BY JOE RINI
The Mets celebrated Italian Heritage Day this past Saturday but for many Rocklanders it was Tony DeFrancesco Weekend at Citi Field, as Suffern’s DeFrancesco earned his first win since being named interim manger of the Houston Astros.
DeFrancesco led the Astros to a 3-1 defeat of the Mets on Friday August 24. Many friends and family of the Houston manager celebrated at the ballpark as Houston’s Jordan Lyles and three relievers limited the Mets to four hits on Friday, before the Mets rebounded to win on Saturday and Sunday and take the weekend series from the Astros.
DeFrancesco took helm of the manager’s reins on August 19 after the Astros record fell to 39-82 under his predecessor Brad Mills. For DeFrancesco, it was the culmination of a baseball journey that began on the playing fields of Suffern. After starring at Seton Hall University, DeFrancesco was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1984 and played in the minor leagues for nine seasons before beginning his managerial career in the Oakland As minor league system in 1994.
DeFrancesco’s managerial accomplishments include three Pacific Coast League titles with the Oakland As Triple-A team and winning Manager of the Year honors in 2003. He had been managing the Astros Triple-A club in Oklahoma City before being elevated to the job in Houston.
The Astros are a team in transition, under new ownership, fielding a team of young developing players as it completes its final season in the National League, before joining the American League Western division in 2013. Getting the team back on track is a top priority for DeFrancesco.
As he said after Friday’s game, “We’re going to change the attitude, we’re going to change momentum. I know it’s only one win, but the guys are at a good place. After the game, they got me with some champagne, and that means we’re together. Even though it’s been a long season, we’ve got a long way to go here, and hopefully we can turn this thing around for a little bit.”
With his pedigree for success with young players, DeFrancesco could be the man to lead Houston in 2013 and beyond.
DeFranceso’s team couldn’t start a winning streak, however. R.A. Dickey ended the Mets’ own six game losing streak as he pitched seven innings of one run ball and knocked in a run, as he earned victory number 16 in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Houston. With seven starts left in the season, Dickey has a reasonable chance at becoming the Mets first 20 game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.
On Sunday Ike Davis popped two home runs, including a walk-off ninth inning homer to edge the Astros 2-1 and he had two-run go ahead double in the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 9-5 win over the Phillies for the Mets third straight win.
Entering play on Wednesday with a record of 60-69, the Mets are in the middle of a nine game road trip against Philadelphia, Miami, and St. Louis before returning to Citi Field on Friday September 7 against the Atlanta Braves.