Commentary

Mike Pelfrey strong on extra rest

Unhappy about pitching two days late, Mets righty not ruffled by results

Updated: August 28, 2010, 8:49 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey was annoyed about being given a full week between starts. He even lashed out at pitching coach Dan Warthen about being pushed out of the midweek series against the Florida Marlins, against whom the he has poor career numbers.

In the end, things worked out fine for Pelfrey.

He tossed eight scoreless innings and the Mets held on to beat the Houston Astros 2-1 on Friday night at Citi Field after Hisanori Takahashi bailed out Bobby Parnell in the ninth.

The Mets mustered only three hits -- their fewest in a victory in nearly 16 months, since a May 6, 2009, win against Philadelphia, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Pitching with two extra days' rest for no reason that was clear to him -- Pelfrey even wondered whether it was to begin limiting his starts and affect his upcoming arbitration award -- he tossed a career-high 124 pitches. He also matched a career high with his 13th win of the season. The pitch count surpassed the previous high of 122, which he had thrown Aug. 10 when he blanked the Colorado Rockies for seven innings.

Pelfrey even had designs on shooting for a complete game Friday, but manager Jerry Manuel sent in Parnell for the save attempt in the ninth.

"I kind of came in and put my head down and grabbed my helmet real quick and put it on," Pelfrey said. "I was thinking hopefully he'd let me go up there if I did that. ... I felt great. Even when I came out after the eighth inning, I felt good."

Beginning with the outing against Colorado, Pelfrey has allowed five runs (four earned) in 30 innings over four starts -- good for a 1.20 ERA.

"I got so far away from being myself and what I was doing early in the year and being successful," Pelfrey said. "I've gotten back to that the past four starts and I've been successful again."

Houston, which arrived with a five-game winning streak after completing a four-game sweep in Philadelphia, made several subpar plays that tipped the game in the Mets' favor.

The Mets' opening run scored on a first-inning sacrifice fly by David Wright, when Astros second baseman Anderson Hernandez caught the shallow pop-up in the outfield moving away from the plate rather than center fielder Matt Bourn. (Bourn later indicated he initially broke backward because of Wright's big swing and that forced Hernandez to take charge.) Luis Castillo, who scored on the play, had advanced to second base on an errant pickoff throw by ex-Met Nelson Figueroa and moved to third on a wild pitch.

The Mets' second run scored in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Ruben Tejada, who had been 1-for-37 since his return from Triple-A Buffalo entering that plate appearance. Pelfrey then ended that threat by grounding into a double play.

Tejada subsequently notched just his second hit since rejoining the Mets on a seventh-inning single.

Houston also had run itself out of a scoring opportunity in the fourth. With rookie Chris Johnson on second base and two out in the fourth, Angel Sanchez singled to right field. Bench coach Al Pedrique, who was filling in as third base coach with Dave Clark away from the team, put up a hold sign for Johnson, respecting Jeff Francoeur's arm. Johnson thought Pedrique was signaling to him that the third out had been made and that he could stop. As a result, Johnson was easily tagged out in no-man's land between third base and home plate.

"We're due for a few breaks," Manuel said.

In contrast, the Mets played well in the field. Henry Blanco threw out Bourn, the National League's steals leader, to end the fifth. In the sixth, left fielder Angel Pagan raced into the gap to snare Hernandez's liner before tumbling. An inning later, with Brett Wallace on first base and one out, Francoeur raced to the right-field line to catch Sanchez's fly ball. Tejada, playing shortstop with Jose Reyes nursing a right oblique injury, then raced to the tarp down the left-field line to catch Jason Castro's foul pop and end that half-inning.

"I think tonight I was fortunate," said Pelfrey, who also was disappointed at popping up a sacrifice bunt attempt in the seventh. "I was pretty erratic to say the least, but I felt like when it came time I made some pitches. I think you can go around the whole field -- whether it's Frenchy [Francoeur] making great plays in right, [Carlos] Beltran, Pagan. We might have all top 10 plays on 'SportsCenter' tonight."

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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