ST. LOUIS -- Scott Rice waited 14 years to make the Major Leagues. Now that he's made it, he's certainly getting his money's worth.
The left-hander made his league-leading 23rd appearance in Wednesday's loss to the Cardinals, putting him on pace for an even 100. The Mets understand they are asking a lot of Rice, who -- perhaps not coincidentally -- holds a 15.43 ERA over his past four appearances. But with no one else in the bullpen proving capable of retiring left-handed hitters, the Mets have turned to Rice again and again.
"It comes down to whoever's in there making pitches," manager Terry Collins said. "You've got to make pitches. And Scott's done a good job, he really has. So in those situations, he's going to have to be the guy."
The Mets broke camp with two lefties -- Rice and Josh Edgin -- in the bullpen. Edgin quickly proved ineffective, and the Mets demoted him to Double-A Binghamton. But his replacement, left-hander Robert Carson, has been even less successful.
"Robert, it's a work in progress, because he's got a great arm," Collins said. "The other day, one of the bright spots was that he threw so hard. You take that, and the next step is to make sure he locates it. Because if you're throwing that hard, you should get some left-handed hitters out."
Yet until Carson establishes himself, Edgin shows tangible improvement in the Minors, Pedro Feliciano fully recovers from a bout of food poisoning in the Minors or Tim Byrdak completes his rehab from shoulder surgery, the Mets, most nights, will rely on Rice.
Murphy's odd double continues hot stretch
ST. LOUIS -- Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is so hot right now that even ballpark walls cannot contain him.
Batting in the sixth inning Thursday against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, Murphy drove a ball toward the right-field corner, where it hit directly between two sections of the Busch Stadium wall. The ball squirted right through the panels, good for a bizarre ground-rule double.
"I told [umpire] Mike Winters at second, 'If you can't see it, it should be a homer,'" Murphy joked. "He disagreed."
The hit was Murphy's 10th in 16 at-bats since snapping an 0-for-17 skid last weekend. But it was easily the most unorthodox of the bunch.
Murphy later added a ninth-inning single, increasing his hot streak to 10-for-17. His batting average has jumped more than 40 points over that stretch.
He went 4-for-4 in the Mets' 5-2 win, doubling twice, scoring a pair of runs and driving in one.
"Dan had a tough couple weeks where he wasn't swinging very good," manager Terry Collins said. "We all knew in the end, he's going to hit .320. It's just what he does. And when he gets it going, he can be very dangerous."
Ike's struggles stand out as Mets' bats come to life
ST. LOUIS -- For the first time in recent memory on Thursday, the Mets were hitting well. Daniel Murphy reached base five times. David Wright cranked out multiple RBI hits. The bottom of the order kept the line moving.
But Ike Davis was still not invited to the party. Instead, the first baseman's struggles only deepened with an 0-for-5 performance against the Cardinals, including strikeouts in each of his first four at-bats.
"He had a rough day today," manager Terry Collins said. "He's having trouble with the off-speed stuff, and they're giving him a steady diet of it."
When Collins moved Davis back to the cleanup spot in his lineup last weekend, he seemed to be personally challenging his first baseman. Collins insisted that Davis would be able to emerge from his funk, if for no other reason than the fact that he did so last year.
But Davis is 0-for-22 with 10 strikeouts over his past six games, including 0-for-16 in four games batting cleanup. Both he and Collins believed he had been taking better swings entering Thursday's game, though that served only to amplify his frustration.
"Today was an awful day," said Davis, whose .157 average is actually lower than it was at this point last year. "I can't really say anything else. It was just really bad."
Murphy's hot bat forces Valdespin to right field
ST. LOUIS -- Seeking to start Jordany Valdespin in Thursday's series finale against the Cardinals, Mets manager Terry Collins originally figured he would slot Valdespin in at second base. That is Valdespin's natural position, and it seemed like a fit with regular second baseman Daniel Murphy scuffling.
But Murphy, one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, nixed that plan by catching fire this week in St. Louis. So Collins instead started Valdespin in right field, which the manager had been hesitant to do due to Valdespin's inexperience there.
"Dan's swinging too good," Collins said. "So I just said, 'We'll put [Valdespin] in right field.'"
Entering the day with 58 career innings in right field, Valdespin spent an hour shagging fly balls there during batting practice earlier this week. Whatever range the Mets might lose defensively, Collins feels they make up with the potential of a big home run or extra-base hit -- anything to jumpstart their offense against Adam Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in baseball who threw a two-hitter in his last start.
• The Mets and PIX11 will host their seventh annual Weather Education Day on May 22 at Citi Field. Students from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will receive a pregame meteorology lesson from PIX11 weather experts Mr. G and Linda Church, who will discuss some of the extreme weather New Yorkers have experienced in recent months.