Commentary

Reyes' latest triple comes at perfect time

The shortstop's season of dominance continued as his big hit capped a rally for Mets

Updated: June 8, 2011, 11:37 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

MILWAUKEE -- There is no need to check the major league leaders in triples on a daily basis. New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who notched No. 11 on Tuesday night, has that wide a lead over the rest of the field.

The latest triple did not set the table, however, as is often the case. Instead, it drove in two runs in the seventh inning and lifted the Mets to a 2-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a 10-game road trip.

"Jose has just been incredible all year," said left-hander Chris Capuano, who went from potential hard-luck loser to the winning pitcher in his return to Milwaukee as a visitor because of Reyes' clutch hit off reliever Marco Estrada. "Just when you think you've seen everything, he just keeps doing it. He's playing at such a high level right now, it's fun to watch."

Said manager Terry Collins: "He gets on base. He sparks us. And then he gets big hits, and he seems like he's driving in the big runs for us right now."

Reyes -- who turns 28 on Saturday -- became only the third player in the past 80 seasons to reach 11 triples in his team's first 60 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The others: Rod Carew, who had 11 through 60 games with the 1977 Minnesota Twins, and Curtis Granderson, who had 12 with the 2007 Detroit Tigers.

For the record, Reyes' 11 triples lead the major league runners-ups -- Colby Rasmus of the St. Louis Cardinals and Peter Bourjos of the Los Angeles Angels -- by five.

[+] EnlargeJose Reyes
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesJose Reyes has 11 triples through the Mets' first 60 games this season.

Tuesday's triple actually was Reyes' first away from the spacious gaps at Citi Field this season. But while the home ballpark might be particularly conducive to Reyes' speed, the disparity in triples compared with the road is more of an early oddity than meaningful statistic.

"I don't know," Reyes said, struggling for an explanation. "I think I hit more gaps at home. ... A triple is a triple, no matter where I play. I told you guys before: If I hit a ball in the gap, away or at Citi Field, I'm going to try to make it to third base too. It's no matter for me where I play."

Reyes' lone blemish Tuesday, on a night he extended his hitting streak to 11 games, came in the aftermath of the triple. On Justin Turner's ensuing ground ball to second base, Rickie Weeks threw home and caught Reyes.

Reyes went in standing up on the play, and later expressed remorse afterward for not sliding.

Reyes does slide feet-first at the plate, but it is not comfortable for him. That is in large part because he injured his left ankle during his rookie season sliding feet-first into second base trying to break up Timo Perez's game-ending double play on Aug. 31, 2003. Reyes -- a headfirst slider when he is stealing, which has its own perils -- goes feet-first when he is trying to break up a double play as well as at the plate.

"I'm better than that," Reyes said about not sliding Tuesday against the Brewers. "I should have slid there. So there's no excuse at all. I have to slide there. People know I don't like to slide feet-first, but I do it at home plate."

Mental lapses like that may be part of Reyes' game, and make you wonder what would happen at the back end of a long-term deal as his physical tools diminish.

For now, though, he is flat-out dominant, forcing the organization to try to balance the overwhelming production of the present with what might be at the back end of any contract extension.

"It's impossible," Capuano said about how to approach Reyes as a pitcher. "If you watch his hits, if he has two or three hits in a game, one [pitch] is on the outside corner, one is on the inside corner. He's covering both sides of the plate, which as a pitcher makes it really tough."

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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