I Hope I Wasn’t The Reason Daniel Murphy Hurt His Shoulder

Last night on the Sport Media Watchdog Podcast, we discussed Joe Posnanski’s book PATERNO, Roger Clemens comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters and the blockbuster deal between the Boston Red Sox and the LA Dodgers

Saturday I was in New Jersey for most of the day in Colt’s Neck to be precise and at the Collingwood Flea Market. As I walked around the market I came across a booth that was selling baseball jersey’s. I found a beautiful Mets Daniel Murphy roadie that I just could not pass up. After I bought it, I said to my son, “I hope this isn’t the kiss of death for Murph as a Met by me buying this jersey” So what happens, yesterday Murph hurts his shoulder and will spend his off day in an MRI tube. Sorry 28!

Sandy Alderson wants to sign David Wright and R.A. Dickey to long term deals. David Wright and R.A. Dickey would love to sign long term deals with the Mets. David Wright and R.A. Dickey however, will not sign long term deals with the Mets until they hear what the Alderson Plan is going forward. I don’t blame them at all.  Both players know that the money is out there for their services and this stage of both players careers it seems from what they are saying winning or just a commitment to building a winner is paramount if they will both stay Mets or not.

In Wright’s case he sees that the lineup he’s in now offers no protection what so ever, put him on team like the Reds or Cardinals and his offensive game would flourish. Wright is also starting to look at his legacy in baseball and his chances of making it to Cooperstown. So far in his career Wright has 1393 hits, leaving him 1607 base knocks away from the holy grail of 3,000. That would average out to about 178.5 hits a season for the next eight seasons to hit that mark. Even if Wright was short of the 3K hits, joining a team that was a contender and committed to winning (don’t lie, it’s crossed your mind as you woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat  picturing Wright as a Highlander. If George Steinbrenner were still alive I’d just about guarantee he’d have made Wright an offer so good he couldn’t say no) as a World Series ring or two along with the offensive output Wright should be able to produce for the next eight years would make him just about a lock for the Hall of Fame. Can he achieve that as a Met? I’m not optimistic that he can.

Looks like Terry Collins will be back as manager of the Mets in 2013. I have no problem with that although I’d think there will be a major shakeup of the coaching staff. What interests me is the job status of Wally Backman. Would the Mets bring Backman on board as a coach with Collins starting the season in lame duck status? That would make for an uncomfortable coexistence for sure. What would Sandy Alderson do if Backman is offered a big league managers job or a coaching position. Couldn’t you see Davey Johnson convincing Nationals ownership to bring Backman on as his right hand man to groom as the next Nats field boss?

Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times writes about this date back in 1992 when the Mets traded David Cone to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jeff Kent.

 

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Mets Dreck Pt. 2

 

What else is there to say about last night’s game than what Terry Collins said in his post-game presser :

“I haven’t the faintest idea. I don’t know if it’s fatigue. I don’t know what it is. We didn’t run the bases. We didn’t play good defense. We didn’t drive in the runs we needed to drive in. It was a combination of a lot of things. We didn’t pitch very goodl. It was the worst Dillon’s pitched probably in awhile… We’ve played two bad baseball games here. We are a better team than what we’ve played.”

I’m not buying the fatigue factor at all, it’s not like Collins is running out the same eight guys game after game, in fact everyday seems like there is a different lineup.  Two areas that were a big problem last year and are still a big problem this year, the defense and the bullpen have to be addressed soon or the feel good first three months of this season will be forgotten fast.

As much as I love Daniel Murphy the leash on his 2nd base job is getting shorter and shorter. 28 is getting another start today against the Cubs but it could be Collins is ready to go to a platoon of Murph and Ronny Cedeno . Last time I was at Citi Field sitting in on Collins’ pre game press conference, the question of Murhpy’s slump came up. What was interesting in Collins response was he and hitting coach Dave Hudgens had told Murphy to take a break with watching video and taking batting practice in the indoor cage, which sounded to me like Collins was cryptically saying Murphy suffered from paralysis from analysis.  Collins also spoke on how Murphy keeps changing how he holds his hands from at bat to at bat along with his stance in the batter’s box. For all the hard work and dedication that Murphy puts in it seems like Collins is hinting that he’s overdoing it and needs to relax.

The one thing that should save Ike Davis from a fine and suspension is the incompetence of umpire Manny Gonzalez. Gonzalez blew the pick off call in the 8th inning last night and Ike just put his glove on the umps arm which is an automatic ejection but I’d hope Gonzalez apologies to Ike today for blowing that call.

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Bay-O, Bay-OOOOO, Bay Can’t Hit So He Might Have To Go

I watched none of yesterday’s game due to my son scheduling his Boy Scout Eagle project which had us painting hop-scotch boards, box ball courts and a huge map of the United States with each state in various colors, a very time consuming but rewarding chore and now all he needs to do is file his paper work and he will officially be an Eagle Scout. Yes my wife and I are bursting with pride.

From reading the stories on the game and watching the highlights it seems home plate ump Larry Vanover was implementing the ameba strike zone as there were 14 walks called, 10 by Mets pitchers and an out of character umpire argument by Jason Bay (leading to Terry Collins getting tossed)and speaking of Bay, I’m sure the front office staff of Sandy Alderson and Co. are trying to figure out what can be done with Bay. I did catch TC on with Francesa after the game, and Collins hinted that dropping Bay in the lineup is step one. Tomorrow night you could see Bay drop to 7th and Thole moved to 2 hole with Murph at 3, that is if Wright is still out of lineup which we should know more today on DW’s status. But back to Bay, I don’t care if the club was still flush with Madoff money, releasing Bay and handing him a check for $35 mil, would be a move of last resort. TC alluded that if the drop in batting order didn’t work for Bay, then a platoon with a lefty hitter was next. Now if the Skill Sets gave Alderson the green light in releasing Bay, it would have happened already as I think it’s safe to say the he is as worn out as you are at watching Bay in the batter’s box.  I have to think if Bay continues this downward spiral in the next month a major move will be made by the Alderson to remove Bay from the team.

Break from baseball tonight as the NY Rangers get their first round series underway against the Ottawa Senators. Rangers in 5

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Observations From Opening Day at Citi Field

Observations from opening day at Citi Field:

I’ve been going to Mets games for 48 years, I was 6 years old in 1964 when I went to see Bob Gibson beat the Mets  on May 9 th, and as excited as I was back then I was just as excited yesterday to be at Citi Field for opening day.

Outside the ball park before the game there was a great positive energy that non-Mets fans just do not understand. I stood near the SNY broadcast area where Bobby Ojeda, Chris Carlin and the iconic Ralph Kiner conducted the pre-game show. There is a segment of younger generation Mets fans who really don’t appreciate Kiner and what he means to charter member Mets fans like me. Ralph, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson were a constant summer time companion on TV and radio. Nelson left in 1978 and that was shocking, but we still had Ralph and Murph. Murph left in 2003 and that was sad but through it all Ralph Kiner remained, albeit on a limited basis but Ralph always knew when to show up when you needed that boost of Mets elixir because when you’re a middle aged Mets fan the sight and sound of Ralph Kiner brings back memories of a simpler and great time of your life.

Lots and lots of CARTER 8 jersey’s and t-shirts on display yesterday along with signs and banners praising Carter and mourning the loss of Gary Carter. The Mets held a wonderful pre-game ceremony starting with the players, coaches and manager all wearing their warm up jerseys with CARTER 8 on the back and having Carter’ jersey hanging  up in the dugout.  It was also touching to see Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Ojeda and Mookie Wilson catch the first pitch from Carter’s wife and children along with the unveiling of the KID 8 patch on the outfield wall and video of Carters Mets career that would make even the most cynical Mets fan dab their eyes.

Seems the only people who are obsessed by the Mets attendance are the Mets Media Haters and Highlander fans.  The Mets Media Haters harp on this due to their lack of talent and originality, I mean how much talent does it take to answer a telephone for five hours a day while reading a newspaper and sucking down soda after soda or sit at a laptop staring lovingly at your Derek Jeter gift baskets while writing what a great GM Pee Wee Cashman is because he is so brilliant in having a $200 mil payroll to cover up his fuck ups. The Highlander fan knows that the first time the Mets show any success the Highlander reign of attention in this city will be over.

Citi Field was jammed packed yesterday, the line at the Shake Shack was a couple a hundred deep, the fans lined the Shea Bridge soaking up the sunshine which could explain for some of the empty seats you’ve seen. The crowd responded well to the player introductions, sure some folks felt it was a good time to boo Mike Pelfrey and Jason Bay but for most part the Mets faithful was happy to see their beloved team back in action.

I didn’t see any of the usual Highlander fan jerk offs who come to Citi Field wearing their Jeter jerseys and caps which is encouraging.

The Mets have made an upgrade on the main scoreboard to where it’s  setup like Gameday on MLB.com a virtual scorecard showing not only what the player has done in previous at bats but also showing you the location of balls put in play in those AB’s. The pitchers line as well as pitch count, pitch selection and pitch count are there as well as both lineups, the player at bat’s season stats and career numbers as well.

I have never bitched and moaned about the prices at the concession stands but $6.80 for a Nathans Hot Dog is ridiculous. Compare that to $11.50 for a turkey with mozzarella and gravy on a semolina hero at Mama’s of Corona, why would you go for the hot dog?

Nothing better than watching Johan Santana work. Frist two innings he had a bit of a command issue, which is to be expected as I’m sure his adrenaline was flowing like Niagara Falls but it was the 5th inning that really sent the message as to what a competitor he is and why Santana is one the best starting pitchers in baseball. He wanted badly to get 5 innings in today as his pitch count was limited to 80-85 so he knew this was his last frame of the day. Getting Freddy Freeman out on strikes to start the inning was big because Santana killer Matt Diaz doubled to left and you could see the finish line of this start was near.

After getting Jason Heyward to fly out to Bay, all Santana needed was one more out but he struggled against Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy Hanson walking both of them to load the bases for leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.  This was the at bat of the game. Santana fell behind Bourn 2-0 giving the crowd of Mets fans an uneasy feeling since it was September of 2010 when we last witnessed Santana pitch we forgot how much heart this man has on the mound. He got Bourn to hit a comebacker to him and with what adrenaline was left nearly threw the ball over Ike Davis head but Ike caught it stepped on first inning over with no Braves crossing home plate. Welcome back Johan.

Andres Torres pulled up lame in the 7th on Pastornick’s triple and while I hate to see anyone get hurt, I hope Torres takes all the time he needs to get that calf 100 % so we can get a good look at Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the everyday center fielder. Hopefully when Torres comes back it will be as the 4th outfielder,

Daniel Murphy 2 for 4 yup #ImWith28

 

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INTERVIEWS WITH R.A DICKEY, DANIEL MURPHY AND CARLOS DELGADO AT THE THURMAN MUNSON DINNER

Last night I attended the media hour before the Thurman Munson Dinner to benefit AHRC of New York. Among the many guest invited to the event were Mets Daniel Murphy and R.A. Dickey and a surprise guest that I chatted with, former Met Carlos Delgado.

In talking to Murphy he has to be the most optimistic person of Irish ancestry I’ve ever met.  As you can hear in this clip, Murphy feels the Mets can contend in the NL East and beyond.  He also speaks of the work he has to do in order to play 2nd base this season and the fact that he has been working out with the cooperation of the fine weather in his hometown of Jacksonville Florida .

After Murphy, R.A. Dickey was made available to us for a Q & A session and of course R.A. was in fine form with thoughtful answers about his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, his hope that Johan Santana can come back and reclaim his spot as Ace of the pitching staff and his pragmatic view of the upcoming season for the Mets in a very tough NL East as you can here is this clip and this clip.

After talking to both Dickey and Murphy, I thought about all the angst and anger of Mets fans over this off season towards ownership of the team. I thought about all those who say they won’t come out to Citi Field as they feel it’s a show of support of the Wilpon’s.  To those fans I say, I feel sorry for you. While talking to Dickey and to Murphy , the thought came to me that I can’t wait for the season to begin because I can’t wait to root for both these guys as they are more than worthy of positive support.

Murph is the guy who blocks out the negativity. When the media scrum dispersed from the group Q & A, I was lucky enough to hang around and got to talk to him one on one (I turned off the recorder because I just wanted to have casual conversation) and one topic we discussed was the negativity of the organization from a segment of the media and the fan base and does that negativity ever creep into the clubhouse. He told me it doesn’t because the manager, who I believe Murph has tremendous respect for, would never allow it and he also felt that the guys in the clubhouse are united in such a way that “woes is us” would never make it past the outside clubhouse door.

From Dickey I get a guy who is very confident in his ability and seems to have grown as a big league pitcher but the days of struggle are always in the forefront of his mind. Where Murph seems to be the half full guy, I wouldn’t say that Dickey is a glass half empty guy but more of a realist who has been around a while and knows the score.

A pleasant surprise of the evening was running into Carlos Delgado who looks in great shape (dare I say The best shape of his life?) and was quite gracious in giving me a portions of his time to talk about the Mets of the present and his experience as a Met and playing in New York in this clip.

When I was done talking to Murphy and Dickey I went over to the refreshment table to grab a bottle of water, it was there I met up with legendary  St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca, who was on hand to present an award to Chris Mullin at the dinner. Again I didn’t have my recorder on as my conversation with the Coach was more a casual deal than an interview.  He told me about having dinner with John Franco on Monday night and how happy he was that the Mets will honor him on June 3 with induction into the Mets Hall of Fame. It was easy to see the love and pride Carnesecca has for Franco, the coach then asked me if I thought Franco would get into Cooperstown, I was as diplomatic as could be in saying it would be very tough. I went on to tell the coach about my wedding day and how happy I was there was a TV in the limousine, as I’m seen and heard in our wedding video wanting to watch St. Johns-Auburn second round NCAA Tournament game.  Carnesecca laughed and then said “Jesus, you remember that game”? He then asked me to sit down with him and talk about basketball. That was quite an honor.

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A TWEAK AND A TEAR EQUAL A BAD DAY AT CITI FIELD

 

Two injuries yesterday will bring two major decisions for Sandy Alderson this off season.  There are still 49 games left in the 2011 season, but the injuries to Jose Reyes and the season ender for Daniel Murphy will have Alderson and his staff busy trying to decide what to do with both players.

While we Mets fans have overdosed on Jose Reyes’ coming out season, we have seen twice now in the last month why a long term deal for the charismatic shortstop may be what the fans want but front office may have, with good reason point to the caveat of Reyes is Reyes, when he’s of sound mind and hammy. Right now, the hammy is not so fine and for each time it’s tweaked, Reyes’ bargaining position takes a hit. Before this small outbreak of hamstring aliments, it looked like a longshot that the Mets would go 7 years on a deal for Jose. Now, I doubt the Mets would go over a 5 year deal, nor should they.  If Reyes were to sign with the Mets for 5/$110 mil, I feel it would be a win for both sides, if there is a team out there willing to get into a bidding war where a contract of 6-7 years for $132-$154 million becomes the bid price, then I’m sure Alderson will step aside and wish Jose well. If that happens there will be a huge outcry from Mets fans against the organization and that anger will be short sided.

As for Daniel Murphy, My love and admiration of Murph has never been disguised at this site.  Given an everyday spot in the lineup has proven that Murph is not just a big league hitter but he is a batting crown contender. His work ethic is second to none and he never is insubordinate which believe me is a big deal to a manager, as he plays wherever the manager places him. Is he a complete player? No and his baseball instinct has been rightly questioned but the positives with Murphy greatly outweighs the negatives. He not only hit for average but he hits doubles and he is a very productive hitter with runners in scoring position (.364) and with RISP 2/out (.355). With all that, we may have seen the last of Daniel Murphy in a Mets uniform. 

The only reason I come to this conclusion is the only two position that fit Murph are 1st base and 3rd base, which are positions that are not open now or next year or the year after. I’ve heard some rumblings by Mets fans of having D-Wright move to LF next year and shift Jason Bay (if Alderson can’t pull a disappearing act on Bay this off season) to RF, and then you could place Murph at 3rd. That is a lot of player movement and I’m sure Wright will not be happy about being asked to move and I don’t see Bay as a RF’er.

Murph has proven he is an everyday player and he’s proven that if he plays 2nd base anymore he might  get killed, so with no corner to go to, Murph may be a valuable trade chip this winter. A solid hitter like Murph has American League written all over him. I’m sure the A’s, Rays, Tigers or White Sox would love to get their hands on a player like Murphy.  I’d hate to see it happen but there may be no choice, as much as Murph has a potent bat, the Mets just don’t have a place to put him when it comes to defense.

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MURPHY HOW COULD YOU?

The Murph givith, the Murph takith away. Looks like I missed another Adventures in Fielding with Daniel Murphy last night as he took a wee bit to long to throw to Ginger Turner covering 1st base to get Dwayne Wise over running the bag. The play set up Izzy pitching to Mike Stanton who in turn hit a grand slam to help the Fish to a 7-3 win.

There is no defending Murphy on that play, it is baseball fundamentals 101. Terry Collins you know is not happy with what Murph does on the field but he has his player’s back as he took Murphy to task but complimented him on how he never makes the same mistake twice. No, he usually moves on to the next mistake on the field.

As much as I love Murphy, something’s gotta give with his lack of baseball instincts as noble as it is for the manager to protect him in the media, there comes a time when that becomes insulting to the fans and the folks covering the team. You can protect a guy for so long then your creditability comes into play.

I see from The Mets PO-PO that Wayne Hagin has become a “we-be” as being a homer. If Howie Rose and Gary Cohen can stay above that as they are cut from the same orange and blue cloth as us, it would be in Hagin’s best interest to do the same. By the way where was Howie? Out voting to keep the Icelanders in Uniondale?

Speaking of the Icelanders, now what Mr. Wang? The voters have spoken and by the way, what a strange time to have a vote on such an important referendum, the first Monday in August when folks are on vacation and doing many summertime activities. So what becomes of the Icelanders? Wang has said he would be done with the team that he loses millions on each year without the new arena so are we looking at a reincarnation of the Brooklyn Americans?

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THE DANIEL MURPHY DEFENSE FUND

I was so sorry I missed going out to Citi Field on Saturday and the tribute to Dana Brand at the location of where home plate of Shea Stadium was. I am honored to be a contributor to a book that has been published with essays by fellow Mets bloggers titled “Mets Brand” honoring Dana. All the proceeds of the book will be donated to Lynn Cohen’s Pitch for a Good Cause.

There seems to be this misconception about Daniel Murphy’s defense. I’m not proclaiming Murph is a solid defender but he’s not the liability some in the fan base make him out to be. The media plays into this as well, more the national drop ins on FOX and ESPN who have a tough time doing their homework before broadcasting games, mostly because of their disdain for statistical analysis. If you look at the numbers Murph is not a bad 1st baseman, he’s a serviceable 2nd baseman and an ok fill in at 3rd base. His biggest problem is he doesn’t have the power that is needed to play a corner position but his production is perfect for 2nd base. With David Wright ready to come back by the end of the week, figure Lucas Duda or Jason Pridie would have to be moved with Murph and Nick Evans holding down 1st base and Justin Turner taking over 2nd base with Ruben Tejada back to his utility role.

I’d love to spy on the meetings Sandy Alderson and his staff have when the subject of Jason Bay comes up. I just picture Alderson leaning back in his chair with his hands in back of his head offering a major bonus to anyone who can remotely solve this very expensive dilemma.  I have no idea how the Mets get away from Bay’s declining performance at the unbelievable price of $35 mil over the next 3 years.  That contract is untradeable unless the Mets were to eat at least half of that deal. Bay is troubled by his lack of production and he works hard to improve but you wonder what runs through his mind when each and every day he’s asked the same questions over and over again and now that the boos are reigning from the Citi Field stands, I’d be  surprised if he is in the lineup tonight, I’d bet we see Willie Harris in LF for the makeup game with the Fish.

We are in the throes of the Last Days of Mike Pelfrey. If he’s not dealt, he’ll be DFA. I’d be SHOCKED if Pelfrey is a Met in 2012.

I’m ready to add Angel Pagan in that equation as well. Pagan has had a tough season offensively and a lot of that has been due to injury but a decision will have to be made here as well with Pagan making $3.5 mil this year and looking at a bump in pay to $5-$5.5 mil. Is Pagan worth that much? I don’t think so.

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JOHN NIESE AND HIS YELLOW HAMMER

Another solid start by Jon Niese  and his ever improving curve ball led the Mets to a series win over the Brewski’s . The same Brewski’s who have the best home record in baseball were a late inning Mets collapse away from being swept at home.

These Mets are perplexing to say the least. As much as the rash of late inning collapses infuriate us, this is not the same old Mets. Lose a four run lead and lose a game you should have won? No problem, come back the next day, forget yesterday and win the next game.  A post season berth this season is pie in the sky I know but the renovation of the mind set of this organization is progressing very nicely. The culture of the “woe is me attitude” had been eradicated, replaced with “keep plugging along”. It’s very refreshing.

Jason Bay seems to be a very nice guy who is working his ass off to get his bat back to where it should be. He knows what’s at stake and he has been a team guy when Terry Collins has approached him to either drop him in the order or to put him on the bench. His team first attitude is great. But this is big league baseball where winning and losing are paramount to what is to be accomplished and if Bay has to sit or be platooned or relegated to rehab in St Lonesome with a “wink-wink” DL stint, then so be it. Sandy Alderson said during the off season that salary will not determine who plays and we’ve seen that with the moves he’s made so far this season. Now comes word that Lucas Duda will be called up from Buffalo and Nick Evans will be DFA. Duda is not here to ride the pine; he will play some LF and 1B. Not sure if TC will go strict platoon with Bay/Duda or give Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada some days off and move Murph to 3rd with Duda playing 1st but what bringing up Duda does is give TC more flexibility and some much needed production from a corner position.

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WELCOME BACK R.A. DICKEY

A few observations on last night Mets win over the NY Highlanders:

Reports of the demise of R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball have been greatly exaggerated. The Dickster was spot on with his Dance of the Sphere With 108 Stitches, that floated through the Bronx night. The Highlanders got to R.A. for one run, on a home run by Mark Texiera that just nudge itself over the right field wall of Cheap Knock Off Stadium.  At Citi Field, Ruben Tejada gets a P4 in the score book on that bloop.

I haven’t watched many Highlander games this season but after watching them last night, my question to Highlander fans is “do they always look this feeble”?

If you thought I was a Terry Collins fanboy, how about the Mets TV announcing team? Gary, Keith, Ron and Bobby O were gushing about the job that TC has done with this team. If you’re still not convinced that this team is in tune with the manager, then how about this. Last week after a Mets win, in his post game presser, Collins out of the blue singled out the struggling Josh Thole for a great job he did behind the plate and for some great at bats. Last night when Kevin Burkhardt spoke to Daniel Murphy after the game and wanted to know about the HR he hit that proved to be the game winner, all Murph wanted to talk about was the outstanding job Dickey and the bullpen did. The Mets are starting to take on the manager’s personality.

All this Rapture, end of the world talk we’ve been hearing is pure bullshit. Nothing will happen until Justin Turner says it happens.

After watching Jose Reyes last night all I kept think was the Skill Sets better sell whatever else the own to raise money to keep Jose. If that means selling all their homes, cars and boats and moving into the Queensbridge Houses, then so be it.

Frankie Rodriguez has been so good so far this season that I only eat two Tums and one teaspoon of Maalox when he comes into a game .

The one big drawback tonight is the game is on FOX

Felt bad for F-Mart and Ruben Tejada last night as they were disrespected   by home plate ump Tim Timmons last night. F-Mart motioned to Timmons for time as Freddy Garcia went into slow down mode in the 7th and his request was denied and a strike was called as Garcia threw a pitch after Martinez stepped out of the box. Timmons then called a third strike on Tejada in the 9th inning to halt the Mets attempt  to get an insurance run.

 

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