NEW YORK (AP) — Didn’t take long for a refreshed Jay
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NEW YORK (AP) — Didn’t take long for a refreshed Jay
Bruce to get right back in the swing of things.Bruce hit a two-run homer in his return from an extended stay on the disabled list Phil Niekro Jersey , Jason Vargas tossed six stellar innings and the New York Mets beat Washington 3-0 on Friday night to hand the Nationals their second consecutive shutout.“Happy to help. It’s good to be back. It makes you thankful to be here,” Bruce said at his locker, still in full custom uniform with “Bruuuce” written across the back on Players Weekend.Wilmer Flores had an early RBI single and the Mets got spotless relief work from Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to finish a four-hitter.The stingy pitching finally helped New York get the best of a familiar nemesis in Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (7-11), who has lost nine of his last 10 decisions. The left-hander allowed only one run in seven innings but dropped to 11-2 with a 1.75 ERA at Citi Field and 15-6 against the Mets in his career.“It’s a beautiful, family-oriented ballpark,” Gonzalez said. “I just have this kind of feel for pitching here.”Bruce was activated before the game after missing more than two months with a sore right hip, and the Mets plan to audition the veteran outfielder at first base down the stretch. But the three-time All-Star started at his regular spot in right field during his first big league game since June 17 and connected against lefty reliever Tim Collins in the eighth.The drive to right-center was only the fourth home run this season for Bruce, who batted just .212 with 17 RBIs in 62 games before landing on the DL.“Little bit of rejuvenation of getting up there, coming back, the lights, the energy, the fans, the balls — you name it, it’s great,” he said.Featuring a deceptive changeup, Vargas (4-8) permitted three hits and struck out a season-high eight without issuing a walk.The resurgent lefty, who entered with a 7.67 ERA, has put together two straight wins and three solid starts in a row late in his previously dismal season.“I’ve been able to keep the ball down in the strike zone for the most part, and I think that usually leads to more success for me,” he said.Vargas fanned Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and rookie slugger Juan Soto, the 3-4-5 batters in Washington’s lineup, in the fourth — part of six strikeouts in a span of seven hitters.“We were just chasing a lot of pitches down,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “When we face a guy that throws a good changeup, left-handed, we struggle against that.”Lugo threw two perfect innings, striking out three, and Gsellman closed for his eighth save . After a one-out double by Anthony Rendon in the ninth, Gsellman struck out Harper and retired Zimmerman on a game-ending grounder.Washington (64-65) was blanked 2-0 on Thursday by All-Star ace Aaron Nola and the Phillies. The Nationals have lost eight of 12 and been shut out 13 times this season, third-most in the majors.“We have to start putting the ball in play and scoring some runs,” Martinez said.GREAT SAVE!The jagged barrel of Harper’s broken bat went flying six or seven rows into the stands behind New York’s dugout in the first inning. With two young boys sitting next to him, perhaps in real danger, a man wearing a Mets jersey reached up and protected them by knocking away the sharp-edged lumber . It appeared nobody got hurt.TRAINER’S ROOMNationals: Gonzalez got hit on the left ankle by a line drive in the sixth. Twice he was checked by a trainer and Martinez, but a limping, grimacing Gonzalez stayed in the game. “It was a little tender. I was just thinking the whole time http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-nick-markakis-jersey , just have to finish this inning, have to finish this inning,” he said. “I won’t quite feel the result of it until tomorrow. … If it wasn’t for the padding on the cleat, would have been worse.” … Stephen Strasburg said he felt good after throwing about 40 pitches in a bullpen session, Martinez said, and the right-hander remains scheduled to make his next start. After missing a month with a pinched nerve in his neck, Strasburg returned Wednesday and lasted four innings against Philadelphia. … Washington closer Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw on flat ground again and felt pretty good, Martinez said.Mets: David Wright went 1 for 4 with a single in his ninth rehab game for Class A St. Lucie. He had two assists and a putout in nine innings at third base. The Mets’ captain, who hasn’t appeared in the majors since May 2016 because of back and shoulder injuries, is hitting .143 (4 for 28). … C Devin Mesoraco sat out with neck stiffness. New York manager Mickey Callaway said Mesoraco had an MRI that revealed only muscular issues, so he won’t need to go on the DL and he could catch in a pinch.UP NEXTWashington RHP Tanner Roark (8-12, 4.05 ERA) faces Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (8-6, 3.63) on Saturday afternoon. Roark is 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his past six starts. Wheeler, who beat the Nationals at home on July 14, is 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last seven outings. Ortiz hooked up Severino with Pedro in 2016, during Big Papi's final season. It was a disappointing year for Severino, who started in the New York rotation, was banished to the bullpen and finished 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 22 games (11 starts).Severino was among Pedro's legion of distant admirers. And the admiration was mutual: Martinez, who appreciates good pitching as much as a foodie enjoys an excellent restaurant recommendation, watched Severino on television and in person. Like many others, he couldn't square Severino's 100 mph heat and filthy slider with the poor results."Big Papi 鈥?told me, 'I can see what he's doing. I can see the ball. He's exposing the ball,'" Martinez said. "Big Papi said, 'I want you to help this kid. I've gotten to know him, and he's a good kid.'"One thing led to another. Martinez reached out, and he and Severino agreed to meet in the Dominican during the winter of 2016-17."I told him to be at the stadium at 1 p.m.," Martinez recalled. "And he was there at 11 a.m. because he didn't want to miss the appointment."Having watched Severino closely on video, Martinez decided he could fix some of the things Severino did incorrectly. Pedro told Severino to move his hands closer to his body to conceal the ball longer in his delivery. He was pushing them out too far. Then they went to work on his changeup and other facets of his game."He taught me to hit the [catcher's] glove more, have better command of my fastball and secondary pitches," Severino said.Martinez found his student to be a willing learner. "He was brave enough to take my advice, do what I wanted and maybe without authorization of the Yankees," Martinez said. "Sometimes, you just have to take chances.Luis Severino LuisSeverino94Un placer haber compartido con 45PedroMartinez KEvXD67qwI"I was so concerned with him feeling comfortable, not getting hurt, but we needed to do some work. I said Chipper Jones Jersey , 'With all due respect to the Yankees, I need to switch you to some things I think can help.'"The two developed a rapport that now reaches into genuine friendship. Who would have guessed that: a Yankee and a Red Sox, after the overheated American League Championship Series battles in 2003 and 2004?"He's a great man," Severino said. "Agreatman. I feel like I can talk with him for hours. Not even about baseball. About everything. If I have an issue, I will go to him and he will always have a great answer."In some ways, baseball was merely the icebreaker for the bond that has grown between the two."We keep in touch. His wife and my wife actually have become friends as well. During the offseason, he lives in an area I love, really close to where my mom grew up [in the Dominican]. Everything points toward having a great friendship between the two of us. I love fishing. He loves fishing. That's what we do. We pretty much have the same habits, look out for each other. It is a perfect friendship."Martinez isn't the only player for whom Severino has shown such respect, as Ortiz experienced when he met him.Ortiz had learned of Severino from a friend in the Dominican Republic who lives in the area in which the big right-hander grew up."He told me one day, 'Hey, this kid that's in the minor leagues with the Yankees, he's a Christian kid, he's a homeboy, he comes from a really decent family. He's going to get called up at some point,'" Ortiz recalled.Signed in December 2011 as an international free agent, Severino finally reached the bigs in August 2015. His debut, a start, came against鈥ou guessed it, Boston. He pitched well, holding the Red Sox to one earned run and two hits in five innings before suffering the loss. The one earned run? An Ortiz home run in the fourth.Luis Severinos first meeting with David Ortiz was a memorable one, as the Red Sox slugger hit a home run in a Boston victory.Kathy Willens/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated PressThat was it for Severino against Boston until '16, and after one of those appearances, the next day the kid approached Ortiz."He said, 'Hi,' really respectful," Ortiz said. "I really appreciated that. Because in baseball, it's like in the military: That respect is always there. That's how it goes."I've had some people criticizing Pedro for doing what he did. If I'm Pedro, I would do that 100 more times. Because that's how you get the game better."In 2017, his first summer after working with Martinez, Severino posted a breakout season for the Yankees, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA over 31 starts. He posted 230 strikeouts against only 51 walks.Severino, 24, earned his second consecutive All-Star nod this year and, after a nifty catch of New York teammate Aaron Judge's home run while warming up in the Nationals Park bullpen in the top of the second John Smoltz Jersey , he zipped through a scoreless bottom of the second. Severino surrendered a leadoff double to Matt Kemp then whiffed Bryce Harper, induced a fly ball from Nick Markakis and whiffed Brandon Crawford. It was his second All-Star Game, and against the powerful National League lineup, he had a plan."I feel like everyone's got more than 20 home runs," he said. "So don't throw the fastball. Throw something else."Last year, Severino became just the second American League pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1977 to post an ERA of below 3.00 with 225 or more strikeouts in his age-23 season. Clemens did it in 1986, when he was with鈥oston."He's as good of a man as he is a pitcher," Martinez said. "The last person I referred to like that was Mariano Rivera. 鈥?That's a statement. I know Mariano as a person. Severino is equally as humble and lovable. He's very accountable, very responsible, very hard-working. There are not enough [good] words to say about him."Even the Red Sox, who, ahem, employ Martinez as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, understand."They're Dominican, you know?" Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts said of Severino and Martinez. "He looked up to Pedro when he was younger. He has some of the same stuff Pedro had at that age.Severino led the American League in wins at the All-Star break while ranking in the top 10 in strikeouts and ERA.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images"Why wouldn't you want to learn from the best? You can't fault him for wanting to go to Pedro for advice."From what he had heard of Martinez, Severino said it seemed natural to work with him."I wasn't surprised," Severino said. "He was helping somebody else. He wasn't looking at me as a rivalry. I'm happy that he did."Always a pitcher/philosopher in his soul, anyway, Pedro says he's gotten no pushback."Everybody in the Red Sox organization is very respectful of what I'm doing," he said. "They know me really well, and they know that my heart is big enough to be shared with different players. The thing that makes it unique is, it's when I'm not working. It's my time off."Severino isn't Martinez's only project. Over the past few years, he's also worked with Ervin Santana, Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles, Edinson Volquez, Rubby De La Rosa and Jose Veras, among others.All of this because he shares a philosophy with Ortiz: Pay it forward."I feel as a former player, as a Hall of Famer, my duty is to make the game better, to pass it along to the next generation," Martinez said. "I'm not going to keep the knowledge within me. Not only is it my duty, but it's a duty for everyone who plays the game."The fact that it's showing up in Severino more than anybody else鈥 ou can give him all the credit in the world. I only give him suggestions. He's the one who's done it."Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Scotton Twitterand talk baseball.
29-03-2019 8:42
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