Six ball games in three days: It happens two or three times during the course of a 162-game baseball schedule in New York. April, July, or a late time in September when the Yankees and Mets provide a conflict of interest.
As it was, six games this past weekend at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Two Friday evenings. Saturday afternoon, Yankees in the Bronx and evening game with the Mets in Flushing, Queens. Sunday, they flipped starting times.
Two teams for every sport in this town, It’s more than enough to cover the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders. You can never get enough of six MLB games in a span of three days.
But this was a lost weekend for the Yankees. The Mets put a minor dent on the Phillies with their win Sunday night that kept their faint playoff hopes ongoing until time is no longer on their side.
The Yankees scored eight runs and shut out the Indians Friday night. In the two games that followed, a combined three Yankee runs and 22 for the Indians. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was rocked with seven runs in under six innings pitched. More important, though, the Indians took two of three and put a hurt on the Yankees AL Wild Card hopes with 12 games remaining.
No contest at the gates, though. The Yankees easily won a unanimous decision, and I came across fans and members of the media who ventured to both ballparks.
Some of this and that from the Weekend: Former Mets manager Terry Collins, by far never dull with insights and a persona as bright as the return of Broadway lights, sat in the radio booth to fill the void with the absence of Howie Rose who is recovering from surgery.
Collins, of course, is no stranger to Citi Field and the Mets. During his managerial tenure. he passed Davey Johnson for most games as a Mets manager. His knowledge of the game is impeccable, and you heard disgruntled fans displeased with manager Luis Rojas chanting “Terry-Terry” under his broadcast perch.
I asked Collins about analytics. The metrics of baseball picked up strength in Collins’ final two years guiding the Mets. Collins has said the lineup was on his desk hours before he arrived at the ballpark. He has no intention of returning to the dugout, is content analyzing the game from above, and is employed part time as a special assistant in the Mets front office.
“ Never was a fan of the numbers, never will be,” he said.
On the air, Collins was relaxed and in tune. He discussed how the game has changed, his experiences with Yoenis Cespedes and how that changed the complexion of a Mets 2015 championship team that unexpectedly advanced to a World Series, where they lost in five games to the Kansas City Royals.
He was proud to have managed pitcher Matt Harvey. He would rather not rehash the events of allowing his ace to continue in Game 5 of a World Series that went to the Royals, and permitting Johan Santana to go the route and throw the historic first Mets’ No-hitter.
Last time the Mets had a game under three hours was September 10. Collins said, “Those speed up rules are really doing the job.”
Collins on the Mets bullpen that threw four scoreless innings in a Sunday evening finale win over the Phillies, “It’s so important today to have a good bullpen.” He knows and we all do. Starters hardly give a manager length and that’s crucial at this time of year for teams in the stretch run of a pennant race.
He did the research. The Mets have three previous league saves leaders in the pen with Edwin Diaz (Mariners), Brad Hand (Indians), and Heath Embree (Reds).
J.D. And Dom: J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith have for the most part been regulated to bench players for the Mets. Both continue to prepare for game time with conditioning, going over the plan with manager Luis Rojas, and taking swings in the cages a few steps from the dugout.
“You do the same as if you were in the lineup,” Davis said. “It’s not easy but it’s not in your control. You keep your mentality in the game and wait your turn.”
Davis got an important two base hit Friday night off the bench. Smith, off the bench, tied the game Sunday night with a two-run double in the fifth inning. The Mets came up with a one-run win that derailed the Phillies a bit in their quest to overtake the Braves for the division lead.
Davis and Smith are under team control, however, their names are mentioned among potential offseason moves that the Mets are expected to make in what could be an overhaul of the roster.
This And That: Brandon Nimmo is by far the Mets’ team MVP. Or maybe it’s reliever Aaron Loup, who has a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings, after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the 7th inning and getting the win.
Catcher Tomas Nido pulled a Gary Sanchez Sunday night, dropping a pop behind the plate off the bat of pinch hitter Odubel Herrera in the eighth inning. Sanchez made a similar miscue Saturday afternoon that opened up a seven-run inning for the Indians that led to a Yankees 11-3 loss.in the Bronx.
Press box reaction: “Was that Gary Sanchez?”
Bobby Meacham And Phillies Yankees Connection: Former Yankees and Phillies manager Joe Girardi has Didi Gregorious, Andrew McCutchen, and Ronald Torreyes on his roster, all who at one time or another played for him during his managerial reign in the Bronx.
Rob Thomson, his bench coach with the Yankees is in the same role with the Phillies.
Bobby Meacham, once a favorite with late Yankees manager Billy Martin, is also a part of the coaching staff in his role as a special instructor. There is a connection with Girardi and Meacham that goes back to their days in Colorado with the Rockies.
Meacham, after a six year playing career with the Yankees, has developed into an outstanding coach with numerous teams. He received his first Major League coaching job with the Marlins in 2006 when Girardi gave him the third base coaching responsibilities after he was appointed Marlins’ manager in 2006.
The two never lost contact and are hoping to guide the Phillies to their first postseason since 2011.
I go back to Meacham when he was a rookie with the Yankees and playing under Martin during those controversial years with the late owner George Steinbrenner.
A few moments with Meacham at Citi Field prior to the Phillies/Mets finale Sunday night. He resembles a 62-year old that can still throw a baseball and take a few swings. The look hasn’t changed. His baseball knowledge and ability to instruct infielders and outfielders is one of the many reasons Girardi has him on the coaching staff.
He said about the Phillies surge and on the trail of the Braves: “What’s happened, we believed in who we are. Trade deadline, I think we settled this is who we are. You see the players pull for each other. That said, sometimes there’s a lot of bumps in the road.”
Of course, I had to ask about analytics and how the game has changed with numbers, as computers and metrics are calling the shots.
“A little more than anticipated,” he said about analytics and the game change. “We always got information. There is just more depth now. Honestly, it hasn’t changed much. My viewpoint, keep getting information and learning from it.”
Meacham said a guy throws a breaking ball and informs the next batter and that is something that has not changed.
“Before you knew, now they have numbers that verify that. Now the analytics guys verify it. When you actually listen to all the information, you take it in but your eyes have to trump the tendencies that information is giving you.”
Meacham said he was talking to one of the players about those tendencies and put everything in perspective.
“This guy throws me 80 percent changeups in this situation. He throws me a fastball down the middle, he can’t take it. I think he’s going to throw me a changeup. You gotta jump on what your eyes see and the tendencies have to come after.”
Regardless, baseball has always been a mental game. The pitcher against the hitter, and a chess match, seen many times, as Girardi tried to also out-manage Rojas with pitching changes and overworked the Phillies bullpen.
Getting Too Old for the Double Day At The ballparks: Yes, I covered all six ball games at the ballparks this weekend but not the double-header version and travel from the Bronx to Flushing, Queens,
That conflict of the schedules and doing double duty is for the young guys in this business as the novelty has worn off. Old-timers like me, can only handle so many pitches thrown and cracks of the bat. Though, the press dining room meals and menus were always worth the double dip at the ballparks.
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso