Archive for the ‘Hisanori Takahashi’ Category

Mission Accomplished in The Tigers Series

June 25, 2010

I wanted a sweep.  You wanted a sweep.  We all wanted a sweep.

It would have been great if Hisanori Takashi showed up and was Terrific Tak.  I would have loved for David Wright or Ike Davis to come up with a hit in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.

It just didn’t happen.

Those are the breaks sometimes when you follow the National Past Time.

It would be prudent to keep in mind, the Mets accomplished their mission against the Detroit Tigers.  They won the series.  A sweep would have been icing on the cake.

Winning this series shows the rest of baseball that the Mets are a team that is going to be tough to beat, especially at home.

Besides winning series against divisional rivals like the Phillies and the Braves.  The Mets have shown they can beat the other division’s better teams.

They have series wins against the Yankees, Tigers, Padres, and the Dodgers.

I continue to be encouraged by how this team plays, no matter who the opponent.

Rueben Tejada Makes Me Say Luis Who?

I’ve mentioned in the past that the Mets’ defense is an underrated reason why they have had success.  Rueben Tejada has been an obvious upgrade at second base defensively.

He came up in a good situation.  Coming in to replace an injured player, I expected him to help out defensively and didn’t expect anything from him offensively.

Just like all the other Mets that have been called up to play, he has taken advantage of his opportunity.  He currently has an eight game hitting streak and owns a .260 batting average.

Tejada has also been able to cross home plate at a nice rate, thanks to Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan.  Rueben has scored nine runs in the thirteen games he has played  since his call up.

His play has caused me to forget about Luis Castillo almost entirely.  He is definitely going to make the Mets think twice about what to do with Castillo when he is ready to come back.


The Improbable Road Trip Continues

June 19, 2010

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Image

The Mets shut out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

That’s right.  You read that correctly.

The improbable road trip continues for the Amazin’s.  At the end of the game, I had the feeling that the Yankees were a bit shocked that this was possible.  I imagine that is a common feeling across much of the Big Apple.

Their current eight game winning streak (the last seven wins have been on the road) brings the Mets to eleven games over .500.

Tak Terrific Returns

Hisanori Takahashi has now given the Mets two consecutive solid starts.  His six innings of shutout baseball against the Yankees was impressive.

My hope is that this performance helps solidify his role in the starting rotation.  I have read the discussion about John Maine returning to the rotation, forcing Tak back to the bullpen.

Frankly speaking, this would be a mistake.  John Maine has had plenty of opportunity to be a main stay in the rotation.  I understand he has been dealing with injuries, but that’s life sometimes.

All The Small Things

At times we are all guilty at focusing too much on how David Wright performs at the plate.

We tend to forget all of the “small” things he does to help this team win.

He was one for five at the plate tonight but contributed in important ways that you don’t realize unless you watched the game.

Wright’s effect on the game started in the first inning.  Not much will be said about this in the media, but his slide at home on Ike Davis’ single to right field was tremendous.

Nick Swisher will never be accused of having a cannon in the outfield. However, he came up throwing quickly and accurately.

D. Wright was able to just swipe the corner of the plate as he avoided the tag of Francisco Cervelli.  The most impressive part of this play is that the throw clearly beat Wright.

People that have never played the game of baseball don’t fully appreciate the type of awareness and skill this play requires.  It was a demonstration of Wright’s pure athletic ability and his great instincts for the game.

At times Wright is error prone, but he has a knack for making the difficult chances at third.  His bare hand play  on a Jorge Posada chopper in the sixth was huge.  The bases were loaded and the Mets had a one run lead at that point.

Angel Pagan Delivers Again

It seems like it is becoming a daily habit to write about Angel Pagan coming up with a big hit.

His two run double in the eighth  gave the Mets two gigantic insurance runs.

The Emotional Pedro Feliciano

Jerry Manuel wanted this game in a big way.  He sent a message to his team by using Feliciano for two innings.  This move also sent a message to Feliciano.

Pedro responded in kind.  He was very impressive and showed a little more fire than usual in his performance.

As he completed the eighth, he gave a few primal screams and some emphatic high fives on his way back to the dugout.  This reaction even got me excited, and I’m over 700 miles away.

Franky Closed The Door Effectively

I’ve come to expect drama every time Francisco Rodriguez comes into a game.

Last night’s drama was not of his doing, however.  Manuel decided to start the inning with Raul Valdes as the Mets had opened up a four run lead.  Valdes was able to get the first batter he faced, but preceded to allow back to back singles.

Rodriguez walked the first batter he faced which brought up Derek Jeter.  I’ve seen a fair share of Jeter at bats in situations like this.  I have never seen someone frustrate him like Rodriguez did.

Franky was able to entice Jeter into a check swing strike out.  He than got Nick Swisher to foul out to David Wright behind third base.

It was a huge performance for Franky.

Three In A Row?

This victory puts the Mets in a great position to take their third straight road series.  They will have Mike Pelfrey going today and Johan Santana starting on Sunday.

Mets 3, Orioles 1

June 13, 2010

The Mets clinched their first road series win yesterday.

Hisanori Takahashi rebounded from two consecutive shaky starts with a seven inning performance, only allowing one run in the process.

Jose Reyes and Jeff Francoeur each homered in this game.

Francisco Rodriguez picked up his thirteenth save.

A Little Help From My Friends

This weekend is a busy one here in the Midwest, so I am going to pass you along to my friends for more insight on the game.

Metsmeried Online

Metszilla

and of course the Godfather of all Mets Blogs…..

Matt Cerrone’s MetsBlog

Jeff Francoeur Is Alive And Well

June 6, 2010

For a number of weeks, many people were in the process of writing Jeff Francoeur off.

Did Francoeur feel sorry for himself?

Nope.

He decided to keep grinding and now finds himself as one of the hottest hitters in Major League Baseball.

In his last ten games, he is batting a cool .500.

Today, he came up with a huge three run home-run that helped the Mets come back from a five run deficit.

Thanks to Frenchy and the rest of the Mets, the Marlins got themselves swept at Citi Field this weekend.

Comeback Kids

What a great way to get the series sweep.  Many teams would have laid down after finding themselves down five runs in the sixth inning.

After all, the Mets had already clinched the series win, so why bother?

The Amazin’s deserve a great deal of credit for fighting to stay in this game and eventually coming up with a victory.

This is a great sign of this team’s determination.

I wonder if this attitude will transfer to the road at  some point?

Wright, Pagan, Barajas Give A Little Help To Their Friends

David Wright collected another three hits today.  Feasting on Fish pitching this series has been very beneficial for him.

It was good to see Angel Pagan come up with a big hit and a multi-hit game today.  He was in a mini-slump and I hope today’s game is a sign he is out of it.

Rod Barajas scored three runs as he was two for four as well.

Should We Be Concerned For Tak Terrific?

Hisanori Takahashi came up lame for the second start in a row.  He wasn’t able to make it out of the sixth, after giving up a three run bomb to Cody Ross.

He allowed five runs on five hits and struck out six.

Tak needs to rebound soon, or he may find himself back in the pen.

On Deck

The Mets enjoy an off day on Monday before attempting to exact some revenge on the San Diego Padres.

Realistic Expectations: Updated

June 1, 2010

The first two months of the season have gone by in a blur.  Only one thing is certain for the New York Mets.

They have yet to show what type of team they have.

Some nights, they have flashed brilliance both offensively and defensively.  Other nights, the bats are stoically silent and the pitching is lack luster.

I guess that is the life of a .500 baseball club.

There are many questions that are to be answered by this team.

What are their strengths?

Starting pitching?  Offense?  The bullpen?

What can we expect to see from this team in the future?

Back on April 10th, I felt that a realistic expectation for the Mets would be to make the playoffs as a Wild Card Team.

There were too many hurdles to challenge for the National League East Crown.  The Phillies were too stacked in terms of starting pitching and their offense appeared to be as potent as ever.

What’s Changed?

Not much has changed with the Phillies’  pitching staff, but their offense seems to have regressed a bit.  This regression has allowed the Mets to stay within three games of first place in the National League East.

I also believed that Carlos Beltran would be back in June, and all the Mets needed to do was to play .500 baseball until he returned.

The Mets held up their end of the bargain, as they are guaranteed to have a .500 record going into June.

Beltran, however, is an enigma for this club.

His return date is anyone’s guess as he has been relegated to only jogging .  Once he begins sprinting and baseball related activities, he then would need four to six weeks to return to the lineup.

What Do The Mets Need To Do To Make The Playoffs?

Mathematically speaking, they need to win ninety games.  This means they need to go 64-46 in their last 110 games.

Impossible?

No.

The 2009, 2008, and 2007 National League Wild Card teams found themselves with .500 or below records at the end of May as well.

A continuation of quality starting pitching will help a great deal.

The Mets may have stabilized their fourth and fifth spots in their rotation with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi.

Jonathan Niese could return as early as Saturday to give the Mets a competitive rotation following Santana and Pelfrey.

Their bullpen has been quite the surprise this season as they have been a very reliable bunch.

Offensively, the Mets need the following things to happen to help this team produce some winning months this summer:

  • David Wright must cut down on the strikeouts and start hitting closer to his career average of .306.
  • Jason Bay needs to hit for more power.  Three home runs in two months will not cut it.
  • Jose Reyes needs to continue to by the catalyst for the lineup, as he has displayed in the last couple of weeks.

If two of the three of these key players can be productive, this lineup can produce the offense needed to get this team to ninety wins.

The less known Mets like Angel Pagan, Rod Barajas, and Ike Davis have shown they can contribute on a regular basis.

Is It Time To Pass Judgment On This Team?

I wrote the following at the beginning of the season:

No matter how difficult, it will be prudent to wait to pass any judgment on the Mets until June.  Some may consider this too early to judge at all.

In one humble  writer’s opinion, it is still too early to write this team off.

There is one important factor as to why I feel this team still has a legitimate chance to make it to the playoffs.

They have shown a great deal of fight throughout the season.  The twenty inning marathon in St. Louis is a game that many use as an illustration for this point.

If you examine all of their games, they rarely go down quietly.  They have consistently scored late in ball games to get closer or to increase their lead.

The Mets need this grittiness to continue.

It will be interesting to see where this team is at the end of June.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPORTSLEAK.COM

Tak Terrific

May 26, 2010

Much has been said about the last three spots in the starting rotation of the New York Mets.

Throughout the off-season, spring training, and the beginning of the season there have been many questions.

During most of this process, Hisanori Takahashi has quietly taken the mound when asked, and pitched effectively.

Takahashi has made the most out of his last two chances to start, and in one Midwesterner’s opinion, has earned a permanent spot in the rotation.

I don’t care if John Maine’s tendonitis is miraculously healed and he blows away the field in the minors.  Tak has shown he can be effective at getting big league hitters out.

Sorry Johnny.

Prior to Oliver Perez and John Maine’s latest issues, there was talk of Takahashi being given a chance to start.

I was always reluctant because I felt he was doing so well in relief.  The last thing I wanted to see was an unreliable bullpen.

Fortunately, Raul Valdes has emerged as a pitcher that is perfectly capable of assuming the role Tak left behind.

Tak’s latest performance included six scoreless innings with six strikeouts while allowing five hits.

The most satisfying stat?

Zero walks.

Jose Reyes Is Playing Like The Jose We Thought He Was

….having fun with the infamous Dennis Green quote never gets old.

One of the reasons why I love baseball is the game’s association with numbers.  Numbers rarely lie, so it is easy to see Jose Reyes continued his hot streak by going two for four with two RBIs.

One of his hits was his first home run of the year.

The numbers don’t paint the complete picture, however.

Reyes seems to be much more comfortable at the plate, and he appears to be seeing the ball better.  He is taking far fewer swings in which he looks completely baffled.

The Jose smile is back, along with the pep in his step as he moves around the clubhouse.

One could argue, that his recent streak has brought back the swagger that we all missed.

I hope it is here to stay.

Resting Rod

Gary, Keith, and Ron brought up a good point as they were doing the game for SNY.  At what point does Jerry Manuel have to think about resting Barajas more?

It is a slippery slope.

Manuel will be tempted to see how far he can push Barajas.

He has been their most clutch player thus far, and has demonstrated he has  much-needed pop for this lineup.  Barajas’ two run double in the sixth gave the Mets some much-needed breathing room tonight.

However, he is a 34 year old catcher that needs rest.  Manuel will be tempted to see how far he can push Barajas.

I Don’t Want To Hear Excuses About The Phillies Slumping

The Amazin’s have already accomplished what many didn’t give them much chance to do this week.  They have won back to back series against the Yankees and the Phillies.

I understand the Phillies have had trouble scoring runs.  I am a realistic person.

However, if the Mets were as awful as some believe, this would have been a prime opportunity for the Phils’ bats to wake up.

Mets’ pitches haven’t allowed that to happen, and they deserve credit for that.

On Deck

The series finale gives us the most intriguing pitching match-up as Mike Pelfrey faces Cole Hamels.

Dare I say break out the brooms?

Subway Series Similar Ten Years Later

May 22, 2010

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

What a difference ten years makes.

Kind of.

Ten years ago, the Subway Series brought us a Yankees team touted to win another World Series and a Mets team playing second fiddle, trying to show their big brother they could play.

The current edition is similar in both aspects.  The major difference is this Mets team is in a state of flux.

Their pitching staff is in shambles as they have lost or removed three of their starters from their rotation, and their offense is  not producing.

The Mets’ team ten years ago sported one of the best defenses in the game, and an offense anchored by Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza.

Blast From The Past

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Several of my favorite players from the 2000 team were on hand at Citi Field.

I was hoping Edguardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, John Franco, Benny Agbayani, and Turk Wendell could channel some of their confidence to this year’s club.

Unfortunately, the Mets came up a bit short on Friday, just as they did in the 2000 World Series.

Tak Terrific

Hisanori Takahashi is starting to become one of my favorite members of the pitching staff.  He has proved that he can come into any situation, throw strikes, and get hitters out.

The throwing strikes part is the key here.  It is very refreshing to have a starter other than Santana or Pelfrey challenge hitters with strikes rather than nibbling all of the time.

Tak Terrific shut down a potent Yankees lineup for six innings, including five strike outs.

Oops

The turning point in the game came in the seventh inning.

Normally sure handed Alex Cora, threw a ball into left field on a chopper hit by Francisco Cervelli.

This allowed Nick Swisher, who singled in the previous at bat, to get to third as Cervelli advanced to second on the error.

Side Note: 

Cervelli is wearing the oversized helmet David Wright sported last year due to a concussion.

When he hits, he is a dead ringer for Flinstones’ character, The Great Gazoo.

After the Cora error, Kevin Russo promptly lined a base hit to right field, driving in the only Yankee runs of the night.

Anemic Offense

The offensive woes continue for the Amazin’s.

They faced Javier Vazquez, a pitcher sporting an ERA over 8.00.  Somehow, they made him look like Nolan Ryan.  He struck out six Mets’ batters in six innings.

I have to give Vazquez credit.  He appeared to have great control.  From what I gather, walks were killing him.  Of course, he figures out how to regain his control against the Mets.

The only thing stopping him from a complete game was a bunt attempt that caught his finger.

Jose Reyes and David Wright continued their struggles, each failing to reach base.  Wright collected another two strikeouts.

Mini-Rally

Once again, the Mets mustered a bit of a fight in the ninth inning.

Jason Bay and Ike Davis were able to stroke back to back doubles off of Mariano Rivera, exciting the Citi Field crowd.  David Wright then promptly grounded out to second ending the game.

Ike showed no fear facing the legendary Rivera which undoubtedly raised his rock star status in Flushing.

On Deck

Big Pelf faces Phil Hughes in game two tonight.

Double Dip Turns Out To Be Pretty Sweet

April 28, 2010

David Wright

I don’t think Mets’ fans could have asked for a better result after Tuesday’s double header.  Two wins against the Dodgers, combined with a Philadelphia, loss catapults the Amazin’s into first place.

Game One (Mets 4, Dodgers 0)

Johan Santana battled the wind and pitched six innings of scoreless baseball.  The bullpen locked down the final three innings per their usual.

Offensively, we saw Jason Bay’s first home run as a Met that highlighted an eight hit day for the bats.

Game Two (Mets 10, Dodgers 5)

Bad Ollie was out for the night cap of the double header as he was unable to make it out of the fourth inning.  Perez was seemingly cruising until the wheels fell off in the fourth.  He gave up three walks in the inning including a four pitch pass  to Dodgers’ pitcher, Charlie Haeger.

Hisanori Takahashi  came in to save the day and dealt another 3.1 innings of solid relief, only allowing one run.  Mejia pitched a shutout inning and Raul Valdes gave up one run in the final inning of the game.

David Wright exploded with three hits, two of them of the opposite field variety.  He provided a two strike RBI single to put the Mets ahead 4-3.  He also drilled a three run triple to the right centerfield gap.  This hit sealed the game.

Ike Davis added his own three run double and Jason Bay added a triple as well.

Outlook

Out of nowhere, the Mets find themselves in first place.  This team is flat out dangerous when David Wright is hitting.  I don’t think it is coincidence that his breakout game occurred with opposite field hits.

I have been saying all season, that he appeared to be pressing.  Last night he took what the pitcher gave him, stayed on the ball, and had some great results.  Hopefully it can continue.

It will be interesting to see what  Jerry and Omar do with Oliver Perez if he continues to pitch this way.  We may find him in a John Maine spot, pitching to save his spot in the rotation.

Next up, the much maligned John Maine heads to the hill this afternoon to try to keep this current winning streak alive.

Mets 5 Larry & The Braves 2

April 23, 2010

The One and Only Mr. Met

Day one of the Jose Reyes experiment proved to be a success as the Mets picked up their eighth win of the year. Reyes contributed a double and a triple to the cause.

Pitching

It’s official.  John Maine is cursed.  He couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning due to spasms in his non-pitching elbow.  Seriously, who else would have to leave a game for something like this?

Hisanori Takahashi came in and was able to pitch three strong innings, racking up seven strike outs and only giving up one run.

The rest of the bullpen shut down the Braves and Francisco Rodriquez picked up his second save in as many nights.  Of course, he did so in true Franky fashion allowing the tying run to get to the plate before striking the final two batters he faced.

The Bats

Ike Davis hit his first career home run, a monster of a shot to right center.

David Wright made it two games in a row with a big RBI hit.  He actually missed a third big hit when he had to settle for a 405 foot sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

Jason Bay seemed to be swinging the bat a bit better tonight.  He was able to follow the Jose Reyes triple with one of his own.

Play Of The Game

The Braves botched an infield pop up as Brian McCann displayed his lack of understanding of the infield fly rule.

It all started when Larry Jones botched a pop up with Pagan on second and Castillo on first.  They both took off when he dropped/smacked the ball towards first base.  Brian McCann then threw to first as if he were trying to double up Castillo.

Pagan, better yet Chip Hale, took advantage of the confusion and scored from third as no one was covering home plate.

Reflection

Pretty solid win for the Mets.  They showed their grit by not allowing early inning struggles at the plate discourage them.

I become more confident in the bullpen as each game passes.  Hopefully, Maine and Perez will start getting into the seventh inning so they don’t burn out.

It was especially enjoyable to watch the fundamentally sound Braves come unhinged during a game.  Larry the Met killer was especially ineffective tonight.  Savor the flavor boys and girls.  We don’t get to see this every day.



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