Chris Schwinden lasted only four innings and served up two homers in a game for the second time on the six-game road trip. Meanwhile, Manny Acosta, who combined with Schwinden to surrender an 11-run inning in Denver, also again struggled. As a result, the Mets lost to the Astros, 8-1, Wednesday and were swept in the three-game series. The Mets finished their trip 2-4. It marked the Mets' final visit to Houston before the Astros relocate to the American League West.
"I think that series in Colorado -- and it's not an excuse, because there's a lot of teams that have to play in Colorado -- but I think that series took a lot out of us," said David Wright, who went 4-for-10 with two walks in Houston. "And then, coming here, I don't want to say we weren't prepared, because we were prepared. We just didn't match the energy and the execution that we had in Colorado. You know, we knew we were going to have some ups and downs, especially with a lot of the young guys that we have on this roster playing right now. But this is what we need to fix if we want to become the team that we think we are capable of becoming. There are way too many inconsistencies right now. It seems like we play great for a series and then poorly for a series. And we're going to have to straighten that out."
Thursday's news report:
• Terry Collins offered no assurance Schwinden would remain in the rotation after a second straight underwhelming appearance in the spot vacated by Mike Pelfrey, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Tuesday. Mets officials have an off-day Thursday to sort through the options. In Schwinden's two starts in Pelfrey's absence, the Rockies and Astros combined to score 26 runs in those games. Wright did say that Schwinden was sick.
Jeremy Hefner, who tossed three scoreless innings during the doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants on the last homestand, would be one logical alternative. Miguel Batista is in the bullpen as a long reliever/spot starter and could always take over the role, especially since the Mets are going to soon need to open a bullpen spot for D.J. Carrasco anyway. Heck, Carrasco did log three innings for Class A St. Lucie in one rehab appearance last week.
• Chris Young may be ready in a month, but he is not scheduled to proceed to a minor league game for his next outing. Young threw a 75-pitch simulated game Monday. His fastball velocity was about 85 mph, according to one Mets official.
• Collins adamantly said last week that Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia are staying put at Triple-A for the majority of the season, not considerations to plug Pelfrey's rotation spot. And that's the proper call. Read my take here.
• Harvey's latest outing at Triple-A was cut short Wednesday because of a 23-minute rain delay. He tossed four innings, too short to qualify for the win in Buffalo's 5-2 victory against Syracuse. Harvey allowed two runs on three hits, two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 68 pitches (36 strikes). Newly installed Mets rules prevent a minor league starter from returning to the mound after a rain delay if he already has logged two innings. Writes Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News about the hoopla surrounding Harvey:
Harvey said he's trying to keep an even keel in preparing for each outing but is aware there's a lot more external noise in Triple-A. "You really do everything you can to not pay attention to it," Harvey said. "It's there so I'm not going to completely try to avoid it. You can bring it in a little and use it as fire to succeed and do the best I can."
"Matt just needs to throw quality start after quality start," [Wally] Backman said. "If he goes out there and does that eight or nine times in a row, it's going to make people wonder and think. But I don't think [a callup] is going to happen right now. It's still a learning process."
Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.
• Tim Byrdak and Astros slugger Carlos Lee jawed during Wednesday's game.
• Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley topped Kirk Nieuwenhuis for NL Rookie of the Month. Miley faces the Mets on Friday at Citi Field.
• Lucas Duda was due to return for the series finale in Houston after a two-game absence because of the flu, but the right fielder was pulled from the starting lineup shortly before the first pitch. Duda was limited to a pair of pinch-hitting appearances in the series. He walked on Monday and struck out Tuesday. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Record.
• Before his ties to the Mets, Rusty Staub originally played in Houston. Actually, the Astros first were known as the Colt .45s when Staub arrived in the majors in 1963. Staub actually will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's Astros home game, as Houston -- like the Mets -- celebrates 50 years of baseball existence.
Here's Staub's observation as the Astros move to the American League, severing the annual home-and-home series with the Mets: “In the early years the teams were always compared -- which city was going to be better in the long run,” Staub told Roger Rubin in the Daily News about the Astros and the Mets. “The Mets went for credibility with names, but Houston looked better with a group of young players like Joe Morgan, me, Sonny Jackson and Dave Giusti. We changed owners and all of us ended up getting traded. Then the Mets changed philosophies and went young with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, and it sent them to that incredible 1969 World Series.”
• Mark Winegardner in ESPN The Magazine tells the story of how Bobby Bonilla and the Mets came to strike that deal that now pays the former outfielder $1,193,248.20 per year for 25 years. He also discusses how Bonilla wondered about the security of future payments as Fred Wilpon and family went through the Bernard Madoff trials and tribulations. Writes Winegardner:
Last July, in her New York office, a financial planner by the exquisitely apt name of Jennifer Prosperino received her weekly call from a longtime client. He was a semiretired man in Florida who'd grown up evading gunfire in the South Bronx, where he'd lived in firetrap apartment buildings with junkies in the hallways. He slept with a baseball bat in his bed, dreaming of a better life. His first question for Prosperino was the one he always asked: "Am I going to be okay?" Days earlier, the client, employed part time by his former union, had received a check from the New York Mets for $1,193,248.20 -- the first of 25 annual, identical payments he is guaranteed from a club he last played for in 1999. That means Bobby Bonilla, 49, will make more money than 17 players on the Mets' Opening Day roster.
TRIVIA: Which player has the most homers in Citi Field's three seasons as a Diamondback?
Wednesday's answer: Art Howe's hitting coach with the Mets in 2003 was Denny Walling. Vern Ruhle served as the pitching coach.