06/26/08 12:52 AM ET
Rested Wright reignites Mets
After first day off, slugger homers twice to help salvage finale
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
So consider it a lesson learned. Wright didn't resist when his new manager said "be seated" late Monday night. Nor did he participate in the 11-0 loss the Mets endured the following night. And when he returned to duty Wednesday, he was, by his own account, renewed. Less can be more, even for him.
Wright came back swinging in what became the Mets' 8-2 victory against the Mariners. His first swing of the night produced a solo home run, his second a foul ball, and his third sent another fly ball beyond the playing confines of Shea Stadium. Wright looked like a slugger, Dr. Jerry Manuel looked like a genius. The Mets' next 85 games must now be identified as the remainder of the season, because the day off Tuesday warrants this title: The Rest of the Season.
"[I] can't argue with the results," Wright said. "It worked. I did feel more refreshed, crisper. I noticed the difference. The bat felt lighter."
Wright hadn't hit a home run since June 10. His batting average for June -- 86 at-bats -- was .256.
"He's still a good player who can play tired," Manuel said.
But the manager had detected "mental fatigue that manifests itself in the physical."
Wright had started every game and played every inning but nine at third base -- he served as designated hitter last week -- until Wednesday. Then he produced the 11th multi-home run game of his career, his second this season.
"Just trying to make Jerry look good," he said.
And now with that evidence supporting their new manager's logic, the entire Mets team is about to take a day off, though Manuel had nothing to do with it.
"It does come at a good time for us," Manuel said. "Because we're going to have to push it the next 12 to 14 days."
The next time the schedule will allow the Mets a chance to kick back is July 14, the first day of the All-Star break. By then, they will have played four games against the Yankees and seven against the two teams in the best positions to deny them a place in the postseason -- the Phillies, leaders in the National League East, and the Cardinals, the team with the best Wild Card standing.
Those seven games will have more impact than the Interleague losses to the Mariners on Monday and Tuesday, and the comfortable Interleague victory the Mets produced Wednesday, their fourth victory in Manuel's eight games and their seventh in 11 games against the other league.
The Mets' 38th victory seemed rather easily achieved. They accumulated eight runs in the first three innings, and John Maine, the winning pitcher, found zero resistance before the game was in hand. Methodical would have been the appropriate modifier if there were a degree of consistency to how the Mets win. But as this team approaches the midpoint of its season, it hasn't developed a method, just a maddening habit of winning here and losing there, with no apparent pattern.
The latest episode of their helter-skelter season won them no style points. But a team that endures two home losses to the team with the worst record in the game worries little about appearances. It didn't matter, for instance, that the Mets were held without a baserunner in their final five turns at-bat. A team striving for mediocrity -- the Mets still are one game under. 500 -- has an exclusively bottom-line attitude.
This one was accomplished primarily through the efforts of Wright, Maine and Jose Reyes. Maine gained his eighth victory -- he leads the team now -- pitching six innings before giving way, earlier than Manuel would have had it, to the bullpen. His support came from Wright, who hit his 13th and 14th home runs in the first and second innings, and Reyes, who hit his ninth, with two runners on base, in the Mets' four-run rally in the third inning. Wright's dingers came on 0-1 pitches; they were the first home runs he has hit when behind in the count this season.
All three home runs came against losing pitcher Miguel Batista, who became the second American League pitcher with 10 losses this season. Batista (3-10) was gone before the third inning ended.
Maine (8-5), meanwhile, retired the side in order in the each of the first four innings, and he allowed both Mariners runs in the fifth. He surrendered five hits and two walks and put his ERA at 3.73.
Then again, he did have four days off.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.