets, giving up just two unearned runs over four innings with five strikeouts.
March 11: Mets Slip Past Cardinals, 9-8
A ninth inning homer at Roger Dean Stadium sealed the deal for the Mets on March 11.
Zach Lutz crushed the tie-breaking solo shot off of Trevor Rosenthal to give the Mets the 9-8 win in a game marred by frequent lead changes and deep balls that easily cleared the fences.
Pitching was the main issue for New York on the day. Starter Jon Niese gave up four runs in the bottom of the second inning while the Mets offense struggled to find anything more than a Josh Satin home run off of ace Adam Wainwright.
Overall, Niese allowed 8-of-14 batters to reach base.
After his offense pushed five runs across the plate in the fifth, including a three-run homer by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, reliever Jose Valverde surrendered two runs in the bottom of the frame to put the Mets in a 7-6 hole.
New York added two in the eight before Lutz's heroics in the ninth to give the Mets a semblance of momentum with John Lannan set to take the mound against St. Louis on Wednesday.
March 10: Marlins Rout Mets, 11-1, in Colon's Debut
Bartolo Colon looked sharp with three shutout innings to start his spring training debut with the New York Mets on Monday, but eventually unraveled in the fourth inning, setting the stage for an 11-1 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Colon is expected to play a huge role on the Mets this season after signing a two-year, $20 million deal, and with ace Matt Harvey recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 40-year-old Colon was deemed fit for action after battling through a calf injury earlier in camp, pushing back his spring debut.
The right-hander didn't ease in to the action on Monday, as he completed four innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and walk while striking out one.
The Marlins finally got to Colon in the fourth, when Ed Lucas hit a two-run triple and Jake Marisnick added an RBI groundout. But Colon stayed on the mound an eventually finished the inning himself.
Miami took hold of the game in the late stages, highlighted by a monster home run from Giancarlo Stanton that gave the Marlins a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning.
Then Miami tacked on four more against reliever Ryan Reid in the eighth inning, as the tough spring continued for the 29-year-old righty who was acquired via waivers this winter. Reid now has a 13.50 ERA in four spring appearances.
New York's only run of the afternoon came in the eighth inning, when Zach Lutz hit a sacrifice fly to score Ruben Tejada.
But the big takeaway of the day was Colon, who worked quickly and looked efficient before running into trouble in the fourth. More importantly, he made it through the start without incident, a day before Jonathon Niese (shoulder) also makes his delayed spring debut.
March 9: Mets Pour it on Late, Beat Braves 8-2
The early going of Sunday's contest had all the makings of a pitching duel. However, the Mets' bats woke up late in the game and put an end to the defensive struggle.
Brandon Allen started things off early for New York, ripping a single to to right and scoring Curtis Granderson for a 1-0 lead. Over the next 5.5 innings, the pitchers took over.
Zack Wheeler and Kyle Farnsworth were the only Mets pitchers to record multiple innings of work, tossing three and two innings, respectively. Wheeler allowed three hits and struck out three. Farnsworth gave up one hit and struck out one batter.
Miguel Socolovich notched the win on one inning's worth of work, giving up one hit. Overall, the Mets rotation looks solid and crisp so early in spring training.
In the eighth inning, the Mets bats finally woke up. Anthony Seratelli singled on a bunt and Matt den Dekker scored on a throwing error. Den Dekker wasn't done yet, ripping a triple to right and scoring two more runs in the process later in the inning.
Dustin Lawley, Kevin Plawecki and Brandon Allen were also credited with RBI's in the inning, as the Mets put up a total of seven runs.
The Braves were able to score one more run in the ninth; however, it was too little too late, as the Mets took this one with ease.
March 8: Mets Beat Detroit Tigers 3-2
On the strength of a ninth-inning rally, the Mets pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
Matt Clark’s pinch-hit, two-run double off Justin Miller gave the Mets the lead. Gonzalez Germen came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning and picked up his first save of the spring.
Noah Syndergaard’s second start wasn’t especially sharp. He was touched up for two earned runs on two hits. He had three walks, but struck out three in three innings of work.
Per Michael J. Fensom of The New Jersey Star-Ledger, Syndergaard struggled with his command, but flashed the potential that has the Mets so excited about his potential:
Even as Syndergaard continued learning how to, as he put it, be "more unpredictable" on the mound, he once again demonstrated the power of his right arm.
The team improved to 3-5-1 heading into Sunday’s clash with the Atlanta Braves.
March 7: Mets and Cardinals Play to 5-5 Tie
Credit New York for battling back in this one, because the reigning National League Central champion Cardinals poured it on early and often. St. Louis put up one run in each of the first four innings, methodically chipping away at the Mets' will, but a late rally salvaged a rare draw on the diamond.
While the game could have gone on to extra innings, managers on both sides decided to call the game after nine, per the Mets' official Twitter account:
Bad fielding was to blame for many of New York's early woes, because the Mets had three errors in the game. One came from shortstop Ruben Tejada, prompting Jonas Schwartz of SNY-TV to rip the 24-year-old:
Cardinals star Matt Holliday continued producing at a blistering pace in spring training, going 3-for-3 to boost his average to .889 and driving in two runs. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com notes how Holliday is in the running for the Grapefruit League batting crown:
But with two runs in the bottom of both the seventh and ninth innings, the Mets overcame that. Morale was boosted somewhat by the spring debut of perennial All-Star third baseman David Wright, yet he managed no hits in his three at-bats.
Anthony Recker and Andrew Brown each stepped up in the seventh with solo home runs to cut the deficit to 5-3. An RBI single by Wilmer Flores plated Recker in the ninth to pull New York closer before Eric Campbell drove home the tying run.
With runners on first and second thereafter, though, the Mets were unable to capitalize on the situation and convert it into their third victory of the spring. That is somewhat of a concern in the early going, as is the starting pitching situation. Although Daisuke Matsuzaka can't shoulder a lot of blame for yielding two runs (one earned) in two innings due to the aforementioned poor defense, he still allowed too much contact in conceding six hits to the Cardinals.
Carlos Martinez's three shutout innings for St. Louis were a stark contrast to Matsuzaka's overall performance, as New York seeks a better outing from promising prospect Noah Syndergaard against Detroit.
March 6: Mets vs. Astros Cancelled Due to Rain
As the old saying from Bull Durham goes, "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."
The Mets received a welcomed day off to rest after several straight days of baseball down in Florida. New York's official Twitter account gave a pretty comical confirmation of the news:
While the main stars didn't take the field, the "B" team did get some action in before the rain started falling.
Scott Feldman, Brad Peacock and Raul Valdes all toed the rubber in the few innings played between the Astros and Mets' B teams. As for any actual game action, Houston's official account captured this image of their top prospect Carlos Correa teeing off on a pitch:
Play will resume in the Grapefruit league when the Mets take on the Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. ET in Port St. Lucie.
March 5: Nationals 11, Mets 5; Marlins 5, Mets 2
In the first split squad day of the spring for the Mets, the team came away with just that—a split.
The Mets got things started against the Nationals with Jennry Mejia toeing the rubber. The 24-year-old threw two innings during the start, giving up just one run on one hit, two walks and three strikeouts.
While the potential fifth starter got into some trouble in both innings, he got out of a jam in the first inning by retiring Bryce Harper, as Adam Rubin of ESPN notes:
The 6'0", 205-pounder was dealing on the mound while first baseman Eric Campbell and third baseman Zach Lutz provided a spark at the plate. The two combined to go 3-for-7 with three runs and an RBI on the game as the Mets got things going offensively.
Unfortunately, the bullpen wilted down the stretch to allow the Nats to come back and pull out an 11-5 victory. Cory Mazzoni came on in relief during the eighth inning and was unable to get out after giving up five runs on four hits, including a three-run jack from Sandy Leon.
Meanwhile, in the other game the Mets used some late-game heroics from Matt den Dekker on a sac fly that scored Matt Clark to tie it up, 2-2, and head to extra innings.
That run was wasted, however, as the bullpen once again allowed a win to get away. Gonzalez Germen allowed three runs on two hits and two walks to take the loss.
Curtis Granderson didn't exactly put up the offensive fireworks that he did the previous day finishing 0-for-2 at the plate. But manager Terry Collins said the rest of the spring will be used to see the younger prospects while Granderson and David Wright will take time off, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News:
We’ve got to get started, just get some guys going. I want to start seeing the arms, some of the position players that we are going to take a look at get some at-bats. David (Wright) and (Curtis Granderson) are not gonna play.
None of those guys are going to play—I want to see some of those young guys.
Dillon Gee went out in 2.1 innings and gave up just one run on four hits. The projected No. 3 starter had a good day and appears to be on track for another good season after finishing last season with a 12-11 record and a 3.62 ERA.
March 4: Mets 6, Astros 2
Tuesday's game was a perfect storm of goodness for the New York Mets. In fact, if you are a fan of the team, this was the kind of game you hope to see a lot of in 2014. Of course, they won't be playing the Astros every day.
Zack Wheeler started the game, throwing three scoreless innings and giving up just two hits with no walks and three strikeouts. The only pitcher who struggled was Erik Goeddel, who gave up two runs on a homer to Jonathan Villar in the fifth inning.
As far as the offense goes, with David Wright sitting out today, it was on newly-acquired Curtis Granderson and star catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud to provide the fireworks.
Granderson connected for two homers today and drove in three runs. Another positive sign is his first homer came off a left-handed pitcher. The slugger has struggled to hit southpaws in recent years (.704 career OPS), so this was a sight for sore eyes.
In addition to Granderson's power, d'Arnaud continues to hit well by adding a couple more singles to his total and raising his spring average to a robust .429. Health has always been the biggest question for him, because when he's playing, there's nothing he can't do.
Another Mets prospect, Brandon Nimmo, got game action against the Astros and went 1-for-2 with a single while playing center field. He turned into an on-base machine last year with a .397 OBP at High-A but still needs to find more power to project as a regular.
All in all, this was probably the most complete game for the Mets so far. They got contributions from key players on the major league roster and got a small glimpse of what the minors have to offer.
March 3: Mets 6, Braves 2
It looked like they had found a way to blow it. Again. After losing each of their first three spring training contests, New York carried a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning, looked to be on the precipice of closing it out and then watched on as the Braves came storming back to take the lead.
First a wild pitch by Ryan Reid brought in a run, then an RBI single from Matt Kennelly pushed Atlanta ahead in the eighth frame. Kennelly's game-winning run batted in came on an infield single that shortstop Wilmer Flores valiantly tried turning into an out but couldn't. Everything that could have gone wrong did, and New York's disappointing start to the spring would only continue.
Then the floodgates opened. Down 2-1 heading into the ninth, Cory Vaughn hit a two-RBI double as the Mets' bats came alive in a five-run inning to come away with a 6-2 victory on Monday.
The ninth frame started with Andrew Brown beating out a throw for a triple. Dustin Lawley then sent Brown home with an RBI single and Taylor Teagarden reached base to make it first and second with no outs, both of whom were knocked through on Vaughn's double. Matt den Dekker and Eric Campbell also hit RBI singles in the frame to help cap off the first win of the Mets' spring training session.
More important than the win, though, was the performance of prized pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. The 21-year-old righty looked sterling in his first start of the spring, striking out two and allowing just one hit in two innings of work. Syndergaard, the Mets' top prospect according to Baseball America, stayed consistently in the mid-high 90s with his fastball and showed command beyond his years.
Per CBS Sports' Joey Wahler, even the Braves' hitters came away impressed:
With spring results ultimately being as meaningless as they come, the Mets' focus will and should be Syndergaard. Having barely spent any time beyond Single-A ball, it's unlikely they'll keep him in Flushing at the beginning of the season. But if he looks good the remainder of the spring and does well in the minors, you'll be hard-pressed to find many in the Big Apple who won't pressure the organization to call him up in June.
Either way, it was a promising first outing.
March 2: Cardinals 7, Mets 1
It was another tough day for the Mets, who fell to 0-3 thus far in spring training with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cards jumped on Daisuke Matsuzaka early with a pair of doubles in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, followed by a Matt Holliday double in the third off Jose Valverde.
The 33-year-old Matusuzaka is trying to right his career after a few tough seasons. Matsuzaka, who gave up one run on two hits and no walks in his lone inning of work Sunday, is a candidate for the Mets' last rotation spot, despite being on a minor league deal, as ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin points out:
On the hitting side, Curtis Granderson notched his first hit of the spring with a double in the first inning. Granderson finished 1-for-2 with the double and a walk.
In fact, for much of the day, he was New York's sole source of offense:
Danny Muno did deliver an RBI in the eighth inning to cut the St. Louis lead to 7-1. The Mets had just four hits on the day, though, continuing their early struggles with the bat this spring.
After Dice-K departed, the Mets did receive a few quality pitching performances. Steven Matz struck out two in a scoreless inning in his Grapefruit League debut, and Jose Carreno gave up one hit and struck out a pair in 1.1 scoreless innings. Carlos Torres also tossed a scoreless frame.
The Mets will seek their first win of the spring Monday against the Braves, where their quiet bats will hopefully begin to wake up.
March 1: Marlins 9, Mets 1
The Miami Marlins and New York Mets could very well find themselves battling to avoid the NL East basement this season, and while the result of their spring training game Saturday may not have any bearing on that, the Marlins struck the first blow.
Miami received production throughout its lineup to come out on top 9-1, but designated hitter Austin Barnes was the big star with two hits and two RBI, including a first-inning home run.
On a positive note for the Mets, Lucas Duda matched Ike Davis' home run Friday with one of his own. Duda and Davis are battling to win the starting job at first base along with Josh Satin, and Duda was able to keep pace.
According to Marc Carig of Newsday, Duda's homer was a gargantuan shot that surely got Mets fans excited.
Also, one day after both Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom did their best to stake claim to the Mets' fifth spot in the starting rotation, John Lannan made his case as well.
The veteran pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three, although he was the recipient of luck with some hard-hit balls finding his fielders, per Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com:
New York struggled to generate anything offensively for much of the day, but the big issue related to the performance of the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth allowed three baserunners and a run, which didn't help his chances of making the team as a non-roster invitee.
Also, Josh Edgin was battered in one inning of work, giving up five hits, one walk and five runs, three of which were earned.
The Mets' pen is very much unsettled, and Saturday's showing made life even more difficult for manager Terry Collins.
Feb. 28: Nationals 5, Mets 4
The Washington Nationals and New York Mets have developed quite a rivalry over the years, and that was on full display in the Nats' exciting 5-4 win Friday. The two squads were evenly matched throughout, and an RBI triple by Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor in the top of the ninth inning ultimately proved to be the difference.
For the Mets, the big story in this game related to the battle for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation. No less than six pitchers will vie for that coveted position, and two of them were absolutely fantastic against the Nats.
Rafael Montero got the start and pitched the first two innings. Not only was he perfect, but he showed impressive velocity as well, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com:
Montero was relieved by Jacob deGrom, who looked even better in his two innings of work. Per MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, deGrom punched out four of the six batters that he faced:
New York's lineup featured plenty of prospective starters, including first baseman Ike Davis. His struggles over the past couple seasons are well documented, but he got his spring off to an ideal start.
Davis cranked a two-run home run in the fifth inning, and the fans let their appreciation be known, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News:
Ultimately, it was a fantastic spring opener for the Mets. Montero and deGrom made their case for a spot on the team, and a handful of potential lineup stalwarts did some damage as well.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction for 2014 Season
Although the Mets certainly took their lumps during the 2013 season, the fanbase was seemingly energized by the emergence of starting pitcher Matt Harvey. At 24 years of age, Harvey started the MLB All-Star Game for the National League and seemed well on his way to a Cy Young Award.
But disaster ultimately struck.
An elbow injury forced the Mets to shut Harvey down for the remainder of the season before he underwent Tommy John surgery in October. That will keep Harvey out of action for the entirety of the 2014 campaign, although he is already able to play catch, as seen in this photo courtesy of SportsNet New York's (SNY) Matt Dunn:
Harvey was someone the Mets faithful could latch onto and root for during an otherwise painful season, but that crutch won't be available to them in 2014. Even so, there are plenty of reasons for fans to be excited about the 162-game slate that lies before them.
For starters, the Mets have already avoided disaster. There were concerns regarding projected No. 2 starter Jon Niese's shoulder, but it turns out that there is no structural damage to speak of, according to the New York Post:
With Niese now expected to be ready for the regular season, the Mets boast a formidable rotation that also includes the ageless Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and a player Mets fans hope is the next Harvey in the form of Zack Wheeler.
The fifth spot in the rotation is seemingly up for grabs, with Jenrry Mejia perhaps in the driver's seat, although a pair of hot prospects could assume that role at some point during the season.
Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard may not make the team out of camp, but they have a chance to impress manager Terry Collins and perhaps receive a call-up later in the year.
At the same time, Collins didn't rule out the possibility of one of the phenoms beginning the season with the big club, per Robert Brender of SNY:
There is a great deal of intrigue surrounding the lineup as well since this could be a make-or-break year for players like Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada. All of them fell flat last season with the exception of Murphy, and another poor campaign might force Alderson's hand next offseason.
Third baseman David Wright is obviously the anchor as always, but he needs some support in order for New York to take a significant step forward this year. Maybe that will come in the form of catcher Travis d'Arnaud. Although he hit just .202 in his 2013 debut, d'Arnaud has the potential to be a great run producer.
With that said, d'Arnaud's performance behind the dish may be even more important. In order for New York's young arms to develop, they must have confidence in who is receiving the ball. According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, d'Arnaud is already thriving in that capacity:
For many teams, spring training is just about going through the motions. But it is legitimately important for the Mets as the next generation of players prepares to make the leap to the majors.
There is no question that there will be some good things for Mets fans to hang their hats on in 2014, but with no surefire anchor in the rotation and a muddled lineup that will struggle to score consistently, a 70-92 mark seems realistic.
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