CHICAGO -- Terry Collins said he was without explanation after the Mets had a second straight sloppy performance at Wrigley Field and lost to the Cubs, 5-3, Tuesday night. Since winning Friday's Subway Series opener, the Mets have lost four straight. Now, Jon Niese (5-3, 3.75 ERA) must outduel right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34) in the 2:20 p.m. ET finale for the Mets to avoid getting swept in a three-game series in Chicago for the first time since 2004.
Wednesday's news reports:
• Upset with an apparently missed call at first base on a pickoff attempt, Ike Davis' glove made contact with first-base ump Manny Gonzalez's left arm as Davis began to argue in the eighth innning. Davis was ejected and faces a fine and potential suspension.
• Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post about Tuesday's defeat:
This is still a young, developing team, and Collins knows he needs to push different buttons at different times. Yet this is a club that had itself believing it would contend for the duration of the summer. That belief must fuel a Mets resurgence now. The team has enjoyed enough time to rest, even with today’s day game following a night game. “There’s all kind of different elements. Travel is one of them,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before the game. “The bottom line is, you have to do it. Day games after night games. You build your roster around people that can handle all of that stuff.Once you get between the lines, you don’t know that you’re traveling or flying or whatever.”
• Jenrry Mejia again struggled in a bullpen role with Buffalo on Tuesday night. Now, Mejia should be heading back to starting duty in the minors to try to get him on track, even though he still projects as a major league reliever. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.
• David Wright lost a 15-game hitting streak Tuesday, but Wright (2,687,818 votes) comfortably leads runner-up Pablo Sandoval (2,223,269) of San Francisco in NL All-Star balloting. Online voting closes Thursday at 11:59 p.m., so Wright appears a virtual lock to be the National League's starting third baseman. Wright made five straight All-Star squads, four as a starter, from 2006 through 2010. The streak ended last year when he missed two months with a stress fracture in his lower back.
• Brian Costa in the Journal gets Ed Kranepool's reaction to Wright being destined to break his franchise career hit record. After going hitless Tuesday, Wright remained at 1,340 hits in nine seasons as a Met. Kranepool, in 18 seasons, accumulated 1,418 hits. "If anybody's going to do it, I'm glad it's David Wright, because he's a real gentleman and a class act," Kranepool told Costa. "He's the marquee player of the Mets. He's their Derek Jeter." Kranepool will retain one franchise record for a while. He logged 1,853 games as a Met from 1962 through '79. Wright is only at 1,177.
• Daniel Murphy has not been in the starting lineup the past four times the Mets have faced a left-handed starter, but he may face former teammate Chris Capuano on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
Regarding Murphy's struggles, Mike Kerwick in the Record writes:
He tries not to let frustration bubble. And he said he doesn’t worry that his diminished production will force the Mets to deal him elsewhere. "It would be tough to trade someone when their value’s down," Murphy said. "You’re not going to get a whole lot of return on your investment if they move me and I’m not swinging the bat well. So I’d say no." ... But Collins continues to use Murphy sparingly against lefties, a tweak from earlier this season when he was an every-game guy. If that bothers Murphy, he isn’t showing it. "No, man," Murphy said. "Ronny’s playing well. I can’t be frustrated when the person in there is swinging the bat so well. I think Ronny against lefties right now gives us the best chance to win."
• Newly promoted left-hander Justin Hampson reflects to Anthony Rieber in Newsday about the southpaw's time with the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League. Hampson pitched for the Ducks in 2009, then four games the following season as well before shoulder woes sidetracked him. "I had a great time there," Hampson told Rieber. "I wish I would have not had the shoulder flare up and had a longer experience there. It was a good time. Buddy Harrelson was there. It was surreal to see him. Dave LaPoint was the manager there. It was cool. The crowd was -- they really pack it in there. It's a cool stadium and a good experience. First time I'd been in the New York area." Read more in the Record.
• Tim Rohan in the Times profiles 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo, who was drafted 13th overall out of high school in Wyoming. Nimmo went 0-for-3 Tuesday for the Brooklyn Cyclones as his average slipped to .167 after nine New York-Penn League games, but he walked for the 11th time and has a healthy .405 on-base percentage. Writes Rohan:
But in a family raised on bulls, perhaps no one loved bull riding more than 7-year-old Brandon. His bedroom walls were decorated with posters of his favorite bulls, Bodacious, Mister T and Red Rock, each with his own signature face-flattening routine. Brandon continually watched the movie “8 Seconds,” which told the story of Lane Frost, an up-and-coming star killed during the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in 1989. For years, [father] Ron Nimmo worked for the Frontier Days, and Brandon could hang out near where the bulls were kept, to feed them, pet them. When Ron Nimmo came home from work, Brandon would put a dog leash around his father’s chest and ride him like a bull, finishing his rides with Frost’s signature wave after conquering a bull -- opening and closing his palms at ear level.
• Alonzo Harris Jr. had four hits and singled to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th as St. Lucie beat Daytona, 4-3. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.
TRIVIA: Former teammates Chris Young and Capuano square off Thursday in L.A. Who had the higher base salary in 2011 with the Mets?
Tuesday's answer: Highly regarded first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo, who had two hits and the go-ahead RBI in his debut with the Cubs on last night, was traded from Boston to San Diego on Dec. 6, 2010 in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.