New York – When they get to the dog days of August and the September stretch, the New York Mets will certainly know that winning the first game of a series was important, And it certainly looks like the Mets could have an interesting final two months of the season based on what has been happening as June nears a conclusion.
Friday evening at Citi Field, with starter Mike Pelfrey on the mound, New York improved to 16-9 in the first game of a series with their 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. They have won seven straight series openers, 11-2 at their home park.
But when Denard Span hit a game leadoff home run on a 0-1 pitch, the ball traveling and going over the 358 sign in left, Pelfrey made it look like it would be a struggle, from the onset for the Mets to get another opening series win.
“I stayed in there and kept trying to grind,” said Pelfrey (10-2) who got the win in six innings of work. He allowed two runs and six hits and did not walk a batter in getting his sixth win in nine starts at home. “It was tough” said Pelfrey because that leadoff home run by Span, his third, may have been hard to overcome.
The Twins in a battle for first place with Detroit in the American League central, ahead by a half game coming in, are a tough team to retire. “That team is very good,” said Pelfrey who threw 117 pitches. “They made me work out there and fouled off a lot of pitches.”
But one thing about this Mets team is their resilient approach to come from behind. They did it again against Twins starter Kevin Slowey. They scored three runs in the fourth started by a Jose Reyes soft single, later scoring on a David Wright RBI double.
So Pelfrey had the lead, and the Mets once again played small ball and errorless baseball. Wright would also hit a solo home run in the sixth, off Slowey that gave the Mets their fifth run, his 13th of the season, and with two more runs batted in has 37 in his last 37 games.
“I’m in a good spot right now, I feel good,” said Wright who came into the game leading the National League in RBI. “He seems very confident at the plate at this time and that’s a good sign for us,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel about the resurgence of Wright who hit his third home run at Citi Field this season.
And it is the small ball that has the Mets also feeling confident. They remained a half game behind first place Atlanta as they play game two of the series Saturday afternoon with ace Johan Santana on the mound.
“Small ball in a big ball park” said Manuel. He added, as was the case in this game, “We won’t give them the momentum,” meaning his team which got their 11th come from behind win of the season will stay competitive when they don’t score first.
GAME NOTES FROM THE METS: Carlos Beltran went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk as the designated hitter with St. Lucie of the Florida State League in his second rehabilitation assignment. Outfielder Angel Pagan, day-to-day with a muscle pull said he feels better and may be in the lineup Saturday.
“Tomorrow I am going to swing and see what happens,” commented Pagan who said that rest, treatment and exercise were a part of the regiment the past two days. Pagan has missed the last two games and is rumored to be a player in a possible trade that would bring pitcher Cliff Lee to the Mets…
Ruben Tejada a natural shortstop, and at second, for the injured Luis Castillo is playing the position well and also connecting at the plate. He extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the fifth inning and the streak is the second longest for a rookie in the major leagues this season.
“He is playing with confidence and I am surprised about his ability to play second base,” said Manuel about his rookie that is part of a Mets home grown infield that includes Wright at third, Reyes at short, and Ike Davis at first….
Jason Bay may once again be seeing the ball better and his ability to drive in runs makes the Mets lineup that more potent, as was expected when he was picked up in the off-season. “He’s one of those guys that when he gets hot he gets going,” said Maunel. Bay had a run scoring double in that third inning and has driven in two in the last two games….
With three more scoreless innings of relief the Mets pen has pitched 21.1 scoreless innings dating back to the eighth inning on June 17th, allowing 15 hits, walking seven and striking out 25. Francisco Rodriguez got his 17th save though giving up two singles in the ninth. He also is having some stiffness in his back which prompted Manuel to see him on the mound
Rodriguez admitted it has been something he has been dealing with and he recently took a anti-inflammatory shot. Manuel sees no reason for concern though speculation persists that the Rodriguez failure to get through an easy inning may be attributed to the stiffness.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com