Renegades partner with sister club to benefit Charleston, S.C.

The Hudson Valley Renegades will autograph batting practice caps and auction them off on Friday and Saturday with proceeds going to the Lowcountry Ministries-Reverend Pinckney Fund.

The fund will benefit youth and marginalized communities in South Carolina. Rev. Clementa Pinckney was among those killed in a recent mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church.

The Renegades are owned by the Goldkang Group, which also owns the Charleston River Dogs, a Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

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Newburgh Newts looking for a new home 11 games into inaugural season

The Newburgh Newts may not be known as such for much longer.

Thursday, the first-year independent baseball team took to its Twitter account (@NewburghNewts), posting this announcement: “FANS: Games at Delano-Hitch Stadium have been postponed indefinitely. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The team, however, does not plan to fold and is currently searching for a new home.

The Newts were originally planned to be part of a new six-team independent league known as the East Coast Baseball League. Two teams based in Canada, the Niagara Wild and the Waterloo Whiskey Jacks, folded before the season began and the ECBL itself collapsed before a single game was ever played.

Newburgh, along with the Old Orchard Beach (Me.) Surge, the Watertown Bucks and the Road Warriors, a team with no official home base, banded together to form the North Country Baseball League.

The NCBL teams were planning to play a 66-game schedule starting in mid-May, but opening day was pushed back to May 29 and the schedule slashed to 50 games.

Newburgh was in last place with a 4-7 record before the indefinite postponement.

Delano-Hitch was home to two short-lived independent professional teams in the 1990s. The Newburgh Nighthawks called the stadium home in 1995 and 1996, playing in the Northeast League championship series in the team’s second year.

Following a summer without a team, the Newburgh Black Diamonds, playing in the Atlantic League, lasted just one season at Delano-Hitch in 1998.

Monday, the Newts offered free admission for “Community Appreciation Day.” Time Warner Cable News reported that there were approximately 20 fans in the stadium for the 2 p.m. first pitch, half of them parents of the players.

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A look ahead at some potential Renegades

It’s been too long since I blogged about baseball.

With the Hudson Valley Renegades’ opening day around the corner (the season opens June 19 at Aberdeen) the roster is starting to take shape as the parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays, pick players in the MLB draft.

There are still plenty of rounds to go – I’ll be updating this post throughout the week – but I thought it’d be worthwhile to take a look at Tampa Bay’s picks, especially the college players, to get an idea of who might be playing at Dutchess Stadium this summer.

Of course, some of these players may opt not to sign or may be assigned to another minor league team, so there’s no guarantee that these guys wind up playing for Hudson Valley.

Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred, left, helps outfielder Garrett Whitley from Niskayuna High School in Niskayuna, N.Y., put on his Tampa Bay Rays jersey at the 2015 MLB baseball draft Monday, June 8, 2015, in Secaucus, N.J. Whitley was chosen by the Rays with the 13th selection. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

First round

Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna H.S.

Whitley will almost certainly sign with the Rays after going No. 13 overall, but he won’t play for Hudson Valley this summer. In fact, if he excels in rookie ball this year he might skip the New York-Penn League entirely. But it’s possible he plays here next summer or the year after that.

Third round

Brandon Lowe, 2B, Univ. of Maryland, 3rd-year Soph.

Lowe was a big part of the Terps success this season, but he suffered a broken fibula in the final game of the season. As a third-year sophomore he was draft eligible, but may decide to return to school. Either way, his injury will apparently keep him off the diamond this summer.

Fourth round

Brandon Koch, RHP, Dallas Baptist Univ., Jr.

Koch was one of five closers nominated for the Stopper of the Year award. He went 3-2 with 14 saves in 26 appearances this spring and he’s striking out 15.91 batters per nine innings. If he signs, Koch could certainly be part of the Renegades relief corps.

Fifth round

Joe McCarthy, OF, BL/TL, Univ. of Virginia, Jr.

A Scranton, Pa. product, McCarthy would be a quick trip away on I-84 should be get assigned to the Renegades this summer. It might be a while before McCarthy gets here, as the Cavaliers are still alive in the College World Series after dispatching Maryland in the Super Regional. Through today, McCarthy was hitting .225 through 26 games, all of which were starts. He does walk more than he strikes out (20 BBs to 15 Ks) and he was a first team All-ACC selection as a sophomore. McCarthy missed the first 35 games of the season after undergoing offseason back surgery.

Sixth round

Benton Moss, RHP, Univ. North Carolina, Sr.

Moss was a 15th round pick of the Giants in last year’s draft, but he opted to go back to college. He was a first team All-Academic honoree this season, which probably explains his choice. He went 7-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 13 appearances this season and ranks second in UNC history in strikeouts and fifth in innings pitched. He’s only pitched 68 innings so far in 2015, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the Renegades’ starting rotation this summer.

Seventh round

Jake Croneworth, 2B, BL/TR, Univ. Michigan, Jr.

Croneworth has started every game in his college career, which also involved some time on the mound. He hit .338 over 64 games this season with 18 doubles and six home runs. He’s another player who drew more walks than strikeouts. He could be Hudson Valley’s starting second baseman (or a utility guy) this summer.

Eighth round

Reece Karalus, RHP, Santa Clara Univ., Jr.

Mostly a reliever – he did make five starts this season – Karalus went 3-6 with a 2.82 ERA and nine saves for Santa Clara this spring. He struck out 68 against 10 walks over 60 2/3 innings pitched.

Ninth round

Danny De La Calle, C, BR/TR, Florida State, Sr.

A college senior, De La Calle should be an easy sign and could get most of the at-bats as Hudson Valley’s catcher. He played previously at Miami-Dade College and played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Tenth round

Sam Triece, RHP, Washington State Univ., Sr.

A senior reliever, Triece should be part of the Renegades bullpen this year. He went 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in 31 appearances this season, three of which were starts. In 50 2/3 innings, he allowed 41 hits, struck out 59 and walked 25.

Eleventh round

Ian Gibaut, RHP, Tulane Univ., Jr.

Another college reliever with a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio, Gibaut had nine saves for the Green Wave this spring. He struck out 51 against 23 walks over 46 1.3 innings.

Twelfth round

David Olmedo-Barrera, OF, BL/TR, Cal State-Fullerton, Jr.

Olmedo-Barrera was a 40th round pick of the Oakland A’s following his senior year of high school, but he opted to go to college. He hit .328 with eight doubles, 10 homers and 45 RBI in 58 games this spring.

Thirteenth round

Nicholas Padilla, RHP, Grayson County (Tx.) College, Fr.

A Bronx native, Padilla joined one of the premier junior college programs out of high school. According to the NJCAA website, he went 1-1 over 23 2/3 innings this spring with 18 strikeouts and an 1.90 ERA (those stats could be missing some games, however). He could sign…or he could wind up at a Div. I school in the future.

Fourteenth round

Tyler Brashears, RHP, Univ. Hawaii, Jr.

The Rainbow Warriors’ No. 1 starter this season, Brashears went 8-5 with a 1.86 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 19 walks over 101 2/3 innings this season. He could go back to school but if he signs, look for him to come out of the bullpen as the Rays’ organization is typically pretty cautious about innings with young pitchers.

Fifteenth round

Ethan Clark, RHP, Crowder (Mo.) College, Soph.

Clark went 5-2 with a 4.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 62 1/3 junior college innings this spring. Another guy who could go pro or stick around in college ball with a Div. I team next year.

Seventeenth round

Brett Sullivan, SS, BL/TR, Univ. of the Pacific, Jr.

Sullivan hit .275 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 47 games for the Tigers this year. He played for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League last summer, so he’d fit right in talent-wise in the New York-Penn League. His older brother Tyler Sullivan was picked by the White Sox in the 14th round.

Eighteenth round

Landon Cray, OF, BL/TR, Seattle Univ., Jr.

A Washington State native, Cray’s uncle was longtime MLB first baseman Paul Sorrento, who ended his career with Tampa Bay. Cray hit .324 with 30 RBI and 40 runs scored in 50 games.

Nineteenth round

Porter Clayton, LHP, Dixie (Utah) State, Jr.

Clayton had previously pitched at the Univ. of Oregon, but transferred to Dixie State for his junior year. He didn’t play in 2012 or 2013 while he served a mission with the Church of Latter Day Saints. He was 5-5 with a 5.20 ERA in 15 starts this year, striking out 60, walking 36 and giving up 69 hits over 71 innings pitched. Clayton could be part of the Renegades’ rotation should he choose to sign.

Twenty-first round

Matt Dacey, 3B, BL/TR, Univ. of Richmond, Jr.

A North Jersey native, Dacey played high school ball at Don Bosco before redshirting his freshman year at Michigan. He hit .313 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI for the Spiders. Will he sign or does he hope the power comes back his senior year and he’s drafted higher in 2016?

Twenty-third round

Reign Letkeman, RHP, Big Bend (Wa.) CC, Soph.

An Alberta native, Letkeman went 7-4 with a 1.59 ERA this past season.

Twenty-sixth round

Noel Rodriguez, RHP, Paradise Valley (Az.) CC, Soph.

In 76 2/3 innings this year, Rodriguez went 7-2 with a 3.64 ERA, striking out 82 and giving up 74 hits. He is a Colorado Mesa University commit, but could always sign and wind up in Hudson Valley this summer.

Thirtieth round

Kyle Teaf, SS, BL/TR, Univ. of South Florida, Sr.

Teaf started nearly every game at shortstop over the past four seasons at South Florida. This spring, he hit .301 with eight doubles and six triples. He never hit for much power in college but is yet another guy who projects as a solid defender and someone who has a good eye at the plate.

Thirty-first round

Timothy Ingram, RHP, SUNY Old Westbury, Sr.

Ingram was the 2015 Skyline Conference pitcher of the year. He had won the award in 2014 as well. Ingram went 8-3 with a 1.82 ERA, striking out 92 and walking 20 over 69 1/3 innings. He looks like a candidate for the Renegades, although there’s a big gap between the NY-PL and the Skyline Conference.

Thirty-second round

Ty Jackson, RHP, Lewis-Clark (Id.) State, redshirt Jr.

A dual threat at Lewis-Clark, Jackson went 8-1 with a 1.76 ERA this year and also hit .322 with nine home runs and 54 RBI. Lewis-Clark won the NAIA championship this year, the 17th in school history. He has some college eligibility left, so he might not sign.

Thirty-third round

Collin Chapman, RHP, Lamar Univ., redshirt Jr.

Another redshirt junior, Chapman only made nine appearances this year, five of which were starts. He’s had some injury problems earlier in his college career.

Thirty-fifth round

Blake Butera, 2B, BR/TR, Boston College, Sr.

A team captain at BC, Butera is a Louisiana native who holds school records in at-bats (774) and walks (112). He’s another good defense, solid eye, not much power middle infielder in the Rays’ system.

Thirty-sixth round

Bryan Bonnell, RHP, Univ. Nevada-Las Vegas, Jr.

Played for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League last summer, so the talent is there despite his 1-5 record and 7.39 ERA this past season at UNLV. He gave up 47 hits in 28 innings in college this year.

Thirty-seventh round

Kewby Meyer, OF, BL/TL, Univ. of Nevada, Sr.

A Hawaii native, Meyer finished his college career ranked second in career doubles (69) and fourth in hits (273) for the Wolfpack. He ended his career as the active NCAA leader in doubles. Signing shouldn’t be a problem and his experience makes him a near-lock for a spot in the Renegades’ outfield this season.

Thirty eighth round

Steven Sensley, 1B, BL/TL, Louisiana State-Eunice, redshirt Fr.

Sensley hit .374 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI (!) in 57 games for Eunice, the NJCAA Div. II national champion, this past season. He’s got another year of JUCO eligibility left, so does he go back to school to try to move up in the draft and get a bigger bonus in 2016 or is he ready for the pros?

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Tanaka on the shelf for at least one month

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Well, this was inevitable.

The Yankees placed starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list Tuesday night with a sore right wrist/forearm. He’ll be shut down entirely for about 10 days, at which point the club will take another look. The hope is that this period of rest will allow Tanaka to return to the big leagues by the end of May.

Or it might be the precursor to Tommy John surgery for the Yankees’ high-priced ace.

In July of 2014, a small tear in Tanaka’s ulnar collateral ligament was discovered. He sat out most of July, all of August and returned to make two starts late in September. Rather than go for Tommy John surgery and get back to 100 percent that way, Tanaka has tried to pitch through the elbow injury.

Until now.

Who knows what will happen. Perhaps this time off will allow Tanaka to survive the rest of the season. Maybe he decides to go for TJ surgery after all.

Either way, his absence certainly puts a dent in the Yankees’ playoff chances for 2015. Tanaka didn’t look great in his first two starts, giving up five runs over four innings on opening day and and four runs over five in his second start, a game the Yankees won, 14-4.

But he’d been sharp in his last two outings, looking dominant in an April 18 start at Tampa Bay and taking a no-decision in a game the Yankees would ultimately win 2-1 in Detroit on April 23.

Without Tanaka, the Yankees turn to an over-the-hill CC Sabathia, the young and enigmatic duo of Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi and the Scranton/bullpen mix-and-match crew of Chase Whitley, Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers and Chris Capuano. For a team that’s struggling to score runs and play consistent defense, losing an ace hurts deeply.

If there is any good news here, it’s that the Yankees’ training staff is acting cautiously. Hopefully they make the right decision when the time comes, giving Tanaka an opportunity to be healthy and effective whether it’s next month or after the 2016 All-Star game.

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A Gee Thing

The Mets beat Miami last night, 3-1, on a 3-run Daniel Murphy home run in the top of the ninth.

That was the big hit, but the real key to the game was Dillon Gee, who went 7 2/3 innings, scattering one run on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts in the no-decision. Gee pitched into the eighth on 70 pitches. Carlos Torres needed one pitch to get out of the eighth and Jeurys Familia needed 15 pitches to record the save in the ninth.

The game was played in a very manageable 1:58.

Let’s take a deeper look at Gee’s start.

Here’s his game chart on BrooksBaseball.net.

Gee threw 21 sinkers, 20 fastballs, 16 sliders, nine changeups and four curveballs. He never hit 91 MPH, with his fastest pitches clocking in at 90.8 MPH on the fastball and 90.5 on the sinker.

What Gee did was pound the strikezone, with 57 of those 70 pitches going for strikes (81.4 percent). Despite going heavy on the slider and sinker, Gee didn’t record any double plays. He simply got ahead in count after count and let the Marlins get themselves out.

Throwing strikes by itself isn’t enough. Batters are going to catch on if you’re throwing to the same spots and Gee’s strikezone distribution plot shows that he covered all sides of the plate, as you can see in the chart below (from the catcher’s perspective).

via BrooksBaseball.net

And Gee has just enough variation in speed between the fastball and the sinker and the slider and the change-up that keeps hitters off-balance.

For a pitcher that was headed to the bullpen before Zack Wheeler landed on the disabled list, it was a more than promising start. The Mets get plenty of great “stuff” from Matt Harvey and Jake deGrom. With Gee and Bartolo Colon, they have guys who pitch above their stuff because they relentlessly attack the strike zone in a smart way.

There’s no way to no whether Gee can keep this going – and the fact that this happened against Miami in the Marlins’ expansive ballpark certainly is worth a mention – but for right now, their No. 5 starter is no slouch.

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Notes on the Subway Series & what’s coming up for the Yankees/Mets

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez hits his 659th home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees just took a 5-2 lead on an Alex Rodriguez double in the second inning of tonight’s rubber game in the Subway Series. The Yankees won game 1 and the Mets stormed back behind Matt Harvey to win game 2 on Saturday.

But here’s something to consider, via ESPN’s Buster Olney on Twitter.

Alex Rodriguez, following that double, needs one more home run for 660, 18 more RBI for 2,000 and 45 more hits for 3,000.

The only other player in baseball history to have at least 660 home runs, 2,000 RBI and 3,000 hits? Hank Aaron.

Barry Bonds and Willy Mays never drove in 2,000 runs, although Bonds was close at 1,996. Babe Ruth finished his career with 2,873 hits.

So that will be quite an accomplishment when A-Rod passes all three of those milestones. Of course, there’s the PED asterisk, but that’s a story for another day…

We’ll see how the rest of this game pans out (the Yankees cling to a 5-4 lead in the third as I write this…) but let’s take a look at the upcoming schedules for both of these teams and try to see if first place remains a likelihood for either.

Let’s start with the Yankees’ next five series.

vs. Tampa Bay (3 games)

at Boston (3 games)

at Toronto (3 games)

vs. Baltimore (4 games)

at Tampa Bay (4 games)

This could well be a period where one team emerges atop the AL East…or it could be a long slog of all of these teams beating each other up early in the season.

Say what you will about the collection of talent the Yankees have put together this year, but you can’t argue that this team has stayed remarkably healthy through the first month of the season. The pitching has been fine, or better than that, depending on your perspective, but aside from a few A-Rod hot streaks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, the offense has struggled.

That might not be a huge problem looking at the schedule coming up. Tampa Bay has a ton of players on the disabled list, so this might be a good time to play 7 games against the Rays before they get healthy. And Boston, Toronto and Baltimore don’t exactly carry top-shelf, ace-quality pitchers in their starting rotations. That’s not to say that these teams don’t have good pitchers, but they will be throwing out guys that are eminently beatable on any given night, so perhaps that’s the spark this offense needs.

This will be a key stretch for the Yankees. Maybe they surge ahead, maybe they fall behind. Most likely, they’ll be hanging around just as they are now, flirting with playoff contention.

The Mets are 14-4 through their first 18 games, a remarkable start for a team that was heading into the season with plenty of optimism.

But even the most die-hard Mets fan probably wouldn’t have predicted 14 wins by April 25.

Here are the Mets’ next five series:

at Miami (3 games)

vs. Washington (4 games)

vs. Baltimore (2 games)

at Philadelphia (3 games)

at Chicago-NL (4 games)

Aside from the series against the Phils, that’s a pretty killer stretch for this team, even with the success they’ve had against Miami so far.

With David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins all on the disabled list, can the Mets’ subs fill in adequately until those guys return? Highly-touted catching prospect Kevin Plawecki hit his first career home run on Saturday, so maybe he’ll be able to match d’Arnaud’s offensive production in the interim.

There’s also been some buzz that the Mets could recall second base prospect Dilson Herrera to replace a slumping Daniel Murphy. Murphy was hitting .145 heading into tonight’s game with four extra base hits in 18 games. Herrera, acquired along with Vic Black in the John Buck/Marlon Byrd trade of 2013,  is batting .364 through his first 15 games with Triple-A Las Vegas. Murphy is a free agent at season’s end, so the Mets may be motivated to trade him if they can find any takers – and find a replacement in the meantime.

Anyway, the Mets won’t keep winning games at a .778 clip for the rest of the season. The question is, when the inevitable slump comes, how bad will it be? How long will it last? Can they keep winning series, taking two of every three? This upcoming Washington-Baltimore-Cubs stretch should be a good test for this team.

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Mets riding 8-game win streak into homestand finale vs. Atlanta

Las Vegas 51s catcher Kevin Plawecki (23) celebrates after hitting a home run to tie the game against the Reno Aces during a Pacific Coast League conference championship series baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Well, it’s certainly been a very strong start to the season for the Mets, who carry a 10-3 record – and an eight-game winning streak – into tonight’s series opener against the Braves at Citi Field.

The Mets opened the season winning two of three at Washington before losing two of three in Atlanta. So far on this homestand, the Mets swept the Phillies in three games and just finished a four-game sweep of the Marlins.

There have been a few bumps and bruises along the way. Third baseman David Wright landed on the disabled list last week with a hamstring injury, but the Mets hope he’ll be able to return when his DL time is up.

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud broke a bone in the pinky finger on his right hand and is also headed to the DL. It looks like he’ll miss three weeks or so. Kevin Plawecki has been called up to take his spot and the indication is that he’ll get most of the time behind the plate with Anthony Recker sticking in a regular backup role. A first round pick in 2012, Plawecki has hit .292 with 26 home runs in four minor league seasons.

Reliever Jerry Blevins suffered a fracture in his throwing arm and could be out for about six weeks.

On a bright note, Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer have had strong seasons at the plate so far. Curtis Granderson is hitting .146, but he has drawn 12 walks in 13 games, boosting his on-base percentage to .340.

Pitching-wise, other than Dillon Gee, the Mets’ top four starters have been excellent. The bullpen, in a very small sample size so far, has been fine – and even that is a step up from previous years.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Mets can weather these injuries and stay afloat for the rest of the month, but right now, things are looking pretty good in Queens.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are 6-7 and in third place in the AL East through the early goings. Take out two blowout wins, a 14-4 triumph over the Red Sox and a 9-0 win in Tampa, and the offense has carried over its struggles from last season.

The starting pitching hasn’t been great, although Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda have been more than passable so far. CC Sabathia is 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA in his first three starts, but his peripheral stats (22 hits in 20 2/3 innings, 1 home run allowed, four walks and 20 strikeouts) indicate he still might be OK if he gets a little run support.

Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances have been excellent at the back of the bullpen, as expected, which is a good sign for a team that struggles to score runs. It’s perhaps a little too early to tell with the rest of the bullpen, especially after a 19-inning game against Boston will scramble the relief corps for quite some time.

The Yankees will play at Detroit three more times before they head home to host the Mets for a three-game set beginning on Friday.

It figures to be one of the more compelling Subway Series in recent years, and could be more so if the Mets keep winning the rest of this week.

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Mets lose Mejia to suspension

FILE - In this April 3, 2015, file photo, New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia delivers to the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning of a exhibition baseball game in Arlington, Texas. Mets manager Terry Collins was shocked to learn Saturday, April 11, 2015, that Mejia had tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol. Major League Baseball has suspended Mejia for 80 games. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

The Mets hit a speedbump in the season opener when closer Jenrry Mejia couldn’t come in to close things out when he couldn’t loosen his elbow in warmups. The club put Mejia on the DL and hoped he’d be back in a few weeks.

It’s going to be a much longer wait than that.

Mejia will serve an 80-game suspension for being caught using Stanozolol, a Performance Enhancing Drugs. Three other pitchers – Ervin Santana, David Rollins and Arodys Vizcaino – have been suspended in the last two weeks for using the same drug.

Should the Mets qualify for the postseason, even after Mejia’s half-season ban, he would not be eligible to pitch in the playoffs.

Mejia saved 28 games last year after making seven trips through the starting rotation coming out of spring training. So it’s a significant blow for a team with postseason aspirations. Jeurys Familia will fill in as closer for now and he picked up his first save in Sunday’s win at Atlanta.

Bobby Parnell is due to return from Tommy John rehab by some point in May. Will he get his closer’s job back or will Familia prove he’s the man for the ninth inning? And what happens when Mejia returns around the All-Star game?

In all, it wasn’t a terrible opening road trip for the Mets, who took two of three in Washington and salvaged the Braves series with a win on Sunday afternoon.

They’ll continue NL East play beginning with the home opener against the Phillies on Monday, the first of a three-game set. After that, Miami comes to town for four games beginning Thursday.

The Yankees conclude their dismal first week tonight against the Red Sox in the late game on ESPN.

Not only is the team 1-4, they lost a grueling 19-inning game to Boston that ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The Yankees had rallied to tie the game in the ninth, 16th and 18th innings. A Mookie Betts sac fly in the top of the 19th made the difference in the 6-5 Boston win.

So that’s put the pitching situation in shambles. Matt Tracy has been promoted and designated for assignment. Kyle Davies, the former Braves and Royals prospect, is now a member of the bullpen.

The Yanks are 29th in batting average at .193, 22nd in runs scored (17), and tied second-to-last in stolen bases (1).

Pitching-wise, the Yankees are in the middle of the pack in most categories, but the extra inning game and all of those scoreless innings can throw things off statistically one week into the season.

The Yankees have also made more errors (8) than any team in baseball. That’s through five games…when just about every other team has played six.

So it’s not been a great start at all for a team that was really going to need to have everything break its way for a shot to contend this year. Don’t count out the Yankees yet – there’s still plenty of season remaining – but Yankees fans certainly can’t like what they’ve seen so far.

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Harvey makes a triumphant return; Mets win opening series

New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) throws during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Matt Harvey pitched in an MLB game for the first time since 2013 and he certainly did not disappoint in Thursday’s 6-3 win at Nationals Park.

Harvey threw 91 pitches over six innings in which he allowed four hits, no runs, one walk and struck out nine. The results were impressive, but when you take a look at the raw data, it’s clear that Harvey is fully back on track.

Via BrooksBaseball.net, Harvey threw 56 4-seam fastballs at an average velocity of 95.9 MPH. He hit as high as 97.6 on the gun. He mixed in a few changeups and a few sliders and threw 10 of his 15 curveballs for strikes.

That’s just nasty.

In all, it’s a very positive sign for the Mets that their ace is back to the form that made him an All-Star in 2013. He’s not out of the woods yet. You can expect Harvey to be kept on a pretty strict pitch count for most of this season, as the Mets try to ease him back into the swing of things, especially during a relatively chilly and wet April.

The other great thing for the Mets is that they won the series, taking two out of three in Washington. It’s a long, long season, so it’s not a huge deal, but if the Mets have any intentions of playing in October, they’re going to need to take two-of-three more often than not. To win a series like this, especially with a short bullpen now that Jenrry Mejia is on the DL, is a positive sign for a team on the rise.

In the Bronx, the Yankees even their series with Toronto at one game apiece thanks to some wacky breaks late on Wednesday night.

The Yankees used a few wild pitches and a few hit by pitches for an eighth inning rally in a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.

Michael Pineda looked pretty good over six innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out six.

With Dellin Betances coming in to face the heart of the Toronto lineup in the eighth, Andrew Miller pitched the ninth for the save. So it looks like Joe Girardi really will mix-and-match those guys in the late innings depending on the matchups and the situations. It’s something that’s often been tried in the majors but rarely works. The theory is that relief pitchers like to have their set roles and get into routines, but both Miller and Betances have said all the right things so far about splitting the closer’s duties. We’ll see how this continues to play out over the course of the rest of the season. I think it could be a real plus for this team if Girardi makes the right moves and both of these pitchers are mentally up to the task of dealing with the unpredictability of their situations.

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Thoughts on opening day

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) delivers in the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York, Monday, April 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

I had a short column in today’s paper with my thoughts on yesterday’s Mets and Yankees season openers. Click here to read it.

Some interesting stats from Masahiro Tanaka in yesterday’s game. Not only was he battered around for five runs over four innings in a loss to Toronto, he only threw six 4-seam fastballs in the game. It was a pitch he had used about 20 percent of the time last season.

Is he staying away from the fastball in some way to help preserve that right elbow? Or was this a new strategy based on Toronto’s lineup? Tanaka was striking out some hitters yesterday, so the stuff is still there, and the Yankees’ defense certainly didn’t help his cause. I guess we’ll see when he takes the mound against Boston on Sunday night whether the fastball returns or not.

As for the Mets, Buddy Carlyle picked up the opening day save when Jenrry Mejia couldn’t go with some elbow soreness that appeared when he started to warm up. He’s the fourth player to get his first save at least 15 years into his MLB career. The others (via ESPN’s Jayson Stark) are Livan Hernandez, Frank Tanana and Jamey Wright.

According to the Mets beat writers today, Mejia had an MRI that revealed no structural damage in the elbow. So he’ll get a cortisone shot and looks to be day-to-day for now. It’s yet unclear as to whether he’ll land on the disabled list or not. Jeurys Familia would likely stand to get most of the closing opportunities in the interim.

Of course, Bobby Parnell, who blew the save on opening day 2014 and went for Tommy John surgery soon thereafter, is due back in the bigs by some point in May. It remains to be seen whether Parnell gets his closer job back or if Mejia or someone else is in the role by that point.

(Update): Just after I clicked published…word is that the Mets will put Mejia on the shelf for at least 10 days to let his elbow rest. So we’ll see if a thin bullpen hurts the club during these first few series.

Elsewhere in baseball…

  • Oakland’s Sonny Gray took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Texas last night. Ryan Rua broke it up with a single in the first at-bat of the inning. It looks like it’s going to be a long season for the rebuilding Rangers.
  • Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez hit two home runs apiece for the Red Sox in an 8-0 win over Cole Hamels and the Phillies at Citizen Bank Ballpark. Clay Buchholz looked good over seven innings for the BoSox.
  • Mike Trout hit a solo home run off Felix Hernandez in the first inning but the Mariners rebounded for a 4-1 win over the Angels in Seattle. Jered Weaver threw just one pitch that clocked 86 MPH or above, giving up eight hits over six innings.
  • Alex Rios went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI to power the defending AL champion Royals to a 10-1 win over a new-look Chicago White Sox team.

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    Will Montgomery

    Will Montgomery covers boys' soccer, girls' basketball, boys' and girls' swimming and diving, boys' lacrosse and baseball (including the Hudson Valley Renegades) for Varsity845.com and the Times Herald-Record. Prior to joining the TH-R in November ... Read Full
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