New York – After a 2-9 west coast road trip where they batted .181 as a team, the New York Mets were happy to see the friendly confines at home Tuesday evening. Citi Field is where they have achieved most of their success prior to the all-star break with a 30-16 mark.
And once again home field advantage was the remedy. The Mets used the long ball, the timely hit, and got a good pitching effort from Jonathan Niese as they took the first of a three-game series over the central division leading St. Louis Cardinals 8-2.
They won also without their manager Jerry Manuel. Prior to the game Manuel was suspended for one game, fined an undisclosed amount arguing a final out in the top of the second inning in a Mets loss out in Los Angeles last Friday evening.
“We needed to do the things tonight to spring back the confidence from that road trip,” said Manuel who handed the managerial duties to bench coach Dave Jauss. “Home field advantage takes the guys to another level,” he said.
Jason Bay who batted .215 on the road trip, striking out 15 times also sat down and it was not because of his continued struggles at the plate. He sustained a minor concussion running into the wall at Dodger Stadium Friday night. That enabled Jeff Francoeur to get a start in right field.
Francoeur has been the odd man out in the four man outfield. And his placement in the lineup paid dividends as he smacked a three-run homer to left center off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the fourth that gave the Mets a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish.
“I want to be here,” commented Francoeur. A subject of trade rumors, he may now have his job back if he continues to slug the ball like he did against Wainwright. “It’s a crazy place to play, a fun place to play,” he said.
For the first time this season the Citi Field crowd saw Carlos Beltran in the lineup. Beltran sliced a double off Wainwright his first time up in the second and would also walk and score a run in the fourth. “He’s the type of player that can take us if he gets hot,” commented Manuel about the way Beltran looked more confident at the plate.
“Our time will come as a team, my time will come,” said Beltran who also hustled and impressed Manuel running from first to third in the fourth. “Those are the types of things we have to do continually,” added Manuel elaborating further that the Mets success at home as opposed to the road, is knowing, how to play their field.
Jose Reyes also hit a two-run homer in the sixth, his 7th, that gave the Mets their final two runs of the evening. Runs the Mets are not used to scoring, the team’s biggest offensive game since defeating the Nationals 9-5 on July 4th. Prior to the game the Mets were held to four or fewer runs in 15 of their last 16 games, distancing themselves further from first place Atlanta in the NL east.
Niese, 7-4, went 6.0 innings giving up one run in the first and retired slugger Albert Pujols three times. Pujlos went 0-5 amid reports that he is suffering from a right muscle pull. The Mets, shutout four times on the road trip also ended a 17 inning scoreless streak in the second inning with the run off Wainwright (14-6) who got the loss.
The run also snapped his scoreless streak at 26.0 innings which tied for the fifth longest in the majors. “We got the runs off a\ good pitcher and that’s a good start,” said Beltran.
A good start at home again for the Mets, a win they needed to perhaps getting them back in the divisional and wild card race.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]