Aug 29, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1974) Tug McGraw Pitches His Only Career Shut Out

Sunday September 1st, 1974: Yogi Berra's fifth place Mets (60-71) were nine games back at the start of September, but unlike last year there was no NL Pennant run in store this September. 

The Mets were the reigning NL Champs but were to loose their title in the next month. Tonight the Mets hosted Clyde Kings third place Atlanta Braves (73-61) in front of 33,879 fans. The Braves Carl Morton (14-7) went up against The Mets Tug McGraw (5-7).

In his Mets career, Tug McGraw made 36 starts for the club, most of them in the earlier part of his career. In the upsetting Mets 1974 season, the team needed help in the starting rotation at times & McGraw filled in making four starts. This game would be McGraw's only shut out of his fine career, albeit most of it was as a reliever.

Starting Lineups

McGraw scattered just five hits on the night, coming off the bats of Hank Aaron, Davey Johnson, Ralph Garr, Darrell Evans & Marty Perez. Tug walked just one while striking out three in the complete game victory.

Morton shut down the Mets, until the 4th inning, John Milner & Rusty Staub both singled. Then rookie Benny Ayala flied out to center field, Rusty Staub was thrown out trying to get back to first base but John Milner was able to score on the play. 

In the 5th, the Mets Teddy Martinez singled & McGaw drew a walk. Bud Harrelson singled bringing in Martinez. Felix Millan grounded out, but McGraw scored on the play making it 3-0. It was all the Mets needed for the win.

Aug 26, 2019

Mike Torrez: Early Eighties Mets Pitcher (1983-1984)

Michael Augustine Torrez was born on August 28th 1946 in Topeka Kansas. The tall six foot five right hander was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 at age 17.

Torrez went 10-10 at AAA Tulsa & would make his MLB debut as a September call up for the 1967 World Champion Cardinals. 

On September 10th, he pitched to one batter & struck him out in a 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next year he began the year with the Cardinals & went 2-1 but was sent down in late May. He went 8-2 at AAA Tulsa in the Pacific Coast League as the Cards won another pennant & lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

In 1969 the Cards fell to fourth place & Torrez filled in on a staff of Bob Gibson (20-13) Steve Carlton (17-11) & Nelson Briles (15-13) going 10-4 with the best winning percentage on the staff. He fell to 8-10 in 1970 & in June of 1971 was traded to the Montreal Expos for Bob Reynolds. Torrez would spend four years in Montreal, having two 15 win seasons.

In 1972 he Balor Moore & Bill Stoneman made a good rotation, but the team had no offense. Torrez won 16 games (9th most wins in the NL) going 16-12 with a 3.33 ERA. He struck out 112 batters, but also walked 103 in 243 innings of work. Torrez would be among the league leaders in walks allowed through most of his career.

He would also give up lots of hits & runs as well, although he was a work horse pitcher. Ten times in his career he pitched over 200 innings. He also walked 100 batters or more six times (leading the league three times) & gave up over 100 runs seven times (leading the league twice). He was known as a nibbler, not having the best stuff but a guy who would nibble away at the corners of the strike zone.

In 1974 he won 15 games, tying Steve Rogers for the Expos team lead & went on a seven year stretch where he won double figures. That year Torrez married a girl from Montreal & was hoping to stay put to raise a family. But it was not to be, manager Gene Mauch was tired of his walking too many batters & a trade was made. 

In 1975 he went to the Baltimore Orioles in a big traded that sent he & Ken Singleton to the Orioles for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins & a Bill Kirkpatrick.

 The deal was terrible for Montreal, as McNally retired in May, Coggins got very sick & was released & Kirkpatrick never pitched for the team. The trade was great for Baltimore, Single became an All Star outfielder & Torrez a top hurler.

He won twenty games (20-9) fourth most wins in the AL, posting a 3.06 ERA in 270 innings (9th in the AL) , while leading the league with 133 walks. He was part of another talented staff that included Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar & Ross Grimsley, but the O's finished second to the Boston Red Sox ending their six year run as AL East champs.

That off season Torrez was traded to the Oakland A's who had just won five straight AL West Division titles & three World Series (1972-1974). It was a monster trade at the time, sending Reggie Jackson & Ken Holtzman to the Orioles for Torrez & Don Baylor.

Torrez had another good year there, going 16-12 with a 2.50 ERA. He tossed four shut outs as well (4th in the AL). The only other starting pitcher left from the A's Championship years was Vida Blue who went 18-13.

After starting out 1977 3-1 in April he was traded to the AL New York team for Doc Ellis, Marty Perez & Larry Murray. There he went 14-12 helping the club to a world championship. It was his only post season appearance of his long career. In the ALCS he took a loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game #3 at Kansas City. In the World Series he was the winning pitcher in Game #3 at Los Angeles & the winner in Game #6 at New York.

That winter he signed on as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. He would spend seven seasons in Boston winning 16 games in each of his first two seasons. His 16 wins were 8th best in the league in 1979. He would finish second on the Red Sox staff to Dennis Ekersley both seasons. Also on the staff were Luis Tiant & Bill Lee, making up one of the league's best.

But it was a heartbreaking season in 1978 for the Sox, They fell apart, losing 17 games in the standings after holding a big lead in the AL East. They rebounded to come back & force a one game playoff after being down 3 1/2 games with 14 to go.

Torrez capped off the season, with one of the biggest blows against the Red Sox in modern history. It was Torrez who gave up the 7th inning, three HR, deep to left field over the Green Monster, to weak hitting short stop; Bucky Dent. Boston had been up 2-0 but were now behind & never came back. The Sox lost a heart breaker finished second & then third the next year.

In 1979 Torrez led the league once again in walks & earned runs. In 1980 he fell to 9-16 the worst record he had since 1973. In the strike shortened 1981 season he rebounded to a 10-3 record posting a 3.68 ERA. After going 9-9 in 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for a player to be named later.

Torrez joined the 83' Mets staff that included the return of Mets legend Tom Seaver, Craig Swan & youngsters Walt Terrell & Ed Lynch. Torrez made his Mets debut on April 9th, in the third game of the season, at Shea Stadium. Torrez gave up five runs in six innings, taking a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He lost to the Cardinals in St. Louis in his second start, beginning the year at 0-2. 

Torrez then made three relief appearances before getting a start on April 27th in Cincinnati. He went eight innings allowing just one run on three hits, earning his first win 2-1 over the Reds. In his next start he went nine innings, but without run support took a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Torrez was 2-6 by the end of May with an ERA over five. He had a good stretch at the end of June winning three straight games, including a three hit one run victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium on June 26th.

Torrez was a streaky pitcher that season, after three straight wins he lost four straight dropped six of seven. But at the end of August, Torrez won another three straight, beating the San Francisco Giants twice & the Los Angeles Dodgers. On August 31st, he pitched a complete game one run victory beating the Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela.

In September he went 1-3 to finish the year at 10-17, the most losses in the National League. He also topped the league in earned runs allowed (108) & walks (113). He pitched 22 innings struck out 94 & posted a 4.37 ERA.

Torrez began the year with Mets in 1984 but this was a completely different team, the pitching staff now had Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling & Sid Fernandez on board. Torrez actually got the nod to make the Opening Day start that season, taking a loss at Cincinnati. He was shelled for six runs on six hits, exiting in the second inning.

Torrez pitched into the six inning allowing no runs in his next start, but got no decision in the Mets 3-1 win. In that game, Torrez hit the Houston Astros young All Star short stop; Dicke Thon in the face with a fastball, fracturing his orbital bone almost ending his career. Thon recovered but was never the same player.

On April 21st Torrez made the start but was gone after allowing three runs in the 1st inning. On May 13th the Dodgers tagged him for four runs at Dodger Stadium, as he exited in the 5th inning taking a 5-3 loss. On June 3d, he pitched 8 innings & although he gave up ten hits, only allowed one run to The St. Louis Cardinals. But that day Dave LaPoint was better shutting out the Mets & Torrez 1-0.

On June 9th, Torrez got his only win of the year, beating the Expos in Montreal. By the end of June he 1-5 with a 6.30 ERA when the Mets gave him his release.

Torrez signed with the Oakland Athletics, pitched in two games ending his career at age 38. In his long 18 year career he was 185-160 (150th all time in wins / 119th in losses).

He had 1404 strike outs, 1371 walks (23rd all time), 1340 earned runs (69th all time most) allowed in 3042 innings (126th all time) over 494 games. He threw 15 shut outs, 117 complete games as well as 103 wild pitches in 458 starts (76th all time) & posted a 3.96 ERA. 

Retirement: In 2011 he was named General Manager of the Newark Bears as they began play in the Canadian American Association, but was fired that summer.

Aug 24, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (2005) Mike Jacobs Has A Slugging Start To His Career

Sunday August 21st, 2005: Willie Randolph's Mets (63-60) were in fifth place but just six games put of first place. 

On this day they hosted Frank Robinson's Washington Nationals (69-59).
Kris Benson & the Mets took a 7-4 loss on this day, but brought up a young rookie named Mike Jacobs.

Jacobs came to bat in the 5th inning as a pinch hitter for Juan Padilla. In his first career at bat he hit a three run HR off Estaban Loaiza. Jacobs would get the start the next day but go 0-4 in a 4-1 Mets win at Arizona.

Tuesday August 22, 2005: The Mets had a huge offensive night on this date, scoring 14 runs bashing out 17 hits. David Wright had a three hit night, driving in a pair of runs. Ramon Castro had a bigger night driving in five runs with two hits. That night two young Mets players Victor Diaz & Mike Jacobs both drove in two runs each.

Jacobs was now seeing regular playing time as Doug Mientkiewicz & Chris Woodwars were the clubs main first basemen. In the 5th inning, Jacobs connected with a HR off Claudio Vargas, a two run shot scoring David Wright.

Wednesday August 24th, 2005: The Mets exploded for their biggest night of the year this evening. They scored 18 runs on 20 hits, coming up with two five run innings. David Wright had a four hit, two HR night. Jose Reyes had four hits, a HR & drove in four runs. Kaz Matsui also had three hits, Ramon Castro drove in two more runs as did pitcher Jae Seo. 

The other big hitter that night was once again Mike Jacobs. Jacobs had four hits, connecting for two HRs, the first a two run shot off Russ Ortiz in the 2nd inning & the other  a 9th inning solo shot off Jose Valverde.

Jacobs had hit four HRs in just 12 at bats, impressing everyone with his power, and became the talk of the ball club. The Mets were on a win streak with him in the line up & got to within a game of the wild card lead but soon faded away.

Jacobs finished the year with 11 HRs in just 100 at bats & was being labeled the slugging first baseman of the Mets future. This didn't work out, that winter he was sent to the Florida Marlins for Carlos Delgado. 

He had a couple of good years; hitting 32 HRs with 93 RBIs in 2008, but injuries as well as set backs, has had him only play in seven MLB seasons.

Aug 23, 2019

Remembering Mets History (2019): Thor Shuts Out Tribe & Then Hammers Them on Social Media As Mets Sweep Series

Thursday August 22nd 2019: Mickey Callaway's Mets (66-60) hot on a four game win streak, fresh off an exciting walk off win & winners of 22 of their last 28 games, were going for the sweep of a some what struggling Cleveland Indians (74-53) team.

The Indians who were getting some slack from their fans had posted a tweet making excuses for their recent losses. In that message they referred to the Mets as a "fringe post season team". This did not sit well with Mets pitcher, Noah Syndergaard tonight's starting pitcher. Thor was opposed by Cleveland Rookie, Aaron Civale. In his first five games Civale had not allowed a HR, becoming the first Indians pitcher since the Dead Ball era to do that.

Starting Lineups

Both pitchers started out well, no hitting their opponents into the 4th inning.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Joe Panik singled to right field. Michael Conforto bounced a ground rule double to left field. 

Catcher, Wilson Ramos then delivered a double to right field, the ball went all the way to the wall as both runners scored, sealing the Mets 2-0 win.

Noah Syndergaard held the Indians down, not allowing a hit until the 5th inning. Overall in six innings pitched, he shut out the Indians, holding them to two hits with no walks & a strike out, before the rains came to delay the game. The game resumed before another rain delay ending it after eight innings. Jeurys Familia & Paul Sewald pitched shut out innings as well.

After the game Noah got to his tweet, letting the Indians

know how he felt, saying "wee got some fringe right here, its called a SWEEP in NYC.

The win gave the Mets their 13th victory in their last 14 home games at Citi Field. Cleveland now had lost seven of their last nine.

Aug 21, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Yoenis Cespedes' Historic Night

August 22nd 2015: Terry Collins first place Mets visited the Rocky Mountains with a weekend series at Coors Field in Denver.

It was to be a historic offensive night for the most recent Mets player Yoenis Cespedes who was acquired on the July 31st non waiver trade deadline. Since his arrival, as well as the additions of Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson & rookie Michael Conforto,  the Mets have become a true first place team. Tonight Cespedes had one of the biggest games of his career as well one of the best any Mets player has ever had at the plate.

Tonight's starters Bartolo Colon for New York & John Gray for Colorado would have a tough time of it and not factor in the decagons what so ever.

In the 1st inning, Cespedes doubled with two out for his first hit, he then scored his first run when Lucas Duda singled him in. The Rockies tied it on a solo HR by Carlos Gonzalez. In the 2nd the Mets had a huge inning, Kelly Johnson singled, Michael Conforto walked & pitcher Bartolo Colon was hit by a pitch. Base hits by Curtis Granderson & Daniel Murphy made it 3-1 New York.

Next up the star of the night Yoenis Cespedes hit a grand slam HR to left center field, it was his first of the night putting the Mets up 7-1. In the 4th inning Cespedes added his second of the night a solo shot making it 8-1 Mets.

But those pesky Rockies didn't let up, in the light air of Coors field they battled back to eventually tie the game, knocking out Colon in the 4th inning, giving way to Sean Gilmartin. In the home 5th, after Gilmartin gave up the tying run, Curtis Granderson made a fantastic double play throwing out Nick Hundley at the plate trying to score.

In the 6th inning, after Murphy walked, Cespedes answered back with his third HR of the night, another blast to right center field, it was his 23rd of the year.

In the 8th he added a double & a stolen base, scoring his fifth run of the night on a Wilmer Flores double.

The Mets went on to a 14-9 win, going up five games on the second place Washington Nats, the Mets largest lead of the year (so far). 

Cespedes' night was historic as he become the first player in MLB history to hit three HRs in a game, collect five hits, drive in seven runs, score five runs, & steal a base in the same game. His 15 total bases were the second most by a Met (after Edgardo Alfonzo 16) in team history.

His three HRs also marked the first time in team history that three different Mets players (Cespedes, Lucas Duda & Kirk Nieuwenhuis) have homered three times in a game. His seven RBIs are tied for third most in a game in team history as well.

Quotes: Mets Manager Terry Collins- "I haven't seen anything like that, He just continues to display some of the things that everybody says he can do. When you see it, you just shake your head because he's a special talent."

Trivia: In a bit of humor Cespedes said through his interpreter Ricky Bones (Mets bullpen coach), that Juan Uribe egged him on to hit a third HR by saying: "anybody can hit two HRs in this park."

Chris Capuano: Former Italian / American Mets Pitcher (2011)

Christopher Frank Capuano was born August 19, 1978 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Capuano was the valedictorian of his class at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass. 

He went on to earn a degree in Economics at Duke University, where he earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

The tall left hander was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 8th round of the 1988 draft. In 2001 he helped Team USA win the Silver Medal, but then had arm trouble needing Tommy John surgery the following year.

In 2003 he made his MLB debut with the D-backs going 2-4 with a 4.64 ERA pitching in nine games. The promising young lefty was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in an eight player deal that also sent Ritchie Sexton to Arizona. In 2005 he had a career year, going 18-12 (4th most wins in the NL), his 18 wins were the most by a Brewer pitcher since Teddy Higuera in 1985.

From mid June through the end of July he won seven straight decisions, while putting up a 11-6 record the first half of the season. He led the league in starts (35) posting a 3.99 ERA striking out 176 batters in 219 innings, while pitching three complete games.

Capuano has a fantastic pickoff move to first base, & had led the majors in pick offs in 2005 with twelve. At the plate he batted a modest .169 with 9 RBIs. In 2006 he became the clubs ace as Ben Sheets went down with injury, Capuano made the All Star team going 10-5 by the mid season break.

The rest of his season turned out to be a nightmare for him, going 1-7 finishing with a 11-12 record with a 4.03 ERA over 221 innings of work. In 2007 he began the year at 5-0 but then struggled losing his next 12 decisions.

In 2008 he had a second Tommy John surgery; and setbacks had him miss the next two seasons. He signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee for 2010 and when he felt soreness in his shoulder he was sent back in the minor leagues. In early June he made his first MLB appearance in almost three years, taking a loss at Florida to the Marlins.

On July 3rd he pitched in a game where the Brewers beat the Cardinals, it broke a streak of 26 straight losses, in games in which he had appeared in. Then on July 19th he earned his first win since 2007 pitching five innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Capuano finished the season at 4-4 pitching in 66 innings allowing 29 earned runs (3.95 ERA). In November he was granted free agency & signed with the New York Mets in January 2011.

Capuano made his Mets debut in Florida pitching the 7th inning of relief in a Mets 9-7 win over the Marlins. His first start came against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on April 9th. Although he gave up four earned runs over six innings he still earned the victory.

Capuano was up & down with New York, his worst enemy seems to be the long ball. In the subway series in late May he allowed four HRs (six runs overall) before being removed in the sixth inning. He had a quality month of June going 4-2 pitching at least six innings in five of six starts.

At the All star break he was 8-8 with a 4.12 ERA. In his next two starts he allowed four runs each time, pitching at least as far as the 6th innings taking a pair of losses.

On July 28th he beat the Reds in Cincinnati although he allowed six runs in 5.1 innings pitched helping the Mets complete the three game sweep.

In the month of August Capuano allowed six HRs & 15 earned runs over a four games span going 0-1 raising his ERA to 471. He beat the Atlanta Braves with his best game of the season, a two hit 2-0 shut out on August 26th at Citi Field. In that game he struck out a season high 13 batters.

He would go 1-1 in September finishing the year at 11-12  with a 4.55 ERA, 112 strike outs, 37 walks, 27 HRs (5th most in the NL) 94 earned runs (8th in the NL) & one complete game shut out. He was granted free agency at the end of the season, signing with the L.A. Dodgers.

In 2012 he made a fantastic comeback, having a great start going 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA  through July.

He went 2-7 the rest of the way, finishing the year at 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA.  He led the league in starts with 33 & his 13 sac hits were fourth most in the NL.

In 2013 he joined the Dodgers staff for the second year. He struggled as the team did early on, finding himself at 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA. In his best outing, a 7.1 innings of one run ball against the Miami Marlins, he earned no decision. By the end of the season he was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA, as the Dodgers went on a roll & won the Western Division.

In 2014 he signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox. He was used as a reliever going 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA before getting released on July 1st.

Three days later he signed a deal with the Colorado Rockies but then had his contract purchased by the AL New York team. He went 2-3 there the rest of the way.

In 2015 he went 0-3 in his first three starts allowing nine runs in 12 innings. He was summoned to the bullpen in May & was 0-4 into mid July with an ERA near five.  

In 2016 he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a relief pitcher. He went 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 16 appearances through the end of May.

In his twelve year career he is 77-92 with 1199 strike outs & 463 walks in 316 games pitched, with a 4.38 ERA.

Trivia: Capuano is a fitness freak who is in terrific shape. He met his wife Sarah Clifford, while at Duke University, she too is a fine athlete who was a contender for the modern pentathlon in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.