Commentary

Wet Mets avoid unenviable road feat

Rainy win means Mets won't go entire season without winning league series on road

Updated: August 22, 2010, 12:30 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

PITTSBURGH -- Gabby Street, Wid Conroy and 25-game-loser Walter Johnson can exhale. The 1909 Washington Senators remain the last team to go an entire season without winning a road series against a league opponent.

It took until Game No. 123, but the 2010 New York Mets ensured they would not duplicate that feat. The Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 in a rain-shortened game Saturday at PNC Park to clinch the series.

Left-hander Jon Niese limited his opponent to one run for the fourth straight outing and picked up his second win to show for it during that span, and David Wright belted a three-run homer as the Mets won a game halted with Jose Reyes on first base and none out in the sixth.

The Mets (62-61) actually had won two road series this season, but both came in interleague play. They swept consecutive series at Baltimore and Cleveland to climb to 38-28 and within a half-game of first place entering a June 18-20 series at Yankee Stadium.

[+] EnlargeChris Snyder and Jose Reyes
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPirates catcher Chris Snyder reacts after Jose Reyes is called safe on a first-inning play at the plate.

"Hence playing .500 baseball [for the season]," Wright said about the woes away from Citi Field. "You look back on it and that's the reason we're not where we want to be -- because we haven't been able to do anything on the road basically all year. We've had the good series in Baltimore. We've had the good series in Cleveland. We're playing well here. Other than that, it's really been a miserable year thus far trying to win on the road. There's no secret that's why we're in the position we are right now."

Before Friday's series opener -- and a day after manager Jerry Manuel labeled the offense "pathetic" -- hitting coach Howard Johnson uncharacteristically ripped into the players in a meeting. Still, Wright minimized any impact on the back-to-back wins.

"I think too much gets made out of meetings," Wright said. "A lot of times I think meetings are overrated. At best, at times you kind of collectively get some things off of your chest. There's nothing magical that anybody can say to go up there and make you hit better. I'd love to say HoJo gave us some sort of wisdom and that's why we've won the last two games. The fact of the matter is, we're going out there and we're starting to get some hits. We're starting to get some confidence back on offense."

The Mets opened the scoring in the first inning against Pirates right-hander James McDonald when Reyes scampered home on a Chris Carter strikeout. Catcher Chris Snyder had to throw to first base to complete the strikeout, and Reyes scampered home from third base as Snyder released the ball. Plate umpire Adrian Johnson ruled Reyes safe on the close play at home.

Reyes' torso took the brunt of the contact with Snyder's leg during a headfirst slide. Reyes had a welt on his chest after the game.

Wright's 19th homer of the season, a three-run shot in the fifth, staked the Mets to the decisive 5-1 lead.

"When [Snyder] was looking at me, I waited for him to throw the ball to first base," Reyes said about the first-inning play. "As soon as I saw him throw it to first base, I take off and go home."

Said Snyder: "I got the ball after the strikeout, checked Reyes and tried to make as quick a throw as possible. Right when I threw, I was going back to the plate knowing the type of runner he is. I did pretty much everything I could do, and I guess he got a hand in there."

As for Niese, he has limited opponents to four runs in 26 innings over his past four starts. He received no-decisions against Philadelphia and Colorado despite allowing one run apiece before earning a win at Houston to start the trip.

"It wasn't raining that hard until the fifth inning," Niese said. "It really didn't affect the way I pitched until the fifth. When I was out there in the fifth, I kind of realized, 'Wow, it's really getting wet,' and the rain was coming down a lot harder. I just wanted to get through the fifth inning."

Before the game, the dialogue was about pitching coach Dan Warthen planning to soon engage Manuel about potentially limiting the rookie Niese's innings count as the season winds down. Manuel doesn't feel strongly about doing so. Neither does Niese, who is at only 138 innings for the season.

"I've thrown 170 innings in a year before," said Niese, actually shortchanging his 178-inning season in 2008 during which he pitched for Binghamton, New Orleans and made his major league debut. "Obviously I was cut short last year because I got hurt. Even if I throw nine innings the rest of the year, I think I should be good in my innings count. I don't think I'll be cut short, but who knows what's going to happen?"

Said Manuel: "If we happen to get [on] a run, you're actually going to have to push the envelope rather than hold him back. Hopefully that's the case."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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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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