After sweeping the Rays at the Trop, the Mets returned home and found themselves swept by the NL Central-leading Reds. Chris Young surrendered three fifth-inning runs (two earned) and Cincinnati won Sunday's finale, 3-1, at Citi Field. Reds starter Johnny Cueto, shaking off in-game dizziness, limited the Mets to a bases-loaded walk to Young in seven innings. The Mets went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position during the series.
The last time Cincinnati swept the Mets: April 4-7, 2005 at Great American Ball Park, in the first series of the "New Mets," with Willie Randolph as manager as Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran also debuting.
Monday's news reports:
• R.A. Dickey opposes Baltimore right-hander Jake Arrieta in the opener to an interleague series Monday night at Citi Field. Perhaps the better matchup is Dickey versus Matt Cain, who is starting for San Francisco tonight against the Los Angeles Angels. After all, both are strong candidates to start for the NL in the July 10 All-Star Game at Kansas City.
ESPN Stats & Information guru Mark Simon notes Dickey enters the start with an eight-game winning streak, 2.20 ERA and a streak of four straight starts without allowing an earned run. The knuckleballer's franchise-record 32 2/3-inning scoreless streak ended in the ninth inning at the Trop last Wednesday when Wright committed an error, Mike Nickeas had a pair of passed balls and a groundout plated an unearned run. Cain, meanwhile, has a 2.18 ERA -- 0.59 in his past four starts -- as well as a seven-game winning streak.
PAIR OF ACES
A look at how R.A. Dickey and Matt Cain have performed during their current winning streaks -- eight and seven games, respectively.
Writes Simon in comparing the duo:
We’ll use Bill James Game Score, which is a scale that rates starts usually on a 0-100 scoring, based on a pitcher's innings pitched, runs, hits, strikeouts and walks. Cain’s perfecto is one of the rare starts in baseball history that surpassed 100. (He finished with a 101.) Dickey’s one-hitter last Wednesday was a 95.
Dickey’s average Game Score this season is a 64.7. He’s had five straight starts with a Game Score of 74 or better, the first pitcher to do that since Chris Carpenter had six straight in 2005. The only other Mets pitchers to run off five straight starts of that nature were Tom Seaver in 1975 and Dwight Gooden in 1985. Of Dickey’s 13 starts, 11 have rated above MLB average. (Average historically has been a Game Score of 49.)
Cain has Dickey beat in this area. His average game score thus far is a 66.8. He posted a Game Score of 96 in a start earlier this season and is the first pitcher with two starts in a season of 96 or better since Randy Johnson in 2002. (The only pitcher with three in the Live Ball Era was Nolan Ryan in 1990.) Cain has 10 starts out of 13 with a Game Score of 50 or higher, one fewer than Dickey.
The highest average game scores among NL starters:
Gio Gonzalez 63.0
Ryan Dempster 62.4
Brandon Beachy 62.0
• Jason Bay, who stayed away from Citi Field during the weekend as he deals with concussion symptoms, may be examined by doctors Monday. After a July 23 concussion two years ago, which Bay suffered at Dodger Stadium, the left fielder missed the remainder of the season. Terry Collins said "anything's possible" when asked if Bay might miss the remainder of this season now too.
“We are going to follow the doctor’s lead,’’ Sandy Alderson told Kevin Kernan in the Post. “We certainly are not going to push to get him back if it is not medically indicated at this point, particularly with the fact that he has a history. We have to be cautious and make sure from a medical standpoint. It’s a tough situation because he plays all out. He gives it everything he’s got. The results have not been what he would like, what Mets fans would like, but it’s really unfortunate that some people can’t separate the effort from the results.”
A fresh reminder of the gravity of concussions will be in the visitors' dugout during the upcoming series. Brian Roberts returned last week after missing nearly 13 months with the effects of concussions. Eduardo A. Encina in the Baltimore Sun writes:
[Dr. Michael] Collins said Roberts’ return is a major success story when it comes to concussions. When he first began working with Roberts, the goal wasn’t a return to big leagues. It was making sure Roberts could live out his daily life without suffering from concussion symptoms -- among them the headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue that Roberts overcame during his recovery. “I think anybody who knows Brian knows how badly he wanted to get back to playing,” said Collins, who played college baseball at Southern Maine. “But we didn’t even think about that until months into it. It’s a hard injury for someone to go through. Everyone thinks, well 13 months is a long time, but actually I’ve got to tell you, it’s a good outcome. To get him back to playing, not every athlete that goes through what Brian went through gets back to playing. A lot of players who’ve gone through what he’s gone through have had to hang them up. He persevered through it.”
• Ruben Tejada is scheduled to make a second attempt at a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Monday night. His first try two weeks ago was abandoned when Tejada had a recurrence of trouble with the right quadriceps, which originally sent him to the DL. Ronny Cedeño (calf) has now played three rehab games with the Bisons, all manning shortstop. He went 1-for-4 Sunday and is now 2-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts with the Triple-A club. Collins has estimated a midweek activation from the DL for Cedeño.
• Collins had an easy explanation for sending Scott Hairston to pinch hit for Ike Davis in the eighth inning Sunday against left-hander Sean Marshall with two men on base, even though Davis -- whose average has climbed to .194 thanks to an eight-game hitting streak -- has started to heat up. Hairston grounded out, but there is no question he mashes left-handed pitching. He is hitting .338 with seven homers in 74 at-bats against southpaws even after Sunday's unsuccessful matchup against Marshall. Davis similarly had been replaced for a pinch-hitter Friday, against nasty southpaw Aroldis Chapman. Read more in Newsday.
• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post reviews the all-time Mets team selected for SNY by a panel of experts, which included him. The winners:
Mike Piazza, c
Keith Hernandez, 1b
Edgardo Alfonzo, 2b
Jose Reyes, ss
Cleon Jones, lf
Darryl Strawberry, rf
Tom Seaver, rhs
Jerry Koosman, lhs
Roger McDowell, rhr
Tug McGraw, lhr
Davey Johnson, manager
On Beltran, Vaccaro writes:
Oh, this is surely where we’ll hear some backlash from backers of Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra and Tommie Agee, but Beltran was the most complete everyday player the Mets ever had, his seven-year stats dwarf Dykstra’s and Mookie’s, and though Agee should be remembered fondly as a core member of the ’69 Miracle boys, he had just three average to above-average seasons with the Mets.
The show will be televised Thursday night on SNY. Read more in the Daily News.
• Young, who has returned from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder, was pleased with exceeding 100 pitches in back-to-back starts while working on standard rest in Sunday's outing. Young actually was tagged with his first loss since June 14, 2009. Of course, he has made only 11 major league starts over the past three seasons. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.
• Right-hander Collin McHugh, a sleeper but legitimate prospect scouts compare with Dillon Gee, was promoted from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo and will make his Triple-A debut Monday for the Bisons at Norfolk. In 30 Double-A appearances (28 starts) over roughly a calendar year, McHugh went 13-7 with a 2.68 ERA. He takes the rotation spot of now-reliever Jenrry Mejia. "He was legitimately our best starter, most consistent starter in the second half of the season last year," Wally Backman, who managed McHugh in Double-A last season, told Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News. "And that was with a couple other big boys there too [Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia]. He knows how to pitch. He's not a power guy, but he can sink it, he can cut it, make the ball do things."
• Mejia had a rough second appearance since a move to the bullpen as Pawtucket beat Buffalo, 6-1. He faced five batters and allowed two hits, a walk and hit a batter. Mejia also had a wild pitch. "Command was definitely an issue," Backman told Harrington. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.
• The Brooklyn Cyclones open their season tonight at Coney Island against the Staten Island Yankees. The roster includes 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo, a high school outfielder from Wyoming, as well as this month's supplemental first-round pick, Purdue catcher Kevin Plawecki. Read more in the Daily News.
• Seaver discussed Johan Santana's no-hitter with Stephen Hayes in Newsday.
• Mark Hale in the Post notes Daniel Murphy's power has been absent all season as well as the second baseman's recent overall production. Murphy is hitting .148 since June 4 with no walks and two extra-base hits in 50 plate appearances. His average has slipped to .274 as well. Writes Hale:
Murphy’s last homer was back on last July 16 -- he has gone 338 at-bats and 364 plate appearances since going deep, which is absolutely staggering. “Just not centering the ball enough,” Murphy said.
TRIVIA: Who were the Game 1 starters when the Mets faced the Orioles in the 1969 World Series?
Sunday's answer: The last Met to start an All-Star Game: Dwight Gooden, in 1988. Gooden started opposite the AL's Frank Viola at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.