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Mets looking to rebound in Game Two against Giants

Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

The feisty New York Mets (7-6) are looking to rebound after a tough late night loss to the San Francisco Giants (7-6) in Game Two of a trio against their West Coast rivals today. New York fell by a score of 4-3 in their first extra-innings game on Friday.

“We played hard,” Mets manager Terry Collins had to say after the game. “We didn’t hit very well early, and Jon Niese had one bad (three-run third) inning, but we hung in there and gave ourselves opportunities to win the game several times.”

In a game of momentum swings, it was the Giants that were able to come out on top-on a big RBI single by catcher Hector Sanchez. Also helping to set the tone for the San Francisco offense was former Mets-star Angel Pagan and red-hot Pablo Sandoval.

The duo helped to combine in that lone bad inning for Niese, who finished the night tossing six innings and striking out five batters In that frame. For Pagan his homer in the frame, helped to break a tie for second most at Citi Field, meanwhile for Sandoval-the third baseman now has a 13 game hitting streak thanks to a single in that inning.

New York showed a ton of resilience though, as homers by Jason Bay and Kirk Nieuwenhuis provided uplifting moments for the 30,544 in attendance.  Bay now has a six game hitting streak hitting .304 during the streak.

Nieuwenhuis continues to impress the Orange and Blue faithful, making an amazing outfield grab on a Sanchez fly ball in the top of the eighth inning.  The young center fielder is making life a bit more interesting for Terry Collins who is going to have to decide who he wants to play once speedster Andres Torres returns to the roster.

On the one hand you have the speed of Torres, who will add another dimension to the team’s offense, but then you have the all-out effort of Nieuwenhuis combined with a nice pop and grit.

“I am not going to get into who is going to play center field in two weeks because nobody knows,” Collins said. “But he (Nieuwenhuis) has been really impressive.”

The manger continued to say on the play of Nieuwenhuis, “It is maximum effort every day. One of the things I have always liked about Kirk is that at game time the mood changes. He enjoys himself as much as anyone, but when the game comes, it is different.”

Looking to extend his hitting streak today is David Wright, who has now hit safely in 13 games. The All-Star third baseman tied Mookie Wilson for sixth place on the all-time games played list with 1,116. Wright is one RBI away from surpassing Darryl Strawberry on the franchise’s all-time list.

“It is a big deal to be able to drive in runs, but I don’t know about records and stuff, Wright said prior to the game. “Straw was one of my favorite players growing up and it is well documented that I tried to emulate his wing.”

Wright continued by saying, “Getting to know him as a person has been great to me and to be classified in that category is pretty special. But numbers and personal things are nice to enjoy when you are done playing. It is so difficult to pat yourself on the back and at the same time get ready for today’s game.”

According to Collins the third baseman has been able to manage that feat comparing this most recent stretch of play with Astros-great Jeff Bagwell.

“What I saw from Jeff, it didn’t matter what night it was, how many times he was up, every single at-bat meant something,” Collins said in the pre-game press conference. “That is what I see of David every time he goes up; there he is bound and determined to put a good swing on it.”

Also putting good swings on the ball has been catcher Josh Thole, who has now reached safely in all 12 games he has played this season. The backstop enters into the game with a .355 average, which is 10th-best in the National League.

“Thole really made up his mind this past winter that he was going to change the way he played the game,” Collins said. “On both sides of the ball he has done a great job, he has caught the ball well-he has swung the ball well and he has gotten a lot of big hits for us.”

Game Two will feature Giants righty Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 2.84 ERA) taking on Mets righty Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 3.09 ERA). Vogelsong will take the hill for his 152 career appearance, as well as his 63rd start, the All-Star received the loss in the 4-1 decision to the Pirates last Sunday.

Pelfrey picked up a no-decision in the Mets 8-2 loss to Philadelphia on April 15. The last time the Mets-righty took on the Giants was on July 10, 2011 also taking a loss in a 4-2 game at AT&T Park.

The Mets/Giants game is set to air on the PIX11 network, with first pitch slated for 1:10 p.m.

Examiner.com Quick Hits:

R.A. Dickey and Charlie Hough shared a very special pre-game Q and A session for the New York media, as the knuckleballers shared their thoughts on the new movie “Knuckleball,” which is set to make its national debut this summer.

“I have seen a rough cut, and it was pretty neat,” Dickey said. “It captures the essence of the men who threw it.”

The duos, which are among the small fraternity of starters that throw the unique pitch, for Hough the former Mets pitching coach, shared his thoughts on if there will be others like R.A. to take up the mantle of ‘knuckleball’ pitcher.

“I would say there will be someone else,” Hough said.  “It is hard to do, there are a lot of guys that are trying and you don’t hear of it.”

There are going to be a bevy of events around Dickey, who is also going to has a book out for fans to look into. The title is “Wherever I Wind Up; My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball”-and it is on sale now in bookstores everywhere.

Feeding the Big Apple: The Mets kick-started the “Feeding the Big Apple” program, which is presented by Hain Celestial Group, Inc. The hunger relief initiative is a series of 12 Food Drive Fridays that the franchise will have all season long. Anyone wishing to donate at the next Friday game can do so by bringing in canned or dry food at the City Harvest or Island Harvest truck next to the Shea Home Run Apple on the Mets Plaza.

Moment of Silence: Prior to Game One the Mets observed a moment of silence for Lt. Richard Nappi, who lost his life battling a fire in Brooklyn on Monday. Nappi, was a 17-year veteran of Engine 237, and was a huge fan of the franchise-attending Opening Day vs. Atlanta over two weeks ago-also serving as a part of the FDNY in color guards for Mets games.

Written on April 21, 2012 also seen on the Examiner.com site below:


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