Commentary

Wright snaps strikeout slump; Mets lose

Team concern: Manuel hoping to heal ailing slugger's swing

Updated: May 11, 2010, 11:39 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- David Wright had been ejected Sunday after striking out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run at second base against the San Francisco Giants. A day later, his hitless streak ended, but the team-wide frustrations continued.

Wright left the bases loaded in his first at-bat with another strikeout, and the Mets went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and ultimately lost 3-2 to the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

Wright and Ike Davis consecutively struck out against rookie right-hander Luis Atilano to strand three teammates and end the first inning, extending Wright's streak of consecutive at-bats with a strikeout to nine -- albeit with a sacrifice fly in a plate appearance between Nos. 7 and 8.

"I can't really put my finger on it as to why I'm swinging through so many pitches," said Wright, who has 42 strikeouts in 112 at-bats. "I feel good up there. I feel like I'm seeing the ball. I just feel like I'm just off a tick. I strung together some good at-bats, so hopefully that carries over into tomorrow. I don't really have a solid answer why I'm swinging through so many of those balls."

Wright did break his strikeout string with a leadoff pop-out to second base in the fourth inning. He finally snapped an 0-for-10 drought in the sixth with a single.

But even when something positive happened, it hurt.

With the Mets trailing 2-0 and runners at first and second after Wright's single, Davis softly popped out to third base. Ryan Zimmerman threw across the diamond to double off Wright ahead of his dive back to the bag.

"You've got to make that decision," Wright said. "At first I was kind of eyeing the pitcher and didn't think the pitcher was going to get in there. But Zim came in kind of at the last second. I kind of got caught in no-man's-land. So you really have to make a decision. And on that particular play I made the wrong decision."

Wright also needed to have his right hand checked by trainer Ray Ramirez when he took the field the following half-inning.

"Just jammed my finger, but it should be OK," Wright said.

Wright officially went 2-for-4 when Washington shortstop Ian Desmond couldn't handle his eighth-inning grounder and the official scorer credited Wright with an infield single. But he was left at third base when Rod Barajas popped out.

Sure enough, the failings belonged to more than just Wright. The Mets entered the series hitting a National League-worst .235 with runners in scoring position. They also left runners on the corners in the seventh inning when Jose Reyes was called out on strikes on a full-count slider and was subsequently ejected for arguing along with manager Jerry Manuel.

"Any time you have middle-of-the-order hitters and you have those swings and misses, there's some concern because the offense is difficult to flow with that situation," Manuel said. "In [Wright's] situation, we have made some adjustments -- he has made some adjustments in his swing -- to be able to take the ball that's on the inner half of the plate and start hitting it out of the park. He was probably a week ago on a pace to hit probably 35 [homers] and 100 RBIs.

"But, when those strikeouts come in the manner that they've come, and when they come in bunches like that, then we have to start looking and seeing why. Is it as simple as mechanics, fundamentals, those types of things? Selection? So we're in the process of trying as a staff to figure that out. We haven't quite got there yet, to be honest with you."

Still, Manuel noted, Wright has walked a lot -- 24 times, which entering the night was one behind Philadelphia's Chase Utley, the National League leader. The manager inferred from those walks that Wright must not be chasing an egregious number of balls out of the strike zone.

"Twenty-four walks? That's pretty good," Manuel said. "So there's got to be something, I would say, that's mechanically or fundamentally [wrong] when we make that pass at the ball. Something is not happening right there. We've got to look at that situation and see if we can rectify that in the fundamentals of his swing."

The bottom line?

"It's a team concern," Manuel said. "No doubt about it. ... We're kind of trying too hard in those situations and therefore not getting it done."

Said right fielder Jeff Francoeur: "You can get 11 or 12 hits all you want, but you've got to get the guys in when they're at second and third, and we're not doing a good job right now doing that. ... Our pitching has held up their end of the bargain, and we've got too good hitters not to be producing."

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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