Mets look to overpower Marlins' Cantu
New York (62-75) vs. Florida (72-65), Tues., 7:10 p.m. ET
NEW YORK -- Another home run challenge awaits the home run-challenged Mets this week, when the Marlins come to Citi Field for a three-game series. It comes in the person of Jorge Cantu, who evidently finds the dimensions of the Mets' new home more to his liking than most Mets do.
Cantu has had 23 at-bats in the Big Citi, and three of them have produced home runs. Only eight players have hit more than Cantu in Flushing, and three of them don't play for the home team. But the Mets do have the numbers. They have five who have hit five each -- David Wright, Fernando Tatis, Gary Sheffield, Angel Pagan and now, after his bomb into the second deck in right field Sunday, Daniel Murphy.
Indeed, with a dozen home games remaining, those Mets are tied for the Citi lead. And each is assured of beating Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, if only because the D-backs and Phillies have made their final New York visits. Each hit four, and Reynolds, not so incidentally, hit his in merely 12 at-bats. So he already wins on at-bats per home run -- unless Cantu has a Ruthian week or, when he returns, Washington's Adam Dunn goes off.
The Mets are well out of the running for percentage. Consider: Wright has 219 at-bats at home, and Murphy has 206. Tatis has 153 at-bats at Citi, and Sheffield, who probably won't play again this season, hit his five in 148 at-bats. Pagan has five -- one an inside-the-park home run -- in 121.
So the race is on. Don't miss a single pitch -- or swing.
NYM: RHP Tim Redding (2-4, 5.70 ERA)
Redding produced his second successive quality start Wednesday against the Rockies in Denver, pitching 6 2/3 innings and limiting their bats to two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. He might well have matched his season high of seven innings had his pitch count not risen with a lot of extended at-bats. He took hitters to three balls and full counts throughout the outing. Redding alternated between pitching through traffic in the odd innings and throwing clean innings in the evens. He used two deliveries to keep the Rockies off balance. Redding has allowed five runs and 18 baserunners in his most recent 18 1/3 innings (three starts). He has produced a 1-1 record and 8.44 ERA in two starts against the Marlins this season. They have hit four home runs -- two by Chris Coghlan on Aug. 26 in Miami -- against him in merely 10 2/3 innings. Left-handed hitters are batting .303 with a .569 slugging percentage against him.
FLA: RHP Rick VandenHurk (2-2, 4.91 ERA)
Though VandenHurk held the Braves to three runs, two earned, on six hits over five innings in his most recent start, he was hit hard. The Braves smashed several balls to the warning track, but VandenHurk was able to keep the ball in the park. The Marlins have lost four of his last six starts. Home runs have hurt him -- nine in 36 2/3 innings -- and so have the Mets. Lineups more imposing than the Mets will use Tuesday night -- whether or not Carlos Beltran returns -- have battered him in three career starts, all before this season. He has an 0-1 record with a 11.25 ERA and has averaged merely four innings in the three games.
The 30th save of Frankie Rodriguez's season also was the 238th of his career. He has one more than former Expos closer Ugueth Urbina and the most ever by a Venezuelan-born pitcher. Jerry Manuel and Mets trainer Ray Ramirez rushed to the mound in the ninth inning when K-Rod developed a cramp in his left quad, but he remained in the game. Rodriguez said he has experienced cramps in the same muscle other times and attributed the problem to not drinking enough water ... Mike Pelfrey has a 4-1 record and 2.50 ERA in his six most recent starts at Citi Field ... Daniel Murphy is batting .306 with 15 RBIs in his last 22 games (85 at-bats) ... When Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo and David Wright struck out three times each Saturday it marked the first time in Mets history the first three batters in their batting order struck out three times in a game.
This date in Mets history, Sept. 7
Tied at 3 with the Phillies after six innings, the Mets scored six runs in their next two turns at bat and won, 9-3, at Shea on this date in 1969. Nolan Ryan (5-1) pitched the final three innings and won. Winners of 18 of 24 games, the Mets moved to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Cubs, who had lost 10 out of 18. ... In 1973, Jerry Koosman's streak of scoreless innings ended at 31 2/3 when the Expos scored one run in the third inning of what became the Mets' 4-2 victory in 15 innings in Parc Jarry. The Mets were in fourth place, four games behind. Koosman's streak still stands as the club record.
On this date in 1976, Brooklyn product Lee Mazzilli was recalled from the Mets' Double-A Jackson (Miss.) affiliate. He grounded out against Joe Coleman of the Cubs in the eighth inning of the Mets' 11-0 victory at Wrigley Field, an eight-hit shutout by Jon Matlack (15-8). Leo "Bananas" Foster drove in five runs. ... Two years later, John Stearns broke the 75-year-old National League record for catchers when he stole his 24th base of the season in the Mets' 9-4 victory over the Expos in Montreal.
In 1984, rookie Dwight Gooden (15-8) pitched a one-hitter in a 10-0 shutout of the Cubs at Shea. Keith Moreland, leading off the fifth inning, reached on an infield base hit, a ground ball that third baseman Ray Knight cleanly handled. But he had trouble removing the ball from his glove. Official scorer Maury Allen was sure that Moreland's ground ball was a hit. Tennis star John McEnroe was not, and the following day, at the U.S. Open, he recognized Allen and asked about the decision during his post-match news conference.
Anthony Young, he of the 27-game losing streak, earned the 13th of his 15 saves in a 6-3 victory in Philadelphia on this date in 1992. Six days later, he took his 12th straight loss. He finished the season with a 2-14 record and didn't win until July 28, 1993. ... On Sept. 7, 2001, Rey Ordonez hit his third home run of the season -- he had hit four home runs in his five previous seasons -- and Glendon Rusch allowed one unearned run in a complete-game performance in the Mets' 6-1 victory against the Marlins in Miami. The victory was the fifth of six straight, all against the Phillies and Marlins. The Mets were five games from first place and would close to within 3 1/2 games by Sept. 22.Tickets
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Wednesday: Mets (Pat Misch, 1-1, 3.25) vs. Marlins (Ricky Nolasco, 10-8, 5.27), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: Mets (Bobby Parnell, 3-7, 5.25 ERA) vs. Marlins (Sean West, 6-5, 4.61), 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday: Mets (Nelson Figueroa, 2-4, 4.74) at Phillies (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.