New York Mets' Juan Lagares, center, is greeted by teammates after he scored on a single hit by Omar Quintanilla during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Mets have won two straight in Phoenix after getting crushed in the series finale against the Angels on Sunday.
That doesn’t mean they’ve been able to avoid injuries.
Curtis Granderson crashed up against the outfield fence in Monday’s win, won’t hit the DL. His whole left side is essentially bruised, but he plans to return to the lineup on Friday when the Mets begin a 3-game set at home against Atlanta.
Juan Lagares, on the other hand, is headed to the DL with a pulled right hamstring. Kirk Nieuwenhuis took his spot on the roster and went 3-for-5 with three RBI – including a 2-run home run off Bronson Arroyo – in his season debut. Nieuwenhuis might not be around for long, however, as Chris Young is due back from his stint on the DL when the Mets return to New York on Friday.
The Lagares loss is a big blow, not only because of the skills he brings defensively in center field. Lagares was hitting .314 with five extra base hits and seven RBI through 13 games. Granderson could play center with Lagares out, being flanked by Eric Young Jr. and Chris Young. Or the Mets could send Andrew Brown down to Triple-A and keep Nieuwenhuis as a center field option. Either way, losing Lagares really hurts the Mets, both in the field and at the plate. Chris Young will certainly get an opportunity right off the DL to prove that he belongs in the lineup on a daily basis.
Jenrry Mejia pitched well for the Mets last night, striking out three, walking two and allowing two hits over five scoreless innings, but he left the game early with a finger blister after throwing just 77 pitches. Gonzalez Germen followed with three one-hit innings in relief, and Kyle Farnsworth pitched a scoreless ninth to close the game.
The Mets made a move to shore up the pitching in the meantime – Bartolo Colon is also battling some back spasms – outrighting lefty John Lannan and recalling Diasuke Matsuzaka from Triple-A. The Mets say Dice-K will be used out of the bullpen for now, but he could see a spot start if Colon or Mejia aren’t ready for their next turn. With an off day on Thursday, the Mets will have some options when it comes to rotation rest. Lannan has a choice to accept assignment to Triple-A or elect free agency. Lannan didn’t pitch particularly well in a relief role this season and might have a chance to stick somewhere else as a starter.
Dice-K went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets last season. He was 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts for Las Vegas this season, striking out 12, walking six and allowing seven hits over 12 innings. He’s made just one relief appearance in his professional career in the U.S.
Dillon Gee faces Brandon McCarthy this afternoon as the teams conclude the series in Phoenix. Arizona, at 4-13, has the worst winning percentage in baseball. The Mets, 7-7 heading into the series finale, will have a chance to make up some ground on Atlanta this weekend. The Braves sit in first place in the NL East standings at 9-4 prior to tonight’s game against the Phillies.
The Yankees used Monday’s off day and Tuesday’s rainout to make some roster moves of their own. Catcher Francisco Cervelli landed on the 60-day disabled list with his hamstring sprain, forcing the Yankees to recall John Ryan Murphy as Brian McCann’s backup for at least the next two months.
Murphy really struggled in spring training – he went 2-for-26 with one home run and five RBI – but the Yankees’ front office has been high on him for a while. Cervelli was rumored to be on the trade block in spring training because the Yankees felt Murphy could be a contributor at the big league level. He played in 16 games at the end of the 2013 season when rosters expanded.
With Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts also day-to-day with injuries of their own, the Yankees sent reliever Shane Green back to Triple-A. In his place, they called up Scott Sizemore, formerly of Detroit and Oakland. Sizemore will wear Robinson Cano’s old number, No. 24.
Sizemore had some brief success with the A’s as a second and third baseman, but he’s twice torn the ACL in his left knee. He’ll help lighten the load on Jeter and Roberts for now, joining a crowded infield mix with Yangervis Solarte, Dean Anna and Kelly Johnson as well.
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka delivers in the first inning of the first game of an interleague baseball doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Yankees play a doubleheader today against the Cubs after Tuesday’s rainout. Masahiro Tanaka just pitched a gem over eight innings and Shawn Kelley is on to try to earn the save in the ninth. I’ll have more on Tanaka after the PITCHf/x results are posted.
OK, so the data is in. Tanaka threw 107 pitches over eight innings, striking out 10, walking one and allowing just two hits in a 3-0 victory. Through his first three starts, he’s struck out 28 hitters, a new Yankees club record. He’s walked just two batters through those three starts.
Tanaka is averaging 11.45 strikeouts per nine innings and has gotten a 50 percent ground ball rate, which is what you’d like to see from a pitcher with such heavy stuff as his. He’s also stranded 77.5 percent of runners on base.
The Cubs lineup that Tanaka faced today was pretty putrid, so it’s not wise to make too much of one start. Still he has faced a tough Baltimore lineup in Yankee Stadium and a power hitting Blue Jays team in Toronto in his MLB debut.
If there is one thing that’s been impressive about Tanaka early on, it’s been his consistency, even with this small sample size. He’s struck out 8, 10 and 10. He’s allowed 6, 7 and 2 hits. He’s walked 0, 1 and 1. He gave up three runs in each of his first two starts and held the Cubs scoreless over eight today.
I’m not saying Tanaka will strike out 10 batters per game all season long, but the fact that he’s been this consistent over three starts is a very positive sign that he’ll be competitive on the mound all year long. With the injury problems the Yankees have faced in the infield and bullpen this year, getting an almost guaranteed solid start every fifth day will be a huge boost for the Yankees’ postseason chances.
Michael Pineda pitches the nightcap at 7 p.m. against Chicago’s Travis Wood.