New Packed Citi: Mets off to fast start despite injuries
NEW YORK (AP) — One week of winning baseball from Matt Harvey and the Mets has created something new at Citi Field this season: noise.
Now they’ll try to sustain that early success without several critical players.
New York wrapped up a wildly eventful stretch of home games Sunday by holding off the Miami Marlins 7-6 for its eighth straight victory, matching the team’s longest winning streak in five years. But a 10-3 start has come at a heavy cost — significant injuries to captain David Wright, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins.
“We can’t let it affect us,” said Harvey, the All-Star ace who has won his first three outings since returning from Tommy John surgery.
With another large, thumping crowd on hand in a charming ballpark that’s often been desolate the last few years, Blevins and d’Arnaud both went down in the seventh inning Sunday. Blevins was struck by a line drive that broke his throwing arm, and d’Arnaud was hit by a pitch that fractured his right hand.
Each was scheduled to be examined by a specialist Monday, and until then it was unclear how long they’ll be out.
“Bad combo,” general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Prized catching prospect Kevin Plawecki and right-hander Hansel Robles will be called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to help fill in.
Wright strained his right hamstring Tuesday night, when Harvey’s first home start since August 2013 drew a revved-up, chanting throng of 39,489. The star third baseman went on the disabled list the following day and is expected back by early May.
Also sidelined are hard-throwing reliever Vic Black (shoulder), who just had a setback during his minor league rehab assignment, and closer Jenrry Mejia, who was on the DL with elbow inflammation when he got suspended 80 games for a positive steroid test.
Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler and left-handed reliever Josh Edgin are out for the season following Tommy John surgery.
“As we have done all year, we have to pick up the pieces and move forward,” manager Terry Collins said.
After opening 7-0 at home for the first time, the Mets have the longest winning streak in the majors and the best record in the National League. Unfamiliar territory for a team that has yet to win 80 games in any season since moving from Shea Stadium to Citi Field in 2009.
Next up, New York gets a day off Monday before Atlanta arrives for the final series of a 10-game homestand.
“Good time for it, to clear heads,” outfielder Curtis Granderson said. “When we come back here on Tuesday, we’re going to be ready to go.”
Here are some things to know about the Mets’ fast start:
PITCHING RICH: Led by a strong rotation, the Mets have issued the fewest walks (22) of any major league team. They struck out 40 and walked five in a four-game sweep of Miami over the weekend. Harvey, Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom are a combined 9-1. New closer Jeurys Familia is 6 for 6 in save chances. Buddy Carlyle and Alex Torres each contributed his first career save. “As you win games, you gain more and more confidence. And they’re playing confident,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “They have to feel good about the progress they’ve made.”
DRAWING CARD: The Mets drew more than 4 million fans in 2008, their final season at Shea Stadium. But attendance declined each of the first five years in cozy Citi Field before a slight jump to 2,148,808 last season. With higher expectations for 2015, three of the first seven home crowds exceeded 41,000 and two others were around 39,000. The team drew 40,000 fans only twice a year ago. “Every time Matt takes the ball, it’s a spectacle,” Wright said. “When this place is full, it’s rocking.”
TALK OF THE TOWN: Harvey is the biggest baseball star in the Big Apple now. Derek Jeter retired from the aging Yankees last year, and the rebuilt Mets finally boast a team on the rise with a core of emerging young players. So perhaps these Mets, obscured for decades by their crosstown rivals, have an opportunity to become the most popular summer show in New York again — a distinction they enjoyed in the 1980s, early 1970s and late 1960s. “I like our chemistry. I think the team has a whole different attitude about itself and what it’s capable of,” Alderson said.
FUNDAMENTALS: New York has faced all four of its NL East rivals and taken advantage of some shoddy play by depleted opponents. But that’s what winning teams do, and in past years it was the mistake-prone Mets giving away outs or at-bats. “We’re getting some breaks. We’re getting some hits when we really need them,” Collins said. “I realize it’s early. I certainly understand where we’re at, but you know what? The games count. The games count in the win column. Everybody thinks pennants are won in August and September. Maybe they are. But I’ll tell you one thing, if you win early, you’re at least in a dogfight.”
GOOD OMEN? The Mets have equaled the best start in team history. They also opened 10-3 in 1986 and 2006 — and won division titles both times.